I have a friend who’s a great golfer. He played on his university golf team, after being taught the game by his father at an early age.
Occasionally, as he’s playing in a scramble event like the Holly Alm Camp Scholarship Fund, he will turn to one of his partners who is readying to hit a shot and say, “Don’t be afraid to be great.”
Someone has said, “It’s never too late to do something amazing.” At age 77 John Glenn was the oldest astronaut ever to be sent into space. At 82 William Ivy Baldwin was the oldest tightrope walker in history to walk across South Boulder Canyon in Colorado, on a 320-foot wire. At 89 Arthur Rubinstein performed at Carnegie Hall, in one of his greatest recitals ever. At 92 Paul Spangler finished his 14th marathon. At 93 P.G. Wodehouse finished his 97th novel, was knighted, and died. At 99 Teiichi Igarashi climbed Mt. Fuji. And at age 100 Frank Shearer became the oldest water-skier in the world. None of them were too afraid to be great, regardless of their age.
In Genesis 47 Joseph presents his father to Pharaoh as he and his brothers have entered the land of Egypt. There, in front of the greatest Pharaoh in the 3,000-year history of Egyptian Pharaohs, Joseph’s father is asked only one question: “How old are you?” Now, there are several reasons for the question, but chief among them is his advanced age. The average age of Egyptians at the time was a fraction of Jacob’s age. Remarkably, this Pharaoh, Ramses II, will be the longest ruling Pharaoh in Egyptian history and will die at the astonishing age of 90. But Jacob’s already 130-years-old.
So Pharaoh asks, “How old are you?” And Jacob commences whining. As we noted last Sunday, his focus is singularly on himself. He talks as if he’s going to die any minute; and yet, he will live another 17 years.
It’s during these 17 years that some serious changes occur in his perspective. What he says about his life in chapter 48 is in absolute variance to what he says in chapter 47. We are going to dig into all of this on Sunday in a message entitled, “Like Father, Like Son.” The text for the message is Genesis 48:1-16.
In preparation for Sunday you may wish to consider the following:
1. Read Hebrews 11 and note what the writer says about Jacob.
2. What does the writer of Hebrews identify as Jacob’s greatest achievement?
3. What does Israel mean in verse 5 when he says that Joseph’s sons are his?
4. Why does the Bible refer to him as Israel and not Jacob?
5. What’s Joseph’s name mean?
6. How does this passage show us the connections of his name?
7. How does Israel reinterpret his life in verses 15-16?
8. How does he reinterpret the “evil” that has befallen him?
9. What are the elements of his worship of God?
10. How do these verses relate to your life?
See you Sunday!