Today’s Reading: Genesis 46:1-7
I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again. (Genesis 46:4)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. God is everywhere. “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” declares the Lord (Jeremiah 23:24). He was in Canaan. He was in Beersheeba. He was already in Egypt. Yet He says to Jacob, “I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again.”
God fills heaven and earth, but He promises to be with Jacob and his family and his descendants in a special way. He will lead them on their journey into Egypt and back out again. The latter promise isn’t fulfilled until about four centuries later, though. It is indeed God who leads His people out of Egypt in a visible, tangible, and powerful way, clothed in the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire. The Lord Himself leads His people Israel from Egypt’s slavery back to Canaan’s promise.
As the Lord leads Israel down to Egypt, His presence is not as spectacular. Yet it is no less tangible. Jacob’s journey is connected to sacrifice. “So Israel took his journey with all that he had and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. And God spoke to Israel in visions of the night” (Genesis 46:1–2a). The sacrifices were the ministry of the Old Testament. Each animal offered on each altar demonstrated that God Himself was with His people in a unique way. God Himself went down with Jacob and his family in the Office of the Holy Ministry.
God is indeed everywhere, Martin Luther once observed. But He is not everywhere for you. God fills heaven and earth. But that’s not yet good news. Perhaps God is present to judge, punish, and avenge. His presence in the pillars of fire and cloud was most certainly not good news for the Egyptians who found themselves drowned in the sea.
The sacrifices of Jacob show how God is present for you. He is present to sacrifice Himself. He offers Himself on the altar of the Cross as the sacrifice to end all sacrifices. And He does it for you.
Life is a journey from birth to grave. Jesus Himself makes that journey. But death is not the end of that journey. “I will also bring you up again,” He promises. In death and in life, Christ is with you and for you. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
While I am a pilgrim here, Let Thy love my spirit cheer; As my guide, my guard, my friend, Lead me to my journey’s end. (“Come, My Soul, with Every Care” LSB 779, st.5)
–Rev. Jacob Ehrhard is pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church and School in Chicago, IL
Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch