MORE THAN AN OBITUARY! Someone summarized Jacob’s life this way, “He is the son of Isaac and Rebecca, the grandson of Abraham, Sarah and Bethuel, the nephew of Ishmael, and the younger twin brother of Esau. Jacob had twelve sons and at least one daughter, by his two wives, Leah and Rachel, and by their handmaidens Bilhah and Zilpah (Wikipedia). As you read this you could be reading Jacob’s obituary but you would miss the real importance of his life and how he and his descendants impacted human history. God chose Jacob as the one through whom the Abrahamic covenant would continue and the family line through which the Messiah of Israel would eventually come and provide salvation for all mankind.
The life of Jacob is filled with great events from his time in the womb with his brother Esau and their life-long conflicts, Jacob’s ladder, a wrestling match with God and a new name (Israel), a romance and marriage with Rachel and Leah, a deceptive relationship with his father-in-law, a departure from and a return to Canaan, the conflicts between his sons, famines, a flight to Egypt, the rise of his son Joseph to power in Egypt and Jacob’s death in Egypt. The narrative of Jacob’s life starts in Genesis 25:21and ends in Genesis 49:33. It basically covers the pages of half the book of Genesis and a span of 147 years. In the New Testament, Hebrews 11:9-10 says that Jacob was an heir with Abraham “of the same promise” and “was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” And in Hebrews 11:21 the bible says, “By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.” Jacob’s life was full of twists and turns, victories and defeats, highs and lows, godliness and sinfulness, much like us but in the end he was surrendered to God. Take the time to read these chapters and see God’s hand at work in human history.
When our obituary is written, if Jesus does not return to rapture us out of this world before then, it will probably only reveal a few facts about us and those facts will probably be soon forgotten. What is really important is our relationship with God and how we are living now and the impact we are making on the people in our lives and living around us. Jacob died almost 4,000 years ago but the impact of his life lives on in multiple ways and God still uses the events of his life to impact our generation. While we may never be famous or have books written about us or be remembered by most of society let us strive to be more than just a temporary obituary written in a local newspaper or on a funeral home brochure. God wants to use each of us to share the good news of Jesus Christ and his salvation to those He brings into our lives and He wants us to live in such a way that people see Jesus through us. Many of the people instrumental in my life in helping me come to Christ and start life in Christ have died and their obituaries have been printed but their memory and their impact lives on. Let us pray that God will help each of us be more than an obituary and as we get old and “lean on the top of our staff” let us be sure that we are still worshipping God.