When they came to Jacob their father in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them, saying, “The man, the lord of the land, spoke roughly to us and took us to be spies of the land. But we said to him, ‘We are honest men; we have never been spies. We are twelve brothers, sons of our father. One is no more, and the youngest is this day with our father in the land of Canaan.’ Then the man, the lord of the land, said to us, ‘By this I shall know that you are honest men: leave one of your brothers with me, and take grain for the famine of your households, and go your way. Bring your youngest brother to me. Then I shall know that you are not spies but honest men, and I will deliver your brother to you, and you shall trade in the land.’”
As they emptied their sacks, behold, every man’s bundle of money was in his sack. And when they and their father saw their bundles of money, they were afraid. And Jacob their father said to them, “You have bereaved me of my children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and now you would take Benjamin. All this has come against me.” Then Reuben said to his father, “Kill my two sons if I do not bring him back to you. Put him in my hands, and I will bring him back to you.” But he said, “My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he is the only one left. If harm should happen to him on the journey that you are to make, you would bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to Sheol.” – Genesis 42:29-38 ESV
Perspective is powerful. It can dramatically alter the way we look at things. It can result in hope or leave us in despair. It can produce fear or create a sense of strength and security. And as human beings we are always tempted to see things from our limited, earthly perspective. We are bound by time and space. We can’t see into the future. We don’t know what tomorrow holds. So we tend to limit our view by what we can see. We draw conclusions based on our immediate circumstances and extrapolate them into what we believe to be obvious outcomes for the future. And yet, as those who claim to believe in God, we have been given a means by which we can view life from a higher, more accurate perspective. We can look at life through the eyes of God. He is not limited by time and space. The future is as clear to Him as the past. There is nothing He does not know, including all that has yet to happen. There is nothing that takes place in our lives that He is not fully aware of and that He cannot use for our good and His own glory.
Perspective is what allows us to understand the “whys” of life. It is more than mere knowledge of God and what He does, it is an understanding of why He does what He does. Spiritual perspective is a mark of spiritual maturity. The more our faith in God grows, the more we learn to trust Him. We begin to truly believe the words of Paul: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28 NLT).
The problem with Jacob is that he lacked perspective. His faith in God was limited by his earth-bound point of view. In spite of all that God had done for him over the years, he still looked at life through lenses that were covered in doubt and fear. He had long forgotten the promise that God had made to him years earlier when he fled the wrath of his brother Esau:
The ground you are lying on belongs to you. I am giving it to you and your descendants. Your descendants will be as numerous as the dust of the earth! They will spread out in all directions—to the west and the east, to the north and the south. And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants. 1What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.” – Genesis 28:13-15 ESV
That one little line, “I will protect you wherever you go” held no weight with Jacob. The fact that God had said, “I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you” did not hold any weight with Jacob. He took the latest news from his sons and concluded that all was lost. “All this has come against me!”, he sadly claimed. He was unable to see any good in his circumstances. He could not see the hand of God or find peace in the promises of God. All he could see was doom and gloom. He had already lost Joseph. Now he wrongly assumed he had lost Simeon as well. And now his sons were asking him to hand over his youngest son, Benjamin. So he chose to cut his losses and refused to allow them to take Benjamin back with them to Egypt.
Years earlier, at Bethel, God had reiterated His promise to Jacob, saying:
“I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’ Be fruitful and multiply. You will become a great nation, even many nations. Kings will be among your descendants! And I will give you the land I once gave to Abraham and Isaac. Yes, I will give it to you and your descendants after you.” – Genesis 35:11-12 NLT
God had promised to make of Jacob a great nation. He had promised to give him the land of Canaan. He had told him that kings would be among his descendants. But none of that had taken place yet. There were aspects of God’s promise that remained unfulfilled. The problem was whether Jacob would continue to believe or settle for less. Would he be content with what he already had or continue to trust God for what was yet to come? Circumstances can limit our view of God. But godly perspective can enlighten our view of our circumstances.
Is anything too hard for the LORD? – Genesis 18:14 NLT
“O Sovereign Lord! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you!” – Jeremiah 32:17 NLT
“I am the LORD, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me?” – Jeremiah 32:27 NLT
“The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.” – Luke 18:27 AMP
Jacob was going to learn to see the circumstances of life from God’s point of view. Nothing was too difficult for Him. No situation was too desperate, no circumstance too demanding for God to handle. What appeared to be a blight would turn out to be a blessing. What looked like nothing but darkness would turn out to be light and result in life. At this point, all Jacob could say was, “all this has come against me!” But he would soon learn to believe that “all this God has done for me!”