It is fascinating to observe the death of some of the great men of God. Jacob’s death is detailed in Genesis 49, that begins with Jacob’s parting words to his sons.
1 Then Jacob called for his sons and said: “Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come.
Jacob goes on to detail the nature, blessings and future of each of his sons and the Israelite tribes they founded. Unless a person walks closely with God and allows his entire life to revolve around God, such clarity in knowing the future is impossible. The prophetic gift that Jacob expressed here is indeed available for all Christians, but the extent to which it will be demonstrated is an index of union with God, brought on by a daily submission to the will of God. As a Christian walks with God, he gets united with the mind of God, which is eternal. As that union progresses, he begins to see a glimpse of what the eternal mind of God, that transcends time, sees. For modern man, with an abundance of worldly distractions, it is indeed a challenge to keep one’s mind focused on God. The pressures of daily life, the worries, the sinful cravings and pride ensure that man usually remains in a worldly state, far away from the mind of God. Yet the call to each one who follows Jesus is,
‘Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.’ (1John 2:15-17)
Next, we observe Jacob’s instructions regarding his burial.
29 Then he gave them these instructions: “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite
Even though Jacob was in Egypt, enjoying the abundance of the place and warmth of his son Joseph’s provisions and presence, his heart was elsewhere. In this era of globalization where man easily moves from one country to another in search of greener pastures, it is easy to become attached to what the world can offer. But to remain detached from the worldly pleasures and remain attached to one’s true home- the eternal one, is the great challenge for a Christian.
Finally we see the calmness and control as he dies.
33 When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people.
He knew exactly when it was time for him to die. So will it be with one who walks closely with God. Death was not a surprise for him. Neither was it a terrifying experience. He knew he was going to be with God in his eternal home. He was confident of the life he lived – one of obedience to God and death held no terror for him. It is no different for one who believes in Jesus and walks with him. Jesus’ words to the thief on the cross, ‘This day you will be with me in paradise’ is a reality for all who have trusted him for their lives.
Jacob’s death amply demonstrates that a life well lived ends well.
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