“And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of my years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage” (Gen. 47:9).
The word here translated “pilgrimage” is from a term meaning to sojourn. It denotes that there are things about life that are kept in proper perspective. A pilgrimage involves a beginning and an ending destination in a place that is not home. Consider three thoughts about this pilgrim life.
- Each Day is a Step. Jacob spoke of “the days of the years of my pilgrimage” and “the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage” (Gen. 47:9). Hence, each day in a life is a step on this pilgrim journey. The Bible often uses the metaphor of walking to describe living one’s life. It is written in the Psalms, “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord” (Ps. 119:1). Paul wrote, “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called” (Eph. 4:1). John wrote, “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). As each step leads to the end of the journey then each day leads to the end of the pilgrimage.
- Every Difficulty is viewed with the End in Mind. Jacob continued to say, “few and evil have the days of my years of my life been” (Gen. 47:9). Truly, the faithful know that the path of their life is described as “strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matt. 7:14). Peter wrote to Christians who were suffering for righteousness’ sake, “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11-12). Paul wrote of the Christian walk, “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)” (2 Cor. 5:6-7). The end of the pilgrimage makes all the struggle worth it.
- Eternal Destination for the Faithful is Heaven. While there are thousands of people who have walked earthly pilgrimages to specific geographical locations, there is but one destination for the pilgrimage of the faithful. “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Heb. 11:13). This point closes with the words, “But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city” (Heb. 11:16). This life is temporary like a pilgrimage and leads to the great resting place of the soul: heaven. Being strangers and pilgrims here leads the faithful to long to be in that eternal rest (cf. Heb. 4:9, 11).