Judges 1

Vs. 1, “After the death of Joshua, the Israelites asked the LORD, “Who will be the first to go up and fight for us against the Canaanites?”  The Lord worked mightily through Joshua, but there was still work to be done.  Early on, the Israelites do the right thing and inquire guidance from the LORD.  The LORD instructs Judah to be the first tribe to continue dislodging the remaining Canaanites out of the land (vs. 2-21).  Some scholars point out that there is an ominous tone set as Judah turns to the tribe of Simeon to assist them.  Question: Why is this not a good sign?  Because, God gave Judah specific instructions, but already they were not completely obeying.  But because Judah and Simeon were taking the full measure of fighting and not diplomacy, things are looking good.  In this conquest, we are given a beautiful example of faith in Acsah the daughter of Caleb and the wife of Othniel who was the first of the Judges (vs. 12-15).  Acsah asked with great faith and received!  We now begin to see a declining faith as we move on to the other tribes (vs. 21-36) as Benjamin, Ephraim, Manasseh, Zebulun, Asher, Naphtali, and Dan could not dislodge the enemies out of the land.  God has explicitly instructed His people (Deuteronomy 7) not to spare the foreign enemy.

Regarding application…Neglecting God’s Word.  Vs. 21, “The Benjamites, however, failed to dislodge the Jebusites, who were living in Jerusalem; to this day the Jebusites live there with the Benjamites.”  Question: Why did Israel and the individual tribes not obey the LORD?  Because they looked upon these people and did what they thought was right in their own eyes.  God had already judged the Canaanites, Jebusites, etc.  The Lord had given these nations over four hundred years to repent and change.  These were an inherently wicked people, who if spared, would only lead to Israel’s downfall.  One thing I do want to point out is the hand of God’s justice was very clear for Israel.  But the bigger application for us is that we do have God’s instruction for our lives in the Bible.  We are only repeating the same sin as the Israelites did if we neglect God’s Word in our life!

Joshua 24

Vs. 1, “Then Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. He summoned the elders, leaders, judges and officials of Israel, and they presented themselves before God.”  Some biblical scholars believe this another perspective or continuation of our previous chapter.  Shechem held significance for this is where Abram built an altar for the LORD when he arrived to the Promised Land (Genesis 12:7).  Joshua becomes the LORD’s mouthpiece as he addresses the Israelites directly (vs. 2-13).  It’s interesting to see how reviewing our history is so important to living out our present and future.  Now that Israel remembers all that God has done for them, how will they respond?  I love how Joshua challenges all of Israel to actually respond to the LORD (vs. 14-15).  With one voice, they give a resounding positive response (vs. 16-24).  The chapter and book closes with the burial of Joshua, burial of Eleazar and the burial of Joseph’s bones (vs. 28-33).  Question: Will Israel remain faithful?  Stay tuned as we continue you our journey through the Bible!

Regarding application…Letting Go.  Vs. 23, “Now then,” said Joshua, “throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel.”  Making a decision to follow God is more than just a verbal affirmation.  If you are serious about walking with God, than you must learn to let go.  Question: Are you holding onto anything?  When I first became a Christian, secular music was a huge love of mine.  Everything about it mesmerized me: the lyrics, the beat, the mood, etc.  But in my heart, I knew I needed to let this “idol” go.  I threw away all my tape cassettes (yes, I’m old) when I was 16 years old.  Take time today to consider the idols you may be holding onto.  Will you let it go?

Joshua 16

Vs. 1, “The allotment for Joseph began at the Jordan of Jericho, east of the waters of Jericho, and went up from there through the desert into the hill country of Bethel.”  You may recall that Joseph’s sons Manasseh and Ephraim were officially adopted by Jacob/Israel (Genesis 48) in order to bless Joseph with a double-portion when the land was to be allocated.   Question: Why was Joseph given a double-portion?  Reuben (Jacob’s oldest son) should have received it, but his sins (Genesis 49:4) forfeited his right.  Certainly, most of us will recall Joseph’s plight into slavery to Egypt and his grace and love extended to his family during the famine.  In this chapter, we see the details to the allotment given to Ephraim who was given the first-born blessing, though he was younger than his brother Manasseh.  Notable Ephraimites were Joshua (Joshua 19:50), Samuel (I Samuel 1:1), and Jeroboam I (I Kings 12:25).

Regarding application…Compromising.  Vs. 10, “They did not dislodge the Canaanites living in Gezer; to this day the Canaanites live among the people of Ephraim but are required to do forced labor.”  Question: Why didn’t the Ephraimites drive out the Canaanites living in Gezer?  Some biblical scholars note that it was simply out of greed.  By ensuring the Canaanites are put to work, this would result in material gain.  Question: What’s the big deal?  Not only was this direct disobedience (Deuteronomy 20:16) to driving out the nations, but these same Canaanites would rise up against them as the years progressed during the times of Judges.  Brothers and sisters, we must exercise wisdom when it comes to determining if something is worth compromising over.  One thing that really comes to mind is the compromising we make over relationships.  With good intentions, people will make compromises about their future spouse.  Sadly, those compromises (not a Christian, alcoholic, gambler, sexually promiscuous, etc.) can come back and destroy that marriage.  Let us prayerfully consider what is in our life that could be a stumbling block that we should get rid of.

Matthew 1

Vs. 17, “Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ.”  Question: Why would Matthew open up with a genealogy?  Genealogies were very important in the biblical world and the Jews kept extensive records of their family history.  It was important for Matthew to trace Jesus’ genealogy to Abraham (vs. 2) and David (vs. 6).  Bear in mind, this is not an exhaustive genealogy and Matthew did omit some names.  The Gospels of Matthew & Luke both record genealogies and it is believed Matthew focuses on Jesus’ line through Joseph while Luke focuses Jesus’ line through Mary.  The genealogy would prove to the meticulous Jews that Jesus was indeed the true heir of the kingly throne and Messiah!  In the latter half of our chapter (vs. 18-25), Matthew gives us insight into the drama surrounding the birth of Jesus.  Certainly, many of us read this account without too much thought because we know it so well.  However, Joseph found out Mary was with child and was ready to break off the betrothal!  And then he gets visit by an unnamed Angel (probably Gabriel) in which he is told Mary is conceived via a miracle through the Holy Spirit!  It is here that Joseph is instructed to give the name Jesus to the baby.  Jesus was a popular name at that time and it was the Greek form of the name Joshua which means “The LORD Saves.”  Isaiah is quoted (Isaiah 7:14) and we see the one of the proofs that Jesus is the fulfillment of Immanuel (God with us).

Regarding application…God With Us.  Vs. 23, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.”  God’s promises are true.  Recently, we were reminded in the Old Testament in Leviticus 26:12, “I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.”  Though the temple of Jerusalem (symbol of God’s presence) would be destroyed in 70 AD, Jesus is the reminder to the Jews that God is always among them.  Certainly, this reminder is not reserved for just the Jews, but to all of us!  What a wonderful privilege to know in faith that we are never alone!  I encourage you to take time to chew on this.  God is not someone who restricted by space or time.  He is with you always.  There are moments in our lives where we feel alone and even desperate for love or answers to life.  God is not just a phone call of QT away, He is always present and faithful.

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.