Genesis 47:28-50:26, 24:1-9; 1 Kings 2:1-12; Exodus 10:8-10; Jeremiah 29:1-14; John 4:1-4; Acts 7:15-16; Romans 1:18-32; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12
There is a difference between knowing where home is and knowing when it’s time to go there. Jacob and his sons knew the difference. They transplanted the family of Israel to Egypt out of necessity, but they knew Egypt was not and never would be home. That’s why, at the end of his life, Jacob asked Joseph to make a solemn oath to carry his bones out of Egypt and bury him with his fathers in the Promised Land. Only in the Promised Land of Israel could the Covenant Family of Israel take root and carry the word of redemption to all nations.
Joseph carried out his oath in cooperation with his brothers. At the end of his life, he followed his father’s example by asking his brothers and sons and nephews to carry his body up to the Land when God brought them home. Jewish tradition says all the brothers, not only Joseph, were carried up from Egypt and buried in Israel.
If the fathers of Israel’s Twelve Tribes knew Egypt wasn’t home, why didn’t they leave Egypt as soon as the famine that brought them there was over? The answer starts with the importance of the family to the Egyptian nation as administrators and shepherds. Egypt also served as a place of relative peace and security where the family multiplied into a nation ready to exercise dominion over the Land where God put His Name.
There is another reason Israel remained in Egypt. It involved the freedom God gave to the inhabitants of the Promised Land to choose their own path and seal their fate. That’s what God meant when He told Abraham his seed would be foreigners in a land not their own until the iniquity of the Amorites was complete. God’s judgment required that, after seeing Abraham’s example of righteousness, they have opportunity to repent, or harden their hearts and suffer the strong delusions of depraved minds.
It’s probably because of those depravities in Canaan that the Hebrews left their little ones and their flocks and herds back in Egypt when they buried Jacob. They were safe in Egypt, and because they were safe, the future of the nation was secure. It was different a couple of centuries later, when the Pharaoh who didn’t know Joseph refused to let Moses lead the people, with their little ones and flocks and herds, to the wilderness to worship the Creator. By that time, Egypt had ceased being a safe place, and Israel’s Deliverer had come to call them out of exile.
This is where we are now. We are all in exile. This world as it now exists is not our home. Our home is the Garden the Creator prepared – the Garden we are to cultivate and expand until it encompasses the whole earth. That’s the mission of Israel, and the mission of all who join Abraham’s seed through Israel’s Messiah. We now await His call to return home, to the place He is preparing for us.
Until then, we would be wise to follow the advice Jeremiah gave to Judah’s exiles in Babylon: seek the peace of the land where we are exiled and grow and prosper there. As God told them through Jeremiah:
For I know the plans that I have in mind for you,” declares Adonai, “plans for shalom and not calamity—to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call on Me, and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me, when you will search for Me with all your heart. Then I will be found by you,” says Adonai, “and I will return you from exile, and gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,” says Adonai, “and I will bring you back to the place from which I removed you as captives into exile.”
Jeremiah 29:11-14 TLV
The time is drawing near for this call to our true home. The question is, do we know where home is? If not, we might miss the call when it’s time to go there.
Albert J McCarn
BYNA Executive Director