Pharaoh said to Joseph, “… get your father and all of your families, and return here to me. I will give you the very best land in Egypt, and you will eat from the best that the land produces”… So Jacob set out for Egypt with all his possessions. … During the night God spoke to him … “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt … I will go with you” … So Jacob and his entire family went to Egypt—sons and grandsons, daughters and granddaughters.—Genesis 45:12–46:7, NLT
Many years after the death of Joseph, when Israel made its exodus from Egypt, fleeing from Pharaoh and his oppression, the word pharoah would turn into a synonym for a slave driver or an unjust ruler. The pharaoh who knew Joseph, no moral hero himself, at least understood one of the most basic principles of immigration justice, to wit: When immigrants have established themselves in their new home and have proven themselves to be honest, hard-working, and trustworthy, they deserve the right to reunify their families in the new land.
On the basis of Joseph’s heroism toward Egypt, and perhaps because Joseph had bought all the lands of the Egyptians for Pharaoh in exchange for food, Pharaoh rewarded Joseph with (1) family reunificación visas, (2) transport for all of his relatives to come over, (3) special recognition of his father before the royal court, (4) extensive land grants in best region for cattle ranching; and (5) provisions of food for the duration of the famine. Few immigrants in the history of the world have enjoyed better treatment, and for the most part, few have deserved it less!
The end of the story rewards everyone beyond what they deserved. Joseph, an arrogant dreamer at first, managed to see his family bowing their knees to him as a savior; Jacob, hardly a model father, got to see his spoiled son alive and in charge; the brothers who threw Joseph into a well to die of hunger far from home, escaped from a mortal famine together in their homes with their families; Pharaoh got control of all the lands in Egypt and consolidated total dictatorship under the pretext of being a benefactor; the Egyptians—who hated shepherds—received food from the hands of a Hebrew goatherd. All of this reward testified of the amazing grace of God.
At the end of his life, Jacob leaned on God’s promise to be with him. If on any future occasion someone offers you a choice between perfect conditions for immigration and a difficult life accompanied by God, choose the second. A single day in the presence of God and grace is better than a thousand in any human paradise, where we just might get what we really deserve.
Dr. Joseph Castleberry is President of Northwest University in Kirkland Washington. He is the author of Your Deepest Dream: Discovering God’s Vision for Your Life and The Kingdom Net: Learning to Network Like Jesus. Follow him on Twitter at @DrCastleberry and at http://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Castleberry.