“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)!
“Simon Peter said, ‘I’m going fishing.’ ‘We’ll come, too,’ they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night” (John 21:3, NLT).
After Jesus’ death and resurrection, He appeared to the disciples and other people several times before He ascended to heaven. On the occasion described in the last chapter of the Gospel of John, Peter and several of the disciples had returned to Galilee and were taking up their old occupation of fishing, and apparently, not being very successful at it.
“Because you Levites did not carry the Ark the first time, the anger of the Lord our God burst out against us. We failed to ask God how to move it properly.” (I Chronicles 15:13, NLT).
An interesting evolution in King David’s faith in God takes place in in Chapters 13-15 of 1 Chronicles. At each stage in the development of David’s faith over the course of these three chapters the same Hebrew word is used to show the mighty or forceful activity of God–God’s outburst–in shaping David’s faith.
“The Lord gave this message to Ezekiel son of Buzi, a priest, beside the Kebar River in the land of the Babylonians, and he felt the hand of the Lord take hold of him” (Ezekiel 1:3, NLT).
The word of the Lord first came to Ezekiel while he was living with the Judean exiles in Babylon.
Ezekiel was a priest by descent and, as such, his primary ministry was offering sacrifices in the Temple in Jerusalem. As one of the exiled Jews, Ezekiel was unable to serve as a priest in the usual ways.
“They said, Please pray to the Lord your God for us. As you can see, we are only a tiny remnant compared to what we were before. Pray that the Lord your God will show us what to do and where to go…Whether we like it or not, we will obey the Lord our God to whom we are sending you with our plea. For if we obey him, everything will turn out well for us… And today I have told you exactly what he said, but you will not obey the Lord your God any better now than you have in the past” (Jeremiah 42:2,3,6,21, NLT).
Following the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, King Nebuchadnezzar appointed a governor over Judah. The new governor encouraged the people of Judah who had fled to neighboring countries to return to Judah and farm the land.
“Then the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ … Then He said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the Lord’s presence.’ At that moment, the Lord passed by…but the Lord was not in the wind…the Lord was not in the earthquake…the Lord was not in the fire… And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Suddenly, a voice came to him and said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ ‘ … Then the Lord said to him, ‘Go and return by the way you came to the Wilderness of Damascus.'” (1 Kings 19:9-15, HCSB).
I have unpacked the verses in this passage to illustrate a lesson that God was trying to teach the prophet Elijah. But first a little background information is needed.
“This is what the Lord says: Look, I am presenting to you the way of life and the way of death. Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine, and plague, but whoever goes out and surrenders to the Chaldeans who are besieging you will live and will retain his life like the spoils of war. For I have turned against this city to bring disaster and not good—this is the Lord’s declaration. It will be handed over to the king of Babylon, who will burn it down” (Jeremiah 21:8-10, HCSB
King Zedekiah of Judah was depending on Pharaoh Hophra of Egypt to defeat Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. Nevertheless, King Zedekiah sent one of his officials, Pashhur, and the priest, Zephaniah, to the prophet, Jeremiah, to ask him to foretell what the outcome of the Zedekiah’s rebellion against Babylon would be.