And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, “Jacob, Jacob.”
And he [Jacob] said, “Here am I.”
And He [God] said, “I am God, the God of thy father: FEAR NOT to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation: I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again… ” ~ Genesis 46:2-4a
A long famine in Canaan had made it very difficult for Jacob and his family to live in the land that God had given to them through His covenant with Abraham.
Jacob faced a dilemma: relocate to Egypt where there was food for his family, but give up the land of promise. OR remain in the land of promise, BUT (potentially) starve to death. Which approach was right? Which decision would honor God?
God appeared to Jacob in a dream (our text) and instructed Jacob to choose the first option. God, however, recognized Jacob’s fear of leaving the land of promise, that He had been bequeathed to Jacob and his descendants. So God reassured Jacob that the land would still belong to the descendants of Abraham, and that He would bring them back to it.
Sometimes we find ourselves in similar dilemmas. God had led us in a direction and confirmed it. Perhaps we believed God had sent us to a certain place to live/serve. Perhaps we believed God has given us a certain ministry to tend, or a career, or something else.
Perhaps, we were diligently serving God in that ministry, or career (or whatever task we were given). And it had been clear, we were sure, that that really was God’s plan for us.
THEN, unexpectedly, things went bad, like Jacob there is a famine of sorts: maybe the ministry falls apart, or there is job loss. Suddenly there is no money, and/or no means by which to remain on the path we had been confident that God had led us into. We have to make a detour.
How can this be??
Clearly not everyone will get the same answer that Jacob did. In some situations, God told His people to stay in it (e.g., during the Babylonian invasion of Judah: Jeremiah 41-44, esp. Jeremiah 42:13-19).
However, as our text shows, sometimes God does tell us to change course for a while. God told Jacob to leave (albeit temporarily) Canaan and go to Egypt. Sometimes God moves us away from what He had given us to do. Sometimes, He later brings us back. And, sometimes He doesn’t. The challenge, for us, is to hear His voice and trust His guidance.
Certainly, God no longer speaks audibly to His children as He did back then with Jacob. However, He has left us with His Word (The Bible). And, just like with Jonah, God often uses our circumstances to make His will known.
But, what can we do when His will does not seem clear from His Word, or from our situation? The answer is found in verses such as the following,
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” ~ Proverbs 3:5-6
“Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.” ~ Proverbs 16:3
When God’s will for us is truly not explicitly clear in Scripture, then we are instructed to pray, to commit our decisions to Him and trust that He will guide us. We must trust that when we step out in faith, that God will guide us onto the right path; even if our initial steps were in the wrong direction.
Change can be fearful and confusing, but God never stops guiding us. And God will keep His promises. God guided the Hebrews into Egypt where he Blessed them: he multiplied their numbers exponentially and made them into a nation. The he returned them to the land of promise.
- FEAR NOT, when God changes the course of our lives, it is to enlarge us to make us stronger, not weaker.
- FEAR NOT, when we seek God’s direction, He will guide us and reassure us.
- FEAR NOT, safety is not found in familiarity, rather safety is found while walking in The Will of God.
- FEAR NOT, change is not meant to hurt us, God-directed change is meant to keep us alive.
- FEAR NOT, God has our new situation all planned out.
This post is a part of a series on several of the “FEAR NOT” sayings in the Bible.