Saturday, January 21, 2012
JOSEPH, Following In The Footsteps of Faith, 1/21/2012
Genesis 37:1-11A ROSE AMONG THORNS, Part 5b, Continued From Yesterday!
v. 3-4 THE PROMOTION OFJOSEPH’S LIFE
These verses tell us a little about the atmosphere within the home of Joseph. It seems clear that Jacob was guilty of favoritism in his relationship with his children. We are clearly told that “Jacob loved Joseph more than all his children”.
Jacob should have known better than to do this. After all, he grew up in a home that was rife with favoritism. In his home, his mother Rebekah favored Jacob, while his father Isaac favored Esau. This favoritism brought envy, strife and trouble into that home. Parents in any age should be careful that they do not favor one child above another! Children should be treated as equals, as far as that is possible.
Jacob’s choice of Joseph did not result purely from a desire to elevate him above his brothers. It appears from the text that Jacob has chosen Joseph to be the head of the household on his death. This is indicated by two statements: “because he was the son of his old age” and “he made him a coat of many colors”. Let’s consider those two statements in greater detail.
The phrase “because he was the son of his old age” can refer to the fact that Jacob was 91 years old when Joseph was born. He had waited many years on a child from his beloved wife Rachel and when Joseph was born his heart’s desire was realized. But, there is another possibility.
The phrase can also be translated “because he was a white head on young shoulders”. This might mean that Jacob saw wisdom and strength of character in Joseph that was missing in the rest of his sons. Jacob is 108 when these events take place. He does not know how much longer he will live. He needs one of his sons to take over when he dies. The oldest son, Reuben, disqualified himself when he committed incest with Jacob’s concubine Bilhah, (Gen. 35:22). The oldest sons of Bilhah and Zilpah the handmaids would not have been his choice. The only choice that remained was Joseph, the eldest son of his favorite wife.
· We are also told that Jacob made Joseph “a coat of many colors”. We always seem to picture this as being a little striped jacket that screamed “I’m special! Father loves me more than he loves you!” This garment said far more than that! The phrase translated “coat of many colors” literally refers to “a shirt with long sleeves”. This was a special type of garment what was multi-colored, and heavily ornamented. It would have had sleeves that reached all the way to the hands and the hem of the garment would have reached to the ankles.
It marked its wearer as a chieftain, or as the head of a clan. This type of garment was not worn by a common worker. It was only worn by overseers and royalty; those who were above work! This garment was worn by the heir! When Jacob gave this coat to Joseph, it identified him as his father’s choice to be his replacement as the head of the family. It identified him as the superior son in the family. That coat told the other brothers, “You don’t report to Jacob any longer. You work for Joseph now!”
This was a big deal in families of that era. The head of the household literally held absolute, life and death authority over the members of the family. When the brothers of Joseph saw him wearing that garment, they knew exactly where they stood in the pecking order within the family!
Joseph carried himself well and he earned the respect of his father. As time went on, his father gave him more and more responsibility within the family. He carried himself so well, and proved himself to be so trustworthy, that his father appointed him to be the heir of his place as head of the family. By the way, this position would have also entitled Joseph to a double portion of his father’s inheritance.
All of this attention from Jacob toward Joseph created jealousy among his older brothers. In fact, we are told that they “hated him and could not speak peaceably to him”. The word “hated” is a very strong word. It has the idea of “persons or things that are detested and despised and with which one wishes to have no contact or relationship”. The brothers of Joseph wanted nothing to do with him at all. They could not even say “Shalom” when they met him. They didn’t have a kind word for Joseph. In fact, their hatred grew with each passing day, (v. 4, 5, 8, 11).
That’s a lot of background from the text, now let me make a few points of application before we move on. When we live a life of integrity and holiness, the Father notices. When we are faithful in our service to Him, He will promote us to greater areas of service, (Matt. 25:21). The true character of our heart is revealed in the faithfulness of our service to the Lord, (Luke 16:10).
When we are promoted, we must not boast about our achievements. Any advancement in the spiritual realm is purely the good grace of God working in our lives, (John 1:26-30).
When others prosper and are promoted, we must guard against becoming jealous. Instead of being angry that they are progressing, we should be thankful for what the Lord is doing in their lives. Your true self is revealed in how you respond to the promotions, blessings, achievements and advancements of others!
We just elected three new Elders from a list of six men. Three were chosen and three were not. The three that were not selected demonstrated to me that they had the right kind of character for the job, but were not ready yet. They did not get bitter; they remained faithful to the Lord; and they left the matter in God’s hands and trusted Him to do best.
v. 5-11 THE PROMISE OF JOSEPH’S LIFE
As trouble was brewing in this family, God was working in the life of Joseph. God spoke to Joseph in two dreams. In these dreams, God revealed some of His plans for Joseph’s life. Let’s take a look at the two dreams Joseph dreamed. (v. 5-8) – This first dream was of Joseph and his brothers gathering grain in a field. They were cutting wheat and binding it up in sheaves. In the dream, Joseph’s sheaf stood up and the sheaves belonging to his brothers bowed down before it. His brothers immediately interpreted the dream to mean that Joseph would one day rule over them and they reacted in anger. They defied the dream and hated Joseph even more than they had before.
v. 9-11 – These second dream consisted of the sun, the moon and eleven stars all bowing down to Joseph. This time he not only tells his brothers, he also tells his father. Jacob immediately understands the implications of this dream and issues a mild rebuke. But, we are told that he “observed the saying”. This means “to take heed to”. Jacob is having his choice of Joseph confirmed by a dream from the Lord. Of course, this dream, like the other, caused the rift between Joseph and his brothers to grow even wider. Not only has their father obviously chosen Joseph over them, now God is speaking through Joseph. They see all these things and become increasingly jealous of their brother.
It should be noted here that Joseph does not seem to have told his dreams because he wanted to brag or boast. He told them because they were so strange that he needed to share them with others. I do not detect any impurity in Joseph’s motives here.
These dreams are the first indication that God has big plans for Joseph. Eventually, they will be completely fulfilled. I would imagine that is was these dreams that sustained Joseph through the pain of the pit, Potipher’s house and the prison. It was these dreams that reassured that God had a plan for his life and that, eventually, everything would turn out all right.
Let me share a few points of application from this portion of Scripture. There is a word here about dreams. God does not speak through dreams in our day. In Joseph’s time they did not have the Bible. They did not have a complete revelation of God’s Word. We do! In our day, God speaks through His Word, alone! The Bible is superior to dreams and visions in several ways. First, the Bible speaks to many subjects; dreams are more limited in their focus. Second, the Bible is far more trustworthy. Anyone can read it. A dream is only known to the dreamer. Third, the Bible has absolute authority, dreams mean nothing. Fourth, the Bible is certain and fixed. Dreams fade with time. Put no faith in the dreams and visions of the night. Instead, read, study and build your life upon the word of God.
There is a word here about hope. In his dreams Joseph received the shadow of a promise from the Lord. He held onto those dreams and they sustained him through some trying times. When God births a dream in your heart, let nothing take it away! Rest assured that God will accomplish in your life all those things that please Him in His time!
There is a word here about hatred. When you serve the Lord, live clean and follow the dream God gives you, some people are going to rise up against you. Don’t be surprised when you are hated for following the Lord. They hated Him and they will hate you, (John 15:18-20). Don’t let the haters stop you from achieving your fullest potential in the Lord.
Conc: In the bouquet that formed Jacob’s family, there was really only one flower. Joseph was a rose among thorns. Like cream this young man rose to the top and his life stands as a testimony of what God can do with a life in spite of the difficulties that would seem to hinder His work.
· Maybe God has placed His finger on some area of your life today.
· Maybe there is a problem in the arena of your purity. You need to give that to the Lord and get it straightened out right now.
· Maybe there is jealousy in your heart over the promotions of another. You need to get that straightened out.
· Maybe you are like Joseph’s brothers in other ways, and you need to be saved.
· Maybe life has interfered with the dreams God birthed in your heart and you wonder if they will ever come to pass. You need to talk to Him about that today.
· Maybe you just want to get in a place of submission to the Father’s plan for your life. Maybe you want to surrender to His plan, serve Him more faithfully so that He can take, bless and use your life for His glory.
· If He has spoken to you… obey Him now!
TODAY’S HYMN and BLESSING!
“Jesus, Rose of Sharon, By I. A. Guirey and C. H. Gabriel (1921)
Jesus, Rose of Sharon, bloom within my heart; Beauties of Thy truth and holiness impart, That where’er I go my life may shed abroad
Fragrance of the knowledge of the love of God.
Jesus, Rose of Sharon,
Bloom in radiance and in love within my heart.
Jesus, Rose of Sharon, sweeter far to see Than the fairest flow’rs of earth could ever be, Fill my life completely, adding more each day Of Thy grace divine and purity, I pray.
Jesus, Rose of Sharon, balm for every ill, May Thy tender mercy’s healing pow’r distil For afflicted souls of weary burdened men, Giving needy mortals health and hope again.
Jesus, Rose of Sharon, bloom forevermore; Be Thy glory seen on earth from shore to shore, Till the nations own Thy sov’reignty complete, Lay their honors down and worship at Thy feet.
Friday, January 20, 2012
JOSEPH, Following In The Footsteps of Faith, 1/20/2012
Genesis 37:1-11, A ROSE AMONG THORNS, Part 5a
In our first message on Joseph, we took a hard look at his background. We discovered that his family was marked by vice and violence. This godly man grew up in some most ungodly soil. I am still amazed that God could take a young man from such a background and use him like He did.
That gives me hope as a parent, a Christian and as a person today. If God can do that with Joseph, then He can take my children use them for His glory. If He can do that with Joseph, He can take your children and use them. If He can do that with Joseph, He can take you and me and use us for His glory! Of course, if you read the Bible you will soon discover that God specializes in taking what appears to be nothing and making something magnificent out it.
As we begin to consider the verses in the Bible that speak about the life of Joseph, we are going to see just how different he was from the rest of his family. It is astounding that a young man who grew up in the same home, the same condition, the same environment as his brother, could be so different. Of course, if you have more than one child, or if you come from a family of more than one child, you have seen this with your own eyes. No two children are alike. Joseph, however, is so different that he literally stands out like A Rose Among Thorns. Allow me to take the first eleven verses of this chapter and show you the ways Joseph was different from his brothers. I want to show you, “ A Rose Among Thorns“.
v. 2 THE PURITY OF JOSEPH’S LIFE
One of the most striking ways Joseph was different was in the purity of his life. Every time you see Joseph, he is doing the right thing. This made him very different from his brothers. Purity, integrity and a desire to do the right things at all times marked the life of Joseph.
Verse 2 brings us faced to face with the holy heart that beat within the chest of Joseph. We are told that Joseph was tending to his father’s sheep with his half-brothers, the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah. You might remember that Bilhah was Rachel’s handmaid and Zilpah was Leah’s handmaid. These two women had been given to Jacob by his wives and he had fathered two children with each. The sons of Bilhah were Dan and Naphtali. The sons of Zilpah were Gad and Asher.
As you read the story, you get the impression that this is the first time that Joseph has been sent out to work with these men. What he saw them doing must have shocked him deeply. This may have been Joseph’s first exposure to the vile nature of his brothers. The brothers of Joseph were an evil bunch. Among other things, they were guilty of murder, (Gen. 34:25); incest, (Gen. 35:33); hatred, (Gen. 37:4); envy, (Gen. 37:11); enslaving their brother, (Gen. 37:38); lying, (Gen. 37:31-33); and immorality, (Gen. 38:12-18).
Whatever it was that these men were doing, it shocked Joseph so much that he came and told Jacob. This event surely caused problems between Joseph and the rest of his brothers. It may have been the seed plot where the root of bitterness in the hearts of his brothers began to grow.
Some authors accuse Joseph of being a talebearer. They believe that Joseph brought about the hatred of his brothers because he acted like a “goody two-shoes”. In reality, Joseph displayed absolute integrity in going to his father with the evil report concerning his brothers. Joseph had a responsibility to his father. Whatever his brothers were doing, it involved the flocks of Jacob. Thus, it involved his good name in the area. He needed to know what was going on with his sons. Joseph did the right thing when he went to Jacob and told him about the evil deeds of his brothers.
There are some lessons in this verse that we need to take to heart today. Every one of our lives should be marked by purity. The God we serve is a holy God and He expects His people to be a holy people, (1 Pet. 1:16; 2 Cor. 6:17). He wants us to stand separate from this world and its evil ways. He wants us to be different. We should be different in the way we act, talk, think, live, etc. Purity should be the hallmark quality of our lives!
It isn’t easy, but we should always strive to do the right thing in every situation. Our lives should be marked by integrity. There are plenty of people who are willing to do the wrong thing, especially if it makes life easier for them, but we should always do right in spite of the personal cost. It would have been easier for Joseph to just cover up what his brothers were doing. It would have been easier still to have joined them in their sin. But, he was determined to do the right thing, even if it cost him everything. It’s easy to tell a “little white lie” to keep the heat off your life. Don’t do it! Tell the truth! It’s easy to cheat a little here and there to make things easier for yourself. Don’t do it! Always be above board in all your dealings. It’s easy to cut corners at school and at work so you will fit in with the crowd. Don’t do it! Do the right thing at all costs (Eph. 6:5-9)!
One other lesson has to do with the proper use of the tongue. We should never be guilty of being a talebearer, (Lev. 19:16; Pro. 26:20-22). If there is something you just must tell, be sure that you tell the right person. Jacob had a right to know what his sons were doing, so Joseph told him and him alone! He told his father in an effort to stop evil. A gossip always tells the wrong person. They are not trying to stop evil, but to spread it! If you must tell something, always tell the truth. That is just what Joseph did. He did not embellish the facts; he simply told things as they were. Gossips love to add or subtract from the details as it suits their agenda.
TODAY’S HYMN and BLESSING!
Rise Up, O Men of God
Text: William P. Merrill, 1911
Music: Aaron Williams, 1763
1. Rise up, O men of God!
Have done with lesser things.
Give heart and mind and soul and strength
to serve the King of kings.
2. Rise up, O men of God!
The kingdom tarries long.
Bring in the day of brotherhood
and end the night of wrong.
3. Rise up, O men of God!
The church for you doth wait,
her strength unequal to her task;
rise up, and make her great!
4. Lift high the cross of Christ!
Tread where his feet have trod.
As brothers of the Son of Man,
rise up, O men of God!
TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW!
Thursday, January 19, 2012
JACOB and JOSEPH, Following In The Footsteps of Faith, 1/19/2011
THE HEARTBREAK OF A SHATTERED DREAM, Part 4b, Continued From Yesterday!
v. 18-30 THE BROTHER’S DEPRAVITY
v. 18-20 The Brother’s Plot – When Joseph arrives in Dothan his brothers see him coming. The hatred began in their hearts had found fertile soil and had grown into a desire to murder their own brother. Had these men arrested sin when it first began to grow in their hearts, this whole episode would have been avoided. But they didn’t! They allowed dislike to grow into full blown hatred and a desire for murder.
The true nature of these men is on full display in these verses. First, they have a desire in their hearts to kill Joseph. They hate him so much that they are willing to put him to death to get rid of him! Then they ridicule him because of his words. They call him “this dreamer”. There is not a hint of brotherly love in their voices. They are so calloused that they want to kill him and toss his body into a pit! They even devise a plan to cover up their deed! They believe that they can derail Joseph’s dreams if they can just kill him. These brothers have no concept of the sovereign power of God!
Of course, this is what men planned, and what happen to Jesus when He came. The people He came to save rejected Him, (John 1:11), and hated Him for His words, (Matt. 26:65-66). They rejected His message and they desired to see Him dead. They believed that killing Jesus would put an end to His message. They were dead wrong! Oh, they saw to it that He died, but they couldn’t see that His death would accomplish more than His life. They could not see that He would get up from the dead three days later. We would all do well today to examine our hearts. If there are the seedlings of sin that are beginning to grow in our souls, they need to be removed now. If they are left alone, they will grow into mighty trees with deep roots. Getting them out will be hard work and will leave incredible damage behind. Remember, it’s “the little foxes that spoil the vines”, (Song 2:15).
v. 21-25a Reuben’s Proposal – Reuben displays his nature too. He is weak and vacillates from one position to another, (Gen. 49:4). He is like water, totally unstable. On the one hand he has more reason to hate Joseph than any of the other brothers. He knows that Joseph has been chosen to take his place as the head of the family. On the other hand, Reuben knows that he has a responsibility to protect his little brother, if at all possible. He tells the rest that they should not kill Joseph, but just throw him in a pit in the desert and let him die of starvation and thirst. Of course, Reuben is planning to rescue Joseph when the other brothers are not around. Again, the hatred of the rest of the brothers is evident in the fact that they were willing to go along with this plan. What a wicked bunch of men this was!
v. 25b-28 Judah’s Plan – These men are so calloused that they throw their brother into a pit and then sit down to eat their lunch. There is no record of Joseph’s crying or begging for help in these verses, but Gen. 42:21 makes it clear that Joseph cried out and they turned a deaf ear to his pleas. Apparently, Reuben had to leave and go elsewhere. And while he is gone some Midianite merchants pass by. They are heading toward Egypt to sell their wares. Judah convinces the other brothers that they should at least sell Joseph and not kill him. After all, he is their brother, (v. 27). The rest of the brothers like this idea and that is just what they do. Joseph is sold for “twenty pieces of silver”, (v. 28). That was the price of a crippled slave. His brothers sold him like he was a piece of trash! They sold him for 8 ounces of silver! This comes to $98.24 in today’s money!
The brothers are so unfeeling and so filled with hatred for Joseph that they sell him to the merchants and watch him hauled away as a common slave! Ps. 105:17-18 tell us that Joseph’s experience as a slave was anything but pleasant! Again, Joseph is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was hated by His brethren and He was also betrayed by someone who should have loved Him. He also was betrayed for the price of a slave,( Matt. 26:15-16). Praise the Name of the Lord that He loved us so much that He endured such shame and hatred and still He died to save people like us! (Heb. 13:2-3)!
v. 29-30 Reuben’s Panic – When Reuben returns, he finds that Joseph is gone! He panics because he knows his father will blame him. Reuben has been on the outs with Jacob ever since he committed adultery with his father’s wife Bilhah. These verses give us a little hope that Reuben is maturing into something resembling a leader.
v. 31-35 JACOB’S DESPAIR
v. 31 The Brother’s Scheme – Again, these brother conspire together to cook up a plan. This time, they are out to deceive their father. They take the despised coat and dip it in the blood of a goat and take home to Jacob. One lie always leads to another! When you tell an untruth, it will not be long before you will have to cover the first by telling a second and then a third and then a fourth. The best policy is to always tell the truth, regardless of the personal cost!
v. 32 The Brother’s Severity – There is no compassion for their father in their words. They bring him the bloodstained coat and they ask him to identify it. These men have no heart! They care for nothing but themselves and their own advancement in the family! The world is filled with people just like that. They do not care who they have to step on to achieve their goals. They do not care what they have to do to reach the top of the heap. They care for nothing but getting their own way all the time, and they do not care who they hurt in the process.
Something is desperately wrong with a person like that! Most likely they are not saved. Most definitely they are not displaying Christ-likeness in their life. Our walk with the Lord is to be marked by a desire to place others ahead of self, (Phil. 2:3-4). Our walk is to be marked by a desire to ease the burdens borne by others, (Gal. 6:2). Our walk is to be marked by a Christ-like love for those around us, ( Matt. 22:39; 1 John 3:14; 4:8; 4:20).
v. 33-35 Jacob’s Sorrow – Of course, Jacob recognizes the coat. He knows it belongs to Joseph and he immediately assumes that his beloved son is dead, having been killed by wild animals. Jacob is heartbroken falls into the depths of despair. He refuses to be comforted by his family, vowing to grieve to the day he joins Joseph in death. These cold, calloused men have broken their father’s heart and they do not care!
v. 35 The Brother’s Shame – These hardhearted men reveal their hypocrisy by trying to comfort their father in his grief. Not a single one of these cowards had the courage to stand up and tell Jacob the truth! In the end, however, their father was in better shape than they were. He lived every day with grief; they lived every day with guilt! The knowledge of what they had done ate at them until they faced Joseph with the truth years later.
That is the power of guilt! It will eat at you until the problem is dealt with. The best thing you and I can do with our wrongs is to make them right if we can. We need to apologize to people we have offended. We need to restore what we have taken. We need to get honest about our sins. That is the only way to get rid of guilt, (1 John 1:9; Pro. 28:13).
Conc: This is a sad place to step out of this story. Joseph is gone, sold as a slave, and headed off to Egypt in chains. Jacob is heartbroken and inconsolable. The beloved son of his wife Rachel; his choice to be the head of his family upon his death is gone. The brothers are guilty of a terrible sin against their brother, their father, their family and their God. They are being eaten alive by guilt. A prosperous, promising family has been plunged into the depths of gloom and hopelessness. It would appear that Joseph’s great dreams are at an end. They will never come to pass. At least, that’s what they think!
Behind the scenes of this terrible tragedy moves the unseen hand of God’s sovereignty. What appears to be a hopeless situation is merely setting the stage for hope in the future! There is a word here for us as well! There will be times when things appear hopeless. There will be times when the shattered pieces of our dreams will lie all around us. In times like that we must not despair! Instead, we must cling to the precious promises of our great God, (Rom. 8:28; Ps. 37:23; Job 23:10). We must understand that despite how things appear to our human eyes and reasoning, God has a plan and nothing can derail that plan!
Some of you are looking at what you think are shattered dreams right now. What are you going to do with them? Are you going to weep and mourn like Jacob? Or, are you going to cling to God’s promise and trust that the Judge of all the earth will do right? Bring your shattered dreams to Jesus right now and let Him give you help in dealing with them. Let Him give you hope in hanging on to them. We do not want to miss Jesus in all this! The people He came to, the nation of Israel rejected Him and pushed Him away. They pushed Him and pushed Him until they had pushed Him to an old rugged cross. When they saw Him die, they claimed the victory, while His disciples grieved over a certain defeat. Just like Joseph’s brothers, the very one (Israel) who they desired to kill turned out to be their Savior! They threw the Savior into the pit of death and buried His body. Three days later, He came out of that tomb victorious over all His enemies! He fulfilled the dreams of the Father and of His followers. He fulfilled your dreams and mine too. Do you have any dreams you need help with today? If so, come talk them over with Jesus right now!
TODAY’S HYMN and BLESSING!
“LIVING BY FAITH” by James Wells and J. L. Heath (1916)
I care not today what the morrow may bring, If shadow or sunshine or rain,
The Lord I know ruleth o’er everything, And all of my worries are vain.
Living by faith in Jesus above,
Trusting, confiding in His great love;
From all harm safe in His sheltering arm,
I’m living by faith and feel no alarm.
Though tempests may blow and the storm clouds arise, Obscuring the brightness of life, I’m never alarmed at the overcast skies— The Master looks on at the strife.
I know that He safely will carry me through, No matter what evils betide;
Why should I then care though the tempest may blow, If Jesus walks close to my side.
Our Lord will return for His loved ones some day, Our troubles will then all be o’er;
The Master so gently will lead us away, Beyond that blest heavenly shore.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
JACOB and JOSEPH, Following In The Footsteps of Faith, 1/18/2011
THE HEARTBREAK OF A SHATTERED DREAM, Part 4a
Have you ever experienced the heartbreak of a shattered dream? Everything was set! You were sure things were going to turn out a certain way, and then the bottom fell out from under everything.
Maybe it was a child that did not turn out the way you envisioned. Maybe it was a financial setback that broke your heart. Maybe it was a marriage that did not go as you had dreamed it would. Life, it often seems, is a series of shattered dreams. When our dreams are shattered it often leaves us devastated, confused and upset. Sometimes we might be tempted to think that God has forgotten about us and about our dreams. We might even wonder if God has forgotten about the things He promised us in His Word.
I wonder how Joseph felt as the events of this passage worked themselves out. I wonder if he questioned the dreams God had already given him,( Gen. 37:5-10). Surely, when his brothers ripped off his coat, threw him into a pit, ignored his pleas and sold him into slavery, Joseph must have felt like his dreams had all been shattered to pieces. I want to take a look at these verses today. If they teach us anything, they teach us that life can seem incredibly unfair at times. They teach us that our dreams can be put to the test. They teach us that life doesn’t always go like we think it will. These verses have a lot to say to us today.
Besides speaking to us about our dreams, they also speak to us about the harsh nature of sin, when it is allowed to reign in hearts and lives. But, in the end, these verses also remind us that even when the dreams of our lives lie about us in shattered pieces, God is still in control! If God gave the dream to begin with, He is able to guarantee that it will become a reality.
So, today, let’s look into these verses and glean the truths that God has placed here. I want to take these verses and look at "The Heartbreak Of A Shattered Dream". Let’s try to get some help from the life of Joseph today.
v. 12-14 JACOB’S DEMAND
His Command – Jacob want Joseph to go and check on the welfare of his brothers. They are off, away from the family, tending their father’s sheep. There are a couple of reasons why Jacob was concerned about his sons.
1. They were in Shechem. It was here that Simeon and Levi had murdered an entire village to avenge the rape of their sister Dinah,( Gen. 34:1-31). Surely there was anger in that region and Jacob feared for their safety.
2. His sons had proven that they were not trustworthy. Joseph had already had to bring his father an “evil report” regarding some of his brothers while they were on shepherd duty. Jacob was probably wondering what evil they were up to now.
Jacob sends Joseph because he can be trusted to do the right thing and to tell his father the truth. Something Christians ought to do.
His Confusion – Evidently Jacob was out of touch with all that was happening in his own family. Jacob appears to have been a father who was occupied with things other than the needs of his family. Had he been paying attention, he would have known that Joseph’s older brothers hated him. He would have known that their hatred had been growing and had reached a point that they couldn’t even speak to him in a kind manner, (v. 4).
Either Jacob was out of touch with his family or he underestimated the extent of the problems in his own home. He may have known what was happening but believed that the other boys were not capable of harming Joseph. As we will see, not only were they capable of harming him, they were capable of murder! If there is a lesson for us here it is this: Parents should pay close attention to what is happening in the lives of their children. You need to know who their friends are. The Bible is clear: the wrong kind of friends can ruin a life and destroy a testimony,( 1 Cor. 15:33). You need to know how they are spending their time and money. You need to know what is happening in their lives. You need to know what they are looking at on the Internet. You need to know what they are text messaging on their cell phones. You have a right to know!
Children will demand their privacy, but as long as they live in your house, their business is your business. Passive parents will pay a high price for allowing their children do as they please.
v. 13-17 JOSEPH’S DEVOTION
v. 13 It Was Immediate – Without question Joseph accepts his father’s assignment and leaves to go find his brothers. He knows the risks, but obedience to his father’s commands is his first priority. In this regard Joseph is a type of Jesus. When Jesus came into this world, He was sent by His father, but He came willingly. Jesus did not have to be forced to come into this world to die for sinners. He came because it was His Father’s foreordained and determinate will. Our lives ought to be marked by the same level of obedience. When God speaks, we should respond humbly and immediately to carry out His will. Nothing demonstrates our love for Jesus any more than out willing obedience to His will, (John 4:15; 1 John 5:2-3). By the way, had Jacob and Joseph known that when they said goodbye to one another it would not be for a few days, but for twenty years, would their parting have been different? It is in God’s great mercy that the future was hidden from them and from us! I praise the Lord that I do not know the future here on earth!
v. 15-17 It Was Insistent – When Joseph arrived in Shechem, he did not find his brothers there. A man tells him that they left Shechem and have gone to Dothan. Many people might have concluded that they had fulfilled their obligation when they could not find their brothers in the place their father sent them. Many would have turned around and gone home. Not Joseph! His father wanted to know the welfare of his sons and he wanted word brought back to him. Joseph wanted to carry out the will of his father, even if it meant going beyond the original command.
Again, Joseph is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus came into this world to seek the lost sheep of Israel. He pursued them with steadfast love, but they rejected Him out of hand. He continued to pursue them, eventually dying on a cross to open the way of salvation for all who would come to Him by faith. Jesus was not deterred by man’s rejection and hatred. He loved sinners and died to set them free! We should have that same desire within our own hearts. Nothing should be able to prevent us from accomplishing our Father’s will for our lives. Regardless of the cost, pain or the opposition, we should seek to serve Him and be everything He saved us to be. I don’t know about you, but I want to reach the end of my journey knowing I did everything He told me to do to the fullest extent possible!
TODAY’S HYMN and BLESSING!
“O FOR A FAITH THAT WILL NOT SHRINK” By W. H. Bathurst (1831)
O, for a faith that will not shrink, Though pressed by every foe, That will not tremble on the brink Of any earthly woe!
That will not murmur nor complain Beneath the chastening rod, But, in the hour of grief or pain, Will lean upon its God.
A faith that shines more bright and clear When tempests rage without; That when in danger knows no fear, In darkness feels no doubt.
Lord, give me such a faith as this, And then, whate’er may come, I’ll taste, e’en here, the hallowed bliss Of an eternal home.
TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW!
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
JACOB, Following In The Footsteps of Faith, 1/18/2012
Genesis 35:1-7GETTING BACK TO BETHEL, Part 3b, Continued from Yesterday!
v.2-5 GOD’S COMMAND WAS HEEDED BY JACOB
Jacob knew that if he was going to get back to Bethel, some changes would have to be made in his life. God isn’t the One who needs to make a change; we are the ones who need to change!
Jacob caused his family to make some changes before they began their journey back to Bethel. I would like to point those changes out if I can. Isn’t it interesting that Jacob took the leadership role in the family? Men, it isn’t your wife’s responsibility to be sure the family makes it to the house of God for worship. It’s yours! It is your responsibility to ensure that your household operates according to the standards of God’s Word! You will give an account of how well you lead your family in the things of the Lord. I don’t know about you, but that makes me tremble! Notice:
1. They Cast Off Their Deities: Rachel and her stolen images - (Gen. 31:34-35). Our idols must go also -( 1 John 5:21; 1 John 2:15). All the things that steal love and devotion from the Lord must be removed from our lives, if we want His blessings upon us, (Col. 3:1-2). Whatever takes your time, your money and your devotion is your god!
2. They Cleansed Their Dirtiness: All filthiness, inward and outward had to be cleansed. A dirty life hinders worship ( Ps. 66:18); a clean life brings blessing ( Ps. 24:3-4). God expects His people to turn away from the wickedness of the flesh (Col. 3:5-11).
3. They Changed Their Dress: Their garments were spotted by sin ( Gen 34). Clean garments are symbolic of separation. If we are to ever be where the Lord desires us to be, then we must dress ourselves in the holiness of the Lord ( 1 Pet. 1:16; 2 Cor. 5:17). This world and all the things that are embraced by it must be rejected by the child of God who would get close to the Lord: (clothing styles; lifestyle; music; entertainment; etc. ( James 1:27; 1 Tim. 6:14).
4. They Created Some Distance: These things were buried not so they could be reclaimed later, but so they would be gone forever. What they did is a picture of repentance (Rom 2:4)! Repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of direction in life. When a person repents of something, they change their thinking about it and the turn and walk away from it, putting some distance between themselves and that thing. Repent means to turn and never return (Acts 2:38)!
Some of God’s people need to do that very thing today. There are some things in your life that need to be repented of today. You need to change your mind about those things and then you need to change your direction in life and walk away from those things, or those people, that are causing you problems in your spiritual walk…CHANGE YOUR LIFESTYLE! You need to put some distance between yourself and those evil things!
It is interesting to note that they were protected as they journeyed to meet God, (v. 5). Those who will seek the Lord have a dedicated and determined enemy, (1 Pet. 5:8), but no one can prevent the honest heart from getting right with God ( Ps. 145:18, Pro. 8:17). Are you heeding the command of God to return to your Bethel?
v. 6-7 GOD’S COMMAND WAS HONORED BY JACOB
When Jacob returned to Bethel, he rebuilt his altar and worshipped the Lord. When we hear and obey the call of the Lord; prepare our hearts and lives for worship; then we can rebuild the old altars and worship the Lord again in Spirit and truth ( John 4:23-24). That is where the Lord wants to bring each of us. And, it is where the redeemed heart wants to be. If you have heard all of this and your response is something like: “Well, I don’t really care about changing anything. I am as happy as I can be in the situation I am in right now. I don’t want to be any closer to the Lord. I don’t want to change a thing in my life. I just want to be left alone so I can enjoy myself and so I can do the things I want to do.” I would suggest to you that you probably aren’t even saved! If you know Him, there will be a hunger somewhere in your soul to be closer to him than you are. There will be a desire to worship Him; to love Him; to be near Him. If that heavenly tug is absent, then He is probably absent as well. You don’t need to get back to Bethel; you just need to get to Bethel the first time and be saved!
The altar Jacob built was symbolic of several things. When we return to our Bethel and rebuild our altars, we will find they stand for the same things.
1. It Spoke Of Worship - At the altar God was adored. God must be adored by His people if there is to be real worship. That simply means that we must come to a place where we are willing to humble ourselves before Him; confess our sins; claim His forgiveness; and lift His Name in our praises. Worship is about us becoming less, while He becomes more!
2. It Spoke Of Love – At that altar, Jacob gave his best and, ultimately, he gave himself. He proved that he loved the Lord by doing what God told him to do. (John 14:15). Nothing says we love the Lord like our obedience to His commands!
3. It Spoke Of Service - People came to the altar to make vows of service to the Lord. God is looking for people who will selflessly serve Him; who will put Him first in their lives; who will give their all for Him and to Him.
4. It Spoke Of Obedience - God told Jacob to build the altar and nothing less would have pleased the Lord. He demands total obedience ( 1 Sam. 15:22).
5. It Spoke Of Obligation - Jacob owed the Lord a debt of gratitude for all the Lord’s blessings upon his life. He expressed that debt at the altar! We are indebted also! Think of all the Lord has done in your life, and think of how little you have done for Him in return. God does not require us to serve Him as repayment for all He has done for us; but the redeemed heart that loves God cannot help but serve Him out of gratitude! Mary in John 12:1-8; Mark 14:8 is an example.
6. It Spoke Of Sacrifice - The altar was a place for sacrifice. The Bible doesn’t record it, but Jacob certainly offered a sacrifice to the Lord, (Heb. 9:22). The altar still stands for sacrifice, but God isn’t looking for blood. The Blood has already been shed back at the altar of the cross by Jesus, one for all, (Heb. 9-10). God is looking for living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1-2). He is looking for those people who will place all they are and all they have on the altar for God’s glory. It is those people who will enjoy the best God has to give in this world; and who will hear Him say, “Well done” in the next world.
Conc: God changed old Jacob’s life after he came back to Bethel. God changed his name from “trickster” to “prince with God”, (v. 10). God renewed all the promises that He had made to Abraham and Isaac and gave them afresh to Jacob, (v. 11-12). God did all of this because Jacob obeyed God’s call and came back to Bethel. Let’s be honest today, some folk need to come back to Bethel. You need to rebuild those old altars and get cleaned up and worship the Lord one more time. Wouldn’t you like to have that peace that comes from serving God once more? Wouldn’t you like to be able to come to church and worship instead of coming in with a sense of guilt and shame? Wouldn’t you like for your prayer life to be more powerful; your witness be clear and your joy to be full? You can have that and much more if you will only get back to Bethel. Some of you need to come to Bethel for the first time. You know that you have never trusted Jesus as your Savior. You know you need to be saved. Well, that can happen today, if you will come to Him. Whatever the need, you can rest assured that the supply will be found in Jesus! Get to Bethel today and get what you need from God.
TODAY”S HYMN and BLESSING!
Restore My Soul
By Sylvia Rose (1896)
Restore my spirit, Lord, I need restored.
My heart is weary, please help me, dear Lord.
I stand in need of more strength from Your Word,
Renew my love, rebuild my faith,
O restore my soul.
Revive the fire, Lord, deep in my soul.
Stir my desire to work in Your fold.
Light in my heart, dear God, my zeal grown cold.
Renew my love, rebuild my faith,
O restore my soul.
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