[Today: Genesis 46] Jacob Does what Abraham and Isaac Could Not. In chapter 46, Jacob begins the journey from Canaan to Egypt. Abraham made this journey and transgressed. Isaac was forbidden to go to Egypt. God, however, commands Jacob to do this same thing. What can we learn from this? To stay flexible in our yieldedness to God and not to be so rigid that we miss out on what He has next for us.
In this chapter, we see Jacob with all his family journeying to Egypt to reunite with his son Joseph. In v. 1, we see the priority of Jacob’s heart to put God first no matter what. Jacob’s troubles are over, and his very highest heart’s desire is fulfilled, but he still stops to offer sacrifices to God. As Abraham and Isaac before him, we see that Jacob is an altar builder not just in times of trouble but in times of rejoicing as well.
This is a huge transition from Canaan to Egypt for Jacob. What about you? When you are in transition and need to hear from God, it is important to pause to offer sacrifices unto God. Now we don’t sacrifice animals as Christians, so what is the equivalent?
[Rom 12:1 KJV] 1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service.
How do you offer yourself as a living sacrifice to God? This can involve fasting, also setting aside a specific time to quietly spend time in God’s presence. Israel did this once before in Beersheba (well of the seven-fold oath). Vows may also be involved. Beersheba was also where Abraham cut a pact of nonaggression with Abimelech. Isaac built an altar there, as well. It was after leaving Beersheba as a young man Jacob (Israel) dreamed and saw the ladder from heaven. So Israel was obviously thinking back to times when God spoke to him and his predecessors.
In v. 2-4, we see that when Jacob pauses to hear from God that the Father shows up to make Himself known. Do you ever just stop what you are doing and put everything aside to hear from God? Not just when you are in trouble, but when good things are happening as well? Because Jacob puts his attention on God and not just the affairs taking place around him, God shows up to clarify what is to happen next. Are you ready for clarity in God?
In speaking to Jacob, God tells Jacob to proceed to Egypt. This is different than the decision Abraham made when he did the same thing. Abraham embarrassed himself in Egypt; God forbade Isaac to go to Egypt (and he reaped 100 fold in reward), and now Jacob, in his old age, is instructed by God to go down to Joseph in Egypt.
You might see how Abraham transgressed in Egypt and think that you never want to go to Egypt if you are going to please God. You might see how God forbade Isaac to go to Egypt and have it underscored for you – never go to Egypt. You would be wrong. Jacob is instructed by God to do precisely what Abraham should not have done and that Isaac was warned not to do. What is the lesson for us?
We have to hold everything loosely. We can’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – we must eat from the tree of life and know that God will tell us to do things that seemingly contradict what He says at other times.
Having heard from God, Jacob makes the journey our of Canaan to Egypt. Has God ever told you to make a geographical move like this? Church leaders, even prophetic ministries forbid and reject prophecies about geographical moves. Yet God spoke to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob about essential moves such as this. If they hadn’t obeyed, they would have lost out on God’s blessing. If Jacob had thought like many today, he would have rejected the word to move to Egypt, and they would have starved. We have to be mature about these things.
In the remainder of the balance of the chapter we have the genealogy of Jacob:
In v. 8-9, we read that Rueben was first born but lost the inheritance because he slept with his father’s concubine. He also betrayed Joseph in not defending him when his brothers sold Joseph into slavery.
Verses 10-11 mention Simeon and Levi. Simeon and Levi also lost the inheritance because they displayed cruelty in the case of their sister’s sexual assault (slaying an entire city of men in retaliation). Was this the end for them? No, at all. It is important to note, however, that out of Levi came the priesthood under Moses.
In v. 12, we find Judah inherited the birthright but not necessarily because he was such an upright man. He was known to frequent prostitutes, to commit incest, and married outside his tribe as well. Pharez and Zarah are in the line of Christ, yet are bastard sons of Judah’s incestuous liaison with his daughter-in-law Tamar when she presented herself to him as a prostitute.
In v. 13-14, we read of Issachar and Zebulun: Issachar was conceived by Leah when she bribed Jacob for sexual favors. The tribe of Issachar came to be very erudite and learned, but never distinguished themselves militarily.
Zebulun was Leah’s sixth son and also a product of the strife-torn sexual politics of Jacob’s polygamy with Rachel and Leah.
Verses 16-18 reference Gad and Asher. Gad is the seventh son of Jacob, and his name means “fortune” or “good luck.” His mother was Zilpah, Leah’s maid that she gave to Jacob after realizing she had left off bearing. Gad’s conception promoted Zilpah to spousal status upon Gad’s birth.
Asher is the 8th son of Jacob, and his name means HAPPY. Eight is a number connected with the idea of new beginning. Asher was Leah’s maid Zilpah’s second son, which she bore to Jacob.
According to classical rabbinical literature, Asher had informed his brothers about Reuben’s incest with Bilhah.
In verses 19-22, we come to Joseph and Benjamin: Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin calling him “Benoni,” which is “son of my pain.” Jacob changed the name to “son of my right hand.” Benjamin is the youngest of the 12 patriarchs.
In v. 23-24, we find Dan and Naphtali.
Dan means “judge or lawgiver.” Interestingly he is left out of the 12 tribes when they are mentioned in the book of Revelation.
Naphtali means “struggle.” His mother was Rachel’s handmaid Bilhah, and he was named after the sexual competition and birthing war between Rachel and Leah.
Verse 26 tells us that the total number of souls saved in Joseph was 66 in all. What is the significance of the number 66? First of all, and perhaps most importantly, there are 66 books of the Bible. Every person is a living epistle in the plan of God, and these 66 people in the tribe of Jacob represent the 66 books of the Bible brought out of the world to the salvation of all those whosoever will accept the message of Jesus (our Joseph).
In Leviticus 12:5 the number of the days of purification after a woman had a baby was 66 days in all. In other words, through the entire situation with Joseph and the family’s ultimate salvation, God was purifying the sons of Jacob from their murders, their betrays, and their sexual immorality, all of which are chronicled in the chapters of Genesis before the story of Joseph.
When you add the numbers 1-66, you come up with 2011, which is considered by some ancient texts to be a sacred number denoting the numbered representation of God and His Temple.
In v. 29 Joseph is reunited with his father Jacob, and the place of the tribe is established in Goshen to serve as shepherds in Egypt. So they were involved in providing animals for food and for religious purposes while they were in the land of Egypt.
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