Ready to Die: Genesis 46:5-30

Image by Areta Ekarafi — Creative Commons

Read Genesis Chapter 46

To read the last post on Genesis go to Deeper Relationship With God.

Last post we saw Jacob draw close to God when he stopped to make a sacrifice to Him on his way down to Egypt. After he makes his sacrifice, God gives him direct confirmation, that he should go to Egypt and reunite with Joseph.

So Jacob loads up the carts Pharoah gave him, and he and his family, and his flocks and herds, and his entire household travel to Egypt.

When he arrives in Goshen of Egypt, Joseph takes his chariot out to meet his father. As soon as Joseph appears before him, he throws his arms around his father and weeps for a long time.

Then Israel says to Joseph, now I’m ready to die, since I have seen for myself that you’re still alive.

Genesis 46:5-30



Jesus and Joseph:

Again we see Jesus manifested in Joseph’s life. Israel’s reunion with Joseph after seeing him alive is a picture of the Father’s reunion with His Son Jesus, after Jesus rose from the dead.

Speaking of the Old Testament scriptures, Jesus said, “These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:39-40)


Ready to Die:

We also see a dynamic illustrated here for you and for me.

By now you’ve probably heard about the famous Stanford University marshmallow experiment involving four year old kids. One at a time these kids were presented with one marshmallow, and then offered a deal: they could either eat the one marshmallow immediately, or, not eat the marshmallow while the researcher left for a few minutes. If they were willing to wait without eating the first marshmallow, until the researcher returned, they could have an additional marshmallow.

What’s typically discussed is how this experiment proved to be a powerful predictor of success in the adult lives of these subjects as they were followed closely into their forties. Those who were willing to delay gratification were far more likely to experience success in relationships, and in life in general. For instance, the SAT scores of those who waited for the second marshmallow were on average 210 points higher than those who didn’t wait.

But what’s not often discussed, is what the experimenters discovered in the later iterations of this experiment. When I think of delayed gratification, I think of will power. But what these researchers discovered was, the how behind the ability to delay gratification has little to do with willpower. But has much to do with focus. Those who were able to focus on something else, while waiting for gratification, were the ones who were successful at achieving their goal of attaining the second marshmallow, or, later in life, experiencing a successful marriage, earning a degree, or finding success in their career.

The lead researcher made what I thought was a very insightful statement: “We can’t control the world, but we can control how we think about it.” (Read more: Don’t! — NewYorker.com)

I think in today’s world where we’re inundated with news, information, and entertainment, this idea of focus is more important than ever.

You see, our own selfish nature is like that first marshmallow. You just can’t resist it. Trying to use will power to prevail against your selfishness just doesn’t work. Like the kids who were successful in the experiment, the secret to success where selfishness is concerned lies with focus.

When Israel saw Joseph alive, or to put it another way, it was when he turned his focus on Joseph alive, that he said, “Now I am ready to die.” (v. 30)

It’s the same for you and it’s the same for me. When we focus on our greater than Joseph, Jesus, when we focus on Jesus alive, something important happens to us. When Jesus becomes alive to me, like Israel, I become ready to die. I become ready to die to my selfish desires. When Jesus becomes alive to you, you become ready to die to yourself, in a way that elevates God and people above yourself. When Jesus becomes alive to us, we become ready to release our selfishness and put others before ourselves.

You might be asking, How? How do I turn my focus on Jesus alive? The answer is found in  prayer. Our focus turns to Jesus’ aliveness, when we ask the Holy Spirit to reveal Him to us.

So before you read His word,

before you pray,

before you sing His praises,

before you take communion…

…ask.

Ask God to pour out His Holy Spirit upon you,

that you will see Jesus,

alive,

in your life.

Deeper Relationship with God: Genesis 46:1-4

Photo by BabaSteve, Creative Commons

Read Genesis 46:1-4

To read the last post on Genesis go to Will God Come Through for You?

So Israel sets out with all that he has. But he stops when he reaches Beersheba to offer sacrifices to his God.

And God spoke to Israel in a vision that night, He said, Jacob! Jacob!

Here I am, replied Jacob.

I am God, the God of your father, He said. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. 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.

Genesis 46:1-4



Going Deeper

Last post I mentioned I’m working on a biography for a friend of mine, Kent Brown. One of the things about Kent is he’s had numerous broken dysfunctional marriages. But there was this one marriage that was a healthy one. Her name was Lori, and it’s interesting how her and Kent’s relationship began. In Kent’s words:

I met her at a restaurant that had a dance floor. My friend Dale and I were in this place, it was in the evening around 9. Lori and her girlfriend walked in the door and every guy in the place was looking at her. I told Dale, “I gotta meet this gal.” I just beelined up to the front and told her and her friend we had a table and to come sit down, and they did.

Shortly thereafter I told Lori it was too loud to talk, and that I had a studio just down the street and I’d like to visit with her and her friend. They came to the studio and we visited. My studio had photographs, a lot of scenics, fine art scenics, and photographs of congressmen and others. Before they left I asked Lori for her phone number so I could call her to make sure she got home safely. When I called she was impressed that I would check on her like that. She told me where she worked and I brought her flowers and took her to lunch every day for a month.

“She told me where she worked and I brought her flowers and took her to lunch every day for a month.”

It’s no accident the Bible portrays relationship with God as a marriage relationship. (supporting verses are in abundance, including Revelation 19:7-9, Ephesians 5:25-27, Revelation 21:2, John 3:29, 2 Corinthians 11:2) Kent invested in his relationship with Lori by sacrificing his time, money, and energy. It took dedication and discipline to bring her flowers every day. It cost him to take her to lunch every day. But the result was a great marriage relationship.

Jacob does the same in his relationship with God. He sacrifices to Him. And a sacrifice to God was a big deal. It cost a precious animal from the herd. And it took a lot of hard work to prepare that animal for sacrifice. Here in Beersheba we see how Jacob commits his time, and his possessions, and his energy to his God. And the result is a great relationship.

When you read verses one through four, you see the result is God speaks to Jacob, He reveals great blessings to Jacob, and he provides comfort to Jacob.

Maybe you’re wondering why God isn’t speaking to you. Maybe you’re wondering why God hasn’t revealed any blessings to you lately. Maybe you’re feeling uncomfortable and you’re wondering why God isn’t providing any comfort.

Maybe it’s because you’re not sacrificing.

Like a marriage relationship, your relationship with God changes when you make sacrifices and offerings. When you sacrifice your Sunday mornings, to spend time with Him at His house, when you sacrifice a few minutes in the morning to read His scriptures, when you offer Him your thanksgiving, when you offer the sacrifice of praise, your relationship with Him changes. It deepens and grows into something beautiful. It metamorphosizes. It transforms. You grow to know Him. You begin to hear Him, similar to the way Jacob did. You begin to anticipate what He’s thinking.

Of all the people in existence, who would you want to have the deepest strongest relationship with?

The only answer that makes sense is God.

So make changes.

Make changes beginning right now.

Sacrifice.