Read Genesis 46
Jacob Goes to Egypt
1 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.
8 These are the names of the sons of Israel (Jacob and his descendants) who went to Egypt:
Reuben the firstborn of Jacob.
9 The sons of Reuben:
Hanok, Pallu, Hezron and Karmi.
10 The sons of Simeon:
Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jakin, Zohar and Shaul the son of a Canaanite woman.
11 The sons of Levi:
Gershon, Kohath and Merari.
12 The sons of Judah:
Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez and Zerah (but Er and Onan had died in the land of Canaan).
The sons of Perez:
Hezron and Hamul.
13 The sons of Issachar:
Tola, Puah, Jashub and Shimron.
14 The sons of Zebulun:
Sered, Elon and Jahleel.
15 These were the sons Leah bore to Jacob in Paddan Aram, besides his daughter Dinah. These sons and daughters of his were thirty-three in all.
16 The sons of Gad:
Zephon, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi and Areli.
17 The sons of Asher:
Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi and Beriah.
Their sister was Serah.
The sons of Beriah:
Heber and Malkiel.
18 These were the children born to Jacob by Zilpah, whom Laban had given to his daughter Leah—sixteen in all.
19 The sons of Jacob’s wife Rachel:
Joseph and Benjamin. 20 In Egypt, Manasseh and Ephraim were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On.
21 The sons of Benjamin:
Bela, Beker, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim and Ard.
22 These were the sons of Rachel who were born to Jacob—fourteen in all.
23 The son of Dan:
24 The sons of Naphtali:
Jahziel, Guni, Jezer and Shillem.
25 These were the sons born to Jacob by Bilhah, whom Laban had given to his daughter Rachel—seven in all.
26 All those who went to Egypt with Jacob—those who were his direct descendants, not counting his sons’ wives—numbered sixty-six persons. 27 With the two sons who had been born to Joseph in Egypt, the members of Jacob’s family, which went to Egypt, were seventy in all.
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 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.”
Today, we read about Jacob’s journey to Egypt. Keep in mind Jacob’s age here–he wasn’t quite a youngster anymore, but rather a solid 130 years old. Moving over 5,000 miles away probably wasn’t on the list of things he most wanted to do. This was a long journey; he knew when he headed to Egypt that he wouldn’t be headed back (alive). Not to mention, he was leaving the land that God had promised to his family, to head into enemy territory (i.e. Egypt).
So, why go? The answer is simple–God told him to. He promised that He would go with him, make him into a great nation there, give him the chance to see his beloved son, Joseph, and, most of all, bring him back one day. God was kind to give Jacob such assurance of His presence and His plan at the start of such a long, arduous journey. Oftentimes, we want this same kindness from God–to hear His voice, see His plan, and feel His presence surrounding us in such an obvious way. However, while God may not speak to us in a vision as clearly as He does to Jacob here, He does speak to us and give us similar promises through His word.
God promises to go before us and to be with us (Deuteronomy 31:8), to instruct and teach us in the way we should go (Psalm 32:8), to give us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11), to give us peace that transcends understanding (Philippians 4:7), to work all things for our good (Romans 8:28), to forgive our sins (1 John 1:9), and, most importantly, to give us eternal life in Him (John 3:36).
Jacob obeyed God and followed Him faithfully to Egypt because he took God at His word and believed His promises. What about you? Do you take God at His word? Do you believe what He’s promised you? Like Jacob, are you walking in faithful obedience because you believe that what God has promised you will come true?
Is there a promise of God’s that is difficult for you to believe? Why is that?
How could you more faithfully obey and follow God by believing what He’s promised you?
Seeing Joseph again was a dream Jacob had given up on, and yet God was faithful to give them this reunion (and 17 years together). Is there a dream you’ve given up on? How does this story encourage you and build your faith?
Did You Know?
Joseph was 17 when he was taken away from his father, and they were separated the past 22 years. When they’re finally reunited, even though Jacob thinks he’s at the end of his life, he lives for 17 more years. God was kind to bless Jacob and Joseph with this extra time to be together after such a long period of separation. And, like He promised Jacob, Joseph was there to close his eyes at the end of Jacob’s life.