There’s a story from the life and ministry of R.C. Sproul of which I never tire. He was finishing his graduate studies in Pittsburgh and his mentor, John Gertsner, recommended that he travel to Holland to study at the Free University of Amsterdam. But R.C. knew not one word of Dutch. When he told Gertsner that fact, he simply replied, “Learn it.” And that’s what Sproul did. Within months he and his wife and young daughter were living in Amsterdam.
One day R.C. was outside in the backyard digging a trench at the back of their rental property with his 2-year-old daughter right alongside him. Noting the danger, he picked her up and carried her to the concrete slab, adjacent to the backdoor, and said to Sherri, “Now honey, you stay here on this stoop while I go over there and dig a hole. Do you understand?” Sherri said, “Yes, daddy.” Within two minutes she was back by his side.
He picked her up again and carried her back saying, “I told you to stay on this stoop and wait for Daddy to finish digging the hole. Do you understand?” Her reply was the same, “Yes, daddy.” But within minutes of returning to his labor, she was back again.
This time he swatted her bottom, picked her up, and carried her back to the stoop. He bent down, looked into her crying eyes, and said sternly, “Didn’t I tell you to stay on the stoop?” Through tears she cried, “But daddy, what’s a stoop?” And R.C. hugged her and said under his breath, “Oh honey, I am.”
Like many English words, there are a variety of definitions
for the word “stoop.” But among them all there is one, that it most precious,
and that definition is found in Psalm 18. David says,
“For who is God, but the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?—
the God who equipped me with strength
and made my way blameless.
He made my feet like the feet of a deer
and set me secure on the heights.
He trains my hands for war,
so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
You have given me the shield of your salvation,
and your right hand supported me.
and you stooped down to make me great.”
Charles Spurgeon said it perfectly:
“Oh! Then repeat the truth that never tires;
No god is like the God my soul desires;
He at whose voice heaven trembles, even He,
Great as He is, knows how to stoop to me.”
That’s what we see Him doing in the first four verses of Genesis 46. Here the writer tells us that Jacob/Israel has finally made his decision to trust the word and the wagons of Joseph and leave Canaan and head down to Egypt. Verse 1 tells us that he “took his journey,” or as other translators put it: “he set out.”
And it’s here in this “setting out” that we find God stooping down to meet him at a place where He had stooped to meet others. Here at Bersheba He stoops to meet this mix of a man giving him all the confidence and assurance he needs to live and to die in peace.
There is a lot in these first four verses that parallel our relationship with the God who stoops. In a message entitled, “The ‘I’s’ Have It,” we will dig in and find a message God has for every one of us. In preparation for this communion Sunday you may wish to consider the following:
1. Notice the name change that occurs in the final four verses of chapter 45.
2. What do you make of this change?
3. How significant is Israel’s decision to go down to Egypt and why?
4. What does it mean when it says, “So Israel took his journey with all that he had?”
5. What’s the relevance of Israel setting out from Canaan and Paul’s statement in Philippians 3:8?
6. What’s the significance of Beersheba?
7. Why does he build an altar there?
8. What’s the meaning of this vision?
9. Why does God repeat his old name twice?
10. What’s the significance of God referring to Himself five times in 2 verses?
See you Sunday!