January 18, 2010

Gen 48-50:The End of the Beginning

Posted in Anxiety, Israel tagged , , , , , at 11:19 pm by Steve

Have we come to the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end?

 Since Genesis 1, just think how far we’ve come. Here’s a short list of what we’ve learned, experienced and marveled at as its unfolded. We will have to contend with this list and its meaning for the rest of the year.

  •  God’s Sovereignty and purposeful design
  • Man’s propensity for self-delusion and self-aggrandizement
  • Sin’s consequences
  • God’s Covenant
  • Abraham’s faith
  • Human frailty, and
  • God Providence

 If you have other’s I’d love to hear what they are. Please add to this growing list.

 Christ is revealed in the following blessings of Jacob’s son Judah.

 “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs  and the obedience of the nations is his.” [Gen 49:10]

 The father blesses his sons, but the “blessing” is less of a look to the future as it is a reflection of the past. I can’t imagine Reuben being particularly thrilled when Jacob reads the family will and Reuben’s behavior is revealed.

 What legacy or blessing have you received from your parents and what blessing are you creating for your children?

 Faith is a tough for Jacob’s family. As soon as he dies the brother’s fear Joseph’s vengeance. Don’t they know him yet? Hasn’t his heart been revealed, or has their distrust said more about their hearts and than his?

Father God, You have blessed us when we were in rebellion. Through the example of your son Jesus Christ, we learn that we can trust Your heart. I pray for all those who still doubt, still wonder, and still wait. May we be your voice of hope. In Jesus’ Name we Pray, Amen.

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Gen 46-47: The World is Not My Home

Posted in Historical, Israel tagged , , , , , , , , , at 7:33 pm by Steve

Jacob, the father of the Promise, meets Pharaoh the lord of the Empire. Through the work of Joseph, Pharaoh has become very rich indeed owning all the cattle, people and land in Egypt. The genealogy of the sons of Jacob is recorded so that the reader may know the size of the tribe entering Egypt. This genealogy will become important later when we see how many leave Egypt.

Pharaoh is gracious to Jacob because of Joseph and gives them the best land of Goshen to live in. But even now, at the end of his life and living in the best land in Egypt, Jacob makes Joseph swear to take his bones from Egypt and rest in land of the promise.

I think we all live in the land of Egypt from time to time, but this world is not my home. I have a tie my kids gave me years ago for Easter, appropriate timing, that has a sort of ancient map on it and the words “this world is not my home.” We are the children of the promise and we know that when that time comes our bones too will be taken to the Promised Land where they will be restored.

Thank you God for the legacy of Jacob, a man of passion and one in whom the covenant was lived out in a very human way. Through him we have all been blessed to know that Your love and compassion knows no bounds. We thank you for Joseph and pray that we can be a type of Joseph for those we love and in our own way, save lives through our integrity, honesty, and unfailing faith.

Amen

Miscellaneous Comment

I feel that when God calls out “Jacob, Jacob” He is calling out to the patriarch of the family and settling the covenant that God made with one family, Abraham. “I am God, the God of your father,” he said. [46:3]

This draws this family covenant into a wider national covenant through the blessings of the sons, the twelve tribes of Israel (Jacob). You can see the change in identity happening through the language which does a lot of flip-flops. “Jacob left Beersheba, and Israel’s sons took their father Jacob…” [46:5]

“We will be in bondage to Pharaoh.” 47:25

I often hear people complain that giving God a tithe or 10% is unreasonable and even impractical. Pharaoh does not save his people, but buys them and owns everything. Pharaoh is not a “living god” but a shrewd business man who cornered the market on grain in a famine. He owns his own people and demands 20% payment for the rest of their lives in order to live. Contrast that with God who generously gives us everything and asks that we return 10% to be used to feed the poor and those facing tragedy, like the recent earthquake in Haiti or the poverty in Honduras.  Are you surprised we take God’s grace and generosity for granted and often begrudgingly give as little as 1%.

Pharaoh owns people and demands a 20% tribute.

God give people life and commands we return 10% to help others. Which we then ignore.

Looking back on it, I wonder who is really in bondage here!

Gen 43-45: The Hidden Call of God

Posted in Israel, Redemption tagged , , , , , , , , at 4:54 pm by Steve

One of the first things I noticed about this passage was that the writer now almost exclusively refers to Jacob as Israel. The change has been made from just a family problem to a national identity.

The fact that Joseph is overcome with emotion and looks for a place to weep lets the reader know that Joseph is not just playing games but his heart is sincere. People may say many things and do things that on the outside look one way or another, but tears reveal what’s really in the heart.

The main point of the Joseph Story: Our Perspective is limited when God’s Grace is

“it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you” 45:5

Joseph finally shares with his brothers that Joseph’s life in Egypt, their evil [notice Joseph doesn’t hide this fact], and the sorrow they have experienced has had a divine purpose which none of them could have foreseen. Joseph’s dream has finally been realized but in way he could never have imagined.

Have you ever asked God for a blessing? Did you ever want to be in a position of power, authority, and prestige? Be careful, for the road to success, in God’s plans, is usually paved with sorrow and a new understanding of what it means to be great!

“The greatest among you must the be servant of all” Matthew 23:11

Father God, when we are troubled, anxious about tomorrow, or doubt whether You grace is sufficient to save us, help us to remember Joseph and that even in the midst of storms in our lives, You have never abandoned us, but have placed us where we can do the most good. Help to gain a new perspective, to serve where we can serve, to give what we can give, and wait for the revelation of Your plan in our lives. This in pray, humbly, in Jesus’ name. Amen

January 15, 2010

Gen 41-42:Integrity Speaks Volumes

Posted in God's Character, Integrity tagged , , , , , , , , , at 4:56 pm by Steve

Integrity – doing what is right even when no one but God is watching

 

Joseph had integrity even in prison. Betrayed by his brothers and thrown in prison because of Potiphar’s wife, Joseph still uses his spiritual gifts to help those that needed his help. In time, Joseph’s integrity will be remembered because of an act of kindness two year earlier.

We cannot always know the ramification so our actions and we certainly won’t always be applauded for doing good. Sometimes just the opposite. But we know that as followers of Jesus we must true to our nature, but salt and light in a dark and weary world.

One of my favorite quotes is by William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania!

“Right is right even if everyone is against it. Wrong is wrong even if everyone is for it.”

So how can we know what is right and good? Trying Reading Micah 6:8

Pharaoh dreams the same dream twice to provide this an important message and not as Scrooge would say, “a bit of undigested beef.” In a moment of crisis they remember Joseph. Isn’t this typical. We don’t remember God until we’re in crisis mode. The story of Israel is one of abundance leading to idolatry leading to crisis. Will we ever break this cycle?

Joseph stand before Pharaoh, the monarch of all Egypt and might easily have taken the credit, the reward, and the fame for his wonderful ability to interpret dreams.  BUT HE DOESN’T. Even though he is in prison and has no prospects yet of release, he praises God for the gifts he has. When was the last time you praised God for the work of your hands, mind, or heart.

Believe me when I say, I can’t preach! But God can through me! Mother Teresa once said she was nothing but a little pencil in God’s hand writing a love letter to the world. I like that!

Joseph tests his brother by asking them to bring Benjamin, the youngest who Joseph had never seen. I found it interesting that Joseph imprisoned the brothers for three day. And on the third day brought them out to offer them a solution.

Redemption comes after three days.

 

What do you think?

January 14, 2010

Gen 38-40: Men Behaving Badly

Posted in Betrayal, Human Nature, Prophecy tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 10:59 am by Steve

The encounter between Judah and Tamar is described in rather great detail for a Biblical Story. Surprisingly Judah is a great patriarch of the nation of Israel, yet this story certainly doesn’t paint him in a noble, let alone spiritual, light. Nevertheless, it truly is a human story of people who make rash judgment and the need for leaving a legacy.

The writer wants us to know something more than just the facts of prostitution and retribution. It is an odd story that is shoved in between the initial dream of Joseph toward his brothers and being sold into slavery in Egypt. Why is this story so important that it breaks up the flow of Joseph’s troubles? I suspect this story of Judah and Tamar may shed some light on the unfolding story of Joseph. What do you think?

The writing builds to a surprise ending for Judah but not for the reader. We are let in on the story as it unfolds. We are, if you will, allowed to be in a god-like position as we encounter the story. We know that Judah has not kept his promise to Tamar yet is eager to exact judgment for what he perceives to be prostitution. We are quick with retribution and slow with reflection and redemption. We realize that there is more going on here than Judah realizes. Judah is making rash decision without full knowledge of his own involvement and betrayal of Tamar. Because of him, she is a woman without a family, without a purpose, and with no one to care for, love, and to build a life with. She is widow, forever grieving what might have been.

In the end Tamar takes matter into her own hands and has twins to Judah, Perez and Zerah. We will see their names again in Matthew 1:3 along with Tamar as part of the genealogy of Jesus. This seemingly insignificant event is used by God and highlighted by Matthew as the fulfillment of God’s promises in ways we would never imagine. Even Tamar pretending to be a prostitute is used by God. So don’t be surprised that God uses us and the events in our lives to bring about this plans and purpose.

As we transition to Joseph we must understand that the events that are unfolding, however unfortunate for Joseph, will also be used by God.

January 13, 2010

Gen 35-37: Family Feud

Posted in Human Nature tagged , , , , , , , , at 10:51 am by Steve

Remember (v)  — to keep in mind for attention or consideration, to think again

 I have a terrible memory when it comes to my blessings, and a sharp keen memory when it comes to problems, hurts, and failures. Why is that? After Jacob meets with his brother Esau and experiences grace and brotherly love, God says build an altar here that  you may remember what has happened. An altar was built of stone and would stand the test of time. Whenever people would pass by this mass of stone, they would remember what the Lord had given to Jacob. We need to remember what God has given us and we celebrate it every Sunday through worship and the sacraments.

If we fail to remember our blessings, we will become a feverish little clod focused on what we think we deserve not what we’ve been given. If we are to move on the place of bitterness, we must remember the moments of transition and transformation.

37:4 “When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.”

Wow what strong language. They HATED Joseph! What had he done to deserve this family rejection and the events that follow?

All people desperately need love and to feel that others are loved more than you is almost unbearable. Throughout the New Testament, it is made very clear that God loves all His children. Our names are written on the palm of His hand, even the hair on our head are known to Him. “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,” writes the psalmist.

But for Joseph’s brothers, their second place status is more than they can stand and they hate Joseph, their own brother. Nations play this same game on the world stage, each vying for the top super-power status or to bring down those who are doing well. The recent scandal involving Tiger Woods demonstrates that when there is blood in the water, people are more than interested in the downfall of an icon.

Joseph will pay dearly for his brother’s treachery and for Joseph’s pride. Joseph has a dream where his brother’s bow down and serve him, when in actuality, Joseph will deliver his brothers and the fulfillment of this prophecy will take Joseph through some of the most darkest moments in his life.

Are you really sure you want this prophecy Joseph?

Do you understand what it means to be used by God?

Have you ever wanted the limelight without the dark night of the soul that comes with it?