INTERESTING FACTS :
One of the amazing facts about the Bible is that though it was written by a wide diversity of authors (as many as 40) over a period of 1600 years, from many different locations and under a wide variety of conditions, the Bible is uniquely one book, not merely a collection of sixty-six books. Its authors came from all walks of life. Some were kings, some peasants, still others were philosophers, fishermen, physicians, statesmen, scholars, poets, and farmers. They lived in a variety of cultures, in different experiences and often were quite different in their makeup.[1
DAILY READING : [GENESIS 46 - 47]
TEXT : Gen 46:31 And Joseph said unto his brethren, and unto his father's house, I will go up, and shew Pharaoh, and say unto him, My brethren, and my father's house, which were in the land of Canaan, are come unto me; Gen 46:32 And the men are shepherds, for their trade hath been to feed cattle; and they have brought their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have. Gen 46:33 And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation? Gen 46:34 That ye shall say, Thy servants' trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.
THEME : GOD'S GUIDANCE
In chapter 46, we see again the guidance of God for His people Israel as He speaks to Jacob in "visions of the night." Dreams and visions play a prominent role in the Bible, and are a primary method God employs to reveal His will to His servants the prophets and patriarchs. In Jacob's dream, God tells Jacob "not to fear" in going to Egypt because He will make of Jacob a great nation there. This sojourn into Egypt was told to Abraham first when God made the original covenant with him. That day God said to Abraham -
"And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full." [Gen. 15: 13 - 16]
God made this prophetic statement to Abraham about two hundred years before Jacob enters Egypt. As Jacob goes to Egypt, it also begins the four hundred and thirty years that Israel will spend in Egypt of which, four hundred will be as slaves after Josephs' death. God foretold of this captivity to His servant Abraham long before it happened. Such is the Bible - it far surpasses all the religious books of the world, because it predicts the future accurately. Bible prophecy is one of the chief proofs that God wrote it.
Encouraging Jacob not to fear, is similar to God comforting the Apostle Paul the same way [i.e. in a vision] when he was afraid to preach in the city of Corinth. "Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city. And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them." [1 Cor. 18: 10 - 11]
We see in both of these examples - one in the New Testament, and one in the Old - how God urges His servants to be full of peace since He directs the ways of His people and guides them on the path He wants them to take. God directs the life of His chosen, and shows them [us] which way to go. "And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left." [Isa. 30:21]
Notice as God tells Abraham that his descendants will return to the land He gave to Abraham, it will take a few centuries because the "iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full." When Israel will come to this land led by Moses God will say - "Ye shall therefore keep all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: that the land, whither I bring you to dwell therein, spue you not out. And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them." [Lev. 20:22 - 23] God has a time and a season for all of His purposes [Eccl. 3] and He guides His people according His will and His foreknowledge. God still guides all of us who are called by His Name - by His Word, by His Spirit, and according to His time. This is why the Scripture says - "O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him." [Psalm 34:8]
TRUTH FOR TODAY : GOD IS OUR GUIDE!
It is curious to see that Joseph counsels his brothers and family to lie about their occupation as shepherds. We read that shepherds were an abomination to the Egyptians. Certainly, this is the reason Joseph gives such advice. Still, in an otherwise spotless moral character, it is odd that Joseph would be willing to perpetrate a lie. Anyway, there are two reasons, as Adam Clarke wrote, the shepherds were abhorred by the Egyptians.
"Shepherds and feeders of cattle were usually a sort of lawless, free-booting bandits, frequently making inroads on villages, etc., carrying off cattle, and whatever spoils they could find. This might probably have been the case formerly, for it is well known it has often been the case since. On this account such persons must have been universally detested. The last and probably the best reason why the Egyptians abhorred such shepherds as the Israelites were, was, they sacrificed those very animals, the ox particularly, and the Sheep, which the Egyptians held sacred."[2
However, even more fascinating is the fact Jacob does not lie about what their occupation is when he meets Pharaoh. He tells the truth, and Jacob and his family afterward live safely in Goshen. Men, even when their intents are pure, are tempted to "help" God fulfill His plan for His people. Yet, God does not need our aid our counsel. On the contrary, we need His! Even Joseph - an exemplary character in the Bible - cannot resist the impulse to lie to secure the safety of his family. Still, God refuses His "help." He rejects ours as well. God will have His way in the future, as He does now, and has in the past. We must remember, God is guiding our steps. It is He that is leading us, and not we leading Him. Best of all, with God directing and escorting us to His Kingdom, we are sure to arrive safely at our destination!