I was reading the story of Jacob as he was approaching death, and it provoked a couple of thoughts about worship I wanted to share with you. At the risk of being perceived as reading too much into a certain passage, it seems to me that here, in this story, Jacob reflected on the past, considered the present, and pondered the future, and he was moved to worship. First, let’s go back.
“By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff.” (Hebrews 11:21) We find this story originally told in Genesis 47, and I think it captures Jacob at his finest moment. Here is an old man who truly has lived a full life. He has seen and experienced so much, and now, at the end of it all, he worships.
I’m sure that Jacob, there bowing over his staff, remembered how it had all begun. He must have thought about how he had cheated his older brother out of the blessing that rightfully fell upon the eldest. He had had to flee for his life to his Uncle Laban’s house. And in Laban he had found someone as conniving as himself. Jacob had been cheated and manipulated by Laban, but he remembers now how God had been with him even then. Jacob had only vowed to serve God if God would do certain things for him, and now, bowing over his staff, here at the end of his life, he recalled that God had been faithful beyond his wildest dreams.
Jacob remembers how he had wrestled all night with that mysterious “man” who dislocated his hip, giving him that limp that he walked with for the rest of his life. That “man” had blessed him and changed his name to Israel. It seemed so long ago now. Jacob recalls the fear he experienced when going back to meet his older brother Esau after so many years had passed. Then, there had been the rape of his daughter Dinah, and the subsequent murder of the rapist (along with the rest of the men of the city) by his sons Simeon and Levi. He remembers the death of his beloved Rachel for whom he had worked so hard.
Jacob had truly seen it all, and now here, at the end of his life, he can see how God had worked in it all, and he worships the Lord. Reflecting on the past, Jacob was moved to worship.
I don’t know what has happened to you in the past. Like Jacob, like all of us, there has probably been a mixture of love and pain. I’m sure there have been things done to you, things you’ve done to yourself,and pain you’ve brought to others. Can I tell you something? If you will let him, Jesus will give you the faith and love that will produce in you the ability to see your past in such a way that will actually cause you to worship the Lord. Jesus can bring you to a place, where you realize that the pain and suffering, all you have experienced in the past, was not meant to destroy you. It sounds crazy, I know, but in Christ; you will come to the place where you don’t deny the past, the pain, the hurt, the lies, etc…instead, you (like Jacob) will see that through it all God was bringing you to a place of intimacy with himself. Not only that, you will be able to glorify God as you encourage someone else who is going through circumstances similar to what you have experienced. And, you will worship.