Jacob is leaving the land of Promise for a second time, but this time it is in fulfillment of a promise/prophecy the Lord had given Abraham in Genesis 15:13-14. As he was leaving the land and heading towards the border of Egypt, Israel (Jacob) stopped at Beersheba to offer sacrifices to the God he had vowed would be his only God when he was at Bethel leaving for Padan Aram. (Genesis 28:20-22)
Jacob would have been concerned about leaving the land of his birth, the land of his home and the land he had been promised on oath when he received the birthright and the blessing coming from Abraham and Isaac. When Abraham faced a famine he fled to Egypt, and Abraham’s experience in Egypt ended poorly. (Genesis 12:10-13:1) Why would things be different this time? When Isaac faced a famine the Lord appeared to him and specifically told him, “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live.” (Genesis 26:2) Why would it be right to do something Jacob’s father was specifically commanded not to do? When Jacob had left the Promised Land to escape from Esau he fled to Padan Aram, and while he was there he was mistreated and cheated for 20 years by his father-in-law. Would not living in Egypt as foreigners be as harsh as living in Padan Aram?
God speaks to Jacob to confirm several aspects of Jacob’s adventure and to tell him that this time he was to go to Egypt. Concerning the family, the promise and the nation of Abraham God says:
- The One speaking to Jacob is the God of that Covenant
- Going to Egypt is part of the plan (it was prophesied to Abraham)
- The family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will become the nation promised to Abraham while they are in Egypt (for 400 years, as was told to Abraham.)
- The Lord will go with his people into Egypt
- The Lord will bring them out of Egypt to settle in the Promised Land in the future.
Concerning Jacob personally:
- Jacob will be comforted to know that Joseph, the son he thought he had lost, will be alive and able to close Jacob’s eyes at his death.
Jacob is not abandoning the promise given to Abraham because of the famine. Instead, the famine is driving Abraham’s family into a land where God has already told Abraham they were to go and has already sent Joseph in order to prepare a place for the family. And, while they are in the land of Egypt the promise given to Abraham will be developed and the family will become a great nation.
The words the Lord speaks to Jacob are the words of the Lord’s promise,
I will make you into a great nation there,”
These are the precise words of covenant terminology used in the original promise spoken to Abraham, repeated to Abraham and then to Isaac as the words of the Abrahamic Covenant:
- Genesis 12:2 – “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you.”
- Genesis 18:18 – “Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.”
- Genesis 21:18 – “Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”
- (Concerning Ishmael: Genesis 17:20 – “As for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation.”)
Jacob was leaving the Promised Land to begin a 400 year period that would transform his twelve sons into the beginning of a great nation. These were good days for Jacob, Joseph and the brothers.
The books of the New Testament had to meet these three requirments:
1. Apostleship - it had to have the authority of an apostle having written it or the support of an apostle.
2. Apostolic Teaching - the book had to agree with the teaching of the other books.
3. Internal Evidence - each book had to show unique internal evidence or the some claim of authority.
Many books by Christians from 80-250 AD are not considered New Testament scripture because they were not written by apostles or they were written by people posing as one of the apostles. Books were rejected from being considered part of the canon of NT scripture because:
1. They were never recognized by a major Church council.
2. If they were ever listed in the same document with the canonical books they
were always placed on a separate list.
3. None of these books ever received universal acceptance by the churches.
4. Some of these books are clearly fables, deceptions, or products of some early
unorthodox group trying to gain acceptance into Christendom.