“I am God, the God of your father, the voice said. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make your family into a great nation. I will go with you down to Egypt, and I will bring you back again” (Genesis 46:3-4, NLT).
Due to a great famine in the land and at the behest of Pharoah and the prime minister of Egypt, Jacob’s son, Joseph, Jacob (Israel) and all his family, which included his eleven sons and their wives and children, moved from Canaan to Egypt.
Their first stop on their journey was at Beersheba, so named 200 years earlier by Jacob’s grandfather, Abraham, who lived in the area for a long time (vs. 21:34). In a night vision God reaffirmed His covenant with Jacob, but in a peculiar way. God promised He would make Israel a great nation in Egypt and then bring them out of Egypt to live once again in the land of Canaan. So, they went to Egypt as a tribe of seventy people (vs. 27) and left Egypt as a nation of quite possibly more than two million people (see Exodus 12:37, 38:26, six hundred thousand men, not counting women and children)!
In other words, Israel had to get to the promised land by way of Egypt. They had to take the long way to the promised land so that Israelites could grow into a great nation in Egypt. Yet, they only received God’s promise after a 400-year sojourn in Egypt during which they also became the slaves of the Egyptians.
It may take a pilgrimage like the Israelites endured in Egypt for some of us to learn obedience to God’s will. Because of our wilfulness, some of us have to take the long way to the promised land. You may have to live in Egypt for awhile for God to develop you into a great Christian!
The working out of God’s plans and purposes in and through our lives often comes in unexpected ways, in ways that we may not necessarily plan. And these ways may include living through problems, difficulties, and even suffering in order to attain the promises and rewards of accomplishing God’s will for our lives!
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. (Romans 5:3-5, NLT)