The King And The Commoner
Sovereign Lord, teach me what it means to live as a stranger and pilgrim in this world and not to be overawed by external power and glory.
Read GENESIS 47:1–12
Joseph went and told Pharaoh, “My father and brothers, with their flocks and herds and everything they own, have come from the land of Canaan and are now in Goshen.” 2 He chose five of his brothers and presented them before Pharaoh.
3 Pharaoh asked the brothers, “What is your occupation?”
“Your servants are shepherds,” they replied to Pharaoh, “just as our fathers were.” 4 They also said to him, “We have come to live here for a while, because the famine is severe in Canaan and your servants’ flocks have no pasture. So now, please let your servants settle in Goshen.”
5 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you, 6 and the land of Egypt is before you; settle your father and your brothers in the best part of the land. Let them live in Goshen. And if you know of any among them with special ability, put them in charge of my own livestock.”
7 Then Joseph brought his father Jacob in and presented him before Pharaoh. After Jacob blessed Pharaoh, 8 Pharaoh asked him, “How old are you?”
9 And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. My years have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers.” 10 Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from his presence.
11 So Joseph settled his father and his brothers in Egypt and gave them property in the best part of the land, the district of Rameses, as Pharaoh directed. 12 Joseph also provided his father and his brothers and all his father’s household with food, according to the number of their children.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
In his old age, Jacob had become a man who yearned less for possessions (although just given property; 11), and more of a man who yearned for the promises of God to be fulfilled (46:3,4; 48).
These notes are written as many thousands of people are flooding into Europe, fleeing war and devastation in a desperate search for security and survival. Joseph lived through a similar crisis when famine laid waste to both Canaan and Egypt, triggering a mass migration of exhausted people. Among them were Joseph’s brothers and his aged father, Jacob, whose conversation with the Pharaoh (7–10) is the highlight of this passage.
Imagine the scene: the majestic Pharaoh and the wizened old shepherd; the one about to become the owner of all the land in Egypt, the other landless, apart from the remote cave in which he will be buried. The text leaves no doubt that Jacob possesses treasure in the form of the promise of God which is unknown to Pharaoh. While “Pharaoh is engaged in chitchat,” Jacob confesses his identity as a sojourner who waits and hopes for the outworking of the divine promise (Walter Brueggemann).
The migrants pouring into the western world are people who have nothing, while wealthy and privileged European Christians enjoy security, prosperity and power. The striking image of the destitute, wandering Jacob as the bearer of God’s promise must give us pause for thought. Have we become far too much at home in “Egypt” and lost sight of our calling to be a pilgrim people? Might we have something to learn from the wisdom and experience of outsiders who have suffered much, yet continue to hope for a different kind of world?
What contact do you have with refugees or migrants? Out of that context, what can you do to demonstrate and share God’s love with them?
Mighty God, I pray for my country in these trying times. May we be a nation known for practicing compassion rather than brandishing power, with a desire for ethical integrity above all else.
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