God leads His people to BLESSING
For reasons unclear, around 2000 BC, God chose a man named Abram (eventually renamed Abraham) from the city of Ur in Babylonia (modern-day Iran/Iraq) and promised to bless him (Gen. 12:2). Eventually Abraham’s son, Isaac, would have a son named Jacob. Despite Jacob being a liar and deceiver, God was faithful to His promise and continued to work on Jacob. God’s love and patience is long, because He desires to see people change! At one point, God wrestled Jacob to show His sovereignty and then renamed him Israel (‘he that struggles/strives with God’, Gen. 32:28). Jacob/Israel had twelve sons, one of whom was Joseph. Joseph was sold by his brothers and became a slave in Egypt. Years later, Joseph became a leader of Egypt and Jacob/Israel along with all the other brothers moved there to live (Gen. 47:11). After Joseph’s death (c. 1804 BC), and for the next 400 years, God prospered Israel’s descendants in Egypt as He promised Abraham and Jacob (Gen 46:3). God desires to bless His people and, with obedience, it can lead to greater blessings!
God’s people end up in DIFFICULTY
The clan who had entered Egypt as 70 people from the man called Israel (Jacob), had grown into the nation called Israel of over 2 million by the time of Moses 400 years later (Num. 1:46). Eventually, a later ruler of Egypt (possibly Amenhotep II), who did not know about Joseph’s life or agreements, put the Israelites into bondage because of their large population and out of fear of an alliance with his enemies. Surprisingly, God’s great blessing eventually led to great persecution and enslavement. Yet even during persecution, nothing could stop God’s love for His people. God can take what other people mean for evil and harm against believers, and turn it into their good and blessing (Rom. 8:28). We don’t get to choose the circumstances of life but we can choose our reaction to it—trust God or trust self. In God’s economy, no time inside His will is wasted no matter how fruitless it seems from a human standpoint. It is important to realize that most promises of God won’t be realized in this life. In many ways, Israel’s time in Egypt was just a time of incubation so the nation could grow in numbers, strength, and knowledge from one of the greatest empires in history. Often what appears useless in the present, is training for greatness in the future!