January 16 Today’s Reading: Genesis 45-46
The Lord appeared to Jacob “in the visions of the night” to say to him “fear not.” Jacob’s fear had to be removed. It is both displeasing and dishonoring to God for us (“the sons of Jacob”) to walk in carnal fear (Matthew 6:19-33).
Afraid to Obey
Fear is an indication of a quarrel with God’s will. Jacob must go down to Egypt by God’s command; but he was afraid. He was afraid to obey God’s command. We must not judge him too harshly. Who has not been guilty of the same offense? God will never send us where He will not go with us. God will not require us to do anything He will not enable us to do. No believer will ever meet a trial or temptation in the path of obedience through which God will not sustain him (1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:24). His word to his servant is, “Fear not.”
The Lord removed Jacob’s fear in the most tender and gracious manner imaginable. Our God always deals with His children in grace. What a picture we have here of God’s grace dealing with poor, fearful Jacob, and with us. He removed Jacob’s fear by letting him know that He knew him. “God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob.” In essence, He said, “I know you, I know what you are going through, and I know what lies before you.”
Then He caused Jacob to know by experience that he was in communion with God. When the Lord spoke to Jacob, Jacob spoke to God and said, “Here am I.” That is the language of a submissive heart in communion with God (Genesis 22:1; 1 Samuel 3:10; Isaiah 6:8). Next, the Lord assured Jacob of His covenant faithfulness. He said, “I am God, the God of thy father.” That means, “I am the God of the covenant. The blessing I have promised I will perform. I am the God who is for you” (Romans 8:28-32). Then the Lord promised Jacob that He would bless him in Egypt. “I will there make of thee a great nation.”
These things should ease us of fear, as we face the trials through which our heavenly Father is pleased to send us. Where God brings us, God will bless us. Peter, James, and John “feared as they entered into the cloud” (Luke 9:34). But they were blessed of God in that place. And we shall be blessed of God in whatever place or circumstance we find ourselves by following His direction.
The Lord also assured Jacob of his presence, saying, “I will go down with thee.” He further promised his servant that, no matter what happened in Egypt, his inheritance in Canaan was sure. He said, “I will also surely bring thee up again.” This is precisely what He says to us to assure, comfort, and strengthen our hearts in the face of trial. Our inheritance in Christ is sure (Romans 8:33-39).
The Lord gave Jacob one more word of promise, by which he removed his fear. God told Jacob that he would die in peace with Joseph by his side. “Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes.” He has done the same for every believer. For the child of God, death is a covenant blessing. “So he giveth his beloved sleep!” At God’s appointed time, the Lord Jesus shall put his hand upon your eyes. It is written, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord!” Therefore, the sons of Jacob are told to cease from fear (Isaiah 43:1-5). For the believer, there is no cause for fear.
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