Tag Archives: Genesis

Entering Into His Rest – The Promised Land

Up in the North woods of Wisconsin, life is a little more simple than in the hustle and bustle suburbs. The sky is so blue, the trees are so green and sunlight just loves to dance through through the leaves as they move in the breeze.

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There is no high speed internet. We do get dial-up through the phone but it is so-o-o-o-o slow. It is just enough to write the blog and publish it. If I want to spend more time on line, I can run into town and go to a local cafe that has wifi. I did just that once this week and ended up having a wonderful conversation with a beautiful Christian. I am reminded that there is fruitful living outside the walls of my own firewall.We do have television, but we only get 4 and all of them are local channels. Local channels don’t provide the speculation and theories that cable TV provides with non-stop news coverage.

In Genesis, the great men and families of God had places of rest, places like Beersheba, Bethel, and initially the garden of Eden. These were places of serenity because these men were able to enter God’s rest because of what He revealed to them.  Wherever God is is a place of rest.

Throughout Genesis, the topic of migration comes up several times with the patriarchs. Abraham went to Egypt due to a famine. Egypt was not the promised land God spoke to Abraham about. Isaac was also faced with a famine and God told him not to go to Egypt and he prospered. Jacob asked God whether he should join Joseph in Egypt during another famine and God gave him the nod and they ended up settling down in Goshen for quite a while. Israel’s families prospered there for a while.

Places are a temporary provision of God at various times. Goshen was ideal. The Israelites were shepherds, they needed ample fertile land for their livestock. Goshen provided that. It is located on the Northeastern side of the Nile. The Nile river flowed northward into the Mediterranean Sea. It provided a rich delta at its outlet. Egyptians looked down on the shepherding profession so by camping out in Goshen, the two cultures were kept separate. There had been problems with this in Canaan as some of the children of the patriarchs took Canaanite wives. The rich heritage of Israel was preserved living there.

Goshen was located closer to the land God promised the Israelites than any other part of Egypt. Egypt afforded the new young Israelite nation protection against marauding kings of other lands. God’s promise to Jacob that He would make them a great nation could bud into fruition.

“Location, location, location” is not an absolute.  Eventually, things changed in Egypt and there came a time to exit. God has no specific place, but He can utilize geography to bless  His people at various times.

For us today, we have truly entered into his rest when we we accept His grace. In Acts 7:49-50 it is recorded:

Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things?

One can be in the midst of hustle and bustle and be in God’s rest. It can also be said that quiet and stillness can be restful, but it can cause unrest too.

Hebrews 4:9-12 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

It seems like a contradiction to read ‘hath ceased from his own works’ and ‘Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest’ but when the Word of God is read and worked by a spiritually-minded person, rest is the result even if you are in the middle of a busy life. God is the place of our rest wherever we are.

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Living Larger

“This world ♪♫♪♫ is not my home, ♪♫♪♫ I’m justa passin’ through..” seem to be the lyrics Jacob was fond of singing in the later part of Genesis. He mourned the loss of his son Joseph and from that point on he seems to waiting to for life to be over.

In Genesis 45:27-28, his reaction to the news of finding out that Joseph was alive and sending for him is recorded:

And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them: and when he saw the wagons (not yet used in Israel according to E.W.Bullinger) which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived:  And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die. (Genesis 45:27, 28)

Imagine Jacob’s reaction when he saw the wagons and all the wonderful things provided for a comfortable trip to Egypt. As they set out for Egypt, Jacob stopped at Beersheba and had a conversation with God (Elohim).Jacob's travel

And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac. And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I. 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: I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes. Genesis 46:1-4

Instead of life ending, it was beginning anew for Jacob. Jacob was 130 years old when he moved to Egypt, not an easy thing to do at his age. He would be well-taken care of in Joseph’s domain and  under his watchful eye. Joseph’s care and wisdom came from God. Joseph’s heart reminds me of the verse in Timothy where Paul writes about Timothy:

Philippians 2:20-21 For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.  For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.

Jacob actually lived to be 147 years old. God blessings always extend beyond human vision. Ephesians 3:20 reminds us of that:

20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, (Ephesians 3:20)

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People and ‘Real’ationships

‘Real’ationships are an amazing study and perhaps no greater revelation can be found in Genesis chapters 42 and 43 about Joseph’s relationships with his brothers.  It is a story of true forgiveness, redemption and reconciliation: the three  ‘R’s’ of relational wholeness. There is so much embedded in this record that just a surface reading is not enough, but it is significant piece of learning how humans interact where two forces, good and evil exist together.

On the one hand, we read about Joseph whose goodness is revealed as the story in Genesis continues. Joseph trusted God as he rose to the top in Egypt. On the other side of the story is the record of Joseph’s brothers and their very human nature. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers due to their jealousies, anger and rebellion. They, for the most part, were entrenched in fear.

Fear affects thinking.  It causes misjudgment, hard feelings and uneasy relations. Imagined scenarios are the result, not reality. Have you ever had a difficult interaction with someone and you realized that they were thinking evil of you and there was nothing you could do to convince them of your genuineness towards them. In dealing with hurts, sometimes time has to heal (like a pulled muscle). At other times it means pulling away (like burning your hand when the potholder slips). Pulling away need not be permanent as we see in the record of Joseph, but it requires protection that only the wisdom of God can give.

In chapter 42 and 43 of Genesis, E.W. Bullinger (The Companion Bible) points out 4 steps in the reconciliation of Jacob’s sons. The whole record of Joseph from the time of being thrown in a pit to the time when he is united with his brothers is over the course of 22 years. The first step on Joseph’s part is to speak roughly to them. His brothers didn’t recognize him. Joseph, however, did not immediately break down, reveal his heart to them and they lived happily ever after. He needed to see change in them otherwise he was in danger.

After his second action of throwing them in jail, he overheard them making references to the fact that they were remorseful over what they had done to to their brother. The scene of him stripped of his beautiful coat at the bottom of the pit in anguish popped up during there incarceration. They were scared. Their fear was punishing them not God. This conversation showed Joseph some of their change in heart (the beginning of repentance).

They had come to Egypt to buy corn during a famine. Joseph sold them food and told them to go back to their land leaving Simeon behind in jail (interesting choice). He asked them to bring back their youngest brother (who was his full blood brother having the same mother).  Joseph had their money put back in their packs secretly (Bullinger’s 3rd step) and sent them on their way. When they discovered the money returned, again they had fearful thoughts. Guilt does nothing but breed more fear. They were carrying a lot of baggage in their heads, not just on their animals. Have you noticed that people who carry a lot of baggage tend to read its weight into relationships they have? That baggage conjures up negative emotions in their hearts and it is difficult dealing with them. Fear is at the base of it.

Finally, as the famine continued they went back to Egypt with the youngest son of Jacob in tow and were treated well in Egypt. Joseph still did not reveal who he was. Joseph gave them more supplies and sent them home, however he planted a silver cup in Benjamin’s pack unbeknownst to them.  Joseph sent guards after them to search for the silver cup and it was found in Benjamin’s pack. Benjamin was the favored brother of Jacob.  Judah asked to take the punishment for the theft instead of Benjamin because of the hurt that it would incur to his father to lose another son. It was at this point finally Joseph could reveal who he was and after 22+ years Judah had changed and matured. Only God could have provided the way to effect the change.  Look at the blessing gave Judah at the end of his life in 49:8-10:

Genesis 49:8 Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee. 9 Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

Our difficulties with people and situations we find ourselves in can best be dealt with by giving the situation to God. A fellow blogger wrote that this is like getting on a moving sidewalk and moving forward through life regardless of the scenery. I like that analogy!

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