Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Praying for you, your family, your community, and the rest of the world. Right now, the whole world is suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Let’s pray together to God, Our Ever-Loving Father, His mercy and protection on all, and God’s healing on those who are infected by the COVID-19. We all believe God’s grace and love rest on all who look upon Him every moment with faith in Him.
The LORD is good to those who depend on him,
to those who search for him. (Lamentations 3:25)
Jacob’s sons left Egypt and returned to their father, Jacob, in the land of Canaan.
“Joseph is still alive!” they told him. “And he is governor of all the land of Egypt!” Jacob was stunned at the news—he couldn’t believe it. But when they repeated to Jacob everything Joseph had told them, and when he saw the wagons Joseph had sent to carry him, their father’s spirits revived.
Then Jacob exclaimed, “It must be true! My son Joseph is alive! I must go and see him before I die.”
Jacob decided to set out for Egypt with all his possessions. Before departing, Jacob offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac and his grandfather Abraham. Then during the night, God spoke to him in a vision. “Jacob! Jacob!” he called.
God saw Jacob, whose feeling was mixed in the joy of seeing his son, Joseph again, as well as in fear of an uncertain future. Jacob believed the place where he was living was the Promised Land that God gave Jacob and his descendants. Thus, leaving the Promised Land bothered him throughout the night, although there was a great famine in the land.
Jacob especially remembered the failure of his grandfather Abraham in Egypt. Abraham went down to Egypt due to a severe famine in Canaan. Abraham believed Canaan was the Promised Land, but Abraham left the Promised Land as a severe famine came to the land. As he arrived in Egypt, Abraham met problems, which made him fail soon. First, Abraham felt fear of the Egyptians. To protect himself, he lied that his wife was his sister. Pharaoh, the Egyptian king, gladly took her because of Abraham’s lie. In turn, Pharaoh gave lots of presents to Abraham. Abraham realized his failure before God, but God, who loved Abraham, protected his wife Sarah from Pharaoh. Pharaoh returned Sarah to Abraham and ordered them to leave Egypt. Jacob thus was somewhat hesitant to go down to Egypt, although he could get food and see his beloved son Joseph again, whom he thought dead
God called Jacob twice, which greatly comforted Jacob. Then Jacob focused on God instead of his worry and fear that he might fail before God as his grandfather failed after going down to Egypt. Since his grandfather’s failure, nobody wanted to go down to Egypt. Canaan was the Promised Land, and they had to live in the land no matter what happened to them. It became a part of the faith of Abraham’s son and grandchildren. Jacob’s heart was split into two. As God called Jacob twice, Jacob became comforted by the loving voice of God.
Then Jacob replied, “Here I am.”
Jacob’s answer was not just a factual statement but an expression of his peace in God as being released from his struggle throughout the night in prayer. God’s calling his name twice sounded like beautiful music to his ears, especially after the long struggle throughout the night. Jacob’s heart became calm and lifted up his eyes. Suddenly, the world became silent. The calming and gentle voice reminded him of the walk with God throughout his life since God came to him on the first night in the middle of the wilderness as he laid his head on a rock under the night sky. He was alone and in fear of his brother Esau because his brother Esau tried to kill Jacob. Jacob was on the way to his uncle’s house, far from his home, to hide from Esau.
Before God, Jacob sped out all his problems, including the fear of Esau. Then Jacob babbled out to God anything of which he could think. Jacob childishly demanded what he wanted rather than humbly praying to God. God who loved Jacob accepted Jacob’s babbling prayer. Then God had never changed and was truly faithful to Jacob for the entire of Jacob’s life.
As Jacob demanded to God on the first night, God protected the rest of the journey throughout the wilderness, and Jacob arrived safely at his uncle Laban’s house. God also prepared Laban’s heart for Jacob. Laban warmly welcomed Jacob. However, Jacob forgot God, and he continued his way of living – taking advantage of others with all kinds of means, including deception, to achieve what he wanted. As a result, while living with Laban, Jacob accumulated his vast wealth at his uncle Laban’s expense. Laban’s sons noticed this and grumbled about him to Laban.
Sadly, Jacob still did not know what he did wrong before God. Even so, God let Jacob keep living as he desired. However, God had a plan to change Jacob permanently. God came to Jacob and said, “Return to the land of your father and grandfather and to your relatives there, and I will be with you.” Jacob secretly left Laban and headed home, but Laban found out soon. Laban pursued Jacob, but God protected Jacob from Laban.
As getting closer to his home, Jacob was getting nervous. He sent lavish gifts ahead of him, which softened Esau’s heart, and he felt peace. However, it did not last. Soon he heard that his brother Esau was on his way to meet Jacob — with an army of 400 men, which terrified Jacob. Jacob arrived at Jabbok River, which was the only physical protection to Jacob by separating himself from his brother Esau with 400 men. Jacob believed that his brother Esau surely killed him. Thus, he could not cross the Jabbok River. That night, he prayed and prayed. To him, it was the last prayer before getting killed by his brother Esau.
God sent an angel, and Jacob wrestled with the angel throughout the night. But Jacob fought and fought with the angel. As a new day was dawning, the angel hit Jacob’s hip socket, which gave Jacob excruciating pain, but Jacob never leased the angel. God saw Jacob’s truly desperate and contrite heart before God. Throughout the night, Jacob actually desperately prayed to God while telling all things in his heart. His desperate prayer completely emptied his heart.
God saw Jacob was ready, and then God touched Jacob’s heart and transformed Jacob. Jacob became a new person. God also gave a new name, Israel, because Jacob had fought with God and with men, including himself, and have won. Of course, Jacob could not win God, but God lovingly gave a victory to Jacob. Is there any father who is unwilling to give his three-year-old boy a victory after wrestling with his father? Even any earthly father knows to lose for his three-year-old boy out of his love. What can we say more about God, Our Ever-Loving Father?
Jacob was limping and crossing the Jabbok River the following morning, but his face was radiating in joy and thanksgiving to God. With the power of God, the new Jacob boldly walked up to his brother Esau without fear because he had already given everything to God. To Jacob’s surprise, Esau ran to Jacob to meet Jacob, embraced Jacob, threw his arms around Jacob’s neck, and kissed Jacob. And they both wept. God prepared Esau’s heart even before Jacob prayed to God throughout the night.
Jacob then expected a good life in the land of Canaan. But in the land, he lost his wife, Rachel, who he loved so much, and his favorite son Joseph. Whenever he fell into his serious life challenges, Jacob prayed to God, and God came and lifted Jacob with His loving hand. Jacob could continue his journey with God. What a beautiful relationship with God through his journey! Jacob prayed throughout the night before departing to Egypt, which was nothing new to Jacob. Indeed, it was the only reason that he could cope with all life challenges. God was pleased with Jacob’s faith, and God proved His faithfulness again for Jacob.
Jacob put all his attention to God and calmly opened his heart to listen to God. Jacob was silent and looked up.
“I am God, the God of your father,” the voice said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make your family into a great nation. I will go with you down to Egypt, and I will bring you back again. You will die in Egypt, but Joseph will be with you to close your eyes.”
God knew all the concerns and hesitations that Jacob had. God lovingly took away one by one. First, God comforted Jacob by giving His comfort to Jacob, fearing going down to Egypt by leaving the Promised Land because his grandfather failed in Egypt. Then God assured Jacob by reconfirming His covenant with Jacob, his father, Isaac, and his grandfather, Abraham. It was not all. God promised to continue walking with Jacob even in Egypt, the foreign land. What a comforting voice! Wherever we go, God goes with us. What else do we need if God, who created heaven and earth, is with us always everywhere? That is the promise and assurance from God, Our Ever-Loving Father. Jacob was greatly comforted.
Then God continued. God reassured that His covenant was forever. God gave the Promised Land, Canaan. God surely would bring back Jacob and his descendants to the Promised Land. Jacob finally resolved his unsettling heart. Jacob realized that God would not take away the Promised Land from him and his descendants by driving them down to Egypt with the excuse of the severe famine.
Yes, once God promises, God never changes His promise under all situations. If not, how can we believe His promise? If God changes His promise as the situation changes, then where is the assurance of God? God is not like one of us who changes as the situation changes. Sometimes we truly want to keep our promise, but the situation does not allow us to keep our promise. God is not a mere mortal who is under the mercy of the situation that we cannot control. Instead, God controls the situation to keep His promise always. It is the reason why we trust in God and believe His promise no matter what happens.
Then Jacob still had additional questions in his heart. He was old, and he would not live long on the earth. Once he went down to Egypt, he would most likely die in Egypt. Then what would happen to God’s promise of giving him the Promised Land? What would look like Jacob’s own end on earth? God saw Jacob’s heart filled with questions. God again comforted Jacob by answering the remaining questions. “Yes, you would die in Egypt, but you will not die alone. Your son Joseph will be with you to the last moment on earth. Jacob bowed down low before God and gave thanks to God, who was so loving.
The following morning, Jacob told his decision to his family. Jacob left Beersheba with his sons to Egypt. They carried him and their little ones and their wives in the wagons Pharaoh had provided for them. They also took all their livestock and all the personal belongings they had acquired in the land of Canaan. So Jacob and his entire family went to Egypt— sons and grandsons, daughters and granddaughters—all his descendants.
The total number of Jacob’s direct descendants who went with him to Egypt, not counting his sons’ wives, was sixty-six. In addition, Joseph had two sons who were born in Egypt. So altogether, there were seventy members of Jacob’s family in the land of Egypt.
As they neared their destination, Jacob sent Judah, one of Jacob’s sons, ahead to meet Joseph and get directions to the region of Goshen. Joseph prepared his chariot and traveled to Goshen to meet his father, Jacob.
Joseph was the governor of all Egypt, who was the second most powerful person in Egypt. His brothers sold Joseph to slavery and lied to Jacob that animals killed Joseph. However, Joseph overcame the misery, and he became the governor of all Egypt. Joseph always trusted God and firmly believed in his dreams as he believed that God gave the dreams. Whether he became a slave or a prisoner, he always hoped in God while fixing his eyes on his dreams, which pleased God. God made him the governor of all Egypt. The brothers thought they killed Joseph’s dreams by selling Joseph to slavery out of their envy and jealousy of Joseph’s dreams. However, it could not destroy Joseph’s dreams, but became the very enabler of making Joseph’s dreams come true.
When Joseph arrived, Joseph embraced his father and wept, holding his father for a long time. Finally, Jacob said to Joseph, “Now I am ready to die, since I have seen your face again and know you are still alive.”
Then Joseph went to see Pharaoh and told him, “My father and my brothers have arrived from the land of Canaan. They have come with all their flocks and herds and possessions. Now they are in the region of Goshen.” Pharaoh was pleased and let Jacob, his father, and his brothers live in the region of Goshen.
Joseph also brought in his father, Jacob, and presented him to Pharaoh. And Jacob blessed Pharaoh.
“How old are you?” Pharaoh asked him.
Jacob replied, “I have traveled this earth for 130 hard years. But my life has been short compared to the lives of my ancestors.” Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh again before leaving his court.
So Joseph assigned the best land of Egypt—the region of Rameses—to his father and his brothers, and he settled them there, just as Pharaoh had commanded. Jacob and his sons settled in the region of Goshen in Egypt. There they acquired property, and they were fruitful, and their population grew rapidly. Jacob lived for seventeen years after his arrival in Egypt, so he lived 147 years in all.
As the time of his death drew near, Jacob called for his son Joseph and said to him, “Please do me this favor. Put your hand under my thigh and swear that you will treat me with unfailing love by honoring this last request: Do not bury me in Egypt. When I die, please take my body out of Egypt and bury me with my ancestors.”
“Swear that you will do it,” Jacob insisted. So Joseph gave his oath, and Jacob bowed humbly at the head of his bed.
Jacob said to Joseph, “Look, I am about to die, but God will be with you and will take you back to Canaan, the land of your ancestors.” Then Jacob called together all his sons and said, “Gather around me, and I will tell you what will happen to each of you in the days to come” Jacob blessed each one of his sons.
Jacob instructed them, “Soon I will die and join my ancestors. Bury me with my father and grandfather in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite. This is the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, that Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite as a permanent burial site. There Abraham and his wife Sarah are buried. There Isaac and his wife, Rebekah, are buried. And there I buried Leah. It is the plot of land and the cave that my grandfather Abraham bought from the Hittites.” When Jacob had finished this charge to his sons, he drew his feet into the bed, breathed his last, and joined his ancestors in death.
Jacob lived in Egypt for seventeen years, but Jacob had never forgotten the Promised Land where God promised to give him and his descendants. He instructed his sons to bury him at the plot that his grandfather, Abraham, purchased in the Promised Land. Although he was in Egypt, his heart was always in the Promised Land, and he fixed his eyes on the Promised Land. Everything was good in Egypt, but the land was not the Promised Land, which God gave him, his sons, and their descendants. As Jacob said, Jacob’s descendants would leave Egypt four hundred years later and return to the Promised Land.
God blessed Jacob and his descendants as Jacob foresaw in faith. When Jacob and his sons came to Egypt, they were only 70, but when they left Egypt, their number became 600,000! What a blessing from God given to Jacob and his descendants! Jacob believed in God’s covenant till his death, and he passed down God’s covenant to his sons. His sons passed down God’s covenant to their sons. This Godly tradition kept on going generation after generation. As the time came, God fulfilled His covenant, “I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make your family into a great nation. I will go with you down to Egypt, and I will bring you back again.”
God is faithful, and God surely fulfills His covenant solemnly made with His children with His holy name. Thus, we, who are God’s children, have assurance in Him, and we have unfailing hope under all circumstances. Why? God will fulfill His covenant according to His goodwill with His unfailing love for His children. Praise Him!
The faithful love of the LORD never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!” (Lamentations 3:22-23)