The Guidance of God

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We can trust God to guide us when we seek His will.

Genesis(102) (Part of the Origins(100) series)
by Stuart Johns(233) on June 18, 2023 (Sunday Morning(348))

God's Presence(8), God's Will(10)

Origins

The Guidance of God

(Genesis 46:1-27)

 

INTRODUCTION

“‘Pastor, could I talk to you for a minute?’

 

Her voice was low; she wasn't sure of herself. She looked to be in her early 20s, a girl I'd never seen at our church before.

 

It was my first year as senior pastor at Full Gospel Tabernacle in downtown Fresno, California. I was greeting people after the Wednesday night Bible study.

 

‘What can I do for you?’

 

‘Would you please talk with my husband? He moved out from our home and into an apartment with two women. I don't know what to do.’

 

‘Is he a Christian?’

 

‘He's the one who led me to a relationship with Christ.’

 

‘I'll be glad to talk with him. How can I get in touch with him?’

‘That's the problem. I can't reach him. If he wants to talk, he calls me.’

 

There was little I could do. I asked her to have him call me if he talked with her again.

 

I remember the look of despair in her eyes as she walked away.

 

Friday was my day off. I got up early. We were landscaping our front yard, and I wanted it finished. By late morning the end was in sight. It was hot. I was muddy, aching, and thoroughly tired of the whole project. To add to my woes, I ran out of ornamental plants. I drove to the store for more.

 

The first store had the right kind, but the price had gone up. A store a mile down the road had them, and the price was right. I loaded my cart and headed to the checkout.

 

As I waited in line, I glanced at the cashier's nametag. It looked familiar.

 

As he began to ring up the plants, I motioned to his nametag.

 

‘Is that your name?’ (Dumb question, but I wanted to be sure.)

 

He looked at me blankly, going on full ‘village idiot’ alert. ‘Yes.’

 

‘Are you married to ________?’ and I named the woman who had talked with me on Wednesday night.

 

He looked wary. ‘Yes?’

 

I drew myself up to my full 6 feet 5 inches—unshaven, messy, sweaty, and muddy. I gave him my happiest smile.

 

‘God has sent me here to talk to you about your marriage.’

 

Some 300,000 people lived in the Fresno area then. Out of all of them, the first person I had talked to—other than family and staff—since Wednesday night was this husband.

 

In a lifetime of seeking to be led by the Lord, that is the most powerful example I have experienced. I had heard many stories of people led by the Spirit to go to unusual places or to say unusual things. I always wondered what that would be like. At times I've really needed guidance and have prayed earnestly for it. God has helped me. But my unerring, no-wasted-step trip to that husband remains my most remarkable example. Not only was I not trying to be led, I wasn't conscious of God's leading. I just wanted the yard finished.”

 

Used by permission of author

 

Source: C. David Gable, "He Leadeth Me," Pentecostal Evangel (5-30-10), p. 15.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2010/august/1080210.html]

 

BODY

  • ME

    • God’s guidance

        • On Wednesday I was at a follow up meeting for Revival on the Farm

        • The meeting wasn’t over and they were planning to spend some time in prayer

        • I didn’t want to leave before the prayer time, but I was sensing that I needed to leave

        • So, I excused myself and drove back to the church

        • As I was walking from the garage to the church, I noticed that someone I recognized was entering the church

        • It was the person I have been working with to organize the Romanian Orphan’s Choir

        • She asked me if I had gotten her message about coming to the church at that time

        • I told her that I hadn’t gotten her message, because she had called after hours and I had stepped in to my office just to pick up a file before leaving for the follow up meeting

        • God had prompted me to leave the meeting, because he knew that this individual was coming and I wasn’t aware of it

        • God’s guidance is incredible!

 

  • WE

    • Perhaps all of us can remember a time when we knew that God was guiding us – especially after we were obedient to His prompting

 

Jacob was getting ready to leave the Promised Land for Egypt, but as he approached the border, he took time to offer sacrifices to God and seek His will. ​​ He received assurance that God was guiding him to Egypt and had His blessing to continue. ​​ Jacob sought the will of God and was able to trust Him to guide them as they traveled to Egypt. ​​ We can do the same thing, which brings us to our Big Idea, that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – We can trust God to guide us when we seek His will.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Genesis 46:1-27)

    • God’s guidance (vv. 1-4)

        • Last week

          • Jacob was convinced that Joseph was alive

          • He is willing to go to Egypt and see him before he dies

        • Israel leaves for Egypt

          • We can assume that Israel/Jacob is still living in Hebron (Gen. 35:27; 37:14) [show map]

          • He leaves there and travels several days before reaching Beersheba (be-ayr’ sheh’-vah)

            • He stopped there momentarily

            • It was about 20 miles southwest of Hebron

            • This was the southernmost town in Canaan

            • It was a significant town for Jacob’s family

              • His grandfather, Abraham, had planted a tamarisk tree there and called on the Lord (Gen. 21:33)

              • His father, Isaac, had also called on the Lord there and built an altar (Gen. 26:23-25)

              • Jacob stopped there and sacrificed to the God of his father Isaac

          • Before leaving Canaan/The Promised Land, Israel/Jacob wanted to make sure that he was following God’s plan and not his own wishes or desires

        • Seeking guidance

          • The purpose of offering sacrifices to God was perhaps to seek the guidance and wisdom of God

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – “Don’t be afraid to confirm God’s leading in the midst of puzzling circumstances.” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer, 364]

            • If you remember, Jacob was living under the assumption, for the last twenty-two years, that Joseph had been devoured by a wild animal and was no longer alive

              • His sons had confessed that Joseph was still alive, second in command of Egypt, and wanted them all to come live with him there

              • Jacob grew numb at hearing the news

              • He probably never expected to see Joseph again

            • Israel/Jacob wanted to know the will of God for him

            • “It’s good to ask for God’s special help and blessing when we’re about to enter a new phase in life.” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Pentateuch, 161]

            • Application

              • Are you currently facing a change in your life – a new phase in your life?

                • Perhaps it’s a new relationship

                • Maybe it has to do with your occupation (needing a job, wanting a different job, etc.)

                • The change could be concerning your education

                • Others may be dealing with a change, financially

              • Have you already made the move or are you still considering it?

              • You may be on the border, about to make the change

              • Now is the time to stop momentarily and confirm God’s leading

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Ask the Lord to confirm His leading, about a change in my life, so I can experience His help and blessing.

          • We can trust God to guide us when we seek His will.

          • When we seek God’s will, He will answer

        • God’s promise

          • God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and used his given name, Jacob

          • “This last recorded speech of God to the patriarchs forms a preview of Israel’s sacred history in the land of Egypt. ​​ The next recorded special revelation will be to Moses at the burning bush (Ex. 3:1-4:17), about 430 years later (Ex. 12:40).” ​​ [Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 573]

          • Jacob is attentive to the voice of God – he is listening

          • We need to be attentive to the voice of God also, especially if we are seeking His will

          • After identifying Himself, God encourages Jacob

            • Don’t be afraid to go down to Egypt, because I will fulfill the promise there that I made to you, your father and grandfather

              • Perhaps Jacob was fearful about going to Egypt because of the difficulties his grandfather, Abraham had experienced (Gen. 12:10-13:1)

              • “Keep close to God, and then you need fear nothing.” ​​ [Joseph Eliot cited by Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 826]

              • He may have recalled God’s prohibition for his father, Isaac concerning Egypt (Gen. 26:2)

              • ​​ “What God denied Isaac he permits for Jacob. ​​ For Isaac Egypt was off-limits. ​​ For Jacob Egypt is the land in which God will bless Jacob and his progeny, and form them into a nation. ​​ Thus the sojourn of Jacob and his family to Egypt is not in fundamental opposition to God’s purposes. ​​ Rather, the sojourn is part of the development of God’s plan for this chosen family, first articulated to Abraham in 12:1ff.” ​​ [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 590-91]

            • God had promised to make Abraham’s descendants into a great nation

              • Genesis 12:2, “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.”

              • Genesis 17:6, I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you.

              • Genesis 18:18, Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.

              • Jacob is given the same promise when is fleeing Esau

              • Genesis 28:14, Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. ​​ All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.

            • “The promise of Jacob recalls the ominous prediction given to Abraham, also in a night vision: ‘Your descendants will be strangers [gēr] in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years’ (15:13).” ​​ [Mathews, 821]

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – God keeps His promises!

            • God had kept His promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob up to this point

            • Jacob could trust that He would keep His promise again

            • We can trust that God will keep His promises to us also

        • God’s presence

          • God promises His presence with Jacob as he enters Egypt

            • He not only promised his presence going to Egypt, but also in bringing him back from Egypt

            • Jacob knew that God would keep this promise, because He had already done it once before

            • At Bethel, God met with Jacob and promised to watch over him wherever he went

            • Genesis 28:15, “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. ​​ I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

              • God had made this promise to Jacob as he was fleeing to Haran

              • Twenty-two years later He was still with him and had brought him back to the Promised Land

              • Genesis 31:3, Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.”

            • Jacob had confidence that God would once again go with him to a foreign land and bring him back to the Promised Land

            • He knew from experience that God is not limited by geography – He is omnipresent

          • We know from the last half of verse 4 that Jacob would be returning to Canaan in a coffin or sarcophagus, because Joseph would be there to close his eyes after he had died

          • Application

            • PRINCIPLE #3 – God promises to go with us wherever we go, when we go according to His will.

              • If you have asked the Lord about that new relationship you are interested in pursuing and He has confirmed His leading, then He will go with you into that relationship

              • If you have consulted the Lord about that new job and He has confirmed His leading, then He will go with you as you start that new job

              • If you have sought the Lord’s leading about your schooling and He has confirmed it, then know that He will be going with you to that school

              • If you have asked the Lord about that financial decision and He has confirmed His leading, then trust that He will be with you as you move forward

              • In whatever decisions you need to make, when you consult the Lord and receive His leading, then you can be confident that He will go with you

            • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Trust in God’s presence with me after I have consulted Him and received His leading.

            • We can trust God to guide us when we seek His will.

        • After a momentary stop at Beersheba (be-ayr’ sheh’-vah), Jacob continues his journey to Egypt

    • God’s grace (vv. 5-27)

        • Jacob’s sons used the carts that Pharaoh had provided to transport their father, wives, and children

        • They took with them two things (goods/group; clutter/clan; possessions/people; holdings/household)

          • Their goods

            • Livestock

            • Possessions

              • Last week I asked you if you had ever had the privilege of living in a fully furnish apartment or house

              • While that can be exciting, short-term, most of us find comfort in our own things

              • Perhaps that is what Jacob and his household were thinking

              • Jacob realized this was not going to be a short-term visit when the Lord told him that He would make him into a great nation there

              • Israel would become a great nation while they were in Egypt

              • “Egypt will become the womb for this great nation.” ​​ [Hamilton, 591]

              • We know from the promise to Abraham in Genesis 15:13 that the Israelites are going to be there at least 400 years

            • They not only took their goods, but also their group

          • Their group

            • Summary

              • Very generally, Jacob and all his offspring

              • Generally, his sons and grandsons and his daughters and granddaughters

            • Specifics

              • In verses 8-25 we are given the specifics of who went to Egypt in a genealogy structured around the two wives and their handmaidens

              • Leah’s (lay-aw’) [weary] children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren

                • Reuben (reh-oo-vane’) [behold a son]

                  • Hanoch (khan-oke’) [dedicated]

                  • Pallu (pal-loo’) [distinguished]

                  • Hezron (khets-rone’) [surrounded by a wall]

                  • Carmi (care-mee’) [my vineyard]

                • Simeon (shim-own’) [heard]

                  • Jemuel (yem-oo-ale’) [day of God]

                  • Jamin (yaw-meen’) [right hand]

                  • Ohad (o’-had) [united]

                  • Jakin (yaw-keen’) [He will establish]

                  • Zohar (tso’-khar) [tawny]

                  • Shaul (shaw-ool’) [desired]

                • Levi (lay-vee’) [joined to]

                  • Gershon (gay-resh-own’) [exile]

                  • Kohath (keh-hawth’) [assembly]

                  • Merari (mer-aw-ree’) [bitter]

                • Judah (yeh-hoo-daw’) [praised]

                  • Er (ayr) [awake] {died in Canaan}

                  • Onan (o-nawn’) [strong] {died in Canaan}

                  • Shelah (shay-law’) [a petition]

                  • Perez (peh’-rets) [breach]

                  • Zerah (reh’-rakh) [rising]

                  • Hezron (khets-rone’) [surrounded by a wall] {son of Perez}

                  • Hamul (khaw-mool’) [spared] {son of Perez}

                • Issachar (yis-sauce-har’) [there is recompense]

                  • Tola (toe-law’) [worm]

                  • Puah (poo-aw’) [splendid]

                  • Jashub (yove/yaw-shuv’) [persecuted]

                  • Shimron (shim-rone’) [watch-height]

                • Zebulun (zev-oo-loon’) [exalted]

                  • Sered (she’-red) [fear]

                  • Elon (ay-lone’) [terebinth, mighty]

                  • Jahleel (yakh-leh-ale’) [God waits]

                • These sons and Dinah (dee-naw’) [judgment] were born to Jacob in Paddan Aram

                • They totaled thirty-three in all

              • Zilpah’s (zil-paw) [a trickling] children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren

                • Gad (gawd) [troop]

                  • Zephon (tsif-yone’) [lookout]

                  • Haggi (khag-ghee’) [festive]

                  • Shuni (shoo-nee’) [fortunate]

                  • Ezbon (ez-vone’) [hasting to discern: I will be enlargement]

                  • Eri (air-ree’) [watchful]

                  • Arodi (air-road’) [I shall subdue: I shall roam]

                  • Areli (air-ay-lee’) [lion of God]

                • Asher (aw-share’) [happy]

                  • Imnah (yim-naw’) [right hand]

                  • Ishvah (yish-vaw’) [he will resemble]

                  • Ishvi (yish-vee’) [he resembles me]

                  • Beriah (bear-ee’-aw) [with a friend]

                  • Serah (seh’-rack) [the prince breathed] {sister}

                  • Heber (kheh-ver) [comrade] {son of Beriah}

                  • Malkiel (mal-kee-ale’) [my king is God] {son of Beriah}

                • Zilpah was Leah’s handmaiden

                • They totaled sixteen in all

              • Rachel’s (raw-khale’) [ewe] children and grandchildren (she is the only one identified as his wife in this genealogy)

                • Joseph (yo-safe’) [Jehovah has added]

                  • Manasseh (men-ash-sheh’) [causing to forget]

                  • Ephraim (ef-rah’-yim) [double ash-heap: I shall be double fruitful]

                  • Born to Joseph by Asenath (aw-say-nath’) [belonging to the goddess Neith] daughter of Potiphera (po-tee feh’-rah) [he whom the Ra gave], priest of On (Heliopolis)

                • Benjamin (bin-yaw-mene’) [son of the right hand]

                  • Bela (beh’-lah) [destruction]

                  • Beker (beh’ker) [young camel]

                  • Ashbel (ash-bale’) [a man in God; a man of Baal; fire of Bel; I will make a path]

                  • Gera (gay-raw’) [a grain]

                  • Naaman (nah-am-awn’) [pleasantness]

                  • Ehi (ay-khee’) [my brother]

                  • Rosh (roshe) [head]

                  • Muppim (mop-peem’) [serpent]

                  • Huppim (khoop-peem’) [protected]

                  • Ard (aired) [I shall subdue]

                • They totaled fourteen in all

              • Bilhah’s (bil-haw’) [troubled] children and grandchildren

                • Dan (dawn) [a judge]

                  • Hushim (khoo-sheem’) [who makes haste]

                • Naphtali (naf-taw-lee’) [wrestling]

                  • Jahziel (yakh-tseh-ale’) [God divides]

                  • Guni (goo-nee’) [my defender (?)]

                  • Jezer (yate-ser) [forming]

                  • Shillem (shil-lame’) [repaid]

                • Bilhah was Rachel’s handmaiden

                • They totaled seven in all

            • Totals

              • The total of Jacob’s direct descendants, not counting his sons’ wives, that went to Egypt was 66

              • Including Joseph, his two sons, and himself brings the total to 70 in all who started out in Egypt

              • We see this same number of 70 in the beginning of Exodus (1:5)

              • “It may be best to consider the list in Genesis 46 as a document listing those who are considered charter members of the Goshen settlement (similar to the list that serves as a foundation for the Society of Mayflower Descendants) rather than something like an airplane’s manifest or a census document. ​​ That this is the case is indicated somewhat in the text itself as it notes that the number does not include the sons’ wives (46:26). ​​ They would have physically participated in the journey and resettlement, but their charter status is represented in their husbands.” ​​ [Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 686]

              • Total leaving Egypt 430 years later was 600,000 men on foot, besides women and children (Exodus 12:37) – so potentially 2 million in total

        • God’s grace was with Jacob as he left Beersheba and entered Egypt

 

  • YOU

    • Are you ready to ask the Lord to confirm His leading, about a change in your life, so you can experience His help and blessing?

    • Do you need to trust in God’s presence with you after you have consulted Him and received His leading?

 

  • WE

    • We need to ask the Lord to confirm His leading about Idaville Church, so we can experience His help and blessing

    • We need to trust that God is with us after we have consulted Him and received His leading

 

CONCLUSION

“Wishing to encourage her young son’s progress on the piano, a mother took him to a Paderewski concert. ​​ After they were seated, the mother spotted a friend in the audience and walked down the aisle to greet her. ​​ Seizing the opportunity to explore the wonders of the concert hall, the little boy eventually explored his way through a door marked ‘NO ADMITTANCE.’

 

When the house lights dimmed and the concert was about to begin, the mother returned to her seat and discovered that the child was missing. ​​ Suddenly, the curtains lifted and spotlights focused on the impressive Steinway on stage. ​​ In horror, the mother saw her little boy sitting at the keyboard, picking out ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.’

 

At that moment the great piano master made his entrance, quickly moved to the piano, and whispered in the boy’s ear, ‘Keep playing.’ ​​ Then Paderewski reached down with his left hand and began filling in the bass part on the piano. ​​ Soon his right arm reached around to the other side of the child as he added a running obbligato. ​​ Together, the old master and the young novice transformed a frightening situation into a wonderfully creative experience. ​​ The audience was mesmerized.

 

That’s the way it is with God. ​​ What we can accomplish on our own is less than noteworthy. ​​ We try our best, but the results aren’t exactly graceful, flowing music. ​​ But with the hand of the Master, our life’s work can be beautiful. ​​ Next time you set out to accomplish great feats, listen carefully. ​​ You can hear the voice of the Master, whispering in your ear, ‘Keep playing.’ ​​ Feel his loving arms around you. ​​ Know that his strong hands are there to help you turn your feeble attempts into a true masterpiece.

 

God doesn’t call the equipped; he equips the called. ​​ And he’ll always be there to love you and to guide you on to great things. ​​ Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. ​​ And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace.

 

Jacob did not expect to see his son Joseph again, but now he would because God did not ‘stop playing.’ ​​ God will make something out of our lives if we remain faithful to him.”

 

[Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 357].

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