Vs. 5, “My father made me swear an oath and said, “I am about to die; bury me in the tomb I dug for myself in the land of Canaan.” Now let me go up and bury my father; then I will return.” Joseph really did two things with how he dealt with his father’s death. The first thing is he honored Jacob by keeping his oath to bury his father in the land of Canaan. The second thing that his action would remind his people that Egypt would not be their permanent home. Joseph, would bury Jacob in the cave in the field of Machpelah (vs. 12-14). This is the place that Abraham had bought from Ephron the Hittite for 400 shekels of silver (Genesis 23). Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Leah and now Jacob would all be buried there. Joseph’s forgiveness towards his brothers reminds us of the forgiveness that God gave to us. How sad that Joseph’s brothers were quite fearful that he would turn wrathful on them after Jacob passed away (vs. 15-21). We then see the death of Joseph and the close of the book of Genesis (vs. 22-26).
Regarding application…Living in Fear. Vs. 15, “When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him.” This past Sunday, the message at Roots was on this topic of “Peeking Inside”. We got a peek inside today of Joseph’s brothers’ hearts. They were living in fear. Question: Why? Because they had doubt in their hearts. Their doubt fortunately was not contingent upon Joseph’s forgiveness, but it did cause much unneeded grief. When I think about the spring of 2012, I have to admit that there was some fear about the future. I was in transition in ministry and my family and I had an unknown future that was ahead of us. Even though I was at the place spiritually where God needed me to be, I was worried about how He was going to provide for me physically. But the Lord had a plan for me. I just needed to be reminded that He is with me in the storms and the peace of my life. Question: Are there any fears that you need to lay before the Lord?
Vs. 9, “I myself will guarantee his safety; you can hold me personally responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him here before you, I will bear the blame before you all my life.” Time passed and the grain that had been brought back is now gone (vs. 2). Yet, Israel still did not want to succumb to the request that Benjamin must come the second time. Where Reuben had failed (Genesis 42:37), Judah had succeeded in convincing Israel to allow them to take Benjamin. Our heart goes out to Israel as he struggles with letting his sons go back to Egypt (vs. 11-14). Wisely, they take double the silver and come bearing gifts to try to make up for the possibility of retribution having unknowingly left with the first silver payment. Realizing their dire circumstances (vs. 17-18), they go to Joseph’s steward to plead their case (vs. 19-22). He comforts them, brings out Simeon and leads them to Joseph’s house. And here is where Joseph’s dream as a teenager would be fulfilled (vs. 28). And then one last event that would startle the brothers (vs. 33), they were seated according to their age (oldest to youngest). They had never told the Egyptians their ages, so this was quite a shock to them!
Regarding application…Don’t be Afraid. Vs. 23, “It’s all right,” he said. “Don’t be afraid. Your God, the God of your father, has given you treasure in your sacks; I received your silver.” Then he brought Simeon out to them.” Isn’t this wonderful? In the midst of their overarching fear, God would bring someone in their life to encourage them. Certainly, Joseph had quite a plan to reveal the truth. But, I like how the steward helped in calming them. There are going to be times in our lives when we are afraid. Yet, in that fear, God has wonderful plans for us. Our God is greater than the enemy! This reminds me of when I have participated in a few “Ropes” programs. The end goal is to help everyone see that God can help us triumph over our fears and get us safely across. But, we don’t expect the participant to do it alone. People cheer them on the obstacle course to help them realize they can overcome their fears. We have been recipients of encouragement along the way. And now we must remember that we too are encouragers to others.
Vs. 3, “Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.” Jealousy grew in Laban’s household as Jacob was gaining more wealth (vs. 1). It was time for the Lord to let Jacob know it was time to go back home. How interesting that it would take 20 years: God’s timing is not always our timing. But because of the family struggles (vs. 4-7), Jacob chooses to take his family without saying “bye” (vs. 20). In haste, Rachel takes the household gods (vs. 19). The household gods were small figurines of different sizes believed to help in several ways: protection, inheritance rights, fertility. As Laban pursues his family, the Lord intervened to help protect Jacob and warned Laban to be careful in his approach (vs. 24). Regarding Rachel’s deception and lie, I feel like this just additional insight in the dysfunction of this whole family (vs. 35). Fortunately, these two competitive men were able to communicate their hurts and come up with a truce (vs. 36-55). It is important to note that this Mizpah truce (vs. 49) was more about not trusting each other than reconciliation.
Regarding application…Lacking Faith. Vs. 31, “Jacob answered Laban, “I was afraid, because I thought you would take your daughters away from me by force.” Even though God had spoken directly to Jacob and affirmed that it was time to go home, Jacob didn’t put his complete trust in Him. He took matters into his own hands. Before we are quick to judge Jacob and his family…take time to consider your own actions. When I reflect upon my own journey, I too know the promises of our Heavenly Father. Yet, in the valleys of life, I have feared my immediate circumstances. Thank the Lord that our fears do not dictate God’s promises! If you have any fears in your life right now, I exhort you to bring it before the Lord!
Vs. 2, “and he said to his attendants, “This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead! That is why miraculous powers are at work in him.” Many people would mistake who Jesus really was. We will begin to see a shift in our reading to Jesus spending more time with his disciples. Sadly, we are now told about the demise of our dear John the Baptist. Herod Antipas (younger son of Herod the Great – who sought to kill Jesus as a baby)…was ruling, and would end having John beheaded. This passage of Jesus withdrawing upon hearing John’s death always touches me. Even though Jesus was grieving, he still took the time to have compassion upon those who were hurting and turn the loaves and fish into a miracle. And of course, we end with the famous event of Jesus walking on water in the storm!
Regarding application…Don’t be Afraid. Vs. 27, “But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” It’s important to note that this storm was not caused because of the disciples disobedience. Jesus was the one who told them to get into the boat. Yet, even though the physical storm was upon them. Even though the storm of their spiritual toil and faith would again be tested with Jesus’ obedience on the cross…Jesus would tell them “don’t be afraid.” Question: What are you afraid of? I didn’t ask you if you are afraid…because deep down inside…there is bound to be something that you are fearful about. But, Jesus didn’t rebuke them for it…he encouraged them! Keep your head up and eyes on the Lord. No matter how hard it gets…open your heart to Him and be honest about your feelings! He loves you so much!