Saturday, November 12, 2016
TheLifeOfJoseph : Genesis 46
Here we have the culmination of all that was to be. Jacob, with all his familial and personal possessions, travels to Egypt to be reunited with His son Joseph. Though there seems to still be a sense of waiting as he and his family have a long journey ahead of them, but they sojourn on, with Judah as the leader, because it is worth the journey. It is always worth the journey! And, as the saying goes, it's not the destination, but the journey...
We recognize with older folks that each tend to have a 'home-body' feel to them; they like their own surroundings. They don't often like to sojourn too far away from their home. Here, we see Jacob picking up, literally, all that he had - an act that, often, is quite difficult for a man of his age - we read from Wiersbes Commentary that "Jacob and his family left Hebron (37:14) and traveled for about a week until they came to Beersheba, the southernmost town in Canaan (Josh. 15:21, 18). Beersheba was a very special place to Jacob, for there Abraham had dug a well (Gen. 21:30) and there Abraham lived after offering Isaac on Mount Moriah (22:19). Isaac had also lived at Beersheba (26:23, 32–33), and it was from the home in Beersheba that Jacob left for Laban’s house to find a wife. At Beersheba, God had appeared to Hagar (21:17) and to Isaac (26:23–24), and now He would appear to Jacob" (Wiersbe Old Testament Commentary).
It's interesting how God does that, isn't it? We find He does the most mysterious things in our lives and then He just loves to surprise us and remind us of His presence in places of great significance. Jacob has left all that he knows for an unknown place (not unlike Abraham) but is reminded by God of His presence in a very significant place. God's just like that. And, again, not unlike how He has shown up to people in past, he speaks to Jacob and assures him of His presence (not unlike many Old Testament characters before him). Note how the LORD calls him. We've seen the double-call before in Scripture (see Gen. 22:11, 1 Sam. 3:10, Luke 10:41 and Acts 9:4) and it always seems to have with it an assurance of His presence and a comforting word of peace (i.e. here 'Do not be afraid...'). As said already, there is anxiousness in Jacob's heart for sure, so hearing these words from the LORD must have been very comforting (and another significant moment we can attach to Beersheba in Scripture).
We also have a list of Jacob's descendants. Though it is somewhat out of place, the memory to us as the reader is very significant. We are able to read what the LORD has done. He has fulfilled His promise for there to be numberless descendants as many as the sand on the seashore (Gen. 15:5; 22:17; 26:4; 32:1). Again, we see the LORD surface as the main character. When it seemed all hope was lost, Jacob still was being an example to all of the LORD's ever-present promise; He would come through even when it looked dim.
And then we have the reunion. So many years. So much time has passed since Joseph and his father saw each other face-to-face. All the emotions spill over in this reunion. But it seems Jacob only has one thing on his mind: Now let me die, since I have seen your face, that you are still alive (vs. 30). He has waited for this moment for so long. He had hoped that there was a chance that his beloved son was still alive. And now that he sees his son with his own two eyes, he can die, knowing that all is well with him and his family. But he lives on. He will live for a number of years yet. Though he considers his life as over, there are still things to be done.
And yet, for the first time, we also see Joseph caring for his family in a way that wasn't explained before (at least not in full). We read that Joseph takes care of his family and makes sure they understand the land and the rules that they are about to come into. He assures his father that their needs will be provided for, but they must say to all in Egypt that they are 'keepers of livestock from our youth...’ so that they can live in the land of Goshen because, we are told, that shepherds are not looked upon kindly by Egyptians (vs. 34). Even in the land provided, they need to be cautious. This does not change how the LORD provided or what He provided. I think, sometimes, we are naive to think that the 'Land of Promise' will be filled with peace, but perhaps, the lesson we could learn here is that trusting in the LORD is still important, even in places of greatest blessings.
And so, in a very real way, Joseph has brought about just as much blessing as what was brought about in his own life. He has freely given his wealth and possessions to his family, in order for them to survive. Again, we are reminded that Joseph's life-purpose was to bring about reconciliation to people in order 'to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive' (Gen. 50:20). What a story. And it's not even done yet.
What kind of story are we writing? Is it with the result of 'preserving many people alive'? Something to think about.