BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
In Genesis 47:7-10, it’s not clear why the first question Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, asked Jacob when Joseph, his son, brought him before him was “How old are you?” Or maybe it was not strange at that time to ask such a question. Pharaoh was seeing Jacob for the first time. How could someone ask a person, obviously quite older than him, that question when they had not previously discussed anything?
Was there something that Pharaoh noticed? Did Jacob appear so old that Pharaoh wanted to know how old he really was? Was he awestruck by how old he appeared? Jacob had to tell him that longevity was his family heritage. Long life is your family heritage in Jesus’ name.
“Then Joseph brought in his father Jacob and set him before Pharaoh; and Jacob blessed Pharaoh” (verse 7 New King James Version). Then Pharaoh asked, “How old are you?” Could Pharaoh’s question have been because of the way Jacob blessed him?
Ordinarily, considering the superior office of the king, he should have been the one to bless Jacob who had become one of his subjects, an immigrant for that matter. But Jacob stood before, probably, the most powerful king at that time and blessed him.
Hebrews 7:7 says, “And without question, the person who has the power to bless is always greater than the person who is blessed” (New Living Translation). By blessing Pharaoh, Jacob was invariably saying that he might be an immigrant, but he was greater than him!
It’s amazing that Jacob blessed Pharaoh, not once but twice. In verse10, Jacob blessed Pharaoh the second time after he had replied to his question. “So Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from before Pharaoh” (verse 10 New King James Version).
Obviously, King Pharaoh humbled himself the first time to receive the blessing; otherwise, Jacob, probably, wouldn’t have blessed him the second time! Are you humble enough to be blessed or you’re full of yourself? Can you recognize the man who carries the superior blessing you need? Don’t let your position or age blind you.
But why did Jacob bless Pharaoh? Because Pharaoh deserved to be blessed! Pharaoh had been a blessing to Jacob’s son and, indeed, his family. Pharaoh had released Joseph from prison and handed over Egypt to him to manage as his second-in-command.
Furthermore, when Pharaoh was told that the brothers of Joseph had come to Egypt, he had sent them to go and bring their father, Jacob, providing them the means of transporting their father, wives, and little ones to Egypt to live there (Genesis 45:17-20).
In addition, Pharaoh had even granted the request presented to him by Joseph’s brothers to allow them to settle in Goshen (verses 4-6). A man who had shown this measure of kindness ought to be blessed wholeheartedly.
Jacob and Joseph were descendants of Abraham. When Jacob blessed Pharaoh, he was acting on an aspect of God’s promise to Abraham. “I will bless those who bless you” (Genesis 12:3 New King James Version). What am I saying to you? Consciously position yourself for blessing, not for curses. That was what Pharaoh did unconsciously. Matthew 10:41 says if you welcome a prophet as one who speaks for God, you’ll receive the same reward a prophet gets.
Are you a pilgrim on earth or a citizen?
Let’s go back to Jacob’s answer to Pharaoh’s question on his age. How did Jacob describe his days on earth? He said, “The days of the years of my pilgrimage are one hundred and thirty years; few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage” (Genesis 47:9 New King James Version).
I want to focus on two similar phrases: “The days of the years of my pilgrimage” and “The days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.” Jacob described his days on earth and the days of his father as a pilgrimage. David said a similar thing about himself and his fathers. “For I am your guest — a traveler passing through, as my ancestors were before me” (Psalm 39:12 New Living Translation). A pilgrim is a traveller; he is not a citizen. He is just visiting; he is a guest. His presence is temporary. Jacob said he was a pilgrim on earth, so also his ancestors.
You must see your days on earth as a pilgrimage –you’re a pilgrim. You must have the mindset of a pilgrim if you want to spend your eternity with God after you die. Every pilgrim is a citizen of somewhere, but not a citizen of where he is a pilgrim. And only a pilgrim on this earth will live in accordance with the Word of God on earth, not according to the world’s standards. Psalm 119:54 says, “Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage” (New King James Version). God’s Word must be your song in this land of your pilgrimage.
Your citizenship is in heaven; you’re not a citizen of this world (Philippians 3:20). Your stay on the present earth is temporary. You must, therefore, emulate the patriarchs who lived as strangers and pilgrims, not as citizens (Hebrews 11:13). You must make the most of every opportunity to do good, because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:16). Today’s trouble is enough for today (Matthew 6:34). Therefore, you must maximize the days you have, because you’re on a pilgrimage, which is not forever. How old are you?
I also want to focus on another thing that Jacob said: “The days of the years of my pilgrimage are one hundred and thirty years; few… have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.” Jacob was 130years old at that time, but he called the days of his years few compared to that of his ancestors. He later lived for seventeen years after his arrival in Egypt; he died at the age of 147 years (Genesis 47:28). But they were still not up to the years of his ancestors.
It is good that we look at the ages of Jacob’s ancestors. Isaac, Jacob’s father, died at 180 years (Genesis 35:28). So comparing Isaac and Jacob, Isaac lived longer than Jacob. So Jacob was right.
Another ancestor of Jacob was Abraham, the father of Isaac. Genesis 25:7-8 tells us that Abraham died at 175years. Therefore, Jacob’s 130 years at that time were fewer than his grandfather’s years on earth by 45 years. His eventual age of 147 years, when he died, was still not up to Abraham’s age.
Thus, Jacob was right when he said in verse 9 that the days of the years of his life were few, and had not attained to the days of the years of the life of his fathers. Isaac and Abraham lived longer than him.
Maybe by Jacob’s statement to Pharaoh, he was also telling him that though he was old, he wasn’t ready to die yet since his forefathers had a heritage of long life. No wonder he went to live additional seventeen years, though he still didn’t live up to his ancestors’ age.
As I’ve said, longevity was the family heritage of Jacob starting from Abraham. If you’re born again, you’re Abraham’s child, and long life is your portion too (Psalm 91:16). Don’t die now! Choose to live, not to die! (Psalm 118:17). You can still live for more years even if you’re already old. But don’t forget that even if you live up to Jacob’s eventual age of 147 years, they’re still few compared to eternity. Where will you spend your eternity?
No matter how old you are or your status, accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. Life without Jesus is meaningless. It won’t matter what else you do if you don’t take the decision to be born again. How do you benefit if you gain the whole world but forfeit your soul? (Matthew 16:26; Mark 8:36; Luke 9:25).
Man’s days on earth are brief
David said, “Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow” (Psalm 144:4 NKJV).. Your time on earth is short, no matter how long you live. “Remember how short my time is; for what futility have You created all the children of men?” (Psalm 89:47 New King James Version). Even if you live 1000 years, they’re still few in the light of eternity. That’s why you shouldn’t use your temporary stay on earth to forfeit spending eternity with God. Don’t let your temporary days on earth take you to eternity in hell-fire.
Apart from the fact that life is brief, Job gives us another insight. Job said, “I loathe (my life); I would not live alway: Let me alone; for my days are vanity” (Job 7:16 American Standard Version). Vanity! Emptiness!
Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived also described his days as vanity (Ecclesiastes 7:15). In Ecclesiastes 9:9, Solomon also talked about days of vanity. Ecclesiastes 6:12 says, “For who knows what is good for man in life, all the days of his vain life which he passes like a shadow?” (New King James Version). Life is vanity, meaningless, empty or useless when it’s not lived in obedience to God and to fulfill His purpose. What are you living for?
In that scripture, Genesis 47:9, Jacob also described the days of his years as evil. Part of the Lord’s Prayer is deliverance from evil (Matthew 6:13; Luke 11:4). How evil were the days of Jacob’s life? Jacob must have reflected on his journey in life and the challenges he had faced before coming to Egypt. Jacob was the man who ran away from being killed by his brother after he had cheated him, collecting his father’s blessing (Genesis 27:41-46; 28:1-5).
Jacob served for 14 years just to marry a wife, Rachel. She was childless for some years but later died during her second childbirth (Genesis 29:15-30; 35:16-19).
Jacob served a dubious uncle and father-in-law, Laban, who reduced his salary again and again and would have sent him away empty-handed if not for God’s mercy (Genesis 31:7-9, 13)
Jacob mourned a supposedly dead son, Joseph, for more than 20 years (Genesis 37:30-35, 42:36-38). The evil and sorrow of life could have made Jacob older than his true age when he stood before Pharaoh! Probably that’s why Jacob had to explain that he was old, but not yet as old as his father. But truly, the troubles and trials of life can age one if one doesn’t apply the Word of God to deal with life’s challenges. Be careful so that you can age well. Deuteronomy 34:7 says, “Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died. His eyes were not dim nor his natural vigor diminished” (New King James Version).
Troubles are part of human existence. Job said man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble (Job 14:1). The psalmist cried in Psalm 25:17, “The troubles of my heart have enlarged; bring me out of my distresses!” (New King James Version). Life is full of troubles, but God will deliver you if you put your trust in Him. “He shall deliver you in six troubles, yes, in seven no evil shall touch you” (Job 5:19 New King James Version). The LORD will deliver you from all your afflictions (Psalm 34:19-20).
Are you looking older or younger?
How old are you? Don’t let the troubles of life age you, making you look older than your real age or affect your health negatively. Have faith in God. Cast your burden upon Him for He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). Take all your burdens to the LORD in prayer (Philippians 4:4-7).
Don’t be a worrier. Worry can’t change anything. Jesus said, “Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not! And if worry can’t do little things like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?” (Luke 12:25-26 New Living Translation). Proverbs 12:25 says, “Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up” (New Living Translation). Avoid worrying.
Don’t abuse your body: avoid negative stress; don’t eat food that doesn’t do your body good; engage in healthy exercise, have enough sleep and rest; shun beauty treatment that could eventually destroy your body; avoid alcohol; avoid smoking. Your body is the temple of God; don’t defile it. Whoever defiles the temple of God, God will destroy (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). It is appointed for everyone to die once, but after this comes judgment (Hebrews 9:27).
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The LORD be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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