Joseph and his brethren

Jacob’s Oversight

Saturday, January 21, 2017

“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 KJV).

Jacob felt cheated. He had lived 130 years, yes, but according to him, days “few and evil.” Why this strange assessment?

Well, Jacob had a point. The rest of the verse said he did not attain to the days of the years of the life of his fathers in the days of their pilgrimage. That is, the Bible says Jacob’s father, Isaac, had lived to age 180 (Genesis 35:28) and his grandfather, Abraham, had died at age 175 (Genesis 25:7). So, here was Jacob, standing before Pharaoh, “only” 130 years old, supposing his death was near. He was 50 years shy of his father’s age at death, and 45 years short of his grandfather’s death-age.

Jacob’s life abounded with grief. Exiled, he escaped his vengeful brother Esau and hid for 20 years (Genesis chapters 28-31). Meanwhile, his father-in-law Laban cheated him out of a wife (Genesis 29:18-30). Laban swindled him out of wages 10 times (Genesis 31:7). Jacob’s daughter, Dinah, was raped; his sons reacted rashly (Genesis 34:1-31). He lost his wife Rachel in childbirth (Genesis 35:16-20). He lost his son Joseph, supposedly to an animal attack (Genesis 37:29-35). Jacob’s family experienced persistent, severe famine (Genesis 42:1,2; Genesis 43:1,2). He temporarily lost his son Simeon to Egyptian imprisonment (Genesis 42:24-36). His youngest son, Benjamin, had been briefly taken (Genesis 42:36; Genesis 43:1-14). Jacob certainly had a tough life!

Twenty years after separation, Jacob was miraculously reunited with Joseph in Egypt. Joseph was able to provide his whole family with food. In chapter 49, Jacob dies. According to Genesis 47:28, he lived 17 years in Egypt (or 17 years after today’s Scripture). Jacob died at age 147. Yes, he fell short of his father’s age and his grandfather’s age. Still, Jacob had seen their God work in a mighty way they had not seen. Planning 20 years in advance, God had saved Israel—Abraham and Isaac’s descendants, a tribe of some 70 souls—from starvation! 🙂

Manipulating Moses to Murder Messiah #3

Saturday, May 30, 2015

“And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers” (Acts 3:17 KJV).

How could Israel have been so blind in rejecting Jesus as Messiah, One who fulfilled hundreds of Old Testament prophecies?

In his farewell epistle, the Apostle Peter mentioned people who “wrest” the Scriptures (2 Peter 3:15,16). They distort the meaning or interpretation of Bible verses so that they fit their opinions or views (“private interpretations;” 2 Peter 1:20). Before you think about Christendom’s excessive mishandling of the Holy Bible to create thousands upon thousands upon thousands of denominations, remember that the Bible was often largely misused long before Christianity.

Consider how the nation Israel (mis)handled Deuteronomy 13:1-11. They chose to use those few verses to condemn and kill Jesus Christ, all the while ignoring over 300 Old Testament prophecies that justified and validated Him as their God manifest in the flesh! Aptly, Jesus said that they did not believe Moses. Had they believed Moses they would have believed Jesus because Moses wrote about Jesus (John 5:39-47)—animals killed to clothe Adam and Eve, Noah’s ark as salvation from divine punishment, Abraham offering his only begotten son Isaac, Joseph’s betrayal by his brethren, the Passover lamb killed to ward off the death angel, and the whole law system (priesthood, sacrifices, tabernacle, holy vessels, feast days, et cetera), all depicted the Lord Jesus in some way. Israel ignored the fact that Jesus arrived exactly when Daniel predicted Messiah would be born (9:24-26), disregarded Micah’s prediction about Messiah’s birthplace (5:2), and ignored Isaiah when he described Messiah’s ministry, message, and miracles (35:3-6; 53:4; 61:1,2). On and on we could go, but these must suffice.

Who was leading Israel’s rebellion against the Lord Jesus? Saul of Tarsus! First Timothy 1:13 is the Apostle Paul’s reflection on his early years, when he served in the Devil’s ministry: “Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I did it ignorantly in unbelief” (cf. today’s Scripture). What grace and love God poured out on Saul (verse 14), when he deserved God’s wrath poured out on him! Yes, Saul had led Israel in manipulating Moses to murder Messiah, but to him, God’s goodness gave great grace!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Who were the people who followed Jesus before Paul?

An Unforgettable Family Reunion

Saturday, July 7, 2012

“Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life” (Genesis 45:5 KJV).

Today’s Scripture summarizes an unforgettable family reunion… 20 years in the making….

The story begins approximately 1729 B.C., when Joseph, currently Jacob’s youngest son, is 17 years old (Genesis 37:2). Having sired Joseph in his old age, “Israel [Jacob] loved Joseph more than all his children… and he made him a coat of many colours” (verse 3). Consequently, Joseph’s 10 older brothers grow envious and hate him (verse 4). God gives Joseph two dreams, which further antagonize his brothers because they learn that the dreams concern them bowing to Joseph (verses 5-11)!

Later, when Joseph’s brothers are out feeding the flock, Jacob sends Joseph to check on them. Joseph learns that his brothers are not where they are supposed to be, and when he finds them, they mock him and conspire to murder him (verses 12-20). The eldest brother Reuben forbids the murder, so they throw Joseph into a pit instead, later selling him into slavery (verses 21-28). So, Joseph winds up in Egypt (verses 28,36). Joseph’s 10 brothers smear goat’s blood on his coat, deceiving Jacob into thinking that a wild animal killed Joseph (verses 31-35).

The years pass—20 long years actually….

Canaan (Israel’s land), Egypt, and surrounding regions are suffering famine, so Jacob sends his 10 sons down into Egypt for corn (Genesis 42:1-5). Who do you suppose is in Egypt to give Israel (Jacob’s sons) food? “And Joseph was the governor over the land…” (verse 6). Wow! God has been watching over Israel!

Pharaoh had appointed Joseph to second-in-command in Egypt some years earlier, so when Joseph’s brothers return to Egypt, they recognize him the second time, and Joseph is able to give them food (Acts 7:10-13). Today’s Scripture records Joseph’s comforting words to his brethren: “God did send me before you to preserve life.”

“And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him,” (Acts 7:9). Indeed, faithful God was with Joseph, and with Israel to save her from famine.