The patriarch Jacob had lived years with the belief that his beloved son was dead and gone, having been the victim of a horrible mauling. But he was amazed to find out that Joseph was not only alive but in charge of all Egypt. By this time in Jacob’s life he was an old man with not many years left. He must certainly have had some fear about going to Egypt and what that would mean for him and his family because God came to him and said, “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. I myself will go down with you….”
Fear is likely one of the most pervasive commonalities of people of all ages from all eras – which is why the most repeated command in all of Holy Scripture is the exhortation by God to not be afraid. The prescription to not fear always contains the reason: God is with us.
If the Bible were to have an actual title, it would not be inappropriate to have the title “God With Us.” The story of Scripture from beginning to end is one of humanity having a love/hate relationship with God and often fickle in faith. But, in contrast, God continues to be the same. He maintains his covenant loyalty no matter people’s failures of faith and commitment; his presence is with them.
The height and fulfillment of that divine presence came with the sending of the Son, the Lord Jesus. His name is Immanuel, God with us. The closer we get to Jesus, the more we realize God is near and the less we have to fear. Even despite suffering, pain, and, in the case of the ancient Israelites, slavery in Egypt, God is with us through the hard circumstances of life.
Father God, thank you for the gift of your Son, Jesus. Help me so to know him so that I will live in faith and confidence no matter the situations of my life. Amen.