By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.
— HEBREWS 11:21
Then he blessed Joseph and said, “May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked faithfully, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, the Angel who has delivered me from all harm —may he bless these boys. May they be called by my name and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and may they increase greatly on the earth.”
— GENESIS 48:15-16
The end of Jacob’s life gives me hope. In spite of his many character flaws, he died with nobility; after all, he makes it into the Faith Hall of Fame. His faith invites me to embrace my current season of life with more vocational purpose, not less. There’s a shift that needs to take place, and like every other sanctifying work, that shift requires death and resurrection.
The shift requires facing the fact that what worked for me as a younger man doesn’t work anymore. The good news is that it isn’t supposed to! The once scheming, self-sufficient Jacob is now losing muscle tone, eyesight and balance, but his truest spiritual energies are being released with prophetic insight and potency that will ultimately shape history. He places his hands on his grandsons and blesses them. In effect, by placing his hands on others, he’s taking his hands off himself. He prays they will be encountered by the same God who encountered him: “…the God who has been my Shepherd all my life to this day” (Genisis 48:15).
The writer of Hebrews describes this demonstration of Jacob’s strength in weakness as worship; what could be more worshipful and selfless than a dying grandfather performing this great giveaway? It’s your turn, lads! God is with you!
This story reminds me of how my morality should portray the message of the cross, and it also encourages my mission as a father and grandfather.
1. In what ways could God be inviting me to embrace “leaning on your staff” as a new season of expanding his strength in your weakness?
2. Are there one or two “sons” or “daughters” whom I am being prompted by the Spirit to bless?
Brian Buhler is the Senior Pastor of Pacific Community Church in Cloverdale, BC. He’s been happily married to Myrna for thirty-seven years and is blessed with three children and five grandchildren.