A Sojourning Sheep and His Shepherd

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Jacob experienced a lot in his life. He had highs and lows like we all do. Jacob was willing to work 7 years for his uncle’s daughter. But after those years were complete, Laban—his uncle—pulled a fast one giving Jacob a wife he didn’t want at first. He ended up having to work another 7 years for the wife he did want. Later in life, his daughter was raped by a Hivite prince. You can imagine how agonizing this must have been as a father to go through this. Not to mention, he lived over 20 years believing Joseph, his prized son, was devoured by wild animals. But he enjoyed some highs as well. He saw God face to face and lived (though his hip was permanently damaged). God prospered him with a large family. God protected him against a vengeful brother. His life by no means lacked drama.  But two things stick out that Jacob said as he drew near the end of his life. At age 130, Jacob leaves with his sons to the land of Egypt so Joseph can watch over him. The dreams of Joseph had come to pass. When Joseph introduces his father to Pharaoh, this is what Jacob says:

 “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” (Gen. 47:10). 

Before his death about a decade and a half later, he rounds up all his sons and gives them a blessing. He even calls Joseph’s kids—his two grandsons, Manasseh and Ephraim, and says:

 “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” 

I pick up from these two statements Jacob had a reverent and profound relationship with God. He was confident—even after living as long as he did—earth was not his home. He never ‘settled in’ to this world like you would a home by hanging paintings on a wall or ordering decorative pillows for your couch. Why would he? He was going somewhere. He considered his life more like living out of a suitcase. He was just a sojourner passing through. His 147 years were but a vapor of air compared to the eternity he would have in the presence of God. Jacob knew nothing would derail his arrival to this destination, because even in the highs and lows, Jacob had said of his God: he is “my shepherd all my life to this day.” 

 We do not know all the highs and lows that await us. We are not supposed to. What we do know is that this life is not all there is. We have a faithful shepherd that will be with us every step of the way guiding us to our true home.

Are you trusting in God as your shepherd? Do you consider yourself merely a sojourner on earth or do you find yourself ‘settling in’ and making yourself comfortable in this world? 

Jonathan Moseley