“For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come” (Hebrews 13:14 NLT).
The Scriptures record an event in the life of Jacob, the famous Old Testament patriarch, that serves to illustrate our text from Hebrews 13:14. When Jacob’s son Joseph brought him to meet Pharaoh, the Egyptian king, Genesis chapter forty-seven details a portion of the conversation that took place between them…
“Then Joseph brought in his father Jacob and set him before Pharaoh; and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. Pharaoh said to Jacob, ‘How old are you?’ And Jacob said to Pharaoh, ‘The days of the years of my pilgrimage are one hundred and thirty years; few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.’ So Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from before Pharaoh” (Genesis 47:7-10).
When Pharaoh inquired about Jacob’s age, we should notice that Jacob began his response by saying, “The years of my pilgrimage…” or, “The years of my sojourning…” (ESV). Those words convey the image of a traveler. This indicates that Jacob viewed himself as someone who was on a journey through life. In other words, he viewed the days and years of his earthly existence as a pilgrimage on the way to his future destination. That leads us to some important questions: “Where was Jacob headed on that pilgrimage and what was his ultimate destination?”
Well, Jacob’s ultimate destination was an eternal home with the God who had spoken with him before he entered Egypt (see Genesis chapter 46). His place was with the God who appeared to him in a dream according to Genesis 28:10-19. Jacob’s eternal residence was with the One who once wrestled with him throughout the night in Genesis 32:24-30.
Jacob was destined to travel to Egypt, but his future was not there. Instead, Jacob’s future was with the God who had protected him, blessed him, and provided for him throughout the various stages of his life. This explains why Jacob saw himself as someone who was on a journey through life- and what was true for Jacob is also true for us as well.
At the risk of sounding pedantic, our lives are also like roads we travel. That journey begins at conception and concludes with our physical death, or the end of our material existence in respect to this life. We’ll complete our look at this concept in the conclusion of this miniseries next.