Vs. 1, “Then Jacob called for his sons and said: “Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come.” After 147 years, it was time for Jacob/Israel to have the opportunity to share some lasting words (vs. 2-28) about the future for his sons and their descendants. There was good news and some bad news as each son pondered their future. Reuben, should have been the chosen, but his lustful ways hurt his future. Levi and Simeon’s violence would be noted, yet God would be gracious to both of them as Simeon’s tribe would join Judah and Levi’s tribe would become the priestly tribe. Out of Judah’s tribe would come Jesus (vs. 8-12) the Lion of Judah (Revelation 5:5). The listing of the rest of the brothers ensues and through this, we see Jacob’s words of prophecy fulfilled. In the latter half of our chapter, Jacob would die peacefully (vs. 29-33).
Regarding application…Consequences to Follow. Vs. 4, “Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel, for you went up onto your father’s bed, onto my couch and defiled it.” For Rueben, Simeon, Levi and Dan, they would have bad consequences. For the others, their actions would have good consequences. Brothers and sisters, we reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7). I think there is a tendency for us to believe that it is our actions (works) that determine what consequences we have. Yet, most importantly, it is our faith or lack thereof. There are two consequences that transpire after this life: Heaven or Hell. We are called to live a life that is holy and pleasing to God (Romans 12:1). We live in a time where we are so blessed to see the outcome of consequences of the history of God’s people in both the Old and New Testaments. We have the gift of the church to grow and guide us. We are without excuse! Let us live a life that realizes our faith and action can determine not only our own consequences, but can also help point others to going down the right road!
Vs. 5, “Now then, your two sons born to you in Egypt before I came to you here will be reckoned as mine; Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine.” Question: What is going on here? Because of Reuben (adultery with Jacob’s concubine) & Simeon’s (Massacre at Shechem) sins, Jacob would adopt Ephraim and Manasseh as his own. Since Joseph would not become a tribe technically and Levi would become priests, the addition of the two adopted grandson’s to Jacob would make it twelve tribes. To Joseph’s disappointment, Jacob would cross his arms and bless the younger Ephraim first above his older brother Manasseh (vs. 17-18). But old Jacob knew exactly what he was doing, for Ephraim would turn out to be the more Godly of the two. We are reminded that God works in ways that are not always usual. Remember, Seth over Cain, Isaac over Ishmael, Jacob over Esau…and now Joseph’s sons are reordered.
Regarding application…Remembering God’s Faithfulness. Vs. 3, “Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty r appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and there he blessed me.” Yesterday, we were reminded to be a blessing to others. And today, Jacob recalls to Joseph God’s faithfulness to him in the past. God had rescued him in the lowest times of his life as he was running from a death threat from his own brother. God had given him the continued promises He gave to Abraham and Isaac. Question: Are you remembering God’s faithfulness in your life? It’s easy to get short-sighted and forget about the many faithful ways God has worked in our life. We are living testimonies of what God has done. That is one of the reasons that compel me to share these QT reflections online. Find ways that you can share what God is doing and has done in your life!
Vs. 14, “So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh.” It would take two more years for the cupbearer to recall Joseph’s dream and inform Pharaoh (vs. 9). But, Joseph remained faithful to God. And God now had a chance reward Joseph’s faith. Once again, Joseph would give credit to God when asked if he could interpret dreams (vs. 16). God works in His timing, and Joseph finally gets vindicated (vs. 41-44). Through the dream brought to Pharaoh, God would ensure His people would survive the famine of seven years. It would take an intervention like this for the people in the area to live, because while times of famine were not uncommon, to have seven years was not normative. Joseph would now go from rejected, almost killed, slave, prisoner and now at the age of thirty, he would become the most powerful man in Egypt, next to Pharaoh himself (vs. 46). How interesting that a secular leader like Pharaoh would put so much confidence in a spiritual man of a foreign land. God would indeed do what Joseph had interpreted, and now the other nations would be seeking out Egypt for relief (vs. 56-57).
Regarding application…Redemption. Vs. 42, “Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck.” Joseph went from riches, to rages and now back to riches! What roller-coaster journey for this young man who endured so much strife! Redemption would come to Joseph that could not have been scripted better. We’ve been cheering for Joseph and what a sigh of relief to see him redeemed from all his earlier trials. I believe that’s why stories of redemption resonate so deeply to the fabric of our minds. I’m reminded of the movie Shawshank Redemption. There is a reason a movie like this is arguably one of the top classic stories of all-time. The story of Joseph reminds us of our Lord Jesus who also endured scorn and rejection, yet would be exalted to the highest place at the right hand of the Father. Each of our own lives tell a story of redemption when we were once lost, but now found!
Vs. 1, “Do not rejoice, O Israel, with exultation like the nations! For you have played the harlot, forsaking your God. You have loved harlots’ earnings on every threshing floor.” Question: What is going on here? It was harvest time and Israel was rejoicing because the harvest was plentiful. Sadly, they followed the nations around them and gave thanks to the fertility God’s for their good fortunes. And to make matters worse, they were throwing parties that involved immorality of all kinds. Success is not always a measure of God’s favor on us and this is where Israel (Ephraim) had gone wrong. Their hearts had turned and forgotten about God. We see the broken heart of God in the last section of our chapter (vs. 10-17).
Regarding application…The Bigger Picture. Vs. 17, “My God will cast them away Because they have not listened to Him; And they will be wanderers among the nations.” It’s never easy to see the others being disciplined. If we only look at this chapter, it would be quite depressing. But, remember brothers & sisters…that we have the whole context of the Bible both Old and New Testaments. We know that God would restore those who were cast out through Jesus. When Jesus traveled through Samaria and ran into the woman at the well (John 4), she likely was a descendant of these people we just read about in Hosea. God’s love has always been extended to His creation. It’s just that not everyone turns to Him. Question: Will you turn to Him? Examine your heart as you think about the scripture in today’s reading. And remember the bigger picture!