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June 15/06 - Gen. 50:22-26
Even though they stayed on in Egypt, Joseph knew that one day they would return to the Promised Land. He made them promise to take his body with them. He didn't want to be left behind. Even so, our eyes should be on the future. Our work and sweat now is an investment in what God is going to do. Our work will be rewarded if we faint not.
Jacob and his family went into Egypt to save their lives. It was God's provision for them at that time. Later, it would turn into a land of bondage. We have to be careful. Even things which begin as something good can become things which trap us later.
We have now finished Genesis. It has taken awhile but I hope you have been enriched along the way. Next week we will start on the exciting book of Joshua. Joseph saw them going into the Promised Land but Joshua was the man who took them in. The battles of Canaan, in many ways, picture the spiritual battles we face. Be sure to join our new blog beginning next Tuesday.
June 14/06 - Gen. 50:15-21
Sins have long lives. Joseph's brothers now have a new fear. Maybe Joseph had only spared them to please their father. Now that Jacob was dead, maybe he would take his revenge.
So they made up a lie about their father's last words, hoping Joseph would honour them. They had totally misunderstood Joseph. They thought he would do what they probably would have done in his position. But Joseph had forgiven them a long time ago.
Verse 20 stands as a key verse in working through the bad times. There was no question that the brothers had intended to hurt Joseph, and Joseph didn't ignore or excuse that fact, but Joseph looked beyond that to see the good that God would bring out of it. Faith looks beyond the pain of our present circumstances to the good that the God Who Is In Control will work out of it. We probably won't know that that good is until later - if we did, it wouldn't need faith.
June 13/06 - Gen. 50:1-14
Joseph received Pharaoh's permission to bury Israel [Jacob] as Israel had desired. When we serve well, we can gain favour even in the eyes of heathen kings.
Not only Israel's family, but also the Egyptians mourned his death. When a great man or woman of God dies it impacts more than just the Christian community. If we have truly been salt in the world, the world will mourn our passing.
Some people wonder how, in the Exodus, Moses was able to organize and move 3 million plus people to the Red Sea before Pharaoh caught up with them. Here we have the answer. The Egyptians had to mourn their dead for a least 40 days. Moses had a minimum of a 40 day head start.
June 9/06 - Gen. 49:28-33
Historical details like this show we are dealing with actual history and not legend or myth.
Rachel and Leah had fought for a lifetime over Jacob. He had loved and pursed Rachel, but in death Leah got him.
June 8/06 - Gen. 49:27
Benjamin was to be aggressive. We need to learn the balance between being aggressive and waiting on God. We don't get things from God by sitting down and taking a "what will be, will be" attitude. We need to know where God wants us to go and then go for it - trusting He will support and guide us through it. We do need to wait on God for His timing, but we don't wait out of fear or laziness. We also need to realize that being aggressive does not mean that we have to be offensive. We work hard and also try to maintain peace with all men as much as possible.
June 7/06 - Gen. 49:22-26
Joseph had to go through a lot of hard things. His own family had tried to destroy him, but God had sustained him. Through it all, Joseph had kept his eyes on God.
Circumstances may seem to overwhelm us. It may appear that everyone is against us, but God will watch over us. He will be our Shepherd and our Fortress. He will see we are rewarded in the end.
June 6/06 - Gen. 49:19-21
Gad, Asher, and Naphtali are not the most well-known of the tribes but they each received a word of encouragement. Sometimes we feel because we are not glamorous or famous, we are neglected. God cares for each one of His children. He has a special place that only they can fill. It may not catch the eye of man, but it catches God's eye. That's the most important thing. God will not forget your labour of love. Often times, when it comes to eternal reward, the first will be last and the last will be first. Just be faithful, God will take care of the results.
June 5/06 - Gen. 49:16-18
Dan would provide justice. Part of the responsibility of God's people is to provide justice. One aspect of this job is looking after the poor and the oppressed. It is representing them and ministering to them. It includes rebuking their oppressors - and the cruelest oppressors are our humanistic governments. It also includes teaching the civil government how to govern justly according to God's laws.
Dan would be little [serpent] but would have a great impact [unhorsing riders]. We may feel we are small and insignificant but there is no telling what God will do through our lives if we will let Him.
June 3/06 - Gen. 49:13-15
Zebulun and Issachar were going to be hard workers. One would make his living by trading across the sea, the other by hard work on the land. Both would prosper. Hard work is one of the most important ingredients [but not the only one] for success. Lazy people do not even deserve to eat. Government programs subvert this and allow the lazy to prosper at the expense of the hard working.
June 2/06 - Gen. 49:8-12
Judah is the first one receive only praise. He is to become a powerful tribe. In fact, he will be the person from whom the rulers and kings of Israel will come. Not only that, but also Shiloh - Jesus Christ - will come from the tribe of Judah. For the first time we are told which tribe will bring the Messiah into the world. All the people will be gathered to the Messiah [not Judah].
Wine pictures joy and the Holy Spirit. Judah will overflow with joy. As we enter into relationship with Shiloh, we too, will overflow with joy. We can experience the Holy Spirit and enter into a joyous and victorious Christian life. It is our heritage and right won by Jesus on cross.
June 1/06 - Gen. 49:5-7
Simeon and Levi were known for their violent and murderous anger. They, too, were condemned. Uncontrolled anger brings with it hurt and damage to all those around. It is also a sign of a weak person. A person who cannot control themselves should never be in a position of authority over others. When looking at a potential spouse or leader, see how they handle anger.
May 31/06 - Gen. 49:1-4
As Jacob was preparing to die, he called his sons to him in order to prophesy their future. This could be good or bad depending on what they had done. We show and prove our character by our actions.
The firstborn, Rueben, was first commended and then condemned. He had started well - he had been the only one who wanted to spare Joseph. But he was unstable and he had had sex with one of his father's wives or concubines. God looks for faithfulness and stability above enthusiasm and ability. Also sexual sins are one of the most destructive sins there are. We have to be very careful to exercise self-control and keep ourselves pure.
May 30/06 - Gen. 48:17-22
In the normal order of things, the firstborn in the family received a larger portion of the inheritance and the blessing. He also had a larger responsibility. He was the person to manage the family affairs and to look after the parents if they were no longer able to look after themselves.
In Scripture we see many cases where this is reversed and God choose someone other than the firstborn for His purposes. This does not mean that the normal system is wrong but we can see three things from this:
1. In often by passing the firstborn, God shows that He is the One Who chooses. We don't attain to the things of God by natural means or selection. God is in control and He chooses whom He wishes.
2. The person who takes the responsibility of caring for the parents is the person who deserves the larger inheritance. Normally this is the firstborn, but if he is unable to fulfill his responsibility or rejects his responsibility then he also loses the benefits. Responsibility and benefits go together.
3. It is more important to choose the right person than to follow a fixed formula. A formula can be a guide - a general direction - but it has to be flexible depending on a person's skill and ability.
May 29/06 - Gen. 48:12-16
Israel acknowledged that God had led and protected him all the days of his life. It didn't look like it at times, but in the end he could look back and say, "God was with me." God is the Shepherd of His people throughout their lives - whether they recognize it or not.
Israel also passed on his blessing to his grandchildren. It is a wonderful thing to have a Godly heritage. For those of you who haven't have Christian parents, you can start line of blessing for the generations that follow you.
May 27/06 - Gen. 48:1-11
As I am sure you have noticed, there is no tribe of Joseph. Joseph - through no fault of his own - had come out from under his father's authority and inheritance and was under Pharaoh's authority and inheritance. Nevertheless, Joseph was doubly blessed in that Jacob adopted his first two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, giving them equal inheritance with Jacob's own sons. God will see that our sacrifices are rewarded.
May 26/06 - Gen. 47:29-31
Jacob got to spend the last 17 years of his life with his favourite son. When it came time to die, he wanted to be buried with his fathers - not in Egypt.
Egypt is a type or symbol of the world. The picture here is that, although we are in the world, our eyes and hearts should be on things beyond the world.
May 25/06 - Gen. 47:27-28
Israel grew and prospered. God watches over His own. Sometimes it seems so slow or natural that we don't notice it. God also works generationally. His blessings grow and build down through the generations of those who love Him. We are to have a bigger picture than just ourselves.
May 24/06 - Gen. 47:24-26
Joseph established an oppressive 20% tax rate. I wonder what he would say about the tax rates of today? We think we have advanced. At least in Joseph's time the people knew they were slaves. Today people are slaves to the whims of Big Government and they called themselves free.
May 23/06 - Gen. 47:13-23
As Rev. LeRoy Davis has pointed out in some of his writings, Joseph operated toward the Egyptians in the way big government always operates. Joseph had taken - by force [tax] - a portion of the grain from the Egyptians during the days of plenty and now he sells it back to them making them slaves in the process. He used their own grain in order to take their land and property for the State. What many people don't realize is that the State operates the same today. Many people cry for increased State spending on their pet projects - education, welfare, roads, arts, child care, etc. They don't realize or don't care that the State has no money of its own. It can only get money through taking from them in taxation - either directly or through inflation. All they are doing is getting a small portion of their own money back and becoming slaves to the State in the process! Anytime the State exceeds its Biblical mandate, it becomes oppressive and enslaves its own people. Many in the Western nations consider themselves free, it is largely an illusion maintained by a State seeking godhood in order to maintain peace within its borders. I know of no truly, Biblically-defined free countries in the world today.
May 22/06 - Gen. 47:1-12
Jacob and his family were allowed to settle in Goshen - the best land in Egypt. God didn't expect them to settle for second best. The wealth of the ungodly is stored up for the Godly.
Why aren't more of God's people wealthy?
- God may have a different plan for them specifically.
- They may be going through a time of training or testing.
- They might not be tithing.
- They might not be good financial managers.
- They might have wrong priorities.
- Their dreams aren't big enough to need the wealth.
- They aren't willing to put in the work required.
- God might see they aren't mature enough to handle it.
May 20/06 - Gen. 46:31-34
God works out every detail of His plans. It wasn't a coincidence that Jacob and his family were shepherds. There were probably many reasons, but one important reason was that it would keep them separated from the Egyptians. The Egyptians looked down on shepherds. There was no danger that Jacob's family would be swallowed up in the Egyptian culture.
Bring rejected by the world system is not a bad thing. Sometimes we want to belong to worldly company so badly we compromise our Christian stand. Belonging to Christ also means being rejected by those who reject Christ.
May 19/06 - Gen. 46:29-30
Sometimes we have to wait a long time to see our hopes and dreams come true. Sometimes they seem impossible. It is easy to become discouraged or give up along the way. For those who press through, the reward is always worth the wait and the struggle.
May 18/06 - Gen. 46:1-28
Israel had good reason to be concerned with going to Egypt. The covenant he had fought so hard for had promised him the land of Canaan. Was the move to Egypt a move out of God's will? Did God want them to stay or to go? He offered sacrifices to God and sought His direction. God confirmed that going to Egypt was the right thing. It was there they would be molded into a great nation and then He would bring them out again.
Many times in life we stand at the crossroad between two decisions. What should we do? What is the will of God? We need to take time to seek God and discover His answer. We can do this with Bible study, prayer, fasting, waiting quieting in His presence, getting counsel from Godly friends, etc. Often the peace of God in our hearts [or the lack of it] will show the right way.
May 17/06 - Gen. 45:25-28
Now it was confession time. About 15 years ago Joseph's brothers had lied about what had happened to Joseph. All this time they had lived a lie and let Jacob think Joseph was dead. Our sin will always find us out. It is better to deal honestly at the beginning. At least they had the good news that Joseph was one of the most powerful men in the world.
May 16/06 - Gen. 45:9-24
Joseph was now in a position that he could save his family from famine. But there was more at stake than simply his family. This was the family through whom the Seed of the woman - Jesus - would come. If they died out, the Redeemer would not come. God placed Joseph exactly where he was needed. It was a hard and painful process to get him there but he made it. And Pharaoh himself supported and promoted Joseph's plan to bring his family to Egypt. God is able to give us favour in the sight of the heathen.
As you walk with God, God will place you exactly where He wants you for the fulfilling of His master plan. God has a special purpose and mission for you. It may not be as dramatic as Joseph's but it is important. You may not even see what you have accomplished until you look back on your life with the eyes of eternity. But as you live faithfully each day, God will direct you in His master plan. If you have blown it and walked away in sin, don't be discouraged. Repent and begin faithfully following God. He is more than able to bring you back to where He wants you to be.
NOTE: After over a year, we are nearing the end of Genesis. If you have a recommendation for the next Old Testament book to be blogged please let me know via the contact button.
May 15/06 - Gen. 45:5-8
Joseph tried to calm his brother's fears. Joseph had the ability to see the big picture. He could see that all the suffering and injustice he had experienced was part of a great master plan.
If we could get that idea into our hearts it would help us though our times of suffering. Joseph didn't understand it when he was going through the problems either. Anything God allows into our lives will work for our benefit and the benefit of others in the long run.
That does not mean we simply lay down and take whatever happens - Joseph didn't. It does mean we trust God regardless of what happens.
May 13/06 - Gen. 45:1-4
These tests were hard on Joseph, too. He did not give them out of pleasure but because he had to know what was really in his brother's hearts. Likewise, God does not give us tests because He has nothing else to do. Each test is designed to give us opportunity to discover where we really are and to grow beyond what we were. God hurts along with us in these tests and urges us on to victory.
When Joseph reveals himself, the brothers have a new fear. Joseph in power! He's going after revenge. We are finished now. They couldn't imagine someone with a higher and nobler character than themselves. We are trapped and tormented by our fears. Let us come to God and discover there is no fear in Love.
May 12/06 - Gen. 44:1-34
The final and greatest test is given. The brothers had sold Joseph out of envy and greed. Now they must sell Benjamin in order to save their own lives. What will they do?
Judah stands up for them and offers his life for Benjamin's life. Great tests reveal the strengths and weaknesses of men. May we be found strong in the day of trial.
May 09/06 - Gen. 43:15-23
With fear and trembling the brothers return to Egypt. New terrors await them. When they get there they are taken to Joseph's house. They think this is a sign that Joseph is going to make them his personal slaves.
Guilt drives fear. They had lived with guilt and now everything seemed to be a punishment. They could not conceive that there might actually be a good reason they were there. Satan loves us to live in guilt because then we live in fear of God. We shrink back from every loving touch because we fear hurt. The only thing to do when we are guilty is to run TO God, get His forgiveness, make restitution to those we have harmed if possible, and then to continue on. The Christian does not have to live with guilt. There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ.
May 08/06 - Gen. 43:11-14
The pressure of the famine finally reached a point that Jacob had to send Benjamin. God was breaking his dependence on someone other than Himself. Life would be a lot easier if we would listen to God and follow His instructions. God often has to use pressure and problems to get our attention because our eyes are focused somewhere they shouldn't be. For example, when to do we spend the most time in prayer - when things are going good or when things are going bad?
Jacob did everything in his power to make sure things went well. Sometimes, when faced with a overwhelming problem, we are tempted to give up. Jacob worked to increase the chances of getting a good result. Then, when he had done everything, he let go of it. When we reach the point when things are out of our control, we have to just let them go.
Also notice that basically Jacob was offering a bribe. When faced with corrupt rulers, a bribe can sometimes bring a righteous result. Here's a challenge for you - study what the Bible says about bribes. You will discover a strange fact. The Bible strongly condemns taking bribes but never once condemns giving them. The reason? For a judge or ruler to take a bribe shows corruption, if the judge or ruler is already corrupt a bribe may be the only way to receive justice in a given situation. For example, say you are a missionary in a foreign country with a corrupt police force. A police officer pulls you over for a supposed traffic offense and threatens to take your license. What is the best thing to do? Should you waste months of your time trying to get your license back or slip him a few dollars and be on your way? What gets you justice in the situation? What is the most productive for your time and money?
May 06/06 - Gen. 43:1-10
Jacob would not willing send Benjamin to Egypt - not even to get Simeon released. However, the famine pressure gave him no choice in the end.
Judah has had a change of heart through the years. He was willing to personally guarantee Benjamin's safety.
God uses the pressures of life to mold our character for eternity. We don't like pressure or problems but how we handle them is very important.
May 05/06 - Gen. 42:37-38
Reuben had been the only one to have mercy on Joseph. Now he was willing to risk the lives of his own sons to guarantee Benjamin's safety. But Jacob's life was so wound up in the last son of his favourite wife that he was unwilling to let Benjamin go into Egypt.
When we place anyone or anything above our commitment to Christ, we are in the danger zone. We cannot see or think clearly. If anything happens to our loved one then we too are destroyed. Of course, when we lose a loved one to death or sin we are hurt or even devastated but when our first priority is Jesus, He will comfort us and rebuild our lives to make us better. When that person [or thing] had a greater priority than Jesus, then their loss can ruin the rest of our lives. Some commit suicide or go into deep depression or self-pity making others miserable and often shortening their own lives. Still others become aggressive and resentful. They may even become violent. All because they worshipped someone other than Jesus and then lost their god.
May 04/06 - Gen. 42:25-36
It just keeps getting worse. The brothers discover their money in their sacks. Now it looks like they are thieves as well as spies. Jacob was afraid too when he heard the story. What was happening?
There are times when life seems to fall apart. The days become dark. We have to hold on, take one day at a time [sometimes one minute at a time], and wait for the light to come. It always will.
May 03/06 - Gen. 42:13-24
Joseph accused his brothers of being spies. They had told him about Benjamin. Now Joseph demanded to see Benjamin. It would be a good test. Would they betray Benjamin the same way they had betrayed him?
The brothers were confused and scared at this turn of events. All these years the guilt of what they had done to Joseph had been eating at them. Now they figured God was punishing them. Guilt is a terrible thing. If we are suffering from guilt we need to come to Jesus for forgiveness - every offense is first of all against God - and then make restoration to those we have wronged if possible.
May 02/06 - Gen. 42:6-12
Joseph recognized his brothers when they came to him to buy grain. They had not changed much over the years. Joseph, on the other hand, now looked like any other Egyptian. Joseph spoke roughly to his brothers. He was now in the position of control. However, as we see at the end of the story, he did not treat them badly out of a desire of revenge. No matter how he was treated Joseph responded with a Godly attitude. Joseph was testing to see if his brothers had changed. Were they still the cruel men who had sold him into Egypt or had God been at work in their lives too?
Sometimes we make things too easy for people. Even Jesus tested His own disciples to see what was in their hearts. We never really know what it in a person's heart until they are under pressure. The same can be said for us. Our own heart is deceptive. When we are under pressure all kinds of things come out of our heart that we didn't know [or didn't want to know] was in our heart.
May 01/06 - Gen. 42:1-5
Jacob sent Leah's sons to Egypt to buy grain. Their lives he was willing to risk but not his favourite Benjamin's life.
So Leah's sons made the trek to Egypt never suspecting what was in store for them. Life is full of surprises. We never know what is coming up but our God knows.
Apr 29/06 - Gen. 41:53-57
The years of plenty ended. The famine began. It spread around the known world but only in Egypt, which had been warned by God, was there food. The nations had to come to Egypt in order to survive. God always makes a way of escape.
As Rev. LeRoy Davis has pointed out, Joseph illustrates how civil government operates. Joseph taxed the Egyptians 20% [very light compared to modern governments], then when they were in need he sold their own grain back to them! People who demand government funds and programs do not recognize that the civil government cannot give anything that it had not already taken from them. The solution is to decrease civil government so that people can choose how to spend their own money and live their own lives.
Apr 28/06 - Gen. 41:50-52
Joseph endured many hardships but God rewarded him. God caused him to settle in where he was planted and to prosper there. God rewards us for the hard times both in time and eternity. In fact, we can consider going through the difficult times with a Godly attitude as an investment in the future. No one is so poor they cannot make this investment, and no one is so rich they can buy their way out of it.
Apr 27/06 - Gen. 41:47-49
The seven years of plenty produced an abundance of food. Joseph was diligent in gathering and storing the food. He let nothing go to waste. Laziness would have been fatal. We need to be diligent in all our work, we never know what the result will be and what depends on it.
Apr 26/06 - Gen. 41:38-46
It is God Who rises up one and puts down another. Here Joseph was able to give Godly counsel to Pharaoh. The ruler of the most powerful nation on earth recognized the importance of a man who could recognize and solve problems. Joseph went from prison to palace in one day...and not just any position in the place but the second highest ruler of the nation. If we will go through God's school faithfully and learn His ways, He will see that we are raised up in due season. I wonder how many personal, family, and national disasters could have been prevented if God's people were serious about knowing and applying His Word in their world. Often we are too busy seeking our own comfort, arguing among ourselves, or rejecting Biblical Law to be any use in real-life problem solving.
Apr 25/06 - Gen. 41:33-37
Joseph did not stop at interpreting the dream. He went on to give Pharaoh the counsel of God. He not only foresaw the problem but he provided the solution. The problem with many Christians is that all they can do is point out the problems but they are as clueless as the world when it comes to solutions. We will often be given a listening ear when we present workable answers to specific problems. In order to have workable answers we need a detailed knowledge of both the Word of God and the situation. Some Christians, who honestly do try to provide answers, can only parrot humanism's failing answers. Christians need the skill to use the Word of God to provide answers to real world problems. They need to accept and use Biblical Law...
Apr 24/06 - Gen. 41:25-32
Joseph was in right relationship with God so when opportunity came he was ready to met it. He did not have to go into six weeks of prayer and fasting in order to hear from God. Of course, there are times of prayer and fasting but our relationship with God should be constant. Then we are prepared to handled whatever comes up in life no matter how difficult or challenging.
God repeated the same message to Pharaoh in two different dreams in order to underscore that the events were going to happen. There are sometimes when God declares something bad is going to happen that prayer and repentance can change it. But there are other times when the event is going to happen regardless. This was one of those cases and God wanted His people persevered. He used a heathen king to do it. God is able to use whoever He wants into order to accomplish His purposes.
Apr 21/06 - Gen. 41:17-24
Pharaoh's dream illustrates the fact that dreams are often in symbolic form. They do not follow logical rules - cows don't even eat meat. Dreams present us with a picture. Sometimes we can interpret the dream through an understanding of symbols and what the various pictures represent to us, sometimes it takes a Divine revelation.
Apr 20/06 - Gen. 41:15-16
Pharaoh asked Joseph to interpret his dream. Joseph made clear that the answer was coming from God, not from his own wisdom. Some people have a false modesty and are always saying, "It's not me, it's God." We were designed to work along with God and anything good we do is ultimately God working in us. True humility recognizes that everything comes from God. However, there are some cases, like this one, where God is working is a special way and needs specific credit. Pharaoh was used of dealing with advisors who were involved with demon spirits and he need to be clear that his answer was coming from the Lord God.
Apr 19/06 - Gen. 41:1-14
Everything was flowing along on God's time table. At just the right time Pharaoh had his dreams. No one could interpret them...or even guess at their meaning. This prompted the cupbearer to remember Joseph.
We don't have to get upset over the circumstances of life. We need to be content, do our best, and trust God. When the time is right, He will lift us up. We don't have to fight or struggle for position. While Joseph, in seeking to improve his position, tried to take advantage of opportunity, he was not destroyed when it didn't work out.
Apr 18/06 - Gen. 40:23
In spite of all that Joseph had told the chief butler, the butler forgot him as soon as he was released. Joseph was left in prison for another two years. It can be disheartening when people let us down or forget about us. We can give in to self-pity. Not Joseph, he simply continued on. He knew God was in control. If the butler had remember Joseph then Joseph might have been released. If that had happened Joseph would not have been in the right place to become Pharoah's right hand man. The family of Israel might have died out in the coming famine. We are in a big hurry to get to a place of comfort, but God sometimes has a bigger plan.
Apr 17/06 - Gen. 40:9-22
The two men told Joseph their dreams. With God's help Joseph was able to actually tell the meanings of the dreams. This wasn't some general prediction where any number of events could have "fulfilled" it. No, it was very specific. It either happened in three days or not.
When we speak for God we need to be confident but we also need to be accurate. If we don't know or we are unsure, then we need to make it clear to our listeners that we are only offering our opinion or advice.
Apr 14/06 - Gen. 40:6-8
Dreams are one way God speaks to us. Often they are in symbolic form and we have to work at understanding the pictures involved. Sometimes, as in this case, it takes a Divine revelation to understand the meaning. God is speaking in a variety of ways to those who will listen. Of course, every way must be judged by the Word of God in context to confirm that it is indeed from God and no another source. God will never contradict what He has said in His written Word.
Apr 12/06 - Gen. 40:1-5
From a natural prospective this would seem to be a lucky set of coincidences. The butler and the baker both offend Pharaoh, are through into the same prison that Joseph is in, Joseph is put in charge of them, and they both dream prophetic dreams. Very lucky for Joseph. Nonsense! It was God Who moved the circumstances and arranged the details. God's sovereign plan was moving ahead. Joseph was in the right place at the right time because he trusted God even in the down and unfair circumstances of life.
Nothing happens in our life by chance or luck. God is in control. In His time He brings about the circumstances which will lift us up although it may look to the uninformed like "luck." Our hope and our confidence is in God alone.
Apr 11/06 - Gen. 39:21-23
No matter what happened to him, Joseph kept bouncing to the top. That is how Christians should be. They trust God is in control, maintain a positive, thankful attitude, and come out on top in their problems.
Apr 10/06 - Gen. 39:16-20
Joseph was framed. He did nothing wrong, in fact, he did everything right. One rejected woman's revenge brought him down. This woman's husband - his master/boss - burned with anger...and yet something didn't feel right to him. He knew both Joseph's character and his wife's character. So he had Joseph thrown in prison instead of being executed as was the normal Egyptian punishment for a slave who had sex with his master's wife.
Why did God allow this woman's schemes to succeed? He did so because He was looking at the Big Picture. If God had delivered Joseph from going to prison, Joseph would not have been in the necessary place to come to the throne of Egypt. [I am sure Potiphar was nervous when that happened!] Going through slavery and unjust prison was confusing and hurtful to Joseph emotionally as well as physically. He didn't understand but he trusted God and always did his best with a good attitude. When hurtful or unfair situations overtake us, we have to trust that God is at work and He will bring it out for the best in the end.
Apr 07/06 - Gen. 39:11-15
This woman would not take no for an answer. Seducing Joseph became her goal in life. This may mean that either her husband was not meeting her sexual needs or she had too much time on her hands or, more likely, both. In any case, Joseph became to object of her attentions. She laid out a plan to trick him into being alone with her. When he realized the situation, he fled. He did not try to reason with her. Sometimes we fall for satan's temptations because we argue or reason instead of running. Running from sin is a good solution.
The woman, when she found she was rejected, couldn't handle it. Her "love" turn to hate. If she couldn't have him, she was determined to destroy him. When we stand for righteousness, there may be some people who go all out to destroy us. Nehemiah faced the same thing. We may not be doing anything to them at all, but they hate us anyway. We have no choice but to continue following God and take whatever consequences come our way. God is still in control.
Apr 06/06 - Gen. 39:7-10
How many people today would have refused this temptation? A beautiful woman desires to have sex with you. You are in a powerful position: therefore, you could probably get away with it. Family and friends are far away - they would never know. God has allowed to you to be sold as a slave. You are about 30 years old and have never been married so your own sex drive is powerful. How would you handle it?
Joseph was a man of honour. He would not betray the trust of God and his master for self-gratification. Not only did he refuse the woman's advances, but also he tried, as must as possible, not to be near her. Always keep as far from temptation as you can. Those who flirt with sin or take it lightly are the ones to fall.
Apr 04/06 - Gen. 39:1-6
Joseph was a blessed man. How could he be blessed as a slave? When the raging emotions of his betrayal settled down, he accepted his position as sent from God. He did not wallow in self-pity or resent his master. He threw his whole heart into his work. The result was that God gave him favour and prospered everything he did.
God will be with us in even the worse circumstances if we will maintain a thankful, praising attitude. God may allow negative things to happen but He is able to work a greater good out of it in the long run. We have to trust Him and do everything He sets before us to the best of our abilities. We drive the presence and power of God away when we complain and cry in self-pity. Submit yourself to God, make the best of wherever you are, and God will show up and be with you.
Apr 03/06 - Gen. 38:11-30
Judah had a double standard. Somehow, in his mind, it was alright for him to be immoral but he judged it a death sentence for his daughter-in-law. This is the opposite of God's standard where both the man and the woman were equally guilty. It is so easy to harshly judge others for our own faults.
Judah - reacting to his own fear - committed the same sin Onan had. He was allowing the family line of Er to die out. Tamar saw the injustice of this and took matters into her own hands.
Apr 01/06 - Gen. 38:8-10
Some Christians mistakenly use this Scripture to condemn masturbation. The Bible never deals directly with the subject of masturbation and Christians have varying views. In any case, that is not the issue here.
Er had died childless and so it was Onan's duty to provide a child to carry on Er's family name. Later, in the time of Moses, this would become a law.
Onan had no interest in providing a family line for his brother. He only wanted to express his own lust. He had no thought for the big picture, for the future. He eyes were only on his own sinful desires. It was more than lust. He deliberately denied his brother an heir while taking advantage of his brother's widow. He too was killed by God.
Mar 30/06 - Gen. 38:1-7
Here we have a pause in the story of Joseph. Judah had three sons. It would appear, unlike Abraham, he did not take the time to train them. We are not told what Er did, but it was evil enough that God Himself killed him.
Sometimes we think God will not bring judgment for evil. In His own time and way, God judges. Even Paul would write that for misusing the communion table some were sick or fallen asleep - which is another way of saying God judged them and killed some of them. God does not play or wink at sin and evil. It cost Him the life of His Son. He does not take it lightly and neither should we.
Mar 29/06 - Gen. 37:29-36
Reuben must have been away tending the flock when Joseph was sold because he was shocked to find Joseph missing. The brothers conspired together to deceive Jacob.
Jacob had begun his life with deception and many times during his life he was deceived. We have to be very careful what we sow in life. We always reap more than we sow which can be good or bad.
Mar 28/06 - Gen. 37:25-28
Judah, the one from whom Christ would come, figured it would be better to make a quick dollar off of their brother than to simply murder him. His brothers were agreeable.
Can you imagine what Joseph was feeling? His own brothers have beat him up and thrown him into a pit. As he lays are the bottom, bruised and bleeding, he hears them arguing about whether they should sell him as a slave or murder him. His pleas for mercy fall on deaf ears. No matter how bad things look God is still in controls. Years later Joseph would look back at this traumatic experience and see God's hand. Nothing happens in the life of a Christian but that God will take it and turn it into good in time and eternity. Our suffering for God now is a secure investment in the future...an investment which will be repaid many times over and last forever. That can't be beat.
Mar 27/06 - Gen. 37:21-24
Reuben was the first-born. He knew whatever happened he was going to be held responsible. This motivated him to try and save Joseph. Responsibility is a good thing. It makes people take things more seriously. One reason there is so much crime is that the criminals are not held Biblically responsible for their actions. They may escape humanistic law, but none of us will escape God's court.
Mar 25/06 - Gen. 37:15-20
Joseph's brothers had such a hatred for him because of their father's favouritism that they wanted to kill him. Sin cannot be controlled - it always multiplies. Jacob's sin multiplied into attempted murder. Ironically, it was to rob him of the very thing he treasured the most. We never know where the chain of one "little" sin will stop.
Mar 24/06 - Gen. 37:12-14
Joseph was Jacob's favourite son and was given better treatment than his brothers. This was not Joseph's fault and there is no record that Joseph tried to take advantage of it. We don't have to let the wrong actions of others corrupt us. We are responsible for our own actions, not the actions of others. Nor can we blame the environment for our failures or character flaws. We need to take responsibility.
Mar 23/06 - Gen. 37:5-11
God gave Joseph two important dreams. It has been debated as to whether Joseph was wise to share them or not. In any case, these dreams would be a source of encouragement as he went through the next 13 years as a slave or in prison. God never allows us to be tempted or go through hard situations unless He has provided the strength to be able to endure them. Joseph was able to maintain a positive attitude through all his troubles because God had given him these dreams as a hope to hang on to. Many times God gives us a promise but we have to be tested before we receive it.
Mar 21/06 - Gen. 37:2-4
Once again we see family problems. Jacob had experienced family favouritism in his youth and now it rears its ugly head in his own family. Of course, Rachel was his favourite wife so it is no surprise that her son becomes his favourite. Naturally Joseph's brothers resented this.
Playing favourites whether in a family, school, business, or anywhere is bound to cause resentment and division. All of us tend to like certain people better than others but we have to be very careful not to favour people simply because of personal preference. We have to act on a person's character and ability. Sometimes this too will be seen as favouritism by those who have lower character or ability. As long as we are using an objective or declared standard reasonable people will not be offended. For example, in a family owned business it can reasonably be expected that the owner will train his own children to take over the business, but it cannot be done by unfairly treating other employees.
Mar 18/06 - Gen. 37:1
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had received the land of Canaan as a promise and yet they were strangers in it. In a sense they were strangers in their own land because they had not yet taken possession of it. The land was theirs, they enjoyed it, but it was still corrupted by the evil Canaanites.
This is a picture for us. We live in this world. It has been promised to us and yet we are still surrounded by evil. In many ways, we enjoy the world - it is what we were designed for - yet our hearts long for the day when it will be a new world without sin. Now, after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are more in the "Joshua" phase where it is time for us to actually take possession of the world. It is a process that will only be completed at the return of Christ.
Mar 17/06 - Gen. 36:1-43
Physically God blessed Esau as well as Jacob. They both grew and prospered until they had to separate because of their great wealth. As I have mentioned before, the ungodly often prosper because of the blessing on the righteous. It is a temporary blessing for this life; nevertheless, it shows them the goodness of God. It should turn their eyes toward God in thankfulness but often it does not.
Edom, the nation which came from Esau, had kings long before Israel did. With natural eyes it may appear that God's people are a little slow. However, which is better: To be ruled by man or by God? It is better to take the time and build a firm foundation in our lives and our ministries than to rush in and later collapse from a weak foundation. We don't have to be in a hurry. We can work steadily and build strongly. It's not how you begin but how you finish that counts.
Mar 16/06 - Gen. 35:28-29
Isaac had a long life. He actually lived many years after he thought he was dying and passed on the blessing.
The phrase "gathered unto his people" indicates that we, who are saved, are reunited with family and friends after death. The common image of family and friends, along with Jesus, welcoming those who have been redeemed into Heaven is correct. Christians have nothing to fear from death. For the Christian, this world, as great as it can be, is the worst they will ever know. For the non-Christian, this world is the best they will ever know. The greatest and most wonderful things which happen here are just shadows of what awaits the Christian after death. The most terrible and painful things which happen here are just tiny glimpses of what awaits the non-Christian after death. We have such a short time to affect the eternal destiny of those around us. Let us not waste it.
Mar 15/06 - Gen. 35:21-27
Reuben's actions were more than just lustful. They were in defiance and disrespect of his father. If God could take this family - infested with deceit, rebellion, lust, and murder - and form it into the nation which would give birth to the Messiah, then there is hope for any of our families. We should never give up, never think we have gone beyond the power of God's redemption. No matter how much satan has destroyed, God can restore. Continue on in faith and good works. God will have His way in the end.
Mar 14/06 - Gen. 35:16-20
Rachel, who was so desperate to have children, had two boys: Joseph and Benjamin. Her last son cost her life.
I may be wrong, but I see Rachel as basically a beautiful but self-centered person. As we have looked at her life in this portion of Genesis she always seems to thinking of her desires. This life is the launching pad for our eternal existence after physical death. How we prepare for the launch will somehow determine how we enter eternity. Only our relationship with Jesus Christ determines heaven or hell but our actions here appear to affect what happens in either place. Let's leave behind a better impression than Rachel.
Mar 13/06 - Gen. 35:11-15
God Himself renewed the Abrahamic covenant with Jacob. Everything God had promised Abraham had been passed to Isaac and now to Jacob. The line of the Messiah was being established. It would continue to be defined until the Messiah came. Jesus, of course, was the ultimate inheritor of the Abrahamic covenant which He then passed on to all who believe. If you are a Christian, the covenant of Abraham, as will as the other covenants, belong to you in Christ.
Mar 11/06 - Gen. 35:9-10
The name change is part of making a blood covenant [see The Making Of A Blood Covenant]. When God appeared to Jacob again, He changed Jacob's name to Israel. Jacob was no longer the deceiver but the one who wrestles with God.
When we encounter God our name gets changed as well. We take on the name of Christ[ians] and our lives are forever changed. We enter a blood covenant relationship with God. It was the blood of Jesus which opened the door and we should be eternally thankful.
Mar 10/06 - Gen. 35:6-8
Jacob built an altar to God in remembrance and thankfulness for what He had done. Many times we get so busy with living that we forget to remember what God has done for us. Our eyes are so focused on what we need done or help with that we don't look back. If we will take time to remember what God has done, it will encourage us in the struggles of today. God has helped us in the past, He will help us in the present and the future.
Part of remembering is being thankful for what God has done. Only one of the lepers that Jesus healed came back to say thanks. God looks to see if we have a grateful heart. Do we pause to say thank you? Or do we just rush on to our next objective? Be thankful for the work of God in your life.
It is little comments like verse 8 which show us that we are dealing with real history not myth or legend. These were real people who lived and died in real, identifiable [at the time] places. They were interacting with a real God.
Mar 8/06 - Gen. 35:1-5
God appeared to Jacob and gave him further instructions. Interestingly, Jacob knew there were people under his authority who were worshipping idols and he had done nothing about it. God didn't have to tell him to purify his family. When he went to met with God, he knew he could not be double-minded or compromising. If we want to meet with God - to truly be disciples - we must rid ourselves of everything we know is displeasing to God. We cannot have it both ways. God will not take second place to anyone or anything.
Mar 7/06 - Gen. 34:8-30
Jacob's son answered deceitfully with Hamor, Shechem, and their father. Under a cloak of peace, they plotted murder. Shechem's crime was definitely worthy of punishment. He was wrong, no question. That did not justify murdering all the males in the city. Sometimes we have a "sunday school" picture of these founders of the nation of Israel. In actual fact, they were more like the common image we have of mountain men: rough, coarse, strong, independent. And now they had innocent blood on their hands. Yet God would form the nation of Israel to be the womb from which the Messiah would come. It gives us hope that there is no one or no situation that is beyond the redemptive power of God.
Jacob is in a hard place. He is outnumbered in a strange country. He doesn't want to offend. He doesn't know whether to try and get justice for his daughter or to let things be. He leaves it to his sons who then go out and make a bad situation worse by committing mass murder. Now he is really in fear. We never solve our problems by passing on our responsibility to others. If it is our responsibility then we need to make the final decision, although we may seek others for counsel.
Mar 4/06 - Gen. 34:3-7
After Shechem had raped Dinah, he wanted to marry her. He sent his father to arrange the marriage. There is no mention that anyone consulted Dinah as to her desires. It should have been Dinah's choice. Forced marriage is never God's way.
We don't know how Jacob felt. He seems to have left the situation basically to her brothers - who were adults by this time. He might have been more involved if Dinah had been Rachel's daughter instead of Leah's daughter. In any case, her brothers were filled with anger and sorrow over the crime.
Sometimes we are so accustomed to hearing about crime [or watching violent TV/Movies] that we become harden to it. But these are real people who are having their lives devastated by evil people. The majority of crime today is a result of forsaking God's required punishment for criminals. We think we know better than God. We are reaping what we have sowed.
Mar 3/06 - Gen. 34:1-2
Dinah was a young girl wanting to make friends in a new place. There was nothing wrong with her desire but what happened to her underscores the sad fact that caution is necessary in an evil world. We don't live in fear but we need to be careful. Walking with wisdom, especially in areas that are not familiar with, is prudent. Just because we are innocent or have good motives doesn't mean others do. How many people - and not just kids -have been lured to their death by an apparently friendly face? Too many.
Mar 2/06 - Gen. 33:1-20
As the first wife, Leah should have had the most protected position. Once again she is pushed aside in favour of her younger sister. How discouraging it must have been for her. There are some situations in life that we just have to work with whether they are fair or not.
Jacob discovered that fear had lied to him. Esau wasn't out for revenge after all these years. Our emotions react to what we see or think, not on the truth of the situation. Often our emotions are wrong. If we base our life or reactions solely on our emotions we are in for big trouble. We must act according to what the Word of God declares is true - no matter what emotions say.
Feb 28/06 - Gen. 32:22-30
Jacob wrestled with God. This shows his intense desire to be blessed. He would not let go until he received the blessing. In spite of all his faults, Jacob was a man who wanted to be blessed.
God sometimes wants to see how serious we are. Many times, I believe, we give up on something we want from God too quickly. It takes work and sweat to achieve. We give up in the moment to trial instead of pressing on to victory. Of course, we need to know that what we desire is in the will of God and not against the will of God. But if we are in the will of God, never give up. Keep pressing on. Keep praying. Keep working. If you falter and fall, get up and have another go. You never knew when God is going to crown your efforts with success.
This doesn't mean that it comes without a cost. Jacob limped for the rest of his life but he achieved his goal. Through the struggle he became a new person - Israel. And it is through our struggles that we are changed into the image of Christ - or we have to opportunity to be changed if we will handle it properly.
Feb 24/06 - Gen. 32:13-21
Jacob believed in prayer and action. First he brought the matter to God in prayer. Then he set a plan in motion.
God expects us to depend on Him for everything, but that doesn't mean we are to sit around and do nothing. We are to prayerfully work our way to a solution. God does not bless laziness or inactivity. We need to move ahead. Sometimes God will redirect us. Just like it is easier to steer a moving car than a stalled one, it is easier to direct us when we are already moving [as long as we are listening!].
Feb 23/06 - Gen. 32:9-12
Jacob understood prayer. Often when we have a problem we rush into the presence of God and blurt out all our problems. Then we tearfully leave not sure if God heard or not.
Jacob's approach was different.
1. Although he was in fear of his life, he began by remembering Who God was. As the God of Abraham and Isaac, God had proven Himself faithful and dependable. God could be relied on.
2. Then he reminded God that he was following His instructions. Jacob was not going his own way or doing his own thing. He was diligently following God's declared will.
3. Next he brought up the point that God had promised to bless him as he followed His will.
4. After focusing on Who God Is and what He had promised, Jacob then moved to who he was - undeserving of any of the mercies of God. If we regard pride in our hearts, God will not hear us. Jacob humbled himself and recognized his own unworthiness. We deserve nothing from God. Everything is based on His mercy and grace.
5. God had revealed much to Jacob and Jacob shows his thankfulness.
6. God had already blessed him greatly and so he approaches God with a grateful heart.
7. Now, after focusing on Who God Is, what He had already done, and spending time in humility and thankfulness, Jacob comes to his request. Save me and my family from death.
8. Finally, he ends by reminding God of His covenant promise, a promise that cannot be fulfilled if he is dead.
Next time we face serious problems, let's remember to come into prayer in the proper order. We have an audience with the Great King. Let's respect that and enter His gates with thanksgiving and praise before we get to our request.
Feb 22/06 - Gen. 32:3-8
Jacob was on his way home at last. Now he remembered that the last time he saw his brother, Esau had wanted to kill him. No longer the proud deceiver, Jacob humbles himself to seek his brother's forgiveness. Then he almost faints with fear when he hears Esau is coming to meet him with 400 men.
Fear preys on us when we have incomplete information and assume the worst. Fear loves ignorance. Fear lied to Jacob, telling him that Esau was coming for revenge [ I'm sure a guilty conscience didn't help either]. Fear lies to us as well. It makes us think the worst instead of the best. It tempts us to distrust God.
Feb 21/06 - Gen. 32:1-2
We don't always realize how and when God uses angels in our lives. Jacob saw the angels of God. Many times they move unnoticed through our lives. We need to know that both angels and demons exist. However, we need to be careful not to go to the extreme of focusing on them or praying to them. Our eyes are to be on God, our prayers are to be directed to God. If God choses to reveal the presence of angels to us - fine, if not we continue on with our relationship with God. We don't want to get distracted and then sidetracked from the purposes of God.
Feb 20/06 - Gen. 31:36-55
Jacob had certainly paid a heavy price for deceiving his father. For twenty years he worked under hard and unfair conditions. Yet God had watched over him the whole time. When deliverance time came, he went out abundantly.
This seems to be a pattern in Scripture. Great testing and then abundant reward. This can be an encouragement in our lives. The time of reward will come. In some cases we may have to wait unto Heaven to see the reward but how glad we will be that we didn't give up.
Feb 18/06 - Gen. 31:25-35
Laban was upset that Jacob would leave without giving him a chance to say goodbye although there was the real possibility that he would have prevented Jacob from leaving if he had known. Of course, what really upset Laban was that his gods were stolen. Jacob had no interest in Laban's gods but his favourite wife was still attached to them. If Rachel had been found with them she probably would have lost her life, but she was able to successfully conceal them. I imagine it caused quite a family fight later when Jacob discovered the truth.
Sometimes loved ones within our own family are at work against us. We need to have a combination of trust and discernment. We cannot allow our love for someone blind us to their true character. We need the wisdom and partnership of God working in our lives.
Feb 17/06 - Gen. 31:22-24
Laban found out that Jacob had fled. Our acts of deception usually get found out in the end. Then the situation gets worse. Nevertheless, God intervened to prevent Laban from harming Jacob. Even when we are operating in fear, God is still our Protector.
Feb 16/06 - Gen. 31:17-21
Jacob knew Laban was more powerful so he decided to sneak away. He carefully chose the best time. Then away he went. What he didn't know was that his favourite wife was going to steal Laban's idols. Must be a tough life when your gods can get stolen. Once again we see that Leah was actually the better wife. Rachel still had her heart in her father's heathen culture.
It is so important to make the right choice in a spouse. A wrong choice can make our lives difficult. Too often we make an emotional choice instead of looking at a person's character and their commitment to God.
Feb 15/06 - Gen. 31::4-16
Laban was a crafty man. Not only did he try to cheat Jacob by changing his wages ten times but also he embezzled his daughter's funds. Still, through it all, God watched over Jacob and his family. If we walk with God, He will watch over us as well. That doesn't mean people won't try to hurt us. They may. God will take their evil intentions and turn them around for our good. We have to look past the appearance of our current situation and see the reality.
Feb 14/06 - Gen. 31:1-3
Jacob learned the Laban's sons were jealous. He also saw that Laban's attitude toward him was changing for the worse. Laban was all happy and cheerful as long as he was getting the best deal but when the tables turned and Jacob began to come up on top he soured. Like many childish people today, he could only be happy when he was winning. And he didn't care how many people he had to hurt to "win."
It was as Jacob was considering these things that God spoke to him. Often it is as we are thinking about a situation that God will speak to us. We need to keep an open mind, consider all the sides, and listen to what God will say. Many times He will lead us by a sense of peace in our hearts about a certain decision.
Feb 13/06 - Gen. 30:37-43
Jacob made a plan that would get the strongest and best of the flock for himself. This plan required supernatural intervention. Naturally speaking, peeling bark from trees has no effect on livestock. It was Jacob's way of dramatically letting God know what he wanted. many times we have not because we ask not. Ask, in faith, and see what God will do.
Feb 11/06 - Gen. 30:29-36
Jacob gave Laban a good deal and Laban greedily took it. When the blessing of God rests on us we don't have to fear being taken advantage of. We can afford to be generous. God Himself will look after us.
Feb 10/06 - Gen. 30:25-28
Jacob desires to return home. For fourteen years or more Laban has basically been getting free work from Jacob. Now that Jacob wants to leave he offers to pay him for his work. Laban knew the hand of God was on Jacob and that he was benefiting because of Jacob.
Christians should be a positive influence on all those around. Employers should want Christian workers because of their higher work ethic and the Spirit of God bringing prosperity to all who come in contact with them. Sadly, this often is not the case. Many times Christian workers are some of worse people in the work force. They bring a reproach on the name of Christ. If we operate according to the ways of God, instead of the ways of the world, God will look after us.
Malcom Smith, on one of his tapes, tells the story which he witnessed of a community which had a high crime rate and many social problems. A dynamic Christian church was begun in the community and the peace of God settled on the whole area, greatly reducing the crime and problems of the community. After a while the community leaders decided they didn't want these Christians around and so the church was forced to move. They took the peace of God with them and the community returned to the way it was before. This is very real for those who are serious about God.
Feb 9/06 - Gen. 30:22-24
God did not neglect Rachel. He heard her prayers, too. Rachel doesn't seem to be happy with one son through. She immediately wishes for another one. Some people are never happy no matter what they have. Their eyes are always on what they want or on what they don't have. They are miserable people.
Feb 8/06 - Gen. 30:17-21
God listened to Leah. Sometimes we get the impression that the Bible downgrades women. Nothing could be further from the truth. Leah was able to come to God just as Jacob was. It is in countries where the gospel has not had an impact that women are constantly downgraded and considered inferior. That was never the Biblical view.
Leah is still suffering from loneliness. She deeply feels the rejection of her husband. She hopes that all these sons will bring her into favour with Jacob. Jacob is certainly not being fair to Leah but there is nothing she can do about it. When we run into situations like this all we can do is take it to God and leave it with Him...but it still hurts.
Feb 7/06 - Gen. 30:13-16
There is a misconception that a man with multiple wives is in control and has the best of all worlds. Not so. It is impossible to develop a close, trusting relationship with more than one spouse. Each wife suspects the other is getting something better so he has to be very careful how he treats them. The accusations, anger, bitterness, jealousy, and other emotions combine to make the home an uncomfortable [to put it mildly] place to be for the husband. In this case, Jacob comes home from a hard day of work to find his favourite wife has sold him to the other the for night. Like he bought Esau's birthright for a bowl of stew, he has been sold for the night for a few mandrakes.
Again this reveals Rachel's basic self-centeredness. She was not concerned with the needs and desires of her husband. She didn't care what kind of day he had had at work or who he wanted to be with when he came home. All she wanted was a treat to satisfy her flesh. Rachel was definitely not the better woman but because Jacob couldn't see past a pretty face she had the upper hand.
Feb 4/06 - Gen. 30:3-12
The competition between the two sisters became more intense. According to the custom of the time, they both gave Jacob their servants girls so they could have more children through them.
Sometimes parents today think they have it bad with warring children. Imagine being the husband of multiple, warring wives. There would be no peace in the home. God's way of one man and one woman as long as both shall live is certainly the best way.
Feb 3/06 - Gen. 30:1-2
It wasn't enough for Rachel that she had the love and attention of her husband. She could not be happy that God had blessed her sister. Like a spoilt child, Rachel was focused on herself. We need to learn to rejoice when others succeed. God's plan is that we succeed by helping others. Cut-throat competition is Satan's way.
Feb 2/06 - Gen. 29:30-35
God looked down and had compassion on Leah. He saw her husband ignored and disliked her. He saw that, once again, favouritism had reared its ugly head in this family line.
He allowed Leah to have four sons. The first three times Leah was hoping that giving her husband sons would make him look on her with favour. It was not to happen. Jacob was too captivated with her sister. With the fourth son she stopped looking to her husband and looked to God. When we expect others to provide our fulfillment and joy, we are going to be disappointed. We must come to God first. He alone can meet all our needs.
Notice, that although he did not like Leah, Jacob could not deny her the rights of a wife. This included sexual relations. Husband and wife have certain rights in each other [which includes but is not limited to sex] that they cannot deny each other whether or not emotions are there.
Feb 1/06 - Gen. 29:21-25
Laban had his excuse ready. There wasn't really much that Jacob could do about it anyway. He was a guest in a strange land. Laban squeezed another seven years of work out of Jacob.
Sometimes people take advantage of us and we are helpless to defend ourselves. But we are not really helpless. We can present our case to the highest court - God's court. Then we leave it with Him to work it out. In the end Jacob came out very well.
Jan 31/05 - Gen. 29:21-25
After 7 years of work, Jacob was ready for his wife. Laban put together the wedding feast. But in this deceitful family trickery was about to come out again. Laban wanted to marry off his eldest because no one really wanted her. So, after everyone had their celebration and wine, Laban substituted Leah for Rachel. Jacob has sex with Leah thinking it was Rachel [he must have had a lot of wine!]. In the morning he discovered the deception.
Neither of the girls had a choice the matter. Father Laban was not a man to be argued with. Think how Leah must have felt. Like all women of that era, she wanted a husband, children, and a home. No man wanted her. Her father had to trick a man into marrying her. She is unwanted and unloved. And she knows in the morning Jacob is going to be very angry. What emotions must have gone through her heart? Life must have seemed incredibly unfair and disappointing. Yet she was destined to become the mother of the children who would leave their mark in history. Her son, Judah, would have kings come from his line - including the Messiah. Levi would father a priestly tribe which would serve God for over 1,000 years. But her pain-filled mind would not know that. We never know what God is going to do. In our pain, God can still work His plan. We may not even live to see the fulfillment of the plan for God works with big picture but we can in faith believe that God is going to work something good out of it.
What goes around comes around. Jacob began by deceiving Esau but in turn he was deceived. We have to be careful what we sow.
Jan 30/05 - Gen. 29:15-20
Jacob was willing to work 7 years in order to marry Rachel. A man had to prove his character and his ability to support a family before being given the privilege of a wife. If parents and women insisted on this there would be far less abuse and divorce.
As we go through this story we find that Leah was actually the better wife. Jacob was too captivated by Rachel's physical beauty to see her serious character flaws. It is important before marriage to examine the other person's character. This is one reason God restricts the physical relationship until after marriage. We need to take a serious look at a potential spouse before the emotions get involved.
Jan 27/05 - Gen. 29:1-14
Rebekah had been "discovered" by Abraham's servant as she went to the well. Now Rachel mets her future husband as she comes to the well [both were women willing and able to work]. They were just going about their everyday activities and God moved events according to His plan. God leads us as we walk with Him. It is usually so natural that we are not even aware that God is leading us. Often it is not until we look back and see where we have come from that we see the hand of God.
A well is the source of life-giving water. As we go to the Source of life we are refreshed and find life taking on new and exciting meaning.
Jan 26/05 - Gen. 28:20-22
At this point in his life, Jacob was still a man looking for a deal. You would have thought that after such an encounter with God He would have been willing to do anything. No, he is still working at making deal...if God will do this for me, then I will do that for God. Many Christians, like Jacob, try to make their bargains with God. God is merciful with our arrogance. Sometimes He will even take the deal as He continues to work to bring us to maturity.
Abraham and Jacob both recognized the principle of the tithe. This shows that it was an ancient practice. It may have been part of the original instructions from God to Adam. We don't know how much was in that revelation but we can make guesses by the actions of the people after that time.
Jan 25/05 - Gen. 28:15-19
God is everywhere but may times we are not aware of His presence. God doesn't always reveal His presence - if He did we would not need faith.
Jacob's response to the recognition of God's presence was worship. Our response should be the same.
Jan 24/05 - Gen. 28:13-14
God Himself renewed the covenant of Abraham with Jacob. This land where he was, was to be his and his descendants were to populate it. Notice two things:
1. Land is God's. He can give it to whomever He pleases. When His people are in right relation to Him and the time is right, God can and will give them the land. By "His people," I mean Christians. If we are unhappy with the state of our nations, the primary place of appeal is the throne of God.
2. All the families of the earth were to be blessed. The blessing of God was never intended to be limited to one nation. It had to develop there [as we study in Covenants] but it was to blossom out to all the world. This has indeed happened in the New Covenant.
Jan 21/05 - Gen. 28:12
Dreams are a part of how God can speak to us. They never overrule or add to Scripture. [Cults do that.] Nevertheless, they can be a way God speaks into our lives today.
In Jacob's dream he saw a ladder from earth to heaven with angels going back and forth. Angels are God's messengers to do His will and minister to His people. We also see that heaven and earth are connected. Even in the "dark ages" of the Old Testament when the majority of the world was in Satan's hands, Satan could not cut or destroy that connection. God is always in control.
Jan 19/05 - Gen. 28:10-11
Jacob went out from his father's house. It is always difficult to leave home, even with the father's blessing. We may have stones for pillows. The way may be hard and confusing as we find our own way but God is still in control. It is hard for parents, as well, to let their children go, especially if they go into hard circumstances. Jacob had the blessing of his father and he had the destination. He wasn't a hopeless wanderer. He had destination and purpose. Still there would be challenges along the way.
Jan 18/05 - Gen. 28:6-9
Esau - the self-centered, worldly man that he was - had no clue that his heathen, idol-worshipping wives were offensive to his parents. He was only interested in his wants, his needs, and his goals. This major family crisis shook him up enough to realize how his parents felt. Many times people who are locked into themselves have to face a major disaster before they realize that other people really matter.
So what was Esau's solution? He went and married another wife! Outside of God our "solutions" often create more problems than they solve. This is one reason why humanistic governments get in so much trouble. They ignore the Bible so when they "solve" one problem their solution many times creates more and worse problems. The spiral goes down until the whole thing finally collapses.
Jan 17/05 - Gen. 28:1-5
Isaac called Jacob and this time he gave him the blessing willingly and knowingly. It takes a great man to be able to admit when he is wrong. Sometimes we get so caught up always having to be right and defending or justifying ouselves that we can't say, "I'm sorry. I was wrong. Please forgive me." God doesn't look for the perfect person, He looks for the humble person.
So Jacob begins to look for a wife...
Jan 16/05 - Gen. 27:42-46
Both Isaac and Esau misjudged the time of Isaac's death by over 20 years. We never know when God is going to call us home.
Rebekah learned of Esau's plan to murder his brother. She determined to send Jacob away for a short while to protect him from Esau's violent temper. The short while turned into 20 years. I don't know if Rebekah ever saw her favourite son again. We never know what the future holds. We need to make use of each day to the fullest.
Notice, Rebekah didn't tell Isaac the real reason she wanted Jacob to leave. She chose a reason she knew Isaac would agree with. When we are trying to convince someone to do something it helps to look at it from their point-of-view. What is the most important thing in their eyes?
Jan 13/05 - Gen. 27:39-41
Esau's blessing basically amounted to living a hard life of survival and being subjected to his brother. Esau burned with hatred toward Jacob, so much so that he planned to murder him. Another wedge is driven into this already divided family.
Satan loves to see families break up. Destruction is his delight. In this case, he was also attacking the line of Christ in order to prevent the Messiah from ever being born. God's hand and plan is always greater the Satan's plan. Scripture is full of examples of God working good out of evil circumstances. Nothing is too hard for God.
Jan 12/05 - Gen. 27:30-38
Talk about split-second timing! Jacob barely leaves Isaac's tent when in comes Esau. With mounting horror Isaac realizes his mistake - he has blessed the wrong person. Esau begs to be blessed...even one blessing will do.
Notice, the blessing was given with words but it was more than words. It was almost tangible. It was given to one person, it could not be recalled or repeated.
The same is true of us. God's blessing comes to His people because of and through Jesus Christ. His blessing will never be recalled. It cannot be given to anyone outside of Christ either. All must enter through Christ or live under the curse.
Jan 11/05 - Gen. 27:29
The second part of the blessing was more orientated toward ruling. It very clearly reflects the covenant of Abraham being passed down to the third generation. People would stand or fall depending on their relationship with Jacob. This, of course, finds its final fulfillment in Abraham's true Heir, Jesus Christ. Everyone - from the creation of the world until whenever it ends - will stand or fall depending on their relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the true inheritor of all these promises. And we, who believe in Him, are in Him and therefore partake of these promises as well. [See The Covenants course]
Jan 10/05 - Gen. 27:26-28
The first part of the blessing, blesses Jacob with all that is needed to be successful in farming - e.g. his occupation. It wasn't to be just a limited success but an overwhelming success that would bring him much enjoyment in life. God's general plan is for His people to be amazingly successful in every area of life. The ungodly should be surprised at how well things work out for the Godly in the long run. Perhaps one reason more Christians are not physically successful is because God can't trust them. Integrity in financially matters begins with tithes and offerings. There are many other factors as well, including God's specific will in a person's life and His timing.
Jan 09/05 - Gen. 27:18-25
Isaac was confused and suspicious. It sounded like Jacob but everything else seemed to point to Esau. Jacob lied several times in his deception, he would later become a victim of deception himself. How we treat others often comes back to us as well. Isaac was too interested in his stomach to investigate further. When our eyes become focused on this world, we are easily led astray.
Jan 07/05 - Gen. 27:13-17
Rebekah removed the risk for Jacob. If he got caught she would take the curse for him. Rebekah was definitely the moving force behind the plan. She was willing to take any risk to promote her favourite son.
It is sad to see a family divided against itself. Husband and wife are supposed to work together for the common cause. The trouble began with husband and wife playing favourites with their children.
Jan 05/05 - Gen. 27:11-12
Jacob did not have the adventurous spirit of his brother. He started making excuses. They were good points, true, but he wasn't looking for solutions. Neither did he have the courage to stand up to his mother and say, "I will not be involved in this." He undoubtedly knew that God had promised the blessing to him and he wanted it. He was afraid the plan would backfire and he would end up with a curse.
Sometimes we read through these verses without giving much thought as to what is happening. The blessing was given with words, a curse was also given with words. These were not empty words but filled with power. Words are powerful and we need to be careful how we use them. Words can build or they can destroy. Words are how spirits [including human spirits] operate. We need to respect and understand that. In Isaac's case, his words - of blessing or cursing - were going to be accompanied by the power of God to bring them to fulfillment. Jacob was taking a very big risk.
Jan 04/05 - Gen. 27:5-10
Rebekah may have been a nice girl but she had learned a few tricks from her brother Laban. When she learned that her husband was not planning to obey God, she thought she would help God out. Instead of taking the matter to God in prayer, she came up with her own plan. She would trick her husband and get the blessing for her favourite.
When we try to help God out we end up making a bigger mess. It is much better to take it to Him and trust that He is big enough to work things out. We just need to trust and obey.
Jan 03/05 - Gen. 27:1-4
Isaac grew old and wanted to pass the covenant blessing on before he died. He misjudged the time of his death for he lived many years after this. Isaac, in many ways, was like Esau. Isaac preferred his "He-man" type son. One reason was he loved wild game and Esau could provide it for him. Isaac was willing to put the desires of his flesh over his spiritual responsibilities. Yes, it is true that normally the first-born son was the main inheritor and received the blessing. However, in this case, God has specifically told him - through Rebekah - that the second born was to have the covenant blessing. Isaac, because of his carnal desires and prejudices, was going to give the blessing to Esau anyway. This was direct rebellion to the declared will of God.
How often do we fall into the same temptation? We place our will and our desires above what we know the will of God to be. We need to repent and be submissive.
Jan 02/05 - Gen. 26:34-35
Esau, the man of the world, chose heathen wives. This caused problems in the family, especially with his faither and mother. They all lived in one area so the tendency would be compounded by daily contact.
Christians are specifically instructed not to marry non-Christians. Even within the Christian family, couples should carefully consider their future in-laws. These people are going to be a big part of your life. Will the relationship be good?
Dec 30/05 - Gen. 26:26-33
Abimelech and Phicol knew God was on Isaac's side. They wanted to cut a covenant with Isaac. No way did they want to get on the wrong side of this God. If you have taken The Making Of A Blood Covenant course, you will recognize that the feast was one step in cutting a covenant.
Dec 29/05 - Gen. 26:23-25
Once again God confirms the covenant. Everything God had promised Abraham would come to pass. God's word is firm.
It is interesting how often when God appeared - or even an angel - He began with "fear not." There is something about the real presence of God that strikes fear. Here we are totally helpless in the presence of a holy and almighty Being. If that doesn't bring some kind of fear, we haven't understood the situation! A healthy fear generates a healthy respect - which is often lacking today. God's word to His people is, "Don't be afraid of Me. I am your Father."
Dec 28/05 - Gen. 26:16-22
God uses all types of personalities. Many men would have fought over control of the wells. It was a vital resource. Isaac simply moved on and started again. There are times to stand and fight, but there are also many times when the gentler approach is best. Evil is defeated not so much by direct confrontation as it is overwhelmed by kindness and persistence.
Dec 27/05 - Gen. 26:14-15
Just because we are blessed by God doesn't mean life has no problems. Sometimes the blessing creates problems! In this case, Isaac became the target of the envious actions of the Philistines. They stopped up his wells in an attempt to destroy his wealth. When we are blessed and move forward in God there will be opposition. There will be people who are sad when we succeed. Unfortunately, many times the opposition comes from the religious community.
Envy is worse than jealousy. Jealousy basically says, "I want what you have and if I have to destroy you to get it , I will." Envy says,"I don't care if I get what you have, I just don't want you to have it, so I will destroy you." Jealousy is selfishness. Envy is hatred. It seeks to destroy the other person even though there is no personal gain.
Dec 26/05 - Gen. 26:12-13
Isaac obeyed God even through it didn't appear to be logical thing. God blessed him. Obeying God is always the right thing to do. God will look after us. He always has our best interest in mind.
It is God's will that we prosper in every area of life. The most important way to prosper is spiritually. Secondly, we need to prosper mentally. The final way is physical prosperity. Often we get this reversed. We want physical prosperity and we are willing to compromise everything in order to get it. God loves us too much to let us get away with it. He will do what it takes to help us get our priorities straight. When our priorities are straight we will prosper in every area of life unless God's special will in a specific situation is different than His general rule.
Dec 22/05 - Gen. 26:6-11
Isaac followed the example of his father, only in his case it was a total lie since Rebekah was not his half-sister. Some liberal scholars, who don't believe in the inspiration of the Scriptures, claim this is an example of the Bible repeating itself. They say Isaac would not have made the same mistake as Abraham. It is only an excuse to try and discredit the Bible. One has only to look at human nature and human experience to know it is very possible for a son to follow his father's example.
Isaac's fear for his own life placed his wife in danger. If we listen to our fears we never know how many people we may hurt. Fear is faith in reverse. It is faith in the problem instead of faith in God. May our eyes always be on God.
Dec 20/05 - Gen. 26:3-5
God renewed the covenant He had made with Abraham. Isaac was the heir of the promise. Everything God had promised Abraham was passed on to Isaac.
Again I would like to point out that this covenant was conditional. There are Christians today who claim God's promises to Abraham were unconditional. As we study in Covenants [everyone ought to take that course], all God's covenants are conditional. Verse 5 plainly states that this covenant was passed on to Isaac because of the obedience of Abraham. The only way to say this covenant was unconditional is by twisting plain Scripture to fit a preconceived idea - not a good way to study Scripture.
Dec 19/05 - Gen. 26:1-2
The famine would have naturally motivated Isaac to go to Egypt where there was food. But God appeared to him to let him know that was not His will. When we walk with prayer in God's ways we will use our mind and our heart to make decisions. We study the Word of God, get advice from Godly people, and make the best decision we know how. Sometimes God interrupts to let us know of special cases where the logical thing is not the right thing. Our ears need to be open so that if there is a special direction we will hear it.
God gives us a spiritual land. It is all that He is. It is a land of joy, peace, and beauty in the Holy Spirit. Temptations and troubles will come to try and move us from the land. Many people become discouraged and give up in the Christian life. It is a battle. God's instructions are to stand firm. Do not give up, do not go back into the world, keep holding on. God will come through at the right time.