STUDIES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
“By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.”
Anxiety. Trepidation. Dread. These are words which some older Christians have used to describe how they feel concerning things to come for their children and grandchildren. They are anxious about the swift moral decline they see happening in our country. They are certain that things are bound to get worse after they are dead and gone, and the prospect fills them with trepidation and dread. The Scripture before us is a wonderful reminder that things look much different when viewed through the eyes of faith—a faith which trusts in the loving God who has rescued us from sin, death, and eternal hellfire through His Son, Jesus Christ.
The godly examples of faith mentioned in our text above took place when each of the individuals were well advanced in age, and when two of them were near death. Each of these patriarchs, in his old age, put his faith in the sure promises of God, and passed on to his progeny a word of certain hope concerning things to come.
When Isaac blessed Jacob, he said, “And [God] give you the blessing of Abraham, to you and your descendants with you, that you may inherit the land in which you are a stranger, which God gave to Abraham.” (Genesis 28:4) When Jacob blessed Joseph’s sons he spoke of “the Angel who has redeemed me from all evil,” and then later said to Joseph, “God will be with you and bring you back to the land of your fathers.” (Genesis 48:16, 21) And finally, when Joseph was on his deathbed he said to his brethren, “God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” (Genesis 50:24)
With the short time they had left on earth, these patriarchs had no expectation of seeing God’s promised land for themselves, and yet they could speak to their descendants with full certainty that God would surely do as He said. Why? Because the same God Who had been faithful to them even into their old age had also promised to be faithful to their descendants.
Our God is the mighty I AM. He is the God of the past and present as well as the God of the future. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) God’s Word endures, and so do the promises He’s placed there. Are there dark days that lie ahead for our children or grandchildren? Perhaps, but there is no darkness that can ever overshadow the sure promises which God reveals to us in His holy Word. God’s Word guarantees to those who trust in Jesus alone for salvation that they will reach the promised land of heaven. Let us then hope to secure the future of our children and grandchildren the same way that Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph did, by passing on to our offspring the precious promises of God’s Word. As we do, we will confidently proclaim with the psalmist, “Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.” (Psalm 90:1)
Chad Seybt is pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming.