“And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from before Pharaoh” (Genesis 47:10)
As we read through the Bible, we see various individuals and the trials that each faced in the development of their character.
Perhaps the most prominent individual discussed in the Genesis narrative is Abraham. Indeed, Abraham played a major role in the Judeo-Christian tradition. So it is only natural that his life and the development of his character should be highlighted.
However, Abraham is not the only major character developed in the book of Genesis. His grandson Jacob had his own rightful importance in the history of God’s dealings with His people. Jacob’s wrestling match with God was the instrument of his character development, from which Jacob (the Deceiver) emerged as Israel (the Prince of God). Jacob had come to a point of complete surrender and trust for the Lord.
In our text passage, we see an aged Jacob (Israel) having settled in the land of Canaan as the Lord had directed him. His earlier life had been characterized by his own scheming and deceptive acquisition of wealth and material goods. But as he turned his life over to the Lord, he had been blessed immensely. So much in fact, that when a famine came upon the Land of Canaan, Jacob had to seek provision for his household by sending his sons to Egypt.
Of course, God had a Master Plan at work in these events: Jacob’s son Joseph had been sold as a slave and God had promoted him to Governor of Egypt – unbeknownst to Jacob, who thought his son was dead. This played an immeasurable importance when Jacob’s other sons came seeking life-sustaining provision from the very same brother whom they’d sold and claimed to be dead! But Joseph was merciful, even giving glory to God for saving his family through the intentional wickedness of his brothers. Joseph knew God to be his Redeemer.
We see a very important lesson in our text verse as the aged Jacob is presented before the Pharaoh of Egypt. In a worldly sense, Pharaoh held a position of authority over the shepherd. But rather than seeking a blessing from Pharaoh, Jacob blesses Pharaoh. The Jacob who would have seized the opportunity to gain the favor of man had been replaced by the prince that seized the opportunity to bestow the favor of God.
“And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.” (Hebrews 7:7)
What is our perspective? Do we look on the outward appearances and see ourselves inferior to other who hold great wealth and prominence? Or do we see the true riches that are ours in Christ? In a physical sense, Jacob was at the mercy of Pharaoh. But Jacob knew that the true blessings are spiritual and that here, he was the better man. Let us adopt the correct view that spiritual riches are the only lasting wealth and seek to bestow such on those who, like Pharaoh, could use a hand-out.