The Reality of the Promise

We find an interesting picture as the Joseph narrative is nearly finished and Joseph introduces his father Jacob to the Pharaoh of Egypt. Here Genesis gives a clash of world views. Two different histories. Two different ways of life. One appears secure, the other appears to have nothing. In fact, these two have only one thing in common – Joseph. Pharaoh is settled, safe and prosperous. Jacob is a nomad with nothing but a promise. Yet he believes this promise more than any of the Egyptian realities.

“Then Joseph brought his father Jacob and presented him to Pharaoh; and Jacob blessed Pharaoh.” Pharaoh asks a question, Jacob responds, but Genesis seems more interested in telling us again “And Jacob blessed Pharaoh.”

This conversation does not go the way we might expect. This meeting between Jacob of the promise and the Pharaoh of Egypt. Of all people to bless – Jacob blesses Pharaoh. Not only am I predisposed to think that Pharaoh does not merit a blessing. But, it seems that if there is a blessing to be made between these two players, it would be the other way around. Jacob appears needy, he is dependent on Pharaoh for resources. He sent his sons to beg Egypt for food. Pharaoh has everything at his disposal. Yet, Genesis is clear. Jacob blesses Pharaoh. Israel blesses Egypt.

Jacob is not alone in having an audience that may be looking elsewhere for stability. We are not the first to share blessing with people trusting in a more visible reality. As Pharaoh, people who hear our words of blessing may not be expecting a word from God. In fact, they may, as Pharaoh may have been, be thinking that they are ok with the way things are. Yet, God is not. So He sends a word.

I am struck by the fact that Jacob blessed Pharaoh. Jacob blessed Pharaoh and we are reminded that it is not necessary to have more than those we speak to. Jacob blessed Pharaoh and we are reminded that God is interested in people that we may find undeserving. Jacob blessed Pharaoh and we realize the success of preaching is not in our hands. Jacob blessed Pharaoh and we are reminded to believe in the reality of the promise more than the reality of the prevailing worldview.

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