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Gen. 50

8/3/10 Joseph had his father embalmed after the manner of the Egyptians, a procedure that took 40 days. By now the famine was long over but Pharaoh continued to employ Joseph in apparently an important position in Egypt. Since Joseph was so prominent all Egypt observed 70 days of mourning for his father.

At that point Joseph asked Pharaoh’s permission to take some time off and bury his father in Machpelah, which not only did Pharaoh allow but he sent a sizable delegation along with Joseph including the elders of his own household and of all Egypt and the household of Joseph, his brothers, and his father. It was a large contingency that made its way back to Canaan. After crossing the Jordan the group observed seven days of mourning, which was noted by the Canaanites as something amazing and unique.

Joseph returned to Egypt. He was still a young man at this point, around 40 years old probably. His brothers feared that maybe Joseph held a grudge against them but was waiting for the passing of Jacob to act. So they brought him a planned message asking for his mercy. Joseph, though, had been genuine in his forgiveness. He wept over the fact that they mistrusted him so. “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” he told them. Joseph refused to judge his brothers over what had happened. And not only did he refuse to judge, he promised to care for them for the rest of their lives.

Joseph lived for another 70 years in Egypt presumably in Pharaoh’s service. When he died at 110 he asked his brothers who at least some of them were still living to take his bones from there when Israel left. This, of course, his brothers would not do in person, but they passed the message down faithfully from generation to generation to the time of the exodus. Then indeed they took Joseph’s bones with them.

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Posted by on October 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Gen. 42

7/25/10 It appears that the famine in Egypt had become so severe that the sons of Jacob could think of nothing to do. They sat and stared at each other. So Jacob sent them to Egypt because the story had arrived in Canaan that food could be purchased there.

Joseph recognized his brothers but they didn’t recognize him, and Joseph made the most of it. It’s not clear how emotionally Joseph met this first encounter. That something was welling up from deep within is apparent. His instant reaction was to deal with them harshly. Perhaps at least at first this wasn’t the calculated plan that it turn into.

Joseph demanded that all the brothers but one remain in prison, while one went home and brought back Benjamin. But during the three days that followed his plan evolved into a true test of their characters. If he had not already forgiven his brothers, he seems to have done so during those three days. Or at least he completed the part of forgiveness that required being reunited with them.

Joseph finally decided to release all but one of his brothers so that they could carry enough grain back to their people. so that they would not suffer for what the brothers alone should suffer for. The brothers discussed all of this in front of Joseph, thinking that he couldn’t understand them. They connected all of this with their treatment of Joseph. And Reuben points out that he had defended Joseph.

The emotional strain was so great upon Joseph that he left and wept. Likely his desire to reveal himself immediately was great, but Joseph was a disciplined man and held his ground.

He sent back with the brothers their grain and their money, which, when they discovered it, they were shaken, imagining that they would be accused of stealing on top of spying.

They told Jacob the truth about what had happened. One wonders what happened in the lives of the brothers during that 20 years to change them so. Was it simply the guilt of what they had done to Joseph that had done this work in them? Jacob refused to send Benjamin for fear of his safety.

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Gen. 32

7/14/10 After Laban left, Jacob continued his journey and he was met by angels of God whom he saw. Usually that picture is not part of the story in our minds. We always jump to the part of wrestling in the night. But here in the first verse of the chapter we see God giving Jacob a clear, visible sign that he was protecting him. He knew that Jacob was already afraid and he wanted to provide a bolster to his faith. God does promise, after all, not to test us beyond what we can bear. Obviously Jacob must have been close to that line, so God gave him this encouragement.

Then Jacob sent a message to Esau alerting him that he was on his way. Jacob hoped that Esau would have forgiven him by now, but Esau’s reaction of setting out to meet him with 400 men didn’t bode well. Jacob must have really clung to the meeting with the angels. Jacob trusted God enough to not flee, but he still made preparations for the worst by dividing up his group into two caravans so that one might escape in case of attack. Then he prayed fervently, reclaiming the promises of God and reminding God that he was returning at his command.

The next day Jacob sent gifts of animals and servants for Esau, each spaced out with the same message to the effect that Jacob wanted reconciliation. That night, then, Jacob stayed up all night to pray and ended up in a physical wrestling match with God himself, in the person of Jesus, (PP197). He’s called an angel but that’s not unprecedented in Scripture. It was God in the burning bush when he met Moses, and there too he is called the angel of the Lord. This doesn’t make God a created being. It only means that God was delivering his own message, because angel is a title for a messenger.

This was also a symbolic wrestling match. Jesus was obviously wrestling at Jacob’s strength level and for Jacob’s good. It couldn’t have been otherwise. Jesus didn’t need Jacob to go through this for his sake, Jacob needed to go through it for his own sake. It was his own sin that had put all of these innocent people in peril and he needed to come to have faith that he was forgiven and that God was in control.

Toward dawn Jesus gave Jacob a painful limp that he would carry for the rest of his life. It would be a constant reminder of both his weakness, but also his strength for he had wrestled with God and prevailed. Incredible grace.

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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