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.
January 2, 2017
After Adam and Eve’s firstborn son, Cain, slew their son, Abel, they must have despaired of ever seeing the son of promise (see Gen. 3:15) being born to them. Cain’s fratricide had essentially denied them both of their sons. Yet, God “appointed” another son to be born to Eve, and she named him Seth. And to Seth a son was born that he named “Enosh.” The name “Enosh” means “man,” as in “mankind” or “human.” It was to this line, the line of Seth and Enosh, that the promised Messiah would someday be born, who also would be called the “Son of Man” (In Aramaic, “Bar-Enosh,” see Daniel 7:13). And it was this line of Enosh that “began to call on the name of the Lord” in prayer and worship. The doctrines of the creation and of the fall have been introduced, and now the doctrine of salvation begins to unfold. The Bible covers many topics, but it is primarily a love story of God’s redemption of humanity (“enosh”) through His Son Jesus, the Son of Man (“Bar-Enosh”). The entire Old Testament is preparation for this promised Son that would be revealed in the New. Look for Him on every page. Christ and the gospel are the lens through which the Bible is rightly understood. Finding Him there, we join those who call on the Name of the Lord.
January 22, 2016
Judah, the fourth son of Jacob’s twelve, now acts as spokesman. This is an early indication of Judah’s rise to leadership. Reuben, the eldest, lost his birthright through sexual misconduct with Jacob’s concubine Bilhah (Gen. 35:22), and the bloody revenge taken by Simeon (son #2) and Levi (son #3) following the rape of Dinah (Gen. 34), led to Jacob’s curse over them (Gen. 49). Judah, who had been against killing Joseph, now offers himself as ransom for his brother, Benjamin (Gen. 44:33). Even though Joseph is their rescuer during this time of famine, Judah is the brother whom Jacob later blesses as the “lion’s cub” and the one to whom the “scepter shall not depart,” speaking of his later kingship (Gen.49). Judah is the tribe to which King David and King Jesus are born.
January 20, 2016
Joseph is a christological type. His story foreshadows the story of Christ. Just as Christ began his public ministry at the age of 30, so did Joseph’s public work. God’s plan for Joseph to be in a position to save his brethren, as the dreams of his youth predicted, were now being fulfilled. His brothers do bow before him. I wonder if Joseph felt that all the years of enslavement and imprisonment were now worth it. For it was his suffering that God used to elevate him to this place of ministry, not only to save his brothers, but the whole hungry world. Are you going through a time of suffering? Don’t waste the pain. God has promised to cause all things to work together for good to those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Rom. 8:28). Persevere and believe. God has a plan.
January 19, 2016
After the ugly sexual sins of the previous chapter, it’s refreshing to see Joseph resisting temptation and maintaining his purity. Yet, surprisingly he is not immediately rewarded, but falsely accused and imprisoned for it. The world doesn’t reward righteousness, but God does. And even though Joseph was fallen from favored son to household slave, and then from slave to prisoner, God had not left him. In the midst of his low estate, God was with Joseph. No matter the circumstance, God gave Joseph favor before those in authority over him. And Joseph was found faithful in every place, so that in the fulness of time, God elevated him to the right hand of Egypt’s royal throne.