Vs. 1, “Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven.” Like any good presentation, we see the author of Hebrews give us a summary of the main point and central focus of the letter. Jesus is the high priest that continues to serve in our lives today! Jesus is not in some man-made tabernacle, but Jesus is at the right hand of the Father. Jesus is ministering in the heavenly tabernacle not the copy of it that was on earth (vs. 3-6). It served a temporal purpose, but Jesus serves eternally. The old covenant was fulfilled and made perfect (due to man’s sinfulness) through the new covenant (vs. 7-13). Moses was the old covenant mediator, but Jesus is the perfect mediator. The fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy (Jeremiah 31:31-34) came to pass.
Regarding application…Is the Old Covenant Bad? Vs. 13, “By calling this covenant new, he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.” Question: Who gave us the Old Covenant? God had His purpose for His promises given to His people at that time. Both the old and new covenants were given for the good of God’s people. Both covenants offered blessings. Jesus did not come to abolish God’s law (Matthew 5:17), but He came to fulfill God’s ultimate promise to love His people and be a blessing to His nations. God has written His law in our hearts and our minds, we are without excuse! Let us therefore make every effort to honor Him in all that we do! Question: What can you honor him with today?
Vs. 1, “When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.” Earlier in Exodus 24, we are told Moses was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights. During this time of Moses’ absence, the people grew impatient. They had lost contact with God and now their human leader was not present. Their impatience and lack of belief led them astray. For the Israelites, the golden calf was a representation of the LORD. The calf would be their representation of God’s presence with them. This was certainly wrong! They had taken God’s instructions and perverted His truth. Moses pleads to the LORD that His anger would not destroy all the Israelites (vs. 10). The Lord relents. Yet, it’s interesting to see Moses’ response to his anger as he smashed the stone tablets upon seeing the sinful idol (vs. 19). We certainly see Aaron’s mistake in not speaking up and relenting to the people’s command. It is good that the Levites responded to Moses’ call to see who was truly with the LORD (vs. 26). We then are reminded of God’s authority and power as the death penalty came by sword to those who rebelled (vs. 27-28). Thankfully, the LORD did not blot out Moses’ name (vs. 32), and He did spare the vast majority of His people. Yet, there is an undisclosed plague that would come upon them for their consequence.
Regarding application…Interceding for Others. Vs. 11, “But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God. “Lord,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand.” The LORD had offered to start everything over with Moses. Yet, Moses intercedes on behalf of the Israelites. God is certainly sovereign and His will is not determined by what we do or don’t do. Yet, we also see a powerful reminder of the power of prayer. Prayer is a mystery to us. Though we don’t always understand it, Moses reminds us that praying for others is so important! Knowing that Jesus is at the right hand of the Father interceding for us (Romans 8:34) and that our brothers and sisters are praying brings so much comfort in our lives! We are doing an “Armor Up” series at our church, so let’s be prayer warriors and intercede for each other!
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. 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. 11, “So Joseph settled his father and his brothers in Egypt and gave them property in the best part of the land, the district of Rameses, as Pharaoh directed.” Joseph wisely found the right time to present his family to Pharaoh (vs. 1-12). Some biblical scholars point out that a new Pharaoh ascended the throne during the famine (Senusert III) and so it was necessary to introduce and the family and ensure the promises would be kept. Another interesting note was how this young Pharaoh was so curious as to how old Jacob was (vs. 8). The Egyptians life expectancy was believed to be much shorter due to the climate and their way of life. Not only did God promise that He would bless Jacob, Jacob was also would bless Pharaoh (vs. 10). In the latter half of our chapter (vs. 13-26), we see a detailed process in how Joseph dealt with the famine and introduced the idea of taxation (20 percent). And lastly, we see Joseph swear an oath to Jacob to make sure that he would bury him in Canaan (vs. 29-30).
Regarding application…Being a Blessing. Vs. 10, “Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from his presence.” This should remind us of God’s promise to father Abraham, “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.” (Genesis 12:2). Jacob would be a blessing to others. Because God’s promises and blessing upon us are so rich, we too are called to be a blessing to others. I’m reminded of Christians who have this mentality that our relationship with God is a such a personal thing that it doesn’t matter if they go to church. Brothers and sisters, need I remind us that God uses the church to be a blessing to our communities! Question: How are you blessing those around you? In our workplace, in our homes, in our churches, in our community, we have a call to be the aroma of Christ to those who are saved and perishing (II Corinthians 2:15). Pray for someone, do a good deed in the name of Christ, write an encouraging message (via social networking, texting, emailing or even an old-fashioned letter). Be a blessing today!
Vs. 4, “I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.” Before Jacob would go down to Egypt, he went to Beersheba, which had quite significance for both Abraham and Isaac before him. It was a place where they called upon the Lord (Genesis 21, 26), and so Jacob via the route to Egypt would bring a sacrifice to the Lord at Beersheba. It was here that God spoke to him in a dream and reassured him that He would be with him. Though it would take 430 years for them to exit (Exodus) Egypt, God would certainly bless them as they would continue to increase in numbers. Jacob’s descendants listed in the genealogy (vs. 8-26) give us a reminder that this family line was not a perfect one, but a chosen one. How appropriate for us too! Goshen was chosen for a number of things: It was fertile place, a place to keep them separated from the Egyptians, a place to tend to their flocks (they were shepherds).
Regarding application…Acknowledging God. Vs. 1, “So Israel set out with all that was his, and when he reached Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.” God did an amazing thing for old Jacob! Not only did His covenant (vs. 3) continue with Jacob, but he got to see his son Joseph again. I think in the midst of all the busyness and excitement to seize those blessings, it is awesome to see Jacob stop to acknowledge the Lord. Question: Do you take the time to acknowledge God enough? God is relational, and He created us to be relational beings. Let us take time to build that relationship with the Lord so that we are able to consistently be reminded of His presence in our lives. I’m blessed to have my wife and her family a part of my life. It would be crazy for me to go home every day and never acknowledge them or say “hi” to them. Yet, many who call themselves Christians don’t acknowledge God enough. Turn to the Lord today!
Vs. 3, “Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.” Some 22 years later, Joseph finally would be able to reconcile with his brothers! A beautiful picture of reconciliation, forgiveness, and the released weight of guilt would come upon the brothers. I love the outpouring of emotion and affection that Joseph gives to his brothers (vs. 14-16). Additionally, we see how God’s people would find themselves in Egypt because of the famine (vs. 4-11). I find myself so overjoyed for Jacob/Israel when he find out the news that Joseph his beloved son is alive (vs. 26-28).
Regarding application…God is Sovereign. Vs. 8, “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.” Brothers and sisters, the story of Joseph is a huge reminder for us when the evil intentions of others cause us to wonder if there is a God. God works in mysterious ways. I am not about to even try to explain it for the wisdom of man is foolishness to God (I Corinthians 3:19). Though we live in a sinful world, God is in control. There is nothing that happens that He is not aware of. I wish we were all immune from the evil of this world. But find a hope in knowing that Jesus will return again to conquer evil for good (Revelation 19). Joseph set the example for us in patience, faith and forgiveness. Let us go and do likewise.
Vs. 2, “Then put my cup, the silver one, in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack, along with the silver for his grain.” And he did as Joseph said.” Joseph continued to test his brothers to see what their response would be by this ploy of putting his own silver cup into Benjamin’s sack. It’s important to note that while the cup was used by Egyptians for divination (the use of foretelling signs through demonic means), Joseph did not have to endorse such a belief system. The test worked and the brothers of Joseph came back, only this time with true repentance in their heart. Judah steps up and delivers a stirring speech full of heartfelt contrition (vs. 18-34). Quite a change in the life and attitude of Judah from (Genesis 38) where he lived very worldly.
Regarding application…Sacrifice. Vs. 33, “Now then, please let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers.” God would have Jesus come from the line of Judah. Judah was willing to give his life as a ransom for Benjamin because he loved his father Israel. I’m reminded of Jesus’ words to us, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13). What an amazing reminder of what sacrifice should look like in our lives. While many of us will probably not ever be put in situations where we will have to offer our lives in place of another, God still has His ways of asking us to sacrifice. When we put the interest of others above our own (Phil 2:4), we follow the example that Jesus set for us. Question: What areas of life are you still not willing to sacrifice: Career, family, school, relationships?
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.