Intro. Note the two names used in these verses. "And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and God spoke to Israel in the night saying, Jacob, Jacob." His given name was Jacob, a name that described his old nature, schemer, surplanter. God had given to him a new name Israel, (Ruled by God). Sometimes he is still Jacob, sometimes he is Israel. We also have two natures, the old nature of the flesh and the new nature of the Spirit. Sometimes we react after the old nature and sometimes after the new. Jacob was the name of his weakness and Israel was the name of his strength. Israel had begun his journey to Egypt with all that he had.
I. THE BEGINNING OF THE JOURNEY HE WAS ENERGIZED AND EXCITED.
A. He was going to see his beloved son Joseph.
1. He had thought that his son was dead, now he discovers that he is not only alive, but he is ruling over Egypt.
2. Excitement and eager anticipation often help us to get up strength for a new venture.
B. He has come to Beersheba, perhaps now as they have come to the border of the promised land and must face the arduous part of the journey the Negev wilderness that they must pass through to get to Egypt, that Jacob begins to have apprehensions. This can not be an easy trip for a man 130 years old. Fear begins to take hold and he hesitates, and builds an altar to sacrifice to the Lord.
1. Beersheba has a lot of memories. It was here that his grandfather Abraham had dug a well, perhaps he has stopped by that well to store up water for the journey through the barren desert that was ahead.
2. As a young boy he lived around Beersheba, and when he had to flee from his brother's wrath, it was from Beersheba that he began his journey to Haran.
3. He was leaving the security of the familiar places that often afford a certain amount of security to journey to a foreign land.
4. They were simple folk, Bedouins, who dwelt in tents, living close to nature. They are headed toward Egypt, a land of culture and sophistication, where shepherds were considered an abomination.
C. It is quite possible that fear began to grip his heart, he is leaving a place of security to journey to an unknown and uncertain future.
1. He decides to build an altar and offer sacrifices to the Lord.
2. It is here in a night vision that the Lord speaks to him.
II. "JACOB, JACOB, FEAR NOT"
A. God calls him by his name of weakness, Jacob. God is meeting him in his weakness.
1. God is so good to meet us in our place of weakness.
2. Paul said that he gloried in his weakness for when he was weak, then he was he strong, for God's strength was made perfect in his weakness.
B. God said to him "Fear not" you only say "fear not" to a person who is afraid.
C. He had good reason to be afraid.
1. He was an old man, and he was venturing out into unfamiliar territory.
a. For young people that is no problem, they are adventurous they want to see the world,
b. But as you get older you want the comforts of the family home, the memories of the experiences of watching your children grow up are in every corner of the rooms of the house.
c. You like sitting on that rocking chair on the front porch.
2. He was going to an idolatrous country.
a. The Egyptians had deified almost everything, they worshipped everything from cats to crocodiles, they were pantheists.
b. Jacob had lived close to nature, and close to God. They had a simple relationship with the one true God.
3. There were intimations that this could have adverse effects on the future of his descendants.
a. His grandfather Abraham had a night vision that terrified him and the Lord told him that his descendants would be strangers in a land for four hundred years, but afterward the Lord would deliver them.
b. Could this possibly be the beginning of that 400 years out of the land of promise?
4. This new land would bring his family into new temptations.
a. His sons were not the most honorable, they had shown their penchant toward evil many times.
b. What will happen to them when they are faced with the added temptations and allurements of cultural Egypt?
c. Sort of like the old song, "How you going to keep them down on the farm, after they've seen Paree?"
d. I sort of cringe when someone says that they are going to move to Hollywood.
III. GOD WANTED TO REMOVE HIS FEAR.
A. God does not want his children to fear,
1. The Bible tells us that fear has torment.
2. God does not want to see you tormented by fear.
B. Fear makes you unhappy.
1. God wants His children to have fullness of joy.
C. Fear has a way enervating you, it is very debilitating.
1. It can keep you from moving out into new ventures.
2. As a father, you do not want to come home and find your children filled with such fear that they are afraid to go out and play in the yard.
IV. How the Lord removed his fears.
A. He called him by his name. "Jacob, Jacob."
1. It is comforting to know that God knows my name.
2. We sing, "He knows my name."
3. Sometimes because of our circumstances we think that God has forgotten us.
4. Fear belongs to the old nature, so as Jacob feared, God called him by his old name. God knows us by the new name also. There were times when God called him Israel.
B. He was on good terms with God. When God called him by name he answered, "Here I am."
1. It is good to have a close relationship with God, to be on speaking terms with Him.
2. The proverb said, When a man's ways please the Lord he causes even his enemies to be at peace with him. 16:7
C. He assured him of who He was. "I am God, the God of your fathers."
1. When Jeremiah was facing overwhelming circumstances God said to him, "Behold I am God, is there anything too hard for me?"
2. Paul said, "If God be for us, who can be against us?"
3. David said, "The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?"
D. God gave him wonderful promises of the future.
1. It is the unknown future that so often causes our fears.
2. God is promising that he will make of Jacob a great nation in Egypt.
E. Then God promised to go with him.
1. The consciousness of God's presence should always dispel fear.
2. When I was a child, I can remember my dad asking me to go out to the garage to get something for him at night. I would protest because of my fears. He then would say, "I will go with you." When my dad was holding my hand, I wasn't afraid of anything.
Fear thou not; for I [am] with thee: be not dismayed; for I [am] thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
3. David said: Ye, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me."
F. The promise to bring him back again. "I will surely bring you back again."
1. You will not forfeit My promise of this land by going to Egypt.
2. The promise that this land will be given to your descendants still holds.
3. The promises of God are certain, they shall not fail.
G. Joseph shall close your eyes.
1. You will survive the journey.
2. You will soon be seeing your son that you loved and grieved over for so many years.
3. He will put his hands on your eyes.
4. This is a reference to his being with Joseph when he dies. He will put his hand upon your eyes. When a person dies, their eyes are often open and you have to pull their eyelids shut. This is what the Lord was referring to when He said, He will put his hands on your eyes."
V. ARE YOU TODAY STANDING AT A CROSSROADS IN YOUR LIFE?
A. Are you paralyzed by fear?
1. Your Father in heaven does not want you to fear. If you can hear His voice, He is calling you by name.
2. He is promising to go with you and be with you.
B. This is one of the great benefits of being a child of God.
1. We can face life with confidence.
2. We can have that assurance that wherever we go, God will be with us, helping us, and He will work out his perfect plan in our lives.