Wednesday, March 31, 2010
As the famine wears on, the people run out of money to buy grains. Joseph accepts livestock in exchange, but when the livestock runs out, he buys up all the land and doles out seeds to the people to plant their crops. The only stipulation is that one-fifth of all the produce must go back to Pharaoh.
On a side note. In my humble opinion, Socialism is a perfect system in theory. But in a fallen world, it doesn't always pan out. Joseph is insituting a Socialist run Egypt by maintaining all of the goods and doling them out as necessary. For this kind of situation, I think it's genius. God knew that the people would probably eat themselves to death if someone did not step in to take preventative measures to ensure their future. This is why He provided Joseph and gave him the means to make it happen.
17 Years later Jacob readies himself to die and makes Joseph promise him to bury in him in the land of his forefathers--not Egypt. Joseph promises.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Before the brothers leave, Jo slips a silver cup into Ben's bag and later has his men track them down. The brothers swear they would never steal and claim that anyone shown to have stolen will become a slave. They completely break down when they see the cup in Ben's bag. The plead with Jo for Ben and offer themselves as slaves as well. Probably the first decent thing they've ever done!
Jo reveals himself to his brothers and shares a cool piece of faith. God allowed Jo to be sold knowing that he would help to prevent death during the time of famine. He ultimately saved his family by being sold many years before that. I am again humbled and awestruck at the ways God provides! The family returns home to gather their things and move closer to Egypt to be close to Joseph. Joseph promises to provide for his family and make sure they are well taken care of.
Joseph is probably one of my favorite characters so far. His faith and perseverance is a testimony to me. He also holds no resentment towards his brothers or anyone who laid a hand against him. He keeps the Lords ways in mind and trusts them fully. Today, I pray for Joseph-like faith!
Jo tells Pharaoh that his dreams indicate 7 years of plenty followed by 7 years of famine. Pharaoh thinks Jo is so wise he puts him over EVERYTHING to get them through the next 14 years.
41 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt." 42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph's finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. 43 He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and men shouted before him, "Make way!" Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt. 44 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt."
I am simply amazed at the blessings that God has given to Jo during all of this. First he is over a household, then a prison, then a nation?!?! Amazing.
The 14 goes as Jo predicted but during the time of famine, Egypt is saved because he stored up foods during the previous 7 years. His family back home starts to feel the strain from the famine and travel to Egypt to buy grain. Joseph immediately recognizes them, but they don't recognize him, so Jo decides to taunt them and have a little fun. He calls them spies and gives them a task to prove themselves. They have to leave one brother in prison while the others go and fetch Benjamin (the youngest). The reading ends with Jacob being hesitant and very reluctant to send his baby boy away, especially thinking that one son is already dead and knowing another is in prison.
Judah (one of Jacob's sons) gets married and has 3 sons. The eldest marries Tamar and is struck dead by God for his evilness. So the next son has obligations to marry and bear children with Tamar. He "spills his seed" so as not to impregnate her and is also struck dead but God. Judah sends her back to her father to live as a widow and she later tricks him into sleeping with her thinking she's a prostitute... come on Judah, why would you sleep with a prostitute in the first place?? Needless to say he knocks up his daughter-in-law and she gives birth to twins.
Meanwhile, Joseph is set up in a clutch position (well, as clutch as a slave-like position can be) in Egypt. His master's wife realizes what a hottie he is and tries to seduce him. I have got to give it to Joseph, he's got this woman nagging him daily to sleep with him and everyday he blatantly says NO! Respect... The wife takes advantage of a situation and makes it look like Joseph tried to sleep with her... Poor Joseph! His own family hates him, sells his into slavery, he gets a sweet deal but is then thrown into jail. The cool thing is how God provides the little things for him while he is on hard times. God puts him in a position of trust in Potiphar's house, and again while he is in jail. Sometimes it's the little things that help remind us that we are not alone :)
Joseph helps to interpret 2 fellow inmates dreams and asks one of them to remember him to the Pharaoh when he gets out. The dreams come true as predicted, but the man doesn't remember Joseph. What a jerk--Joseph lets him know that in 3 days he will be released from jail and restored in his job and all the asks for is a good word with the big guy. Pretty simple request right??
Jacob is renamed Israel and the passage flip-flops between calling him Jacob and Israel...kind of confusing. Rachel dies giving birth to his last son: Benjamin. Jacob makes is back to his father and gets to spend a little more time with him before he passes as well. Jacob and Esau are still getting along as they bury their father together. It feels like Isaac has been dying for a long time...since the brothers tricked him into giving the wrong one the birthright...no clue why it stretched out that long.
This is where the story of Joseph and his coat start. He makes enemies of his family when he tells them about dreams he's been having. Basically, they all insinuate that his family will bow to him.. obviously they aren't too keen about this. Jacob sends him out to report on his brothers one day. When they see him coming, they plot to kill him, but Reuben (the oldest) suggests throwing him into a cistern alive. His ultimate plan is to rescue him later and return him to Jacob. This plan goes awry when a caravan comes and the brothers decide to sell their own brother. Later, Reuben goes back to save him, but realizes he isn't there and is very distraught. I'm not sure where he dipped out to while they were making the transaction, but it seems he had no part in it. The brothers trick their father into thinking Joseph is dead...
I kind of started losing respect for these guys after the slaughtered an entire city. They seem to take things just one step too far. Mob rule I guess?
Friday, March 26, 2010
There is a strange scene where Jacob is left alone and wrestles with a mysterious stranger. The stranger disables his hip and turns out to be God. God renames him Israel and because of this meeting, Israelites no longer eat the tendon attached to the hip. Sometimes there are weird little side stories tucked into a main story. I see the relevance of this, but wish it were explained better and in more detail.
All of the gifts were unnecessary as Esau is stoked to see his brother (I guess time really does heal all wrongs?) regardless of the flocks. He even decides to travel forth with him... yay for family reunions!
Jacob temporarily settles in a land near a small town. The son of the head of the town takes Dinah (Jacob's only daughter) and rapes her...then has the audacity to ask for her hand in marriage. Trying to keep a level head, Jacob and his sons decide that he can marry her and others can marry within the town if all of the males are circumcised in accordance with their beliefs. The town agrees to this. Not really sure why this seemed like a good idea... but...whatever. A few days later, while the men are all still in pain from being circumcised, Simeon and Levi kill every single man in the town while the other sons proceed to loot and pillage what they can. Seems like a pretty sadistic means of revenge... let them circumcise themselves, writhe in pain for a few days and then kill them. Naturally, Jacob thinks this was all a little extreme, but the brothers didn't like their sister being treated like a prostitute.
I don't have siblings, but I've seen the way my husband and his brother protect their sister. It's pretty ferocious. I can only imagine how easy it must have been for Simeon and Levi to make such a rash decision. Not justifying it by any means, just saying that its easy to see how quickly an idea can turn into an action. Especially with 11 brothers!!!
Jacob decides to leave Leah and Rachel's father (Laban) and return to the land of his father. There becomes a little dispute about livestock so Jacob flees without telling Laban. Before they leave, Rachel steals some things from her father's home. Laban catches up with them and accuses Jacob of robbing him. Sneaky Rachel keeps the treasures hidden in her camel's saddle while her father searches for them and then says she can't get off her camel because she's "on her period". Oh the things girls can get away with :) They decide everything is ok and make a covenant to not harm each other.
Jacob said that if the stolen items were found that the person should be put to death. I think he's being a little dramatic since he doesn't know his own wife stole the items and is so adamant to protect his integrity... wonder if the treasures will be found..
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Jacob flees to avoid his brother's anger (and murderous thoughts). One night he falls asleep on a rock and dreams that he is at the gateway to heaven. He awakes and pours oil over the rock and vows to give God 10% of whatever he is given. This is the first time a real tithe has been mentioned.
Jacob goes to the land of his uncle and meets his 2 cousins: Leah and Rachel. He falls in love with Rachel and works 7 years for her hand in marriage. Daddy pulls a trick when he gives Jacob Leah instead..."oh yea, by the way we never let the younger daughter marry first..whoops!". Jacob works yet another 7 years just for Rachel. God sees that Jacob isn't exactly crazy about Leah and makes her able to have children and closes Rachel up. I get this sad image of Leah as she keeps giving Jacob sons hoping that each time it will make him love her. At the birth of her 3rd son Levi, she even wonders that aloud. By the time the 4th comes around, she says "this time I will praise the Lord". She has learned that just because she hasn't found favor in her husband, he has fond favor with the Lord.
There is a small side story about a water shortage and Isaac trusting God to provide. It is clearly shown that Isaac has immense faith like his father and that God plans to bless him greatly.
The last verse shows that in-law strife started waaaay back in the day.
When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite. 35 They were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah.
I've been blessed enough to have amazing in-laws... wouldn't trade them for the world!
You can think this story is a little messed up and wonder why God would even request such a thing, or you can see the beautiful similarities between this and the Gospel. Abraham was willing to give up his only son but a ram took his place. Now a ram and lamb aren't the same thing, but I think that's what makes it so much better. A lamb evokes images of a pure innocent being, a ram...not to much. It seems only fitting that a ram would save an earthly son and a lamb would embody the salvation of sins.
Once Isaac is older, Abraham seeks to find a wife for him. He makes a servant surrender an oath that he will bring back a woman to him from his land (not Canaan) and not take Isaac there per God's instructions. They make an oath by placing a hand under the person's thigh... I can only imagine how awkward that would be if someone did that today. The servant is sucessful on his mission and brings back Rebekah for Isaac. The whole story is really cool how it unfolds. Rebekah and her people are totally ok with her just up and leaving to marry a man they've never met just because God said that's what needed to happen...if only I had such faith!
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Abraham and Sarah move to a new city where Abraham tells the king Sarah is his sister to avoid getting killed. This is the second time he's done this... I understand his reasoning but I'd be pretty ticked if Travis did this to me!
Sarah gives birth to Isaac and is finally rewarded for her faithfulness! She gets a little jealous and sends away her maid and Ishamael because she wants to make sure HER son gets all the goods. God allows this to happen, but promises Abraham that Ishmael will also become a great nation and be provided for. I just don't always like Sarahs's attitude...she is impatient, has Hagar sleep with her husband, then resents her for getting pregnant, then resents her even more when she has a child of her own! Unbelievable...
Chapter 17 is all about circumcision and the covenant God established with those who are circumcised. I'm not really going to comment other than the fact that even the adults had to get circumcised...Abraham was 99 at this point...ouchies!
God reveals to Abraham his plans for Sodom and Gomorrah. He pleads to not kill any righteous with the wicked. He basically talks the Lord down to not destroying the city at all if he can find just 10 righteous men there....TEN in the ENTIRE city! Seems pretty fair right?
Friday, March 19, 2010
God blesses Abram and Lot so much that they have to split paths because the land can't support all of them at once. This seems like a positive problem :) I didn't think anyone could ever be TOO blessed, but these two just might take the cake. But trouble in paradise comes when there is a rebellion against one of the kings over the lands and Lot is kidnapped and his possessions seized. But no worries, Abram is so blessed he just calls on the 300+ warriors he just happens to know and they get everything back.
Abram starts getting a little inquisitive as God keeps telling him his offspring will be great, but he's still yet to produce a child. God tells him to count the stars...cause that's how great his offspring is going to be. Abram asks how he can be sure that he will receive the land promised to him. The Lord gives him a sign as a covenant promise that Abram will receive everything coming to him. He tells him that his descendants will suffer and be enslaved for 4 generations, but after their trials they will rewarded beyond measure.
I just love the theme that has been recurring throughout everything I have read so far--God allows trials to happen knowing full well what will come from them. We just have to be patient, faithful and endure in order to receive our blessing. God is good all the time, all the time God is good!!
Job admits to God that he's got nothin'. He thought he had things to say, but realizes he should keep his mouth shut. God challenges him again by asking him if he could tame a behemoth or take a crocodile as a pet. As no man of the time would ever even consider doing these things, how much more of a dumb idea is it to challenge God? God points out that He is accountable to no man and owes us nothing. I love this reminder becuase it makes me think back to all the blessings I have received in my short lifetime and realize how much God does for us simply because he WANTS to, not because he HAS to!
Job's response is simple,
2 "I know that you can do all things;
no plan of yours can be thwarted.
3 You asked, 'Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?'
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
The Lord then blesses Job twice as much as he had been blessed before. I think the main thing to take away from all of this is not that Job was patient (I just read what felt like 100 chapters that proves contrary), but that Job persevered. Job was not perfect (although he sometimes thought he was), but he handled his trials with about as much dignity as one could have. Yes it was miserable, yes it was hard, yes he complained, but in the end he learned a valuable lesson that blessed him beyond comparison and enriched his relationship with God.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
God opens by basically saying "who the heck is speaking when they have no idea what they are talking about? Man up and I'll give you an answer.." God responds for these entire 2 chapters asking Job where he was when the world was created, who controls the oceans and the skies, who causes crops to grow, who provided animals for his use and enjoyment and who has infinite knowledge of the universe. Job has yet to say anything back, but I can only imagine that he is feeling like a 3 year old that got caught breaking into the cookie jar before dinner--red handed.
God's response reminds me of when Adam and Eve were thrown out of the Garden of Eden... they were brought down a notch real quick and so was Job.
I remember when I was little my parents kept my "fanking stick" (I was too young to put a "s" and "p" together) on top of the fridge. Once I learned its location, I would immediately climb on the chair to retrieve it if I did something I knew would warrant a spanking. Of course my parents would always figure out where I hid it and I would be punished twice as bad. Parents don't like to have their authority challenged, and neither does God. I would take a spanking any day over being chewed out by the Almighty!!
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
A really cool part of this reading is in chapter 37 where Elihu describes all the ways God provides for and governs the earth. If He can handle all of that, who are we to question Him? He makes rain fall, ice freeze, lightening strike...I am rejuvenated by these words!!!!
5 God's voice thunders in marvelous ways;
he does great things beyond our understanding.
6 He says to the snow, 'Fall on the earth,'
and to the rain shower, 'Be a mighty downpour.'
14 "Listen to this, Job;
stop and consider God's wonders.
15 Do you know how God controls the clouds
and makes his lightning flash?
16 Do you know how the clouds hang poised,
those wonders of him who is perfect in knowledge?
13 Why do you complain to him
that he answers none of man's words?
14 For God does speak—now one way, now another—
though man may not perceive it.
I found his response to be refreshing and very well spoken. I love that the youngest of the group waited patiently in the wings and then just blows everyone away with these amazing words. Elihu is an inspiration !
Monday, March 15, 2010
I'm a bit confused about some contradictions...Job has been complaining that the wicked have it easy and never receive punishment and almost questions God. But now, he is saying that the wicked will get theirs (in a very long, eloquent speech) and that wisdom belongs to God alone. Does anyone have clarification for this?? I feel like I am reading in circles...
I know God's response to all this must be coming and I can't wait to see what He says...
Good ol' Eliphaz again makes a great point--Job is as not perfect as he thinks he is. He lists out numerous things Job has done nothing about (helping widows, not feeding the hungry,etc.) and implores him to rid the evil in his heart.
Job says he has consistently followed God's ways and now in this time of grief, He is nowhere to be found...
I think that at this point, there is a little right in what everyone is saying. The friends have no right to judge, but are still in a position to offer encouraging words. Job is starting to lose sight and has some great ideas, but still needs to be brought back to reality. No one is perfect, and God's infinite wisdom and ways should never be questioned.
The back and forth dialogues between Job and his friends continue. I am starting to get a little confused about where all this is going. Job's friends are still by his side (although rebuking him, they are still there!) but Job laments that all his friends have turned their back on him. I can't decide if his friends are really being mean, or Job is just so in despair he can't see anything good. They just go back and forth both presenting good and bad arguments for their case, but they need a mediator! I'm hoping the next few passages help to put all of this in context...
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
This is such an applicable story to anyone!! When Travis and I were going through pre-marital counseling (or as his roommates called it "Pre-Marital Success counseling"--PMS :)), Travis learned a valuable lesson. Girls like to vent, and guys like to fix. Sometimes the girls don't want fixing, they just want to be heard. Job is doing the same thing here, he just wants to be heard! The power of solidarity in silence is a very powerful thing that every good friend, wife, husband, companion, family member, etc. should master. Today I pray to be a better listener.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Job gets really angry at those who rebuke him and basically ask them to leave him alone. He wants to present his case to God and leave others out of it. No man lived perfectly (except for Jesus) so up until now, while Job was a righteous and upstanding believer, he was far from perfect. From what I am reading, he honestly thinks he has never, ever done anything wrong (even in his heart of hearts) and is totally confused why God is doing this. But, he's missing the point! God isn't doing this to punish him, He's doing it to strengthen him. But Job is too focused on himself to get beyond that...
We cannot question why it seems some go unpunished for unspeakable acts, and seemingly perfect people encounter great tragedy. The fact is, God doesn't punish us for our wrongdoing-- Jesus took all the blame! That is the glory of the gospel!! God's wrath has been withheld! When we face trials, it is not because we cursed our neighbor or told a lie, its because God wants to break us down so he can rebuild us.
Besides, who are we to judge who should and shouldn't be punished?
Monday, March 8, 2010
After Eli's eloquent speech, Job feels the need to respond. He asks God to bring death and goes on and on about how miserable to terrible his life is. He has forgotten how good he had it and how much support he still has--all this time his friends are still there, yet he complains that his friends are wishy-washy and have left him. Another friend gives a speech (not quite as good as Eli's) again rebuking him for his bitter words and reminding him that God will never leave the righteous. Job then asks "how can a mortal be righteous". This my friends, is a very good question. One I don't think I could even try to answer...
Job clarifies some of his other lamentations which is good because it cleared up some of my questions. He feels that he has no right to question the work of God. His life sucks, yes, but he simply wants death or wants to know what he did wrong so he can fix it--but he never questions God actual actions. So many people try to taunt God and summon an answer, but Job never does this...and I like that. There is also some foreshadowing of Jesus in the last portion of this reading...Job wishes for someone to arbitrate between him and the Lord so that God will no longer strike him with affliction. Its kind of cool knowing that very soon, this amazing mediator will come! Too bad Job didn't know that...but I guess that's kind of the point.
Job was living a cush life until he caught Satan's eye. God let Satan take away his crops, animals and children and he responds with "you give and take away, I will bless your name". Then Satan personally afflicts him. His wife is telling him to stop acting crazy and denounce God. His response? "We accept good from God, why not accept the bad?" He never curses God, but does grieve and cry out. During his mourning, his friends sit in silence with him for 7 days... I can name a few friends that would do that with me and I count myself blessed to be able to say that :) He begins to curse the day he was born and ask why he was even allowed to live if he was just going to face all this turmoil. Then his genius friend Eli says, "hey, you may not like this, but I gotta say it... how many lives have you touched? How much glory have you brought to God? From what I've seen, God never strikes the righteous down, so hang in there buddy!" My favorite quote from his long "sermon" has got to be in Job 5:18--"For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal". If you haven't read this story, do yourself a favor and read it. If you are feeling lonely or abandoned, read Job 4 and 5 (Eliphaz's sermon) and take comfort in knowing that the God who allowed affliction to befall Job will never leave you and is only giving you these momentary troubles to strengthen and build your character!
We start out with Noah waiting for the flood waters to recede. The faith and perseverance him and his family must have had astounds me. One of my favorite parts has to be when the dove is released and comes back with an olive branch. During that time, an olive branch was seem as an offering of peace. The branch along with the dove is such a poignant reminder to Noah to remain faithful and calm while the waters receded.
From what I have read, animals were off limits for eating up until this point. In the garden, God gives Adam and Eve all the plants of the earth to eat, but makes no mention of the animals. This passage is the first time eating of animals in mentioned as "ok"..."Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything". After which Noah is told to not eat anything that still has its "lifeblood" in it. From what I can find, this basically is God's way of teaching them to prepare and cook meat before they eat it to avoid illness (something that had to be taught since they had never eaten meat before).
When God creates the covenant between Himself and man to never again flood the earth, he puts a rainbow in place as a reminder of this covenant. I like that when God is explaining this to Noah, He says that He will put out the rainbow whenever it rains as a reminder to Himself as well as Noah. Now, I think we all know that God doesn't need a reminder, but I think its cool that He put it in such terms so that our human brains feel a little bit better about it all.
The last mention of Noah is about him planting a vineyard, getting drunk on wine and passing out naked. His oldest finds him and leaves him naked while telling his two brothers all about it. They proceed to cover him and receive a blessing while the other son receives curses. An interesting part of the Noah saga, but still learning why its relevant...
The last look of these passages is the Tower of Babel in which God creates all the languages of the earth. I'm wondering why God didn't create everyone speaking different languages to begin with. He knew they would build a city and tower, and then later inflicted them with different types of speech. Jut another time where God knew what was going to happen and let us go our own way for a time until he corrected it...
Friday, March 5, 2010
After moving to Enoch, Cain takes a wife and starts a family. What gets me is--if Adam and Eve only had Cain and Abel, where in the world did this wife come from? So far, there is no mention of anyone else on earth...kind of strange. They later had another son -Seth- and other children followed, but prior to Seth, no other children are mentioned.
Noah and the flood have always brought up questions for me. God knows everything that will happen, so He knew that when he made mankind, they would turn evil and corrupt the perfect world He created. Yet He did it anyway. Then He brought the flood to wipe out the evil and corrupt to start anew. It begs me to trust in God's infinite wisdom that He knew just what He was doing. It may seem a little backwards and weird to us, but He knew that it was the right way to do things. I've seen this in my own life and ask "why did you let me go down that road when you knew I was just going to burn myself?". Sometimes we have to walk through the fire to claim redemption.
Another question (pretty silly but...) how did God destroy the fish and creatures of the sea with a flood? If anything, they would just have more space to enjoy themselves...digest that for a minute.
I can't imagine the amount of trust and perseverance Noah and his family had. They knew the tragedy that was about to befall the earth and had to push through it knowing that afterward they would be the only ones left alive on the ENTIRE EARTH. God has given me much smaller tasks than that only to have me second-guess and doubt his wisdom. Today, I pray for Noah-like faith.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
But as I read through the creation account, I am struck with a question I've never asked before. At the end of each creation day, it says "there was evening and there was morning" which marked a "day". But half of these "days" occurred before God put the sun and moon in the sky as markers for us to keep track of day and night. I just think it is very interesting that it is described as evening and morning before there was even a sun and moon...very interesting.
In Chapter 2, you learn a little more about the detail that went into creating Adam and Eve. I wonder why God made Adam and then waited a little while before creating Eve. He says no suitable helper could be found, but if he already knew there wasn't going to be a helper, why not just make her at the same time?
I cannot even imagine how scared they were after being approached by God after eating of the fruit. I imagine these two little mice being blasted away by a lion's breathy roar.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
I chose 2cor416.blogspot.org (2 Corinthians 4:16) as my page link because I find the verse profoundly beautiful: "Therefore we do not lost heart, but though the outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day." This is what I hope to accomplish through this journey; that I will decay and shed away the parts of me that are not glorifying to God or edifying to others and renew my spirit in the Lord.