At first it seemed like a good idea. But now he wasn’t so sure. Perhaps, he had been too hasty. He had been caught up in the moment of the good news.
Joseph was alive—not dead, as he had been made to believe for more than twenty years. So, yes, he was excited to go to Egypt to see his son. But this was not a visit. This was to be permanent.
Joseph wanted the entire family to join him in Egypt. And Jacob had agreed. But now that he had had time to think about it, this move meant he would die and be buried in a foreign land. Not in his homeland. When you get old, you think about these things.
His family—from the eldest to the youngest—was excited about a new beginning. Not him. Been there and done that. He had no desire to make any more life changes.
There had been a famine in his father’s day too. God had told him, “Do not go down to Egypt” (Genesis 26:2 NASB). He couldn’t shake that from his mind. Wouldn’t that also apply to him? Shouldn’t he stay in Canaan and live through this famine?
Suppose his sons adopt the idolatrous ways of Egypt and forget the one true God. Everything he had taught them. Maybe Joseph already had. Perish the thought!
And how scary is that prediction God gave his grandfather! “God said to Abram, ‘Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years’” (Genesis 15:13 NASB)? Would he be the instigator of that slavery? What kind of legacy was that?
If only he could be sure he was doing the right thing. Jacob settled it at the last stop before crossing into the desert.
God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, ‘Jacob, Jacob.’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ He said, ‘I am God, the God of your father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you a great nation there. I will go down with you to Egypt . . .’ (Genesis 46:2-4 NASB).
Then Jacob moved forward, knowing:
The light of God surrounds me;
The love of God enfolds me;
The power of God protects me;
The presence of God watches over me;
Wherever I am, God is.
(“The Prayer for Protection” by James Dillet Freeman, 1912-2003)