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REFLECTIONS OF A LIFE
Intro: The Book of Genesis is a book of life, but it is also a book of death. I some ways, the Book of Genesis is a graveyard. It tells us how death started. From the mutilated body of Abel, to the unbroken litany of death in chapter 5, to the destruction of the world in chapter 6, the Book of Genesis is a book of death. Every one of the heroes introduced in the book, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph also died in its pages. It is a book of death.
Chapters 48 and 49 chronicle the death of the great patriarch Jacob. He lived for 147 years on this earth, but eventually the hour of his death came.
We do not like to talk about death. It is a subject that we do our best to avoid. Still, death is stalking each of us, and one day, we will leave this world, Heb. 9:27.
What we learn as we watch Jacob finish his life can help us as the day of our own death approaches. What we learn here can help us live life knowing that death is coming.
I want to preach on Reflections Of A Life. I want you to see that Reflected On The Past; He Reflected On Providence; He Reflected On The Present; and He Reflected On The Promises. Let’s notice these four areas that held the mind of Jacob as he died.
I. JABOC REFLECTED ON THE PAST
(Ill. As Jacob approached his date with death, the past was on his mind. He remembered three high places that stood out on the landscape of his past.)
A. v. 3-4 He Remembered A Spot – Jacob remembered a night when he met God, He remembered and encounter at a place called Bethel, Gen. 28. Jacob remembered what happened that night. He remembered the covenant the Lord made with him. He remembered the promises God gave to him. Even as he was dying, Jacob remembered the place and the time when he met God. (Ill. “I’ll Go To My Grave Loving You” – Statler Brothers)
(Note: Do you have a spot? Do you have a place in your past where you met God? Can you go there in your mind and remember that place right now? You need a spot! That spot will become more and more important to you as the moment of your death draws closer.
If you do not have a spot, come and get one today! Let this place, this date, this hour be the spot you remember as the moment you met God and received Jesus as your Lord and Savior.)
B. v. 7 He Remembered A Spouse – Jacob remembered the greatest love and the greatest heartbreak of his life. He thought of his beloved wife Rachel. He remembered how he felt when he saw her. He remembered their love. He remembered how he had to work fourteen years just to have her as his wife. He remembered all the happy years they shared together. He also remembered how she died. He remembered the love and he remembered the loss. Jacob saw his Rachel as the highpoint of his earthly existence. She has been dead for two decades, but Jacob has never forgotten her! As he looked at Joseph’s two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim standing before him, he was reminded of his Rachel and of her legacy.
(Note: Look back just now and remember. Take a moment to think of all the important people God placed in your life. Think of how they shaped you into the person you are today. Remember them and take a moment to thank God for your heritage and for the people He so graciously placed in your life.
Do you have some special in your past? Do you have some in your life right now? Take the time to tell them what they mean to you. Take the time to praise the Lord for giving you those special people.)
C. v. 16 He Remembered A Spirit – As Jacob blesses Joseph’s sons, he remembers a an Angel. He remembers a divine encounter with God that forever changed his life, Gen. 32. Jacob wrestled with the Lord one night and when the sun rose on the new day, he walked different for the rest of his life. He remembers the day that Jacob became Israel. Jacob was He remembers the amazing, life-changing work of God His life.
(Note: Do you have a place in your past where you surrendered it all? Do you have a place where you laid it all down and began to walk with the Lord without reservation?
I know where I was saved; I also know where I surrendered some things to the Lord. I fact, I have had many places along the way where I took parts of me and gave it away to Him. I can remember a time when my walk, my talk and my ways changed forever. Do you have such a place? Have you ever had an encounter with the Holy Ghost? Is there a place where He filled you and changed you forever? If not, make this that place today.)
II. JACOB REFLECTED
(Ill. As Jacob was dying, he looked back over the years of his life and remembered the times when God blessed him along the way. Let’s see what he remembered. I am sure a lot of it will dovetail with our own experience.)
A. v, 3, 11, 21 He Remembered God’s Providence – Jacob remembered the times God moved in his life to accomplish His will and to lead Jacob in the right path.
(Note: I thank God for His providential work in the loves of His people, Ill. Psa. 37:23; Psa. 40:2. Look back over your days and remember the awesome providence of God in your life. (Ill. My story!)
B. v. 15 He Remembered God’s Provisions – He spoke of the God “which fed me all my life long unto this day.” Jacob remembers the past, and as he does, he remembers the provisions of the Lord. He remembers the God Who always came through for him.
(Note: That is the God we serve today. There have been some lean times along the way, but there has never been a time when the lord failed me. He has lived up to all His promises in the Word of God, Phil. 4:19; Matt. 6:25-34.
If we would be honest about it, we would have to remember that God has met all of our needs. He has blessed far above and beyond anything we deserved. God has been good to His people. (Ill. Psa. 37:23-27)
C. v. 2 He Remembered God’s Power – Do you see the transition in verse 2? At the beginning of the verse he is called “Jacob”. At the end of the verse, he is called “Israel”. “Jacob” means “Trickster, supplanter, heel grabber”. Israel means “Prince with God.” As he lays dying, Jacob takes time to remember the God Who changed his life. He remembers the awesome power of God working in him and through him, changing him from what he was to what the Lord wanted him to become.
(Note: That has been my experience as well! I want to praise the Lord Who changed my life! He saved me and made me a new creature for His glory, 2 Cor. 5:17. (Ill. All He has done for me!)
III. JACOB REFLECTED
ON THE PRESENT
(Ill. As Jacob was dying he knew that all his blessings were not in the past. The Lord had placed some things right in from of him that reminded him of God’s blessings today.)
A. v. 8-11 The Evidence Of Grace – Jacob embraces the two sons of Joseph. There was a time when he thought Joseph was dead and that there would be no offspring from that son. Now, by the grace of God, Jacob not only sees Joseph again, but he also sees Joseph’s two boys. That is grace in action!
(Note: Can you see the evidence of grace around you today? I can! I can see His grace in my family. I can see His grace in the ministry. I can see His grace in the church. I am seeing things, doing things and experiencing things I never could have imagined when He saved me. I am surrounded by the evidence of grace!)
B. v. 5-6 The Expansion Of Grace – Jacob adopts the two sons of Joseph and gives them an inheritance among Joseph’s brothers. He is, in effect, giving Joseph the double portion of the firstborn. When the inheritance of the nation of Israel was given our many years later, there was no tribe of Joseph, but there were the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim.
(Note: The grace that was active in Jacob’s life flowed from him to the successive generations. In other words, because of the grace of God that was on him, he was able to hand down a heritage, a legacy, to those who followed him. That is what we ought to be doing today. Just as Jacob handed down his blessings to his grandchildren, we ought to strive to hand down the gifts of God’s great grace to those who are following after us. (Ill. I want to have down a legacy of preaching, worship and obedience to God to those who come behind me.)
C. v. 12-20 The Economy Of Grace – In these verses, Jacob blesses Joseph’s sons. But, Jacob gives the blessing of the firstborn to Ephraim instead of Manasseh. Joseph tries to intervene, suspecting that Jacob just couldn’t see what he was doing, v. 18. But, Jacob was carrying out the will of the Lord and he knew exactly what he was doing, v. 14, 19.
In the kingdom years, Ephraim became the most powerful and populous tribe in Israel, with Manasseh being second. God gave the blessing to whom He chose.
(Note: That is the way of grace. God blesses whom He will. God uses whom He will. God chooses one over another without explanation.
When we see another person being blessed more than ourselves, there is a human tendency to become jealous. We should praise God for the simple fact that He even blesses us at all. We certainly do not deserve it! Any blessing of God on our lives is pure grace. Anytime the Lord uses us at all, it is pure grace. I look around today and I thank God for His grace!)
IV. JACOB REFLECTED
ON THE PROMISES
(Ill. Jacob concludes his reflections on his life by remembering and restating the promises of God in his life and to his offspring. These promises belong to us as well today.)
A. v. 21 Their Heritage – God had a plan for Israel. He led them into and one day He would lead them out and back to the land of Canaan. They had a heritage! God had made certain promises to their fathers, and He would keep those promises to His people.
(Note: We have a heritage too! Our spiritual fathers believed God. They loved Him and they lived for Him. They preached Him and they praised Him. They left us a legacy of worship, holiness and pure religion. We would do well to honor our heritage. I am not looking for a place to change roads. I am not looking for a new way. I am confident that the God Who sent revival in the days of our fathers will send it again in our day. I am confident that the God Who blessed the church in the days of our fathers will continue to bless the church in our day. I am confident that God will continue to honor His Word and keep His promises.)
B. v. 21 Their Helper – “God will be with you.” Jacob dies by reminding Joseph that God will never forsake His people. He will walk with them and stand with them until we leave this world for Heaven.
(Note: We live with that same promise today, Heb. 13:5; Matt. 28:20. Think about it, God is with you all the time, watching over all you do. He is there to protect you, sustain you, encourage you, bless you and use you. He is our helper!)
C. v. 21 Their Hope – One day God would visit His people and He would, deliver them from Egypt and carry them home to Canaan. That was their blessed hope, and that was just what God eventually did for them. (Ill. The plagues and the Exodus.)
(Note: We have that promise as well. Our Lord is coming back for His people, 1 Thes. 4:16-18; 1 Cor. 15:51-52. That is His promise, John 14:1-3, and that is what He will do when the time is right.)
Conc: I praise God that I can remember some great things the Lord has done in my life. I praise Him that I can look around today and see His hand at work right now. I bless His name that I have some promises for my future. Like Jacob, I can go to my death knowing that I have been blessed by my Lord.
What about you?
· Are you saved?
· Can you see the providential work of God in your life?
· Are you surrounded by His blessings today?
· Are you “standing on the promises”?
If these things are true of you and your life, you are a blessed individual. And, you should take the time to thank the Lord for His blessings and His grace in your life.
If not, then you need to come to Jesus today and you need to be saved. If He has spoken to you, please come to Him today.