27 Now the Israelites settled in Egypt in the region of Goshen. They acquired property there and were fruitful and increased greatly in number.
28 Jacob lived in Egypt seventeen years, and the years of his life were a hundred and forty-seven. 29 When the time drew near for Israel to die, he called for his son Joseph and said to him, “If I have found favour in your eyes, put your hand under my thigh and promise that you will show me kindness and faithfulness. Do not bury me in Egypt, 30 but when I rest with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me where they are buried.”
“I will do as you say,” he said.
31 “Swear to me,” he said. Then Joseph swore to him, and Israel worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.
God is as good as His Word. None of His promises will ever fall to the ground. It is important to see verse 27 as the fruition of God’s Word to Jacob (46:3). God had proved Himself faithful to this man. Jacob had trusted Him and gone down to Egypt. He had been there for seventeen years already and he, and his family, were experiencing the blessing of God. They were living in the middle of the fulfillment of His Word. Now Jacob’s request to be buried back in Canaan was also an act of faith (see 46:4).
“By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshipped as he leaned on top of his staff” (Hebrews 11:21).
He was still a man of faith upon his death bed.
‘Egypt was a haven for Jacob and his family, and there God protected them and built of them a great people. But Jacob knew that Egypt was not his home, Canaan was; and he wanted to be buried there with others who had made the same pilgrimage of faith. He was a testimony in life, and he wanted to be a testimony in death. Despite his mistakes and failures in life, Jacob ended well.’ Warren W. Wiersbe, ‘With the Word’, p.44.
We can all thank God that it is not perfection He seeks, but faith:
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists, and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).
Jacob wanted his bones to rest in the land promised to Abraham and his descendants, that is Canaan. The bones of Abraham and Isaac were already there in the cave near Mamre, which Abraham had bought from the Hittites as a burial plot (Genesis 23:17,18). (Derek Kidner makes the rather lovely point that Jacob had already been reunited with his “fathers”, verse 30, before he was “buried” with them).
PRAYER: Lord God, please help me to walk by faith, not by sight, all the days of my life – and even in death itself.