Now these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt; every man and his household came with Jacob.…
This early instance of emigration shows -
I. How the CALL to leave the land of one's fathers may sometimes be
1. Unexpected Jacob little expected to end his days in Egypt.
2. Trying. Canaan, the land of promise, where were the graves of his ancestors, etc.
3. Mysterious. An apparent reversal of the lines on which Providence had hitherto been moving. Yet -
4. Distinct. Jacob had no doubt that God's call had come to him. It came first in providence, and was ratified by direct Divine permission (Genesis 46:2-5). Many have the indirect call, who can scarcely doubt that it is also a direct one. Causes of emigration - Want and distress at home, with reasonable prospect of comfort and plenty abroad; opening of a better field for talents and energies; state of health, necessitating change of climate; persecution, as in case of Huguenots, Pilgrim Fathers, etc.
II. What CONSOLATIONS the emigrant may carry with him.
1. God accompanies him (Genesis 46:4).
2. He can serve God yonder as well as here.
3. He is furthering wise and beneficent purposes. Little doubt of that, if he is leaving at God's bidding. Israel's residence in Egypt secured for the tribes -
(1) A home.
(3) Room to grow.
(4) Education in arts and letters.
(5) Valuable discipline = - all preparatory to settlement in Canaan, and the fulfilment of their spiritual mission to the world.
4. The terminus is not Egypt, but Canaan. Jacob never saw again the Canaan he had left, but, dying in faith, he and his sons became heirs of the better Canaan. Whatever his earthly destination, let the emigrant keep in view a "better country, that is, an heavenly" (Hebrews 11:16).
III. The ADVANTAGES of emigration.
1. It is not always advantageous.
(1) Not always advantageous to the country left. A country that by misgovernment, bad laws, excessive taxation, or persecution, drives its best subjects from its soil, may be compared to a man who humours an insane bent by occasionally opening a vein.
(2) Not always advantageous to the country settled in. Emigrants may carry with them - too often do - low and immoral habits, and prove a curse, rather than a blessing, to the populations in whose midst they settle.
(3) Not always to the emigrant himself. His step may prove to have been hasty. He may have taken it On impulse, or on insufficient information, or in a spirit of adventure. He finds when too late that a sanguine disposition has deceived him. This is to go forth without a clear call. But -
2. Emigration, wisely and judiciously conducted, is of great benefit to society.
(1) It thins an overstocked country, and so relieves pressure on the means of subsistence.
(2) It occupies territory needing population to develop its resources.
(3) It affords room and scope for the vigorous expansion of a young race.
(4) It benefits native populations. The Egyptians would profit by the residence of the Hebrews in their midst.
(5) It may be made subservient to the diffusion of the knowledge of the true religion. How seldom is this thought of, yet what a responsibility rests on those who leave Christian shores, carrying with them, to lands sunk in the night of heathenism, the blessed truths of Christianity! The conclusion of the matter is: Let emigration be an act of faith. Do not, in so important a step in life, lean to your own understanding. Ask guidance and clear direction from on High. But if the way is open and the call plain, then, like Jacob, go forth, and go boldly, and in faith. Trust God to be with you. He goes before you to seek you out a place to dwell in, and will surely bless you in all you put your hand to (Deuteronomy 1:33; Deuteronomy 15:10). - J.O.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt; every man and his household came with Jacob.