The Redeemer Is Prophesied

June 6, 2011 at 11:01 am | Posted in Bible Studies, Genesis | 24 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)

Nominative Repetition: Warning and Comfort

April 8, 2011 at 9:07 am | Posted in Genesis | 5 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 | 6 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 | 4 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 Biblical friendship, Genesis | 12 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?

The First Interpreter

November 30, 2010 at 9:58 am | Posted in Genesis | 9 Comments
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In Genesis’s account of the adventures of Joseph, we see yet another Biblical “first.” In Genesis Chapter 40, Joseph, the “dream expert” (Genesis 37:19) is in prison. The Pharaoh’s chief butler and chief baker happen to be imprisoned with him. They have some very odd dreams, and Joseph, realizing that God can help him, agrees to interpret their dreams. Thereby he becomes the first “interpreter” in the Bible.

An interpreter is a person who translates messages between people among whom there is some barrier to communication.

And they said unto him, We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it. And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to God? tell me them, I pray you.

Genesis 40:8

Of all the ways that Joseph reminds us of a type of Christ, here is one of the most poignant. For we, like the baker and the butler, were at one time separated from our King, and trapped in a prison of sin. We dreamed of ways to make peace with God. But our sinful condition kept Him from coming into forgiving fellowship with us. Then came a Man who could speak to both parties: King and prisoner; God and man. His name was similar to “Joseph,” but we know Him as Jesus. He was the only One Who could truly interpret our dreams of escaping prison. He brought the Good News from His King to us, and took our responsive message of repentance, and our cries for rescue, back to the King.

The word “interpreter” shows up again in the book of Job. Elihu is attempting to explain to Job the way God sometimes deals with those whose sins are bringing them into an eternal spiritual prison.

Yea, his soul draweth near unto the grave, and his life to the destroyers. If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to shew unto man his uprightness: Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom.

Job 33:22-24

What a beautiful picture of Christ the Interpreter! Among all the angels of Heaven, One greater than an angel comes forward, One Who is unlike all the rest (“one among a thousand”). By His grace He imputes righteousness to lost sinners bound for the pit, offering Himself as their ransom.

Don’t Get Too Attached to Your Coat

November 1, 2010 at 10:30 am | Posted in Genesis | 8 Comments
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What was so special about Joseph?

And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.

Genesis 39:2, emphasis added

It’s not just that the Lord was all Joseph wanted. It’s not even that the Lord was all Joseph needed. The Lord was all Joseph had. We would all be better off if we realized the same truth. Joseph was a success and hero, but the real cause of it was that he trusted the Lord and wanted to honor the Lord.

It may have looked from a worldly point of view like Joseph was blessed to have Egypt, but from a Heavenly point of view Egypt was blessed to have Joseph. Remember the promise of God’s covenant. He would bless those that blessed Israel.

And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the LORD was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field.

Genesis 39:5

Joseph believed the covenant promise. To an Egyptian culture with 2000 gods that seemed to be fixated with death in its worship, Joseph must have seemed like a breath of fresh air as he emphasized life.

Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.

Proverbs 22:29

Joseph was diligent and hardworking, so God allowed him to work for the top men in Egypt. There is a principle for today in this lesson: If I am a lazy worker, I will probably wind up working for a bad boss. Both Jacob and Joseph had inherited their blessings from rich fathers, but God worked it out so they had to work hard and depend on Him.

And he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured.

Genesis 39:6

It appears that God made Joseph physically attractive, and, while this is often an advantage in life, it was a cause of trouble for Joseph. Potiphar’s wife lusted after him. Joseph glorified God by rejecting her advances.

There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?

Genesis 39:9

Joseph could envision the consequences of sin, but the only thing that kept him from falling into sin was that he knew Who sin was against.

And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.

Genesis 39:12, emphasis added

Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

II Timothy 2:22, emphasis added

This was the second time in Joseph’s life he had lost his coat, but he was clothed in Christ.

And it came to pass after these things, that the butler of the king of Egypt and his baker had offended their lord the king of Egypt. And Pharaoh was wroth against two of his officers, against the chief of the butlers, and against the chief of the bakers. And he put them in ward in the house of the captain of the guard, into the prison, the place where Joseph was bound. And the captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he served them: and they continued a season in ward. And they dreamed a dream both of them, each man his dream in one night, each man according to the interpretation of his dream, the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt, which were bound in the prison. And Joseph came in unto them in the morning, and looked upon them, and, behold, they were sad. And he asked Pharaoh’s officers that were with him in the ward of his lord’s house, saying, Wherefore look ye so sadly to day? And they said unto him, We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it. And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to God? tell me them, I pray you.

Genesis 40:1-8

Joseph focused on others – and gave the glory to God.

Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thine head, and restore thee unto thy place: and thou shalt deliver Pharaoh’s cup into his hand, after the former manner when thou wast his butler.

Genesis 40:13

Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him.

Genesis 40:23

Should we be surprised the butler forgot Joseph?

Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish. Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God: Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever:

Psalm 146:3-6

When Pharaoh had his dreams, then the butler remembered Joseph.

Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh.

Genesis 41:14

Joseph dressed up for his appointment with Pharaoh. It is important to take care about our appearance, because that is how we are often judged by others.

Joseph lost his coat for the third time. He had been given a coat by his earthly father, and now his Heavenly Father gives him a coat through Pharaoh.

And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck;

Genesis 41:42

Joseph was given an Egyptian name.

And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphnathpaaneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt.

Genesis 41:45

Joseph’s Egyptian name spoke of the abundance of life and the Sustainer of life. It pointed to the type of person who enjoys life and lives it with a purpose – who brings life to others. Joseph got a gentile wife, which is a kind of picture of Christ marrying a gentile bride after His rejection by the Jews.

Here is another similarity between Joseph and Jesus:

And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do.

Genesis 41:55, emphasis added

And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.

John 2:3-5, emphasis added

When your provision runs out, look to Jesus, and whatever HE says: DO IT.

And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph’s brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.

Genesis 42:6

Joseph provided bread to the nations; Jesus Christ provided the Bread of Life.

For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.

John 6:33

Jacob’s family had multiplied – often in immorality. Now God showed that He was still in control. It’s great to have a big family – except in a famine!

But Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said, Lest peradventure mischief befall him. And the sons of Israel came to buy corn among those that came: for the famine was in the land of Canaan. And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph’s brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.

Genesis 42:4-6

This incident almost fulfilled the prophecy of Joseph’s dream, but one brother was missing. That fact may explain much of Joseph’s thinking in how he dealt with his brothers from that point forward. He knew that all the brothers – and Jacob – needed to bow before him. He also knew that the brothers needed to repent because, for all he knew, they could still hate him.

And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them, but made himself strange unto them, and spake roughly unto them; and he said unto them, Whence come ye? And they said, From the land of Canaan to buy food.

Genesis 42:7, emphasis added

The incident reminds us of the two disciples who encountered the resurrected Jesus on the road to Emmaus.

And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.

Luke 24:15-16

Even before Joseph’s brothers recognized him, they started to feel conviction.

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

The Best Representative of a Generation

September 9, 2010 at 10:19 am | Posted in Genesis | 4 Comments
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The birth of Benjamin brought rejoicing and sorrow. His mother, Rachel, died right after giving birth. The incident was later invoked as a time of sorrow when Herod killed the babies in Bethlehem near Rachel’s burial place at the time of Jesus’s birth. Famous Benjaminites in the Bible include Saul, the first earthly king of Israel, and Saul of Tarsus who became the Apostle Paul after his conversion.

Back in Genesis 35, Reuben – the mandrake-gatherer – takes up with one of his father’s concubines. This was a way of challenging Jacob as head of the household.

Chapter 36 contains the genealogies of the descendants of Esau. Esau’s family was much bigger than Jacob’s family, but this is pretty much the last you hear of Esau in the Bible. There are numerous references to the Edomites and the Amalekites, but they are usually negative. Jacob is mentioned around 2500 times in the Bible. Esau is only mentioned around 150-200 times.

These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report.

Genesis 37:2

This is a new “generations” (“toledoth) statement. Jacob is the head of the family and of God’s people now. But the narrative focuses on Joseph.

The story of Joseph is very detailed, and, for many people, very familiar. Joseph is a picture of Christ. Many times the New Testament clarifies the Old Testament.

But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt, Till another king arose, which knew not Joseph. The same dealt subtilly with our kindred, and evil entreated our fathers, so that they cast out their young children, to the end they might not live. In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding fair, and nourished up in his father’s house three months:

Acts 7:17-20

This is part of Stephen’s sermon, and he is highlighting the fact that God used Joseph to save His people, and that Joseph was instrumental in getting them into Egypt until the time of Moses.

By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.

Hebrews 11:22

Of all the faith of Joseph, the one testimony to his faith mentioned in the New Testament is his faith in looking ahead to the Messiah.

Here are some comparisons between Jesus and Joseph:
1. Both were the beloved of their fathers.
2. Both were obedient to their fathers’ wills.
3. Both were hated and rejected by their brethren.
4. Both were betrayed into bondage.
5. Both were falsely accused
6. Both were unjustly punished.
7. Both were elevated from suffering to a throne.
8. Both saved their people.

But, in all of these, Christ was a “greater-than” Joseph.

The Name Game

July 15, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Posted in Genesis | 9 Comments
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Laban had two daughters: Rachel was the youngest; Leah was the other one. It appears that Rachel was more physically attractive. Jacob agreed to work seven years for Laban in exchange for the right to marry Rachel. But Laban was trickier than Jacob.

However, the seven years seemed to pass very quickly for Jacob.

And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.

Genesis 29:20

On the wedding night Jacob got tricked in way reminiscent of the way Isaac got tricked – but worse. Jacob couldn’t even rely on his senses.

And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast.

Genesis 29:22

The word for “feast” here probably means an eating and drinking party.

And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me?

Genesis 29:25

The Bible records Jacob walking with a limp from his wrestling encounter with the Lord or the Angel of the Lord, but if he reacted that way with Leah, he might have wound up with a limp anyway! In the 18th and 19th Centuries there was a ribald expression about going to bed with a Rachel and waking up with a Leah.

In any event, Jacob ended up serving another seven years for Laban in exchange for Rachel. That makes fourteen years working for Laban (minus two weeks off) and two wives – who were not too happy with each other! You can see from the names which the wives gave their children that Jacob the supplanter turned into Jacob the struggler. He just becomes kind of a pawn – kind of a man-toy in this power struggle where Rachel wants sons, and Leah wants Jacob to really love her and thinks having sons is the way to get that.

And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren.

Genesis 29:31

Hatred sounds harsh – but if you don’t love your wife, the fact is, you hate her. Hating your wife is bad, but there is a worse degree than hatred – indifference. Say what you will about Jacob, but he was not indifferent. Leah had six sons and one daughter. Jacob had twelve sons altogether: They were the progenitors of the twelve tribes of Israel.

The name “Reuben” meant “see, a son.” At Christ’s birth and at His baptism, God announced: “Behold, My Son.”

The name “Simeon” meant “one who hears.” God heard Leah’s prayer, and God would one day tell people to hear His Son. “Faith cometh by hearing.”

The name “Levi” meant “attached.” Levi was the priestly tribe. Jesus called disciples to attach themselves to Him.

The name “Judah” meant “praise.” Judah was the tribe of David and of Jesus. As Jesus ministered on earth, many rejected Him, but some began to praise Him.

Leah got to be the mother of the priestly tribe (Levi) and the kingly tribe (Judah). Christ is both Priest and King.

The name “Issachar” meant “reward” or “wages.” Christians have earned the wages of sin which are death, but we have received the undeserved reward of eternal life by grace through faith in Christ.

The name “Zebulun” meant “honor.” Christ was honored and exalted by God at His Ascension.

And Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest, and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them unto his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, Give me, I pray thee, of thy son’s mandrakes.

Genesis 30:14

The nickname for mandrakes was “love apples.” Later, Reuben, the collector of mandrakes, would sleep with Bilhah (Genesis 35:22) and lose his birthright.

Bickering and bargaining characterized Jacob’s household. His attitude seemed to be one of patient submission.

Rachel had a son through Bilhah named Dan. The name “Dan” meant “judgment.”

The name “Naphtali” meant “struggle.”

Leah, through Zilpah, had Gad. The name “Gad” meant “good fortune has come” or “a troop.”

The name “Asher” meant “blessed.”

You can see the constant “one-upswomamanship” in this naming contest. Finally, Rachel has Joseph, whose name meant both “to add” and “to take away.” She would have one more son, first named “Benoni” (son of sorrow) then later “Benjamin,” which meant “son of my right hand.” Rachel died giving birth to him.

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