Though there’s no way he saw it coming, I’m thinking that nothing surprised Jacob anymore. You sense that, in some ways, he’s a shell of the man he was when he was scamming birthrights and stealing blessings. Not just because he’s a lot older now, but because he’s been through the ringer. Uncle Laban, and ending up with 2 wives along with 2 pseudo-wives, started the chaos that would be his life. “Family life” was anything but quiet . . . twelve boys have a way of dusting things up. Then Joseph, the apple of Jacob’s eye, was no more. That seems to have been the final blow which took the last of the wind out of Jacob’s sails. Then the famine . . . and the emptiness in his heart as he saw the boys leave for a return trip to Egypt with Benjamin in hand as a ransom for Simeon. What else could happen? He’d seen it all, now. Not quite.
I’m continuing to read in Genesis this morning. The sons of Jacob have been reunited with Joseph, the brother they sold into slavery, the brother who now rules over Egypt and holds their future in his hand. As instructed by Joseph, they have returned to their father, informed him that Joseph is alive, and that the plan is to move to Egypt in order to wait out the famine. And that’s what I don’t think Jacob ever imagined . . . that he’d be moving to Egypt.
So Israel took his journey with all that he had and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. And God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, “Jacob, Jacob.” And he said, “Here am I.” Then He said, “I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again, and Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes.” (Genesis 46:1-4)
And while Jacob doesn’t deserve it . . . while he’s been anything but a model for the steady walk of a believer . . . though he has been, in fact, often faithless . . . His God remains faithful. Jacob embarks on his “Joseph Reunion Tour” . . . he leaves the land of promise and heads down to Egypt. And, as he heads into the unknown, he pauses to acknowledge His God with sacrifices at Beersheba. And there God, as He has done before, reveals Himself to Jacob. In Jacob’s frailty . . . in his failure . . . in his fear of what’s ahead . . . God appears and affirms the promise.
Do not be afraid, God says, for “I will.” I will go down with you to Egypt. I will bring you up again into the land when Joseph buries you. And, while your family is in Egypt, as I have promised to your fathers, I will make you into a great nation.
I will . . . I will . . . I will. Such are the promises of God. Such is the faithfulness of God. Such is the grace of God.
Another reminder that, despite the dysfunction of Jacob’s family, God had determined to birth a nation through him . . . and a Savior out of that nation. That, despite the apparent out-of-control circumstances that had been Jacob’s life, He who had promised to bless Abraham and, through his seed, bless all nations, would finish the work He had begun. That, although there’s no way Jacob saw it coming, God had in His providential care allowed Jacob’s boys to treacherously sell their brother into slavery so that their brother might go before them into Egypt in order to preserve the family line and fulfill the promises of God.
Another reminder that God is faithful . . . even in those things we never saw coming.
True statement? I’m thinkin’ . . .