Sermon #29 Series: Pictures of Grace in Genesis
Title: Jacob’s Fear Removed - A Picture of Grace
Text: Genesis 46:1-4
Subject: Believers and their fears
Date: Tuesday Evening - March 3, 1992
The title of my message tonight is Jacob’s Fear Removed. When Jacob heard the report of his sons that Joseph was yet alive and that he was governor over all the land of Egypt, the old man fainted. Then, when he was revived, being assured that it was so, he said, “It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.” Bold, confident, full of joy, Jacob packed up all his family and everything he owned, and started out for Egypt. Now, read with me Genesis 46:1-4.
Along the way to Egypt, Jacob came to Beersheba. There he worshipped the Lord his God. But God saw what Jacob never expressed. As the Lord looked upon the heart of his worshipping servant, he saw an old man whose heart was tossed about with many fears. And the Lord God graciously removed the fears of his beloved servant. Here is another picture of grace.
As God removed Jacob’s fear, so he graciously removes the fears of his people today by the revelation of himself to us, not in visions and dreams, but by his spirit and through his Word.
As we meditate together upon this passage of Scripture and seek God’s instruction from it for our souls, let me direct your attention to five things.
1. Jacob, like us, was a man with two natures.
2. Before proceeding to Egypt, Jacob paused at Beersheba to worship God.
3. Jacob’s heart was troubled with fear at what lay before him.
4. Jacob’s fear had to be removed.
5. The Lord removed Jacob’s fear in the most tender and gracious manner imaginable.
I. Jacob, like us, was a man with two natures.
As we read the text, did you notice that Jacob is called by two names? “Israel took his journey.” “And God spoke unto Israel…and said, Jacob, Jacob.” Israel was the name God gave him, the name of his strength. Jacob was the name his father gave him, the name of his nature, the name of his weakness.
It appears that Jacob started out for Egypt, inspired by the news concerning Joseph, without the least fear. The old man had the sparkle of joy in his eyes. But when he came to Beersheba, he seems to have halted by reason of fear. Beersheba was on the border of Canaan. When he left Beersheba, he knew he was leaving the land of promise and would be on his way to Egypt. Realizing what a momentous move he was about to take, the old man began to tremble.
Now, I want us to ever be award of these two facts, the one very sad and lamentable, the other most blessed.
A. So long as we are in this world God’s chosen people are men and women with two natures.
Our name is both Israel, prince with God who prevails and Jacob, supplanter, weakness and failure (Rom. 7:14-23; Gal. 5:17-23).
B. Our great God and Savior sympathizes and tenderly cares for us in the state of weakness.
The Lord God saw Jacob’s need and met it. He does not excuse, condone, or approve of Jacob’s fear. But he does not cast him off because of his fear. “He knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust” (Psa. 103:14; 78:37-39; 1 John 2:1-2).
II. Before proceeding to Egypt, Jacob paused at Beersheba to worship God.
Beersheba was to Jacob a holy place. It held many memories for him. It was at Beersheba that God had met with Abraham and called upon him to sacrifice Isaac (Gen. 21:31). As that was a critical turning point in Abraham’s life, Jacob paused here to worship God, because he had come to a critical turning point in his own life. He was about to go where he had never been before. He was about to break new ground. So he came to Beersheba and offered sacrifices to God, the God of his father Isaac. What wisdom he displayed!
A. As he began a new era in his life, he consecrated himself anew to his God.
When Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom, we do not read of any devotion to God. But when Jacob was going to Egypt, before doing so, he consecrated himself to God again. He is wise who begins everything with God!
1. Young people just beginning to set up their own homes.
2. Business men venturing a new enterprise.
3. Churches setting out upon a new sphere of ministry.
4. Believers beginning a new day.
B. Our text tells us that Jacob “offered sacrifices” to the Lord; and I am sure he did so for three reasons at least.
1. To purge himself and his household of sin. By an act of faith, by blood atonement, Jacob both confessed his sin and sought cleansing for his sin and for his family.
He knew that he could not walk with God, enjoy God’s fellowship, or expect God’s blessings, except his sins be purged from him by the blood of Christ, God’s Sacrifice.
2. His sacrifices were also thank offerings to his God for all that he had done.
· Benjamin had come back safe and sound.
· Joseph was yet alive and he was going to see him!
Once he had said, “All these things are against me.” Now, he is beginning to see that God had been working for him; and he humbly repents of his unbelief.
3. And I am sure that Jacob offered these sacrifices upon the altar at Beersheba that he might enquire of the Lord as to what he should do.
He was in a great dilemma. Shall I go down to Egypt or not? He wanted to know God’s will. So he sought God’s direction.
Illustration: When I am in a place unfamiliar to me, I ask for
directions. I figure that the time spent seeking
direction would not amount to half what I would
waste going the wrong way. (See Prov. 3:5-6).
III. The reason he needed God’s special direction was the fact that - Jacob’s heart was troubled with fear at what lay before him.
I do not want to put words into Jacob’s mouth; but it seems to me that the cause of his fear is obvious. He was going down to Egypt!
His grandfather, Abraham, once went down into Egypt and found much trouble there. That is where he got Hagar! Abraham’s journey into Egypt was probably the greatest mistake of his life. Isaac, Jacob’s father, once started to go down into Egypt, but God stopped him. I am sure Jacob must have paused with fear asking himself, “Is it right for me to go to Egypt? What effect will this move have upon me and my family? How will this move affect the truth of God, the glory of God, and the people of God?” These were matters of great importance to Jacob.
A. He knew that Egypt was a notoriously idolatrous country.
There learned, philosophical men worshipped everything from cats, calves, and crocodiles to the vegetables they grew in their gardens!
B. His associations in Egypt would be very trying for Jacob and his family.
He knew that God had told Abraham that his people would be afflicted in Egypt for four hundred years (Gen. 15:13-14).
C. Jacob knew that if he went down to Egypt, unless God went with him, he was headed for trouble.
· He knew that Joseph was there; but would God be there?
· He knew that corn was there; but would God be there?
· Everything seemed to draw him there; but would God be there?
This was the matter of concern for Jacob. And this ought to be the matter of concern for us in every decision we make.
Illustration: My instructions to Faith.
Find a man who worships God.
Settle in a place where you can worship
Do nothing that will interfere with the
worship of God.
IV. Jacob’s fear had to be removed.
The Lord appeared to Jacob “in the visions of the night” to say to him “fear not.” It is both displeasing and dishonoring to God for his people to walk in carnal fear (Matt. 6:19-33).
Fear, fretting, and worrying are things most unbecoming to men and women who claim to believe God.
A. Fear robs us of joy (Phil. 4:4-5).
B. Fear weakens us in the path of known duty and responsibility.
“Before we begin a new enterprise, fear may be seasonable; we ought to be cautious as to whether our way is right in the sight of God. But when we once (know God’s will and) begin…we must say farewell to fear, for fear will be fatal to success. Go straight ahead. Believe in God, and carry the work through” (C. H. Spurgeon).
Fear is an indication of a quarrel with God’s will.
Jacob must go down to Egypt by God’s command; but he is afraid. Afraid to obey God’s command!
1. God will not send you where he will not go with you.
2. God will not require you to do anything he will not enable you to do.
3. You will never meet a trial or temptation in the path of obedience through which God will not sustain you (1 Cor. 10:13; 1 Thess. 5:24).
· Has God called you to preach the gospel? “Fear not!”
· Has God called you to some specific field of service? “Fear not!”
· Has God opened some door of ministry and service to you in his church? “Fear not!”
V. The Lord removed Jacob’s fear in the most tender and gracious manner imaginable.
Our God always deals with his children in grace. What a picture we have here of God’s grace dealing with poor, fearful Jacob!
A. He removed Jacob’s fear by letting him know that he knew him. “God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob!” As if to say, “I know, I know you, and I know what you are going through, and I know what lies before you.”
B. Then he allowed Jacob to know by experience that he was in communion with God.
When the Lord spoke to Jacob, Jacob spoke to God and said, “Here am I!” That is the language of a submissive heart in communion with God.
· Abraham (Gen. 22).
· Samuel (1 Sam. 3).
· Isaiah (Isa. 6).
C. God removed Jacob’s fear by assuring him of his covenant faithfulness - “I am God, the God of thy father,” that is to say, “I am the God of the covenant! The blessing I have promised I will perform.” God is for us! (Rom. 8).
· Saving purpose.
· Sovereign providence.
· Substitutionary provision.
· Steadfast preservation. (All is well!)
D. Then the Lord removed his fear by promising that he would bless him in Egypt - “I will there make of thee a great nation!”
Child of God, do not be afraid of your trials. Where God brings you, God will bless you.
Illustration: Peter, James, and John “feared as they entered in to
the cloud” (Lk. 9:34). But how blessed they were in
E. Next, the Lord removed Jacob’s fear by assuring him of his presence - “I will go down with thee!”
· “Thou art with me!”
· “The Lord is at hand!” (Isa. 42:10; 43:1-5).
F. Again, the Lord removed Jacob’s fear by assuring him that, no matter what happened in Egypt, his inheritance in Canaan was sure - “I will also surely bring thee up again!”
Child of God, your inheritance is sure (Rom. 8:33-39).
G. And the Lord removed Jacob’s fear by telling him of the peaceful way in which he would die - “Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes.” The Lord said, Jacob, don’t be afraid. You are doing to die in peace.
You see, for the child of God, death is a covenant blessing. “So he giveth his beloved sleep!” At God’s appointed time, “Jesus shall put his hand upon thine eyes!” “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord!”
Application: Sons of Jacob, be not afraid! (Isa. 43:1-5).