“I will go and see him before I die.” Genesis 45:28
The real surprise in this story is that God had a whole new chapter of life for Jacob. The old man lived for another seventeen years in Egypt and it proved to be the most fruitful season of his life.
Jacob did not expect this. He was an old man. His life had been marked by sorrow for more than 20 years. And when he left Canaan, he said, “It is enough; Joseph my son is still alive. I will go and see him before I die” (45:28).
There is a great sadness in these words. Yes, Joseph is alive, but Jacob feels that his life is over now. Nothing can bring back the years that he has lost. So he will go and see Joseph, but after that he feels that he is done. There is no future beyond that for him. So the reunion, when it comes, is almost anticlimactic.
“Then Joseph prepared his chariot and went up to meet Israel his father in Goshen. He presented himself to him and fell on his neck and wept on his neck a good while. Israel [Jacob] said to Joseph, ‘Now let me die, since I have seen your face and know that you are still alive’” (46:29-30).
Really? Is that the only thing you have to say, Jacob? What about “Son, it is so good to be with you at last!” Or “Son, let’s treasure every day that we have together.” But Jacob says nothing like that at all, just “Now let me die!”
But God had something better in mind. Matthew Henry says, “Our times are in God’s hands and not in our own.” We live and die at the time God chooses, not when we think we are done.
Have you ever felt like you were ready to die? Do you feel that way now? What if God has something else in mind for you?