Transcript: Today we’re going to look at an event in Jacob’s life that illustrates the concept of putting God first. Let’s start by reviewing Jacob’s background.
Jacob was born in the land of Canaan.
When he was a young man, he traveled to his mother’s homeland in the area of Haran, to find a wife. That would have been about a 2 week journey traveling 30 miles per day.
At the beginning of his journey, Yahweh appeared to Jacob in a dream at Bethel. This was the dream where Jacob saw angels ascending and descending a ladder that reached into heaven. When Jacob woke up, he promised to make Yahweh his God. Now keep that promise in mind as we go through this story.
Jacob spent 20 years in Haran. While there, he married and fathered 11 sons.
After fathering 11 sons he returned home to Canaan. Upon getting back to Canaan, he went to Bethel, the place where he had promised to make Yahweh his God, and he built an altar to Yahweh. This was his way of saying thanks to God for bringing him safely back to Canaan.
Sometime later, Joseph, his 11th son, was taken from him. Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt, but at the time, Jacob was led to believe that Joseph had been killed.
A famine came and Jacob sent his sons to Egypt to buy food.
They bought food in Egypt and returned home.
Then Jacob sent them to Egypt again to buy more food. This time, Jacob’s sons learned that Joseph was still alive and that he was the governor of Egypt. Now let’s pick up the story at Genesis 45:16.
Gen. 45:16 ¶ Now when the news was heard in Pharaoh’s house that Joseph’s brothers had come, it pleased Pharaoh and his servants.
Gen. 45:17 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph,
“Say to your brothers,
‘Do this: load your beasts and go to the land of Canaan,
Gen. 45:18 and take your father and your households and come to me, and I will give you the best of the land of Egypt and you will eat the fat of the land.’
Notice that Pharaoh promised to give them the best that Egypt had and the fat of the land.
Gen. 45:19 “Now you are ordered,
‘Do this: take wagons from the land of Egypt for your little ones and for your wives, and bring your father and come.
Gen. 45:20 ‘Do not concern yourselves with your goods, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.’”
Notice again the word “best”.
Gen. 45:21 ¶ Then the sons of Israel did so; and Joseph gave them wagons according to the command of Pharaoh, and gave them provisions for the journey.
Gen. 45:22 To each of them he gave changes of garments, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver and five changes of garments.
Gen. 45:23 To his father he sent as follows: ten donkeys loaded with the best things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and sustenance for his father on the journey.
Here we see the word “best” used a third time.
Gen. 45:24 ¶ So he sent his brothers away, and as they departed, he said to them,
“Do not quarrel on the journey.”
Gen. 45:25 Then they went up from Egypt, and came to the land of Canaan to their father Jacob.
Let’s look at this on a map. The Bible doesn’t tell us exactly where in Egypt Joseph lived, nor does it tell us where in Canaan Jacob was living at that time. However, it is roughly 240 miles from Egypt to Canaan, and at 30 miles per day, that would have been about a one week journey.
Gen. 45:26 They told him, saying,
“Joseph is still alive, and indeed he is ruler over all the land of Egypt.”
But he Jacob was stunned, for he did not believe them.
Look at the word “stunned”. At this point, Joseph had been gone for at least 12 years, and Jacob had always believed that Joseph had been killed. Obviously, Jacob would have had a hard time suddenly believing that Joseph was still alive.
Gen. 45:27 When they told him all the words of Joseph that he had spoken to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of their father Jacob revived.
Gen. 45:28 Then Israel said,
“It is enough; my son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.”
Gen. 46:1 ¶ So Israel set out with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.
Think about this. Surely Jacob was anxious to see Joseph; however, before he went to Egypt, he went to Beersheba.
Again, the Bible doesn’t tell us exactly where in Canaan Jacob was living, nor the route he took to get to Egypt, so we don’t know if Beersheba was on the way, or if Jacob had to travel a little bit out of his way to get to Beersheba. However, even if Beersheba was on the way, it’s still significant that Jacob took the time to stop at Beersheba.
He stopped at Beersheba so that he could offer sacrifices to God before he went off to see Joseph. We will come back to this in a few minutes.
While Jacob was at Beersheba, the following vision took place.
Gen. 46:2 God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said,
And he said,
“Here I am.”
Gen. 46:3 He said,
“I am God, the God of your father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you a great nation there.
Gen. 46:4 “I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will close your eyes.”
Gen. 46:5 ¶ Then Jacob arose from Beersheba; and the sons of Israel carried their father Jacob and their little ones and their wives in the wagons which Pharaoh had sent to carry him.
Gen. 46:6 They took their livestock and their property, which they had acquired in the land of Canaan, and came to Egypt, Jacob and all his descendants with him:
Gen. 46:7 his sons and his grandsons with him, his daughters and his granddaughters, and all his descendants he brought with him to Egypt.
Notice how specific and comprehensive these verses are in listing everything that went to Egypt.
Verse 6 mentions both livestock and property.
Twice we see the phrase “all his descendants”.
Verse 7 specifically mentions, sons, grandsons, daughters, and grand-daughters.
Again, the text is clear that Jacob and all his descendants went to Egypt, meaning that Jacob and all his descendants, including Joseph, were together again in the land of Egypt. Let’s talk some more about this sacrifice that Jacob made in Beersheba, and let me start with a question.
Do we follow Jacob’s example? When Jacob learned that Joseph was still alive, he took time to sacrifice to God, first, before he went to see Joseph. Do we put God first? Do we thank God for everything, first? Consider the following verses.
Heb. 13:15 Through Him [Jesus] then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.
Heb. 13:16 And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
Notice the word “continually”.
Notice that praising God and thanking Him is considered a sacrifice.
Just as Jacob took time to offer a sacrifice to God, so too we should take the time to offer up praise and thanksgiving to God. And while these verses from Hebrews don’t specifically tell us to thank God first, they do tell us to thank Him continually. By definition, the only way we can thank God continually is if God is at the forefront of our mind, each day, every day, day after day after day after day.
So as we go about our daily lives, let’s learn from Jacob’s example of sacrificing first and let’s keep God at the forefront of our mind and let’s continually offer up a
sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to God.