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Shepherding - The Great or Lowly Occupation

Genesis 46:1-4,31-34 So Israel set out with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, “Jacob, Jacob.” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “I am God, the God of your father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you a great nation there. “I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will close your eyes”... Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I will go up and tell Pharaoh, and will say to him, ‘My brothers and my father’s household, who were in the land of Canaan, have come to me; and the men are shepherds, for they have been keepers of livestock; and they have brought their flocks and their herds and all that they have.’ “When Pharaoh calls you and says, ‘What is your occupation?’ you shall say, ‘Your servants have been keepers of livestock from our youth even until now, both we and our fathers,’ that you may live in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is loathsome to the Egyptians.”

Finally Israel and his large family, 75 in all, move to Goshen to go to live with his son, Joseph. A fitting end to a harsh and painful journey that Joseph was subjected to for no fault of his.

What joy Israel (Jacob) must have felt knowing that his son that he once lost is now found and not just found but is well and has made such a name for himself. Also, what a joy it must have been for Israel to know that his God, the God of his fathers was confirming to him that he was to go down to Egypt and God would make him a great nation there!

God certainly has wonderful ways of bringing about His will but is that what today's passage is about?

Have you not wondered, as I have, why God did not establish Abraham's family in Israel rather than keeping them as nomads in their own lands?

Everyone outside of Abraham's family including Ishmael and Lot established themselves and were now ruling and trading but Israel's family were still wandering the great vast in search of permanency.

In the 46 chapters of the first book of the Bible, it is easy for us to get lost in the intricacies of each character's lives that we tend to miss the big picture.

This great migration of peoples was not without reason as we will see in the chapters and books ahead and even today is the reality of the children of God as we wait for our permanency with God in heaven for eternity.

This wonderful story of reconciliation is not the end all because they now face a new battle, one of establishing themselves in a foreign land where people look down upon their very occupation.

Obviously shepherding was not the career choice of the Egyptians and was left to the poor. Joseph, the overseer of Egypt, was from a family of shepherds and this was going to be a bitter pill for Pharaoh to swallow as they came to live in Goshen.

Joseph could have got them good positions in the army or whatever was reputable but he knew that their shepherd origins would eventually be brought out and they could face the consequence of their heritage.

He therefore decided to inform Pharaoh and knew God would provide a way for his family to live in the land and be a part of the blessing.

As we walk in our new selves transformed by Jesus Christ and live in the hostile world around us, are we holding onto our faith or living dual lives? Are we ashamed of our shepherding heritage and calling or proud of it and willing to live to honor our shepherd, Jesus Christ, the lover of our souls?

God's transformation is not just in our soul but our entire being. When we submit to Him, we need to submit our all and then walk in faith knowing that the one who loves us is able to do far more than we can imagine, has control over everything He created and choses to bless us as His will is done. Are we willing to be a part of His will or will we rebel to be a part of the pits of hell?

In His Loving Service,


Numbers 14:9 Only don't rebel against Yahweh, neither fear the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defense is removed from over them, and Yahweh is with us. Don't fear them."

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