Biblical Last Words: Jacob Worships

Biblical Last Words: Jacob Worships

Biblical Last Words: Jacob Worships.

“It was by faith that Jacob, when he was old and dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons and bowed in worship as he leaned on his staff.”  (Hebrews 11:21).

It’s easy to picture this poignant scene as Jacob was close to death. He gathered all his sons around him, and wanted to offer his last words to them. Jacob’s life to this point had been one long spiritual roller-coaster. He had his moments of deception, and ambition, and running for his life from brother Esau. On the other hand, he had been privileged to experience spiritual moments that are unmatched in Scripture, from the ladder to heaven at Bethel, to the Angel of the Lord, Jesus Christ, wrestling with Jacob all night. Jacob was determined to receive a blessing from this divine Angel, and he finally did, from God Himself. His name was changed to Israel, “striving with God,” and he was given a disabled hip to remind Jacob that dependence on God is now the order of the day, and not dependence on his own resourcefulness and cleverness. Jacob limped thereafter, he was never the same man physically or spiritually. As he walked, leaning upon his staff, he lived, leaning into his God. As someone who seemed to live spiritually bent over so much of the time, he now was finally spiritually upright. After the name change, he was upright even as he was physically bent over. He turned to God, and enjoyed a deep relationship with Yahweh until his dying breath.

So Jacob, still resolute at the end of his life, was determined to invite God into the future of his sons. Jacob was taken over by the Spirit of God as he offered prophetic blessings for each son. Jacob had words of knowledge for them all as he spoke his last words to them. “These are the twelve tribes of Israel (Jacob), and this is what their father said as he told his sons good-bye. Jacob blessed them everyone with the blessing appropriate to him.” (Gen. 49:28). As the Message put it, “Jacob blessed them with God’s blessings – not his own.” (Hebrews 11:21).

But Jacob’s farewell blessings were not the end. Revealing the importance Yahweh had become in his life, Jacob in his dying act worshipped the Lord. He leaned on the top  of his staff, bowed his head, and offered reverent prayers to God, his deep friend. We don’t know the words Jacob used, but they were certainly in the spirit of his opening words to his blessing of his son Joseph. “May the God before whom my grandfather Abraham and my father Isaac, walked – the God who has been my shepherd all my life, to this very day, the Angel who has redeemed me from all harm – may He bless these boys.” (Gen. 48:15-16). We do know that Jacob went from clever schemer to faithful believer, and in his humility before the Lord, his final words were spoken in reverence and gratitude to the God of his fathers. In the Aramaic, the word for worship means “to surrender,” and that’s what Jacob did in his dying words, he surrendered his life one more time to the Lord. Despite the profound ups and downs in his long life, Jacob had come to believe that the Lord had been his shepherd through everything. A. W. Tozer described worship as being “struck with astonished wonder at the inconceivable elevation and magnitude and splendor of Almighty God.” Isn’t it wonderful that Jacob’s final recorded act was worship, his offering of adoration and devotion, a final act of astonished wonder? Jacob died well.