One of the blessings of tagging along a powerful man or woman is that you get to experience the goodies that their aura attracts. For example, hanging around the president of a country will likely draw attention your way and create favours. That is how things work, at least to some point.
In the Bible, this truth seems to come up now and then. To pinpoint this out, we have to go to the Book of Genesis Chapters 46, and 47 and read the story of Jacob and his sons as their lives took a climactic turn.
I was able to identify four limitations facing Jacob and his sons as the ball start to roll. To get to first base, Jacob needed serious persuasion that all will be well as he goes to Egypt. God comes to him in a dream and heartens him; that things will turn out fine.
So, what are these disadvantages? Firstly Jacob was advanced in years. It is not quite right, notably in an African setting, to subject an old man or woman to torturous pursuits. We need to remember that Jacob was the head of the group as they journeyed to Egypt. This was a time when the promises given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were in the be-all and end-all. It is such a pivotal time that human wisdom would have dictated against Jacob. However, God had spoken, and when God speaks (as He continually does through Jesus), all other voices must be considerately snubbed.
Secondly, Jacob’s company was small – sixty-six persons, not counting wives to sons of Jacob (Genesis 46:26). Take this number and consider the perils of travelling and settling among a people who are culturally and theologically different from you. In the case of any feud, Jacob’s company would have been eliminated in the twinkle of an eye. Interestingly, when God walks with us, then our small number should not alarm us. The fact that you are disadvantaged in numbers should not make you quit. Numbers do sometimes lie.
Thirdly, Jacob’s company consisted of socio-economically unpretentious individuals, whose trade was mere shepherding. At that time, in Egyptian culture, being a shepherd could earn you outright derision. It is an occupation that was a preserve for the nincompoops of the society. This was a good reason for Jacob and his sons to slip into the miry clay of self-pity and low self-esteem. But God had spoken, and they had to raise their shoulders high and continue.
Fourthly, Jacob’s entourage did not share religious beliefs with Egyptians. They believed and worshipped one God – Yahweh. This still did not stop them from being who they were – Children of Promise, Children of the great Patriarchs. They did not allow their faith to melt away at the heat of another dogmatic religion.
Faith does make all things possible; not easy!
Despite the above and many other disadvantages, Jacob and his sons were not hot and bothered. They travelled to Egypt, met Joseph, the blue-eyed boy of Pharaoh, who secured bread and butter for them. They settled in the most fertile place in Egypt, did not suffer the sting of famine and did not sell all their belongings like the Egyptians.
This was possible because of the covenant. This covenant held God accountable, generated faith in Jacob and guaranteed God’s presence in all circumstances.
We are challenged to be like Jacob – have faith in God and conquer our limitations.