LIFE BEGINS AT 130
Author of Grace, change my heart that I might seek You, sharpen my mind that I might know You, amplify my ears that I might hear You.
Read GENESIS 46:1–7, 28–34
Jacob Goes to Egypt
46 So Israel set out with all that was his, and when he reached Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.
2 And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, “Jacob! Jacob!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
3 “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. 4 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.”
5 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. 6 So Jacob and all his offspring went to Egypt, taking with them their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in Canaan. 7 Jacob brought with him to Egypt his sons and grandsons and his daughters and granddaughters—all his offspring.
28 Now Jacob sent Judah ahead of him to Joseph to get directions to Goshen. When they arrived in the region of Goshen, 29 Joseph had his chariot made ready and went to Goshen to meet his father Israel. As soon as Joseph appeared before him, he threw his arms around his father[a] and wept for a long time.
30 Israel said to Joseph, “Now I am ready to die, since I have seen for myself that you are still alive.”
31 Then Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I will go up and speak to Pharaoh and will say to him, ‘My brothers and my father’s household, who were living in the land of Canaan, have come to me. 32 The men are shepherds; they tend livestock, and they have brought along their flocks and herds and everything they own.’ 33 When Pharaoh calls you in and asks, ‘What is your occupation?’ 34 you should answer, ‘Your servants have tended livestock from our boyhood on, just as our fathers did.’ Then you will be allowed to settle in the region of Goshen, for all shepherds are detestable to the Egyptians.”
- Genesis 46:29 Hebrew around him
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Even to your old age and grey hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you’.1
Elderly Jacob is persuaded to set out for Egypt and start a new life there at the age of 130. In the reporting of this incident, two locations become significant.
First, Beersheba becomes the place of revelation (1–7). The relationship between Egypt and Jacob’s family has been problematic. During a previous famine, Abraham had run into trouble there2, and God had forbidden Isaac to go there.3 Canaan is the land of promise, so is it right to relocate to Egypt? God reassures Jacob through a vision (a dream by another name), just as He appeared to him earlier at Bethel.4 This new vision repeats the promise of Bethel, that his family would become a great nation, eventually settling in Canaan, but it now adds that this would happen via a detour in Egypt. Jacob may be old, weak, and uncertain, but God remains the same active sovereign. His power is not limited to Canaan and, 400 years later, will be demonstrated magnificently as He leads Jacob’s descendants out of slavery in Egypt.
Second, Goshen becomes the place of reunion (28–34). Joseph and his father are reunited there in the territory allocated to them because of its suitability for sheep farmers. It is of little interest to the Egyptians, given their antipathy to shepherds, but it becomes a special place because the son, whom Jacob has long assumed to be dead but who is now the second most powerful man in Egypt, presents himself to his father. Jacob is now ready to end his life content – though he lived for a further 17 years.5
God indeed keeps His promises even in Egypt and even when families are broken. His Word, not ours, has the final say.
Today’s reading may well prompt us to pray for the healing of the many fractured families in our communities – and even our churches.
Blessed Lord, I pray today for families I know to be in trouble. I lift them up by name. May Your hand of healing and restoration be upon them.
1 Isa 46:4 2 Gen 12:10–20 3 Gen 26:2 4 Gen 28:10–22 5 Gen 47:28
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