From Fr. Alex Radulescu - The Book of Genesis 46:1-7 recounts the travel preparations Jacob (Israel) took to ensure the survival of his family. His son, Joseph, was in Egypt by now and became Pharaoh’s right hand. But remember how Joseph was sold by his own brothers (betrayal) and taken to Egypt as a slave. In spite of that, God helped Him become so famous there, that the ruler of that country had total confidence in him and gave him command over the food supply and other strategic assets.
When a great famine hit the Promised Land, Jacob sent his sons to find food in Egypt. They are surprised to find out that Pharaoh’s right hand is their brother, Joseph, whom they sold into slavery years back. What a reversal! Joseph sends them back tasking them to bring their father, Jacob with them.
Jacob was so glad to hear that his son Joseph was alive that he set on a journey right away. On the way to Egypt, Jacob stopped at Beersheba to offer sacrifice to God on an altar previously built there by his late father, Isaac (son of Abraham). And there is where God decided to communicate through a vision with Jacob and reassure Him of His divine promise and protection:
"I am God, the God of your father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt; for I will there make of you a great nation. I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again; and Joseph's hand shall close your eyes." (Gen. 46:3-4)
Let’s stop here and read this text carefully because this is also the last direct communication between God and the Patriarchs that we know of. What happened there? God actually reiterated a promise made to Abraham first. Also, it is a prophecy: Jacob will die in Egypt, a foreign country, away from the Promised Land. Of course, it is reassuring to hear God saying “I will go down with you to Egypt” but also confusing. Jacob may have wondered why God wanted Him and his family out of the Promised Land. What happened to God’s plan to give it to His people as a homeland? That is why God reassured Him by also saying “I will also bring you up again.”
And this message of the Lord is what I want to draw your attention to: “I will go down with you” and “I will also bring you up again.” God is faithful to the covenant He made with us, His people. But He also knows that our journey is not a straight path, always paved with abundance and bliss. On the contrary, we oftentimes encounter difficulties in life, disappointments, betrayal, financial loss, stress, disasters, pandemics, wars and so on. Yet, in spite of the wavy trajectory of our life, the detours, the setbacks, the drama, God is always with us no matter what. He is our travel companion. Just as He promised to Jacob that “I will go down with you to Egypt,” He is also committed to always be with us, His people, wherever we are.
Brothers and sisters, I want to reassure you that God is always loyal to His promise of salvation. He loves us and does not want us to get lost. He travels with us in joy and tragedy, in sickness and in health, on sunny and rainy days. He is always with us. Amen.