Pilgrims

Genesis 47:7-13

7Then Joseph brought his father Jacob in and presented him before Pharaoh. After Jacob blessed Pharaoh, 8Pharaoh asked him, “How old are you?”

9And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. My years have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers.” 10Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from his presence.

11So Joseph settled his father and his brothers in Egypt and gave them property in the best part of the land, the district of Rameses, as Pharaoh directed. 12Joseph also provided his father and his brothers and all his father’s household with food, according to the number of their children.

13There was no food, however, in the whole region because the famine was severe; both Egypt and Canaan wasted away because of the famine.

Homework

Parents: How do you normally help your children finish their homework?

There was TV show where students were required to finish homework for better grades. A husband and wife had confusion how to help their son get his homework done. The husband who was reluctant to help in his son’s homework protested, “I’ve never done any school work at home when I was a student!”

In the Philippines, lawmakers from the House of Representatives proposed ‘no-homework policy.’ The Department of Education (DepEd) expressed support. The policy enables students to find balance between academic development and personal growth by having ample time for enjoyable activities with family provided that all assignments and projects are completed in school.

High grades can earn scholarship but cannot dictate career success. For sure, some are gifted in academics but others excel in practicalities. There are different path to success in life. What kind of success do you wish to have?

Would you like to have practical success or spiritual success?

We are all pilgrims in this world. The manner we live on earth is essential part of our journey that would translate to our life in eternity. Good grades, fame, power or finances are spices to appreciate life on earth. The glorious part of our pilgrimage is when Christ presents us as His brothers and sisters before God.

It says in Revelation 3:10, 10Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.

It is unpleasant to stand before a judge but the hour of trial before God is much dreadful. Genuine believers are spared. Make sure that you have genuine faith. Make sure you received the Spirit of Christ in your life. Are you concerned if the Lord Jesus comes anytime soon? Are you aware of such reality?

A spiritual reality that believers may experience as pilgrims on earth is represented in the pilgrimage of Jacob. When Pharaoh asked his age, Jacob described his pilgrimage as difficult after Joseph presented him to the king.

1. Present

7Then Joseph brought his father Jacob in and presented him before Pharaoh. After Jacob blessed Pharaoh…

The English term translated ‘blessed’ can also be interpreted as ‘to kneel.’ Did Jacob kneel before Pharaoh when Joseph presented him to the king of Egypt? To kneel before Pharaoh was very practical exhibit of respect to the king. When we kneel to pray, we show respect to God, and we bless the Lord.

It invites us in Psalm 95:6-7, Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.

We bless God by acknowledging His Lordship power and authority over our lives. We adore and worship Him for His work in us. When we kneel before Him, it’s a practical manifestation of our respect, adoration and praise of God.

Thais

The natives in Thailand are called “Thais.” Thais show respect to gods, authorities and elderly people by bowing or kneeling. Thais with the same age level put the palms together below their chin and bow down to each other on the same level. When bowing or kneeling before their gods, they put their palms together above their heads. When they bow to bless authorities or an elderly person, they put their palms together near their forehead and kneel as low as they can. The lower they bring themselves down, it shows more respect.

Some Bible versions present Jacob stood before Pharaoh. To stand before authorities, it exhibits respect to authorities. Inside a court of law, an officer will command everyone to stand as respect to the judge who enters the court room.

Similarly, when Jacob blessed Pharaoh, it can be interpreted that Jacob kneeled, bowed down or stood before pharaoh but the point is he showed proper respect to Pharaoh. Compared to his sons who tried to impress Pharaoh, Jacob showed the proper protocol when Joseph presented him to Pharaoh. Pharaoh may have easily observed his good manner which prompted him to test Jacob.

a. Test

8Pharaoh asked him, “How old are you?”

Pharaoh did not utter many words when the brothers and father of Joseph were presented to him. He just asked few questions. He may have estimated the age of Jacob but he tested him anyway. Asking the age of Jacob was supposed to test the alertness and intellectual disposition of an elderly person.

Why did Pharaoh have to ask the age of Jacob? He can easily ask Joseph about it, right? He may have been interested to know where Joseph inherited his extra-ordinary perception or intuition. The brothers of Joseph did not act with proper behavior or tactfulness when they frankly told Pharaoh about their plan to stay in Egypt temporarily while the severe famine lingered on.

They came to Egypt because they starved in Canaan. When they say that they planned to stay in Egypt for a while, they implied that they wanted to return to Canaan after all. It can be interpreted that they did not completely want to live Egypt all their life. They implied that they loved Canaan far better than Egypt.

Suffice to say, Pharaoh ignored them. Why did Pharaoh ask Jacob’s age? Was he curious how much Jacob learned throughout his life on earth?

It says in Proverbs 16:31, Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness. Proverbs 20:29 says, The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old.

How many of you like to have white hair? The Scripture teaches that gray hair is practical proof of the dignity of older people and righteousness they have.

When Jacob mentioned his age, he also testified about his pilgrimage.

b. Testify

9And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. My years have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers.” 10Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from his presence.

Jacob may have already accepted that his life was coming to an end, why? He did not mention any future plan. It was proper for Jacob to tell about his age because Pharaoh asked him, but did Jacob perceive that Pharaoh wanted to know his personal experiences. Jacob didn’t give specific details but he testified that his pilgrimage, his life adventure was difficult compared to his ancestors.

Jacob did not say much about his struggles in life before he bowed down as proper respect to Pharaoh and left his court. It was not mentioned if Pharaoh signaled that he can leave. Perhaps, Jacob discerned that it’s time for him to go.

Joseph presented his brothers and father consecutively not together. Why did he not present and introduce them together as a group, or as family? Did he show special favor toward his father so that he was presented last?

Championship Ring

The championship ring was presented to the Toronto Raptors eventually. Everyone involved in the team were given a ring. Remarkably, ‘Kyle Lowry’ the last player who received the ring was also given the honor to signal the unmasking of their championship banner that was hanging on their home court.

The championship ring testifies to the individual’s contribution and the banner testifies to the team’s effort in winning the championship trophy.

Similarly, when our season or the game of our life on earth is concluded, will you be rewarded for individual contribution in the furtherance of God’s kingdom? Will you receive all the five different crowns awarded to believers?

  1. The Imperishable Crown1 Corinthians 9:24 says, Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. (Righteous lifestyle)
  2. The Crown of Rejoicing1 Thessalonians 2:19 says, For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? (Discipleship)
  3. The Crown of Righteousness – 2 Timothy 4:8 says, The crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
  4. The Crown of Glory – 1 Peter 5:4, When the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. (Leadership)
  5. The Crown of Life – Revelation 2:10 says, Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown. (Believers)

When Jacob mentioned about his difficult pilgrimage, he reflected on his unpleasant journey in life especially during famine, but Joseph provided for them.

2. Provide

11So Joseph settled his father and his brothers in Egypt and gave them property in the best part of the land, the district of Rameses, as Pharaoh directed. 12Joseph also provided his father and his brothers and all his father’s household…

Joseph, the brother who was maltreated with hateful cruelty became the savior of his family and everyone who came to him for help. He provided for his starving family, instead of vengeance. When it says that he gave them the best part of the land, it represents a loving provision not just some sort of giveaways.

Such is a picture of God’s grace to all sinners who seek His forgiveness.

It says in Hebrews 8:12, For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.

God is all-knowing but He has decided that He won’t remember the sins He forgave. He sent the Spirit of Christ into our life as guarantee of forgiveness and to provide help to overcome temptation, that’s if we allow Him to reign in us.

Joseph’s brothers hated him. They were cruel to him but he’s generous to them and settled them in the best part of Egypt and gave sufficient food supply.

a. Food

12Joseph also provided his father and his brothers and all his father’s household with food, according to the number of their children.

The term, ‘according to the number,’ implies sufficient provision for all. No one has received more food supply than the other. Such is a picture of provision of food supply God has prepared for every believer in heaven for all eternity.

The Lord has eternal provision of food supply so that we won’t worry of our life in eternity. It says in Revelation 2:7, Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

What is the ‘tree of life?’ Is it an actual tree? Probably! The fruit of the ‘tree of life’ is sufficient for eternal nourishment. The term ‘life’ is properly interpreted as both ‘physical’ and ‘spiritual’ life. God provides for believers who obey Him.

The lifestyle of Joseph represents a lifestyle of faithful obedience to God.

If Joseph’s brothers were born in our generation, they may play basketball.

Imagine: They didn’t want Joseph to play with them. Why? They were envious that Jacob bought a pair of expensive shoes and very nice uniform for Joseph.

Was it easy to ignore their cruelty toward him? They planned to stay in Egypt temporarily, why? Was it because of guilty feeling or famine?

b. Famine

13There was no food, however, in the whole region because the famine was severe; both Egypt and Canaan wasted away because of the famine.

The term ‘famine’ is not just simple hunger but the absence of food supply so that both human and animals suffered starvation. It was catastrophic or deadly hunger. No farming! Plant cannot grow. No harvest both in Canaan and Egypt.

But the brothers of Joseph, their father and their families have sufficient supply of food. They did not worry about their life. Joseph supplied for their needs while the rest of the world suffered during the 7 years severe famine.

The provision that the family of Joseph enjoyed represents the provision God has lavished on all who belong to His family. We belong to God’s family.

It says in 1 John 3:1-3, 1See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

As members of God’s family, we’ve got to be pure just as our heavenly Father is pure. What does it meant to be pure? We are to get rid of things not acceptable to God. Sinfulness makes us dirty in the eyes of God. Everyone sins!

It says in 1 John 1:8-10, 8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

But how can we be pure like God? Certainly, we cannot purify ourselves.

What we can do to be purified is to confess our sins, to admit that we deviated from the will of God, to acknowledge that we did not follow His orders.

Can you agree that confession of sins starts the purification work of God in us? Normal human reaction to sin is denial, unwilling to admit violation to God’s laws.

Traffic Violation

How do you behave when traffic officers intercept you for traffic violation?

There was a man who spent more than $50,000.00 on a failed legal battle “for justice” over a speeding fine of about $200.00. The court battle extended to 3 years. He spent $50,000.00 and lost his case. Is it worthy?

In Canada, there are three options of response to ticket of traffic violation:

1)Pay the fine indicated, 2)Admit the offense but seek reduction in the fine or time to pay, 3) Dispute the charge and request a hearing.

When I had a traffic violation, I decided to choose the option 1. I paid the fine indicated in the ticket. I admitted that I violated traffic rules. My admission and payment to the fine indicated serve as reminder to be careful when I drive.

Similarly, when we confess our sins, even if God has forgiven us, there could be unavoidable consequences of our actions. When we confess our sins, we acknowledge that God’s laws are righteous and our human effort falls short of His standards. The commands of God are the godly standard for godly lifestyle.

We may drive carefully but still make mistakes, or involved in other’s mistakes. To intentionally repeat the same mistake shows no desire for change!

Likewise, we still commit sin because we are not perfect, just yet.

But Christ has saved us even from the desire to intentionally commit sin.

When we desire to live a righteous lifestyle before God and others, faith is active! Christ’s Spirit regenerates and transforms us to live like Christ.

When Christ returns and completely transforms us to be like Him, we won’t worry about sin anymore. Christ will make us perfect, pure and holy.

It declares in Revelation 21:4, ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

During the severe famine, Jacob and his household enjoyed abundance of food supply that Joseph provided for them while the entire ancient world suffered. That event represents the life of God’s family with Him in His eternal heaven.

Make sure you have accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior for you to receive the right to become children of God and enter heaven one day.

Make sure that Christ’s Spirit lives in you to guarantee that you’re saved.

Has the Spirit of Christ produced fruit in your life, yet?

As pilgrims of this world, we look forward to that Day when we meet our Creator!

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