Bible Readings for February 13th
What an incredible scene it must have been to see Jacob reunited with his son whom he had believed to be dead for so many years: “[Joseph] presented himself to [Jacob] and fell on his neck and wept on his neck a good while” (Gen. 46:29). This is very similar language to the way that Jacob’s reunion with Esau was described back in Genesis 33:4: “But Esau ran to meet [Jacob] and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.” Jacob the prodigal brother has become the father who is reunited with his lost son.
Importantly, God explicitly authorizes Jacob to leave Canaan and go down to Egypt in Genesis 46:3–4. When God met Jacob at Bethel as he was fleeing from Esau, God had promised to bring Jacob back into the land of Canaan (Gen. 28:12–15), but this time, God promises something different.
This time, God promises that Egypt would be the place that God would make Israel into a great nation after Jacob is dead—and only after Jacob’s death would God bring the nation of Israel back to the land of Canaan. In this, God is explaining what he told Abraham in Genesis 15, which is that Abraham’s offspring would necessarily pass through suffering in a foreign nation for four hundred years before God would free them from their bondage. In Genesis 46, the story of that bondage begins as the whole nation of Israel moves to dwell in Egypt.
From Genesis 46, we should recognize two things. First, we should recognize that through everything God has been doing in the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jacob’s sons, he has been working everything together for their good, just as he has promised. No matter the ups and downs of their lives, God has sworn that he will make them great and bless them and that he will bring them into their inheritance, and he will absolutely keep his promise.
But second, we should recognize that sometimes God’s sovereign plans take his people through Egypt—places of deep suffering. Although Joseph is now the second most powerful man on the face of the earth, a time will come when a new pharaoh will not remember Joseph (Ex. 1:8).
It is critical, therefore, both that we take hope in the fact that God is working all things together for our good (Rom. 8:28) and also that we steel ourselves with the understanding that even though all things together will be good, that does not mean that all the events in our lives will be “good” in and of themselves. Suffering is an unavoidable part of the journey as God brings his people to glory.
If even Jesus had to suffer before his exaltation, why should we imagine that we would be exempt from suffering on our road to glory?
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.