Jacob replied, “I have lived for 130 hard years, but I am still not nearly as old as many of my ancestors.” – Genesis 47:9
In Old Testament times, long life was considered a sign of God’s favor and was linked, very definitely, to obedience. When Pharaoh met Jacob, his only recorded question was “How old are you?” (Genesis 47:8). Pharaoh’s query may have been prompted by appropriate awe in the presence of such an aged man. Jacob answered Pharaoh’s question saying that he was not nearly as old as many of his ancestors.
In the end, it’s not a question only of how many years God gives us but of how we live them. A long life may not necessarily mean a good life or a happy life, even if we enjoy God’s favor. For Jacob it meant a hard life, but he did not allow his later years to be bitter ones. When Jacob was 130 years old, he blessed Pharaoh. Seventeen years later, as he lay dying, Jacob gathered his twelve sons around him and blessed them.
The point is that Jacob’s old age was crowned with blessing and worship. Jacob used his borrowed years for God—he was a blessing to those around him.
So how do you and I live out our lives, whatever the years bring? Do we seek to live them as Jacob did—growing our souls upward toward the light in the fertile soil of adversity? Do we strive to be obedient, enriching other people’s lives? Jacob was a blessing; we should be, too.
For Further Study: Genesis 47:1-12
Excerpted from The One Year Devotions for Women, Copyright ©2000 by Jill Briscoe. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.
For more from Jill Briscoe, please visit TellingtheTruth.org.