The Redemptive Power of Connection: Genesis 50:7, 9, 11

Connection to Jesus Christ[To see the last post on Genesis go to The Consequences of Calling Your Own Shots–Genesis 49:29]

So Joseph went up to bury his father. All Pharaoh’s officials accompanied him—the dignitaries of his court and all the dignitaries of Egypt—

Chariots and horsemen also went up with him. It was a very large company.

When the Canaanites who lived there saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “The Egyptians are holding a solemn ceremony of mourning.”

Genesis 50:7, 9, 11

What’s All The Fuss?

I was involved in a huge funeral once. Two friends died in the prime of life, in an ATV accident. They were firefighters and we had this huge procession through town with fire department vehicles. The streets were lined with well wishers. There were even helicopters flying overhead above the procession. One helicopter flew a giant American flag underneath. Another filmed the whole event in high def. Had my two friends been insurance salesmen none of that would have happened. It was their relationship with the fire department that resulted in such an ambitious funeral.

Jacob’s funeral was a much bigger deal than my friends’. Every single one of Pharaoh’s officials were there. Every dignitary from the nation of Egypt was there. All of Joseph’s family was there. Chariots and horsemen were even there. The funeral lasted a whole week. This thing was huge. When the people of Canaan saw it, it was easy to recognize someone very important had passed away. But why? Why was Jacob honored in such spectacular fashion? Continue reading

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.

Help in Times of Famine: Genesis 42:1-2

Photo Credit: tvstar.com.mk

Read Genesis 42:1-2

Last post on Genesis we saw what happened to Joseph after Pharaoh heard him interpret his dreams. We also examined how Joseph determined direction for the nation of Egypt and how you can determine direction yourself. (see previous post: God, Joseph, and Direction)

In today’s post we’ll look at where Jacob sends his sons for grain during a famine. And we’ll look at where we can go when we’re experiencing famine, be it financial, physical, or emotional famine.


Genesis 42:1-2

After Jacob figures out there’s grain in Egypt, he says to his sons, Why just sit around and look at each other? Go where the bread is, go to the source of nourishment. Go to where you, and me, and our families can be saved — from this famine. Go to where the bread is, so that we may live and not die.


Help in Times of Famine:

Jacob’s sons” reluctance to go to Egypt for grain reminds me of another story:

“Do you want to get well?” Jesus asked the lame man at the pool of Bethesda.

I want to get down to the pool, because I think it’ll heal me, but I have no one to help me. Someone always gets there ahead of me, the lame man said.

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

The only problem was, Jesus did this on the Sabbath. So when the leaders found out, they were angry. That’s when Jesus said to them, concerning the Old Testament: “These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (emphasis mine, see John Chapter 5)

Jacob and his sons don’t know it yet, but it won’t be long before they’ll find out, Joseph is the source they’ll be receiving food from, so that they may live and not die. And we also know Jesus said of the Old Testament: “These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:39-40) So here we have another example of how the Scriptures testify of Jesus. We again see in Joseph, a divine prophetic expression of Jesus Christ.

Jacob’s sons looking at each other, and their reluctance to go to Joseph to be saved, is a picture of how Jesus’ brothers, the Jewish leadership, were reluctant to go to Jesus. It’s also a picture of what you and I so often do when we respond to famine. When the famine comes, we often look to each other, and other human beings, to be saved. But what God, our heavenly Father, would have us do, is go to Jesus for our bread. Christ is the source of our grain, if you will. He is the Word made flesh. He is the Bread of life. (John 1:14)

Jesus is our Joseph.

And Jesus is the Word. So God’s word is where God would have us go “so that we may live and not die.”

Maybe things are so bad right now, you feel like you’re going to die. Maybe you’re experiencing famine. Maybe it’s a financial famine: you’re unemployed or just struggling to make it. Or maybe it’s a physical famine: you’re sick, or injured, or the doctor came back with a diagnosis of cancer. Or maybe it’s an emotional famine: you’re dealing with a divorce, or she betrayed you, or they’re attacking you personally.

The question is, where do you go when there’s famine? Do you look at those around you for answers? Or do you go to where the bread is?

The Bible, is where the bread is, and God has good reasons for sending us there.

When I read the Bible I’m gaining insight into the very mind of God. That, in and of itself, makes it the most important book to read there is.

When I read the Bible I’m reading the very same words Jesus studied and read.

When I read the gospels in the Bible, I’m studying the very words spoken by Jesus Christ Himself.

When I read the Bible I’m reminded of great truths.

When I read the Bible I’m more oriented toward what’s important to God and less anxious about the things of this world.

When I read the Bible I’m more mindful of eternal things, heavenly things, things that will matter forever (and that’s a long time).

I know from experience, reading the Bible regularly, changes who I am. When I read the Bible I’m a different person than when I don’t. I know this because my wife says she prefers the kurt who reads the Bible regularly, to the kurt who does not.

It’s true for anybody. Reading the Bible regularly will make you less like your current self, and more like the person both you and God want you to become.

So why just sit around and look at each other? Go where the bread is, go to the source of nourishment. Go to where you and your family can be saved. Go to where the bread is, “so that you may live and not die.”

Read your Bible.

It will change your life.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT


Joseph and Jesus, Sold by His Brothers: Genesis 37:12-36

Joseph Sold by His Brothers (Photo credit: DoJewish Blog)

Jesus said to them on the road to Emmaus:

“How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

Luke 24:25-27



Genesis 37:12-36

So Joseph’s brothers are overseeing their father’s flocks in an area near Shechem. Israel (Jacob) says to Joseph, You know how your brothers are out with the flocks near Shechem? Well I need you to head out there.

Israel sent Joseph, his most favored son, to his flocks. Joseph would ultimately save his brothers and the nation of Egypt from perishing in the famine. God the Father sent Jesus, His most favored son, to His flocks, the people on earth. Jesus would ultimately provide a means to save his brothers, and the entire world. (Matthew 3:17)

Joseph replies to his father, Sounds good.

Israel says, Head out there and see how your brothers and the flocks are doing then come back and let me know what you found.

Then he sends Joseph out from where they are, in the Valley of Hebron, toward Shechem.

When Joseph gets to Shechem, he wanders around in the fields for awhile looking for his brothers until a man asks him, What are you looking for?

Joseph says, I’m looking for my brothers, they’re grazing their flocks around here somewhere. Can you tell me where they are?

They’ve moved on from here, the man answers. I overheard them say they’re going to Dothan.

So Joseph continues on to Dothan and finds his brothers. They see Joseph off in the distance and while he’s still out of earshot, they plot to kill him.

“Lazarus come out!” Jesus said. And Lazarus, who had been dead, left his resting place in the cave, and came out, witnessed by many. The Sanhedrin never disputed Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead, in fact, they never disputed any of Jesus’ miracles. But they were afraid, because He was performing so many miracles, the people would follow Jesus, leaving the Sanhedrin without a power base. Bringing Lazarus back from the dead proved to be the last straw for them.

So they plotted to kill Jesus. (John 11:17-55)

Here comes the dreamer! they say to each other mockingly. We can kill him now and toss his body into one of these cisterns and we’ll just say a wild animal attacked him and ate him. Then we’ll see what becomes of his dreams.

Problem for the brothers: the dreams aren’t Joseph’s, they’re from God, and God’s dreams always come to pass.

Well Reuben hears all this, and as the oldest, he knows he’ll ultimately be held responsible for Joseph, so he says, Let’s not kill him, let’s not shed any blood. Instead we’ll throw him into this empty cistern out here, but don’t hurt him. Reuben’s thinking he’ll come back later, pull Joseph out of the cistern, and return him to their father.

Reuben is hoping, by throwing Joseph in the cistern, he can satisfy his brothers, even as Pontius Pilate had Jesus scourged, hoping to satisfy Jesus’ brothers the Jews who cried for Jesus’ crucifixion.

So when Joseph shows up, they strip him of his robe, the one of many colors, with oversized sleeves, the one his father gave him, and they toss him into the empty cistern.

Joseph was stripped of his special garment, even as Jesus was stripped of his seamless garment. And down into the empty cistern Joseph goes, even as Jesus went down into the grave. (Matthew 27:59-60, Mark 15:46, Luke 23:53, John 19:41-42)

Then they sit down to eat.

As they’re eating, they look up and see a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. The caravan’s loaded with goods: spices, balm, and myrrh. They’re on their way to Egypt to do some trading.

After seeing the caravan, Judah comes up with an idea, (or an idea was given to Judah by the Lord) he says, What do we gain if we kill him? Instead let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not hurt him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.

We can avoid having Joseph’s blood on our hands if we turn him over to these Gentiles, Judah and his brothers, the other fathers of the tribes of Israel are thinking. Likewise, their descendants said it was against Roman law for the Jews to execute Jesus themselves. So they turned Jesus over to the Gentiles. It’s interesting to note, though they said, “We have no right to execute anyone” they were perfectly willing to stone the woman caught in adultery, and they were more than enthusiastic about throwing Jesus off the cliff. But it was prophesied Jesus was to die by crucifixion and only the Romans executed criminals in that manner. So this took place to fulfill what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die. (John 8:1-11, Luke 4:29John 18:31-32)

Here also, we see the trap of comparing your own actions to an action or intention that’s worse. Let’s be good guys and not kill Joseph, he’s our brother after all. Instead lets sell him into slavery so we never see him again, then lie to our father saying he’s dead. How much better we’re treating him than if we had chosen to kill him!

Of course this makes no sense at all. It never makes sense to compare our own bad deeds to those that are even worse, whether they be your own or someone elses. Your own holiness is your only concern. And there isn’t anyone who is too holy before the Lord.

Finally we see here the result of envy. Matthew Henry states, “Where envy reigns, pity is banished, and humanity itself is forgotten.” And Proverbs 27:4 tells us, Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy? In our story we see siblings driven by envy to plot the death of their own brother, even as he desperately pleaded for his life! (Genesis 42:21) Envy: stay clear of it. Don’t allow yourself to be caught by the green eyed monster, or you may find yourself doing things you never dreamed you were capable of.

His brothers buy into the idea so when the Midianite traders come by, they pull Joseph up out of the cistern and sell him into slavery for twenty shekels of silver. The Midianites then continue on their way to Egypt.

Jesus was sold, for 30 pieces of silver, by one of his brothers. (Matthew 26:14-16, Mark 14:10-11, Luke 22:3-6, Zechariah 11:12-13)

All this occurs while Reuben was off somewhere. When he returns and sees Joseph isn’t there in the cistern, he tears his clothes. He goes back to his brothers and says, The boy’s not there! What am I going to do?

Reuben thinks he’s undone because of Joseph’s plight, when in reality, had Joseph not been sold into slavery, they all would have been undone, by famine. When the two Mary’s returned and saw Jesus wasn’t there in the tomb, they were distressed also, but in reality, had the tomb not been empty, we’re all undone. (Luke 24:1-8) (Matthew Henry)

So they kill a goat and dip Joseph’s robe in its blood. When they arrive home they show it to their father and say, We found this. You better have a look at it, it might be Joseph’s robe.

Of course Jacob recognizes it right away and says, It is my son’s robe! Some wild animal has devoured him. He’s been torn to pieces for sure.

Then Jacob tears his clothes, puts on sackcloth, and mourns for Joseph for many days. All his sons and daughters come to comfort him, but he refuses their consolation. “No,” he says, “I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave.” So his father wept for him.

To Jacob, Joseph is dead. But, there’s good news he doesn’t know about.

Meanwhile, the Midianites sell Joseph to Potiphar, Pharoah’s captain of the guard.

To the disciples and all who knew of His crucifixion, Jesus was dead. But there was good news coming they didn’t know about. It was dark on Friday, but Sunday’s coming. (See previous post: Back From the Dead)

Speaking of Jesus, Luke 25 verse 7 says, Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

I think the story of Joseph was probably a big part of that explanation.

And I’m reminded of something else Jesus said:

“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” (Luke 8:8)

References:

Bible Gateway

Blue Letter Bible

Matthew Henry

Walton, Matthews, Chavalas, (2000), IVP Bible Background Commentary, O.T.

Jon Courson