Sojourners in the Flesh

Sojourners in the Flesh

by Chassidy Rogers

“This world is not my home, I’m just ‘a passing through.”
These words open a lesser known hymn of the early 1900’s, and it seems like the sons of Jacob, and Jacob himself, echo this refrain.
As the 70 persons of Jacob’s family come into Egypt, they do so as sojourners. When Pharaoh asks them what their job is, they reply, as instructed by Joseph, “Shepherds.” They go on to say, “We’ve come to sojourn in your land.”
Just a few verses later, Jacob will take it one step further. Not only is the family of Jacob, or “Israel”, sojourners in the land of Egypt. Jacob says to Pharaoh that “the days of the years of his sojourning are 130 years.” Jacob equates all the days of his life with days of sojourning.
And this isn’t the first time we’ve heard this language in the book of Genesis.
Several times in Genesis we hear the word “sojourn” “sojourners” or “sojourning.” A sojourn is a temporary stay. And a sojourner, one who is wandering, traveling, or never fully settled in any one place. We’ve heard it regarding Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Each of the patriarchs is at some time called a sojourner or described as sojourners in a land.
On one level they were literally sojourners. They were all traveling from place to place at various points, living in tents, subject to the weather and the land. Out of necessity sojourning at different points in the land of the Philistines and in the land of Egypt, among others.
But God’s chosen people are also sojourners in a spiritual sense.
The Epistle to the Hebrews points this out in chapter 11, verse 13. In the midst of recounting various people throughout the Scriptures who lived by faith, the author of Hebrews tells us that,
“These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.”
In 1 Peter we are urged, “as sojourners and exiles to abstain from passions of the flesh.”
So what does it mean that we are sojourners in a spiritual sense?
Among other things, we can remember that, as Christians, we are part of another kingdom. Not the kingdom of this world, but the kingdom of God. We’ve been transferred from the kingdom of darkness, into the kingdom of light. Our king is not an earthly king, but a heavenly one. And our home is not an earthly home, but a heavenly one.
And so, by the grace of God, we live as those who belong not to this world, but to the maker of this world.
This world is not our home; we’re just a’ passing through.
And yet, God has placed us on this world by his providence. He’s designed that we, for as many days of life as we have, sojourn in this earthly land, knowing that this life, this body, this job, this sickness, this “fill-in-the-blank” are all temporary stops on our way to eternity.
So, by God’s grace, we live in the world, but not of it. We make the best use of the time, because the days are evil. And we don’t wish away these earthly days or consider everything on earth inherently bad. We remember that the King of our kingdom has sent us as his ambassadors to this world with a message of reconciliation and repentance. Ours is an already not yet kingdom. And so we proclaim the good news, from one sojourner to another, “Be reconciled to God!”

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