Reading: Genesis 46
Jacob realises he must go to Egypt due to the famine, but it is hard to leave the Promised Land. The land is evidence of God’s blessings and His faithfulness to all His covenant promises. Must Jacob now leave the inheritance? The Lord understands Jacob’s struggle and assures him in a vision: “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” (vs 3,4). Jacob accepts that God wants him to move to Egypt. So he leaves, together with the whole family
Chapter 46 records the names of all the males to emphasise the significance of the move to Egypt. Furthermore it shows that only seventy people went. This later helps to understand the miracle that from 70 persons a great nation is born in a short time (Exodus 1:20).
This thought reveals to us another important reason why God sends the famine: namely to move Jacob’s entire family to Egypt. God wants the nation of Israel, the church, to be “born” in Egypt and so inherit the Promised Land through a very special history.
Through this history God will reveal His power and majesty not only to Israel, but also to Egypt and the surrounding nations by rescuing Israel from Egypt (see Joshua 2:8-11). God places Israel into slavery, and then liberates them by a great victory over Egypt’s gods and Egypt’s leadership. God always wants Israel to remember that He formed them and set them free, not only from the “iron furnace” of slavery (Deuteronomy 4:20) but also from sin (Passover). God puts Israel in His classroom 40 years in the desert before inheriting the Promised Land. When Israel reads God’s law they must first remember “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (Exodus 20:2). In other words: never forget that God rescued you, therefore obey His law to express your thankfulness. God wants Israel to fight for the Promised Land, remove its heathen nations and wipe out their false gods to teach Israel to serve God alone. Israel is not to be afraid of their enemies, instead they “shall remember well what the LORD your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt” (Deuteronomy 7:18). In short, God directs Israel’s history, including its “birth” in Egypt, to teach many things. How wonderful is God’s providence.
Key verse: Genesis 46:3 “So He said, ‘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.’ ”
Question: Summarize the reasons God sent the seven good years followed by seven years of famine.