The first book of the Bible, Genesis, tells us of the beginning of all things. The second book, Exodus, tells us of a great departure. Matthew Henry notes that, “No sooner have we made our entrance into the world than we must think of making our exit, and going out of this world. When we begin to live, we begin to die.” Keeping this in mind should help us to keep a spiritual perspective as we open the book of Exodus.
Exodus begins by introducing us to who it was from God’s people – Israel – that first traveled to Egypt. Eleven leading men are listed and the twelfth, Joseph, is noted as already having been there for some time. The question is why was Joseph there and why did all of his brothers follow?
To answer, we must go back to their father, Jacob.
Jacob was the twin son of Issac. Jacob is known for many things, but mostly for his deceitfulness. Although his brother, Esau, was the rightful heir of Issac’s blessing, Jacob dishonestly stole it and, surprisingly, fulfilled God’s plan to be the favored younger over the unloved older brother.
Not only was Jacob deceitful, he was proud. He had an entitlement mentality despite being grossly undeserved. As far as chosen men go, by rights, Jacob should have been the last one on God’s list.
Then again…Esau was just as undeserving.
Then again…so are all of us. Deceit. Dishonesty. Pride. Entitlement. Jealousy. Selfishness. Sounds familiar, right? Meet the humans.
Still, God himself said, “…Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated…” (Malachi 1:3, Romans 9:13) God chose to use Jacob and even his deceit to teach his people just who he is.
Not surprisingly, Jacob’s sons are, well, deceitful, proud, entitled, and selfish just like him. These sins lead to jealousy over Jacob’s favoritism of their youngest sibling, Joseph – who was quite proud and entitled himself by the way. The brothers leave Joseph for dead and he is picked up by slave traders and led into Egypt.
After many years of imprisonment, Joseph rose to a powerful position. When a severe famine strikes, Joseph is able to provide food for his estranged family who come unknowingly into his presence to beg. That is how they came to live in Egypt.
Long story short, the whole relocation effort was a result of the deceitfulness of sin riding right alongside the perfect will of God. The sin of Jacob passed down to become the sin of his sons coupled with the sovereignty of God. Seven verses into chapter one and my mind is blown already. We can’t stop there, though, because another great relocation effort is about to get underway.
God had promised Jacob’s grandfather, Abraham, that he would make his descendants as numerous as the stars in sky and the sand on the seashore. In Exodus chapter 1, we not only see all of his descendants moving into Egypt, but we also see them multiplying.
Exodus 1:7 says that the people of Israel were fruitful, that they increased greatly, they multiplied, and grew exceedingly strong.
What a great way to start the day, er, uh, chapter! Truly, this is a wonderful introduction. The contrast doesn’t get much clearer than this. The bottom line?
Man is deceitful, proud, full of entitlement, and altogether selfish. He deserves nothing, yet God chooses him, uses him, and remembers him by faithfully fulfilling every promise he has given to him and his fathers.
That is a God I can follow, especially since I’m just another Jacob. Although God’s people will endure great trials in Egypt, let us keep in mind how this great God remains with them throughout their hardships and, in his time, eventually delivers each one who belongs to him.