Jacob’s journey – single man to a nation

March 5, 2024

By Editorial Team

Jacob reunites with Joseph in Egypt

"Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it" Gen 28: 12

"So Joseph made ready his chariot and went up to Goshen to meet his father Israel; and he presented himself to him, and fell on his neck and wept on his neck a good while" Gen 46:29

Jacobs life is one of the most tumultuous in the whole Bible. It starts off as a single man who steals his father’s blessing, then marriages and children and finally becoming a nation Israel. The modern nation of Israel is nothing but Jacob’s family. We take 4 places where he encounters God.

1. Bethel: Jacob steals the blessing and is on life threat from Esau. So his mom and dad send him off to the mom’s household to marry and live there. Bible tells us that as he journeyed, he had to break journey on the road, not a city or an inn, but in the middle of nowhere. Those who undertake road journeys know this, the pressure of getting to some hotel or lodging place before sunset. Sadly he didn’t have a car, leave alone google maps. So he just lay down in the wilderness in a solitary place, made a pillow or stones and mud and pulled a bedsheet over him. Here God’s Presence comes over him in his sleep. He sees a ladder set up from where he is, stretching to the Throne of God and sees the Lord seated on the throne taking care of him. Homeless, but home in Christ. Orphan, but fathered by God Almighty. Lonely but in the Presence of God. Unsafe, but safe in the arms of Jesus. That night God appears to him, promises to give him the land, multiply him and says, “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.” Gen 28:15.

2. Peniel: So he journeys on from there, reaches Paddan-Aram. Here he meets Rachel at the well, goes home to Laban and family,, gets employed there, marries Rachel and Leah. Years pass by, God multiples him, takes care of his own flocks and wages and then tells him to get up and go back to his country. So there at Jabbok, he is meeting Esau the next day. News comes that Esau is coming with 400 armed men. Then he sends away the entire family to cross the ford of Jabbok, and is left alone as he perhaps wanted to spend time in prayer. As he is praying, a Heavenly man meets him and wrestles with him. It was not a physical wrestling so much, but as Prophet Hosea tells us “He struggled with the Angel and prevailed, he wept and sought his favour.” Hosea 12:4. This was a night of complete repentance, where God was calling Jacob to account for his sins. Then as he confessed and pleaded for his life and his family, Jesus Blesses him and gives him grace to meet Esau. What was a fearful meeting which could have ended in murder, becomes a time of reconciliation and peace. What a Jesus we have! At Peniel, Christ even changes Jacob’s name to Israel. That is where the name of the nation comes from. Even today it is know by that name – Israel.

3. Bethel: After meeting Esau, God tells him to go back to Bethel and live there. Here is where I want you brother and sister to pay attention. Now Jacob is a large family with children, flocks and grand children. Imagine him living there, each day thinking, decades ago when I was a single man with a rucksack and a walking stick, God promised to make me a family, protect me, feed me, take care of me. And now my entire household is His Mercy. A fulfilment of a promise, not because Jacob was perfect or sinless, but Because God was faithful. That’s how promises operate, even when you are faithless, God is still faithful. Those of you who are married and with kids, I want you to dwell for a moment on when you were single, looking for a wife (or husband), now you are a family, how faithful God has been to you! Thank him. Those of you who are single, lonely, take heart in Christ’s faithfulness to his promises. Pay heed to what the Holy Spirit is telling you. Treasure those promises in your heart as Mary did.

4. Memphis, Egypt (Most probably this was the capital at that time, Memphis is 24 km south of Modern Cairo). We all know the story of Joseph being betrayed by his brothers, being sold into Canaan as a slave. The Lord was with Joseph in Potiphar’s house. He blessed him and even though he was put in prison by Potiphar’s wife, still Emmanuel was with him. Blessed him in the prison, gave him a ministry of comforting the downcast. Years later God raises him up to be Prime Minister of Egypt. And we know the story of Jacob’s family coming back to Egypt. Here Jacob meets Joseph in Goshen, the son falls on the dad’s neck and weeps for a while. A picture of God’s faithfulness to the family despite jealousy, murder, lies, cover-up, betrayal, faithlessness etc. It was a wayward family, just like any of us. These are our patriarchs. Can you imagine that? But these believers repented of their evil and became reconciled to God and to one another. God's mercy can flow into your life, when you repent.

Many Christians observe 40 days of Lent, before Easter. This month, take some time out each day to spend in Bible reading and prayer. Tell Jesus all your troubles, your helplessness and sufferings and I believe he will comfort you and Bless you.

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