Did the Old Testament Greats Understand God’s Plan? Part 16

This entry is part 16 of 45 in the series Did the Old Testament Greats Understand God's Plan?

Part 15 recap: Jacob returns from the land of Canaan very reluctantly as he must face his brother Esau. Jacob had tricked his father into giving him Esau’s blessing over twenty years prior to his return. Jacob trusts God and his plan and moves forward towards the goal. “And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men… And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept” (Genesis 33:1-4). They enjoyed a great reunion despite all of Jacob’s fears.

Part 16 Once Jacob returned to the land of Canaan he and his brother Esau would eventually bury their father Isaac who lived to the ripe age of 180 years old. Jacob buried his wife Rachel who died in childbirth; she was “buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem” (Genesis 35:19). Now, Jacob, his twelve sons, his daughter Dinah, and his three wives made their home in Canaan.

Jacob knew what his father taught him, he lived under the patriarchal dispensation. During this time, the father of the house taught the other members what to do. The patriarch prayed for all and was the head of the house physically and spiritually. The patriarch was the one that was in a covenant relationship with God. Isaac spoke with God and was instructed to a degree. Isaac passed on to his son Jacob the understanding he acquired before he passed away. These men of faith however, did not have a similar faith to ours now. These men, through obedience, did as they were commanded and reaped God’s blessings. The kind of faith these men had was a purer and more simple form. They did not have the knowledge we do, nor the understanding of God’s plan. God had not revealed these things during this beginning. His children did not have the understanding required. However, we should not diminish their role or think their lives were better/simpler than our own. They struggled with so many things they could not understand. Isaiah 28:9-10 tells us: “Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little”. God shows them a faith which they are able to understand.

In the land of Canaan, when Jacob’s son Joseph is 17 years old, he begins to have dreams. “And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more. And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf…And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth? And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying” (Genesis 37:5-11).

Joseph, Jacob’s favorite son, was beginning to hear from God. Did he know what was happening to him? Did his father know? We see that the reaction of his brothers was disgust and hatred and his father even rebuked him at first. God had begun to prepare Joseph for the difficulties he would soon face. “And his brethren went to feed their father’s flock in Shechem. And Israel said unto Joseph, Do not thy brethren feed the flock in Shechem? come, and I will send thee unto them. And he said to him, Here am I. And he said to him, Go, I pray thee, see whether it be well with thy brethren, and well with the flocks; and bring me word again. So he sent him out of the vale of Hebron, and he came to Shechem” (vs. 12-14). Stay tuned as we explore what Joseph knew.

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