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Genesis 46:1-39 - No Fear! - Part 1
Last time we were together we saw that Joseph, confident that there was a real heart change and repentance going on in the hearts of his brothers, finally revealed himself to them. He and the Pharaoh told them to go back to Canaan and have the families come on down, that they would be given the best of the land in Egypt. Then they loaded them with donkeys and gifts.
If you're my age or older, no doubt you’ve heard of the “Beverly Hillbillies.” Well, here now in ch. 46 we’re about to read about “The Promised Land” Hillbillies if you will.
Vs. 1-7 - “So Israel set out with all that was his, and when he reached Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.
And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, “Jacob! Jacob!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
“I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.”
Then Jacob left Beersheba, and Israel’s sons took their father Jacob and their children and their wives in the carts that Pharaoh had sent to transport him. So Jacob and all his offspring went to Egypt, taking with them their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in Canaan.
Jacob brought with him to Egypt his sons and grandsons and his daughters and granddaughters—all his offspring.”
Now the last time we were together We saw the brother tellin’ dad that Joseph was still alive, and that news almost killed Jacob because he thought it was just another one of his kid’s wicked fabrications. But then his heart was revived by the material evidence they showed him, and finally his trademark determination returned, and he said - I will go and see him before I die,” and they headed out. Recognize these guys are moving out of the Ozarks and moving into LA! They are heading into the life in the fast lane kinda deal here.
We can guess that there’s hesitation and resistance on the part of Jacob here. How can we guess that? Well, when the sovereign almighty Lord of the universe says “Don’t be afraid,” well, it’s because you're afraid, right? No doubt there’s a number of reasons for that. Look at his history and his family. Jacob knows that grandfather Abraham got into trouble in Egypt, right? He knows that his dad was stopped from going into Egypt. Egypt has been a real low point in the history of this family on a number of levels, and significant ones. And also, he’s an old man, he’s 130 years old and he’s been in familiar surroundings for some time.
We can also look at this: really any elderly individual being uprooted from the country and taken into Manhattan, no doubt there’s going to be a stresser there. So I think there’s a number of reasons Jacob is a bit hesitant and needing the assurance of his Heavenly Father, and I think we find him doing the right thing. He’s seeking the Lord in the midst of his stress.
Now to his credit, along the way he stops and worships at Beersheba. Beersheba is significant. Now we should recognize this place Beersheba, right? It was rich with patriarchal history and devotion. This is where Abraham made a covenant with Abimelech, he planted a tree and called on the name of the Lord back in ch. 21. It was there that Abraham’s faith had shone its brightest in his willingness to sacrifice Isaac in ch. 22. It was also there that his son Isaac later experienced a “theophany,” built an altar, and was three times assured that the Lord was with him back in ch. 26. And Jacob himself knew Beersheba well because it had been his home in the early days before he journeyed to Haran back in ch. 28. So rich history here in Beersheba.
I think it's a very good thing to seek to worship and get with the Lord in familiar territory whenever you have a significant life change in front of you, and he does that here.
We are also seeing the last Patriarchal address of the Lord recorded in Genesis. He had spoken to Abraham several times, Isaac several times, Jacob several times, and the final time, at least that’s recorded, here.
I want to park on this “fear” aspect for a minute. I believe this devotion, this worship to God is fear-driven, but then it was matched by God’s direct revelation to him in these visions. After these visions, at once Jacob learned that the revelation was in line with and a continuation of that which was given to his father, and that he must not fear going down to Egypt for really, 4 divine reasons:
First - Do not be afraid - “For there I will make you into a great nation.” This was the same promise that God had originally given to Abraham:
“And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” (Gen. 12:2). But The fresh revelation to Jacob was that his family would become a great nation THERE - In Egypt.
Just like with many of the things in Scripture that astonishes us, Israel would NOT become a great nation in the land of promise, but on the pagan Nile!!
So the Lord telling Jacob here: great things are gonna come out of this move to Egypt, and he must not fear it.
Secondly, no dot fear because, “I Myself will go down with you to Egypt.”
Maybe this brought Jacob’s mind back to the dream he had of the ladder extending between heaven and earth with angels ascending and descending upon it back in ch. 28:15, and God’s words to him then: “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (Gen. 28:15).
God doesn’t have any territorial restraints. He was with Jacob in Mesopotamia and in Canaan, and now in Egypt it would be the same: Do Not Fear.
Thirdly, do not fear because “I will bring you up again.”
And fourth, do not be afraid because “Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes.” So Jacob here learns that his long-standing fear of death was groundless because his beloved son, Joseph, would be at his side for his peaceful homegoing and would gently close his eyes.
And again, God, as He has done just over and over: (Psalm 103:14) He knows our frame, He knows we are but dust, God knows the flawed machinery we’re working with here.
And so God just over and over seeking to comfort and strengthen and just repeat those promises. Beautiful stuff!
We dealt with fear, but now notice the numerous items of FAITH here as well!
As they headed out in the morning and Jacob looked off to the south and west over the wastes of Egypt, he understood that Egypt would be a type of Ark of preservation for his people from which they would emerge as a great people. His gaze across the expanse was that of Faith! By Faith everything and everyone near and dear to him would be transported to Egypt! By Faith he would entrust his family to the offices of Egypt. By Faith he would abandon the land promised to Abraham and Isaac. Leaving it to the Canaanites until the “Cup of the Amorites is complete.” (Gen. 15:16).
And they “went into Egypt.”
Join us next week as we continue with the text. Blessings to you all.