Back to the Beginning: Genesis 49:28-50:26

The final reading of the beginning: Genesis 49:28-50:26
Click the reference above to read on BibleGateway.com.

Jacob died. His sons returned him to the land of Canaan where they buried him in the family tomb. Now, the ten brothers who sold their younger brother into slavery feared the loss of protection they believed their father had provided while he was alive. They began to fear Joseph…

When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.”‘ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him.
Genesis 50:17
For 17 years (Genesis 47:28), Joseph treated his brothers and their families with kindness and generosity. He told them when he revealed himself to them how God used their treachery for good (Genesis 45:7-8). But, after all Joseph’s acts of merciful compassion toward them, they didn’t believe him. They doubted his goodness. So he wept… 
When we sin against others, we wound ourselves, too. It is hard to accept forgiveness. Hard to trust the one who has forgiven. Sins we’ve committed against others have the power to haunt us and mar relationships.
The brothers resorted, again, to lying. Telling Joseph something their father never said in order to save their own skin from a fearful fate which wasn’t even true. Because the brothers had refused to offer grace, they were unable to receive grace. Joseph’s forgiveness was beyond their ability to comprehend.
The same thing can happen in our relationships, not only with others, but with Jesus. Even though we’ve been forgiven, we continually fear payback for our sins.
Just like Joseph, our sins were responsible for Jesus’s suffering and death. Just like Joseph, Jesus tells us not to fear. God used our rebellion, to send Him to the cross in order to make the way for our deliverance. Just like Joseph, Jesus was resurrected to a place of power over our lives where He offers forgiveness to all who come to Him and receive it.
Do you still fear retribution from Jesus? Have you fully received His grace? Have you learned to offer grace to others?
Our sins wound us, often more than they wound those who willingly forgive us. Yet, in receiving forgiveness, their wounds become our healing…
But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:5 ESV 

Ask God to help you seek and receive forgiveness. Offer grace. And live at peace.

We’ve come to the end of the beginning. Tomorrow we begin the journey In the Wilderness: Exodus.

Back to the Beginning: Genesis 49:1-27

Today’s Scripture: Genesis 49:1-27
Open up the Word in your Bible or click the link above to read online.

“…The blessings of your father are mighty beyond the blessings of my parents,
up to the bounties of the everlasting hills. …” — Jacob to his sons
Genesis 49:26
The blessing of a father to his son is powerful. More powerful than the words of grandparents, aunts, uncles, or mentors. Every child longs to hear their parents speak into their lives.
Jacob had a word for each one of his sons. Each blessing personal. Each blessing revealed knowledge of the son by the father. Each blessing meant to shape the future of the son.
Those of us who are parents have the power to speak words of blessings or curses into the lives of our children. Each one of our children, whether they recognize it or not, want personal words of encouragement from us.
Words are powerful. They have the ability to wound or heal. Build up or tear down.
There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Proverbs 12:18 ESV
Jacob’s words spoken into the lives of his sons came with a prophetic message from God. We too can do the same. Ask God what Scriptures He wants you speak into the life of each one of your children. No matter how old your children are, it is never too late to begin blessing them with God’s Word for their lives.
Parents’ words have the power to shape their children’s futures. Call on Him to bless you with a personal prophetic word for each one of your children from His Word. Begin to speak His truth into their lives to help them know who God calls them to be. There are plenty of other voices in the world speaking lies to them. Do not miss an opportunity to share His truth about them.
If you don’t have children of your own, your words still have power to influence the life of a child. So whatever children you have authority over, be they stepchildren or those you teach in Sunday School or relate to through mini-Methodists, ask God to bless you with Scriptures to speak into their lives.
Father God, forgive me for the ways I’ve wounded children with my words.
Bless me with the right Word for each child I have influence over,
to encourage them and build them up to be an important part of Your Kingdom.

Back to the Beginning: Genesis 48

Today’s passage: Genesis 48
Click the link to read online.

And Jacob said to Joseph, “…And now your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, as Reuben and Simeon are. …”
Genesis 48:3, 5
Ephraim and Manasseh, the two sons of Joseph, Jacob brought into his family as his own. In the same way Reuben and Simeon were his first two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh would now be considered the first two sons.
Reuben was the oldest son by birth. In the Jewish tradition, the first born son was given a double portion. Here we see Jacob giving the double portion to Joseph by including his two sons in the inheritance.
Joseph a younger son was placed ahead of Reuben the oldest son. We see it happen over and over in Scripture. Isaac was placed over Ishmael. Jacob supplanted Esau. Jacob even put Joseph’s younger son Ephraim ahead of Manasseh, the oldest. It’s a foreshadowing of things to come. The older shall serve the younger.
In the gospel of Luke, the lineage of Jesus refers to Adam as the son of God. Adam the first son, the first man, was surpassed by God’s Son Jesus, the Son of Man. The first created son sinned, establishing the way of the world, as did Ishmael and Esau. The only begotton Son Jesus, the faithful Son, came and made the way of salvation for all the lost. He became greater than the first.
Through Jesus a better way was made. The Old Testament law fulfilled by Him, made the way for the New Testament, freeing God’s people from the power of sin and death. The natural life giving way to the supernatural life in the Spirit. The temporal replaced by the eternal.
This is the way God works. The first shall be last and the last shall be first. All of Scripture points to Jesus.
Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
1 Corinthians 15:45-49 ESV
Father God, Your Son is greater than me and my flesh. Bless me with the faith
to come under His lordship. Teach me to lay down my life for His.
I surrender to Your greater way in the Spirit, than my way in the flesh.
Transform me to the image of Jesus.

Back to the Beginning: Genesis 47:13-31

Today’s passage: Genesis 47:13-31
Open up your Bible or open up the Word on line by clicking the link above.

Thus Israel settled in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen.
And they gained possessions in it, and were fruitful and multiplied greatly.
Genesis 47:27
The majority of the people in Egypt suffered loss through the years of famine. They spent their money, sold their herds, their property, and then themselves in order to stay alive. But God’s people. God’s chosen ones had a very different experience in Egypt. They gained possessions. They were fruitful and multiplied greatly.
No matter what the world suffers, the people of God, the faithful, will be provided for. We should not live in fear. He is faithful to the faithful.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
Jeremiah 17:7-8 ESV
Where is your trust? in the things of the world? or the Lord?
What do you fear? This question can reveal where you have placed your trust.
Father God, the world is full of trouble. I do not want to live a life of fear.
Increase my trust in You. While those trusting the world lose more and more,
I choose to trust in You. Guide me in times of trouble.
Bear fruit for Your Kingdom through me.

Back to the Beginning: Genesis 46:28-47:12

Today, a moment we’ve been waiting for: Genesis 46:28-47:12
Click the reference above to read online.

Joseph prepared his chariot and went up to meet Israel his father in Goshen.
He presented himself to him and fell on his neck and wept on his neck a good while.
Genesis 46:29
This scene takes me back to childhood memories. Times I got hurt playing with friends, whether physically or emotionally, I’d sucked up the pain… hide it under a facade of indifference… until I got home. Once Mom was in sight, I’d run, face crumbling to tears and wails as I flung myself on her for a comforting hug.
Joseph. He had years, perhaps decades, of pain stored up. Thinking he would never see his father again. Never again know the comfort of the one who loved him best. Then he sees him. Jacob and Joseph reunited. And the tears flow for a good while…
My mom has been gone more than twenty years now. There are still times I’d like to call her up or fling myself on her in tears with the pains of life. But, praise God, we have One in Christ we can run to anytime. One who loves us best. One who is always available. One who will never leave us. Our Father in heaven.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in our affliction…
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV
Don’t suck it up when pains pierce the heart or the body, run to the your Father in heaven, the God of all comfort. He’s waiting to receive you with His steadfast love. Waiting to restore and redeem the broken. Whether we have wounded ourselves with sin or someone else’s sin has caused us pain. He’s waiting…
Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you,
And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
How blessed are all those who long for Him.
Isaiah 30:18 NASB
Father God, thank You for Your great unfailing love and comfort.
Prepare my heart to run to You with every pain and hurt.
Remind me You are waiting to offer mercy and compassion.

Back to the Beginning: Genesis 46:1-27

Today’s verses: Genesis 46:1-27
Click the reference above to read online at BibleGateway.com.

“I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt,
for there I will make you into a great nation. …”
Genesis 46:3
God gave Jacob His blessing to go to Egypt. There He had plans to make Jacob’s family into a great nation.
When we think of a nation we think of lots of unrelated people coming together within borders and under a common government. The United States, especially, is one nation made up of many nations. We have African-Americans, Latin-Americans, Italian-Americans, Irish-Americans… you name it we have it. A recent fad is pursuing genealogy through DNA and discovering what nations your ancestors came from.
But God, He created the nation of Israel from one family. Seventy people in the whole house of Jacob went to Egypt and there, God made them a nation.
It’s a wonder to me how personal this all is for God. He didn’t just scoop up a handful of disconnected people and call them His. He started with one man: Abraham. Who had one son of promise: Isaac. Who had twin boys: Esau and Jacob. And from Jacob, whom He renamed Israel, God created an entire nation.
Those in the nation of Israel know exactly where their DNA goes back to. Abraham. Isaac. Jacob. For God, it’s all about family and relationship. Not government and borders.
From this one nation-family, God blessed all the nations of the world with His Son Jesus. And through His Son, we can all become part of His one family. 
…for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.
Galatians 3:26 ESV
Father God, how thankful I am You are all about family and relationship,
not rules and regulations. Help me to remember I’m part of Your family
and I can invite others to be a part too, through Jesus.

Back to the Beginning: Genesis 45

We left with a cliff-hanger, yesterday. How will Joseph respond to Judah’s plea? Open up your Bible or click the Scripture reference to read today’s verses: Genesis 45

Judah’s selfless plea to be enslaved in place of his younger brother was the catalyst which drove Joseph to reveal himself. He could take it no more… I am Joseph!

Can you imagine the thoughts racing through the minds of the ten who sold him into slavery? The ones who lied to their father about Joseph being killed by wild animals? …they were dismayed at his presence.

They just thought they were in trouble before. Now the brother they abused is in a position to have them all executed. But Joseph calls them near… and reveals an incredible truth…

“I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. …”
Genesis 45:4-8 ESV (emphasis mine)
God is sovereign in ALL things. Joseph at this point did not hold a grudge against his brothers, but saw the larger picture of God’s sovereignty at work for the good of His people and for the preservation of life.
Consider: You are where you are today, because God sent you “here.”
No matter what state your life is in. This is the place God has sent you. In Joseph’s darkest days, God had a plan to lift him up. And not only him but his entire family.
Whether you are facing a time of prosperity and joy, or poverty and darkness, God sent you here. If we embrace God’s sovereignty in our lives as Joseph did, remaining faithful even when we have been treated unjustly, trusting He has a purpose and plan in whatever He allows, we will one day (maybe not in our earthly life) see Him lift us up.
The incredible grace of God’s sovereignty shines bright in the lives of his brothers, too. God used their sin to save them. He sent them to a place of humility, where they were lifted by His grace. Undeserved salvation through the brother they wanted to kill.
In our sin. In our persecution. God sends us to a place where His Son, whom we sent to the cross, lifts us up. Embracing His sovereignty and purpose in our lives, enables us to live like Joseph, in hopeful faithfulness and grace.
Lord, teach me to embrace Your sovereignty, power, and purpose in my life.

Back to the Beginning: Genesis 44

Joseph’s saga continues in Genesis 44.
Open up your Bible or open up the link above.

Brothers reunited.
They feast together.
But things are still not quite right.
Joseph remains dead to his brothers and continues to deal with what they did to him.

Benjamin finds himself unjustly accused. A thief only by Joseph’s doing. Joseph’s maneuverings put Judah in a position to make good on his promise to his father. And he does.

“…please let your servant remain instead of the boy as a servant to my lord,
and let the boy go back with his brothers. …”
Genesis 44:33
Again, the foreshadowing of Christ is reflected in Judah and his willingness to give up his life for his younger brother and honor his father.
How often have you made a promise to someone because it was necessary to get what you needed? or wanted? What happened when you found yourself having to make good on the promise?
I confess, I’ve made some bold statements, saying, I never… or I will… but then when coming face to face with the consequences of I never… or I will… I’ve caved. The I never… now an I did… and the I will… an I failed… 

Judah shows great integrity in keeping his promise to his father. And in the promise keeping we see a change in his character. Judah now willing to sacrifice himself for the new favorite son, instead of trying to get rid of him.
Judah. A humble servant to his father.
Jesus. A humble Servant to His Father.
And when we fail to keep our vow, our promises, to sacrifice for others, Jesus is faithful to take our place. Willingly. Lovingly. Dying for us. So we might live.
Jesus, thank You for Your great faithfulness and love.
Thank You for being faithful when I fail to be.
Thank You, Lord, for taking my place on the cross.
Transform me through Your love and grace.

Back to the Beginning: Genesis 43

Genesis 43
Read today’s passage before you read the words below. Click the link above or open up your Bible.

Judah said to his father Israel, “Send the lad with me and we will arise and go,
that we may live and not die, we as well as you and our little ones.
I myself will be surety for him; you may hold me responsible for him. …”
Genesis 43:8-9
All of Scripture is about Jesus. He told His disciples Himself:

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you,
that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and
the Psalms must be fulfilled.”
Luke 22:44-45 ESV
Today we see a glimpse of Jesus through one of the sons of Israel.

Judah. The brother whose lineage would bring forth Jesus.

Judah foreshadows Jesus by willingly taking responsibility for his younger brother.

“… If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you,
then let me bear the blame before you forever. …”
Genesis 43:9
Jesus the Son of God, told His Father He would take on the responsibility of all those God the Father created. The ones who went east from the garden of Eden. The ones who rebelled and deserve nothing but death. He said, Hold me responsible…

You can almost hear Him say: If they are imprisoned by sin, hold Me responsible.

And we were lost. And He did take responsibility. And He did return us to the Father.

Amen!

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your great love, compelling You to rescue us,
and take responsibility for what we could never do for ourselves.
Continue to reveal to me who You are through Your Word.

Back to the Beginning: Genesis 42:16-38

Today’s passage continues Joseph’s reunion with his brothers: Genesis 42:16-38.
Read it in your Bible or click the reference to read on BibleGateway.com.

Joseph gave the test and listened to his brothers work it out in their own language. They didn’t know he understood their words and something inside Joseph was stirred. So stirred he left their company to weep.

Grief can slip up on you without much warning. We often think about grief associated with death, but there are many other times we experience the sorrows of grief in our lives. Maybe it’s divorce or the bad choices of a wayward child. It could be letting go of something you’ve held on to way too long, or the beginning of a new  season in your life. When change happens… grief happens.

Joseph was experiencing lots of grief in this moment. Sadness over his desperate cries for life and the hard-hearted treatment his brothers gave him. Sorrow over what might have been and the lost years with his family. I can imagine there was anger to let go of and a bit of joy in the process. For the moment it was too much, and all Joseph could do was weep.

We would do well to heed the lesson Joseph’s actions teach in this moment. There are moments when we must allow grief to do its work in us. It might seem easier to stuff the emotion down or ignore it all together, but the result is a lot of unfinished business. Grief in the presence of God allows us to process our emotions and let them go.

Have you been prone to suck up emotions and pretend all is well even when it is not? Are you stuck in some aspect of grieving you can’t seem to move past?

Turn it over to God. Express your feelings honestly, and trust him to show you the way through.

Lord, You know grief as well as anyone. Grief over rebellious creatures.
Grief over the treatment of Your Son. Grief over those who refuse to return.
Yet You are a faithful God of hope, joy, and love. Teach me to deal
with my grief. Let it move me toward faithfulness,
hope, joy, and love.