Trust Inspires Action: Genesis 46:1-27

Trust Inspires Action: Genesis 46:1-27
Pastor John Weathersby
Sunday December 17, 20

Notes, not at Transcript:

This morning, we’re getting to the round-out of this wonderful story of Joseph that occupied such a large portion of Genesis. The point is to show God’s sovereignty. As we soak up more and more of that true perspective, we grow in our faith, trust, and ability to act – consistent with God’s will and His Word.

Let’s jump in with that in mind.

Let’s begin by re-capturing where we are in this story:

Genesis 45:25–28 (ESV)
25 So they went up out of Egypt and came to the land of Canaan to their father Jacob.
26 And they told him, “Joseph is still alive, and he is ruler over all the land of Egypt.” And his heart became numb, for he did not believe them.
27 But when they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of their father Jacob revived.
28 And Israel said, “It is enough; Joseph my son is still alive. I will go and see him be
fore I die.”

The pace has picked up in this story. We can feel we’re quickly returning to Jacob to bring this news. Jacob is processing a heck of a revelation. His son, who 20 some years earlier he thought died and he’d been broken since he is learning, is alive.

He needs a minute.
I get it.
Sometimes, I need a minute (or two or more).

They tell him what Joseph said to them, and he can see the evidence that what they are saying is true; things change. Remember, Jacob is an old dude here – they say something like, look at the wagons, you know those aren’t ours, you know we didn’t buy them – and he could see evidence for the truth.

Again, I get it.
Sometimes, we need to see that what people say is true; we just need evidence to be thoroughly convinced and ready to invest of ourselves. He was living in Hebron, which was close to the tomb in Machpelah. Maybe he was ready to wind down and die. I get it. I’m 45 and often trying to help my family be mentally prepared for my untimely death, frequently clearing my phone of memes so people don’t think I’m too weird. Jacob is out of that mode and reenergized to see his beloved son.

Jacob is ready.

Genesis 46:1–27 (ESV)
1 So Israel took his journey with all that he had, came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father, Isaac.

As a consequence of his decision in verse 28 above, Israel took his journey in verse 1 of chapter 46. ESV says he took his journey, and if you have NAS, NIV, NRSV, LSB, etc, you likely have something like set out – either way, we’re on the move to see this boy.

We’ll see this as a God-soaked narrative and story, appropriate as we’ve understood everything to be a picture of God’s sovereignty here in this movement of the story of Joseph, which occupies Genesis 37 through Genesis 50. That’s right, for my math wizards, that is 13 chapters.

So he picks up “all that he had.” This is a journey of consequence. I don’t know if you’ve ever done a late-stage move. By that, I mean you’ve been married and had some kids for a while. It’s tense. In my house, everyone has done a rendition of van Gogh’s Starry Night; we have them all – it matters. That compounded across several household members plus everything that matters to them, and it’s a burden. We’ll see how amplified that is for this moving crew; this isn’t a couple of friends and a truck. This is a big deal. They’re coming to Beersheba here from Hebron (37:14 tells us so)

Genesis 37:14 (ESV)
14 So he said to him, “Go now, see if it is well with your brothers and with the flock, and bring me word.” So he sent him from the Valley of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.

2 And God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, “Jacob, Jacob.” And he said, “Here I am.”
3 Then he said, “I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation.
4 I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again, and Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes.”

I take a calm breath with this. I close my eyes momentarily and think of the peace of stepping out next for a big, scary decision when God says, do not be afraid. Let’s be real. Some decisions, if we’re honest, are terrifying. Have you ever been faced with one of those? How would you feel to have the God of creation sit you down and say, don’t be afraid? I’ve got this.

But guess what, Church?

This is the last time God will speak directly to a patriarch in scripture.

God, by His grace, assured Jacob he was going to Egypt, leaving the land Abraham was promised by God to his Fathers, Abraham and Isaac. He was there, and so God calmed him. God tells Jacob what He, God, will be doing –
I’ll make you a great nation
I’ll go down with you
I will bring you back up
Joseph will close your eyes.

5 Then Jacob set out from Beersheba. The sons of Israel carried Jacob their father, their little ones, and their wives, in the wagons that Pharaoh had sent to carry him.

Then Jacob set out from Beersheba.

In the Hebrew, there are these connectives. We had one in 46:1 in the word translated “so,” so Israel took his journey because of how chapter 45 ends, now we have one in verse 5, then – then Jacob set out from Beersheba – God speaks to Jacob, and it’s off to do, what he now knows that he knows he needs to do.

They’re loading the family into wagons for a journey packed up with possessions and food. This is quite the caravan!

6 They also took their livestock and their goods, which they had gained in the land of Canaan, and came into Egypt, Jacob and all his offspring with him,
7 his sons, and his sons’ sons with him, his daughters, and his sons’ daughters. All his offspring he brought with him into Egypt.

I like how Kent Hughes deals with this. Here it is:

“Seventy. Because the event was so momentous, the writer gives an extended list of the “seventy” who went down to Egypt. The list has definite symmetries. Both Leah and Rachel bear twice as many descendants as their maids. Leah has thirty-three, and her maid Zilpah has sixteen. Rachel has fourteen, and her maid Bilhah has seven. These numbers, 33 plus 16 plus 14 plus 7 = 70 (v. 27). However, the writer notes that only sixty-six (v. 26) made the trip because Er and Onan were buried in Canaan (v. 12), and Joseph and Manasseh and Ephraim were already in Egypt (v. 27). This equals sixty-five; so evidently Dinah (v. 15) must be added on to get sixty-six.
Confusing? It gets even more so when we see that Exodus 1:5 lists seventy but excludes Jacob from the calculation, but Deuteronomy 10:22 includes him in the number. Thus virtually all the major commentators agree with Nahum Sarna that:

There is no way of satisfactorily solving the problem and reconciling the differences unless 70 is understood here to be a typological rather than a literal number. It is here used, as elsewhere in biblical literature, to express the idea of totality. Thus it reiterates, in another way, the point made in verses 1 and 6–7, emphasizing the comprehensive nature of the descent to Egypt because this event is seen as the fulfillment of Genesis 15:13.

Israel, then, was God’s covenant people in round numbers—the hope of the world in microcosm to be lodged in the ark of Egypt.” – K. Hughes

He didn’t even mention the problem of Acts which says 75, Acts 7:14.

The issue is interesting. We’re packed tight on knowing the direct descendants are 70 in number. Jacob’s wives and maidens, Leah Zilch Rachel, and Bilhah, were a fruitful group together – in order Leah had six sons, resulting in 33 offspring total, Zilch 6 netting four each at 16, Rachel 2 netting 14 (Joseph with two and Benjamin bringing in the rest, good job ya’ll two!). Bilhah had two sons, netting 7. Math geeks, you’re ahead of me 33+16+14+7 is 70. Exodus 1:5 agrees:

Exodus 1:5 (ESV)
5 All the descendants of Jacob were seventy persons; Joseph was already in Egypt.

Deuteronomy 10:22 (ESV)
22 Your fathers went down to Egypt seventy persons, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars of heaven.

…and then there was Stephen…

Acts 7:12–15 (ESV)
12 But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent out our fathers on their first visit.
13 And on the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family became known to Pharaoh.
14 And Joseph sent and summoned Jacob his father and all his kindred, seventy-five persons in all.
15 And Jacob went down into Egypt, and he died, he and our fathers,

Some would say that the Septuagint counts differently. Eric Lyons would say it is akin to someone giving two temperatures in the boiling point of water, 100 Celsius or 212 Fahrenheit. In this conclusion, Jacobs’s descendants, including his daughters in law are 66 people, with two sons of Joseph and Joseph born in Egypt and Jacob coming to 70, so if we take the 66 people, add in the daughters-in-law who are still alive, we have 75 – plausible. Another theory is that Stephen quotes from the Septuagint, which would read 75 in Genesis 46 and Exodus 1:5 and align to Stephen’s Act’s count.

What is the Septuagint? It is the OG translation of the OT into another language, and that language was Greek. This is helpful as we get an early Jewish perspective in the tongue of the NT, revealing how OT language was used. Septuagint is Greek for characterizing 70, or as John Nicholas calls it, the LXX (pronounced ell exx exx), the 72 translators (6 from each tribe of Israel. or 6*12 if you’re a numbers person). It’s a Romanized Greek phrase, the translation of the 70. Maybe you say why 70, why not 72, to which I say, man, leave me alone. Just kidding. Why do we say 10-yard stand when they’re on the 7-yard line? It’s just how we talk about things.

This brings up an important point: the doctrine of inerrancy covers the authoritative, accurate, and trustworthy word of God, free from error, in the autographs or originally penned version. It’s been said there is a 99 percent agreement interdependently between copies of manuscripts. Mainly, we deal with minor issues in grammar, word order, punctuation, etc.

For perspective, Homer’s Iliad’s first copy was written 500 years after the original; it has 764 lines with issues across the copies. However, across the scripture manuscripts, we see 40 lines; none impact a single doctrinal issue. Meaning we strike all 40 lines, we still have,

2 Peter 1:3 (ESV)
3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,

How do we get knowledge of God? Knowledge, not experience – from the Word. He has given us the inerrant word to know His good will and character.

It’s from the word that we know God is sovereign, mercy, love and lovingness.

Perhaps Stephen is speaking, in Acts, to a group of people who would have access to the Septuagint, and so he keeps the verbiage and count consistent to how they understand it – I think that is at least plausible. But the scripture gives here, in verses 8 through 25/26, a picture of that household. So the top line is treated as helpful, but the details are explicitly given, and 18 verses of detail are given.

8 Now these are the names of the descendants of Israel, who came into Egypt, Jacob and his sons. Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn,
9 and the sons of Reuben: Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi.
10 The sons of Simeon: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Shaul, the son of a Canaanite woman.
11 The sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.
12 The sons of Judah: Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez, and Zerah (but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan); and the sons of Perez were Hezron and Hamul.
13 The sons of Issachar: Tola, Puvah, Yob, and Shimron.
14 The sons of Zebulun: Sered, Elon, and Jahleel.
15 These are the sons of Leah, whom she bore to Jacob in Paddan-aram, together with his daughter Dinah; altogether his sons and his daughters numbered thirty-three.
16 The sons of Gad: Ziphion, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi, and Areli.
17 The sons of Asher: Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi, Beriah, with Serah their sister. And the sons of Beriah: Heber and Malchiel.
18 These are the sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to Leah his daughter; and these she bore to Jacob—sixteen persons.
19 The sons of Rachel, Jacob’s wife: Joseph and Benjamin.
20 And to Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, whom Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera the priest of On, bore to him.
21 And the sons of Benjamin: Bela, Becher, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim, and Ard.
22 These are the sons of Rachel, who were born to Jacob—fourteen persons in all.
23 The son of Dan: Hushim.
24 The sons of Naphtali: Jahzeel, Guni, Jezer, and Shillem.
25 These are the sons of Bilhah, whom Laban gave to Rachel his daughter, and these she bore to Jacob—seven persons in all.

As we said earlier, the top line is treated as helpful, but the details are explicitly given, and 18 verses of detail are given. We know we can trust the Word and are given the opportunity to see what the count of people consists of.

26 All the persons belonging to Jacob who came into Egypt, who were his own descendants, not including Jacob’s sons’ wives, were sixty-six persons in all.
27 And the sons of Joseph, who were born to him in Egypt, were two. All the persons of the house of Jacob who came into Egypt were seventy.

So we leave this group here for now and pick up next week in the story to see 46:28-47:31 with Jacob winding down.

I hope, Church, that with our study, you’re more confident that we can see and know God from the Word. Also, I hope we see that we see Jacob, inspired by hope in God for all that God can and would do and that we would look to be the same, hoping, trusting, and placing our faith in Him and His revealed will in His Word, we have nothing beyond that.

Pray, Observe, Apply.

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