2,000 EGYPTIAN GODS
One of my favourite subjects in high school was Ancient History. I particularly loved studying Ancient Egypt. Their societal structure, deities, religion and approach to preparing for the afterlife fascinated me.
11 years later (yes, I’m a school veteran), I still recall the intricacies of Egypt’s belief system, the way they depicted their gods with an animal’s head and human body, and even the names of some of their most famous gods like Ra, Isis, Osiris and Thoth.
Overall, 2,000 Egyptian gods are recorded in history books today!
I wonder if any of these gods had a clue when our God moved in to Egypt?
GOD’S PRESENCE BECOMES KNOWN IN EGYPT
So far in the Joseph series, we’ve travelled with Joseph through his dreamy beginning (Genesis 37), his relocation to Egypt and his abrupt lifestyle shift to a slave and prisoner (Genesis 39-40). Now Joseph has interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams and Pharaoh has made Joseph second-in-charge over the entire land of Egypt (Genesis 41).
As I read on into Genesis 42 and 43 where Joseph is reunited with his brothers and wrestles to reconcile his past with his present, I’m struck by how many times in the last three chapters (Genesis 41-43) God is explicitly mentioned; not only by Joseph, but by non-God-believers like Pharaoh and Joseph’s attendants.
Look at this…
Genesis 41:16 “Joseph answered Pharaoh saying, “It is not me. God will give Pharaoh a favourable answer.””
Genesis 41:38 “Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find anyone like this man [Joseph], in whom is the spirit of God?””
Genesis 41:52 Joseph says: “…for God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.”
Genesis 42:18 “Joseph says to them [his brothers] the third day, “Do this and live, for I fear God.””
Genesis 42:18 The steward of Joseph’s house says to Joseph’s brothers: “Be at peace; and do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has given you treasure in your sacks.””
It’s an interesting observation when you consider the religious context of Egypt at the time. The Egyptians were devoted to their gods, and yet we see, as Joseph ascends to his position of power and influence, Egyptians like Pharaoh and Joseph’s attendants start proclaiming the Name and power of God.
The Egyptians came to recognise our God through Joseph’s rise to power. BUT we know that God was there well before this.
God was with Joseph in Potiphar’s house (Genesis 39:2).
God was with Joseph in the prison (Genesis 39:21).
And God was with Joseph throughout the entirety of his first 13-years in Egypt, before Pharaoh and any of the other Egyptians had heard of Joseph and his God (Genesis 39:23).
WHEN GOD MOVES IN…
God had moved in to Egypt, taken up residence, and been at work, well before the Egyptians even realised it, before they’d heard of Him or Joseph.
Can we say the same of God today? That He has moved in, taken up residence and is already at work, before we even know or realise it?
Why – because He is the same yesterday, today and forever! (Hebrews 13:8)
I take this as a great comfort, and I hope you do too, friends.
No matter what your season or circumstance, whether you are in a season of abundance, or a season of famine; a season of harvest or a season of planting; a season of rest or a season of work and movement; God has already moved in, taken up residence in your future and is mightily at work!
GOD GOES AHEAD OF US TO PREPARE THE WAY
Great peace comes from knowing and believing this!
God is already in the weeks and months and years that lay ahead of us!
He’s taken up residence there and is already at work.
We don’t need to worry or fear, because He is already in our future, making a way for us.
JOSEPH ISN’T AN ISOLATED CASE
When I looked deeper into this go-before-us nature of God, it became clear to me that it was not an isolated case when God went ahead of Joseph.
Case in point: the Israelites. 400 years after Joseph’s time, when they depart from Egypt, led by Moses, we see God going ahead of them, preparing the way.
Exodus 13:21 “The Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.”
Deuteronomy 31:8 “The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you, He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
This posture of God going ahead of us is not new! In fact, He’s been doing it since the beginning of time and throughout scripture.
2 Samuel 5:24 “It shall be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then you shall act promptly, for then the Lord will have gone out before you to strike the army of the Philistines.”
Isaiah 52:12 “But you will not go out in haste, nor will you go as fugitives; for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.”
These scriptures are so revealing of God’s nature!
God goes ahead of us on the way [of life] to lead us; to show us the way.
He won’t take us anywhere that he hasn’t been before!
With God, there are no experiments. He doesn’t say, ‘Let’s just go this way and see what happens.’ No!
He leads the way confidently and He knows where He is going, because He has already gone ahead and prepared the way for us!
My favourite bible verse at the moment confirms this for us:
Psalm 32:8-9 (TPT) “I [King David] hear the Lord saying, “I will stay close to you, instructing and guiding you along the pathway for your life. I will advise you along the way and lead you forth with my eyes as your guide. So don’t make it difficult; don’t be stubborn when I take you where you’ve not been before. Don’t make me tug you and pull you along. Just come with me!””
We can confidently follow God, because He leads us with his eyes.
How can He do this? Because he’s already been where He’s taking us. He’s gone before us and prepared the way.
A SOLID TREK NEEDS A GOOD GUIDE
Let’s say you’re planning a hike. Perhaps to Machu Pichu, or the summit of Everest, or through the Amazon (as you do 😊). This is no ordinary day hike; it’s a journey of epic proportions, with unknown and treacherous terrain (sounds a bit like life, right?!).
If you were to do a hike like this, you would enlist a guide, a local person, someone who is familiar with the path because they have walked it a thousand times before.
They know every incline and decline; every pit, gap and climb; every creature and species that you will encounter along the way.
They know where the pinch points and the struggles are, and they know the best way to approach them.
They know when to rest and when to walk. They know all the safe and scenic places to stop and pitch your tent.
And, most importantly, they know exactly how to get you to your destination.
Follow your guide diligently along the way, and you’ll reach your summit.
Ignore their direction, take a detour or wrong turn, and you’ll end up lost in the wilderness.
BUT, thank God for your guide, because they know exactly how to find you and set you back on course.
Yes, this detour will delay you. It might even mean that you miss something spectacular along the way had you stayed the path; but the guide will always find you, reset you, and reorient you on the way towards your destination.
God is our guide! This is exactly what He does for us!!
GOD: THE FRONT AND REAR GUIDE
The bible tells us that God not only goes before us and guides us on the way, but he is also our rear guard!
Exodus 14:19 “Then the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them, and the pillar of the cloud moved before them and stood behind them.”
God is the ultimate guide. He shows us the way, and equally, never leaves us exposed or unprotected.
He is both before us, guiding the way, and He is also behind us, protecting us as our rear guard.
Seriously, is there anything that God cannot do?!
WHEN YOU ARE ON THE EDGE OF THE WILDERNESS…DON’T BE AFRAID!
In Exodus 13:20, right before it says God went ahead of the Israelites in a cloud, the bible refers to the geographical positioning of the Israelites as being “on the edge of the wilderness.” If you find yourself sitting on the edge of a wilderness, or in the thick of it, remember that God is your front and rear guide!
Why does He guide us and protect us?
Because He loves us!
“To Him [God] who led His people through the wilderness, for His loving kindness is everlasting.” (Psalm 136:16)
JESUS IS THE WAYMAKER
If you find yourself wondering what is next, considering what the plan and purpose is for your life, or how your dreams will come to life, remember this: God is your guide; your true and best hiking companion.
The well-known scripture in John 14:6 sums it up perfectly: “I [Jesus] am the way and the truth and the life.”
So, next time you’re not sure which way to go, which step to take next, or you find yourself wondering what lies ahead, fix your eyes on Jesus. He knows the way.