January 24, 2017
Jacob, who was called Israel, spoke a word over each of his sons from his death bed. He bestowed a double portion to Joseph, giving his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, equal standing to his other sons. And so, when the twelve tribes of Israel move out of Egypt 400 years later, two of the twelve tribes are called Ephraim and Manasseh. The last words of Jacob are explanatory and prophetic. They explain the origin of the twelve tribes of Israel, and they predict the coming of the Messiah to the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:8-12). Genesis is a book of beginnings. It describes the creation and the fall of humanity. It begins the story of God’s rescue.
January 20, 2017
Joseph’s brothers stripped him of his coat of many colors that his father, Jacob, had given him. They threw him naked into a pit and sold him into slavery. But God raised him up. The Lord gave Joseph favor with Pharaoh, who put his own signet ring on his finger (A “signet” ring is like a “signature,” giving Joseph power to “sign” with Pharaoh’s authority). He put fine linen robes on his back and a gold chain around his neck. Joseph’s coat of many colors was now replaced. God exalted Joseph to an even higher place of favor than he had held before.
Again, we see Joseph as a Christological type. His life foreshadows the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Jesus was stripped naked and crucified, but the Lord raised Him up and clothed Him with glory and power, giving Him “all authority in heaven and earth” (Matt. 28:18).
January 19, 2017
Joseph was “taken down to Egypt.” The Lord’s plan to elevate Joseph over his brethren, and one day rescue them from famine, led downward. The dreamer found himself in a nightmare. Down, down, down he went. The once favored son was betrayed by his brethren, stripped of his robes, thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, falsely accused, and left forsaken in a prison. Yet, Joseph’s character never crumbled, nor did his faith fail. He kept on trusting the Lord. And the Lord lifted him up to save his family. If Genesis 38 revealed the wickedness of humanity, then chapter 39 foreshadowed God’s eternal plan to rescue it.
The story of Joseph points to Jesus. For the beloved Son of God would one day remove His divine robes, and make “Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and come in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:6-7), He would be betrayed by His brethren and become “obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross. Therefore God will highly exalt Him and give Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:8-11).
Just as Joseph’s betraying brothers later bowed before him, so rebellious humanity will one day bow before the Lord Jesus. Reading the Scriptures, we should always look for Jesus. Looking with spiritual eyes, we will see Him on every page.
January 17, 2017
Jacob, whose name became Israel, had finally found a place to pitch his tent. The place was called the “tower of Eder” (Hebrew: “Migdal Eder),” which literally means “Tower of the Flock.” It described a hill with a tower where the shepherds could watch over their sheep. Migdal Eder was located between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. It was a area of beautiful pastures and streams where Jacob’s flocks could graze and where he could finally be at rest from his running. Yet, it was also a place of grief and disappointment as he mourned the death of his wife Rachel and heard of the sinful incest of his son, Reuben. Migdal Eder was not mentioned again in the Scriptures until the prophet Micah, who wrote that it would be the place where the Messiah would be announced (Micah 4:8). And so, the gospel writer Luke reported that it was in the fields “nearby” Bethlehem that the angel appeared announcing the Messiah’s birth to the shepherds keeping watch over their “flocks by night” (Luke 2:8). Migdal Eder, the place where Israel found rest, was ultimately the place where the whole world could find rest. The place where Jesus Christ was first revealed.
January 16, 2017
Simeon and Levi were Jacob’s second and third sons. They were born to his wife Leah. When it was reported that their sister Dinah had been sexually violated by Shechem the Hivite, the prince of that country, they were furious. Even though Shechem came to them with his father Hamor, offering to pay a dowry and make things right. They schemed for revenge and ultimately killed every man in the city, taking their wives, children and possessions as plunder. Jacob never forgot the violence of Simeon and Levi. In his last words to his sons from his death bed, he described these two brothers together as “instruments of cruelty” (Gen. 49:5-7), prophesying that they would be scattered in Israel. And so they were, the tribe of Simeon was enveloped by the land of Judah. And the tribe of Levi was given to God as priests and scattered throughout the cities of Israel. In a story like this it is difficult to find the moral or the meaning. It is even more difficult to see God in it. Yet, this was the people that God chose to make His own, the line to which would be born the Messiah, the Son of God.
January 12, 2017
“Rehoboth.” The name means “spacious.” And space to live in peace was really all that Isaac desired. The Philistines had stopped up the wells in the land of Gerar that Abraham had dug. So, Isaac dug again those wells and named them what his father Abraham had named them. Yet, the Philistines were envious of Isaac’s prosperity. The king of the Philistines, Abimelech, told Isaac to “go away” from them because they were too mighty. So Isaac moved. In the valley nearby, his servants found water and dug another well, which the Philistine herdsman claimed. Isaac moved again. Dug another well, but same story… locals quarreled with him and claimed ownership. So, Isaac moved again and dug another well, which he named “Rehoboth.” Finally, no locals quarreled over the well. Isaac gave the Lord thanks that He had given them peace and room to prosper at last.
I suppose Isaac could have fought and defeated the herdsmen in the valley of Gerar, but that would not have brought peace. Those wells were certainly his, he dug them, but he surrendered them to keep the peace. This wasn’t cowardice or weakness. Abimelech acknowledged that Isaac was “mightier” than they were. Isaac sought peace and God gave him that and more. God gave him spaciousness and blessing.
January 9, 2017
After Abraham demonstrated his willingness to sacrifice Isaac in obedience to God, the Lord promised that in Abraham’s “seed” all nations would be blessed. This “seed” is a reference to the Messiah that would be born to Abraham’s line. The apostle Paul explained this verse: “Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘And to your Seed,’ who is Christ” (Gal. 3:16). This is the “Seed” of the woman that would crush the serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15). This is the “Seed” that would come as the Lamb of God, sent to take away the sins of the world. This is Christ.
The entire Bible, from beginning to end, was written that we might hear and believe the good news about Christ. He is the promised Seed. He is the Lamb of God. Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord.
January 7, 2017
The three men that visited Abraham were from the “LORD” (All caps means the name “Yahweh” is being translated). The two silent ones were angels (Gen. 19:1), and the third was a physical manifestation of the LORD, possibly the preincarnate Christ. Abraham invited them to stay for a meal and they accepted. While they were eating, the One who spoke as the LORD asked where Abraham’s wife Sarah was. Abraham replied that she was in the tent. He then told Abraham that He would return “according to the time of life” (i.e. “nine months”), and “behold,” Sarah would have a son. Sarah, who was listening (i.e. “eavesdropping”) within the tent, laughed to herself and doubted that an old woman like her could ever conceive. The LORD, who hears even when we laugh to ourselves, heard Sarah and asked Abraham why she laughed and doubted Him. He asked, “Is anything to hard for the LORD?”
The question is obviously rhetorical. Nothing is too hard for our God! But this story, with the personal visitation, the shared meal, the announcement of a coming son, and the questioning of Sarah’s lack of faith… this intimate and relational story teaches us that nothing is too small for our God either!
Lift everything up to the LORD today. The hard things and the small things too. He cares for you.
January 6, 2017
Abram gave his nephew, Lot, first choice of the land and Lot chose the Jordan valley, so Abram stayed in the hills of Hebron. Later, the people of the valley were caught up in a war and Lot, his family and possessions were taken as spoils. Abram mustered his men and pursued those who had taken Lot. He defeated them and brought back Lot with all the people and goods taken. Upon his return, Abram gave a tithe of the spoils to Melchizedek, but refused to keep any of the spoils for himself, insisting that he had sworn an oath to the Lord that he would take nothing lest they should say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’ Abram let Lot choose the best of the land, and after rescuing him and all the people and goods taken, he refused the spoils. Yet, after returning home from this great victory empty-handed, he must’ve had some fear and anxiety. For God came to him in a vision telling him not to be afraid, for the Lord Himself was his “shield” and his “exceedingly great reward.”
When we choose to answer God’s call and depend on Him for our provision, we will encounter days of doubt and fear. Often, these days will come right after a great victory. On days like this, be encouraged. For God Himself is our protector and our “exceedingly great reward!”
January 5, 2017
Abram obeyed God’s call to leave his home and go to a land that God would show him when he was 75 years old. At an age when most have long since retired, Abram had just got started. Abram obeyed God’s call. And God changed his name from Abram, which means “father,” to Abraham, which means “father of nations.” Abraham believed God and he credited it to him as righteousness.
Do you think it’s too late for you to obey God’s call on your life? Think again.