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.

Beware of Fabrics, Frolicking, and Friends

October 18, 2010 at 9:36 am | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Biblical friendship, Genesis | 7 Comments
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Joseph was sold into slavery at about age 17. He reached the throne of Egypt at around 30. The narrative account of Joseph is put on hold for a little while in Genesis Chapter 38.

Garments or raiment or clothes or coats are a big deal in Genesis. Judah was deceived by his daughter-in-law Tamar while he was at Timnath for sheep-shearing. Getting fleece for garments, he was deceived by a garment. Isaac had been deceived by a garment when Jacob dressed up like Esau. Jacob was deceived by a garment at least once (Joseph’s torn coat), and maybe twice (his first wedding night). There is often a discernible symmetry when God applies his principle of reaping and sowing. God Law says that our coverings should be distinct, and He is the only One Who is never truly fooled by outward garments, which He establishes early on in the account of Adam and Eve (fig leaves versus animal skins).

Genesis 38 also gives us the account of the infamous “sin of Onan.”

And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, whose name was Tamar. And Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD slew him.

Genesis 38:6-7

This brought into play what is called the “levirate” (Latin for brother-in-law) marriage. The sin of Onan is difficult to discuss in mixed company, although the text makes it plain enough. When people who are supposed to be spiritual and faithful to God get involved with the world, the result is often some kind of sexual sin.

And it came to pass at that time, that Judah went down from his brethren, and turned in to a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah.

Genesis 38:1

“Turned in to” is a helpful play on words. The Hebrew word for “turned” is natah. It means more than just to change directions; it means “to incline to;” “to bend to the will;” “to pervert.” Judah “turned in to (into) a certain Adullamite.”

“Hirah” meant “a nobleman” of the Canannites.

And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite, whose name was Shuah; and he took her, and went in unto her.

Genesis 38:2

“Shuah” meant “wealth.”

And she conceived, and bare a son; and he called his name Er.

Genesis 38:3

“Er” meant “awake.”

And she conceived again, and bare a son; and she called his name Onan.

Genesis 38:4

“Onan” meant “strong.”

And she yet again conceived, and bare a son; and called his name Shelah [a petition]: and he was at Chezib [false], when she bare him.

Genesis 38:5, bracketed descriptions added

Judah’s family was getting more and more worldly as he looked for wealth and strength and influence and deception.

God killed Er because He did evil in the sight of the Lord. He was “awake” – aware of what he was doing and he did it openly. All evil is done in the sight of the Lord. He sees everything, but some people take special pleasure in wickedly defying Him.

Judah ended up being deceived by his daughter-in-law, Tamar, thinking she was a harlot – a prostitute. He tried to buy his way out of it when she got pregnant, and his sin was ultimately exposed.

Tamar delivered twins, and they struggled in their birth the way Jacob and Esau did. The baby with the scarlet thread came out second.

I just want to make one other point before we move on to Genesis Chapter 39 next time.

And in process of time the daughter of Shuah Judah’s wife died; and Judah was comforted, and went up unto his sheepshearers to Timnath, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite.

Genesis 38:12, emphasis added

And Judah sent the kid by the hand of his friend the Adullamite, to receive his pledge from the woman’s hand: but he found her not.

Genesis 38:20, emphasis added

And Amnon was so vexed, that he fell sick for his sister Tamar; for she was a virgin; and Amnon thought it hard for him to do any thing to her. But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David’s brother: and Jonadab was a very subtil man. And he said unto him, Why art thou, being the king’s son, lean from day to day? wilt thou not tell me? And Amnon said unto him, I love Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.

II Samuel 13:2-4, emphasis added

Choose your friends carefully.

He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

Proverbs 13:20


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