Beware the Foretaste of Fatality

September 27, 2013 at 10:53 am | Posted in The Fives | 4 Comments
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The first man lived a long time under a death sentence.

And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.

Genesis 5:5

When Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden by disobeying God and eating the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, he knew the consequences.

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Genesis 2:16-17

So why did Adam not die that very day? Some Bible scholars believe that God withheld the execution of the death sentence out of pure mercy. Under this theory Adam may have received a nine-century reprieve. Others believe that when God said, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” He was referring to the spiritual death into which all humanity is now born (“dead in trespasses and sins”), even though Adam might not have taken it that way at the time. Furthermore, “that day” Adam did die in a sense: His death was assured and he began to be subject to the aging process, disease, and fatal injuries. I fall into the latter category of commentators, being of the opinion that God did not “change His mind,” but, either way, God made sure that Adam (and Eve) no longer had access to the Tree of Life.

So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

Genesis 3:24

Nobody relishes the thought of a trip to the doctor which culminates in the pronouncement, “You have X amount of time left to live.” Adam received a great gift of grace from God to have his execution delayed by hundreds and hundreds of years, but we have to wonder if he felt strong pangs of guilt and regret every time another human being around him bit the dust, so to speak.

We tend to think of our own mortality when we attend a funeral, see a hearse drive by, watch a tragic story on the evening news, or have a “close call” with a speeding semi truck. We might be better off, though, if we made a permanent mental connection with our death and its ultimate cause: sin. No person can be righteous enough in his or her own power to earn eternal life, but those who have already received this glorious gift from the Savior ought to think soberly about the connection between sin and death, and ought to strive to resist the temptation to sin.

Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates: That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.

Deuteronomy 11:18-21 (emphasis added)

Genesis

August 5, 2011 at 10:32 am | Posted in Genesis | 1 Comment
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When a new Christian asks his pastor where he should begin reading in his Bible, the answer will often be the Gospel of John (4th Book in the New Testament), and I agree: that is a good place to start. However, I think all new Christians should also try to read the Book of Genesis very early on in their Christian walk. It contains the blueprint for all that is to come later in the Bible, it gives us invaluable information about exactly Who God is, and it tells us how we human beings originated. At times it reads like a terse historical narrative and at other times like a torrid novel, but it is completely reliable, factual, and inspired by God Himself.

I have enjoyed posting a series of brief lessons on the Book of Genesis, for which I have provided links below:

1. Universe or Multiverse?
2. Catechism Question 1
3. Catechism Question 4
4. The World’s First History Book
5. Where to Find Yourself
6. The Founding Father
7. A Fake in the Grass
8. What Is Lying at Your Door?
9. How the Fallen Are Mighty
10. Beware the Foretaste of Fatality
11. Falling, Flooding, and Facing Facts
12. Their Ark Was Bigger than Their Bite
13. Men Rise and Fall, but the Lord Reigns Forever
14. The Big Cover-Up
15. We’ve Come a Wrong Way
16. The Great “I AM” Announces the Great “I WILL”
17. Getting a Lot Out of the World
18. Being At-TENT-ive to God
19. Home Is Where Your Lord Is
20. “Aman” of Faith
21. The Internal War
22. The Top Story in Sodom
23. As Good as Dead
24. Tested Faith Is Strong Faith
25. Abraham and Isaac Receiving Christ in a Figure
26. Spiritual Lessons Found in Historical Accounts*
27. A Match Made in Heaven Part 1
28. A Match Made in Heaven Part 2
29. Anybody Can Be Profane
30. The Scientific Method
31. Lord, Leader, and Ladder
32. Shove at First Sight
33. The Name Game
34. Choosing the Right Watering Hole
35. The God-Mastered Man
36. The Men Who Worked on Skyscrapers
37. The Dangers of Fatherhood
38. The Son of Suffering and Glory
39. The Best Representative of a Generation
40. The Down Side of being the Favorite Son
41. Beware of Fabrics, Frolicking, and Friends
42. Don’t Get Too Attached To Your Coat
43. The First Interpreter
44. That’s Good. No, that’s Bad.
45. Jesus and Joseph and Their Brethren
46. The Recognition Admonition
47. Check Your Sack Before Jesus Comes Back
48. Nominative Repetition: Warning and Comfort
49. The Real “First Thanksgiving:” The Pilgrims Meet the Egyptians
50. The Redeemer Is Prophesied
51. The End of the Beginning

*most read post in series

The End of the Beginning

July 7, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Posted in Genesis | 4 Comments
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Jacob was 130 when he met Pharaoh. He lived to be 147. He had his beloved son, Joseph, living with him for the first 17 years of Joseph’s life, and for the last 17 years of his own life.

Jacob’s father, Isaac, lived to be 180. Abraham lived to be 175. Jacob “only” lived to be 147!

And there was no bread in all the land; for the famine was very sore, so that the land of Egypt and all the land of Canaan fainted by reason of the famine. And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, for the corn which they bought: and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house. And when money failed in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came unto Joseph, and said, Give us bread: for why should we die in thy presence? for the money faileth. And Joseph said, Give your cattle; and I will give you for your cattle, if money fail.

Genesis 47:13-16

Joseph saved Egypt, but his administrative plan took away the people’s possessions. He centralized the Egyptian government and made the people slaves to Pharaoh.

And it shall come to pass in the increase, that ye shall give the fifth part unto Pharaoh, and four parts shall be your own, for seed of the field, and for your food, and for them of your households, and for food for your little ones. And they said, Thou hast saved our lives: let us find grace in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s servants.

Genesis 47:24-25

By the end of the famine Pharaoh owned all the possessions (livestock), land, and people. This helps to explain how the Jewish people ultimately became slaves in Egypt.

Jacob adopted Joseph’s sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, as his own sons.

The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.

Genesis 48:16, emphasis added

Jacob had experienced much evil, but he recognized that he was on his way home. “The Angel” may be a reference to Jesus Christ.

And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father’s hand, to remove it from Ephraim’s head unto Manasseh’s head.

Genesis 48:17

This is another reversal of the birth order, which is something God had done a number of times before in showing favor to the younger over the elder: Abel over Cain; Isaac over Ishmael; Jacob over Esau; Joseph over Reuben; Rachel over Leah; Zarah and Pharez (Judah’s sons by Tamar).

And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head.

Genesis 48:18

The life story of Joseph is a big part of the Book of Genesis, and it speaks volumes about the character of Joseph that this may be the only instance recorded in sacred Scripture of Joseph being displeased with anyone.

In Genesis Chapter 49 Jacob blesses his sons and prophesies over them and the future of their tribes.

Reuben, the firstborn, lost the blessings of being the firstborn.

Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father’s bed; then defiledst thou it: he went up to my couch.

Genesis 49:4

How is water unstable? (1) It takes the shape of its surroundings. (2) It is affected by the temperature. Reuben had been to bed with his father’s wife.

Simeon and Levi lost a large part of their blessings because of the incident with the circumcision and slaughter of the Shechemites.

Joseph’s inheritance (and the inheritance of his sons who were now Jacob’s sons) is listed in Verses 22-26. The word “bless” or “blessings” is used six times in these Verses:

Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall: The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:) Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb: The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.

Genesis 49:22-26

In Genesis Chapter 50 there are three burials.

Jacob’s burial:

For his sons carried him into the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, which Abraham bought with the field for a possession of a buryingplace of Ephron the Hittite, before Mamre.

Genesis 50:13

Joseph’s burial:

And Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he, and his father’s house: and Joseph lived an hundred and ten years.

Genesis 50:22

So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

Genesis 50:26

The burial of the past:

So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him. And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants. And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

Genesis 50:17-21

The Redeemer Is Prophesied

June 6, 2011 at 11:01 am | Posted in Bible Studies, Genesis | 19 Comments
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I am now getting near the end of a long series of posts on the Book of Genesis. Since Genesis is the first book of the Bible, it has been fun to point out several things, ideas, or words, which occur for the first time in Genesis. We have seen the first plants and animals, the first man and woman, the first marriage, the first sin, the first murder, the first song, the first tears, the first rain, and the first interpreter.

Now we will look at the first time a very special Bible word is used in Scripture: “redeemed.”

The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.

Genesis 48:16

The Hebrew word is ga’al, and it means “to buy back,” or “to pay the price to set someone free from slavery.” When a sinner trusts Jesus Christ as his Savior, he is set free from the slavery of sin.

The concept of redemption is a key to understanding God’s plan of salvation, and it is a concept about which the Lord has much to say in the Bible. Below is a brief study guide on the Biblical concept of redemption:

Q. What was the price of redemption?
A. The precious blood of Christ. (I Peter 1:19)

Q. Can it be paid for with something else of value?
A. No, silver and gold are corruptible (I Peter 1:18), but the blood of Christ is incorruptible.

Q. To what were we enslaved?
A. Sin – such as serving divers lusts, hating one another, living in envy, living for self (Titus 3:3), and to vain conversation or empty living. (I Peter 1:18)

Q. What are we set free to do?
A. To serve the Lord diligently, not to be slothful or lazy. (Romans 12:11)

Q. Who is the Redeemer?
A. Jesus Christ, the Son of God. (Colossians 1:13-14)

Q. How did the Redeemer first appear?
A. As a young child. (Luke 2:25-40)

Q. How does the Redeemer continue to work?
A. As a Mediator. (Hebrews 9:14-15 and Job 9:32-33)

Q. How long does redemption last?
A. Redemption is eternal. (Hebrews 9:11-12)

Q. How long will the Redeemer last?
A. He always has been, always is, and always will be: “He lives” (perpetual present tense). (Job 19:25)

Q. Redemption sets our bodies free from the slavery of sin, but what about our souls?
A. The price has been paid for our eternal souls to be set free. (Psalm 34:22)

Q. How should being redeemed make us feel?
A. Our lips and souls should sing and rejoice. (Psalm 71:23)

Q. Do we deserve redemption?
A. No, God’s mercy allowed our redemption. (Psalm 44:26)

Q. Can anyone other than Jesus be powerful, influential, or wealthy enough to redeem me?
A. No, true redemption is through Christ alone. (Psalm 49:6-9)

Q. How much time is there before it is too late to be redeemed?
A. The offer of redemption is for a limited time only – you must by faith receive Jesus, and trust in the price He paid, before you die and before He comes back. (Hebrews 9:27 and Luke 21:27-28)

Q. Should we keep quiet about our redemption?
A. No, the redeemed of the Lord should say so. (Psalm 107:2)

Q. What is the role of the Holy Spirit in redemption?
A. He seals us unto the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30)

The Real “First Thanksgiving:” The Pilgrims Meet the Egyptians

May 6, 2011 at 10:27 am | Posted in Genesis | 14 Comments
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It’s fairly easy to pick up on the soteriological symbolism behind the true historical events of God calling His people out of the land of Egypt and into the promised land of Canaan, as they are recorded in the Bible. In the book of Exodus God uses Moses to get his people out of Egypt. Egypt is a picture of the “world.” During the first “Passover,” the people – by the application of blood – are set free from the bondage of the world, and come out of it. This is a picture of salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ. Then, God’s people pass through the Red Sea. This is a picture of baptism, God’s first step of obedience for every believer. Then comes the book of Leviticus, which is full of rules for helping God’s people stay clean in their freedom. In Exodus, God gets His people out of Egypt. In Leviticus, God gets Egypt out of His people.

As we approach the end of a series of posts on Genesis, it is interesting to see how God’s people – the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – end up in Egypt in the first place. The answer lies in the adventures of Jacob’s son, Joseph. His brothers sold him into slavery, and he wound up a ruler in Egypt. Through God’s providence, he was able to relocate his family there in a time of famine, so that they would survive.

There are many metaphors for life: a contest; a war; a game; a race; a battle; a trap; a puzzle. You were probably taught in school that the first Thanksgiving occurred when the Pilgrims met the Indians. But when Joseph brought his father, Jacob, to meet the Pharaoh of Egypt, Jacob explained that he saw life as a pilgrimage.

And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.

Genesis 47:9

Christians truly are pilgrims in this life, for our ultimate home is not in this world. We are just passing through it on our way to our real home in Heaven. Vagabonds have no home. Fugitives are running away from home. Strangers are visiting someone else’s home. Pilgrims are on their way home. Are you living the pilgrim life today?

Nominative Repetition: Warning and Comfort

April 8, 2011 at 9:07 am | Posted in Genesis | 3 Comments
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In Genesis 45 Joseph revealed himself to his brothers. This is sort of the climax of the story of Joseph.

In Chapter 46 Jacob moves his family to Egypt, but first he built an altar and worshiped.

And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac.

Genesis 46:1

This was very wise. It is always wise for us to seek counsel from the Lord before we make any move, and especially before we relocate our family.

Jacob was concerned about going to Egypt, and understandably so: He was aware of the trouble that Abraham had experienced there.

And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I.

Genesis 46:2

When the Lord says someone’s name twice, it is as if the first time is to get their attention, and the second time is to give assurance or comfort.

Genesis 22:11: “Abraham, Abraham” (when Abraham was just about to slay Isaac)

I Samuel 3:10: “Samuel, Samuel” (when the Lord spoke to Samuel as he served Eli)

Luke 10:41: Martha, Martha (when Jesus wanted to contrast Martha and Mary)

Acts 9:4: “Saul, Saul” (at the time of the Apostle Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus)

Why did God want Jacob and his family in Egypt?

And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation:

Genesis 46:3

Even though going down to Egypt is sometimes a picture in the Bible of “going down” spiritually, God wanted to use Egypt as the place where He would fashion a people for Himself – not for themselves.

And he sent Judah before him unto Joseph, to direct his face unto Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen.

Genesis 46:28

The “land of Goshen” (which is sort of an exclamation where I’m from) was very fertile – good for herdsmen. Judah led the way, continuing to establish his leadership role in the family – and foreshadowing the fact that the tribe of Judah would be the “royal tribe.”

Lord, I confess that I am not depending on anything other than the shed blood, atoning death, and bodily resurrection of Christ Jesus for my righteousness. Lord God, when you look at the account sheet of my life, none of my works are going to pay the price for even my slightest sin. You’re going to look on the righteousness side of the account sheet and see nothing but the blood of Jesus. This I confess in His holy Name. Amen.

Check Your Sack Before Jesus Comes Back

March 14, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Posted in Genesis | 2 Comments
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Jacob and his family were out of food, and the famine was still going strong.

And the famine was sore in the land. And it came to pass, when they had eaten up the corn which they had brought out of Egypt, their father said unto them, Go again, buy us a little food. And Judah spake unto him, saying, The man did solemnly protest unto us, saying, Ye shall not see my face, except your brother be with you. If thou wilt send our brother with us, we will go down and buy thee food: But if thou wilt not send him, we will not go down: for the man said unto us, Ye shall not see my face, except your brother be with you. And Israel said, Wherefore dealt ye so ill with me, as to tell the man whether ye had yet a brother? And they said, The man asked us straitly of our state, and of our kindred, saying, Is your father yet alive? have ye another brother? and we told him according to the tenor of these words: could we certainly know that he would say, Bring your brother down? And Judah said unto Israel his father, Send the lad with me, and we will arise and go; that we may live, and not die, both we, and thou, and also our little ones. I will be surety for him; of my hand shalt thou require him: if I bring him not unto thee, and set him before thee, then let me bear the blame for ever:

Genesis 43:1-9

Judah stepped up to the plate for his family. Maybe he learned a lesson from the incident with Tamar.

Jacob sent his sons back to Egypt, and he reluctantly sent Benjamin with them. Now the brothers had three main problems:

1. Returning to Egypt, how would they explain why they still had the money they were supposed to have used to pay for the corn?

2. Simeon was still locked up in Egypt. How would they get him out?

3. How would they make sure that nothing happened to Benjamin?

These problems have spiritual corollaries as they picture similar problems that we, as Christians, may face in our lives today:

1. Are we still carrying some type of material or spiritual baggage from an excursion we made into the world, and, if so, how are we going to get rid of it?

2. Do we have “brothers” who got locked up in the ways of the world while they were out in it with us, and, if so, how will we get them back?

3. Are we doing what we can to make our “little brothers and sisters” safe from the world?

Here’s how God arranged for Joseph’s brothers to deal with these problems:

First of all they confessed that they had something they weren’t really supposed to have.

And they came near to the steward of Joseph’s house, and they communed with him at the door of the house, And said, O sir, we came indeed down at the first time to buy food: And it came to pass, when we came to the inn, that we opened our sacks, and, behold, every man’s money was in the mouth of his sack, our money in full weight: and we have brought it again in our hand. And other money have we brought down in our hands to buy food: we cannot tell who put our money in our sacks.

Genesis 43:19-22

This took care of two of their problems at once: They were not in trouble over the money, and they got Simeon back.

And he said, Peace be to you, fear not: your God, and the God of your father, hath given you treasure in your sacks: I had your money. And he brought Simeon out unto them.

Genesis 43:23

The dream which was part of the beginning of all Joseph’s troubles was now fulfilled:

And they answered, Thy servant our father is in good health, he is yet alive. And they bowed down their heads, and made obeisance.

Genesis 43:38

The brothers still had one problem left, but God’s grace took care of that one, because “the Egyptian ruler” took a mysterious liking to Benjamin.

And he took and sent messes unto them from before him: but Benjamin’s mess was five times so much as any of theirs. And they drank, and were merry with him.

Genesis 43:34

It must have also seemed exceedingly strange to the brothers that the Egyptians had them seated according to their birth order. How could they have known that?

The events in Genesis 44 take place about 22 years after the brothers had thrown Joseph into a pit, sold him into slavery, lied to their father, and “got away with it.” Now they thought that their problems had been solved. They were on their way home with Benjamin, Simeon, and the corn: mission accomplished. Joy over hidden sin (and the idea of “getting away with it”) might produce a type of relief, but it is a false relief – a false joy. Joseph’s brothers were shocked when they were overtaken on the way home by Joseph’s steward.

And he searched, and began at the eldest, and left at the youngest: and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack.

Genesis 44:12

The steward searched their sacks according to their birth order, which, again, must have seemed strange. The brothers had made a deal that the one who was found with the silver cup would remain in Egypt and be a servant. The tension would have been heightened as they moved toward Benjamin.

The word “found” can be “found” about seven times in Genesis 44 [Verses 8; 9; 10; 12; 16 (twice); and 17]. There is also the expression “come upon” in Verse 34. The brothers’ sin was being “found out.”

The word “father” is mentioned about 17 times in Genesis 44 [Verses 17; 19; 20 (x 2); 22 (x 3); 24; 25; 27; 30; 31; 32 (x 2); 34 (x 2)]. Sin was being “found out” and the “Father’s” judgment was coming upon it.

And put my cup, the silver cup, in the sack’s mouth of the youngest, and his corn money. And he did according to the word that Joseph had spoken.

Genesis 44:2, emphasis added

And Judah said, What shall we say unto my lord? what shall we speak? or how shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants: behold, we are my lord’s servants, both we, and he also with whom the cup is found.

Genesis 44:16, emphasis added

In Scripture the “cup” is often the image of God’s wrath.

Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?

John 18:11, emphasis added

You do not want to be caught with the cup of God’s wrath in your sack when Jesus comes back.

And Judah and his brethren came to Joseph’s house; for he was yet there: and they fell before him on the ground.

Genesis 44:14

Notice that Judah appears to have taken the position of leadership. Also, Joseph’s dream has now been fulfilled again. They all bow.

Judah’s speech in Genesis 44:18-34 is very interesting. Judah may have been divinely inspired to appeal to the Egyptian (Joseph), using Judah’s own father (Jacob), without knowing he was talking to a man who also called Jacob “Father.” Notice “thy servant my father” in 44:24; 27; 30. Now came the fulfillment of Joseph’s second dream where Jacob also bowed before Joseph. Through this speech – this impassioned plea – Joseph realized Judah had changed.

The Recognition Admonition

February 11, 2011 at 10:29 am | Posted in Genesis | 5 Comments
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Lord, help us to be forgetful of ourselves and focused on others. Help us also to be focused on Your glory. Help us to be looking for opportunities to give You glory and to praise Your Name. Just as Joseph wanted to introduce his brothers to the king of Egypt, I pray that You will show us ways we can bring our brothers and sisters closer to You, our King. In Jesus Christ’s Name, Amen.

And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us. And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required. And they knew not that Joseph understood them; for he spake unto them by an interpreter.

Genesis 42:21-23

Joseph’s brothers left Simeon in Egypt and went back home to break the news to Jacob. They also had to tell him that they needed to take Benjamin to Egypt. They were also alarmed that the money they left with the Egyptian’s (Joseph’s) steward had been discovered back in their own sacks.

You may notice that Joseph’s request was kind of suspicious. From the brothers’ point of view, how would this Egyptian even know that the person they brought back was really their little brother?

We see in Jacob’s unwillingness to send Benjamin, and in his fear that “something might befall him” on the way, the consequences of sin. The sin of Joseph’s brothers was not just affecting them; it was affecting the whole family and all their people. My sin doesn’t just hurt me. It hurts my wife, my children, my fellow church members, the people to whom I’ve witnessed. Sin hurts the sinner, and it hurts others, too.

Joseph began to set up a series of trials and surprises all designed to do two things:

1. To make sure, having understood his boyhood dream to be a command from God as well as a vision, that he was doing his part to make the vision come to pass.

2. To make sure that his brothers were repentant over what they had done – so that true reconciliation could be possible.

Here is an excellent piece of advice from Joseph that we would do well to heed today: “This do, and live; for I fear God.” Those who fear God do not live in fear. They live in safety, knowing that reverence for God brings life. Joseph also teaches us to plan for reconciliation with those who have hurt us. Acknowledge the source of the problems we have with others. Consider what resources God has given you since the time of the conflict you had with someone else, to see if those resources may be used to resolve the conflict. Consider how you have grown and changed since the beginning of the conflict. The person you had the conflict with might not recognize you any more.

“Recognition” is a recurring theme in the story of Joseph. His brothers recognized him from afar in Genesis Chapter 37. Since they recognized him, they had time to plot against him. The brothers asked Jacob if he “recognized” Joseph’s coat. We see the theme in a different context in Genesis 38. Tamar asked Judah if he recognized his personal possessions. There is an advantage when you recognize something that someone else doesn’t. Haggai 1:5 says “consider your ways,” and Proverbs stresses the importance of recognizing where you will end up if you take a certain path. When Genesis says somebody saw somebody from afar, remember the principle of recognizing the Lord and turning from our ways to His ways before we take action.

Jesus and Joseph and Their Brethren

January 17, 2011 at 11:42 am | Posted in Genesis | 3 Comments
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When Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, first there was weeping, then there was some shame, and some fear, but look at the response of Joseph:

Come near to me, I pray you…

Genesis 45:4

Not only should we want to spend time with Jesus, but we should be thrilled to find out that He wants to spend time with us.

The Book of Genesis ends with the story of Joseph, but it begins with the story of Adam. Throughout the Bible, we find that God, for some reason, wants to spend time with men.

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

Genesis 3:8-9

“Where are you Adam? I want to talk to you!”

“But I’m a bad person, God!”

“Adam, I want to walk with you in the cool of the day!”

“I’m afraid of you, God!”

“Adam, I want to spend time with you.”

“I’m not the only one who messed up, God, go find Eve and bother her!”

“Adam, I want to communicate with you.”

“I don’t want to admit I did wrong, God!”

God didn’t call out “where are you Adam?” because Adam was the all time champion of hide and seek and could actually conceal himself from God. God called out because He wanted love freely given, obedience, worship. What if Adam had come running, begging for forgiveness?

Joseph told his brothers “come near to me, I pray you,” and he made himself known to them. “I am Joseph whom you have wronged.” (Genesis 45:4) Jesus wants us to remember, every single day, that He’s the One who was sent by God to preserve our lives.

Once Jesus has made Himself known to us, He will begin to reveal the blessings He has in store for us.

And thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shalt be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children’s children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast:

Genesis 45:10.

The Lord wants us to relocate permanently to the land of blessings – not just pay Him a visit once in a while.

And ye shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that ye have seen; and ye shall haste and bring down my father hither.

Genesis 45:13

When Jesus has revealed Himself to you, go tell others – your family and friends – and bring them back with you. God does not have a limit on His attention. When He reveals Himself to you, He wants you to bring others into communication with Him also. The revelation of Jesus to His brothers will cause His brothers to want to relocate, to want to bring others with them, and to communicate better with Him.

Moreover he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them: and after that his brethren talked with him.

Genesis 45:15, emphasis added

They had a lot of catching up to do. You can talk to God anywhere, but how can you get God to speak to you? Read the Bible. It is a more sure word of prophecy.

We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

II Peter 1:19-21

There are really only two good times to read your Bible – day time and night time. Not only can the Holy Spirit teach you out of the Scriptures, but God can speak to you directly while you’re reading and studying and meditating on His Word.

Look at the effect of Joseph making himself known to his father through his brethren:

And they went up out of Egypt, and came into the land of Canaan unto Jacob their father, And told him, saying, Joseph is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt. And Jacob’s heart fainted, for he believed them not. And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them: and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived: And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.

Genesis 45:25-28

Jacob revived. He came back to life with new motivation. Just as Jacob was motivated by finding out Joseph was alive, we should be motivated because we serve a living God, a living Savior.

I serve a risen Savior,
He’s in the world today;
I know that he is living,
whatever men may say;

“He Lives,” Alfred H. Ackley

Jacob was motivated because Joseph was “governor over all the land of Egypt.” We should be motivated because our Brother is the Maker of Heaven and Earth and everything in them.

Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

II Corinthians 5:9-10

Believers will be judged for the good works we’ve done for God. This judgment will not determine our eternal destination. They only way to Heaven is by grace through faith, not of works. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Jesus will reward His brothers.

Jacob was motivated because he knew he was going to die.

And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.

Genesis 45:28

Jacob said it is “enough” that my son is alive, but he didn’t really mean it. He wanted to see him, too. And he was conscious that he had a limited time to do it. I believe Jacob lived to be 147, and he was about 130 when he found out Joseph was really alive. He had had 17 years to enjoy Joseph and his grandchildren. You and I probably won’t make it to 147, and, unless the Lord comes back, we are all going to die. The death rate has been remarkably consistent over the centuries. It’s always been about “one per person.”

Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.

II Corinthians 5:11

As Christians, our Brother will not be the Brother of those who have rejected Him. This should motivate us. If you have been born once, then you have to die at least once. But you can be born a second time, and you don’t have to die twice. Time is short. God’s Spirit will not strive with you forever. Maybe the the Holy Spirit is speaking to you now. Will you believe that He’s on your side and that Jesus wants to save you?

That’s Good. No, that’s Bad.

December 22, 2010 at 10:47 am | Posted in Genesis | 11 Comments
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Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren.

Genesis 45:1

Opinions are a lot like armpits. Everybody has them, and most of them smell pretty bad. Scripture, however, is where we find God’s opinion. I like to hear the opinions of people who have the same opinion as God. God is always right. If I want to be right I must agree with God. God’s opinion of reading and studying my Bible? It’s the right thing to do. God’s opinion on shoplifting? It’s wrong. God’s opinion on praying? It’s right. God’s opinion on fornicating? It’s wrong. God’s opinion on worshiping God every day and giving Him praise? It’s right.

I used to have a children’s book that I can’t remember the name of, but its premise was, “that’s good – no, that’s bad.” It went something like this: “My mom got me some ice cream.”

“That’s good.”

“No, that’s bad… because it melted on my favorite shirt.”

“That’s bad.”

“No, that’s good, because I got a brand new shirt…” And so on.

This can help us review the life of Joseph.

As a teenaged child Joseph’s father, Jacob, gives him a beautiful coat – that’s good.

No, that’s bad, because it makes his brothers insanely jealous, and they start to plot against him – that’s bad.

No, that’s good, because his brother Reuben intervenes, and talks the other brothers out of killing him – that’s good.

No, that’s bad, because they sell him into slavery instead – that’s bad.

No, that’s good, because he winds up in Egypt, where he gets put in charge of Potiphar’s household – that’s good.

No, that’s bad, because Potiphar’s wife starts lusting after him, and tries to seduce him – that’s bad.

No, that’s good, because Joseph doesn’t give in to temptation, and he resists her advances – that’s good.

No, that’s bad, because she gets mad and falsely accuses him of trying to rape her, and gets him thrown into prison – that’s bad.

No, that’s good, because Joseph is still faithful in jail, and winds up with Pharaoh’s personal assistant owing him a big favor – that’s good.

No, that’s bad, because the king’s cupbearer completely forgets about Joseph when he is vindicated – that’s bad.

No, that’s good, because Joseph gets a chance to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams – that’s good.

No, that’s bad, because the dreams forecast a great famine coming to Egypt – that’s bad.

No, that’s good, because God has given Joseph the solution of being a good steward of the harvests, and Pharaoh trusts him with the job.

Therefore, Joseph is in a position to save not only his family, but also his entire race.

Since we’ve been studying Joseph as an Old Testament type of Jesus, when we get to Genesis 45 we can also see Joseph’s brethren as type of New Testament Christians.

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

Romans 8:14-17

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

Proverbs 18:24

If you are a Christian, the Lord Jesus is not only your Savior, Redeemer, Master, and Friend. He is also your Brother.

Let’s look at how Joseph revealed himself to his brothers. He cried, “Cause every man to go out from me.”

Has there been a time when Jesus wanted to talk to you alone? I hope there has. I hope you pray every day. We should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, but don’t let church time be the only time you pray. Praying in public is good and right, but public prayer should by no means be our main time of prayer.

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

Matthew 6:5-6

Human beings develop friendships by talking – by communicating with each other. When the communication stops, the relationship suffers. How much more should we communicate every day with our Best Friend, Jesus Christ!

“And there stood no man with him.” No man stood with Jesus on the cross, no man came and took His part, no man argued for Him to be released. There will be times when you stand with Jesus – when you stand up for Jesus – that no man will stand with you. But you are not alone.

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

Hebrews 13:5-6

“Joseph made himself known unto his brethren.”

In Scripture the “brethren” are born-again believers in the family of God, brothers and sisters in Christ. Hasn’t Jesus already made Himself “known” to us? He has, but we need to spend time with Him and get to know Him better. We have a tendency to act like who we hang around. If I spend time with Jesus, I’ll start to act like Him. Reading my Bible, praying, and ministering to others in His Name are all ways to get to know Him better.

Jospeh’s brethren, like Jesus’s brethren, had an emotional encounter when he made himself known to them.

First, there was weeping (Genesis 45:2). When we begin to inquire of the Lord, and He makes known to us how we have treated Him, will we find Him weeping? The Bible says that we can grieve the Spirit of God.

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Ephesians 4:30

That should motivate us to spend time with the Lord every day – and to obey His Spirit – not to grieve Him.

Joseph’s brothers were troubled at his presence (Genesis 45:3). Why were they troubled? Were they ashamed? Afraid? Probably both. Are you troubled at the presence of your Brother, the Lord Jesus?

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