What does it say?
Israel goes down into Egypt (Gen 46). He is still Jacob, but more and more living like the Israel God means him to be. Even here, God speaks to Israel and says, Jacob, Jacob (46:2). Once again God reaffirms to him the promise of blessing to be a great nation. Moses, the human author, gives a complete listing of family members coming into Egypt; no doubt a list he had memorized as a child. Joseph comes to meet his father and family halfway and prepare them for the path ahead.
Joseph presents his father to Pharaoh (Gen 47) who graciously welcomes him and offers him the very best of the land for his family and herds. Jacob blesses Pharaoh, and the presence of Israel blesses Egypt even in a time of famine. Joseph skillfully guides the nation through the seven years of famine, as Jacob prepares to die.
What does it mean?
This constant interchange of the names Jacob and Israel reflects the common human struggle between our fallen human nature and our new position in Christ. God’s patience is amazing. All through his life, God has appeared to Jacob, encouraging, reconfirming his promises, wrestling with him when needed and giving him a new name. Toward the end of his life Israel begins to live up to his name and is listed with the great people of faith in Hebrews 11. As with all of us, it didn’t necessarily have to take so long or include so many heartaches to get there, but God does accomplish his plan with Israel.
On a more global perspective, Israel is now in Egypt blessing the nations. Upon meeting Pharaoh, Jacob blesses him (47:7) and God blesses Israel (47:27). This prolonged story sets the tone for our entire journey through the Bible.
How will I respond?
Are you getting tired of this missional emphasis? It is consistent if you look for it. Do you think God may have grown weary of having to confirm and remind his people constantly of the mission of “blessed to be a blessing”?
Today marks one month of our chronological and missional journey through the Bible. Looking back on this past month, what is the most important lesson you have learned, and also the most important action you have taken? Be as specific as you can. We all wrestle as did Jacob/Israel, but we can avoid unnecessary pain and heartache by being conscious of and cooperative with God’s mission of being blessed to be a blessing to the peoples of the world.