Exodus 3

Vs. 4, “When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.”  Moses was tending flocks for his father-in-law Jethro (Reuel) and was now at Mount Horeb (Sinai) (vs. 1).  This is the chapter where we come upon the well-known encounter with the burning bush.  Moses would quickly find out that he was in a very conversation with the creator of the world!  God showed His faithfulness by hearing the cries of his children and responding (vs. 7-10).  While easy to point fault at Moses for his questions and concerns, but I don’t think any of us would fare any better (vs. 11-13).  Moses asked God’s name, and He would reply with, “I AM” (Yahweh).  I really enjoyed Moses giving us his dialogue he had with our God.  The Lord would go onto explain in detail the events that would transpire with the Egyptians response and the hard to believe willing plunder that would come to fruition (vs. 21-22).

Regarding application…Who am I?  Vs. 11, “But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”  How interesting that a man like Moses who was so confident in the past (trying to rescue the beaten Hebrew, and rescuing the women at the well) would now be humbled.  But I suppose all of us would be standing on holy ground before our Maker (vs. 5).  God chooses the weak to shame the strong (I Corinthians 1:27).  In many ways, Moses had to be broken to be put back together again.  But Moses would ask a question that applies for all of us today: Who am I?  We are failures, we are not perfect, we are stubborn, we are doubters…yet God still loves us and chose us!  Question: What tasks is the great “I AM” asking you to do in your life right now?

Genesis 50

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?

 

Genesis 49

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!

Genesis 48

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!

Genesis 47

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!

Genesis 46

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!

Genesis 45

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.

Genesis 39

Vs. 2, “The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master.”  I think it’s really important to step back and consider Joseph’s life.  At the tender age of 17, young Joseph would overcome obstacles that most men would not conquer.   Betrayed by his brothers and nearly killed, sold into an Egyptian home, overcoming despair, sexually tempted, and then thrown into prison.  All of these events would happen in just two chapters.  What a wonderful statement as we read that the LORD was with Joseph four times in this chapter (vs. 2, 3, 21, 23).  Question: What was it that kept Joseph in favor with God?  Perhaps it was his dream from the Lord about the ruling over his brothers one day.  But, I suspect it was far more than that.  His heart and mind were turned to the Lord.  Even in the midst of a false accusation from Potiphar’s wife, he did not expose the truth and fight it out with her (vs. 13-19).

Regarding application…Fleeing Temptation.  Vs. 10, “And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.”  Notice the persistence of this temptation.  This reveals the type of character Joseph had with sexual purity when we compare that to yesterday’s chapter with Judah’s indiscretions.  While most of us may not be handsome and well-built (vs. 6) or beautiful like Joseph’s mother Rachel, perhaps this can remind us that beauty is certainly fleeting (Proverbs 31:30).  But Joseph had looks and authority, a bad combination with Potiphar’s wife lurking.  I think it is remarkable that this young man was able to flee such temptation.  Question: What would help Joseph overcome?  I believe it is because he knew who he was.  As Christians today, we are reminded from the Apostle Paul that we are new creations (II Corinthians 5:17).  The more we know who we are, the more we will choose to live our true identity.

Genesis 38

Vs. 1, “At that time, Judah left his brothers and went down to stay with a man of Adullam named Hirah.”  Juxtaposed in the story of Joseph, we take a break and get a glimpse of Israel’s son, Judah.  Question: Why?   Let’s do a quick review.  The first three oldest sons of Israel had all done things that take them out of the kingly line.  Reuben had slept with his father’s wife (Genesis 35:22) – his step mom, and Simeon and Levi took revenge on Shechem for Dinah’s rape (Genesis 34).  The next son in line was Judah.  Bear in mind, the Messiah would come from the line of Judah.  Other notables were Boaz & Ruth and King David who were descendants of Judah.  Judah’s marriage to a Canaanite woman was an unwise one indeed (vs. 2).  It would set off a chain of sad events.  Judah had three sons, but the first son Er was so wicked we are told God put him to death (vs. 7).  The cultural practices of the time were to have the next brother fulfill the duty of helping the widow bear a child in his brother’s name (Levirate marriage – this was become part of the Mosaic law).  But Onan, the second oldest brother was selfish and wicked and did not fulfill his duty (vs. 8-10).  Judah had one more son who had not yet grown up.  Tamar, who had been originally married to Er, was patiently waiting for one of Judah’s son to help her conceive.  Two were now dead and only Shelah was left, but he was too young (vs. 11).  Through a chain of deception, Tamar would deceive Judah by disguising herself as a prostitute and having a night shared with Judah her father-in-law.  We see the condition and double-standard of the day as Judah who was no saint demanded she be put to death.  But it was his lack of integrity that he did not follow up on allowing Shelah to marry her (vs. 14).  Tamar would get pregnant from that night with Judah and bear him twins.  Eventually, Tamar a Canaanite woman would be a part of the kingly Messianic lineage.  In fact, Tamar would be mentioned in the genealogy of Gospel of Matthew (1:3).

Regarding application…Grace of God.  This can be a confusing chapter and there seems to be no real hero.  However, the true emphasis isn’t Judah or Tamar, but it is God.  God is at work dispensing His will and thankfully His grace.  If our existence depended on our own righteousness, we would all be in hell.  Thankfully, God is gracious.  How interesting that we see such a contrast between Israel’s two sons: Judah and Joseph.  Question: Which son are you more like?  Let’s not take advantage of the grace of God.  This reminds me of the thought process that Paul had at address to the Roman Christians regarding the increase of sin and God’s increase of grace (Romans 5:20).  There was this wrong thinking that since God’s grace increases because of sin, than we have the right to continue to sin (Romans 6:1).  Brothers & sister, may this not be the case for us.

Genesis 37

Vs. 3, “Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him.”  The rest of the book of Genesis (1/4 of it) will be devoted to the life of Joseph, first son of Rachel.  It is quite an adventurous story full of betrayal and intrigue.  From the onset of our chapter, we see Joseph must have been a young man who demonstrated his ideal of integrity (vs. 2).  Bear in mind, his older brothers would have already resented him because his father favored Rachel and Joseph was her first-born.  It certainly didn’t help things when Israel mad him an ornate robe (vs. 3).  The dreams that come to Joseph and his subsequent sharing of them so candidly remind us why it was important to share his age (vs. 2).  Joseph, was naïve, but the Lord had a purpose to bringing such revelation to the young man.  Sadly, nine of the brothers (outside of Reuben) had conspired to kill Joseph (vs. 20).  Reuben, being the oldest, had the most to lose if Joseph’s dream came true.  Yet, it was Reuben who convinced his brothers not to kill Joseph (vs. 21-22).  His intention was to bring Joseph back to Israel.  But, for some reason, Reuben leaves and the brothers see the Ishmaelites/Midianite merchants traveling to Egypt.  Judah proposes to sell Joseph into slavery (vs. 26-27), it looks like they still intended to kill him.  The selling of Joseph for shekels of silver give us a preview of Jesus’ being sold by Judas Iscariot.

Regarding application…Dangers of Envy.  Vs. 4, “When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.”  We could point the blame to Israel for favoring Joseph.  But, ultimately, it was the envy of Joseph’s older brothers that would bring young Joseph to slavery.  Before we are quick to judge the brothers, we should take the time to look at our own hearts.  There is an illustration that goes like this: The legend is told of a godly man who lived in a cave in order to give himself to prayer, worship, and contemplation. Wanting to lure him away from his life of piety, Satan sent some demons to tempt him through lust, selfishness, and greed. But demon after demon reported back to Satan, saying, “The man doesn’t budge. He doesn’t waver. He doesn’t give in.” Finally, Satan said, “Let me show you how it’s done.” He made his way to the hermit’s cave, perched on his shoulder, and whispered, “Your brother has just been made Bishop.”  Question: Is there any envy in your heart?