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Jacob in Egypt

Written by | December, 2010
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“All History is GOD’S STORY!”  – No. 23 in series: Genesis chapters 46-50

“…few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.”  Genesis 47:9

Jacob was standing beforethe Pharaoh of Egypt when he summarized his life’s journey with the above words.

So much happened in Jacob’s first 130 years—so much intrigue, so much sorrow and trial, swindling and animosity with his brother, fleeing for his life, maneuvering for wages with his father-in-law, working for one wife, being deceived and then working for another wife, a child-bearing battle between his two wives and their maids, strife among his children, the apparent loss of his most loved son. The list is indeed long and sorrowful.

An older, repentant Jacob stood before Pharaoh with a summary of his life which was as much confession as it was information. Jacob recognized not only the physical toll in his life but also the spiritual.

the manger scence

As we prepare to celebrate our Savior’s birth and once again gaze upon that baby lying in a manger, we know that not one word has failed—He has declared us righteous through Christ’s redeeming work...

On the other side of the ledger, Jacob could also view his life with thanksgiving for all that he had received: great wealth, preservation through hardship and danger, children and grand-children, and even a reversal of sorrow when he learned that Joseph was alive.

Jacob’s days were “few and evil,” marked by sin, but they were also a living and daily testimony to the incredible faithfulness of God—a faithfulness that wouldn’t change and was still promising great things for the future.

When Jacob fled from Esau those many years earlier, God reassured him that he was still the one through whom a great nation would be established and from whom the Savior would be born. On the eve of his departure for Egypt, God again assured Jacob: “I am God, the God of your father; do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there. I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will put his hand on your eyes” (Genesis 46:3-4).

God’s faithfulness and purpose put everything into motion so that Jacob’s family would settle in the land of Goshen and flourish there, virtually independent from Egypt but enjoying its blessings. Generations later, the seventy original settlers would leave as a great and mighty nation.

God granted Jacob seventeen years in Egypt. When his death drew near, Jacob called all his sons to his side. Each son received a particular blessing. Among them, Joseph received a double blessing and two tribes in the future nation. Jacob told Joseph: “…your two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, who were born to you in the land of Egypt…are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine…they will be called by the name of their brothers in their inheritance” (Genesis 48:5-6).

The Greatest Blessing

The greatest blessing that Jacob could confer upon one of his sons is the blessing upon which our own life rests—the promise of the world’s Savior. That promise – which came to Jacob via Abraham and Isaac – was given next to Judah: “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; And to Him shall be the obedience of the people” (Genesis 49:10).

After Jacob died, Joseph’s brothers were fearful that he would seek revenge for all of their wickedness against him. But no, Joseph understood God’s wisdom and treasured His grace far too much to seek revenge. Joseph said to them: “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Genesis 50:19-20).

Joseph’s words declare a principle truth concerning history as God’s Story. It is a story of sin and grace. It is the story of Jacob’s few and evil days, even as God’s gracious hand never forsook Him. It is the story of man’s wickedness, arrogance, and pride, though above that fray God’s design, purpose, and gracious will always prevailed.

One of Jacob’s descendants, Joshua, would declare before his death: “…not one thing has failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spoke…” (Joshua 23:14).

Generations later  another descendant, Solomon, would declare: “There has not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised through His servant Moses” (1 Kings 8:56).

Still many more generations later, we can declare the same. As we prepare to celebrate our Savior’s birth and once again gaze upon that baby lying in a manger, we know that not one word has failed—God preserved His people just as He promised so that in the fullness of time the Savior could be born.

As we confess our sins in our own days that are “few and evil,” we know that not one word of God has failed—He has declared us righteous through Christ’s redeeming work and graciously forgives all of our sin.

Jacob died as a sojourner in a foreign land, but he died in the certain hope that His people would one day return home to Canaan where a Savior would be born who would enable sinners to enter an eternal home in Heaven.

How could he be so sure? Because not one word of God’s promises ever fails!

Likewise we who await our Savior’s return and our own entrance into glory can be supremely confident in the certain hope of eternal life, because now and always not one Word of God fails in

His Story!

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