Where does true greatness come from? The answer is revealed in one of the most unique meetings in Scripture. Joseph rose to a position of great prominence in Egypt, second only to Pharaoh himself. When he brought his family to Egypt he introduced his father, Jacob, to Pharaoh. Here’s the meeting between these two men:
Then Joseph brought in his father Jacob and set him before Pharaoh; and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. Pharaoh said to Jacob, “How old are you?”Genesis 47:7-10
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.
Two Very Different Men
Pharaoh was the ruler of the known world. He was the wealthiest, most powerful man in his day. He lived a life of luxury and extravagance few can imagine, even being an object of worship by his people. This helps explain why four centuries later God destroyed Pharaoh and his nation with the worst plagues ever known. The Lord convinced the world there’s only one God, and it’s not Pharaoh. Before that though, nobody was greater or more impressive than Pharaoh. At least from an earthly perspective.
Jacob on the other hand was old, weary, and weak. When Pharaoh asked Jacob about his life, he responded that his days had been hard; he even described them as “evil.” Why? Because of all the trials and sorrow he’d experienced.
The contrast between these two men is huge. They stand in stark contrast to each other, demonstrating the spiritual truth of the Beatitudes. And between the two of them Pharaoh looked much greater than Jacob. But at the end of their meeting, something really interesting happened. Twice it says “Jacob blessed Pharaoh.”
Why is this so interesting?
The greater blesses the lesser.Hebrews 7:7
Jacob was greater than Pharaoh!
Where Did Jacob’s Greatness Come From?
Regardless of how things look from an earthly, physical perspective, the only thing that makes people truly great is a relationship with the Lord. Jacob had this, but Pharaoh didn’t.
It doesn’t matter how much fame, power, or wealth people have, if they don’t know God they don’t have anything. Conversely, it also doesn’t matter how poor and miserable people’s lives have been, if they do know God they’re rich and great.
Greatness is determined any number of ways by the world, but from God’s perspective, it only comes from knowing Him:
Jeremiah 9:23 “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, or the mighty man boast in his might, or the rich man boast in his riches. Let the one who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.Jeremiah 9:23
Wisdom, strength, and riches mean nothing apart from God. The world talks about being great, pursuing greatness, finding your own inner greatness, etc. But if you want to pursue greatness, pursue God.
Discuss: What makes people great in the world’s eyes? What makes people great in God’s eyes?
I’m currently reading through Jeremiah and came across this verse recently. It is such a great reminder!
I’m glad to hear you read through – or are reading through – Jeremiah. Such a wonderful book, but so often neglected :).
I taught through it a couple years ago for our midweek Bible study and really enjoyed it.
Love this quote – “if you want to pursue greatness, pursue God.” This is so true. Yes, in the world’s eyes it is all about power, prestige, money anything to get the focus on themselves. In contrast, we are to humble ourselves and pursue God.
I had never realized that Jacob had blessed pharaoh. Thank you for bringing out that detail and it’s significance.
You’re welcome Kristi.
Here’s a sermon – from this past Sunday – where I discussed all this in greater detail: Luke 7:28 Greatness in the Kingdom of God.
I love this reminder. We can look in all the wrong places all day wrong, but JESUS is the true greatness! Yes yes yes
Thanks for the comment.
I really enjoyed a post I just read of yours discussing having children. Your transparency will be a blessing to many I’m sure.
Wow…. spot on!
I love that when we are faithful with what God wants for us we are truly great.
I wasn’t so much thinking of greatness being related to our faithfulness, but it’s true that when God wants us to do something that makes whatever we’re doing something great and worthwhile.
Amen greatness is only found in a relationship with Christ. It may appear by worldly standards that we are not the ones with greatness but with life being chaotic we can be content and have true joy. That….that is greatness.
You’re right that considering the greatness we have in Christ should be a source of constant contentment and joy for us.
thanks for the post