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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

November 16, 2016

Genesis 46:1-30

  1. Verse 1. Jacob is about to launch into one of the most remarkable faith ventures of his life. Yet, in order to participate in God's incredible plan. He has to leave everything familiar and the security of his earthly comforts. Often, following God's plan includes stepping out in faith and taking a risk. If God calls you to another location or another job, will you go where He leads despite the risks to your personal comfort and security? He has to believe that he still has a mission from God. When most Christians would have long-since turned the ministry over to the next generation, Jacob is taking giant steps of faith. Are you willing to find creative ways to keep serving and fulfilling God's plan for your life? He has to be willing to obey God's Word no matter the cost. Do you love the Lord enough to deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow Him (Luke 9:23-25)? Fortunately, Jacob starts off right by first offering sacrifices to God! Jacob's sacrifices are not burnt offerings, but offerings of thanks that Joseph was alive and likely vows to follow God. One of the things that has been a help to me in my Christian life is learning to give thanks in everything (1 Thess 5:18; Heb 13:15). The scripture records that Jacob offered sacrifices at Beersheba. Why? Beersheba was the southern-most boundary line of Israel. In essence, it was the point of no return. Before Jacob advanced into the desert wasteland that separated Canaan and Egypt, he was determined to inquire of the Lord to be absolutely certain he was in God’s perfect will. Furthermore, Beersheba was a significant place to Jacob's family. This is where Abraham had dug a well, planted a tamarisk tree, and called on the name of the Lord (21:30-33). Abraham even lived in Beersheba after offering Isaac on Mt. Moriah (22:19). Isaac also lived in Beersheba (26:23, 32-33) and built an altar there (26:24-25). It was perhaps at this altar that Jacob now presents his sacrifices. Sooner or later, we all find ourselves at significant intersections in life when we must make critical life decisions that will have far-reaching consequences on our own lives and the lives of others. How do you make decisions at such points? Many people simply make the best decision they can based on the information they have. But the Bible warns us against this strategy (Prov 3:5-6; Jas 1:5; 4:2). It is always best to seek the Lord's direction.

  2. Verses 2-4. The Bible indicates that God can and does communicate through a variety of other means, including: prompting by the Holy Spirit, godly counsel, circumstances, and dreams and visions (Joel 2:28). In this vision, God twice calls Jacob by name: “Jacob! Jacob!” (46:2) God also did this with Abraham (22:11), Moses (Exod 3:4), Samuel (1 Sam 3:10), Martha (Luke 10:41), and Saul (Acts 9:4). If you can't figure out why someone would call out a person’s name repeatedly, then you must not have children. Jacob is smarter than most because he immediately responds with the words, “Here I am.” These are the same words Jacob's grandfather Abraham used when God called on him (22:1). When God speaks either audibly or through His Word this is the only proper response. God now identifies Himself. He says, “l am God, the God of your father” (4613). He is saying, “I am the true deity.” This is virtually the same introduction the Lord gave when He spoke to Jacob during his vision of the stairway to heaven (28:13). God then comforts Jacob with the words: “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt.” Why would Jacob have been afraid? He is having an encounter with the God of the universe. For this reason alone, Jacob has every reason to be afraid. In fact, whenever God reveals Himself to man in a supernatural way, His first words are invariably, “Do not fear!” Jacob is concerned about making a mistake that would affect his life, the lives of those in his family, the future of the nation of Israel, and the fulfillment of the covenant promises of God. Remember at crucial points in Abraham's life and Isaac's life they both went to Egypt without the Lord's direction and it turned out bad. Now God wants his servant to go to Egypt. It should be noted that sometimes God might send you somewhere where he doesn't want someone else to go. This is why we need to have a very good relationship with God so we can distinguish his perfect will for us. So God affirms His promises to Jacob (46:3b-4). He declares what His good purpose is in bringing Jacob's family to Egypt. God makes several promises. “I will” make you a great nation in Egypt. This promise is a reaffirmation of the covenant God made with Abraham and his descendants (12:2; 13:16; 22:17; 26:4; 28:14-15). This reaffirmation demonstrates the unconditional faithfulness of God. “I will” go down to Egypt with you. God informs Jacob that He will go with him into hostile enemy territory. Where God guides, He provides...and protects. There is no need to ever fear. “I will” bring you back to Canaan again. God is fulfilling the words He spoke in 15:13-14 when He told Abraham that his descendants would be strangers in a land that was not theirs. God said that they would stay there in this foreign land for 400 years and then God would judge the oppressive nation in which they stayed and God's people would be released. God's Word always comes to pass. So what you and I really need is to hear from Him. Joseph's own hand will close your eyes. Jacob would enjoy 17 more years of life. And instead of dying without his son to comfort him, God promises Jacob that his son, Joseph, would be there to close his eyes at the moment of his death. God often gives His children the desires of their heart as they attempt to seek Him (Ps 37:4). Jacob faced a critical, life-changing decision. But instead of forging ahead (like he had done in the past) he stopped and sought God's guidance. Then he listened for God's answer. When he heard the answer he moved forward obediently and with confidence. That's the sequence. It's not complicated. We must ask, listen, and obey. lf we do that, God will lead us, protect us, and give us the strength to face the future.

  3. Verses 5-7. After hearing directly from the Lord, Jacob and his family left Beersheba and traveled to Egypt. While this must have been a challenging endeavor, there must have also been some excitement in the air. Jacob had a direct and divine encounter from God. He knew with the utmost of confidence that he was to move to Egypt.

  4. Verses 8-27. The second section of our text consists of a long list of names. We need to remember that to the first readers of this book, these names meant something. This is a list of every tribe (and every major family group within that tribe) that later formed the nation of Israel. Every Hebrew knew his family ancestry. The division of labor, the organization of the army, and the parceling of the land all were based on the tribes. Even the coming of the Messiah was through the particular tribe of Judah. God's way of working is to call individuals to Himself, just as He called Abraham. Through those individuals, He calls families, and through those families, nations are called to obedience to the Savior. God's plan is to bless all nations through the seed of Abraham (12:1-3). That's why, in 46:1, the text says that Jacob offered sacrifices to the God of his father, Isaac, and in 46:3, God identifies Himself to Jacob as “the God of your father,” instead of “Jacob's God.” Why? For the simple reason that this is covenant history--the story of God’s dealings with His people. There is a corporate flavor, a sense of continuity between the generations. God is moving from the individual to the family to the nation in His working. God wanted his people to have a sense of belonging and community. This is why we remind folks of our history and talk about how we made it to this point. It is easy to forget. We don't have a sense of continuity with those who have gone before us anymore like we should. We join and leave a church according to our personal likes and dislikes. So many people attend a church for years yet hardly know the others who attend. This lack of belonging makes us vulnerable to the enemy. God wants us to be in community. Are you? If so, to what degree do you have relationships with God's people? This list of boring names reminded Moses’ readers of their identity as God's people in fulfilling His purposes. Additionally, this list would have reminded them that the outworking of God's purposes takes time, but it is absolutely certain. When Abraham was 75, God told him that He would make of him a great nation. Abraham was 100 before Isaac was born. Isaac was 60 before Jacob and Esau were born. It took 50 or 60 years for Jacob to have 12 sons and one daughter. Now Jacob was 130, and the “great nation,” after 215 years, consisted of these 70 descendants of Abraham. That's not a quick start. But in the 400 or so years from Jacob to Moses, the number mushroomed from 70 to over two million! This section demonstrates the power of exponential multiplication. While discipleship is painfully slow at the beginning, eventually multiplication occurs... Discipleship is God's A-plan (Matt 28:19-20). When we faithfully make disciples, God fulfills His will. Our lifetimes are too short to measure God's purpose. Our task is to understand God's missionary purpose for the world (to bless all nations through Abraham's seed) and to devote our lives to seeing that purpose brought about, even if it seems as if God is slow about His promises (see 2 Pet 3:3-13).

  5. Verses 28-30. Jacob choosing Judah to be their guide indicates that he trusted his son, which suggests that the men had told their father everything and were in his good graces again. Now Jacob could see the hand of God in all that had happened. In spite of his past failures, Judah now proved himself faithful, and his descendants were eventually named the royal tribe (49:8-12). Regardless of what you've done or how you've lived, God is a God of grace and He loves to forgive His children. Like Judah, God's grace can propel you forward. He can make a success out of the shambles of your life.

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