Life never stands still, and so a great deal has happened to Jacob since we last encountered him in his early years:-
He has since journey to Haran to the home of his uncle Laban, where having married his two daughters he became rich and prosperous and the father of many children (Genesis 29 & 30.)
After many long years he has returned to Canaan, been reconciled to his brother Esau, and has lived a nomadic life (Genesis 33 & 35.)
Due to famine and the desire to see Joseph, his favourite son, he has decamped to the land of Egypt (Genesis 46) and it was here towards the end of Jacob’s life that the two incidents mentioned in Hebrews 11 occur – “By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshipped as he leaned on the top of his staff.”
We shall concentrate on the second incident, where having made arrangements to be buried back in Canaan, Jacob – “worshipped as he leaned on the top of his staff,” highlighting three important aspects of the Christian faith:-
1 – It is a life of WORSHIP.
Satisfied that he would now be buried in his beloved Canaan, Jacob worshipped God, despite the fact that God’s promise (Genesis 28 v 13 – 15) had not yet been fulfilled and now seemed further away than eve. Yet such worship was not a one off, it that he was a regular worshipper:-
At Bethel he erected a pillar which he then anointed with oil (Genesis 28 v 18 – 22) and later built an altar there (Genesis 35 v 7.)
At Shechem he built another altar (Genesis 33 v 20.)
At Beersheba on his journey to Egypt he offered sacrifices (Genesis 46 v 1.)
Challenge – Are you living a life of worship that is directed to the one, true God?
2 – It is a life of DEPENDENCE.
Jacob was elderly and frail; he found standing tiresome and walking difficult because of a hip problem that caused him to limp. So while he worshipped he was dependent on his staff, which he leant on for support.
Challenge – Are you living a life of dependence on God rather than on yourself?
3 – It is a life of PILGRIMAGE.
As he journeyed from place to place Jacob walked with his staff (Genesis 32 v 10); as did other Biblical heavy weights such as Balaam, Elijah and David. In the Bible the staff is a symbol of pilgrimage and movement with Israel celebrating the Feast of the Passover with staff in hand ready to leave Egypt (Exodus 12 v 11); while the disciples of Jesus were not to take any food or money, or even a bag with them, (Mark 6 v 8) while they were engaged in mission. Nothing was to hold them back, with the only item that they were permitted to take being a staff to foster swift movement.
Challenge – Are you living a life of pilgrimage, continually moving towards spiritual maturity?
Theme: “Worshipping with the aid of a walking stick!”
Reading: Hebrews 11 v 21 & Genesis 47 v 27 – 31
Preacher: Chris Hughes
Led by: Chris Hughes