“I will make you into a great nation there.”
Jacob left the promised land because a famine had scorched the earth. What would become of God’s promise about this land? Did Abraham and Sarah spend their lives in Canaan for nothing?
Leaving the land is not the setback it appears to be, for even this is within God’s will. Appearing to Jacob, God reassures him that he has not forgotten the ancient promise, and that his pledge to make Abraham and Sarah’s descendants into a great nation will be fulfilled in Egypt. Not the familiar promised land but a foreign place will be the setting where those descendants will become as many as the stars of the heavens.
Why Egypt? So that Israel can never say, “Look how we have grown in our land.” Nothing could make barren Sarah fertile, except for God. So nothing—not the land, the people’s own might, or even Egypt—could make Israel strong, except for the Lord. That is why God tells Jacob, “I will be with you.” Any place in God’s presence is home; any place in God’s presence is rich soil for promise keeping.
While it awaits the fullness of God’s promises, the church of Jesus Christ waits and grows in a world where it is not at home, a broken place that seeks to frustrate God’s promises. But if God is with us, who can be against us? (see Romans 8:31).
Father in heaven, keep our eyes fixed on our true home with you, that we may patiently await the fulfillment of all your promises. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
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