Gathered To His People
Almighty and Eternal God, You are great and greatly to be praised. Your power and wisdom are beyond our comprehension.
Read GENESIS 49:29-50:14
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION
“When you come to welcome us, may you find us ready, schooled by the fear of you, untroubled, unhesitant on the last day” (Gregory of Nazianzus, 329-389 AD).
Not far from where I live is the island of Lindisfarne (off the Northeast coast of England) or Holy Island, where Aidan founded a contemplative and evangelistic community in about 635 AD. Many people visit the island to seek God in an intentional way and to reflect on their lives. Last year, in one of the island’s retreat centers, I discovered an intriguing and thoughtful book about how to die well. One suggestion was that a dying person needs to be helped, in appropriate ways, to relinquish the relationships of life here and to turn his or her mind and heart to the relationships of the life to come. Maybe this is what we watch Jacob doing as he carefully prepares for his own good death (29-33).
“May you find us ready … untroubled, unhesitant on the last day.” Gregory of Nazianzus’ prayer might have been written with Jacob’s death in mind. This quiet man (25:27) has dominated over half the book of Genesis, his life characterized by a passionate belief in, and pursuit of, God’s promised blessing for himself and his people. This passionate pursuit has regularly involved lying and double-dealing–but also extraordinary, intimate encounters with God. “I will not let you go unless you bless me,” declared Jacob at Peniel (32:26), and he bears witness that the Lord’s blessing had been with him through thick and thin ever since (48:3,4,15). The instructions he gives his family for a Hebron burial make clear his firm belief that his story is simply one episode in the continuing saga of his people (29-32; 23:2-11). Buried with extraordinary Egyptian honors, Jacob has nevertheless resisted compromise with Egypt. “Jacob does his dying as he does his living, in terms of a promise that is not doubted. And that is enough, even though he does not know the form of the fulfillment” (Walter Brueggemann, Genesis).
“He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ … into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade” (1 Pet. 1:3,4). What does this truth mean to you?
Lord, I pray that I will live and die well, full of the hope of the Gospel and assured that nothing in life or death can separate me from Your love.
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