Now these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt; every man and his household came with Jacob.…
With Israel in Egypt begins a new era in the world's progress. Biography becomes history Instead of individuals or a tribe, God has now a natron with which to work. He has undertaken a vast purpose. This people — united by common parentage, common faith, and common hope — He is to weld still more compactly by fellowship in disaster and deliverance into a nation which shall be the miracle of history, as intensely and persistently individual as its founder. With this nation He enters into covenant and, through its faith and experience, reveals to the world the one holy God, and brings in its Redeemer. Such a mission costs; its apostles must suffer. Yet this relief intervenes: personal blessing is not lost in national pains. The strong word covering this process is discipline: the development of character and efficiency under rigorous conditions. The first element is —
I. FAITH: taking as real what cannot be seen, accepting as sure what has not come to pass. Seemingly, this fruit of heaven cannot grow on earthly soil unless it be wet with tears.
II. The second word of blessing is DISENTANGLEMENT. The hope of the ages lay in freeing Israel, not from Egypt, but from what Egypt represents. Heathenism is a bitter and bloody thing. But heathenism filled the world outside the chosen nation. Only stern guidance could lead away from it, for over its deformities were spread distortions of natural needs and blandishments of sanctioned lust. God can accomplish vast things with a soul wholly consecrated to Him; but how rarely He finds such a soul, except as He leads it through affliction to make it loose its hold on all but Him!
III. With this even partially gained, comes that strong word EFFICIENCY. The nation which was Jacob the Supplanter passes its Peniel and becomes Israel the Prince of God, having power with God and men. Into its hands are put the direction of earth's history and the hope of its redemption. The distresses of those early generations are as the straining and rending of the crust or the grinding march of glaciers, unsparing but beneficent, preparing a fertile soil on which at last men shall dwell safely, lifting thankful hands to heaven.
(C. M. Southgate.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt; every man and his household came with Jacob.