Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Georgia Leaves Yesterday

Genesis 'Summary"

Since August (2006), we have been going through the book of Genesis. It is the seedbed of what takes place in the rest of the Bible. We have studied humanity as a whole but have lately zeroed in on Abraham and his descendants and the nation Israel as it is formed. There have been other peoples branched off from this line. Ishmael is born to Abraham of Hagar who was an Egyptian and Sarah's handmaid. It was his descendants who were the caravan that carried Joseph into Egypt. Then there is Esau, the brother of Jacob, who sold his birthright and lost the blessing as the firstborn. He too became a great people. But the light is shining on Jacob, who is the brother of Esau and has become Israel after he communed with the Lord. It is from Israel that the promise that 'all nations' are to be blessed.

A people on the verge of starving have gone down to Egypt, but they carry the promise of the Lord.

I picture Israel as like a bubble in humanity. God has not forsaken the world but he has a plan for its salvation and so Israel, as the vessel of that promise, is protected down through the years. I will say it once more: Israel is like a pregnant lady. As we conclude this chapter, Israel carries the promise of God to the world. It seems to almost lie dormant as the nation itself is going through its formation and is soon to be born.

From the garden of perfection, to sin, destruction and the struggle of humanity to rebuild, we can see the seperation between God and humanity, yet he has not forsaken. It is a long journey for man to realize that he is hopelessly sinful and helpless without redemption by God. We have seen that those who had faith in God were those who pleased God. We have seen the need and the practice of a blood substitute to God for our sin. But what if there could be one blood sacrifice that would satisfy the righteous judgment of God for sin? What if there could be found one person who was pure enough to stand in the place of all humanity and be judged for sin and allow humanity to come back into communion with God? Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son but even Isaac was not pure enough. His blood was that of Adam. There was only one place to find that purity of sinlessness. It was in the very throne of God. What if it could be like before Adam sinned in the Garden? It is almost Christmas. That is the meaning.

Genesis 50 "Joseph Dies"

Genesis 50:25-26 "And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones frome hence. So Joseph died, being and hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him and he was put in a coffin in Egypt."

Joseph was about 30 years old when Israel came to Egypt. Jacob lived 17 years in Egypt then died. Joseph was 110 when he died, so the people lived under the protection of Joseph for about 63 years after Jacob died.

It should be no surprise that things change rapidly after Joseph's death. We have only to look back to a conversation between Abraham and the Lord in Genesis 15:13 "And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years."

We know from this passage that things were bound to change. In fact, we knew long before Joseph was sold into slavery. There is a promise with this prediction though in Genesis 28:15 we read "And behold I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land, for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of."

Then as Israel prepares to make his journey to Egypt and stopped off to pray. The Lord quiets Jacob's fears with a passage in Genesis 46:2-4. Here let me point out a couple of points:
*God tells Jacob not to fear
*God reminds Jacob of who he is
*Israel will become a great nation while in Egypt
*God will go down with Jacob

Let's read the verses: "And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night and said, Jacob, Jacob, And he said Here am I. And he said I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation: I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes."

Joseph was not there for that conversation but he served the same God and had a direct line of communication himself. In the chapter we are looking at, we can see Joseph is confident that his people would leave Egypt in the future for he told them to carry his bones out. Look at verse 25 again ..."God will surely visit you and ye shall carry up my bones from hence."

In the mean time, Jacob has been carried back to the burial place of his fathers for burial. There was a great company from Pharaoh's people and Israel's. v9 "And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen: and it was a very great company."

The Bible makes a point of mentioned the 'floor of Atad' which we should keep in mind to see if it turns up again later in our study. The place was renamed Abelmizraim which is beyond Jordan by the Canaanites.

In summary, we have reached a point in the history of Israel where there is no 'one' leader. There are the 12 tribes but soon they will be without the father's of those tribes. They are a people in a foreign land. I wonder do they remember that it will be a total of 400 years before they get to leave. I wonder if they know they are growing into a 'great' nation. I believe the words of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob echoed throughout the tribes for 400 years.

Proverbs 4:23 "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Genesis 49 "Destiny of the Twelve Tribes" "Jacob Dies"

Genesis 49:1 "And Jacob called unto his sons and said Gather yourselves together that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days."

The journey has ended for Jacob. He ends his journey as Israel. His is a struggle against the old man (his earthly nature) and the new man (his promise as Israel). We saw him often going from one identity to the other and back again. We as Christians are no different. We often struggle with wrong even when we know what the right thing is. It was Israel talking in verse 2.

v2 "Gather yourselves together and hear ye sons of Jacob; and hearken unto Israel your father."

Reuben is the firstborn and learns his future first. We must go back to chapter 35 verse 22 to understand Israel's comments to him "And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah, his father's concubine: and Israel heard it."..."

Now we can take a look at the pronouncement of Reuben's future. First Reuben is complimented as the firstborn and Israel calls him the beginning of his strength v3 , excellency of dignity and the excellency of power. But the mistake in the verse above has not been forgotten and now comes to bear. v4 "Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel, because thou wentest up to thy father's bed; then defiledst thou it; he went up to my couch."

Simeon and Levi are next in line and one of their past actions is not forgotten. It is true they were avenging their sister's bad treatment by Shechem but it appears that killing all of them was a bit extreme. Go back to chapter 34 verse 25 "And it came to pass on the third day, when they were sore, that two of the sons of Jacob Simeon and Levi, Dinah's brethern took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males."

Verse 7 (of chapter 49) tells of their destiny. "Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce, and their wrath for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob and scatter them in Israel."

Judah is blessed with a brighter future. In his line is mentioned Shiloh(Messiah). v10 "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. v11 Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass's colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine and his clothes in the blood of grapes: v12 His eyes shall be red with wine and his teeth white with milk."

Zebulun v13 ...haven of ships
Issachar v15 ...a servant unto tribute
Dan v16...shall judge his people
Gad v19 ...shall overcome at the last
Asher v20...royal dainties
Naphtali v21...giveth goodly words

Joseph receives a long blessing found in verses 22-26. It tells of attempts to kill Joseph but God made him strong. A notable part of v24 is (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:) . Joseph is given the blessings from heaven above and of the deep and tells of a crown for him.

Benjamin v27...shall ravin as a wolf ...and divide the spoil.

Jacob then describes the burial place of his father's and demands to be buried there.

V33 "And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost and was gathered unto his people."

CI Scofield divides Jacob's (Israel's) spiritual progress into 6 modules (1) the first exercise of faith, as shown in the purchase of the birthright Gen 25,28-34 and 27,10-22 (2) the vision at Bethel Gen 28 10-19 (3) walking in the flesh Gen 29 1-31 55 (4)the transforming experience Gen 32 24-31 (5) the return to Bethel: idols put away Gen 35 1-7 (6) the walk of faith Gen 37 1-49-33 .

Psalm 31:14 "But I trusted in thee, O Lord: I said, Thou are my God."

Friday, October 27, 2006

Genesis 48 "Manasseh and Ephraim"

Genesis 48:1 "And it came to pass after these things, that one told Joseph, Behold, thy father is sick: and he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim."

Israel here begans his death bed statement and it is very thorough. He began by telling how God Almighty appeared to him at Luz and promised to bless him and his descendants. Then he turns to Joseph's two sons. He told Joseph that even though they were born in Egypt, they were as much his sons as Reuben and Simeon.

Now his thoughts return to his journey with the Lord. He recalled how Rachel died in a place called Ephrath which is the same as Bethlehem. (Another hint of the Lamb that takes away the sins of the world.)

Again, he turns to Joseph's sons. v8 And Israel beheld Joseph's sons and said Who are these? Israel's eyesight had grown dim and so Joseph brought his sons nearer. It seems Israel has again forgotten the boys as he tells Joseph how he thought he would never see him again. Joseph pulled the boys back again within reach of Israel.

Something happens here. The firstborn is not touched by Israel's right hand as Joseph had placed him. Manasseh was the firstborn. Israel's right hand was placed on Ephraim. Joseph objected to the point of removing his hand but Israel insisted. The blessing was done as Israel intended. v15 And he blessed Joseph and said God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, then there is mention of someone else which I found very significant and I believe refers to the Lord. We discussed how at different times the Lord appeared as a man and it is no stranger to me that he might appear as an angel. v16 The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads and let my name be named on them and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.

So, as Jacob received the blessing over his brother Essau, Ephraim has received the blessing over his older brother Manasseh. Let me say here, that I do not understand everything I read but I can accept it because I trust the author of the Bible. Just as I do not quite understand this last verse which appears to give Joseph preference over his brothers through his sons.

v22 "Moreover, I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow.

The Bible does not say a lot directly about the physical abilities of Jacob nor his fathers. In the above verse we can see that he could be a man of war when necessary. I remember at the well where he met Rachel. He must have been a commanding figure for as he stood alone, those there did not object to his speech nor when he rolled the stone away.

Proverbs11:31 "Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner."

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Genesis 47 "Joseph's Dealing's for Pharaoh"

The first part of the chapter is a continuation of the story in chapter 46. Jacob met Pharaoh and they talked a little then Jacob's people are given v11 ..."the best of the land in the land of Rameses..."

Genesis 47:15 "And when money failed in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came unto Joseph and said Give us bread: for why should we die in thy presence? for the money faileth."

The famine is so great that life has come down to bear necessities for the people. Joseph, thanks to God's warning, has stored for the 7 years of famine. At first, the people could just buy what they needed from the storehouses, but now the famine drags on and the money has run out. Joseph offered them bread for their cattle. In a year v18 they came again for bread but even the cattle were gone.

v19 "Wherefore shall we die before thine eyes, both we and our land? buy us and our land for bread and we and our land will be servants unto Pharaoh: and give us seed, that we may live and not die that the land be not desolate."

Joseph did as they asked and removed the people v21 to cities. Joseph bought all the land except the land of the priests. Joseph then gave them seed to plant the land with the understanding that one-fifth of the grain would go to Pharaoh and four-fifth's to the people.

v27 "And Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen and they had possessions therein, and grew and multiplied exceedingly."

Jacob lived in Egypt 17 years and now it was almost time for him to die. He brought Joseph to him and told of the promise of God Almighty(c48). He also made him promise to not bury him in Egypt.

v31 "And he said, Swear unto me. And he sware unto him. And Israel bowed himself upon the bed's head."

It is a chilling time in Genesis. Until now the budding nation has wondered with their flocks while they became a multitude. Relatively speaking, it is a more peaceful time with a few squabbles to deal with. The future looms though. In the final chapters we shall see the outcome.

Proverbs 14:34 "Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people."

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

"Shadows and the Lamb"

Genesis 46: 3-4 Partial "...I am God, the God of thy father; fear not ...I will go down with thee ...and I will surely bring thee up again..."

We saw it in the garden when the innocent animals were killed to make a covering for Adam and Eve. We will see it again in 400 years when the lamb is sacrificed to put blood on the doorpost. These are shadows of the cross of Christ (The Lamb of God) when again innocent blood is shed for the world.

Our studies in Genesis are hints of things to come.

Genesis 46 "Who went down to Egypt?"

Genesis 46:1-4 "And Israel took his journey with all that he had and came to Beersheba and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Issac. And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night and said Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I. And he said, I am God, the God of thy father; fear not to go down into Egypt, for I will there make of thee a great nation: I will go down with thee into Egypt and I will also surely bring thee up again; and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes."

It is notable here that Israel prayed as he left Canaan enroute to Egypt. Perhaps he had heard the story from Abraham that the time in Egypt would be 400 years. He prayed there and it would be a long time before his descendants returned to pray again.

v6 "And they took their cattle, and their goods, which they had gotten in the land of Canaan and came into Egypt, Jacob and all his seed with him.

The middle of the chapter is a list of the children of Israel. Judah was sent ahead to Joseph to find the way to Goshen and there Joseph was reunited with his family.

Let's jump back to Genesis 15:7 "And he said unto him, I am the Lrod that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees to give thee this land to inherit it." v13 "And he said unto Abram Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs and shall serve them and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge and afterward shall they come out with great substance."

The promise seems long coming and has been repeated to Abraham, Issac and Jacob. Now, the dark part of the journey to their inheritance has started. It seems that circumstances prevented any other course of action than going down to Egypt. God did, in fact, arrange it. All is well here in chapter 46 but with leadership change comes policy change. The good treatment here of Israel is based on the goodwill of Joseph with the Pharaoh.

For a really good summary of the history of Israel you may read Stephen's sermon beginning in Acts chapter 7 of the New Testament.

Psalm 4:3 "But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the Lord will hear when I call unto him."

Genesis 45 "The Why of Joseph's Sojourn in Egypt"

We have see what appears to be a story of a very mean event in the Bible when brothers conspired to sell their younger brother simply because they did not like him. Joseph has been in Egypt for 13 years now and all the time his father thought him to be dead. A famine has come on all the land but thanks to God's warning in Pharaoh's dream and Joseph's interpretation food has been stored in Egypt and Joseph is ruler under Pharaoh. He is in a position to save his family from the famine. The following two verses, I think, are the key to understanding why that sometimes, bad things can happen for good.

Genesis 45:7-8 "And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughtout all the land of Egypt."

So the Pharaoh ordered Joseph to send along wagons with his brothers to bring down his family. The land of Goshen is to be their home. Gifts were exchanged and finally Israel (Jacob) arrived in Egypt to a happy reunion with the son he thought was dead.

v28 "And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.

Proverbs 27:23 "Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds."

"Hebrew" definition

According to my "Comprehensive Bible Helps" Hebrew is a Gentile reference to the descendants of Abraham. It refers to "one who comes from beyond" and "one who has crossed over" as crossing the Euphrates River.

It was used in reference to Israel's whole family and refers back to Abraham.

"The Hebrews" was a term chosen for its indication of purity of blood and strictness of religion. It also refers to a sense of tradition, community of language and desginates the people as a race.

The term was used by foreigners in that sense in referring to the descendants of Abraham in the oldest times.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Genesis 44 "The Cup"

Genesis 44:1-2 "And he (Joseph) commanded the steward of his house, saying Fill the men's sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put every man's money in his sack's mouth. And put my cup, the silver cup, in the sack's mouth of the youngest, and his corn money. And he did according to the words that Joseph had spoken."

Joseph is still playing a bit of a game with his brothers. At first he caused them to fear by putting their money in the sacks of corn on their first trip. Now, he put the money in the sacks and also his cup in Benjamin's sack. He then sent his men to chase after Jacob's sons and accuse them of theft of the cup. The brothers declaring their innocence said whoever has the cup will be your servant and us v9. The steward changed it to only the one who has the cup and it is found in Benjamin's sack.

The brothers follow back to Joseph's house and Judah stepped forward to plead to Joseph for Benjamin for he said it would kill his father if he lost him also. Judah went over the entire story of Jacob's condition and his resistance at sending Benjamin on this journey. Judah offers himself in Benjamin's place for his father's sake.

Genesis 44:33-34 (Judah talking) "Now therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant abide instead of the lad a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren. For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad be not with me? lest peradventure I see the evil that shall come on my father."

We will find the end to this part of the story in the next chapter as Joseph can refrain no longer from telling them who he is.

Proverbs 19:17 "He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him again."

Genesis 43 "Joseph wants to see Benjamin"

Genesis 43: 1-3 "And the famine was sore in the land. And it came to pass, when they had eaten up the corn which they had brought out of Egypt, their father said unto them, Go again, buy us a little food. And Judah spake unto him, saying The man did solemnly protest unto us, saying Ye shall not see my face, except your brother be with you."

The saga now continues in a touching story of two brothers seperated for 13 years and now Joseph is firm about Benjamin being brought on this their second journey to get food. Jacob is as firm that Benjamin is not going for fear something will happen to him. Joseph and Benjamin are the only two sons of Rachel, Jacob's first love who has died.

Finally, with food run out, Jacob agrees to let Benjamin go. He sent gifts and double the money Joseph had left in the sacks on the first trip. Joseph had them to a meal and inquired of their father. They dine and Benjamin is treated to 5 times the portion at the meal. Joseph is again overcome with emotion and must hid to weep.

Although, they are able to buy food of the Egyptains. There is a culture clash even at this early time.

Genesis 43:32 "And they set on for him by himself, and for them by themselves and for the Egyptians, which did eat with him, by themselves: because the Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians.

This verse may be the first mention of the term Hebrew. I cannot remember another in Genesis so far.
Another culture difference is found in another chapter which we have not yet come to. It is found in
Genesis 46:34 "That ye shall say Thy servants trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now both we and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians."

Proverbs 20:24 "Man's goings are of the Lord; how can a man then understand his own way?"

Monday, October 23, 2006

Genesis 42 "Spies?"

Genesis 42:1 "Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another?"

The famine is in full swing and the land of Canaan is getting hungry. Jacob has heard about the corn in Egypt and so expresses his dismay that his sons are looking at each other instead of already being on their way to get corn. The sons departed but Jacob kept Benjamin at home for fear something would happen to him. Joseph played a little game with is brothers since they did not recognize him in his Egyptain garb and of course he is 30 now.

Joseph accused them of being spies come to scope out the land perhaps indicated they intended to do some harm. Jacob's sons pleaded their case but Joseph still pretended to be suspicious.

v12 "And he said unto the, Nay, but to see the nakedness of the land ye are come."

At first Joseph told them one could go back and fetch his other brother, but after 3 days in ward he decided to let all go but one. The sons talked to each other in Hebrew thinking Joseph would not understand, about how they had betrayed him. Joseph was deeply touched and had to turn away from them.

v25 "Then Joseph commanded to fill their sacks with corn and to restore every man's money into his sack, and to give them provision for the way and thus did he unto them."

Upon finding the money when they returned home, they were quite confused and told their father all that had happened and of the demand that Benjamin be brought. Reuben offered his two sons as ransom for Benjamin if only Jacob would let him go down to Egypt but still Jacob hesitated.

v38 "...My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead and he is left alone..."

As we will see in the next chapter the subject is dropped until the corn ran out, then it comes up again.

It seems life is all about transitions and this story is no exception. I mentioned before that the nation Israel was like a pregnant lady who carried the promise of Abraham. In the coming chapters, we will witness the birth of the nation itself. We have journeyed with Abraham from Ur and with Issac as he cleaned out the wells his father dug and now Jacob. He has sojourned in Canaan since his return from Syria and the house of Laban. Now he is old and a great host is lead by him. He is responsible for their well-being. From here on, Jacob will be referred to as Israel and his people will move from a family to a nation but not without hardship. As childbirth is not without travail, so a nation born is not without travail. We will see.

Proverbs 25:21 "If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink."

Friday, October 20, 2006

You Have Found a Simple Bible Study Blog

Won't you join me for this study of the oldest story every written? We have started in chapter 1 of Genesis and are now up to chapter 41 where Pharaoh dreamed a dream. It is not really a fancy study. I'm just going over the basics so we can remember again the old old story. We try to work our way through another book starting in a few days. If you go along, you will be through several books of the Bible before you know it. If you join me, it will make the way so much more cheerful. My name is Milton Southerland. I'm not a Bible scholar...just interested in what it has to say.

Genesis 41 "Cows and Corn" "Good Years and Bad Years"

Genesis 41:1 "And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed; and, behold, he stood by the river."

Now, Joseph's special ability to tell what a dream means will come to use at the highest level. Pharaoh dreamed of standing on the bank of the river and seeing 7 cows (kine) come up and they were very fat and healthy. Then he saw 7 cows which were thin which stood by the fat ones. The thin cows devoured the fat ones.

Then again, he dreamed of a stalk of corn with seven ears on it. They were good corn. But he also saw 7 bad ears of corn which devoured the good corn.

Pharaoh is upset. He called for his usual magicians to tell him what it all meant but none of them had an answer. Then the butler suddenly remembered something. He apologized to the Pharaoh then told him about Joseph, who was still down in the prison, and how he had interpreted his dream and that of the baker.

Joseph is now retrieved from the prison, he shaved, and is ushered in to the Pharaoh. He is not daunted by being there. He gave God credit for the interpretation before he even started. Then he told the Pharaoh how it would be. There will be seven years of plenty and then seven years of famine. He went on to say that God told him twice and so it was settled.

Genesis 41:25 "And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh is one: God hath showed Pharaoh what he is about to do."

Pharaoh could have done several things. He could have asked Joseph what a poor Hebrew would know about such things and tossed him back in prison. He could have told Joseph that God was not his god and so disown the interpretation. But he was a wise man. He accepted what Joseph said and put him in charge of Egypt as his second in command.

Genesis 41:42-43 "And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph's hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck. And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt."

Not a bad move up the ladder, from prisoner to ruler. I suppose the captain of the guard was glad he had been nice to Joseph. Joseph is now 30 years old. He was 17 when his brothers sold him.

Joseph is also given a wife and they had two sons before the famine hit. Their names were Manasseh and Ephraim. The good years passed while Joseph had the whole kingdom storing up for the 7 years of famine. When the famine came, the people cried to Pharaoh for food but he referred them to Joseph.

Genesis 41:57 "And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands."

I really love this story for several reasons. One is I like Egyptian history. It is amazing to me to read stories about them opening up a tomb and stepping back in history by thousands of years. What could it have been like then? I also like to see a plan come together. God saw that famine coming long before this and Joseph is put in place to store up food for the bad years. He is in a position to save his people. The main thing I like about it is how the life of Joseph corresponds to the life of Christ. Did you notice that Joseph assumed his position at the age of 30? Just as Christ began his ministry at the age of 30. I will try to do a whole lesson on the similiarities soon.

Proverbs 21:1 "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will."

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Genesis 40 "A Baker, Butler, 2 Dreams, 3 Days"

Genesis 40:1-3 "And it came to pass after these things that the butler of the king of Egypt and his baker had offended their lord the king of Egypt. And Pharaoh was wroth against two of his officers, against the chief of the butlers and against the chief of the bakers. And he put them in ward in the house of the captain of the guard into the prison, the place where Joseph was bound."

Joseph had a special gift which was to interpret dreams. He was given this gift for a special purpose which I think was to propel him to the leadership in Egypt so he would be able to help Israel. I do not think everyone is going to have every gift mentioned in the Bible. Special ocassions and situations call for special measures. Every dream he had, that we see in the Bible, was a step in that direction. Even the one where he saw his brothers bowing to him in a previous chapter.

In this chapter we have two men who have displeased the Pharaoh and ended up in prison with Joseph. Each man had a dream which Joseph was able to tell the meaning of. The butler had the best dream. His was of three branches that appeared to bud and he saw himself pressing the fruit into Pharaoh's cup. The solution given by Joseph was that he would be restored in three days to his previous position. The baker did not do as well. His dream was three baskets on his head and the birds ate from the top basket. Joseph told him of his fate. In three days he would be hanged and the birds would eat his flesh. I hope you will remember the three's for later.

Joseph's interpretations were true and in three days it came to pass. Joseph asked the butler to remember him when he was back in his old job but he forgot and so for two more years Joseph stayed in prison.

Isn't that an interesting story? Not so good for the baker but it would make a great dramatic play. I wonder if anyone has used it. It is however real life and the story has much significance in the story of Israel and the story of Christ. Wait till you see the next chapter!

Proverbs 4:7 "Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom; and with all thy getting get understanding."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

What do you know about Joseph?

What part did Joseph play in the development of the nation Israel? Who was his father and mother? How many brothers and sisters did he have? How is he like Christ? Who was he sold to in Egypt? How was his coat of many colors used to send him to prison?

This man was a son of Israel and ruled in Egypt. It is good to know something of him.

Genesis 39 "Joseph in Potiphar's House"

Genesis 39:1 "And Joseph was brought down to Egypt and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelities, which had brought him down thither."

We now make a notable transition. We have followed Abraham from Ur and Issac living in Canaan, then Jacob's wondering and return to Canaan. Jacob's name was changed to Israel and he now has 12 sons and one daughter.

Joseph has become the center of the story. His brothers have sold him, to a traveling caravan, who in turn sold him to Potiphar. Joseph is 17 years old at this time. He is a dreamer of dreams. One of them was that his brothers would bow down to him which is one reason he is now in Egypt.

Joseph was likable and a good manager. The Lord's hand was on him and what he did prospered. v2 "And the Lord was with Joseph and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian." Morever v3 "And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand."

So, Joseph is trusted so much that he apparently lives in his master's house or close by and is in charge to the point that his master v6 "...knew not aught he had, save the bread which he did eat."

Then Potiphar's wife made several passes at Joseph but he refused her. In anger, she presented the coat of many colors, Joseph left behind on his last escape from her, to her husband as evidence that Joseph had forced himself on her. The master believed her words and cast Joseph into prison.

Even in prison, Joseph won the favor of his keeper and was again put in charge. v23 "The keeper of the prison looked not to anything that was under his hand; because the Lord was with him(Joseph) and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper."

Perhaps there are passages where some could not see the Lord working but this chapter is so obvious. Joseph is alone and young. He has been sold by his brothers and bought by a citizen of a foreign country. Yet he prospered. We can easily see how Joseph, at his young age, is being prepared for a great task ahead.

Proverbs 1:10 "My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Quiz From Our Studies of Genesis

What was the name of Jacob's twin brother?

Where did Abraham originally live?

During the flood when Noah was saved, how long did it rain?

Who was Jacob's father and mother?

Who died giving birth to one of Jacob's sons? What was his name?

What did Jacob use for a pillow when he dreamed of angels going up and down by a ladder that reached to heaven?

Genesis 38 "Judah's Folly"

Genesis 38:1-3 "And it came to pass at that time that Judah went down from his brethern and turned in to a certain Adulamite whose name was Hirah. And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shuah and he took her and went in unto her. And she conceived and bare a son and he called his name Er."

Chapter 38 is a sort of transition chapter between the selling of Joseph and the story of his time in Egypt. It tells some of Judah's life. He begins when he left his brothers and went out on his own. He took a wife of the Canaanites and had three sons. His wife died and he grieved for her for a period of time. His first son was very wicked and was slained by the Lord. The second son was suppose to take his brother's wife and raise up children but he refused and also died. At this point Judah told the daughter-in-law to remain a widow and wait for the third son to grow up. She took on her widow clothes and did as Judah said but Judah forgot about her and the arrangement. Judah is lonesome now and on his way to see his sheep he saw what he thought was a harlot but it was his son's widow Tamar pretending to be a harlot for she knew Judah was to pass that way. He slept with her and she became pregnant. I suppose with the first arrangement forgotten by Judah, Tamar makes as part of the deal for Judah to leave his staff, bracelets and signet until her payment was received. When Judah sent payment for his thoughtless act, the lady was gone. Now comes the time when the pregnancy can no longer be hid and Judah is told of his daughter-in-laws indiscretion. He became indignant over the situation and said she was to be burnt for the evil deed. Tamar presented his personal belongings to him and he was reproved. She gave birth to two sons Pharez and Zarah.

Genesis 38:26 "And Judah acknowledged them and said She hath been more righteous than I because that I gave her not to Shelah my son..."

Judah fell for all three temptations described in this verse from the new testament:

1 John 2:16 "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world."

We find that with all the teaching and all the blessings within this family, sin is ever present and it is within the nature of man to sin. Already, mankind has fallen far since the garden. Next, we will study about Joseph who appears to be a picture of the Lord and his ministry on earth. There are many comparisons to make in this regard.

Proverbs 6:12 "A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth."

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Genesis General "A Certain Man"

Sometimes verses sort of jump out at me. Perhaps, I see something that is not there. But let me point out these few verses. Somepeople see God as a sort of mystical figure in a far away place who only sees us from afar and is just waiting for the end to come. I see Him as very active in humanity. By his perfect nature he cannot look upon sin and as we read before did not go into the cities he destroyed because of their wickedness. Nevertheless, I do believe he makes appearances in human and angelic form on the earth. In that regard, let me highlight some scriptures.

Genesis 37:15 "And a certain man found him, and behold he was wandering in the field and the man asked him saying, What seekest thou? And he said, I seek my brethren: tell me I pray thee where they feed their flocks. And the man said, They are departed hence for I heard them say Let us go to Dothan. And Joseph went after his brethren and found them in Dothan."

In being real, I must say this could have just been a man who happened to be in the neighborhood. I like to think though that with the importance of Joseph in the care of Israel while in Egypt that this certain man may have been the Lord. Joseph was wandering in the field and so may have been wore out and lost since his brothers were not where they were suppose to be. Anyway, the passage does stand out and the Lord's plan could not have used Joseph if he had died while wandering.

Genesis 32:24 "And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day."

The Bible calls him a man but he made a life changing decision in Jacobs life and the life of a nation. Jacob's name was changed by him. Jacob believed he had seen God face to face. One touch and Jacob limped from that day on.

Genesis 18:2 "And he lifted up his eyes and looked, and lo three men stood by him: and when he saw them he ran to meet them from the tent door and bowed himself toward the ground."

Abraham went on to feed the three and then one told Abraham about the future. Now, it must have been the Lord who appeared as a man. Verse 1 verifies that it was the Lord.

Genesis 14:18 "And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine and he was the priest of the most high God."

Sounds a lot like Jesus on the shore with fish prepared for the disciples. Hebrews 7 gives a good description of Melchizedek who I have no doubt was the Lord.

Hebrews 7:3 "Without father, without mother without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life, but made like unto the Son of God, abideth a priest continually.

We can jump back to Genesis 3 and see the Lord walking in the garden in the cool of the day.
Genesis 3:8 "And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day..." He goes on to question them about their sin.

All through our studies we have seen the Lord come down and talk with those who carried the promise. Joseph is to be the protector of Israel during a famine, so it is very important that he find his way to his brothers. They meant to do evil to him but the Lord had a different purpose for him. We will see soon.

I just wanted to point out that the Lord is not far off. I often wonder if he walks into churches and sits down for one of the services. Or if he is the stranger who stops on the roadside when someone is in trouble. Perhaps, he is that kind person in the waiting room at the hospital who knows just the right words to say. I know he has many angels at his command and the power to calm natural storms and the storms of our life. I believe he comes at other times as 'a certain man' and walks among us.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Genesis 37 "Joseph" Part 1

Genesis 37:1 "And Jacob dwelt in the land wherein his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan."

First we need a summary of this very important and famous chapter. It seems to have all the elements of a good plot.

*Joseph is hated by his brethren v2
*His two dreams v5
*Jacob sendeth him to visit his brethren v13
*His brethren conspire his death v18
*Reuben saveth him v21
*They sell him to the Ishmaelites v26
*His father deceived by the bloody coat mourneth for him v31
*He is sold to Potiphar in Egypt v36

Joseph is a young man of 17 years old and most favored by his father. Those two elements alone put him in a bad spot. He was also trusted by his father to check up on things and bring him word. Another thing that made himunpopular with some of his brothers. The coat that Joseph wore was special. It was a coat of many colors made by and presented to him by his father. All these things combined to make Joseph's brothers hate him.

V4 "And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him and could not speak peaceably unto him."

To top that off, Joseph had vivid dreams and told them to his brothers which were the last straw. Joseph is sent by Jacob to check up on the flocks. Joseph went to Shechem which is where his father thought the flocks were being fed but it turns out the brothers had decided to go to Dothan v17. My thought is that Joseph had done more walking than he planned and might have been low on food and water. I don't know for sure. But he was found wondering and had to ask where the flocks were v16. He may have been in bad condition when the brothers saw him at a distance and conspired against him.

Reuben tried to save him by telling them to put him in a pit instead of killing him so he could go back later and get him to take him to Jacob v22. didn't work out though since the other brothers sold him before Reuben got back to him. Reuben was the firstborn and should have been respected by the others but he may have compromised his position by going to bed with one of the brother's mother(chapter 35 v22,25).

Joseph has been sold. First to the caravan (descendants of Ishmael) then to Potiphar and officer of Pharoah's and captain of the guard. v36.

Proverbs 143:3 "For the enemy hath persecuted my soul; he hath smitten my life down to the ground; he hath made me to dwell in darkness, as those that have been long dead."

Genesis 36 Esau's Generations & mules, dukes&kings

Genesis 36:1 "Now these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom."

Chapter 36 is filled with names which are difficult to pronounce and hard to remember. Upon seeing this chapter many or most would skip to the next one. But there are things to note here.

Esau took his wives of the daughters of Canaan v2 and is important to remember. If you remember, Abraham forbade the servant to take a wife for Issac from the Canaanites and Jacob went back to the house of Laban to find his wives. The Bible goes on to list the children of Esau but one thing is repeated and that is that Esau is Edom.* We are not there yet but I expect that Edom will play an important part in future stories. Esau dwelt in Mount Seir. v8

*According to CI Scofield reference notes, Edom is the country lying south of the ancient kingdom of Judah and has to do with Armagedon.

In verse 15 we see the term, I believe, duke for the first time. It is a term used in some cultures down through history. One name stands out to me among the dukes in verse 16 and that is Duke Amalek , a name we will see again.

Then there is Anah. What could he be famous for? v24 "...Anah, that found the mules in the wilderness..." . As I understand it mules are the offspring of a horse and donkey. They were used extensively as work animals on farms and for logging. Leviticus 19:19 has something to say though along this line "Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind:..." I am not sure if that was referring to mules but my large print Bible had that verse as a reference.

The last part of the chapter list some kings one name stands out, that of Saul. It is the same name of the first king of Israel which occurs much later in our study. Israel did not yet have kings.
V31 "And these are the kings that reigned in the land of Edom before there reigned any king over the children of Israel."

So, we have a bit of history here between the death of Issac and the story of Joseph. I expect some of these names will come up again in later studies. Such passages are very important to students who study descendants who inhabited certain lands. And they help us understand who the characters are that we run across in our studies. For example: In the next chapter we will see mention of the Ishmaelites*. We know that Ishamel was Abraham's son by Hagar the Egyptian handmaid. Well, it turns out that it was Ishmaelites who transported Joseph down to Egypt. Since Ishmael married an Egyptian it gives those people a direct connection for their trade of transporting and selling spices and such to Egypt. Israel is not only surrounded by 'strangers' but by descendants of Abraham i.e. Esau and Ishmael and even his kin the descendants of Lot the Moabites. While Abraham was given a very special promise, he was also to be the father of many nations.
*Also spelled Ishmeelites but my Bible dictionary shows them as the same people.

Proverbs 27:23-24 "Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. For riches are not forever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?"

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Genesis 35 "Back to Bethel" or "Up to Bethel" Part 2

(The spiritual application)
"Arise, go up to Bethel..." v1 God spoke to Jacob during a time in his life when there was upheaval. He needed reassurance and renewed spiritual strength to go on. The Lord refers Jacob to a place where he had found comfort in the past. It was a time when Jacob was running for his life and all he had was his clothes and a staff with a rock for a pillow. Genesis 28 v11, v19.
Bethel was where Jacob prayed. Not the only place he prayed. But a special place.

Jacob prepared to go to Bethel. He told the people to put away their strange gods and put on clean garments. v2 . Here we see the attitude toward prayer. "...Put away the strange gods that are among you and be clean..." They did not go to the Lord while hanging onto things in their life that should not be there. They left those things behind.

v5 "And they journeyed:..." Now there is the journey to pray. We, as Christians, know we need to pray and know that we need to have a good attitude toward prayer. That is be open to the help God gives and not hang onto 'stuff'. It is most difficult to take action toward prayer. The thing is we do not know what help we will get. We are much aware of our problems and sometimes feel hopeless. It is not the most cheerful time to seek help. We would prefer to make big decisions when we are in better shape mentally. But they journeyed to Bethel. They made an effort toward prayer.

v9 "And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padanaram and blessed him." I think sometimes we expect that when we meet with the Lord, we should have some ability or strength to perform some task to get Him to act. In this case, the people have left off their strange gods, cleaned themselves up and made the effort to pray. It is now time to listen and wait on the Lord. I saw no mention of what Jacob said at Bethel, only of what God said and did. After God spoke and "went up" Jacob did show respect by marking the spot with a pillar of stone. It was what God did that made the difference in Jacob's life but he had to be willing to go to Bethel, or go pray. He had to go before the Lord with a sincere heart and ready to listen.

Now we have the reality of life on earth where sin abides. Although we can be good Christians and walk before God and the world in a Christian manner, the reality is that we live in a world where sin does great harm and causes much pain in peoples lives. It is the mission of Satan to hurt the Lord by hurting people. Of course, he cannot touch God but he can cause people harm. So with that in mind, even when we have been to Bethel or had a good prayer time, life is waiting for us.

Sometimes, we go to prayer to recover from an experience. Sometimes, we go to prayer to prepare for an experience. The Lord knows what we have gone through, what we are going through and what we will go through. In our passage Jacob was in fear because of the events at Shechem but there were troubles ahead he was not aware of and so at Bethel he found strength for both. As we know after Jacob left Bethel he was called Israel. We sometimes go back and forth between Jacob and Israel too, in a manner of speaking. We are sometimes very trusting in God and sometimes we try to make it on our own. Jacob had to deal with the death of three people in the balance of this chapter that were a very important part of his life and other things that can make a father hurt (v22). These tragedies or the normal way of life and were not in Jacob's life because he prayed. He was able to endure them because he had prayed. I know it is discouraging to have a time of spiritual uplifting, as at Bethel, then plunge into a valley. Life is mountains and valleys. Most journeys are. We should not blame the mountain for the valley. They compliment each other and there is beauty in both. For every hill we climb, we get to see further for a time.

Psalm 4:3 "But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself; The Lord will hear when I call unto him." v4 "Stand in awe and sin not; commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still." Psalm3:3 "But thou, O Lord are a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head."

Genesis 35 "Back to Bethel" Part 1

Genesis 35 : 1 " And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother."

All chapters are important, but this chapter holds a lot of significance for Jacob and as a picture in the Christian life. I will summarize the chapter in this post and attempt to go over how it applies to our lives in the next one.

Jacob's daughter Dinah has just been defiled by Shechem. Her brother's executed revenge in an extraordinary way against the whole city by killing the males and taking the wives, children and flocks. Jacob becomes afraid for his life and that of his family.

God came to Jacob and told him to go back to Bethel. To prepare his people, Jacob told them to put away their strange gods. They then bring them to Jacob and he buried them underneath an oak tree. Jacob came to Bethel. It is then that Rebekah's nurse Deborah died and was buried. God reminds Jacob that his name is Israel and reiterates his promise that the land would be his and that "a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee..."

In verse 16 they journeyed from Bethel. Rachel had hard labor when Benjamin was born and died in Ephrath which is a short ways from Bethlehem.

Then Jacob journeys again but now in v21 something happens for the Bible says that "And Israel journeyed, and spread his tent beyond the tower of Edar. Notice the name change. He is referred to as Israel instead of Jacob.

Next is a recap of the sons of Leah and Zilpah. Jacob's sons born in Padanaram.

In verse 27 he is again called Jacob : "And Jacob came unto Issac his father unto Mamre..." The Bible does not say if Jacob received a message about his father but we now read that Issac is old (180) and he gave up the ghost and died v29. It is good to note that Esau and Jacob buried their father together. The problems between them are gone.

And so, Abraham and Issac have died. Israel is the head of the family.

Proverbs 7:1-3 "My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee. Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye. Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart."

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Genesis 34 "Dinah"

Genesis 34:1 "And Dinah the daughter of Leah which she bare unto Jacob went out to see the daughters of the land."

We go from the most tender chapter to a chapter of violence.

Dinah is the baby sister of 12 boys. We have not heard from her since her birth several chapters back. In this chapter her brothers are out working in the fields, Jacob is home and Dinah is bored. She decided to go into town and 'hang-out' with the local girls. They are camped near Shechem, a city or area named for the son of a man named Hamor.

Dinah must have been good looking for she attracted Shechem and he took her to his bed. Word got back to Jacob but he held his peace until the sons came from the field. Apparently a message was sent for Simeon and Levi showed up soon.

Now, Dinah is still in the house of Shechem, but Hamor, his father, asked for her hand on behalf of his son. It is not the best way to approach the issue. It is like saying "Ha, my son has your daughter in his house and has slept with her but now he loves her and wants you to give her to him." The sin would really make me mad but the gall of the father would really burn me. He has not even brought Dinah back to her father and he is asking for her hand. The son is to cowardly to come himself and do it. I can understand the actions of Simeon and Levi later.

First though, a plan is forming. Hamor must not have known the crafty side of Jacob. He read Hamor's real ( v23) intentions and did a little trickery of his own. He told them that they would be glad to intermarry with them if only they would be circumcised as they were. Hamor jumped at the idea as did Shechem for he loved Dinah v18.

v23 "Shall not their cattle and their substance and every beast of theirs be ours? only let us consent unto them, and they will dwell with us." The two men argued at the gate of the city.
V18 "And their words, pleased Hamor and Shechem Hamor's son." After Jacob had presented the counter offer to them.

Three days later while the men of the city were sore (V25) Simeon and Levi took up their swords and slew every male in the city and took Dinah back to her fathers house. Then the other sons "...spoiled the city because they had defiled their sister." v27

Jacob was upset. You will notice that even though his name has been changed to Israel. He is called Jacob at times. I believe it is because sometimes he acts like the old Jacob and becomes fearful instead of acting like a prince as Israel. Jacob is concerned for his family and their safety which is good but Simeon and Levi did rescue their daughter albeit by extreme measures.
v30"...Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites an the Perizzites and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house."

Simeon and Levi were grown and had a mind of their own as judged by this verse.
v31 "And they said, Should he deal with our sister as with an harlot?"

We have here some ground work for the years to come. Actions like those of Simeon and Levi are the fodder for legends. Two men slay a whole city and did not even wait for their 10 brothers. Remember the people of this area are those the Israelites will fight someday after their captivity. Jacob knows they are not strong enough to defeat the whole area but a little intimidation goes a long way. If two of the boys can do this though what of all twelve. As I said it is the thing a legend is made of. But Jacob is told by the Lord to leave the area and go back to Bethel (the place of prayer). Dinah has been defiled. Simeon and Levi have slain many men. Jacob is fearful. It is time to pray.

Had this not happened the way it did, Jacobs people would have intermingled with the local people and there would have been no Israel and the protector of the promise would have dissolved. Satan was certainly working to stop them from becoming a nation even through Dinah.

Proverbs 11:5 "The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way: but the wicked shall fall by his own wicknedness."

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Genesis 33 "Jacob and Esau Reunion"

Genesis 33:1 "And Jacob lifted up his eyes and looked and behold Esau came and with him four hundred men. And he divided the children unto Leah and unto Rachel and unto the two handmaids."

Picture the scene. Jacob has sent everyone across the brook and remained alone. Then he prayed, perhaps all night. Although Jacob has been afraid, he appears to be calm in this scene. He lines up his wives and children then walks toward Esau bowing seven times as he approaches. Esau on the other hand RAN to meet Jacob. v4 "And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him and they wept." We do not know Esau's story while Jacob was gone. No doubt there had been much talk of Jacob and rumors of his life in Laban's house. It seems the Lord has also worked in Esau's life as well for he is now anxious to see his brother and there is no hint of hate in him. The next thing Esau does is admire Jacob's family. v5 "And he lifted up his eyes and saw the women and the children and said, Who are these with thee?" To which Jacob replied "The children which God hath graciously given thy servant." There is that word grace again. Jacob acknowledges that he received the children through the unmerited favor of God. Then one by one the wives and children pass before Esau.

Next Esau ask about the gifts sent by Jacob. v8 "What meanest thou by all this drove which I met?" Jacob then explains that he was trying to win favor with Esau. Esau replies that it is unnecessary and that he has enough. It's like we would say 'you keep your stuff, I have plenty already. Jacob insist that Esau take them because that he too is blessed. v11 "Take I pray thee my blessing that is brought to thee; because God hath dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough. And he urged him and he took it."

I noticed two things in particular with these two men. They both had learned about the grace of God and they both had enough.

Verse 12 through 14 is a touching passage for it shows the concern the men had for their children. Esau was ready to take off home with Jacob following but Jacob pointed out that the children and the flock could not keep up with a fast pace without them being harmed so they both agreed that Esau would go on ahead and Jacob would follow at a slower pace the children could handle.

Verse 16 through 20 has Esau returned to Seir and Jacob settling in the area of Shechem. There Jacob purchased a spot of land for an hundred pieces of money and erected an altar.

Chapter 33 is one of the most tender chapters we have run across. It shows the result of two men who have learned to trust in the grace of God and to forgive each other. Oh that we could live by that chapter in these days. We would do well to remember that by the clock of eternity, we not not far removed from the sons of Noah.

Proverbs 25:4 "Take away the dross from the silver and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer."

Least we forget let us try to remember some of the branches of peoples:

Abraham left Haran to sojourn in Canaan and had a son named Issac who had two sons named Jacob and Esau.
Laban is Abraham's nephew back in Syria and fathered Leah and Rachel. He is also the brother of Rebekah who was Issac's wife. Laban stayed in Haran which was a city named after Abraham's brother who died before Terah his father.
Lot, the son of Haran, fathered the Moabites and Ammonites by his daughters after Sodom and Gomarrah were destroyed by God for their wickedness.
Ishmael is the son of Abraham and Hagar, an Egyptian, the handmaid of Sarah. He became an archer and a man of the wilderness.
Chaldees are those back in Ur where Abraham came from when he was called Abram.
Canaanites are the people who lived in Canaan when Abraham arrived. Canaan was the fourth son of Ham, one of Noah's son's. For a reminder of the dispersion after the flood read Chapter 10 of Genesis.
Egypt is the 'bread basket' of the area during this time. It was common for people to go there during times of famine or dry spells. Thanks to the Nile River.

So in the midst of all these peoples, Jacob is named Israel and we are another step closer to the forming of a nation. It is a world of false gods as evidenced by Rachel's theft of Laban's gods which he chased seven days to get back. Digs in Ur show they had a lot of statues to various gods and one to the unknown god. We know about Egypt and their Pharaoh worship during this time and all the statues we have seen from the tombs. But like a lady carrying a child the promise of God is carried in the budding nation of Israel and protected as a mother would protect a child. Israel (Jacob) has received the blessing and the promise but round about is Ishmael who attended his father's funeral and so is still around. Esau who once hated his brother has just welcomed him home. Israel has been blessed and is a strong force but they are also surrounded by descendants of the same blood and I believe at this point stand on the boundries as protectors.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Genesis 32 "Jacob Heads Home" Wrestles with the Lord"

Jacob is named Israel in this chapter.

Genesis 32:1 "And Jacob went on his way and the angels of God met him."

Jacob has crossed the river with only his staff and now he is headed home with a host. He has not forgotten the threats Esau made against his life and so sends messengers ahead to announce his coming. The messengers apparently did not talk to Esau or maybe they did and received no message from Esau for all they said was that Esau was coming to meet Jacob with 400 men. It was enough to make Jacob greatly afraid. v7 "Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed and he divided the people that was with him, and the flocks and herds and the camels into two bands v8 And said if Esau come to the one company, and smite it, then the other company which is left shall escape."

Perhaps some would have turned back or changed direction but instead, Jacob prayed. It says a lot for his changing character. He recounts his journey from home and humbles himself by admitting his unworthiness then reminds the Lord of His promise. v12 "And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude."

Jacob then sends three groups of gifts ahead to Esau seperated by a space with each group having a message for Esau. It is sort of like when a man sends a lady a gift to arrive before their date. Jacob made a point in the message that he, Jacob, was Esau's servant. Then he said "...and afterward I will see his face; peradventure he will accept of me." v20

Jacob is now left alone after they were all passed over the brook except him. It is then that he wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. v24 Jacob would not let the man go without giving him a blessing. I believe it was the Lord. Some say an angel. Jacob did receive his blessing and we find it in verse 28. "...Thy name shall be called no more Jacob (subplanter) but Israel for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and has prevailed." Jacob asked the name of the one he wrestled with. Jacob's conclusion is described in verse 30 "I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved." During the wrestling match and so Jacob would release him He touched Jacob's thigh and Jacob went on his way with a limp.

Jacob has changed since he left home. His name is now Israel meaning 'the prince that prevails with God'. He has also learned to pray since he left. I found a verse that will perhaps show these changes in Jacob back in verse 10 "I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which thou has showed unto thy servant...'

Too many times, we forget our position in relation to the Lord. He is the maker of everything including us. The journey often gets difficult. It is not appropriate for us to get angry with God when this happens. Even when the road is rough, He is still there. Instead of anger, our appropriate attitude should be as Jacob that we are unworthy still but could sure use some help.

Proverbs 18:19 "A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city; and their contentions are like the bars of a castle."

Friday, October 06, 2006

Esau's Plea for a Blessing

Genesis 27 verse 38 caught my attention earlier "And Esau said unto his father, Hast thou but one blessing, my father? bless me, even me also, O my father. And Esau lifted up his voice and wept."

Here is a picture of a man very distressed. He has sold his birthright and has been tricked by Jacob out of his blessing as the firstborn. Issac understood that he blessed Jacob instead of Esau being blind he thought it was Esau. Yet, the blessing to Jacob would stand. v33. The verse above is the second plea he made for a blessing. Look at verse 34 "And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, Bless me, even me also, O my father."

I think there are instances when a fervert plea is appropriate to our Heavenly Father. Although Jacob received the main blessing, after Esau's pleading Issac did come up with a blessing for Esau. "...Behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth and of the dew of heaven from above; v39 . It continues with the burden Esau must bear in life.

I am reminded of Jesus prayer in the garden when he prayed to his Heavenly Father. It was just before he was to be crucified. Matthew 26:39 "...O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, nevertheless not as I will but as thou wilt. It was the earnestness of a soul facing the most difficult of tasks. A woman came to Jesus of Canaan who was not Jewish. She needed help for her dauther who was vexed with a devil. Mathew 15:22. Jesus at first said "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." v24.
But she persist in v27 after hearing that it was not proper to give the children's bread to the dogs. She prayed on "...Truth Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table." She had accepted her position in life but needed help for her daughter. Jesus was making a point on faith. v28 "Then Jesus answered and said unto her O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour."

My point is that a casual prayer is not always enough. Sometimes we must persist and as it appears in Esau's language be in anguish over our needs. I do not believe God is being mean in any respect. The woman above knew her place and station in life. She persisted and her daughter was healed. Esau had lost his blessing but he persisted and received a blessing for the fatness of the land. We perhaps need to remember that we are really unworthy of any blessings and that it is only by the grace of God that he provides for us. I believe He hears our very whispers but there are times when we need to get down to business.

James says it like this in James 5:16 "Confess your faults one to another and pray one for another that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
fervent: very hot glowing marked by great intensity of feeling, impassioned, ardent, fervid,fiery,passionate ---- fervid means zealous
according to Webster. (It is not our usual and casual prayer.)

Jacob's Wives

Before we jump off into Genesis 32 I wanted to try to understand the character of Jacob's wives more. After chapter 31, we go or rather Jacob goes into a period of transition. His father's have wondered in the land of Canaan and Jacob has went off on his own and acquired a family. Now it seems he stays in one place for a while. His family matures as does he. We will see what happens next.

First let's look at the wives of Jacob.

Leah was not the first choice of Jacob. He saw Rachel at the well and seemed to immediately fall in love with her. I'm sure he knew Leah well but Rachel was his choice. Leah, on the other hand, was her father's choice to be Jacob's first wife, although Laban may have had some devious reasons ( such as free labor from Jacob) for giving Leah first. I expect Rachel well knew that she was Jacob's first choice but she was not the firstborn.

"Leah was tender eyed, but Rachel was beautiful and wellfavored." Genesis 29:17. So Rachel was just one of those women that a man would be attracted to because of her looks. Leah was tender eyed and the Bible stops there, so I will as well.

Leah conceived easily but Rachel was temporarily barren. Genesis 29:31 "And when the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb but Rachel was barren."

Being able to bare children for her husband was the measure of pleasing him. Leah felt she had fulfilled her position as wife by giving Jacob children. Genesis 29v34..."Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons..." She was also dealing with Rachel who was the first chosen and most beautiful. She wanted Jacob to love her as a wife and not as an obligation because of her father.

We are dealing with some very strong feelings between the two wives. Leah was hated and now Rachel envied her sister 30:1 . Although Rachel was the most fair, she had some problems. It seems she was the one who hated Leah and was now envious of her. Rachel was also the one who brought the images with her when they left. She also complained to Jacob about her barreness but Jacob became angry. 30:2 "And Jacob's anger was kindled against Rachel and he said Am I in God's stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?"

Both women wanted only one thing, children to please her husband so she would be accepted as a good wife. Of course, there is much more to a husband-wife relationship and a good marriage. It is taught in detail in the New Testament.

It was Rachel with all her faults who spoke the famous words:
v30:1 "...Give me children, or else I die." A verse that has been preached in many sermons referring to the attitude a church should have toward winning new converts.

Jacob's other two wives were Zilpah (Leah's maid) and Bilhah (Rachel's maid). We do not know much about them. In chapter 29, the Bible does say that Zilpah v24 was Laban's maid and that Zilpah v29 was his handmaid. The verse has no commas so I almost thought that Bilhah was Laban's daughter but after reading it I see that daughter probably referred to Rachel.

Although the Bible does not say anything about Jacob having more than one wife, we can see that it did cause some very strong emotions i.e. hate, envy, anger. So, in the New Testament, we are taught that a man is to be the husband of one wife and I think too, the other way around.
1Timothy3:12 "Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife..." If you run reference on 'husband', I believe you will find them singular. It just causes less problems. If you are familiar with our modern day, you will note that in our time men and women have problems with one of each and children often end up with neither.

Proverbs 18:22 "Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing and obtaineth favor of the Lord."

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Genesis 31 Part 2 "Laban's False gods""Jacob's Children"

The two subjects have no relation. I noticed that Laban was really more concerned about his false gods being missing than the fact that his daughters and grandchildren were leaving. So here, I mention some attributes of Laban's false gods.

Next, I've made a list of Jacob's children for future reference. I don't know that we will be able to remember the complete family tree but so long as we know where to find the information we will be okay if we need to refer back.

One observation I made in this chapter was the false gods of Laban. He really should have relied on the true God of Jacob and his fathers. The ones he had were very unreliable: 1) they were so weak that Rachel was able to steal them away 2) they were so idol that Laban did not miss them for three days, then someone had to tell him 3) they were so small that they could be hide in the camels furniture and sat on 4) they were so quiet that Laban did not know they were there when he was in the tent with them. 5) when Laban went to his place they did not go after him.

They seem to be of little use to Laban or anyone else. The Lord on the other hand went with Jacob to a far land and blessed him while he was there. He spoke to him often and Jacob knew when he was around. I'll take the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob over the others any day of the week.

Here I will try to name the children of Jacob and their mothers:
(12 sons and 1 daughter)
Reuben - Leah
Simeon -Leah
Levi - Leah
Judah - Leah
Dan-Bilhah (Rachel's maid) (Rachel is barren)
Naphtali - Bilhah (Rachel's maid)
Gad-Zilpah (Leah's maid) (Leah stops off bearing)
Asher-Zilpah (Leah's maid)
Dinah-Leah (a daughter)
Benjamin-Rachel (Rachel dies in child birth) (chapter 35 v16)

Psalm 127: 4-5 "As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate."

Genesis 31 "Jacob's Journey Home Begins" Part1

Genesis 31:3 "And the Lord said unto Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee."

I've heard that when a mother eagle wants her young to learn to fly that she will somehow make the, otherwise comfortable nest, very uncomfortable to encourage the young to leave the nest. Jacob has been very comfortable, except for the hard work, in the land of Laban. Now things start looking unfavorable and so he realizes it is time to leave.

Where has Jacob come from and how has the Lord blessed him even in a far land? Issac, his father, was well off with lots of cattle and wealth. When Jacob left, he had not yet been given all that Issac had as Abraham had done to Issac. Look at what Jacob said of what he possessed when he crossed the river as he left home:

We have to jump over to chapter 32 verse 10 "I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which thou hast showed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan."

Jacob is returning with much wealth but he apparently left with only the clothes on his back and his staff. I have found no mention of any others who journeyed with him when he left home.

Chapter 31 starts with Jacob realizing that he had lost favor with Laban and his family.
*Laban's sons complaining v1
*Laban's countenance had changed v5

He, of course, is going to take his wives and family with him but they have never been any place but near their father's house and so Jacob called them to him in the field v4 to explain why he is leaving so they will be content when they leave. He explains how he has served Laban and the deal for his wages. He goes on to explain how the Lord blessed him with lots of speckled cattle. Finally, the wives reply "...whatsoever God hath said unto thee, do." v16.

For fear, Jacob did not tell Laban he was leaving but after 3 days Laban is told and he pursued Jacob for seven days and caught him at Gilead. A heated conversation between them takes place but in the end it seems that Laban was not worried about his grandchildren or the wealth Jacob had accumulated. Look at v30 "And now, though thou wouldest needs be gone, because thou sore longedst after thy father's house, yet wherefore hast thou stolen my gods?" No wonder the Lord did not want Abraham and his children to hang out in that part of the country. Laban has been corrupted with strange gods.

Unknown to Jacob, Rachel had stolen the gods. Jacob now challanges Laban to find anything that belongs to him with the penalty of death on whoever took it. Laban searched but could not find his statues because Rachel hide them in the camels furniture and sat on them. Jacob rubbed it in with Laban after the search but it was a close call for his wife Rachel. After this, a truce is made between the two men and "...Laban departed and returned to his place."

Jacob has been gone 20 years and now he is 7 days on his journey toward home. He left with a staff but returns with quite a lot more.

Proverbs 26:11 "My son, be wise, and make my heart glad, that I may answer him that reproacheth me."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Hints of the Future

We will go on to chapter 31 but I wanted to note here what I think is a hint of events to come. I was real excited when I saw it for the first time. We know the story of Jesus' death and resurrection. Of how he was buried and in three days Mary came to the tomb and the stone was rolled away. It might require a little study on our part to grasp this but there are hints of the resurrection in Genesis 29.

There is a passage that refers to the word of God being water. Ephesians 26: "That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word." Then, there is another passage that tells us that Jesus was the living word of God. John chapter 1 tells of Jesus before his birth in human form. v1"In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God." v7 tells of John the Baptist role in announcing Jesus "The same came for a witness to bear witness of the Light that all men through him might believe." So we see that the Word is referring to Jesus and in our verse above the water is referred to as the word.

I see the resurrection as the opening of the door to salvation. The conclusion of the plan for salvation of those who will accept it. It was when Jesus arose, often symbolized by the stone being rolled away, that man could drink of the well of salvation freely.

Look at v7,v8,v9 of chapter 29 "And he said, Lo, it is yet high day, neither is it time that the cattle should be gathered together: water ye the sheep and go and feed them. And they said, We cannot until all the flocks be gathered together and till they roll the stone from the well's mouth, then we water the sheep. And while he yet spake with them, Rachel came..."

In Jerusalem when Jesus was crucified, it was passover time and many peoples were gathered in the city just as the flocks were gathered at the well in our chapter. Then after the 3 days, the stone was rolled away and the well of salvation was made available, just as the well was made available to the flocks in our passage. There were even three flocks waiting to water just as it was on the third day that Jesus arose. Then here came Rachel, just as Mary came to the tomb in the new testament.

I do not know if the Lord intended this as a shadow of the resurrection. It is exciting to note, however, that these men could not water their flocks until the stone was rolled away from the well. Then, they drank freely. All through the old testament we look forward to the promise of the Messiah to come and deliver mankind from the curse of sin. Then, it happens. Mary goes to the tomb and the stone is rolled away. Salvation has come. The well is open for all to drink.

There is a wonderful story in John 4 starting in verse 7. It is a story about a woman who had lived a rough life. Then, one day, she meet Jesus at a well. They had a conversation and she recognized him for who he was. He offered her salvation, living water. She replied to him v15 "The woman saith unto him Sir, give me this water, that I thirst no, neither come hither to draw. v26 "Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he." The 'he' is in italics which indicates that it was added by the translators for clarification but if you put the phrase that begins with that in parenthesis, as you must to read it properly, you will have "I am" left. I am was how God was know to the Jewish people when Moses went to deliver them from slavery. Exodus 3:13-15 tells the story of God and Moses talking about who Moses should say sent him. v14 zeroes in on it. "And God said unto Moses I AM THAT I AM: and he said Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you." He is truly the great I AM.

The woman at the well meet the great I AM and received living water to drink. Jesus had rolled the stone away so she could drink What was the stone that hindered her? Perhaps it was because she was a Samaritan and felt she was unworthy. Perhaps, it was because she was a sinful woman and felt she would not be accepted by God. Perhaps, it was just doubt. Regardless, she accepted Jesus for who he was and he rolled the stone in her life away so she could receive salvation and living water.

We as Christians see people all the time with stones in their lives that make it difficult for them to get to the living water of salvation. Jacob rolled the stone away and watered the flock. We too can help someone by telling them they too can drink regardless of what stone is in their way.

Proverbs 1:33 "But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely and shall be quiet from fear of evil."

Genesis 29 & 30 "Jacob meets Rachel"

In this chapter, Jacob has journeyed from Canaan back to the area of Syria where Abraham left from, after his father died. It is the house of his brother Haran. Laban is now the head of the family. He is the brother of Jacob's mother. By our figuring, Rachel would be his cousin. I hope I said all that right.

Genesis 29:9 "And while he yet spake with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep: for she kept them."

This verse is preceded by a conversation between Jacob and some men (for he called them brethren) with their flocks gathered around a well. He asked if they knew Laban. It was them who pointed out Rachel as she came with her father's flock.

Jacob questioned them about why they were gathered around the well when it was already time to be out letting the sheep feed. They said we must wait for all the flocks then the stone is rolled away for them to water. I suppose someone made a rule about that. When Rachel arrived Jacob rolled the stone away and watered the sheep she was caring for.

Genesis 29 v11 "And Jacob kissed Rachel and lifted up his voice and wept."

I believe it was love at first sight. Also, I think Jacob was overwhelmed by the guidance of the Lord because he had come to the right family and a maiden of his house had come out just as when the servant meet Rebekkah, his mother. He had, no doubt, heard that story many times and of how the servant had prayed for a sign and received it.

v18 "And Jacob loved Rachel; and said I will serve thee (Laban) seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter."

Laban agreed to the deal and Jacob tended the flocks of Laban for seven years. It was not an easy task to do, for he was out in the weather as indicated in Chapter 31 verses 38-42. I will type one verse here because we will cover it later. v40"Thus I was; in the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night; and my sleep departed from mine eyes." This burst from Jacob came after he had tried to leave Laban peacefully but Laban pursued him.

Back to our chapter. We see here that Laban is a bit of a rascal even with his cousin. Laban, instead of Rachel, gives Jacob Leah to wife. Leah is the older sister of Rachel. Jacob was unaware of the exchange until the next morning after they had slept together. Laban speaks.
v26 "And Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn." NOW, he tells him, after working seven years for Rachel, Jacob finds out there is a rule 'in our country' about that.

Jacob must have been a man of patience, for he worked seven more years for Rachel as required for Laban. The craftiness of Laban does not end there, however, for he has seen how God blessed him while Jacob was around. So, he cooks up an excuse for Jacob to work another seven years before he will let Jacob leave with what he has acquired for his wages. Well, after 14 years Jacob has lost his patience with Laban and shows his own craftiness.

I have jumped to the next chapter but that is okay. It is part of the same story. Jacob presented a plan to Laban that his wages would be all the speckled, ringstreaked and spotted goats and brown sheep, leaving the perfect colored ones for Laban. Jacob was smart enough to seperate his flocks by 3 days from Laban's. He obviously suspected deceit on the part of Laban.
v43 of chapter 30 "And the man increased exceedingly, and had much cattle, and maidservants and menservants and camels and asses(donkeys)."

During this time Jacob's family has increased to a large number. Both Leah and Rachel have born children, although it was late for Rachel. I will let you read that part of the story. I simply do not understand the part about two wives and the handmaidens. I do think that sometimes people take one part of the Bible where special circumstances exist and use it to the extreme. I believe Rachel was the intended wife of Jacob but he was deceived by Laban. Rather than cast Leah aside, Jacob loved them both. I believe if you add them up, you will get 12 sons and 1 daughter Dinah. We should note that Joseph is the son of Rachel and will play a large role in future studies.

Proverbs 30:3 "I neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy."