28Jacob lived for seventeen years after his arrival in Egypt, so he was 147 years old when he died. 29As the time of his death drew near, he called for his son Joseph and said to him, “If you are pleased with me, swear most solemnly that you will honor this, my last request: Do not bury me in Egypt. 30When I am dead, take me out of Egypt and bury me beside my ancestors.”

So Joseph promised that he would.

31“Swear that you will do it,” Jacob insisted.

So Joseph gave his oath, and Jacob bowed in worship as he leaned on his staff.
Genesis 47:28-31 (NLT)

There is a lot I don’t understand about the story of Joseph – the Lord devotes twelve chapters in the book of Genesis to his story – the same amount as devoted to Abraham. And while there are many minor lessons that can be taught from Joseph’s story (if any lessons can be classified as minor), I feel like I am missing the big one. But setting that aside, I love the picture developed in this passage.

Joseph is now the governor or prime minister of Egypt, controlling all the grain distribution during the seven years of famine. His brothers come to buy grain and eventually Joseph reveals himself to them. They then go and bring their father, Jacob (also called Israel), and the entire family back to Egypt. Seventeen years later Jacob is nearing his death. He calls Joseph and asks him to promise that his final resting place will not be in Egypt – that after he dies, they will take him to the land of his fathers and bury him there. After Joseph agrees…

“Jacob bowed in worship as he leaned on his staff.” Genesis 47:31b

And that’s the picture I love. I hope and pray that when I am old, that I bow, leaning on my cane, and worship the One True God.

There is something very precious about children in worship – children who have not yet been disillusioned and battered by life, offering pure, unadulterated worship to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Their purity and freshness encourages and blesses those who see it.

At the other end of the spectrum, there is also something very precious about the elderly in worship – those who have experienced life’s ups and downs and who no longer stand with strength and vitality. Those who are aware of who and what they once were and that they no longer are. Those who understand that their years on this earth are almost finished. Their testimony of the goodness of God over long years of life’s challenges and more recent years of frailty shouts louder than their voices can begin to project.

“Jacob bowed in worship as he leaned on his staff.”

Lord, thank you for the faithfulness of men and women over the generations who have reached their elder years and still bowed in worship to You. May I become a part of that crowd of witnesses some day, Lord. Help me to finish well and when I am near my end, to lean on my cane and worship the One True God who has blessed my life through all its challenges and victories.

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