According to the book of Jubilee, it was on this day that Jacob and his family departed Canaan and headed to Egypt in order to be reunited with his son, Joseph. It is recorded in Genesis 46:
“Then Jacob arose from Beersheba; and the sons of Israel carried their father Jacob, their little ones, and their wives, in the carts which Pharaoh had sent to carry him. So they took their livestock and their goods, which they had acquired in the land of Canaan, and went to Egypt, Jacob and all his descendants with him. His sons and his sons’ sons, his daughters and his sons’ daughters, and all his descendants he brought with him to Egypt.” (Genesis 46:5-7)
Thus, on this day, Israel began their sojourn in Egypt and would remain there until the Exodus. God provided for them, there, but it was always understood – they were strangers there.
Thousands of years later, many of God’s people are beginning to feel like strangers in a strange land. Even though we were born and raised in the nations in which we reside, the country we grew up in is starting to fade away, giving rise to something else. For instance, in America – a nation that has always acknowledged the hand of God upon our land – there are daily developments that document our steady moral decline and our enthusiasm to distance our nation from the God of Israel.
Judges issue decisions that defend abortion, the LGBTQ agenda and general lawlessness while, at the same time, attack prayer and Bible study in public places and, sometimes, even in the privacy of a person’s own home. Government officials celebrate positions that, a generation ago, would have been lambasted as immoral and unGodly. To take an opposing position to their progressive ideology is deemed bigoted and even dangerous. This upside-down view of good and evil is the reality of the day in which we live.
Anyone who had to read Orwell’s 1984 or Animal Farm as a student probably thought, as I did, that these kinds of totalitarian conditions couldn’t occur anywhere but in places like the Soviet Union or some other communist regime. Sadly, conditions Orwell described are beginning to take place in the land of the free. We are being told by courts what we can and cannot say even when we are meeting in our houses of worship if it offends the norms of society. Those who have been so bold as to resist the trends of culture come under attack, lose their livelihoods and, in some cases, are threatened with prison.
The point is this: as believers, we are strangers in a strange land and, as such, we must acknowledge that we are “in Egypt.” Regardless of the fact that we may be living in the country in which we were born, metaphorically speaking, we are strangers; we are citizens of another kingdom. Moreover, the God of Israel has sworn that He will gather all of His people unto Himself, at the last day, just as He brought the Exodus generation out of Egypt so long ago.
“But when the time of the promise drew near which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt till another king arose who did not know Joseph. This man dealt treacherously with our people, and oppressed our forefathers, making them expose their babies, so that they might not live.” (Acts 7:17)
Though it is referring to the Exodus of 3500 years ago, this passage also explains to us why God allows tyrants, in any age, to arise and oppress God’s people: it is because the time is drawing near for promises God has made to be fulfilled. Where the Exodus generation was concerned, the time for the fulfillment of the promise He had made to Abraham was at hand. They were not willing to let go of Egypt when all was well and, so, an oppressive Pharaoh came to power and provoked them to realize that they were strangers in a strange land.
If the pattern holds true, more and more we will realize that we, too, are strangers and that this world is not our home. Furthermore, the pattern teaches us that, when it is time, God will deliver His people from all the nations of the earth and gather us unto Himself. So if you’re feeling like a stranger in a strange land, its because you are. As followers of the Messiah, we are called to another way of life than what we see presented to us by society. We are citizens of another kingdom – one that cannot be shaken and one that will never end. Therefore, let us pray that we will be found ready to leave “Egypt” when the time comes for the Messiah to rule and reign.