Devotional & Reflection

Week 3, January 2005

Gen 47:29-31 :
This one thing I do!

By Pang Hee Hung, Katartizo Resources Ltd

Gen 47:29 When the time drew near for Israel to die, he called for his son Joseph and said to him, "If I have found favor in your eyes, put your hand under my thigh and promise that you will show me kindness and faithfulness. Do not bury me in Egypt, v 30 but when I rest with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me where they are buried." "I will do as you say," he said. v 31 "Swear to me," he said. Then Joseph swore to him, and Israel worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.

In our younger days, we hardly think about dying. In fact, even though I am near the half-a-century mark, I hardly think about it. But it is useful to ponder and reflect about death in order that we can enjoy our mature years.

It was only when Jacob was an old man (130 years old, cf. Gen 47:9) that he savored one of the best moments of his life. He then had his whole multi-generational family with him. He was re-united with his favourite (Gen 37:3) son, Joseph. He was presented with the best part of the land in Egypt whereas famine occurred everywhere else (Gen 47:6).

So do not be surprised if we get to enjoy the best moments of our lives in our later years. Our family, our marriage, our friends, our finances and the ministry can all enter into God's favour for a more enjoyable time in our mature years just like Jacob had experienced. He enjoyed the last 17 years of his life in Egypt (Gen 47:28) although he was to inherit Canaan. When he was 147, the time drew near for him to die (Gen 47:28-29).

Many who do not know the Lord fear death. But as Christians, we do not fear death because Christ died and rose again (John 20:27). He ascended into heaven witnessed by his disciples (Acts 1:9). In view of this, we can say:

"Where, o death, is your victory?
Where, o death, is your sting?" (1 Cor 15:55)

It is because in Christ we have victory over death (1 Cor 15:57) and "we will not all sleep, but will be changed (1 Cor 15:51).

As for Israel, he did not fear death. In his dying moments, Gen 47:31 tells us that Israel worshiped God. Amazing! Would we be found worshiping God in our dying moments?

Contrast his dying moments with other characters in the Bible. When David was in his mature years, he allowed Satan to incite him to take a census of Israel (1 Chron 21:1). He became dependent on his military might rather than on God. When he was in his advanced years, a young virgin, Abishag, was found to keep him warm although there was no intimate relations (1 Kings 1:1-4). When he was dying, his family broke up as Adonijah and Solomon vied for the throne (1 Kings 1:17-18) that resulted in brotherly killing.

Saul, in his later years, was more interested in pursuing David than in pursuing God. In the battle at Mount Gilboa, the critically wounded Saul took his own life (1 Sam31:3-4). There on the mountain, Saul's three sons also died (1 Sam 31:8).

Jacob was not Saul or David who enjoyed all the glory, glamour, glitz, gold and girls in their lives as kings. Yet in his dying moments, the author of Genesis records Jacob as worshiping God, and that to me is like the glory of the King enveloping him.

1. How can we prepare for our later years?
2. How can we be a worshiper of God in life? In death?
3. What can we change to leave a lasting legacy that lives on after our death?


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