There but by the Lord’s permission I go
The second person whose name God called twice in a row was Jacob. This story is found in Genesis 46:1,2
And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac. And God spoke unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I.
Jacob’s favourite son, Joseph had sold by his brothers many years now. Jacob knew his son was dead, because his sons deceived him so; and you can see the depth of his grief when he received the reports of Joseph’s ‘death’. He refused to be comforted and said “I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning.”
There was famine in the land of Caanan and as it was the custom those days, every country went down to Egypt, which then was the bread basket of the world. Jacob sent his sons to get grain from Egypt. While in Egypt, the ten sons of Jacob got reconciled to Joseph who sends them back to call Jacob. Can you imagine the joy Jacob had to even think of a reunion with Joseph after those long years? He said “It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.” (Genesis 45:19).
Why this was a tough decision for Jacob:
“And Israel took his journey with all that he had.”
- He was leaving his home country with no plans to return.
- Previous attempts to go down to Egypt had borne grievous results.
- It is when Abraham went down to Egypt that he lied about his wife.
And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was severe in the land. And it came to pass, when he came near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that you are a fair woman to look upon: Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see you, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save you alive.
- While Isaac was on his way to Egypt, God told him not to go.
And there was a famine in the land, besides the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar. And the LORD appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell you of
- When Jacob sent his sons to Egypt, they were imprisoned and Joseph, who by then had not revealed his identity to his brothers, insisted that they go with Benjamin his brother. (Genesis 43)
Are you faced with a tough decision to make? You just don’t see a way out of your predicaments? Jacob’s experience should be a lesson to you. Jacob knew what to do when he was stuck. He knew whom to run to when he could not see a way through. Imagine the thoughts that were running through Jacob’s mind: “Is it God’s plan that I relocate to Egypt? I can’t wait to meet Joseph my son.”
And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac.
When he came to Beersheba, he paused. There are very important lessons for us today in this action by Jacob. Why did he stop at Beersheba? Why Beersheba?
- a. Beersheba was a favorite encampment for Abraham, Isaac, and even Jacob himself.
At Beersheba (well of the oath, or well of seven), was a well dug by Abraham, and so named because he and Abimelech here entered into a covenant (Ge 21:31). On re-opening it, Isaac gave it the same name (Ge 26:31-33). It was a favourite place of abode of both of these patriarchs:
Genesis 21:32- 22:1
Thus they made a covenant at Beersheba: then Abimelech rose up, and Phicol the chief captain of his host, and they returned into the land of the Philistines. And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God. And Abraham sojourned in the Philistines’ land many days. And it came to pass after these things, that God did test Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here am I.
So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba.
And it came to pass the same day, that Isaac’s servants came, and told him concerning the well which they had dug, and said unto him, We have found water. And he called it Shibah: therefore the name of the city is Beersheba unto this day.
When Jacob was fleeing from Esau, it was after he came from Beersheba that he saw the reassuring vision of the ladder from heaven touching the earth, giving hope to the wearied and guilt torn partriach of the Lord’s grace (Gen 28:10-13).
b. Beersheba was at the very extreme border of the land of Canaan. (2 Chron 30:5)
Before leaving his homeland, at the border, he paused to offer a sacrifice unto God.
In undertaking a journey, or entering upon any new plan, we should feel our dependence upon God, seek his blessing, and commit ourselves to his guidance and care.
He must have been excited when he thought of the fact that he was just about to be reunited with his son, but at the border, he paused to seek God’s guidance. This is the challenge we face every morning we rise up. There are a lot of things to do that at times our devotional time gets chocked, so we rush to the days activities without communing with God. We must stop at Beersheba every morning, every time we are faced with tough decisions and say like Jacob, “I will not move until I hear from the Lord.” “I would rather be late than leave without an assurance of God’s presence through the trials of the day.
An intensity such as never before was seen is taking possession of the world. In amusement, in moneymaking, in the contest for power, in the very struggle for existence, there is a terrible force that engrosses body and mind and soul. In the midst of this maddening rush, God is speaking. He bids us come apart and commune with Him. “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10.
Many, even in their seasons of devotion, fail of receiving the blessing of real communion with God. They are in too great haste. With hurried steps they press through the circle of Christ’s loving presence, pausing perhaps a moment within the sacred precincts, but not waiting for counsel. They have no time to remain with the divine Teacher. With their burdens they return to their work.
These workers can never attain the highest success until they learn the secret of strength. They must give themselves time to think, to pray, to wait upon God for a renewal of physical, mental, and spiritual power. They need the uplifting influence of His Spirit. Receiving this, they will be quickened by fresh life. The wearied frame and tired brain will be refreshed, the burdened heart will be lightened.
Not a pause for a moment in His presence, but personal contact with Christ, to sit down in companionship with Him–this is our need.(Ellen White, Education p. 260)
Is this not our story? We don’t enjoy devotional time with God because we have a lot of expectations to meet that day, things to do; so we hurriedly go unprepared in a battle with a foe that is fully prepared. If we happen to have any devotion, it is done hurriedly.
John Wesley’s once said when faced with a busy day, “I have so much to do that I spend several hours in prayer before I am able to do it”
If I fail to spend two hours in prayer each morning, the devil gets the victory through the day. I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer. Martin Luther
The men who have done the most for God in this world have been early on their knees. He who fritters away the early morning, its opportunity and freshness, in other pursuits than seeking God will make poor headway seeking Him the rest of the day. If God is not first in our thoughts and efforts in the morning, He will be in the last place the remainder of the day. E.M. Bounds
It was after seasons of prayer that God finally called Jacob’s name twice.
And God spoke unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I. And he said, I am God, the God of your father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of you a great nation: I will go down with you into Egypt; and I will also surely bring you up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon your eyes.
Now Jacob could proceed with his journey.
Are you faced with a new assignment? Or maybe wondering what God’s plan for your life is? Or maybe you are faced with challenging decisions to make? Do not proceed until you have laid it all before the Lord in prayer, and until He assures you to move, keep praying, remain at Beersheba, the place of prayer.
God has promised to lead us, to reveal his will for our lives. And he does it at the secret chambers of prayer. Will we be patient to wait for His word? If we do, he will give us a double reassurance.
The prayer power has never been tried to its full capacity. If we want to see mighty wonders of divine power and grace wrought in the place of weakness, failure and disappointment, let us answer God’s standing challenge, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not! (J. Hudson Taylor)