Genesis 46:4, “I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again…”

The Lord speaks these words to Jacob before the Patriarch moves with his family down to Egypt in order to escape a famine in the land. While the immediate fulfillment of Gen. 46:4 happens when Jacob’s body is brought back to be buried in the promised land–there is a more extended fulfillment in view: The Exodus.

The original readers of Genesis–Israelites delivered from Egypt under the leadership of Moses–would have been sure to hear their own story in YHWH’s promise to go “down with you to Egypt” and also to “bring you up again.” Bound up in these words is a commitment by Israel’s covenant Lord not to abandon them in their slavery and suffering. In fact, the words imply that YHWH would be with them in their hardships the entire time, even when they thought they were abandoned by Him. He would not leave them alone in house of slaves…who would enter it with them and would bring them up again–to Himself (Exodus 6:7).

In the immediate context, this promise is about God going down to Egypt with Jacob and ensuring that he is buried in the promised land, in the broader context it is about God being with the Israelites during their years of slavery in Egypt and faithfully bringing them out of bondage to Himself. But there is at least one more lens through which we need to see these words. In the ultimate context, God’s promise to be with His people in their slavery and to bring them up again to Himself foreshadows the coming of the Christ, who will be called, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:23).

In Jesus, God truly does enter with His people into the slavery and suffering of our sin. He goes “down with [us]” into it even to the point of wrath-absorbing death on the cross (Phil. 2:6-9). And through His resurrection, the God who is with us in our shame carries us up to be with Him where He is that we might see and enjoy His glory (John 17:24; Eph. 2:6-7; Col.3:3).

In all of our hardships, in all of our fears, in all of our anxieties and sorrows and sufferings, may we look for no other savior and no other hope and no other satisfaction than the God who goes down with us and will bring us up again.

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