Thursday, December 13, 2018

Ch. 43~ Joseph shares his faith.

I have to say I am admiring Joseph the more I read about him.  At first, I thought he was arrogant when he was young, flaunting his dreams to his brothers.  Then, I thought he was a victim of circumstances, first being sold to slavery and then being thrown in prison.  I thought God was blessing him in everything he did, just so that God could accomplish his divine plan of bringing Israel to Egypt.

Now, however, like I mentioned the other day, I believe Joseph fully believed in the God of his father and shared stories of the one true God (Yahweh) with everyone close to him.  I mentioned the other day how I believe he shared Yahweh with his pagan wife in ch. 41.  Today we have another example~ Joseph shared Yahweh with his steward!  We know that by what the steward said, “Don’t be afraid. Your God, the God of your father, has given you treasure in your sacks.” (43:23)

Again, even though Joseph is in a pagan culture, he is not afraid  to share Yahweh with everyone he knows. I imagine he told stories about his dad’s experience with Yahweh.  I bet the steward knows the story of Joseph’s dad wrestling with the angel and walking away with a limp (ch. 32).

I admire Joseph because he did not hide what he knew to be true.  He was not ashamed of being from a shepherd family who worshipped the one true God.  This reminds me of what Jesus said, “Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” (Luke 9:26)  Joseph wasn’t ashamed of God.  It makes sense then that God wasn’t ashamed of him and so he blessed him in all he did and therefore used him to accomplish his divine plan (39:3, 21& 41:38)!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Ch. 42~Go for healing sooner than later!

Boy, this family! The deception continues! Jacob (the deceiver) is deceived by his sons regarding the disappearance of Joseph (ch 37) and now Joseph is deceiving his brothers!  It’s true in this case, ‘what goes around comes around’! 

Now these brothers…I’m trying to keep their stories straight.  I need a quick review:
  • Reuben (1st born) sleeps with his dad’s concubine (35:22), yet tries to save Joseph from being killed by his bothers and now is willing to sacrifice his own boys as a pledge to keep Benjamin safe. (42:37)
  • Simon (2nd born) and Levi (3rd born) were the two who killed every male in Shechem and they felt righteous about it! (34:31)  It’s Simon who Joseph chooses to keep in Egypt while his brothers go back home (42:24).
  • Judah (4th born) moved away from his family, had three sons, two who died and then he had twins with his daughter-in-law.  He must have moved back home recently, maybe due to the famine.
  • We don’t hear much about Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Naphtali, Gad and Asher, other than they were all shepherds (37:12), who followed the lead of their older brothers (34:27 & 37:28).

Even with all their faults, these brothers knew truth and grieved over their sin. Look what their first thought was when they find themselves in this terrible situation: “Surely we are being punished because of our brother.” (42:21).  
22 years of guilt!!  That’s proof to me that ‘time does not heal all wounds’.  

BTW, Here is how I got 22 years:
Joe was 17 at the time of being sold into slavery (37:2)
He entered the service of the king at 30 years old (41:46)
There had been 7 years of good harvest and 2 years of famine have taken place already (45:6).
30-17 (=13)+ 9=22 🤓

That is a good take away from this chapter! Sin needs to be confessed and dealt with in order to heal! Like James says, “Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed.” (5:16)  We can learn from these brothers; don’t be like them! Rather, confess early! There is no reason to carry guilt around for 22 years!!  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)


Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Ch. 41~ Keep teaching your kids truth regardless of the culture.

My mouth dropped when I read “Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah and gave him Asenath, daughter of Potiphera” (41:45)
Then I closed my mouth when I realized it was Potiphera not Potiphar~ two different guys. 
So, who was Potiphera the priest of On?  Well, On was a city known for worshipping the sun.  Therefore it is assumed that Potiphera was a priest of the sun.  

Pharaoh reminds me of people today who don’t have a clue about spiritual matters.  They tend to clump ‘spiritual people’ together, regardless of what is being worshiped. 
Jacob reminds Pharaoh, there is one true God, “I cannot do it (interpret the dream), but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.” (41:16)  Pharaoh sees that Jacob is wise and even says, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?” (41:38), But then, Joseph’s devotion to God gets muddled in Pharaoh’s mind with other spiritual people he knows.  It’s like he’s thinking, “Hey, Joe is spiritual, I’ll give him the daughter of another spiritual guy I know! He would like that! Spiritual people like to hang out together!” Also, priests in the Egyptian culture back then were the highest, most privileged class according to one commentary I read, so the marriage also raised Joseph to a prestigious position in addition to all that Pharaoh gave him.  Regardless, Joseph, the slave, didn’t have much of a say as to who he would accept as a wife, right?  Spiritual or not, you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth!  

So even though Joe’s new wife was from a pagan worshipping family, I am confident that Joe told his new bride, Asenath, all the stories of his youth; all the stories of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  And I am sure she put her trust in the one true God as she saw the dreams that Jacob interpreted come to pass. I would also imagine that Jacob circumcised his two baby boys, and she went along with that as well.  After all, her sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, become two of the twelve tribes of Israel!  Remember, there is no tribe of “Joseph”.  So if those two boys became the forefathers of Israel, you can bet they learned more about the true living God than about worshipping the sun!  

Good job, Daddy Joe for teaching your boys about the true God even though they were surrounded with a pagan culture!! That’s a good take away from today’s reading, don’t you think!  Dads have a huge influence on their kids spiritual life!!

Monday, December 10, 2018

Ch. 40~ A little kindness can go a long way!

Hey, did you notice who assigned Joseph to attend to the cupbearer and baker?!  It was “the captain of the guard”! (40:4)  That means it was Potiphar!  I assumed it was the prison warden who “paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care” (39:23), that had put Joseph in charge of the other prisoners, but it wasn’t!

That means Potiphar, who at first “burned with anger” when he thought Joseph went for his wife, still kept tabs on Joseph.  He was still aware that Joseph had success in everything he did.  Perhaps Potiphar still trusted Joseph enough to keep his eye on the two men, Pharaoh (the king), did not trust.  

Potiphar may have been mad at first with Joseph, but he wasn’t stupid!  He recognized that the Lord was with Joseph (39:3).  He couldn’t let Joseph out of prison, that wouldn’t look good for the honor of his wife, but he could make the best of a bad situation for Joseph.  I’m just speculating, but, it is interesting, don’t you think, that it was Potiphar himself, not the warden, was who put Joseph in charge of Pharaoh’s jailed officials?!

Another speculation on my part is that this kind act may have saved Potiphar’s position and power in his near future. After all, in a few short years Joseph is then in power over Potiphar! I bet Potiphar’s wife was shaking in her boots when that appointment happened!! (But, I’m getting ahead of myself; that’s a thought to ponder for tomorrow’s reading!)

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Ch. 39~ Attitude is a choice.

Annually, I give a presentation to the 5th and 6th grades at a small Christian school, where all my kids attended.  I am the nurse who comes to talk to them about how their bodies will be changing in the next few years.  In the past I have also visited the junior high students, but for their talk, I kick it up a notch with discussions of STD’s and unplanned pregnancies that can occur in sex outside of marriage.  In the course of the talk we discuss how to “practice” ways of getting out of compromising situations or how to not get into one in the first place.  

One of the very practical steps I suggest is to be like Joseph (mind you this is a Christian school, so they know the story and nod with understanding).  “If you find yourself in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable or you just know you shouldn’t be there…!!  It’s OK to get up and run!”  I usually use a power point when I talk with them so I am always sure to include some sort of visual.  

I truly believe that Joseph did the best thing in the predicament he found himself in and God honored it.  It’s all perspective right?  Your situation can be a blessing or a curse, depending how you chose to look at it.

Joseph could have focused on the fact that he was thrown into prison for doing the right thing and held bitter resentment toward God for his circumstances.  On the other hand, he could focus on the fact he got out of the house without compromising his integrity and praise God for his continued blessings while in prison. 

This reminds me of girls who come into the PRC with an unplanned pregnancy.  How they receive the news depends on what they choose to focus on.  They can choose to look at the immediate future in front of them and operate in fear to “get rid of the problem” or they can choose to look at the baby for what it is, a gift from God even though their current circumstances aren’t ideal.  It’s all how one chooses to look at it. 

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Ch. 38~ God loves his own.

Tamar was a Canaanite.  She was not from the people that Isaach and Rebekah wanted for Jacob.  Apparently, Jacob and Leah didn’t care as much where their children went to find spouses.  As a result, Judah’s first two sons weren’t raised in a ‘one God’ home, so they didn’t turn out so good (38:7 & 10).

But Tamar….there must have been something special about her.  Perhaps in her family there was some godly teaching and she adhered to it, or maybe when she was exposed to the God of Abraham through things she may of heard while with Er and Onan; either way, she believed it!  Judah even declared as much when he said, “She is more righteous than I.” (38:26). And, accordingly, she was “adopted” into the Jewish family tree, and raised her boys with that faith in the one true God.

Galatians 3:7 says, “Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham.”  God is the same today as he was back then.  He will bring anyone into his family that has faith in Him, through Christ.  This isn’t a new concept that was implemented after Christ.  God has been operating this way since he told Abraham he would do so.  “Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: ‘All nations will be blessed through you.’ So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.” (Gal. 3:8)

So, Tamar (a “Gentile”) was grafted into the family of faith, because she relied on her faith in the one true God.  If you keep reading the Old Testament, you would see God keeps grafting in “Gentiles” who have faith.  I love that!  It shows that God used the Jewish people as a picture of how he loves “his own” and anybody can be one of “his own” through faith in Jesus!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Genesis 37~ Something good's coming!

Boy!  When you consider the deceiving Jacob did in his youth, he sure is getting a taste of his own medicine in this chapter!  Perhaps his boys learned from example.  They deceived the deceiver!  It’s sad how some traits are passed on to the next generation even when we try to improve in an area.😣 

It was also very sad to read, “ ‘I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave.’ So his father wept for him.” (37:35) Just as I was feeling the heaviness of that, I got excited for what I knew was going to happen when I read, “the Mediates sold Joseph in Egypt!”  I literally thought what Jimmy Cricket says in Disney’s Peter Pan ride, “Here we gooooo!”  This story is going to get exciting, as I know what ultimately occurs from this deception! 
Spoiler alert; Joseph goes to Egypt, his family ends up there too, they all end up in slavery, and at the end of that time period (400 yrs.) the Passover is instituted, which is foreshadowing to Christ!!
So, God allowed this deception to occur to carry out his ultimate plan of bringing Christ into the world.That’s exciting! Because we are all slaves to our deceptive hearts and we need a way out!  

I’m sorry for Jacob, though.  He had to experience such grief!  Yet, if he knew how it was all going to turn out, he would be excited too because he too was waiting for something better (Hebrews 11:21)!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Genesis 36~ Oholibamah

So, I am one of those geeks who actually read each name listed in the genealogies of the Bible.  Usually I get a kick out of a name or two.  This time I had to giggle at the name Oholibamah.  I don’t know why, just did. Maybe because of all the things that rhyme with “bamah”.
Anyway, about that genealogy….Why does Moses (who is attributed with writing Genesis) go into such detail on Esau’s decedents?  One commentary says, “As Abraham’s first grandson, he deserves a place in the Jewish records”  

Sadly though, because he married “pagan” women, the genealogy also shows how the enemy nation to Israel came about.  “Esau, the father of the Edomites”, (Gen. 36:43) settled south east of the Dead Sea.  Instead of helping their blood relatives through the centuries, they were a constant source of harassment. Well….that doesn’t go well for them.  The book of Obadiah (the shortest book in the Old Testament) tells what happens to them. 😳 God speaks through his prophet and gives his final punishment on the Edomites for all their wrong doing.  The moral of that story is, don’t mess with God’s kids (that’s you and me!).  There will be punishment! 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Genesis 35~ Everybody needs to make their own choice.

So this is another weird chapter for me to process!  Why is the death of Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, recorded, but not Rebekah’s death?  And why on earth does Reuben sleep with one of his step moms?  There’s a lot for me to ponder!

I read some commentaries on these points, so I’ll try to give you the short version.
First, regarding the death of the nurse; there are several theories.  

1.) Rebekah died some time ago and her nurse, who would be loyal to Jacob, went with him on his travels instead of staying with Isaac.  This old, wise woman could have become an integral part of Jacob’s life, therefore he mourned heavily when she died.  (Allom Bakuth means Oak of Weeping.)

2.) Some think Rebekah also died at the same time as the nurse because “Oak of Weeping” is actually written in plural form indicating it was double mourning.  Theories are also given as to why the burial of Rebekah needed to remain secret.  These are speculations, so I’m not going to bother to list them.

The bottom line is that Jacob mourned heavily at the death of his mom’s nurse and named the area accordingly.

So, now for Reuben.  What was he thinking as the oldest child of the clan?  His actions remind me of what David’s third eldest son, Absalom, did 800 years later.  Absalom, on the advise of one of his father’s officials, slept with David’s concubines “in the sight of Israel” so that all Israel would “hear that you have made yourself obnoxious to your father, and everyone with you will be more resolute.” (2 Sam. 16:21)

So, it can be assumed here that Reuben did this to show he wanted to take over his dad’s position prematurely and in an “in your face” sort of way.  Well, needless to say, it doesn’t go well for him.  Jacob takes away Reuben’s blessing, that could have been his as the oldest son, and gives it to Judah (Gen 49: 3 & 8).

There are good and reasonable explanations for the things that occurred in this chapter,  and there are also practical take-aways to be learned from these people.  This family is trying their best to follow the one true God (35:4).  But notice, individual members  must choose to “go with it” and follow God loyally (like Deborah) or rebel and try to do it their own way (like Reuben).  Membership in a Christian family doesn’t make one a Christian. An individual choice needs to be made by each member.  On the day you die, you are going to leave your family either with sweet mourning or as an obnoxious memory.  The choice is yours.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Genesis 34~ God deals with sin!

As much as I would like to make Shechem a victim of “love at first sight” and think that this could have been a sweet, Hollywood type, love story~ it’s not!  Shechem would have seen that Dinah, as she was out visiting the town ladies, was not dressed as a present woman.  This was not a case of mistaken identity!  You can bet that Leah, being from a very wealthy clan, dressed her daughter to the 9’s and did not send her out alone!  So, Shechem was a spoiled man who took what he wanted without a pre-thought to the consequences that he should and would have been well aware of!  In addition, the word “rape” implies this was not a consensual act.  So, in reality, nothing is sweet about this story!

So, what is the point of the story?  Why did God want it to be included in Genesis?  Well, one point I see highlights the truth of Exodus 34:7, “He does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”  I like what one commentary says to that, “The sins of the father are punished in the children through becoming the sins of the children.”  I can attest to that!  My dad has a quick temper.  Guess what?!  I do to!! I learned that trait from him!  His sin became a sin that I need to deal with!

Back to chapter 34, obviously, Hamor and Shechem, (2 guilty parties) are punished immediately for their sin.  Yet, there are other guilty parties in this story as well!  Simeon and Levi are guilty of killing innocent people.  At first it seems like they aren’t punished for their wrong doing, but later we will read how their sin will affect their “down line”.  We will read in chapter 49 as Jacob gives his final blessing before his death, that Simeon and Levi are indeed punished.  “Cursed be their anger, so fierce, and their fury so cruel!  I will scatter them in Jacob and disperse them in Israel.” (49: 7)  And that’s exactly what happened with these two tribes!  (See Joshua 19 & 21 if you want more on that.)

God loved this Israel clan, but he still disciplines like a father would.  He disciplines those he loves (Heb. 12:6).   So, even if it looks like you got away with something, you didn’t.  God will deal with it! That is definitely a good take away from this chapter, don’t you think?!

Monday, December 3, 2018

Genesis 33~ Joyful reunions!

I went to a funeral yesterday of a young man who had one brother.  The pictures of his life that played out before us consisted of the two brothers side by side on trips, in sports and numerous family functions.

I can imagine that if there was a slide show of Esau and Jacob as young boys, it would be similar to the above family.  Even though their preferences grew to be different when they were older (25:27), they were still raised together by a mom and dad who loved them dearly.  

So, I absolutely loved reading, “But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him.  And they wept.” (33:4)  Time had worked to make Esau focus on the good times rather than the bad that had occurred between the two. Time also helped with Jacob’s heart, changing from “deceiver” (Jacob) to “contender with God” (Israel).  It seems when you get right with God, you can get right with others.

Fortunately for the two boys I mentioned earlier, they were/are both Christ followers.  I know that when those two brothers meet up again, there will be the same type of embrace and joy that Esau and Jacob had!  

Praise the Lord for that hope we have in Christ!! There will be sooooo many joyful reunions!! 

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Genesis 32~ Jacob's heart is changing.

What did you think of the first sentence of our reading today? “Jacob also went on his way, and the angels of God met him.  When Jacob saw them, he said, “This is the camp of God!  So he named the place Mahandim.” (32:1-2)

What was that? Angels in the camp?….Well, I have a theory!  I think God was giving Jacob proof he made the right decision.

We just got finished reading in the chapter before, that Laban (who owned little gods) made his oath to Jacob on the name of the God of Abraham, Nahor and Terah (31:53).  Laban had an idea of who the true God was.  It had had been passed on from his father and grandfather, but…he was getting off on his theology, as evidenced by the little gods.  

Jacob on the other hand is starting to show some clarity in his thinking.  He took his oath in the ‘name of the Fear of his father Isaac.” (31:53).  He is realizing who the true God is and how God had been with him during the difficult 20 years with Laban.

So now, Laban and Jacob are parting ways at Jerar/Galeed/Mizpah (depending who you ask).  The two had barely parted when Jacob sees the angels and calls the area Mahanaim (which means two camps).  “Two camps”.  That’s an interesting name. 

So, let’s get this picture straight.  Jacob makes his pledge to the true God, and then sees angels in his side of the two camps.  To me, this is absolute confirmation that God was pleased with Jacob’s pledge and He was present in Jacob’s side of the camp. The heart change is happening for Jacob. (Especially in light of vs. 10!)

This reminds me of the same decision the Jews needed to make after they entered the Promise land.  Joshua told the people to “throw away the foreign gods that (were) among them and yield (their) hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.” (Joshua 24:23)

Today, individually, we need to make the same choice; will we serve “gods” or the true God.  I can almost hear Jacob say, as he sees those angels (what Joshua said around 500 years after him, and what I have said personally), “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Josh 24:15)

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Genesis 31~ "God Moments"

I have told my girls, “Don’t journal sad things in your life. You don’t need help remembering those!  Journal the God moments!”  Those are worthy of remembering!! 

I think it’s our nature to remember bad times easier than the good.  Jacob clearly remembered all the bad of his past 20 years living in Paddan Aram!  “The heat consumed me in the daytime and the cold at night, and sleep fled form my eyes.  It was like this for the 20 years I was in your household.” (Gen. 31:40-41)

However, look what God said to Jacob, “I am the God of Bethel”  (31:13).  It’s like he was saying, “Remember that great time we had together.  Remember what I said?”  Twenty years later, Jacob may have forgotten that “mountain high” experience (dream) he had, but God had not.  That was a “God moment” in Jacob’s life and God himself was reminding Jacob of it!

It’s good to be reminded of those times where God “met you” in a time of crisis, sadness, happiness, ect.  Or where he clearly spoke to you through his scripture. Write those times down!  Go back and read them when you are feeling distant from God or when you are convinced he doesn’t talk to you.  Those “God moments” are real!! Satan will do everything in his power to get you to think it was just a coincidence or silly dream.  

Remember, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) That’s one of the 3573 promises in the Bible I mentioned yesterday! What a great way to resist him!  “You are a liar, Satan!  I have a book full of ‘God moments’ that I know are true.  Let me read them to you!!