Sermon July 5 2015 Genesis 47:28-48:22 “What’s On Your Bucket List? Things You Should Do Before You Die.”

July 5, 2015           Lord’s Supper                                                          Genesis 47:28-48:22

Series: Divine Hope for Dysfunctional Families

Today’s Message:   “What’s on Your Bucket List? Things You Should Do Before You Die”

Pastor Louis Prontnicki     Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church

      What’s on your bucket list? If you haven’t heard the term “bucket list”, it’s a list of all the goals you WANT to achieve, all the dreams you WANT to fulfill, and the life experiences you DESIRE to experience… before you die, before you “kick the bucket.”

So what’s on your bucket list?

In the passage of Scripture before us, Gen. 47:28-48:22, we see Jacob’s “bucket list.” And the interesting thing is that as he gets closer to death, we see him more spiritually mature than ever before! We don’t see Jacob wanting to explore the Nile River or climb the Pyramids; instead we see him focused on God’s covenant, the gospel, and God’s grace.

Here is hope for the believer in Jesus Christ, that our latter years can be used by God to be our most significant ones! Here is encouragement for those whose dysfunctional families span two or three decades: God is able to write straight on crooked lines, even with generations of stubborn sinners! So, using Jacob’s “bucket list” as our template, I want to suggest three things that should be on your bucket list:

1. You should aim to peak spiritually, even while you decline physically.

2. You should aspire to pass on the gospel, before you pass on.

3. You can abound in God’s grace, even if your family is dysfunctional.

 

A note to those who are younger: this message applies to you as well, in at least two ways:

First, you too, one day, will grow older, and you will need to grapple with these issues;

Second, right now you can encourage those around you who are older.

 

1. You should aim to peak spiritually, even while you decline physically.

Jacob has lived a long and adventurous life, but now it’s time to get to his bucket list. His health is in serious decline. His eyesight was failing because of his old age (48:10). He is ill in bed (48:1). You can be sure that Jacob had all the aches and pains of old age, and he had been a widower for many decades (48:7), which still leaves an emptiness in his heart. Jacob has declined physically.

But despite his frailties, God was at work in Jacob, causing him to peak spiritually! Why do I think that? Well, look at what the text tells us:

Jacob is quick to recount God’s promises and blessings to him over his long life (48:3-4)

Jacob desires to bless his adult children and his grandchildren spiritually (48:9, 15-16)

Jacob acknowledges that God has blessed him far above his expectations (48:11).

Jacob could not see very well, physically, but he saw, spiritually, the future blessings that God had in store for Joseph’s sons. (v. 17ff).

Do you get the picture? This is not a grandfather who starts acting like a wild teenager and who thinks “I can say and do anything I want to because I’m 147 years old, and no one can tell me what to do!” (Have you met those kinds?) No. Jacob has mellowed and matured in his walk with God. God’s grace has softened his heart, even as his arteries are hardening. Yes, Jacob probably had his share of “senior moments” of forgetfulness, but here he was sharp as a tack when he realized Joseph’s two sons were in the room, because he was all set to give them a well thought-out blessing.

Jacob seems to have grown in his faith and trust in God, in the last 17 years. Contrast his words here vs. what he said to pharaoh in Gen. 47:9, about hard and bitter his life had been.

Application: Let’s remember that as our eyesight and hearing and our faculties decline, we can still be at our spiritual peak… and you and I can be used by God to do important work for God’s kingdom! I think of Dr. William Miller, born in 1893, who was a missionary to Iran from 1921 for over 40 years, and who lived to be almost 100….how Christ-like he was, and the gospel love he had for Muslims, right up to the end.

So here’s the first thing I want you to put on your bucket list: That the latter portion of your life would be your most fruitful and your sweetest, through the power of the Holy Spirit in you! Just because you are wrinkled doesn’t mean that you are ruined! God wants the final chapters of your life to be your most significant, at least to Him.

Do you believe that? Will you ask God to give you this mindset, this attitude?

 

 

2. You should aspire to pass on the gospel, before you pass on.

Jacob is about to pass on, to die. (47:28; 48:21). He know it, and he acknowledges it. He doesn’t try to deny it or run from it. He faces it head-on, without fear, without complaining, without bitterness, and without regrets. And what is Jacob’s focus of attention as death approaches? Who will get his money? What will people say about him at his funeral service? No.

Jacob’s concern is passing on the gospel before he passes on. He wants to hand off the baton of God’s covenant promises and blessings to the next generation and to the ones after that. That’s the second thing on Jacob’s bucket list. And so (picture this) we see him “rallying his strength and sitting up in bed” (48:2) so that he can impart the blessings of the gospel to his son and grandson. Note what Jacob says and does:

 

First, he wants to pass on the gospel in his death. He purposed to make his death and funeral arrangement a testimony to his faith in the Lord, to stimulate the faith of his descendants. Jacob urged Joseph to promise that he would not bury him in Egypt, but rather back in Canaan. Why? Because this would remind his descendants that Egypt was not their home, until God would bring them to their true “home” to Canaan.

(What about your funeral arrangements? More on this in Genesis 50)

 

Second, Jacob wants to pass on the gospel in his declaration. Having been assured of his request, Jacob bowed in worship on the head of his staff (47:31) and then proceeded to bless Joseph’s sons. It is this incident which the writer to the Hebrews cites as evidence of the faith of Jacob: “By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshipped, leaning on the top of his staff.” (Hebrews 11:21).

 

Note also how Jacob testifies to God’s past and present faithfulness to His promises in 48:3, regarding blessing Jacob, making him fruitful, and increasing his number. Then in v. 4, Jacob witnesses to his sons by affirming that the same God will also bring their people one day into the promised land.

 

One possible application: Have you made a record of God’s blessings and faithfulness to you, over the decades of your life? I encourage you to write them down, to make a scrapbook, to record them in some fashion… and then make sure it is passed on and read or viewed. It will be a witness to the unbelievers and an encouragement to the saints. Imagine 50 or 100 years from now, one of your grandchildren or great-great grandchildren discovering and reading your testimony of how God worked in your life!

So that’s the second thing from Jacob’s bucket list that I want you to put on your list: Be deliberate about how you are going to pass on the gospel, before you pass on.

 

 

3. You can abound in God’s grace, even if your family is dysfunctional.

(48:13-14) “And Joseph took both of them, Ephraim on his right toward Israel’s left hand and Manasseh on his left toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them close to him. 14 But Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim’s head, though he was the younger, and crossing his arms, he put his left hand on Manasseh’s head, even though Manasseh was the firstborn.”

Why did Jacob deliberately give the special blessing of the firstborn to the younger grandson, instead of to the older one? Was he just doing what he got his father, Isaac, to do to him, by deceit, so as to manipulate the situation? I don’t think so. Why not? Well, for one thing, Hebrews 11:21 tells us he did this “by faith.” Another reason is that Jacob has finally learned that God operates on the basis of grace, and not on the expectations of the flesh or of nature. Jacob has learned that God’s ways are higher and different than our normal plans… for His glory!

Derek Kidner comments: “The ensuing history of Israel would show that God’s hand was behind the hands that Jacob now laid upon them.” These were the hands of God’s sovereign choosing in election, by His grace.

 

Look at the triple dealings of God and the triple blessings that Jacob bestows, in vv. 15-16:

15 Then he blessed Joseph [collective idea for both sons] and said,

 

I. God’s Trifecta of His gracious covenantal dealings:

A.  “May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, [i.e., God’s covenant faithfulness]

B. the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, [as Jacob shepherded Laban’s flock for 20 years, he used this imagery for God’s pastoral care for himself; also Ps. 23/John 10]

C. 16 “the Angel who has delivered me from all harm” [“delivered” is go-el; the Kinsman-Redeemer]; [the Angel (Gen. 31:11) is the Angel of God {Jesus} spoke to Jacob in a dream, “I am the God of Bethel.”

Jacob is declaring that the Giver of these blessings is our covenant-keeping God, Who is our Good Shepherd, and Who is our Kinsman-Redeemer, Jesus Christ Himself!

 

II. The Triple-Header Blessings of God’s grace:

A. May he bless these boys. (general blessing)

B. May they be called by my name and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, (again, the idea of God’s sovereign and electing grace) and

C. May they increase greatly on the earth.” (See Genesis 12:2-3, as well as the Great Commission on Mt. 28:18-20)

   Jacob had grown in his understanding of God’s abundant grace, and he was desirous that his children and grandchildren would soak it up as well.

    Application: These blessings by Jacob point us to the highest blessing we can receive, which is to be blessed by God, in Christ, by grace. A godly grandfather or grandmother (or uncle or aunt) should do all they can to see that their grandchildren have God’s richest blessings poured out on them…especially through prayer, words, and example. Passing on a godly, Christ-centered heritage is the supreme blessing.

   So here’s the third thing I want you to put on your bucket list, from Jacob’s list:

Seek to abound in God’s grace; don’t be a grumpy grandpa or grandma. Even if your family is very dysfunctional, God is calling you to be a channel of God’s grace in Christ to your family, relatives, and the generations to come.

   Practical tip: If you daily recall God’s mercy, grace, and faithfulness to you, each morning, then your faith in Christ will shine through the dark clouds of your aches and pains, your family woes, and your difficult circumstances.

 

So what’s on your bucket list?

What things is God calling you to DO, before you die?

What things is God calling you to BE, before you die?

What things is God calling you to REMEMBER, before you die?