Reflections On Life, From One Who Nears The End

Many have rightly observed that as someone approaches the end of their life, they often have increasing insight into what was really most important… about what they did right and what they should have done differently. Sometimes even those who spent their whole lives pursuing some idol, such as money and power, begin to realize how empty that pursuit really was. How much more wisdom can we gain, then, from listening to a righteous man as he reflects on his life and walk with God.

Genesis 48

Israel’s Last Days

      1Now it came about after these things that Joseph was told, “Behold, your father is sick.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim with him. 2When it was told to Jacob, “Behold, your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel collected his strength and sat up in the bed. 3Then Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, 4and He said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and numerous, and I will make you a company of peoples, and will give this land to your descendants after you for an everlasting possession.’ 5“Now your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, as Reuben and Simeon are. 6“But your offspring that have been born after them shall be yours; they shall be called by the names of their brothers in their inheritance. 7“Now as for me, when I came from Paddan, Rachel died, to my sorrow, in the land of Canaan on the journey, when there was still some distance to go to Ephrath; and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).”

      8When Israel saw Joseph’s sons, he said, “Who are these?” 9Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me here.” So he said, “Bring them to me, please, that I may bless them.” 10Now the eyes of Israel were so dim from age that he could not see. Then Joseph brought them close to him, and he kissed them and embraced them. 11Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face, and behold, God has let me see your children as well.” 12Then Joseph took them from his knees, and bowed with his face to the ground. 13Joseph took them both, Ephraim with his right hand toward Israel’s left, and Manasseh with his left hand toward Israel’s right, and brought them close to him. 14But Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, crossing his hands, although Manasseh was the firstborn.

15He blessed Joseph, and said,
“The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,
The God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day,

      16The angel who has redeemed me from all evil,
Bless the lads;
And may my name live on in them,
And the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
And may they grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”

      17When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on Ephraim’s head, it displeased him; and he grasped his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn. Place your right hand on his head.” 19But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know; he also will become a people and he also will be great. However, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.”

20He blessed them that day, saying,
“By you Israel will pronounce blessing, saying,
‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh!’”
Thus he put Ephraim before Manasseh.

21Then Israel said to Joseph, “Behold, I am about to die, but God will be with you, and bring you back to the land of your fathers. 22“I give you one portion more than your brothers, which I took from the hand of the Amorite with my sword and my bow.”

Israel found his relationship with God to be of highest importance. He reflected back on the promises God made and spoke of them in complete confidence that they would come to pass even though he did not yet see it with his own eyes. There is no hint of regret or lack of faith that God’s promises were not yet fulfilled as of the end of Israel’s life. Rather there is a confident faith that they are in the process of being fulfilled.

Israel valued family… in particular the family he had once lost and then had restored. He did not complain to God that Joseph had been lost, but rather gives glory to God that he was able to see not only Joseph again but also his children.

It was of high importance to Jacob to pass along his blessing to Joseph and Joseph’s sons. Once again, this demonstrates strong faith in the multi-generational promise of God.

There is no bitterness or fear in Israel. He reflects on the loss of Rachel and the sorrow he experienced in that, but gives every confidence from this record in scripture that he is prepared for death, prepared to continue his journey with God beyond the confines of this earthly life.

Reflect on your life for a few moments. Do not rush it. Does your life reflect the values that Israel reflected on at the end of his life? Are you satisfied you are living for God and obeying His commands? Does your life reflect God’s will or your own? Do you have a relationship with God in which you hear His specific directions for your life? Do you seek Him in prayer, study His word, and give honor, praise and thanks to Him consistently?

Are you satisfied with your family relationships?

Do you hold any bitterness or resentment toward others or God?

What changes do you think God wants you to make?

Whether you find yourself nearing the end of this life or anticipating decades yet to come, take time to evaluate your life. Humble yourself to be willing to admit, to yourself and to God, that you should make some changes and then go about making those changes while you still have time. None of our tomorrows are promised to us, no matter what are age and health may be.

Are you ready for what comes next after you die in this world?

Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

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