God’s Reassuring Promise (Part Two)

Genesis 46:1-7

The walk of faith in God can be difficult. God is infinitely greater than us, and we often fail to know his plans and promises, even though they are clearly stated in his word. We are limited beings, and there is much we cannot understand. Personal trials and suffering can mislead us. In addition, we often misinterpret our situation because of the effects of sin on our minds. But God is gracious! He encourages us by his word to rely upon him, to endure, and to put our hope in him. Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God (Psalm 42:5 NIV)

See God’s word to Jacob. And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, “Jacob! Jacob!” “Here I am,” he replied. “I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes” (Genesis 46:2-4 NIV).

God gave his word to Jacob by direct, personal address. The doubling of the name speaks of God’s love for the person (46:2). Think of Abraham (Genesis 22:11); Samuel, (1 Samuel 3:10); Martha, (Luke 10:41); Simon Peter, (Luke 22:31); Saul Paul (Acts 9:4). The Lord revealed himself as the One whom Jacob had worshiped for many years (46:3).

God gave a comforting promise to his loved one (46:3-4). God told Jacob:

  • Don’t be afraid, for I am working out my plan in human history. I will do there what I have promised you and your fathers.
  • Be assured of my presence with you. I’m going with you there, and I’ll certainly bring you back to this land again. Did Jacob have some visual sense of the glory of God accompanying him? It is not said, but it is highly unlikely. But God’s word is as good as a visible sign. Do you believe this? See Hebrews 13:5: God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
  • Know that you will be reunited with Joseph. God is able to repay for the years the locusts have eaten. I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm—my great army that I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed. Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the Lord your God, and that there is no other; never again will my people be shamed (Joel 2:25-27 NIV).

How did Jacob respond? He acted according to God’s word. He obeyed (46:5-7). It is like Jacob told his family, “Boys and girls, let’s go! God is about to fulfill his word. His time has come to make us a great nation. He wants us out of Canaan and in Egypt. Therefore, let’s go to Egypt!”


  • What tremendous obedience in a man of 130 years! He is willing to upset the remaining days of his life, forsake everything, and follow God’s call. May his tribe increase!
  • Here is an amazing promise to rest on. “I will go… with you.” We ought to prove his promise true by going and making disciples.
  • The church’s land of rest is the spiritual Canaan, a new heaven and a new earth. We will possess that land at his appointed time. Now he is making us a great nation in this spiritual Egypt, this present age. Let’s remember he is always with us during this time.

Grace and peace, David

Good Desires (Part Two)

img_11742 Chronicles 17:1-19

The Lord God has given people desires or longings. As we live in this world, we develop other desires according to our circumstances, abilities, etc. These desires can be either holy or wicked. In this article, we think again about the good desires that Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, had.

Jehoshaphat had a desire to seek the Lord (17:3-6). Notice how this godly desire worked out in his life.

  • He followed the good example of David. It is not clear if the text should be translated like the NIV does to refer to Jehoshaphat, or as the ESV does to refer to David (“because he walked in the earlier ways of David”). Regardless, Jehoshaphat sought the Lord like David did (cf. Psalm 27:8; etc.), and so he rejected the Baals. There were many false gods worshiped in Palestine with the title of Baal (“Master”). Each one was believed to be in control of some part of nature or some place. Baal worship was the attempt to gain the favor of these so-called gods, so that a person could have a happy, prosperous life. (Hopefully, that does not describe your motivation for worshiping the living God!) Worship of the Lord emphasizes his glory and goodness in redeeming his people from sin to eternal salvation. In true worship, we are not trying to buy something from God, but we are celebrating what he freely does. We need to remember Jehoshaphat’s rejection of Baal worship when we come to the next chapter.
  • His heart was devoted or “lifted up” to the Lord. In contrast, others might lift their hearts up to other gods, human wisdom or selfish ambition. But Jehoshaphat gave his heart or inner person to the Lord and his ways. (You simply can’t give your heart to the Lord and not to the Lord’s ways. True spirituality is according to God’s word.) The principle of the first great command was operating in his heart (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). When he realized that God was his covenant Lord, he gave himself to the Lord’s lordship over him. For Jehoshaphat, this required him to structure his life around the reality of God and his relationship to him, as mediated through the law covenant (Deuteronomy 4:23-24). For us, it means confessing that “Jesus is Lord”. Christ is the ultimate loyalty for the Christian, because God the Father has made him the ultimate Lord over everything. By his death and resurrection, Christ earned absolute lordship, and he exercises it (Romans 14:9-10; 1 Corinthians 15:25; Ephesians 1:19b-23). Sip on that strong coffee for a while! Yes, that is spiritual caffeine that will really wake you up!

Comment: Some people might say that evangelical Christians are professional liars, because we say, “Jesus is Lord,” while we live contradictory to our confession. My friends, we should not try to answer that accusation with words but with lives that are devoted to Christ’s lordship. How are our lives saying that Jesus has set us free to live for God? But first, do you confess that “Jesus is Lord”? Listen to Romans 10:8-13. But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

  • His devoted heart produced godly action. He worshiped according to the law covenant, and not according to the ways of false religion, like the practices of Israel invented by Jeroboam I (cf. 1 Ki 12), or the polytheistic practices of the Canaanites. He did his best to remove the religious perversions of Asherah (the goddess associated with Baal or even with God in false religious practice). The high places had sacred stones that were supposed to contain the Baals. We must worship the Lord in his way, which he has clearly revealed in the Bible.

This weekend, think about the way you worshiped. First, did you gather with other believers? Second, did your worship conform to the pattern set forth in the New Testament Scriptures? How do you know that it did? Third, what good results came from your worship? Did it transform you and others?

Grace and peace, David