November 12, 2022
“Israel set out with all he had and came to Beer-sheba, and he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. That night God spoke to Israel in a vision: ‘Jacob! Jacob!’ He said.”
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“Israel set out with all he had and came to Beer-sheba, and he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. That night God spoke to Israel in a vision: ‘Jacob! Jacob!’ He said. And Jacob replied, ‘Here I am.’ God said, ‘I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt for I will make you a great nation there. I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will bring you back. Joseph will put his hands on your eyes.’” Genesis 46:1-4
I always liked this verbal exchange between Jacob and the Lord. First off, Jacob seems to be learning his lessons. Having set out on his journey, Jacob realized the gravity of his travel and offered a sacrifice to “the God of his father Isaac.” He had experienced significant moments of Divine deliverance, but given his recent family history, Jacob must have been wondering if the Lord had abandoned him. The “heel catcher” (That was the meaning of his name, Jacob) was wondering if he was setting himself up for another fall.
It’s interesting how God called him by his former name, “Jacob,” and not the name He had bestowed upon him earlier: Israel. As long as Jacob perceived a distance from himself and the Lord, he would most likely fall back into his old ways. I believe God reminded him of where he had been before assuring him where he was going.
God’s reference to His association with Isaac was a sober reminder that God’s PROMISE is the sustaining factor in Israel’s blessing…not Jacob’s righteousness.
Once that is established, God articulates His grace toward Jacob and all of Israel. His blessing is not “I’ll be here holding down the fort in Canaan. Hope you write often….” No, God promised to accompany Israel personally. God’s promise is enough, but His presence is even better!! God would make Israel a great nation during their stay in Egypt. Notice that “great” does not mean “righteous” but simply “large.” Righteousness would come much later, during the children of Israel’s time in the desert. Israel’s deliverance from Egypt was quick. It took 40 years to purge “Egypt” from Israel.
It is remarkable how God told all of this to Abraham everything, even down to the 400 years of Egyptian slavery. And it all came true. Now, God was making promises to Jacob. In a few days, we will read of the fulfillment of some of those promises. Here is a sneak peek:
“So Jacob’s sons did for him what he had commanded them. They carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave at Machpelah in the field near Mamre, which Abraham had purchased as a burial site from Ephron the Hittite. After Joseph buried his father, he returned to Egypt with his brothers and all who had gone with him to bury his father.” Genesis 50:12-14
God keeps His promises. He can be trusted, and He has the power to accomplish His will, despite even His own children’s sinful ignorance. So, what promises of His are you trusting in?
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