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“That We Might Have Hope” (Rom. 15:4)

Genesis Chapters Forty-five Through Fifty

Jacob’s Move To Egypt

Jacob had had a hard life. The flight from his brother, the deception of his uncle Laban, the loss of his beloved Rachel in childbirth, evil reports about the behavior of his elder sons, and the supposed death of his favorite son, Joseph, all must have weighed heavily on the old man.

As he looked back on his life Jacob may have wondered what he might have done differently to have kept his older boys in line. He had taught his sons of the love and might of their Savior-God, and yet the only son which had seemed interested in following in his father’s footsteps was gone.

Little did Jacob realize how the training of that son was going to affect him, his family, and in essence all of God’s people.

Even More Problems

But for now Jacob had even more problems. Two years of famine had been gnawing away at the family resources. The only place food was available was: Egypt. There his sons had to deal with a particularly suspicious and harsh Egyptian prince.

Joseph, Jacob’s long lost son, was that Egyptian prince. After twenty odd years Joseph now saw the fulfillment of his dreams. Here were his brothers groveling at his feet. Now he had the opportunity to exact his revenge!

But we see that Joseph’s thoughts were of his father as he anxiously asked: “Is your–really, “our”–father yet alive?” How then could he do harm to his father by harming his brothers?

Joseph’s revenge was that he showed his brothers pity when they had showed none. He showered kindness, mercy, and brotherly love when they had spewed hatred, bitterness, and cruel jealousy. Joseph was able to treat his brothers in such a Christian fashion not just out of love for his father, but out of love for his father’s God whom he had been taught to serve.

After revealing himself to his brethren and assuring them of his forgiveness, Joseph’s next move was to ask them to bring their father down to Egypt as quickly as possible. Joseph couldn’t wait to see his father again and he couldn’t wait to share with his father and brothers the abundance the Lord had provided him.

The brothers brought the news to Jacob — Joseph is alive! He wants us to move to Egypt! Jacob couldn’t believe his ears, yet his eyes beheld the riches and the carts sent by his son to carry him to this far off land.

The tables were now turned for Jacob. All of those hard years of laboring for the Lord in order to provide for his family, and now a son would be able to provide for him. Joseph not only showered the riches of Egypt on his father and brothers, but he provided the best of the land as well, settling his family in the fertile land of Goshen.

Two God-fearing Examples

Joseph’s love for his father went beyond the superficial things of this world. He was not at all embarrassed by his own humble beginnings nor those of his father. Quite to the contrary, Joseph presented his aged, weather-worn, limping, blue-collar laborer father to mighty Pharaoh himself. Pharaoh’s response: any family of Joseph is a friend of Egypt. He then allowed the sons of Jacob to inhabit the verdant pastures of Goshen.

Jacob’s love for his Lord and Savior prompted him to raise his sons in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Not all was smooth sailing. Not all of the sons took readily to the instruction of their father. Yet Jacob remained a God-fearing example to his sons throughout his life.

An earthly reward Jacob received for this service is proclaimed in these verses: “Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD. Yes, may you see your children’s children. Peace be upon Israel!” (Ps. 128:4,6) To be sure Jacob had seen the children of his sons living with him in the land of Canaan, but now his eyes even beheld the two sons of his beloved Joseph as well. How faithful and generous our God is, even in these temporal matters!

Throughout his life Joseph had shown himself to be a true Christian. His concern for the spiritual well-being of his brothers, his willingness to suffer evil for the Lord’s good, his readiness to forgive, and his eagerness to provide for his aged father are all proofs of his love for his God.

We read in Exodus 10:12: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.” Even though this commandment was given to God’s people many years after the death of Joseph, we can still see the blessings God bestows on the faithful.

Not only did Joseph enjoy a long and prosperous life in the land of Egypt, but he also received a double inheritance from his father. For while there is no tribe of Joseph listed among the Israelites, each of Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, were given that blessing.

May we use the examples of Jacob and Joseph, so whether we be father or son, mother or daughter, we each do our duty as to the Lord.

–Teacher David Bernthal