“And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How old art thou? And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.” (Genesis 47:8-9)
Jacob answered Pharaoh and said: I am 130 years old. Jacob lived to be 147 years of age and was gathered to his people in death (Genesis 47:28; 49:33). I want to direct your attention to the phrase, “few and evil have the days of the years of my life been.” What Jacob meant by “few” is that his father, Isaac, and his grandfather, Abraham, had lived many more years that he had. It was a term of comparison. But, Jacob also used the word “evil,” which described his journey on earth. Not that he was evil, but that his journey had been filled with fear, doubt, trials, tribulations, and troubles.
When you read Jacob’s life history (Genesis 25 – 49), you find a man that had been chosen of God to be an heir of the everlasting covenant that God had made with Abraham (Genesis 17) and with Isaac (Genesis 19) and now with him. Jacob’s life had been ordered by God (See Romans 9:6-33; 10; 11).
However, when you follow Jacob’s life you find him tricking his brother Esau out of the birthright; then tricking his daddy Isaac out of the blessing of the birthright; then fleeing from Esau’s wrath because of Esau’s lost blessing, to his uncle Laban’s to spend 14 years laboring for his two wives; being treated badly by Laban; then leaving Laban’s house under pressure; returning to his homeland to face Esau; then losing Rachel, his favorite wife; losing Joseph, his favorite son; losing Benjamin to Pharaoh’s second in command as an earnest payment; suffering a famine; to coming with his whole household to Egypt to endure the famine. All of these events reveal what Jacob meant by the term “evil.”
Jacob was one of the greatest characters of the Old Testament. He was God’s chosen vessel to type out a child of grace; to type out Christ; and to type out that this earth’s journey is not to prepare us to stay, but to prepare and ready us for eternity. From birth to death of a child of God is written as a hyphen (-) on the tombstone at the gravesite today. It is that hyphen that stands for this journey.
Child of grace, God never promised that the flesh would not suffer. But He did promise to those who are given the power to receive Christ as Savior, a new nature; a new desire to serve Him, and not the flesh. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17) (KJV). He did in fact say that this wicked world would persecute the child of grace (John 15:18-29). But praise God, notice what Paul and James said:
“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Romans 5:3-5)
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
It is through these experiences that we are proven and conformed to His image. We also are weaned from the love of this world and brought to love Christ and His Law of Love.
Therefore, child of grace, despise not this journey and its troubles and trials, because it proves who God is (that He has all power in heaven and earth) and who we are (His blood-bought children). We are “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him” (Romans 8:17b) (KJV). “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12) (KJV). (See also 2 Corinthians 1:5-7; Philippians 1:29; 2 Timothy 2:12; Hebrews 11:25; 1 Peter 4:14-19; James 5:10.)
Yes, Jacob’s days were “evil,” meaning days of trials and tribulations. And this is the lot of the child of grace today as well as in Jacob’s day. But this is not bad, but good for the child of grace; for herein lies his conforming to the image of Christ.
Child of grace, despise not the tests and trials of life, for herein you find Christ to be your Peace, Protection, Provision, and Power. He is your Rest; He is your All in all; He is your God; and He is in charge of your journey.
Enjoy this journey in the power of Christ. Amen!