Sometimes, Biblical gems are hidden right there in plain view. As is the case with Genesis 46:4 – “I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again, and Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes.”
That brief sentence is spoken by God to Jacob/Israel. Upon hearing that Jospeh was still alive, and now living in Egypt – second in the land only to Pharoah – and as the 130 year old Jacob traveled, he stopped to offer sacrifices to God. There, God spoke to him in the visions of the night. He appeared in order to reassure Jacob that all was well. That it was indeed OK for him to take his family there. That God would still be true to His promises to make a great nation out of his offspring. Though at this point, they were less than 100 strong.
It is then we read this short, interesting statement by the Lord. It has 3 elements.
1 – “I myself will go down with you to Egypt.” Even in the unforeseen and perhaps frightening turns of events which can frighten us – even more in old age – God goes with His people. Everywhere life takes us, He goes with us too. He never leaves His own. As Daivid would write so familiarly: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” It isn’t that some things aren’t frightening, they are. It isn’t that there aren’t great unknowns to us, there are. It isn’t that we may not have difficult legs in this journey of life – even when we are old and less able to cope – we well may. And He is with us, if we are His. He never leaves His own to themselves, to the world, or to the Devil. He is with us because we are in Christ and Christ is in Him.
2 – “I will also bring you up again.” What? Did that mean he would only remain in Egypt a short time, and return to Canaan before he died? No. It meant that death would not be the last word. It never is for those who are justified by faith in Christ. For those who look to and know the Lord. To those who are His. God would indeed bring Jacob back from Egypt. But not alive. His body would be brought back by Jospeh and his brothers after his death. But it means so much more couched this way. Death is never the end of the story for Believers. We will still receive our full inheritance, even if we die before we can realize it. God had promised Jacob an inheritance, and not even death could break that promise. With Jacob, Paul could say: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” And so can all who are in Christ. Each of us in Christ who dies before Jesus’ return, this we know – He will also bring us up again.
3 – “And Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes.” It is as if He said: “Yes Jacob, as you will tell Pharaoh that your 130 years have been hard ones – but don’t forget how I show mercy and grace to my own. In the end, you will taste of my blessedness even on your deathbed. I overflow with mercy. I delight to bless my children. Even in death, you will know the touch of my tenderness upon you.” And so it will be for everyone of us who die in the Lord. As J.I. Packer once put it: “For Christians, death’s sting is withdrawn. Grace has intervened, and now their death day becomes an appointment with their Savior, who will be there to take them to the rest prepared for them. Though they will be temporarily bodiless, which is not really good, they will be closer to Christ than ever before, “which is better by far” (Phil. 1:23). Packer, J. I. 2001. God’s Plans for You. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.