Beckett: Pastoral Thoughts – God’s Promise to Jacob/Israel (and Abraham) Fulfilled (Genesis 47:27)

“Thus, Israel settled in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen. And they gained possession in it, and were fruitful and multiplied greatly” (Genesis 47:27). In 13:16, God said to Abraham, “I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted.” Then in 28:14, God repeats Abraham’s promise to his grandson, Jacob, “Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” When God renames Jacob Israel, He promises again, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body” (35:11). Later, Israel recalls this promise, “And Jacob said to Joseph, ‘God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, and said to me, “Behold, I will make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will make of you a company of peoples and will give this land to your offspring after you for an everlasting possession”‘” (48:3-4).

Just before the close of Genesis, we see how God kept His promise to Abraham through His son Isaac and his grandson Israel. Once we get to the end of Genesis, chapter 50, we will see the crux of the matter of Genesis. For now, here in Genesis we see the story of God’s faithfulness to His people from the beginning of the Fall of Man. Sometime after the Fall, God calls Abraham to make him into a great nation, and here in Genesis 47:27 we see God’s promise come to fruition through the strangest of events and even in spite of sin.

Yet this is only the first book of God’s Story. God’s people, a great nation, settled in Egypt in the land of Goshen (northern Africa). We have yet to read through their slavery in Egypt for 400 years, their exodus/deliverance from Egypt, their wandering in the desert for 40 years, their settling in the promised land of Canaan, their continuous cycle of rebelling against God and repenting and being delivered, and so on until we finally get to the true Israel, Jesus Christ.

At this point in God’s Story, His people have settled in Egypt and we will journey through the rest of their story as God’s people continue to live in the land given to them, then taken away from them (by God’s doing according to their apostasy), and then a remnant returning. But the story does not end here in Genesis or the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi. The story of Israel’s continuance and preservation continues in Christ in His life, death, resurrection, and ascension. Abraham and Israel’s descendant, Jesus Christ, would be the person—the true Israel—through whom Abraham would become great and become many nations, for Christ crucified, risen, and ascended is being proclaimed throughout all the earth.

Theology Terms Used

  • Apostasy: complete abandonment from one’s faith or religion.

Bibliography

Featured image from NASA Earth Observatory/Robert Simmon/Suomi NPP VIIRS imagery/NOAA’s Environmental Visualization Laboratory

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