Advertisements

Tag Archives: Devotionals

Jacob Before Pharaoh

“And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.” (Genesis 47:9)

Standing in the twilight of life, as the sun begins to set and the years remaining are far exceeded by those which have already elapsed, a person tends to reflect on all that they have and have not accomplished throughout their lifetime. As the time allotted to them to live upon this earth, at one time so seemingly endless and immeasurable, begins to draw to a close, there exists the unction to look back longingly — for surely the best days of life are now a memory. Oh, the stories they can tell! I had the privilege of working for a time in a nursing home and I always enjoyed hearing people at this stage of their life recount with great enthusiasm the exploits of their youth.

If anyone had such an ability to really share some stories about his own life, it was Jacob. And now he stood in the presence of none less than the Pharaoh of Egypt. What tales he might have recounted as he looked back over 130 years of life! There must have been a part of Jacob which desired to impress the King of Egypt; some part of him that welcomed the opportunity to share the exploits of his own youth. Yet he only tells Pharaoh two things: 1.) “Few and evil have the days of the years of my life been”, and 2.) I accomplished nothing compared to my father and grandfather. The same hot-headed young man who had thought himself capable of outsmarting his brother and even his own father was now looking back on his life and saying, “I am not really anything compared with those who lived before me.” Jacob does not take this opportunity to play up his own importance at all, on the contrary, with great humility he moves himself quickly out of the spotlight.

“And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from before Pharaoh.” (Genesis 47:10)

For a great many years of his life now, Jacob had been walking with God. He had been a broken man and had to learn to walk anew. He could now look back upon all of his life from the Lord’s perspective and, seeing it as such, left no other conclusion than what he told Pharaoh. It’s not that Jacob was not a great man, we know that he was. But Jacob is standing before Pharaoh in the capacity of God’s representative. Jacob blessed Pharaoh. It was not that this Hebrew shepherd was of such greater earthly prominence than the ruler of Egypt, it was on behalf of the Lord that he blessed him. He came before Pharaoh in the name of the Lord. There is never any room for boasting for the person who does such.

When he is blessing Ephraim and Manasseh, Jacob refers to God as the “Angel which redeemed me from all evil” (Gen. 48:16). Therein he boasts — in Christ. It is not what Jacob has accomplished that is important, it is what God has done for him and through him. Few and evil have been my days, what I have done has not amounted to much of anything. But God has redeemed me from the evil which I myself have wrought. It is what He has done that is important.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published November 16, 2010]

All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) of the Holy Bible

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

Advertisements

Nobody Left Behind

“And they took their cattle, and their goods, which they had gotten in the land of Canaan, and came into Egypt, Jacob, and all his seed with him:” (Genesis 46:6)

We can only imagine the overwhelming excitement that filled Jacob’s soul as the news that Joseph was alive began to sink in. It had been more than twenty years since Jacob had beheld his son’s face and, by this time, any remaining inkling of hope that Joseph had been able to limp away from the supposed encounter with wild beasts had long since faded away. Jacob’s incredulity at the report of Joseph’s survival is recorded in Genesis 45:26, and it is only when he personally looks upon the finest wagons of Egypt, laden with the best of that nation’s precious commodities and parked in front of his own house, that the details of his other sons’ account begin to ring true (v. 27).

With the prospect of seeing into Joseph’s eyes once more before his own life leaves him, Jacob is filled with a motivation which energizes him beyond anything else. Joseph, his beloved Joseph, first son of the only woman he has ever truly loved, is alive! No journey is too great nor any distance too far if Joseph, alive and well, is waiting at its end. Yet one thing causes a delay in the trip; something is brought to Jacob’s mind that is of even greater import than his anticipated reunion with his son. As the caravan of Jacob and his family enters the land of Beer-sheba, he takes the time to offer sacrifices to God. “The God of his father Isaac“, Genesis 46:1 states. Perhaps it was the sight of the well which his father’s servants had dug so long ago, or maybe it was the altar itself which Isaac had erected near the spot (Gen. 26:25) that brought a great sense of God’s presence to Jacob.

Beer-sheba, the place where Jacob’s grandfather Abraham had planted a grove in honor of God Almighty after his covenant with Abimelech (Gen. 21:33); Beer-sheba, the place where God appeared to his father, Isaac, saying: “Fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham’s sake” (Gen. 26:24). The gravity of these words must have hit home as Jacob pondered them, for he had in his company the entirety of that seed (except Joseph who was already in Egypt). And now, Jacob was marching this entire family straight into the land of Egypt. Was this the will of God or had Jacob acted impetuously? What about another time when the Lord had appeared to Isaac and told him directly to not go into Egypt during another time of famine (Gen. 26:2)? What about all of the trouble that had come upon his grandfather Abraham as a result of doing exactly what he himself was doing right now (Gen. 12:10-20)? Most importantly, what would be the fate of the seed of Jacob, this precious family of descendants for whom and through whom God had promised so much to Abraham and Isaac?

“And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation:” (Genesis 46:3)

God appeared to Jacob in a dream and reassured him of the propriety of this journey into Egypt. God Himself is never-changing, but His timing is a factor wherein we must be obedient. What was not in the will of God for those a generation or two ago might be exactly what God has in store for us (and vice-versa!). Sin is sin in all ages and is never acceptable, but as to the specific direction which God wants us to go and the exact place where He wants us to be differs from age to age and from person to person. The Apostle Paul, for instance, was forbidden by the Spirit of God to travel into certain regions during his missionary journeys which would later be opened up to future missionaries (Acts 16:6-7). It was wrong for Paul to go there, but right for others. It was not God’s will for Abraham and Isaac to journey into Egypt, but it was God’s will for Jacob and his sons.

Genesis 46:6 tells us that all of Jacob’s seed accompanied him into Egypt. Lest we suspect that this expression is merely hyperbole, verses 8 through 25 go on to gives us an exact register of the names of each and every individual who went. We may not have a manifest giving the details of all of the material possessions the family brought with them, but we do have a complete list of travelers. To us, this may amount to little more than a roll of strange-sounding, sometimes difficult to pronounce foreign names. But the fact that the Spirit of God inspired the writer of Genesis to take the time and space to list each and every name is a wonderful reminder of God’s great love for and interest in each one of us. Nobody was left behind to fend for themselves back in Canaan, they all came along on the trip to Egypt. Every last one of them. We are insured of this by the detailed list given. If such attention was given and care taken to make sure that not one of the 67 individuals of the family of Jacob was left behind in Canaan, we know that God will not leave a single one of us belonging to His family behind. For every 100 sheep belonging to the Great Shepherd, 100 will finish the journey with Him (Luke 15:4-7).

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published November 15, 2010]

All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) of the Holy Bible

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

I Am Joseph, Your Brother

“Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come closer to me.” And they came closer. And he said, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.” (Genesis 45:4)

“I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.” (Zechariah 12:10)

The foreshadowing in Joseph’s reconciliation with his brothers of Christ’s reconciliation with His brothers is astounding. We have been looking at Joseph’s interactions with the other sons of Jacob from the perspective of the Christian interacting with Christ. But we are also reminded herein of the Lord Jesus’ own relation to the nation of Israel. After all, at this particular time Joseph (who is foreshadowing Christ) is interacting with the whole of the nation of Israel, for the entirety of all the tribes is represented in this room. The ancestors of each and every tribe is present with each brother being the namesake of the tribe that will descend from him.

It is telling that none of the brothers recognized Joseph. The nation of Israel failed to recognize their promised Messiah during His first coming, as well. It is only when Joseph chooses to reveal himself to the brothers that they can know who he is. The Lord Jesus stated plainly to the nation of Israel Who He was, but they did not believe Him (Matt. 23:37). At the first meeting of Joseph and the brothers, they do not realize who he is. It is during their second journey into Egypt that Joseph reveals himself to them.  So it shall be during our Lord’s second coming that He will reveal Himself to a repentant and believing remnant from among Israel. Joseph said unto his brothers, “I am Joseph, your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt.” Jesus will say, “I am Jesus, your Brother, Whom ye crucified.”

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published November 10, 2010]

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

Joseph Reveals Himself To His Brothers

“Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren.” (Genesis 45:1)

The moment of reconciliation. It is to this end that all of the actions of the preceding four chapters have been leading. It staggers the mind to think of the lengths that God has gone to in order for this very moment to come to pass; this point of reconciliation between the sons of Jacob wherein Joseph once again takes his place among them. We are reminded as we look back over the space of more than 20 years at Joseph’s dream, a dream where his eleven brothers bowed down before him (Gen. 37:5-7), that God truly does see the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). Yet would we even begin to imagine all of the things which God brought to pass in order to make this happen? Would someone entirely unfamiliar with this account of the life of Joseph even begin to guess what would transpire in fulfillment of the prophetic dream?

Nevertheless, we know that God did these things for one end: to bring the sons of Jacob back together in the safety of the land of Egypt. All that has been leading up to this moment — the testing, the accusations of espionage and theft, the threat of placing Benjamin into slavery — were done to bring the brothers to this point in time. Do we not greatly underestimate what God will do in order to bring people to the place where He wants them?
The reconciliation between the brothers and Joseph is a portrait of the sinner’s reconciliation to Christ. All of the moments of fear, trepidation, anxiety, guilt, confusion, and frustration which the sons of Jacob experienced during their dealings with this enigmatic “governor of Egypt” are hallmarks of many of our own experiences when Christ was drawing us to Himself. Some roads longer than others, all of us were brought through moments of emotional pain, struggle and inner turmoil until we reached the point when our hearts were ready and the Lord Jesus revealed Himself to us.
It is worth noting that before the actual moment of reconciliation begins, Joseph sends every other person out of the room. “Cause every man to go out from me“, he cries. It seems to be our practice as Evangelicals to want those making an initial decision to come to Christ to go to the front of the church and announce their decision in front of everybody. But isn’t this most crucial moment in a person’s life really between them and the Lord? Sometimes we act as though their conversion is only validated by a showy presentation in front of the entire congregation. “They must confess Christ with their mouth and not be ashamed of Him”, we explain (as though there will not be time enough for public proclamation later). There isn’t anything necessarily wrong with giving an altar call, but we do well to respect what is going on at the moment between them and God. Seldom do we really know everything that has been going on in the person’s life which has brought them to this point. We do not know all that the Spirit of God has been doing in their heart in order to prepare them for the Lord Jesus Christ to reveal Himself to them and reconcile them to Himself.
Joseph’s steward and many of his other servants played a part leading up to this moment, yet when the time came, Joseph sent them all out of the room. It was just the brothers and Joseph. Why? Because the moment of reconciliation was just between them. Many of us will play a role in bringing others to Christ, but perhaps we are mistaken in insisting that we be there at the actual moment when the person is reconciled to God. Maybe our Lord is politely sending us from the room for a moment so that He might rejoice in private with that person, just as Joseph did when his brothers were reconciled to him.To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published November 9, 2010]

All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) of the Holy Bible

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

The Silver Cup In Benjamin’s Sack

“Then they speedily took down every man his sack to the ground, and opened every man his sack. And he searched, and began at the eldest, and left at the youngest: and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack.” (Genesis 44:11-12)

After the brothers of Joseph are confronted with the accusation of stealing the silver cup, it isn’t hard to imagine the outrage and indignation that they must have felt. This Egyptian ruler first accused them of being spies sent into the land to observe its weaknesses (Gen. 42:9) and now he was accusing them of this! Just what exactly must they do in order to prove that they are honest men? They protest vehemently to the steward bringing the message and even offer up as evidence the fact that they had attempted to repay the money previously returned into their sacks. So certain are they that every man among them is guiltless that they offer up anyone possessing the article to be put to death. Additionally, they vow that if such a man is found among them then the rest will all voluntarily submit to a life of indenture.

And so the search begins as the steward and his servants begin to rummage through the personal effects contained within each man’s luggage. They begin with the eldest brother, Reuben, and work their way down to the youngest from there. We can imagine the brothers standing close by, watching as each sack is carefully examined, becoming more and more confident of their collective innocence with each set of belongings inspected. As the Egyptians came to the sacks of Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher, the brothers must have been expectant of complete exoneration. Most of them must have already loaded their belongings back into place and made ready to move out as the final bags were checked. Then, to their utter horror and shock, the words rang out: “Here it is, I’ve found it.”
We know that Benjamin was not actually guilty of stealing the cup, but this scene is a reminder of the guilt that every person does carry. Sadly, there are those who live their lives with the same expectation of full exoneration that the sons of Jacob had; believing that even God Almighty will find no fault in them. Like the rich young ruler, they will stand before their Creator and confidently declare: “All these things [the commandments of God] have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?” (Matt. 19:20). The Lord Jesus made an examination of that young ruler’s life and searched through it as the Egyptian steward searched through the sacks of the brothers of Joseph. He named off several of the Ten Commandments to which the young man plead not guilty. There was no silver cup found in those sacks, it would seem. But just as the cup was eventually found among Joseph’s brothers possessions, so was sin found in the young man’s life.
We might think that we carry no guilt before God because we haven’t murdered anyone, we haven’t committed adultery, we haven’t given false testimony against anyone (although according to God’s standards as given by the Lord Jesus at the Sermon on the Mount, we would all most likely be guilty in those areas, as well), but everyone is guilty of violating at least some of God’s holy commandments. Romans 3:23 tells us that all have sinned and failed to live up to God’s standards. We need a Savior Who will forgive our sins and shortcomings and make us right with God before we stand before Him. There will be many who will come before God one day and be so confident of their own innocence that they will agree with the sentiment of the brothers of Joseph: “With whomsoever sin be found, let him die…” They will proudly offer up their own sacks for examination, believing none of them to be stained with the guilt of sin. Yet the search of each these individuals will regrettfully end the same: “Here it is, I have found it.” Let us trust in the Lord today and confess our sins to Him.
%d bloggers like this: