February 12, 2018

Genesis 50:15-21 New King James Version (NKJV)

15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “Perhaps Joseph will hate us, and may actually repay us for all the evil which we did to him.” 16 So they sent messengers to Joseph, saying, “Before your father died he commanded, saying, 17 ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph: “I beg you, please forgive the trespass of your brothers and their sin; for they did evil to you.”’ Now, please, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him.

18 Then his brothers also went and fell down before his face, and they said, “Behold, we are your servants.”

19 Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? 20 But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. 21 Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

Background

After living to the amazing age of 147, Jacob has passed away in the land of Goshen, a part of Egypt. He prophesied over each of his sons on his deathbed, then passed. He made a request, that he be buried in Canaan, the land of his fathers, and not Goshen. Joseph came to Pharoah and asked to fulfill this request.

So Jacob and all the family take Jacob’s body (actually having been embalmed in the Egyptian manner) down to Canaan. There they mourned for a long time. It was a very large gathering.

God’s Good Purposes

But God meant it for good…

Naturally, although it had been 17 years since they had been reunited, the eldest 10 brothers were fearful that Joseph would hate them for what they had done. Joseph was a very powerful man. Their relationship with him probably brought them some standing and power, too, but only Joseph was the second in command of all Egypt.

So they tell Joseph, “Dad said to forgive us!” And I love his response: “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God?” He is saying he does not hold the ultimate judgment seat, but that is for God.

Joseph is a man blessed by the LORD. Through his trials, he trusted in the LORD, remembering the promises given to him through his dreams. Then, in clear hindsight, he was able to see how the LORD used their intended evil for His will, bringing good.

To save many people alive.

Justification

He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

Romans 4:25 (NIV)

Joseph then promises to take care of his brothers and their little ones. What forgiveness! This forgiveness is the same kind of forgiveness God offers to us, and also with a promise of provision and shelter. Romans 4:25 tells us that Jesus was crucified because of our sins. Our evil is why He died. Yet the second half of the verse tells us He was raised to life for our justification! Even though we all have done evil and He had to die because of our evil, He rose again for us. To forgive our sins, and justify us.

Justification doesn’t mean I didn’t do anything wrong. Because I did. When the Bible said someone is blameless or justified, it doesn’t mean sinless. It means that because of the sacrifice of innocent blood, their sin debt has been paid. It’s like saying that your library late fee has been paid and you don’t owe them anything anymore. You’re blameless now, but since you DID have a late fee, you’re not sinless. Only Jesus was both blameless AND sinless.

 

Daily Challenge

Look back in your life at when someone else’s evil has turned into a moment of God’s glory. Remember the promises He has given you, and how it’s clear in hindsight where He was taking you. Today, see where you are, and where you were. Remember that God’s plan seems fluid in our lives, because of our nature, but when we look back, it’s clear his plan was steady and solid. Have faith in that steady promise.

Long before Zaccheaus couldn’t see Jesus the tree was already planted to meet his need.

February 9, 2018

Genesis 49:8-10 New King James Version (NKJV)

“Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise;
Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
Your father’s children shall bow down before you.
Judah is a lion’s whelp;
From the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He bows down, he lies down as a lion;
And as a lion, who shall rouse him?
10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor a lawgiver from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes;
And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.

Background

Jacob had gone up to live in Egypt after Joseph saved them (and most of the world) from the famine.  For 17 years Jacob stayed there making him 147 years old at this point. (He considered himself young, which is understandable considering if you look at this timeline, he could have personally known the grandsons of Noah, who were many many hundreds of years old.)

So Jacob knows he is going to die soon and he calls all twelve of his sons to him. There he prophesies over them, in order of age. He starts with Reuben, who will be mighty, but never excel because of his sins. (Gen 49:3-4) Simeon and Levi were next, who were cruel and will therefore “be scattered in Israel. (Gen 49:5-7) Then he comes to Judah.

The Scepter

 The scepter shall not depart from Judah,

There is a reason Jesus is referred to as the Lion of Judah: this prophecy. It refers to Judah as like a Lion. This is important for a few reasons. 400 years later, when God establishes the law through Moses, the sons of Levi would become the Priests. Yet the Messiah would not come through Levi, but rather Judah, as a Lion.

If you carried a scepter it denoted your standing. Generally, scepters were held by rulers. Judah, who wasn’t the oldest of the sons, but would be the greatest, held the scepter. This also would prophesy how the Nation of Judah after the divide between the ten tribes of Northern Israel and the two tribes of Southen Judah would be the just and righteous nation. They would be spared destruction by the Assyrians, later as well.

Shiloh

Until Shiloh comes;

The Hebrew word שִׁילֹה (shiyloh) which translates to Shiloh is used quite frequently in the Pentateuch, (the first five books of the Bible) Here, however, is the only time Strong (the author of Strong’s Concordance, which has a definition for every single Hebrew and Greek word in the bible) defines it as “an epithet of the Messiah”. Every other time, it refers to the city which bears the same name. Both names mean “peace.”

 This is interesting because there is a double meaning going on here. Later on, during the conquest of Canaan, the Ark of the Covenant had been held at Gilgal (Joshua 17:1) but would be held in the City of Shiloh from the end of the conquest to the time of The Prophet Samuel. Shiloh would fall into the territory of the Tribe of Judah.

The other definition is very powerful. Shiloh means peace or tranquility, and with it being translated “until Shiloh comes” lends itself to the meaning of Shiloh referring to the Messiah. Jesus is predicted to come through the line of Judah. He even comes from a very small town in the lands of Judah, a town called Bethlehem. (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:6)

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old,
From everlasting.”

Daily Challenge

Look at how God sets things us from the beginning. Even right away, with the serpent tempting Adam and Eve, He was setting the World up for the Messiah. This providence is powerful. Look back in your life and see where He been setting you up for successes and failures. Remember that it’s all in His hands, and He has a plan for you. Pray today that you can trust in His plan for you, and that He grant you the wisdom to trust in Him.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

– Jeremiah 29:11 New Living Translation (NLT)