1 God And Precious Stones
"And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone." Genesis 2:10-12
I try to pray for guidance each time I begin a new devotional series and this time I feel led to go through the book of Genesis. I don't necessarily want to talk about the familiar stories, but I pray that God will give us new insights into verses that we often pass over. I want us to look deeper into the scriptures and ask God to show us golden nuggets and precious gems from His Word. As I thought about a title for our study God brought this verse to my mind. "...And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone." I want us to dig a little deeper than the surface to find those special blessings from His Word. I pray that God will let His Light reflect from the Word and illuminate our minds and lives just as light radiates from pure gold and precious jewels. Let's begin our search for these valuable lessons as we search for these Gems From Genesis.
2 In The Beginning God
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." Genesis 1:1
There are many people who don't believe the Bible to be the inspired Word of God and their unbelief begins right here with the first verse. They may actually have problems with the first four words, "In the beginning God..." They don't believe in the existence of God. Their pride has told them that there could be no higher power than mankind. I feel sorry for these people. I would be very sad and lonely if I thought that my life was just by chance and there was no meaning to my existence. How could I find satisfaction or gratification in the things I do if there is no future beyond this meager life? How could I face the dangers and fear of this world without the comfort that I find in knowing that God is in control of every aspect of my life. I believe the Bible is the true and living Word of God from this very first verse all the way to the last "Amen" in the book of Revelation. "He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace fo our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen." (Revelation 22:20-21)
"And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." Genesis 1:2
Let's look today at the darkness. Do you remember the ten plagues on Egypt when Moses told Pharaoh to let the children of Israel go? The water turned to blood, the land was covered with frogs, flies, and locusts which devoured the trees. Diseases fell on man and cattle and fire fell from heaven. The ninth plague was darkness. Exodus 10:21-23 tells us that there was a thick darkness over the land of Egypt, "even darkness which may be felt." You might ask, "How bad can darkness be?" The people did not move from the place they were sitting for three days. The New Testament also tells us about darkness. "And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 8:11-12) Our preacher told of a man who has cancer and after an episode in December the doctor told him that he almost died. The man later told his wife that everything was terribly black and that he was falling through the darkness and that things were reaching for him out of the darkness. He told his pastor that he did not want to go to such a terrible place, but he was not ready to accept God's salvation. We often hear of the awful fire of hell, but being in eternal darkness will also be terrible. You don't have to live in darkness. Just as God created light on the first day of creation, He also sent His Son to give us light. "And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remissions of their sins, Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace." (Luke 1:76-79) Confess your sins to God and accept the Lord Jesus as your Savior so that you can walk in the light.
"And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness." Genesis 1:3-4
Just as the book of Genesis begins with the beginning, we also see the beginning in the book of John. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." (John 1:1-9) We also read in John 8:12, "Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." God created light on the very first day. That Light was not from the sun, because He did not create the sun, moon, or stars until the fourth day. Our Light comes from the Son. He is the Light. And we are to reflect His Light in our lives. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)
5 First Day
"And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day." Genesis 1:5
The first day... that's hard for us to imagine... the first day of the beginning of time. Although we can't fully comprehend the first day of creation, we experience "first days" in our own lives. We don't remember the first day we were born, but it is probably a day our parents will never forget. The first day of school is a big milestone for many of us. Some children cry during that first day of school, and some mothers cry as their baby takes those big steps into childhood. The first grade teachers for my children had a special cup in the classroom and one straw was placed in the cup on the first day of school and each day thereafter for 100 days. This was to help the children with the concept of counting to 100. On the 100th day all the children took a collection of 100 things for show and tell. My daughter is within 100 days of graduating from high school. We placed 100 straws in a cup and at the end of each day we will remove one straw. As we count down each day we can talk about the day make sure each day counts for God's glory. I have often heard it said, "This is the first day of the rest of your life." Make sure that you have accepted the Lord as your personal Savior and make the most of every day. "This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118:24)
6 Till The Ground
"These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens. And every plant of the field before it was in the earth and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground." Genesis 2:4-5
God created the beautiful Garden of Eden and we can only imagine the wonderful fruits and vegetables that grew there. Genesis 1:31 tells us that God saw everything He had made and "it was very good". I was raised in the south and we grew much of our food growing up. I can remember the taste of fresh corn on the cob and sweet juicy watermelons. Bought tomatoes just don't compare with those first tomatoes picked ripe off the vine. God created the earth and gave us such a diversity of good foods to eat. When I was reading through Genesis I noticed the last phrase of this verse, "...and there was not a man to till the ground." God created all the food man needed, but He also planned for man to "till the ground". We are to work. We read in Genesis 2:15, "And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it." We often think that work was part of the curse after Adam and Eve sinned. We see in these verses that God's plan was for mankind to dress and keep the garden, and till the ground. The concept is simple, we work to eat. Adam and Eve had a wonderful life in the Garden of Eden. But, after sin, came the curse. "And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." (Genesis 3:17-19) After the curse, gardening was no longer like a hobby, but it became the means of survival.
7 God's Warning
"And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years... And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth..." Genesis 6:3, 5-7
Before God rained judgment on the earth with the great flood He warned the people. II Peter 2:5 calls Noah "a preacher of righteousness". We also read in Jude 14-15, "And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him." God warned of judgment in the early days of Genesis but only Noah and his family heeded God's warning. The Word of God warns lost sinners still today. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" (Romans 3:23) and "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23) Noah preached in his day and the people didn't listen. God still uses the preaching of His Word to warn people today. "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God." (I Corinthians 1:18) If you have never accepted God's gift of eternal life through Jesus, please don't wait any longer. You don't have to face the judgment of eternal hell and separation from God. Jesus died to pay the sacrifice for sin. All you have to do is ask Him to forgive you and trust Him to be your Savior. Judgment is coming. Don't ignore God's warning.
8 Noah Found Grace
"But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD." Genesis 6:8
We can all praise God for the truth of this verse. "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD." God told Noah to prepare an ark to the saving of the world. "Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he." (Genesis 6:22) We owe all we have to God and His amazing grace. He showed grace to Noah and saved his family. Then, in the fullness of time, Jesus, God's blessed Son, came and brought grace to a lost and dying world. "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace rein through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 5:19-20)
9 Noah And His Family
"In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah's wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark; They, and every beast after his kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping things that creepeth upon the earth after his kind, and every fowl after his kind, every bird of every sort. And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life. And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in. And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth." Genesis 7:13-17
We saw last week how God warned of judgment to come, and here we see that only Noah and his family were saved. Verse 16 tells us that God shut the door. If Noah had been the one to shut the door then he may have been tempted to open the door as men and women began pounding to get in. Can you imagine? It had never rained. Just think how they must have felt when the rain started falling from the sky. As many as could, probably made their way to the ark, hoping to get on board, but it was too late. They had refused to hear God's warning and now it was too late. Verse 23 says, "And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark." God's Word warns us of coming judgment. What are we doing to win our family and friends to the Lord? Noah could have used the same excuses we used, "People will laugh at me", "It may hurt someone's feelings if I tell them they are wrong", or "I don't want them to think I am different." Noah didn't use any excuses, as we read in Genesis 7:5, "And Noah did according unto all that the LORD commanded him." We need to do all we can to win our lost loved ones to the Lord before it is too late.
10 The Promise Of Springtime
"While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease." Genesis 8:22
I like the springtime. As we left the house this morning I noticed the row of Daffodils that bloomed next to the driveway. I remember how surprised I was to see them the first spring after we moved in about 15 years ago. The bulbs were there when we moved in, but I did not see them buried under the ground. We began talking about the creation last week, and I thought about how God created all the plants those many years ago, and they still come up year after year. Even the great flood did not destroy the seed of His creation. I like the promises of this verse. "While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease." The grass and flowers, and the vegetables and trees will continue to grow until the end of time. Winters may seem cold and long, but we have the promise of springtime. We may spend some bitter nights in sorrow and pain, but the sun will come up tomorrow. We read in Psalm 30:5, "...weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." Keep on trusting in the Lord. Winter will pass, and springtime is just around the corner.
11 The Tower Of Babel
"And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel;..." Genesis 11:1-9
When I heard this story as a child I thought the people were trying to build a tower that they could climb up to heaven. We know that we can't really build a tower to climb up to heaven. But, how many people are trying to reach heaven by building themselves up? There is a fatal error in the philosophy that if our good out-weighs our bad then Peter will be at the gate and let us in. We can't get to heaven by the works of our hands. Lifting ourselves up in pride only carries us deeper into sin. We must bow and submit ourselves to the Lord as we realize the truths found in Isaiah 64:6. "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away."
We played a game with The Tower of Babel story at our youth fellowship and the children saw how difficult it is to work together if you can't communicate. I reminded them that there are many children in our country that can't speak our language and they may become frustrated because they don't understand what we are telling them. We don't choose where we are born or what language we are taught from birth. We need to remember that God made each of us and we need to let God's love shine through our lives.
"And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him. and he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD. And Abram journeyed, going on still... And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south. And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold. And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai; Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD." Genesis 12:7-9 and 13:1-4
Abraham and Sarah traveled from place to place. God blessed Abraham with great riches in cattle, in silver, and in gold. At Bethel, Abraham called on the Lord and built an altar. When famine came to the land, Abraham went to Egypt. In the beginning of chapter 13 we read that he went back to Bethel, "and there Abram called on the name of the LORD". Sometimes we get side-tracked on our journeys. Troubles come into our lives and we lose focus on the direction we should be going. Look at where you are today. Are you in the land of God's blessings, or have you strayed away into foreign lands? Are you as close to the Lord as you were at the first, or do you need to go back to Bethel? Abraham had great riches, but he realized that he still needed the Lord. Don't measure your relationship with God by the blessings you have received. Follow where God leads you and never stray too far away from your altar of prayer.
13 Complete Obedience
"And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered." Genesis 13:14-16
Notice the second phrase in the verse above... "after that Lot was separated from him..." We see the importance of those words if we look at Genesis 12:1-4. "Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran." God told Abraham to leave his home and his family and He would bless him. Abraham packed up and took the journey, but he took Lot with him. God blessed Abraham, but we see in chapter 13 that he didn't receive his full blessing until he fully obeyed God. He finally separated himself from his kindred and then God showed him His great promises. God showers us each day with wonderful blessings. But, I wonder if we are missing out on some of God's special promises because we are not in complete obedience to God's Word. There are things in this world that we need to be separated from in order to live a clean Christian life. II Corinthians 6:17-18 tells us, "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." Search your heart today and see if there are things in your life that hinder you from receiving God's great promises.
14 Waiting On God
"Now Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain chldren by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife. And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes." Genesis 16:1-4
God had promised Abraham that his seed would be as the stars of heaven for multitude. (Genesis 15:5) Abraham and Sarah waited and waited, but they did not have any children. After waiting 10 years for God to fulfil His promise Sarah decided to help God out and told her husband to take her maid to be his wife. This caused problems from the very beginning. Sarah finally had a son when she was 90 years old and the problems between the seed of Ismael (Hagar's son, the Arabs) and the seed of Isaac (Sarah's son, the Jews) have multiplied down through the ages. We could all criticize Sarah for not waiting on God, but how many times do we rush in and try to help God with our problems, when we just need to wait on the Lord? When you pray to God for guidance and you can't find the answer, just wait on the Lord. "Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." (Isaiah 40:28-31)
15 Lot Pitched His Tent Toward Sodom
"And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly." Genesis 13:10-13
The story of Lot reminds me of the first verse of the book of Psalms, "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful." Lot looked at the good land toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and because it looked like the best land he "pitched his tent toward Sodom". The city was very wicked, but Lot began walking in the wrong direction. Genesis 14:12 tells us that Lot "dwelt in Sodom" and Genesis 19:1 tells us that "Lot sat in the gate of Sodom". Do you see the progression? I think Lot's road to destruction was a gradual journey. We need to be careful that we don't look at the things of the world and turn our hearts to the riches and fame that the world offers. Keep your heart in tune with God and His Word and don't "pitch your tent" toward the world. Lot had a place of importance as "he sat in the gate of Sodom", but he ended up losing all that he had except for two of his daughters. Lot lost his great riches, his flocks, herds and tents. (Genesis 13:5) He lost his reputation, even among his family. (Genesis 19:14) He lost his wife, as she looked back and turned to a pillar of salt. (Genesis 19:26) Make wise choices. "For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish." (Psalm 1:6)
16 Is Anything Too Hard For God?
"Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son." Genesis 18:11-14
The Lord told Abraham that Sarah would have a son, and Sarah laughed. She was 90 years old and Abraham was 99. The angel of the Lord asked, "Is any thing too hard for the LORD?" To answer the question, "No, nothing is too hard for God." He blessed Abraham and Sarah with a son, just as He had promised. God gives life. But, just as God has the power to give life, we see in the same chapter that God has the power to take life as He told Abraham of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. We need to take all our cares and problems to God and realize that He has the power and love to help us. I printed a small card with Romans 8:28, 31, & 32 and have it on the wall beside my computer at work. I read it often as a reminder of His power and love to me. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his pupose. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" Don't give up on God's promises. Keep trusting and believing.
17 God Knows His Own
"And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him." Genesis 18:16-19
I used several verses above to give the context, but I want to look at verse 19, "For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD,..." I read this verse and it made me wonder what the Lord would say about me. If God were talking with someone and your name came up, what would He say? In this verse He compliments Abraham. I am also reminded of Job 1:8, "And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou cnosidered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?" Jesus said in John 10:27, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:" What does the Lord say about you? Jesus knew the church of the Laodiceans better than they knew themselves and He said, "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then becuase thou art lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing, and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." Then, there are the saddest words in all the Bible. "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Matthew 7:21-23)
18 God Remembered Abraham
"And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD: And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace. And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt." Genesis 19:27-29
Did you notice that the verse above says, "...that God remembered Abraham..." It does not say that God remembered Lot, but "...God remembered Abraham..." This verse can encourage us to keep living for God. In the age that we live in it can be discouraging when we don't see our family and friends living for the Lord. We may begin to despair with feelings that we may not have an influence on those around us. Don't get your eyes on those around you, but keep your eyes on the Lord. It must have broken Abraham's heart to watch Lot stray toward the wicked city. When our friends and loved ones stray away from God, we need to pray for them, just as Abraham pleaded for the city of Sodom for Lot's sake. These are the two thoughts I want to leave with you today. Don't despair and think that your Christian influence has no effect on those around you. And keep on praying. God hears and remembers...
19 Our Children Follow Our Examples
"And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar. And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man's wife. But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation? Said he not unto me, She is my sister? and she, even she herself said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this." Genesis 20:1-6
We passed over a story similar to this in Genesis chapter 12. Abraham and Sarah journeyed in Egypt and he told the Egyptians that Sarah was his sister. Sarah was so beautiful that Pharaoh called her to his house and God sent plagues on the house of Pharaoh. In Genesis 20:13 we read that everywhere they went, they told the people that they were brother and sister. When we skip over to chaper 26 we see that Isaac, their son, is following in the same lie. "And Isaac dwelt in Gerar: And the men of the place asked him of his wife; and he said, She is my sister: for he feared to say, She is my wife; lest, said he, the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah; because she was fair to look upon." (Genesis 26:6-7) Isaac told the same lie that his father used. What about their children? Jacob tricked Esau out of his birthright and when Isaac is on his death bed, we see that his son, Jacob lies to him and steals Esau's blessing. Our children follow our examples. When we lie to our children, we are showing them that it is ok to lie. If our children hear us speak badly of people in our church, then they will repeat what they hear us say. If we have bad habits, we can be fairly certain that our children will follow our examples. We need to do all we can to live a good Christian life so that we can be the examples we need to be to our children and those around us.
20 God Will Provide Himself A Lamb
"And Abraham took the wood of the burnt-offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt-offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt-offering: so they went both of them together." Genesis 22:6-8
We are nearing the Easter season. As we think of the colored eggs, the candy and new clothes, let's not forget the real meaning of Easter. Those words spoken by Abraham thousands of years ago came to pass on the first Easter. "...God will provide himself a lamb..." The prophet Isaiah also spoke of the lamb. "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chatisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth." (Isaiah 53:4-7) John the Baptist proclaimed that Jesus was The Lamb of God. "The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." (John 1:29) Jesus Christ became the sacrifice that paid the sin-debt of the world. All you have to do is accept His gift of salvation. As you look at all the cross symbols you see this Easter season, make sure that you know why those crosses are empty. Jesus came and died to give His life for you and me, and He rose again the third day, that first Easter morn.
21 Drawing Water From The Well
"And the servant took ten camels of the camels of his master, and departed; for all the goods of his master were in his hand: and he arose, and went to Mesopotamia, unto the city of Nahor. And he made his camels to kneel down without the city by a well of water at the time of the evening, even the time that women go out to draw water. And he said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham. Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water: And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master." Genesis 24:10-14
When I want a drink of water, I turn on the faucet and fill my glass with cold water. When I wash my hands or take a bath I can turn on the hot water and adjust the water to just the right temperature. When I was small my grandfather had a well in his yard and we could draw cold water up from the well in an old bucket. In our story from Genesis today, I want us to look at Rebekah. She had to walk to the well outside the city each evening to draw water and carry it back to her home. I don't know how far she had to walk, but I do know that a bucket of water is heavy. Yet, this was her job, every evening, just as all the young girls in the town. I wonder if she ever tired of this daily duty. We don't know what Rebekah was thinking when she went to the well that evening, but we do know that God put her at the right place at just the right time. We surmise that she was pleasant and helpful as she offered to draw water for a caravan of strangers with ten camels. This took her quite a while, and Abraham's servant just stood and watched her. "And she hasted, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again unto the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels. And the man wondering at her held his peace, to wit whether the LORD had made his journey prosperous or not." (Genesis 24:20-21) Today I want you to look at where you are. You may feel that your daily duties are hard, boring or monotonous just as it would have been drawing water from a distant well every day. But, let me encourage you to be faithful with the task God has given you to do. Don't think that your work is too mundane and quit short of finding God's will for your life. When God leads you to go, then go, but if God is leading you to stay where you are, then stay. When you are in the center of God's will then you will be at the right place, at the right time, for God's blessing on your life.
22 The Servant's Sign
"And he said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham. Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water: And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master. And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham's brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder." Genesis 24:12-15
We have already used these verses to think about how Rebekah felt. Today let's look at Abraham's servant. He was sent to find a wife for Isaac. When he neared the end of his journey He asked the Lord for a sign and God answered his prayer. Abraham told the servant which direction to go in and we have God's Word to give us direction for our lives. But we come upon many choices in our daily living that can make a difference, not only in the present, but also in the future. I Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to "Pray without ceasing." I believe that God wants us to pray about everything. As I pray for things in my life I often ask God for simple signs to show me which choice to make and which direction to take. Gideon prayed for signs in Judges 6 & 7. I think that it is good to notice that after Gideon got assurance from God, he obeyed and followed everything God told him to do. We need to pray that God will show us what to do, and we need to follow through once we know God's will for our lives.
"And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation." Genesis 7:1
Come... as we go back to the book of Genesis, the book of beginnings. Come join us in our daily devotions and thoughts from God's Holy Word. My pastor, Jeff Woods, preached from this verse recently and showed us some of the times in the Bible when the Lord invites us to "come". The first invitation was when the Lord asked Noah and his family to come into the ark. God didn't tell Noah to "go" into the ark, but invited him to "come" into the ark. Let's look at some of the other verses of the Lord's invitation.
"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." (Isaiah 8:18) "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) "Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord." (John 21:12) "And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us." (Acts 16:9) "After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter." (Revelation 4:1)
Whatever your need, you can find in the Lord. We can find safety as Noah found in the ark. We can find salvation in believing in the Lord. We can find rest and refreshment. We find responsibility in getting the good news to others. And we find a home in heaven for eternity.
"And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." (Revelation 22:17)
24 The Stolen Blessing
“And Rebekah took goodly raiment of her eldest son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them upon Jacob her younger son: And she put the skins of the kids of the goats upon his hands, and upon the smooth of his neck: And she gave the savoury meat and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob. And he came unto his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I; who art thou, my son? And Jacob said unto his father, I am Esau thy firstborn; I have done according as thou badest me: arise, I pray thee, sit and eat of my venison, that thy soul may bless me." Genesis 27:15-19
Many of us have read these stories from the book of Genesis many, many times. We are familiar with this story of how Esau sold his birthright to his younger brother, Jacob for a bowl of pottage and now Jacob steals the blessing. What I want us to notice today, is how Isaac was deceived. "And Jacob went near unto Isaac his father; and he felt him, and said, The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau. And he discerned him not, because his hands were hairy, as his brother Esau's hands: so he blessed him. And he said, Art thou my very son Esau? And he said, I am." (Genesis 27:22-24) Isaac was deceived by all of his senses except his hearing. He said, "The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau." In the first verse of this chapter we read that his eyes were dim and he could not see. In verse 25, his sense of taste deceived him as he thought he was eating venison. In verse 27, he was deceived by the smell of his raiment. He had his hearing, but he relied on his other four senses. Several times in the New Testament Jesus said, "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." (Matthew 11:15) We receive salvation by hearing the Word of God. "For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." (I Corinthians 1:21) Today we have the privilege of having the written Word, and sign language, so that those who can't hear can also receive the gospel message. I close with these words of our Lord, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." (John 10:27-28)
25 Mistakes You Never Quit Paying For
"And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob. And these words of Esau her elder son were told to Rebekah: and she sent and called Jacob her younger son, and said unto him, Behold, thy brother Esau, as touching thee, doth comfort himself, purposing to kill thee. Now therefore, my son, obey my voice; and arise, flee thou to Laban my brother to Haran; And tarry with him a few days, until thy brother's fury turn away; Until thy brother's anger turn away from thee, and he forget that which thou hast done to him: then I will send, and fetch thee from thence: why should I be deprived also of you both in one day?” Genesis 27:41-45
We all make mistakes. I can look back over my years of parenting and see mistakes that I made in bringing up my children. Some mistakes we make are just errors in judgment and we look back on with regrets. Sometimes we make errors that we pay for the rest of our lives. These types of tragedies often affect those people around us. Reaching for a phone while driving could cause an accident with permanent injuries or death to yourself, or to someone else. Rebekah planned the scheme for Jacob to steal Esau's blessing and it costs her a son, if not both. The problems with their family relationships did not begin here. Genesis 25:28 tells us that Isaac loved Esau and Rebekah loved Jacob. I used to work with a woman who often complained of having so many problems with her "rebellious" teenage daughter and she could not understand why. As I worked with her day after day, it became obvious that she loved her young son more than her daughter. She was in her second marriage and continually praised her little boy and the joy he had brought to their lives. It was no wonder the teenage girl ran away from home. Children are not the same and we can't treat them all alike, but we should strive to show them love. We see in our verses above that Rebekah told Jacob to run away for "a few days". Those "few days" actually turned into 20 years. (Genesis 31:38) The Bible doesn't tell us that Rebekah ever saw Jacob again, as she lived with her guilt day after day. As I said at the beginning, "We all make mistakes." I think the first step in overcoming is admitting our mistakes and confessing our sin. Rebekah told Jacob to go away until Esau forgot "that which thou hast done to him". She put the blame on Jacob, when she was the one who told him to trick his father. And even though she blamed Jacob, I'm sure this didn't help their marriage relationship or her relationship with Esau. After we confess to the Lord, it is often harder to gain forgiveness of those around us, and sometimes even harder to forgive ourselves. Pray for wisdom, and keep trusting in the Lord.
26 Bethel, The House of God
“And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it… And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not… And he called the name of that place Bethel… And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God:… and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.” Portions of Genesis 28:12-22
The story of Jacob’s Ladder, that reached up to heaven, took place as Jacob was running from his brother Esau, after he had tricked him of his birthright and blessing. Jacob named the place, Bethel, which means “the house of God”. He vowed a vow to God and continued on his journey. After he served Laban for twenty years God said, “I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto me: now arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred.” (Genesis 31:13) So Jacob started on his journey back to Bethel and on the way God changed his name to Israel, which means, “prince of God.” He may have gotten a little side-tracked on the way because we read again in Genesis 35:1-3, “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. Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments: And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went.” We all go through times of distress. Many times when we cry out to God, we make vows to Him and He answers our pleas. Then, along the way we often forget our vows. God reminded Jacob to go back to Bethel, back to the house of God. Have you made vows to God that you may have forgotten? Are you faithful to the house of God? Have you given Him your tithes, or kept other promises you might have made during times of distress? It’s time to go back to the house of God. Put away the “strange gods” in your life that have come between you and God. Clean up your life and your garments, and find your way back to Bethel. Many times people say they don’t feel as close to God as they once did. Well, God is still right where you left Him. Go back to Bethel and the altar of God.
27 The Cheater Is Cheated
"And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her. And Jacob said unto Laban, Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in unto her. And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast. And it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him:... And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me? And Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn." Genesis 29:21-26
There is a short saying that carries a lot of meaning, "You sin, you pay!" Another one that comes to mind is, "What goes around, comes around." We don't put much significance in birth order in our day, but the oldest son was at the top of the line for the inheritance in Bible times. Jacob cheated his elder brother out of his birthright and also his blessing. It is ironic that he is cheated by Laban and given the elder sister for his bride when he loved the younger girl. Verse 17 tells us, "Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured." Rachel must have really been something, because Jacob was willing to work seven years to be able to marry her. Laban continued to cheat Jacob as we see in Genesis 31:41, "Thus have I been twenty years in thy house; I served thee fourteen years for thy two daughters, and six years for thy cattle: and thou hast changed my wages ten times." We need to treat others fairly. God may take the very thing that we use against others and use it against us. On the other hand, if we are kind and generous to others, God may bless us in ways we never imagined. Jesus said, "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." (Matthew 7:1-2) Give unto others, pressed down and running over, and the same will come back to you.
28 God Remembered Rachel
"And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb. And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach: And she called his name Joseph; and said, The LORD shall add to me another son." Genesis 30:22-23
I like this verse, "...God remembered Rachel..." God remembered Rachel and gave her a son, Joseph. What an important and significant life he had! We read earlier in Genesis 8:1 "God remembered Noah..." and Genesis 19:29 "...God remembered Abraham..." God doesn't forget, but isn't it good that God remembers. Psalm 136 is a Psalm of praise to God that begins "O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever." I like verse 23 of that Psalm, "Who remembered us in our low estate: for his mercy endureth for ever:" God remembered me and gave His only begotten Son to die on the cross so that I could live eternally in heaven with Him.
29 Jacob Went Back Home
"And Jacob came unto Isaac his father unto Mamre, unto the city of Arbah, which is Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac sojourned. And the days of Isaac were an hundred and fourscore years. And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto his people, being old and full of days: and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him." Genesis 35:27-29
Do you remember when Jacob left his home and his father? "And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called Easu his eldest son, and said unto him, My son: and he said unto him, Behold, here am I. And he said, Behold now, I am old, I know not the day of my death:" (Genesis 27:1-2) Jacob tricked his father and Esau planned to kill him. Rebekah, his mother, sent him away for a "few days". Jacob stayed with his uncle Laban twenty years. In chapter 31 he began his journey back home and in chapter 33 he met Esau. "And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept." (Genesis 33:4) The anger between them had passed away with the time. We don't know how many more years passed in those few chapters of his journey home, but in our verses above we see that he came back to his father Isaac who was now 180 years old, and he died. Esau and Jacob buried him. They patched up their quarrels. How many people waste precious years in anger toward their friends or family members? Life is too short to live in anger. We need to try to gain back our broken fellowship and find forgiveness in our hearts. Jesus said, "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." (Matthew 6:14-15)
30 Put Away The Strange gods
"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. Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments: And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went. And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem." Genesis 35:1-4
I have read several times lately that the "problem" with Christianity is that professed Christians are not tolerate to other types of religions. It was said that other religions accept the fact that different people worship different gods. I heard one well-known television personality say that it doesn't really matter which god you serve as long as you are sincere in your faith. These people are wrong. Before Jacob went back to Bethel, he made all of his family and servants give up their false idols and strange gods. He knew that they could not serve the only true and living God while they served other gods. Many people, of many ages, have worshipped many gods. I thought about it today, and I wondered why I would want to worship a different god for different aspects of my life. My God is The God. He is the great I AM. He is the beginning and the end. He does not sit as an idol on my shelf, but He lives on high, and the Holy Spirit dwells within my heart. I am one of those Christians that does not believe in other gods. I do not need idols, whether false gods, or living men who lift up themselves as idols. Today is the Lord's day. Let's take Jacob's advice and "Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments: And let us arise, and go up to Bethel..." Repair the altars you made to God. Remember the times He answered you in the days of your distress. Confess the sin in your life and invite God to walk with you daily once again. Put God first in your life, and put away the strange gods.
31 Joseph And The Coat Of Many Colors
“These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report. Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours. 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." Genesis 37:2-4
We talked about the problems that come when a parent, or both parents, show favoritism to one child above the others. In Genesis 25:28 we saw that Isaac loved Esau, and Rebekah loved Jacob. Jacob (or Israel) apparently did not learn from the mistakes of his parents in this aspect, because we read here that he loved Joseph more than all his other children. He had twelve sons and one daughter and all his children hated Joseph because Jacob loved him more. At this point in our story Joseph is 17 years old, so his brothers are grown men. Even as grown men they were so jealous of their younger brother, they were almost willing to kill him. If you are a parent, don't lift up one child above the others and make them jealous of each other. If you are a child, or an adult, don't let jealousy and envy cause you to hate your brothers and sisters. It is good to remember this not only in our families, but also in our churches. Don't be jealous of church members who may be able to sing better than you can. Don't be angry at those who are asked to teach or fill important jobs in the church. Use the gifts and talents that God has given you. You can read I Corinthians 12 about Spiritual gifts. "But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him." (I Corinthians 12:18) Where ever you are, serve God to the best of your ability and don't waste your time and energy being jealous of others.
32 Here Am I
"And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth? And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying, And his brethren went to feed their father's flock in Shechem. And Israel said unto Joseph, Do not thy brethren feed the flock in Shechem? come, and I will send thee unto them. And he said to him, Here am I. ” Genesis 37:9-13
Joseph's brothers don't like him. His father gave him a beautiful coat of many colors because he loved him more than all his brothers. Then Joseph had a dream that his brothers' sheaves bowed to his sheaf. In our verses above Joseph's dream indicates that his brothers and parents would bow to him. I believe that Joseph knew his brothers hated him because verse four tells us that they "could not speak peaceably unto him." Yet, when his father asked him to go find them, he said, "Here am I." These words remind me of little Samuel. God called to him and he believed it was Eli, and he said "Here am I". After the third time Eli told Samuel that God was calling him and the next time he answered the Lord, "Speak; for thy servant heareth." (I Samuel 3:10) Moses also said, "Here am I" to the Lord as he stood at the burning bush. When the Lord calls to you, what is your answer? Jesus said, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." (Revelation 3:10) First, we must open the door of our heart and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. Then, we need to go and tell the world. "Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me." (Isaiah 6:8) Can you say like Joseph, Samuel, and Moses, "Here am I"? Can you say like Isaiah, "Here am I; send me"?
33 Joseph's Mother
“And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?” Genesis 37:9-10
I often wondered about these verses because Jacob, or Israel, mentions Joseph's mother as part of the interpretation of the dream. Rachel died during the childbirth of Benjamin, Joseph's younger brother. So, at the time of this dream, Joseph's mother would not be able to bow down to Joseph. As I drove to work this morning, I thought about Joseph and his mother. I think the answer to my pondering is not so hard as I made it to be. I don't know how many years were between the birth of Joseph and the birth of Benjamin, but it is possible that Joseph was still quite young when his mother died. Leah, or one of the handmaids, or another servant would have stepped in and become a mother to Joseph. There are many children in our society who are being raised by someone other than their birth mothers. It is wonderful that loving couples adopt children who would have no other hope of being part of a family. As we look forward to Mother's Day next month, make sure that you take time to show your "mother" how much you love her and appreciate her loving care of you. If someone other than your birth-mother has helped bring you up then give God thanks that she chose to love and care for you.
34 The Lord Was With Joseph
"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 Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither. And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian." Genesis 39:1-2
Joseph was 17 years old and Jacob, his father, sent him to see about his brothers. They saw him coming from a distance and planned to kill him. They decided to sell him as a slave instead. They dipped his coat of many colors in the blood of a goat and sent it back to their father to make him believe that Joseph had been killed by a wild beast. These bad things happened to Joseph, but our verse above tells us "And the LORD was with Joseph..." After a while, his master's wife lied about Joseph and he was thrown into prison. Joseph was doing the right thing, but things got worse. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Sometimes things in our life seem to get worse, even when we do the right thing. Look at Genesis 39:20-21, "And Joseph's master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king's prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison. But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison." Again we see, "the LORD was with Joseph..." Joseph's brothers would not give him mercy. Joseph's master gave him no mercy. But the Lord gave him mercy. Praise the Lord! When your situation seems hopeless and no one seems to care, the Lord is merciful. "Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever." (Psalm 106:1)
35 People May Not Remember Your Good Deeds
"And Joseph said unto him, This is the interpretation of it: The three branches are three days: Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thine head, and restore thee unto thy place: and thou shalt deliver Pharaoh's cup into his hand, after the former manner when thou wast his butler. But think on me when it shall be well with thee and shew kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house: For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews: and here also have I done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon." Genesis 40:12-15
Maybe Joseph sees this as a turning point in his life. God has given him the interpretation of a dream for Pharaoh's butler. Surely the butler will speak of him to Pharaoh. Look at verse 23, "Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him." Day after day he waited to be released from this dungeon. The next chapter begins, "And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river." (Genesis 41:1) Pharaoh dreamed a disturbing dream and the butler remembered Joseph. Verse 9, "Then spake the chief butler unto Pharaoh, saying, I do remember my faults this day:" The butler finally remembered Joseph, after two full years. Yesterday we saw that sometimes bad things happen to good people. Today we see that sometimes our good deeds are not remembered. You may go the extra mile to help someone, and that person may not even acknowledge your help. You may help a co-worker on a project or report, and have your name left off completely. You may visit the nursing home and spend time with a grandmother that doesn't remember who you are. We are human and we sometimes forget. Maybe you made a promise to a child that you would do something special, but something else came up and you forgot to even tell them your plans were changed. You may hear of a dear friend being sick or in need and you plan to send that person a card, but you forget. Yes, we all sometimes forget, but we can be sure that God will remember the things we have done for His glory. "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." (II Corinthians 5:10)
"Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it: and I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it. And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace." Genesis 41:14-16
We have read of several dreams through this section of Genesis. The hatred from Joseph's brothers grew after he dreamed that their sheaves bowed to his sheaf in the field. His dream of the sun, moon, and eleven stars bowing to him even caused rebuke from his father. But, Jacob "observed the saying" because he knew that God sometimes spoke to them in dreams. (Genesis 37:11) Remember also, his experience at Bethel when he dreamed of the ladder reaching up to heaven and the angels going up and down on it. (Genesis 28:12-19) In the prison, the butler and the baker each dreamed a disturbing dream and Joseph was able to interpret each of their dreams. (Genesis 40) Now, Pharaoh dreamed of seven skinny cows devouring fat cows, and seven skinny ears of corn devouring seven full ears. "And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof: and Pharaoh told them his dream; butr there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh." (Genesis 41:8) Before Joseph even heard the dreams, he said, "God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace." Dreams had a great significance in the Bible. God used dreams to speak to people. He used this dream of Pharaoh to prepare Egypt for the seven year famine that would come. Now, we have God's written Word, so we don't rely on dreams to show us His will. But, what about the other kinds of dreams? What are your dreams and goals for your future? The dream of playing ball on a professional level is shared by many young people and their parents. You may have dreams of gaining great wealth or fame. We are taught to set goals and strive to reach them. That is good, if our dreams and goals are in God's will. We should keep our priorities in order and live for the Lord. Paul had good advice for the church at Rome. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." (Romans 12:1-2)
37 Can The World See God In Us?
"And the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of all his servants. And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is? And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt." Genesis 41:37-41
We continue with our story of Joseph. God gave him the interpretation of Pharaoh's dreams and Pharaoh was very pleased. Notice the words he used in describing Joseph, "Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?... Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art:..." Do people see the spirit of God in you? After the disciples were filled with the Holy Ghost they preached with a new boldness to the rulers, elders, scribes and high priest in Jerusalem. "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus." (Acts 4:13) Today I want to leave you with this simple thought: do people know you have been with Jesus? Can the world see Jesus in you?
38 Time To Stop Standing Around And Do Something
“Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another? And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die. And Joseph's ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt." Genesis 42:1-3
Listen to the question of Jacob, "Why do ye look one upon another?" Have you ever said the same thing? "Don't just stand there, do something." It seems to me that Jacob is telling his sons to "grow up" and do something about their problem. They don't have food and the famine is great in the land. Verse 36 of this chapter tells us that Joseph was now 30 years old. His brothers could have been in their 40's, 50's, or maybe older. Yet, they knew the problem, but they stood around looking at one another, waiting for someone to tell them what to do. There comes a time in our lives when we need to grow up and begin making decisions on our own. When my first son got married and moved away, someone asked me, "How can you let go?" I replied, "I let go a long time ago. He got a job and even though he lived at home, he was his own person." Children grow up and move on. He now lives in Minnesota and I live in North Carolina. We see him and his family about three times a year. We miss them, but I trust that they are where God wants them to be. Children grow up and begin making their own choices in life. Jacob's sons seemed to be content staying at home and waiting on good ole' Dad to supply all their needs. Let's look at this in another perspective. In Acts 1 we read that Jesus appeared to the disciples after His resurrection. "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." (Acts 1:8-11) "Why stand ye gazing up into heaven?" Jesus has given us instructions to be witnesses for Him. He's coming back and I believe the time is short. We can't just stand around waiting for someone else to carry the message. Do all you can for the Lord, in your church, at home, and "unto the uttermost part of the earth."
39 Joseph Remembered His Dreams
"And the sons of Israel came to buy corn among those that came: for the famine was in the land of Canaan. And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph's brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth. And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them, but made himself strange unto them, and spake roughly unto them; and he said unto them, Whence come ye? And they said, From the land of Canaan to buy food. And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him. And Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them, and said unto them, Ye are spies; to see the nakedness of the land ye are come. And they said unto him, Nay, my lord, but to buy food are thy servants come.” Genesis 42:5-9
Joseph was seventeen when his brothers sold him into slavery. He was 30 when he was made governor over the land, so many years had passed since he dreamed of his brothers bowing to him. His dreams angered his brothers, and even brought criticism from his father. Now, after all these years, the dreams are coming true. God may show you something in your life and you have hopes and dreams for it to happen, but it may not happen right away. If God leads you to go to college and get a degree, it doesn't happen overnight. It takes time, several years, with hard work and study time. Maybe you feel sure that God has the right person out there somewhere for you to marry. Don't get discouraged. God will bring the two of you together in His time. Joseph waited many years in prison... waiting for his dreams to come true... waiting for God to deliver him. When the time finally came, he remembered. Don't forget God's promises to you. Pray and read your Bible, and keep your trust in Him.
40 Are You Guilty?
“And Joseph said unto them, That is it that I spake unto you, saying, Ye are spies: Hereby ye shall be proved: By the life of Pharaoh ye shall not go forth hence, except your youngest brother come hither. Send one of you, and let him fetch your brother, and ye shall be kept in prison, that your words may be proved, whether there be any truth in you: or else by the life of Pharaoh surely ye are spies. And he put them all together into ward three days. And Joseph said unto them the third day, This do, and live; for I fear God: If ye be true men, let one of your brethren be bound in the house of your prison: go ye, carry corn for the famine of your houses: But bring your youngest brother unto me; so shall your words be verified, and ye shall not die. And they did so. And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us. And Rueben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required.” Genesis 42:14-22
Verse 7 tells us that Joseph knew his brothers and he "made himself strange unto them, and spake roughly unto them..." He knew them, but they didn't know him. They are talking one with another and don't know that he understands the words they are saying. I wonder if Joseph is testing them, to see if they have grown up any. We read in verse 16 that he tells them he wants to prove whether they are telling the truth. Do you think they take after their father, and grandfather, and great-grandfather and have a reputation for not telling the truth? I think these brothers had a hard time getting along. Later, when he sends them to get his father in Genesis 45:24 he tells them, "See that ye fall not out by the way." Anyway, on with our story. The portion of scripture I want to look at today in in verse 21 where the brothers say, "We are verily guilty..." All these years they have lived with the guilt of selling their younger brother into slavery and lying to their father in making him believe Joseph was killed by a wild animal. All these years they were faced with the sorrow they put on their father and I'm sure they often wondered what ever happened to Joseph. They were guilty. Can I remind you today that we all are guilty? Romans 3:23 tells us, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God;" And just as Reuben answered, "also his blood is required", we also read in Romans 6:26, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Jesus gave His life on the cross to pay our sin-debt. Are you living in guilt? Christ loves you and will give you forgiveness for all your sin, if you will just believe in Him. We read again in Romans 10:9-10, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Let the Lord take away your guilty stain. "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:13)
"And the famine was sore in the land." Genesis 43:1
Joseph put Simeon into the prison. (We see Simeon's character as Jacob calls his children to him for his dying blessing. "Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations. O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their selfwill they digged down a wall. 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." Genesis 49:5-7) Joseph then told his brothers to bring Benjamin back with them when they come back to prove they are not spies, and he will release Simeon. They took the corn back with them and soon they had eaten all of it. We come to chapter 43. "And the famine was sore in the land." I went into WalMart this week and I first went through the fresh foods section. There were rows of fresh fruits and vegetables. We have trucks in our country that deliver these fresh foods from where they are grown, all across the United States. We had a bad drought in our southern region last year and many farmers had to sell their horses and cattle because they did not have hay to feed them. I praise the Lord for the good rain He has sent this year to bring the water levels back up in our lakes. Even with low rain, we don't experience the full hardships of a drought, because we have food across America. We can still go to the stores and get food to eat. Back in the days of Joseph, the people raised the food they ate. If they did not have rain, they did not have food to eat. Their cattle and sheep did not have grass to eat during times of famine. I am so thankful that God has let me live in a country that He has so richly blessed. As we think about this famine, I am reminded of the words in Amos 8:11, "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:" Sometimes I am afraid that we are in this famine of hearing the words of the Lord. Many people don't have time for God. There are many who were brought up in church, but they don't take the time or responsibility to take their children to church. There are several children in our church who would not be there if it were not for their grandparents bringing them. We need revival across our land. America needs to turn back to God. Last year many churches had special prayer for rain. We need to pray for the famine of neglecting God's Word.
42 Payday Someday
"And he searched, and began at the eldest, and left at the youngest: and the cup was found in Benjamin's sack. Then they rent their clothes, and laded every man his ass, and returned to the city. And Judah and his brethren came to Joseph's house; for he was yet there: and they fell before him on the ground. And Joseph said unto them, What deed is this that ye have done? wot ye not that such a man as I can certainly divine? And Judah said, What shall we say unto my lord? what shall we speak? or how shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants: behold, we are my lord's servants, both we, and he also with whom the cup is found." Genesis 44:12-16
Joseph had his servant hide his silver cup in Benjamin's sack. After the cup was found, look at Judah's reply. "What shall we say unto my lord? what shall we speak? or how shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants: behold, we are my lord's servants, both we, and he also with whom the cup is found." The cup was found in Benjamin's sack so there was no denying it. There was no explanation. What could they say? They had not taken the cup, but what could they say? "God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants..." I don't think they were just talking about the silver cup right here. I believe they have carried their guilt all these years and now they feel like God is finally going to punish them. Preacher R. G. Lee was born in 1886, and he is known for his famous sermon, "Payday Someday" about the wicked King Ahab and Jezebel. You may not pay for your sin today, but there is a payday someday. Many years may go by and you may think that no one knows the bitter truth of the things you've done. But God sees all and knows all. "God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants..." You can't hide your sin from God. You can't cover your sin. Jesus died to pay your sin debt. You can ask Him to forgive you and trust in Him to take away your sin, or you can keep on going, without hope. Because there is a payday someday! "And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:11-15)
43 Why Don't We Go?
"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. If thou wilt send our brother with us, we will go down and buy thee food: But it thou wilt not send him, we will not go down: for the man said unto us, Ye shall not see my face, except your brother be with you." Genesis 43:2-5
I was thinking of these last few chapters in Genesis as I sat at a traffic light Friday morning. I watched the light turn yellow, then it turned red and I realized that it was green when I stopped at it. Why didn't I go? I was asking myself this question as I sat through the red light. I noticed the sign between the two lights on the wire, "Green Dr." We are taught as children that green means go. Why didn't I go? I continued to think on this as I travelled on to work, and I thought of these verses in Genesis. Why didn't Jacob's sons want to go back to Egypt? They were afraid. I think they were afraid to go without Benjamin, and they were afraid that something bad would happen to him if they took him with them. My mind went back to my own life. I had been talking with my daughter before she got out of the car for school and I told her that so many people we know are lost. I want to be a witness to them, but I don't really know how. So, these thoughts all began running together. Why don't I go? Why don't I witness to others like I should. I am afraid. I am afraid they will think I am being pushy in my religious views. I am afraid they will think that I feel like I am better than they are. I often pray that God will give me opportunities to be a witness to others. Sometimes I feel that He wants me to say something... the light is green, and I sit there wondering what I should say. The conversation begins to come to a close... the light is yellow. Then the person walks away... the light is red. They have gone and I missed my chance to be a witness for my Lord. God brought this to my mind several times during the day at work. As I drove home Friday evening, I once again came to the lights at Green Drive. This time they were red. This time I read the sign hanging under "Green Dr." It said, "One Way". God has given us the Light and we should share it like John the Baptist, "The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe." (John 1:7) God has given us a sign, and we should go like the shepherds. "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." (Luke 2:11-12) God has shown us The Way. "Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:5-6) Why don't we go? "But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest." (Matthew 9:36-38) Someone had compassion for my soul and told me how Jesus saves. I need to go. "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." (Mark 16:15)
44 Joseph Made Himself Known To His Brothers
"Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren. And he wept aloud: and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard. And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence. And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt." Genesis 45:1-4
If you had a long lost brother who you had not seen in years, and you thought he had died, you would probably be overjoyed to see him. Joseph's brothers are "troubled" when they find out that their brother is still alive, and stands before them. I think they must have backed away in fright, because Joseph said, "Come near to me..." They were troubled because of the sinful thing they had done in selling him into slavery. They were troubled because now he was in a position higher than them and had power over them. There are many commentaries that tell how the life of Joseph was similar to the life of Jesus. As I think about these verses I wonder how many of us would be troubled if Jesus appeared to us today. If you were at church and Christ appeared in all His power, would you back away in fear, troubled at His presence? Look at the reaction of the people after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. "Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done. Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles." (John 11:45-47) Many believed in Jesus, but those who didn't want to believe were troubled by His presence. We read a few verses later, "Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death." (John 11:53) Let me ask you this same question, "What do you do with Jesus?" Have you trusted in Him to save you and give you eternal life? Or, are you troubled at His presence?
45 God's Providence
“Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. 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." Genesis 45:5-8
Joseph told his brothers who he was and they were troubled because they had sold him into slavery about 15 years earlier. They were guilty and worthy of punishment. But Joseph had mercy. He recognized the hand of God on his life. He realized that God had placed him in Egypt to save his family. This reminds me of the book of Esther. One of my favorite verses in the book of Esther is when Mordecai asked Esther to go before the king and ask for the deliverance of her people. "Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews. For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:13-14) I often think of that small phrase, "for such a time as this". Sometimes we have troubles and trials that we don't understand, but God puts us right where He wants us "for such a time as this". God uses our lives to be a witness for Him through many situations. I can think of times in my own life when God taught me, and grew me, and used me in times of trouble. You may be going through hard times that you don't understand. Your friends or family may have tried to destroy you or desert you, but don't lose hope. Be strong in the Lord. Remember Romans 8:28-32. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?"
46 Don't Fall Out By The Way
"And the children of Israel did so: and Joseph gave them wagons, according to the commandment of Pharaoh, and gave them provision for the way. To all of them he gave each man changes of raiment; but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver, and five changes of raiment. And to his father he sent after this manner; ten asses laden with the good things of Egypt, and ten she asses laden with corn and bread and meat for his father by the way. So he sent his brethren away, and they departed: and he said unto them, See that ye fall not out by the way.” Genesis 45:21-24
Years ago when two people had an argument, or disagreement, it was said they had a "fallin' out". When I heard the older folks use this term, I didn't realize that it was in the Bible, way back in the book of Genesis. Families can have a "fallin' out" and not speak to one another for years. Churches sometimes have a "fallin' out" which can split the church. Joseph knew his brothers well. He had just given them, with the blessing of Pharaoh, food and clothes. He had promised them a good place to live, with all their furnishings provided. All they had to do was to take the wagons, and load up their families. Pharaoh told them to leave all their stuff behind and they could have the best Egypt had to offer. (vs 20) Still Joseph warned them, "See that ye fall not out by the way." There are many verses in the Bible about brotherly love. Psalm 133:1 tells us, "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" We read in John 15:12, "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you." (John 15:12) I John 4:20 states it simply, "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" Christians can sometimes have disagreements. Paul and Barnabas had a "falling out" in Acts 15. "And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches." (Acts 15:37-41) Don't let your disagreements hinder your work for the Lord. Also, make things right, as Paul and Mark did. "Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry." (II Timothy 4:11)
47 Time To Confess
“And they went up out of Egypt, and came into the land of Canaan unto Jacob their father, And told him, saying, Joseph is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt. And Jacob's heart fainted, for he believed them not. And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them: and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived: And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.” Genesis 45:25-28
Joseph's brothers had carried the guilt of selling their brother into slavery for about 15 years. I wonder if they ever thought their father would find out. I think they finally came to the point in their lives that they told him the truth. It doesn't say in these verses that they explained all they knew about how Joseph got to be in Egypt, but if we turn over to the last chapter in Genesis, it appears that at some point in time they confessed all. "And when Joseph's brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him. And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him. And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants. And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thuoght evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now therefore fear ye not; I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them." (Genesis 50:15-21) They were guilty, they confessed, and they were forgiven. We have read in Romans so many times, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God;" (Romans 3:23) We also read in Romans 6:26, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Jesus gave His life on the cross to pay our sin-debt. Are you living in guilt? Christ loves you and will give you forgiveness for all your sin, if you will just believe in Him. We read again in Romans 10:9-10, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Let the Lord take away your guilty stain. "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:13) I also want us to see that Joseph had a forgiving heart. Christ wants us to forgive others. "After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." (Matthew 6:9-15) It has been often said, "Confession is good for the soul." Let me also say, "So is forgiveness."
48 A Question Of Right Or Wrong
"And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die. And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac. 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." Genesis 45:28 & 46:1-4
I have heard preachers say that Jacob was wrong to go down into Egypt because God had commanded him not to. I question their stand on this because in these verses God seems to be telling Jacob it is ok for him to go. Let's look back to Abraham, "And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land." Now let's go to Isaac... "And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar. And the LORD appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of: Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father;" (Genesis 26:1-3) Jacob probably remembers the time that God told his father not to go into Egypt. He may have had inner questions about going to Egypt, but God tells him, "Fear not to go down into Egypt..." Joseph did not have a choice when he was sold into slavery, but he saw it as God's will to preserve his family. "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 throughout all the land of Egypt. Haste ye, and go up to my father, and say unto him, Thus saith thy son Joseph, God hath made me lord of all Egypt: come down unto me, tarry not;" (Genesis 45:7-9) God is in complete control. He told Abraham of the bondage in Egypt long before it ever happened. "And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not their's, 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. And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full." (Genesis 15:13-16) We need to follow the will of God for our life and not just rely on what those around us do.
49 The Lion Of Judah
"Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father's children shall bow down before thee. Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? 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." Genesis 49:8-10
Here, in the very first book of the Bible we have verses that we see fulfilled in the last book. "And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and read the book, neither to look thereon. And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof." (Revelation 5:2-5) We see in the geneology of Jesus that He was of the lineage of Judah (Luke 3:33-34). He gave His life on the cruel cross. "And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS." (Matthew 27:37) Again, we see Jesus as King in Revelation 19:16, "And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS." We have been going through Genesis, looking for precious gems from God's Word. The most precious truths we find are those about our Lord and Savior, seen from the very first book, all the way to the last chapter of the last book. Praise the Lord! "The LORD shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the LORD." (Psalms 146:10)
50 "...In A Coffin In Egypt"
"And Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he, and his father's house: and Joseph lived an hundred and ten years. And Joseph saw Ephraim's children of the third generation: the children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were brought up upon Joseph's knees. And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt." Genesis 50:22-26
We have come to the close of our last chapter on Gems From Genesis. Genesis is the book of beginnings. We saw the beautiful story of creation and life in the Garden of Eden, and we saw the story of man's fall in disobedience to God's Word. Some may wonder how a book so old can be important to us today. Genesis begins, "In the beginning God..." This makes the Bible different than all other books. Because God is the "I AM" He is now, and forever will be, the only true and living God. We travelled over 2,000 years from the beginning with God to "a coffin in Egypt." We saw God's providence all along the way. I hope that you can see God's providence in your own life. Only God can deliver you from the coffin. "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." (I Corinthians 15:20-22) Believe on Jesus today and you can have this everlasting life. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3:16-18)