Let’s look at some scriptures to learn what we can about Goshen. It is mentioned first in Genesis 45:9-11 where Joseph told his brothers, “Hurry and go up to my father, and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph: God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not tarry. You shall dwell in THE LAND OF GOSHEN, and you shall be near to me, you and your children, your children’s children, your flocks and your herds, and all that you have. There I will provide for you, lest you and your household, and all that you have, come to poverty; for there are still five years of famine’” (NKJV). The story of Joseph and his dealings with his brothers is a beautiful picture of the Lord Jesus Christ and his brethren, for just as Joseph was treated badly by his brothers and yet repaid their evil with good, so the Lord Jesus was rejected by His brethren (see John 1:11) yet in love and grace He will display His kindness toward them by forgiving them and fulfilling all the promises that God gave to them (see Romans 9:1-5; 11:25-27; Jeremiah 31:31-34). Joseph had every right to reject his family but instead he brought them down to Egypt and gave them the “land of Goshen,” which was a very fertile land because of the Nile River. In Genesis 46:28 we read that “they came to the land of Goshen” and in Genesis 47:1 we read that “Joseph went and told Pharaoh, ‘My father and my brothers, their flocks and their herds and all that they possess, have come from the land of Canaan; and indeed they are in the LAND OF GOSHEN.’” Pharoah, who favored Joseph, told him, “The land of Egypt is before you, have your father and brothers dwell in THE BEST OF THE LAND; LET THEM DWELL IN THE LAND OF GOSHEN” (verse 6). So, even though Joseph’s family had to leave “the Promised Land,” God graciously, in His sovereignty, cared for His earthy people (Israel) during the years of famine by giving them “the best of the land” in all of Egypt. In verse 27 we read, “So Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in THE COUNTRY OF GOSHEN; and they had possessions there and GREW and MULTIPLIED EXCEEDINGLY.” In time, a new Pharaoh came to the throne. Fearing they might rise up against the Egyptians he forced them into slavery (see Exodus 1:8-14), which in turn led God to raise up Moses to deliver them and to lead them back to the Promised Land (Exodus 1:1-2:17).

Now let’s consider what “spiritual significance” there was for Israel dwelling in Goshen and how it may serve as a lesson for Christians today. There are TWO THOUGHTS that come to mind. The first lesson will focus on FAILURE and the second lesson on SUCCESS. Though Goshen was a beautiful and fertile land, it was still part of Egypt, which was a nation steeped in idolatry. Egypt pictures the “world” and Pharaoh pictures the “god and ruler of this world” (see John 12:31; Ephesians 2:1-2 and 1st John 5:19). It was NOT “the land of Promise” and thus it was NOT where God intended them to be. Had Israel remained faithful to God and not rejected Joseph, they no doubt would have remained in Canaan, but due to their unfaithfulness God sent a famine that He used to chasten His people in Egypt where they would repent of their sins and their rejection of Joseph. Even after that they would learn what it was like to be brought into bondage so they would yearn for deliverance and have a deep desire to return to their homeland. The lesson for us is simple, for Goshen may speak to us of “worldly places” in our lives that we find ourselves in due to sin. Like Israel, we will have to experience God’s “chastening hand” so we learn that the world, though at times “charming,” is NOT OUR HOME and A PLACE RULED BY SATAN who desires to bring us into bondage.

But Goshen was also a place where Jacob and his family had a TESTIMONY AS PILGRIMS! In Genesis 47:7 Joseph “brought his father Jacob and set him before Pharaoh; and Jacob BLESSED Pharaoh.” Pharaoh then asked him how old he was and he replied, “The days of my PILGRIMAGE are one hundred and thirty years” (verse 9) and then we read again that “Jacob BLESSED Pharaoh.” He bore witness to the fact that he was indeed a PILGRIM and that this world was not his home. He may have informed Pharaoh that even in Canaan he lived in a tent as a sojourner and that he was looking forward to a “heavenly country.” Does this not remind us of what we read in Hebrews 11:9-10, & 13, “By faith he (Abraham) dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling IN TENTS WITH ISAAC AND JACOB, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God….these all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were STRANGERS AND PILGRIMS ON THE EARTH.”

We too, dear fellow-believers, are also here in this world to be a TESTIMONY to the unsaved and to show them that THIS IS NOT OUR HOME. The Apostle Peter exhorts us in 1st Peter 2: 11-12, “Beloved, I beg you as SOJOURNERS AND PILGRIMS, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having YOUR CONDUCT HONORABLE AMONG THE GENTILES, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by YOUR GOOD WORKS WHICH THEY OBSERVE, glorify God in the day of visitation.” If we do walk as heavenly PILGRIMS before the world, we too (like Jacob) can be a BLESSING to others. (467.1)  (DO)