The Old Testament (Chronological, 52 week)

A Daily Bible Study in 7-Day Sections with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and Daily Application

          This is a chronological 52 week study of the Old Testament. The text is grouped into seven daily sections, making it useful for a week-long study beginning on Sunday and continuing through the week.

          A similar 52 week study is available for the New Testament starting with the Gospels in Chronological form, and finishing with the rest of the New Testament Canonically.

Biblical Topics: 

1. Genesis 1-3 (Creation and Fall)

A Chronological Daily Bible Study of the Old Testament
7-Day Sections with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and a Practical Daily Application

Week 1

Sunday (Genesis 1:1-2)

The Creation of the World

1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

1:2 Now the earth was without shape and empty,

and darkness was over the surface of the watery deep,

but the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the water.

1:3 God said, “Let there be light.” And there was light!

1:4 God saw that the light was good, so God separated the light from the darkness.

1:5 God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.”

There was evening, and there was morning, marking the first day.

Prayer

Lord, You created, You defined, You imparted value “it was good”, and You created time for Your creation where only timelessness had existed. May I stand in awe of You!

Scripture In Perspective

Moses was the chosen author of God. If one does not take the text to describe any part of pre-Genesis history and one takes the Creation narrative to refer in every detail to literal 24 hour days then it covers approximately 2400 years.

It has been estimated that Moses recorded the essence of the book of Genesis sometime after the time of the exodus out of Egypt in 15th Century BC. While he may have had access to oral history and artifacts, perhaps even some Egyptian documents, it was God who would have inspired and informed his writing. (This does not address when he recorded the Book of Exodus.)

Chapter One introduces the creative expression of God. He sovereignly speaks a linear-time-contained physical reality into existence and summarizes the first six days of His Creation.

There is a good deal of debate in theological circles as to the precise meaning of the words, “In the beginning,” the resolution of which has some significant impact. If one takes them as introduction to a mere allegory or parable they have an impact upon ones understanding of the entire Bible. If one takes the words to refer to the beginning of everything created external to Heaven, and as a literal record, they have a substantially different impact on what follows. This commentary leans toward the latter rather than the former understanding, though with a caveat or two.

“God created” tells us that He did so without help and ex nihilo, a Latin phrase meaning “out of nothing” or without any preexisting resource (that is, no source other than Himself).

“The heavens and the earth” may be taken to refer broadly to everything external to the Kingdom of Heaven or to very narrowly to refer only to the sky and solid ground referenced in verses 6-9. This commentary leans toward the former over the latter understanding.

The phrase, “without shape and empty, and darkness was over the surface,” leads the reader to understand that the Lord God had not yet given definition and purpose to “the heavens and the earth” which He had just created.

We are told that “the Spirit of God was moving,” which both informs us of the presence of a specific member of the Trinity (the Holy Spirit) and alerts us that action is about to take place to transform the shapeless, empty, dark earth.

The third verse describes God’s method in creating and transforming by mere spoken word: He said, “Let there be light. And there was light!” The sovereign power of God to create, transform, give meaning and purpose to, and cause order are all clearly observable in this brief segment of Biblical text.

The powerful phrase, “God saw that the light was good,” shows the Lord assessing what He had created, deeming it worthy of Himself, and establishing the light as “good” in contrast to the prior state of darkness or lack of definition.

Interact with the text

Consider

Apart from sometimes-esoteric debates about ‘new earth’ versus ‘old earth,’ or 6 thousand years since Creation versus 6 billion years, there may be no question in the mind of a Biblical-Christian as to Who did the creating. The Lord God leaves no room for doubt in His Word.

Discuss

How does the belief that the Lord God literally created everything as described in Genesis impact your view of science?

Reflect

When this fallen world, of which Satan is the temporary Prince, seeks to raise doubt in us about our faith, we need only return to the book of Genesis to find restoration in the words, “In the beginning God.” It is an awesome thing to imagine the majesty and power of the One Who created.

Share

When have you contemplated what it means for the Lord to live outside of the constraints of linear time as we know it?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit reveal to you a specific place in your life where you are stuck; stuck because you are trying to deal with a challenge in your own strength and wisdom and keep failing, or stuck because you have asked the Lord God for intervention while at the same time doubting that He has the power to meet and overcome that which challenges you.

Act

Today I will confess my lack of faith, remembering that it was He Who created everything from nothing, and repent (turn away) from my doubt. I will request and receive His forgiveness and allow Him to be my strength as He is Lord of my life.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Monday (Genesis 1:6-25)

1:6 God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters

and let it separate water from water.

1:7 So God made the expanse

and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it.

It was so.

1:8 God called the expanse “sky.”

There was evening, and there was morning, a second day.

1:9 God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place and let dry ground appear.” It was so.

1:10 God called the dry ground “land” and the gathered waters he called “seas.”

God saw that it was good.

1:11 God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: plants yielding seeds according to their kinds, and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds.”

It was so.

1:12 The land produced vegetation – plants yielding seeds according to their kinds, and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds.

God saw that it was good.

1:13 There was evening, and there was morning, a third day.

1:14 God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night,

and let them be signs to indicate seasons and days and years,

1:15 and let them serve as lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.”

It was so.

1:16 God made two great lights – the greater light to rule over the day and the lesser light to rule over the night.

He made the stars also.

1:17 God placed the lights in the expanse of the sky to shine on the earth,

1:18 to preside over the day and the night,

and to separate the light from the darkness.

God saw that it was good.

1:19 There was evening, and there was morning, a fourth day.

1:20 God said, “Let the water swarm with swarms of living creatures

and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.”

1:21 God created the great sea creatures and every living and moving thing with which the water swarmed, according to their kinds,

and every winged bird according to its kind.

God saw that it was good.

1:22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.”

1:23 There was evening, and there was morning, a fifth day.

1:24 God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds:

cattle, creeping things, and wild animals, each according to its kind.”

It was so.

1:25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds,

the cattle according to their kinds,

and all the creatures that creep along the ground according to their kinds.

God saw that it was good.

Prayer

Lord, You first created a physical reality, then You created time-itself, then You created an atmosphere – resulting in an ‘atmospheric shell’ around the earth which then resulted in an expanse called “sky” with the water-covered earth at the center. May I respect Your power as I marvel at Your engineering. You designed Your Creation with each species unique, and that was Your perfect plan. May I be mindful that in Your economy of things everything has a unique purpose, even in a fallen-away broken condition, and that brings harmony. You created day and night as we know it, and each has its purpose. May I listen closely to Your Holy Spirit so as to discover my purpose in Your great plan. You decided that the air and sea should have life, then You created it. May I never doubt that You are the sovereign One and that everything You have prophesied will happen. Your power and vision are beyond anything known to mere man, You not only designed an entire planet and populated it with life – You did so in a way that was perfectly harmonious. May I find joy in the knowledge that our Lord Jesus is preparing a place for us that is as You originally intended.

Scripture In Perspective

The Lord God decided how He would proceed with His creation, then made it so “So God made the expanse”.

The Lord God altered the climate system by separating, with an “expanse” translated “sky,” the moisture in the outer atmosphere above the earth from the water on the earth’s surface.

With a word God created the climate system: The cycle of moisture from the surface of the earth moves in to the upper atmosphere, around the earth, and is then deposited elsewhere – keeping the balance of humidity without occurrence of flooding or drought (prior to the ‘Fall’).

After creating an atmospheric shell so that the surface (covered by water) was surrounded by sky and contained by that shell the Lord God then separated bodies of land and sea.

Each part, atmospheric shell, sky, water, and land served a different function, just as parts of the human body do, and each contributed to the whole ecosystem in a unique but critical way.

The Lord God then called the plants and trees into being, each also with a unique purpose, and each reproducing only its own kind.

There was evening, and there was morning, a third day (vs 13).

As Moses recorded the story of Creation he used descriptive images and phrases from a primitive era, it is important as we read to not misunderstand his limited experience-based vocabulary as mere allegory, but rather allow the Holy Spirit to enhance our understanding.

The Lord God created the sun “... the greater light”, moon “... the lesser light”, and stars. The interaction of these bodies resulted in “... seasons and days and years.” As humankind has studied the relationship between the sun, moon, stars, and other planets their location has been found to be associated with day, night, season, and years and they have also been valuable in land-based geo-location and water-bound navigation.

Until this moment in Creation, the earth was held together by the Lord-alone. He set in place the rest of the cosmos in order to make it a self-sustaining yet highly interdependent system, though at all times it exists only as He empowers and permits. In its fallen-away broken state all of Creation would collapse without His constant intervention. [Colossians 1:17]

There was evening, and there was morning, a fourth day (vs 19).

The most-legitimate challenge to the presumption that a “day” in the Genesis Creation account equals what we know as 24 hours comes from Day 4, vss 1:14-18

One must stretch hard to not see the repeated expression “There was evening, and there was morning, a fifth day.” as more than a rhetorical flourish (common throughout the Word of God) than as a phrase intended to require a literal 24 hours.

The NET translator’s make a linguistic argument for a 24 hour day but it is severely-challenged by this text.

However, the text of the “fourth day” does not require the prior days to be anything other than what humankind came to know as twenty-four hour days, for that matter they could have been twenty-four nanoseconds - God is never restrained by His creation; why would He take twenty-four of ‘our’ hours to form something He easily could create with a “word” or a “thought”?

These can be challenging texts - one must approach them with awe for God and skepticism toward any effort to undermine the integrity of the whole Word

The Lord God looked upon His Creation, water separated from sky and space, water and land separated, then plants and trees created upon the land; all of it deemed good – perfect in harmony.

He then decided that the sky and sea should also have living things, so the Lord created sea creatures and birds.

The Lord God did as He had with the plants and trees and equipped the creatures of the sky and sea to reproduce, multiplying from the few to the many, “each according to their kind”.

There was evening, and there was morning, a fifth day. (vs 23).

The Lord God followed His decision to populate the sky and water with life-forms specific to those environments with a decision to populate the land with creatures as well.

The text describes three rough categories; crawling creatures (e.g. insects and lizards), large animals – with an implication of suitability to be domesticated (e.g. buffalo, camels, cattle, goats, sheep), and a variety of other wild animals.

As before the Lord spoke them into being then, as He did the fish and fowl, empowered them to reproduce “according to their kind” without the need of His direct Creative action.

Created first on the sixth day are “living creatures according to their kinds” (vs 24).

Interact with the text

Consider

At Creation everything worked in perfect symmetry. The plants and trees were given the gift of life then set free to multiply remaining true to their unique created form. Land and sea are both source for the critical elements of water and dry surface needed for growth; each were created in perfect balance and order. What has now become imperfect, a ‘machine’ barely held together with loose and broken parts, surrounded by debris flying through space, with dark comets all-but-invisible to detection threatening to slam into planet earth and wreak terrible havoc; this was once a beautiful and perfectly balanced galactic system of God’s design. The land was self-sustaining without creatures in the air and water, it was only the creative Spirit of the Lord God Who envisioned, then perfectly-created them. Despite many unsupportable details imposed upon the text by mere men (some fanciful, some venal, and some carelessly-conjectured by the rare few actually seeking truth) the Bible is essentially silent as to details of the creatures the Lord God created and set loose upon the earth. We see only the distortions of His perfect Creation long after the Fall. We must remember that Eden was sealed – so nothing of perfection is visible to us.

Discuss

How might you help someone to recognize the literal physical massiveness of each step in Creation? How might your fellowship teach an appreciation for the difference between the original flawless Creation and the fallen-away remnant in which we live? How might you help believers to understand the confused-thinking of those who invent notions about the animals in pre-Fall Eden, and/or those who deny Eden entirely, to arrive at their scientifically-challenged belief in a Godless and essentially-random evolution-by-accident? (When challenged with mathematical, physical, and observational realities, those who challenge creationism retreat to magical thinking (aliens from space deposited life on earth) while ignoring the obvious rhetorical ‘elephant in the room’ (aliens would still require an ‘ex nihilo’ origin sometime in the past).

Reflect

Summer and winter, spring and fall, rain and snow, sunshine and darkness; each now far less perfect than the original pre-Fall creation, yet each is critical to the balance of the Created system; a miraculous work of God. Prior to day four of Creation, God had held everything in place by mere thought; then He added a multitude of interdependent solar systems, each with gravity, all in perfect harmony, and all contributing to the balanced whole. Diversity, independence, peaceful coexistence; this was the design - and then the Fall. The land animals were different in kind and purpose from the plants and trees, birds and sea creatures that came before them, yet were similar in that they were equipped and released to live and multiply. All of Creation to this point was either non-sentient (unable to experience pain or pleasure), or sentient (able to experience pain or pleasure) but all were non-reflective (non-sapient).

Share

When have you paused to consider the perfect balance of God's original climatology and praise Him? When have you experienced the inspiring teaching of someone contrasting perfection with imperfect and the promise that one day we will know the perfection for which we were created? When have you observed a creative person at work and how they envision something in their mind and then create it with their body? When have you paused to ponder what must have been the magnificence of God’s creation and then mourned the mess that we’ve (through the Fall) made of it?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to look past the broken and imperfect world around you and instead dwell upon God’s amazing Creation and to invest the time to pause and to observe a land animal, either directly or via a live Internet cam, and as you do so to celebrate the beauty and incredible detail of the creature and the way that it interacts with its environment. Also, observe the obvious differences between that creature and the higher form of a human.

Act

Today I will celebrate the beauty and incredible detail of the creature(s) I have observed and the way it/they interact(s) with its environment. I will then use an opportunity He provides to share with another, in person or electronically, the amazing evidences of the Lord God’s creative touch which I observed in His created-creature (despite the impact of our Fallen world). I will give God all of the glory.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Tuesday (Genesis 1:26-2:4)

1:26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness,

so they may rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move on the earth.”

1:27 God created humankind in his own image,

in the image of God he created them,

male and female he created them.

1:28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply! Fill the earth and subdue it!

Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every creature that moves on the ground.”

1:29 Then God said, “I now give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the entire earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.

1:30 And to all the animals of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to all the creatures that move on the ground – everything that has the breath of life in it – I give every green plant for food.”

It was so.

1:31 God saw all that he had made – and it was very good!

There was evening, and there was morning, the sixth day.

2:1 The heavens and the earth were completed with everything that was in them. 2:2 By the seventh day God finished the work that he had been doing, and he ceased on the seventh day all the work that he had been doing. 2:3 God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because on it he ceased all the work that he had been doing in creation.

2:4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created – when the Lord God made the earth and heavens.

Prayer

Lord, You made us in Your partial image, and You gave us stewardship of Your Creation. While we made a mess of things may I remember that Your work was flawless and Your unique and eternal flawlessness is to be praised. You completed every detail of Your perfectly-planned Creation in six days and nothing new was added after the sixth-day, so the seventh-day was unique – therefore holy – as Your Creation was complete. May I honor Your perfect work of Creation in praise and worship at least once a week and every week. Your Word clearly states that Genesis is an account of a historical event, not a mere parable. May I rely upon Your Word, pass the test and not be tempted to please those who would demean Your Word, and rather take You at Your Word.

Scripture In Perspective

The text uses the plural term “us” when the Lord God refers to Himself, it is the first of many occasions from Genesis through Revelation where the plurality of the “Godhead” or “Trinity” is expressly or indirectly testified.

The NET translator’s notes share several of the perspectives upon the plural reference to the Lord God but all but a Trinitarian view, consistent with the rest of the text – as is the case throughout the Bible - every major matter is affirmed elsewhere, thus this study will not quibble with the natural meaning of the plural.

The Lord God created humankind, unique and separate from all of the other creatures, in His own image (“... after our likeness” means a partial reflection of features of the Lord God).

Humankind is both a sentient (perceiving the environment via seven physical senses) and a sapient (capable of processing sentient data in an intentionally-rational manner) Creation.

Humankind was plural in form, male and female, linked spiritually to the Lord God in a type of Trinitarian essence. (Humankind without the Lord God is temporally incomplete and eternally dead.)

Humankind is capable of sensing pain and pleasure as well as engaging in intentionally reflective, thoughtful, and volitional relationships.

Humankind is more than merely instinctive as is the case with all other living things.

Humankind alone was given the capacity for relationship in the spiritual realm.

Humankind alone was purposed to receive the delegated authority and responsibility to rule over the rest of Creation.

Humankind was given the fruit of the seed-bearing plants and seek-bearing fruit of the trees as food. (Note that there is an implicit absence of permission to eat non seed-bearing fruit, apparent of only a single tree in the Garden, and also note that a seed-bearing fruit is incapable of reproduction (without artificial human intervention e.g. via budding or grafting – it is an inherently single-generation tree.)

"God saw all that he had made – and it was very good! There was evening, and there was morning, the sixth day" (vs 31).

Chapter two of Genesis revisits the Creation narrative presented in chapter one, adding detail to descriptions of the relationship between Adam and Eve, their relationship with the Lord God, and their interaction with the rest of God’s Creation.

The Lord God had completed all of His creative work prior to the beginning of the seventh day and ceased His work. Nothing that occurred after the end of the sixth day involved a new creative work.

The Lord God then did an amazing thing: He set aside the seventh day and declared it a holy day, a ‘holyday’ holiday of sorts, during which He wanted His Creation to remember His work of the first six days in an exceptional way, by ceasing from all work (labor) as He Himself had modeled. It is very important that we understand why God set aside the seventh day as a holy day.

The Lord’s perfectly-planned Creation was unique, in timeless eternity and in the just-created linear time-bound physical universe He had just spoken into being – that event was therefore holy and worthy of pause to praise.

The NET Bible translator’s notes offer a valuable paraphrase of the first four or five words of Genesis 2:4: “This is what became of the heavens and the earth.”

When one reads the NET translator’s paraphrase the text is revealed as declaring the literal nature of the Creation record while it also introduces additional detail – to be followed by the sad story of rebellion and Fall.

Interact With The Text

Consider

This is still pre-Fall, so man is innocent and lives in perfect harmony with the Lord God and everything in His Creation. The holy day, established pre-Fall by God, set aside in celebration of His perfect Creation. What the Lord God did in His act of Creation was real, He spoke and it was.

Discuss

How might you lead others to a greater appreciation of the Lord God through a comparison of attributes in real world application?

(e.g. Humankind may maintain few truly intimate relationships and typical is limited to about 12 in a meaningful group interaction, whereas the Lord God may have an intimate relationship with 6 billion humans and communicate with each individually as well.)

Reflect

Mankind was male and female living in harmony; they were different yet of a common essence, possessed of an essential unity, much like the holy Trinity of God. The creation of every new human life is a partnership between man and God; while God delegated the capacity to reproduce, it is He-alone Who gives the spiritual life which separates man from beast.

On the Sunday ‘holyday’ for Christians we recognize our new covenant with God, and we celebrate the new creation that He has provided for us, through the life and death of Jesus the Christ.

It is a remarkable reality that, when the Lord God created the heavens and the earth, 1) He was self-sufficient, 2) He needed nothing external to Himself, and, as an act of love, 3) He chose to create so that He might share Himself with man.

Share

When you have been in a fellowship where attention was brought to the Lord’s creative work and there was celebration of His perfection then – and of that same perfection awaiting us in heaven?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you something new about His Creative genius through our scientific observations about the human body, something that will underscore my understanding that His Creation that is too-profound to have happened accidentally – even over billions of years, to lead you to take the time to celebrate on this Sunday by ceasing from the busyness of life “work” to reflect upon the beauty of the Lord God’s original perfect Creation, and to lead you to a more profound awareness that the Lord God created humankind with the free will to either love or reject Him.

Act

Today I will stand in front of a mirror and be amazed that, considering the ravages of the Fall, the Lord God’s creative hand remains so visible in my complex bio-mechanical machine (my physical self) and in the indwelling Holy Spirit (the perfect Counselor to my spiritual self). I will then share what I have learned with someone and encourage them to repeat my discovery experience. I will celebrate life. I will thank the Lord God for His gift of life to me and especially for my new life in Christ. I will encourage and pray for the one(s) whom He has identified. I will pause and reflect and celebrate and I will share with a fellow believer and, as the Holy Spirit provides, with one who is considering-Christ the truth of the new creation that the Lord has promised to those who place their faith fully in His Son Jesus.

Be Specific _________________________________________________

Wednesday (Genesis 2:5-17)

2:5 Now no shrub of the field had yet grown on the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground. 2:6 Springs would well up from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground. 2:7 The Lord God formed the man from the soil of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

2:8 The Lord God planted an orchard in the east, in Eden; and there he placed the man he had formed.

2:9 The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow from the soil, every tree that was pleasing to look at and good for food. (Now the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil were in the middle of the orchard.)

2:10 Now a river flows from Eden to water the orchard, and from there it divides into four headstreams. 2:11 The name of the first is Pishon; it runs through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. 2:12 (The gold of that land is pure; pearls and lapis lazuli are also there). 2:13 The name of the second river is Gihon; it runs through the entire land of Cush. 2:14 The name of the third river is Tigris; it runs along the east side of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates.

2:15 The Lord God took the man and placed him in the orchard in Eden to care for it and to maintain it.

2:16 Then the Lord God commanded the man, “You may freely eat fruit from every tree of the orchard, 2:17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will surely die.”

Prayer

Lord, as I once-again read the flow of Your Creation, and the purpose for which You created everything, I am in awe. May I never forget that You breathed life into the first human, as You do with each and every human, and that we rely upon You for life itself.

Scripture In Perspective

Genesis Chapter 2 is a fleshing-out of detail the story of what the Lord God Created, followed in Chapter 3 by what man did with His incredible gift of Creation and divine relationship.

God informs the reader that, whereas He had caused life to exist in the form of plants and creatures of the air, land, and sea, there were not yet cultivated plants for food —cultivation requires a cultivator and He had not yet created man. This observation is included to remind the reader that God’s intent was to delegate management of a limited portion of His Creation to man.

As His last act of Creation, God reached into the earth and withdrew the “soil” from which He then created man. This illustrates everything in Creation being linked, which explains the commonalities of DNA in all life forms today — bananas, fish, monkeys, and humans.

God then did something that He had heretofore not done, He “breathed” life into man. Previously He had merely spoken His Creation into existence and it had life, but breathing life in to man gifted him with the capacity for something very unique. [The NET translator notes list the characteristics which God breathed in to man as “spiritual understanding” (Job 32:8) and “a functioning conscience” (Proverbs 20:27). Some would label this as the “soul.”]

As the NET translator’s notes observe the reference to “East” would have been in relationship to the land of Israel as that is the location of the rivers it also referenced.

The Lord God selected from his collection of trees, which He had previously created, some suitable for an orchard and then set them in Eden, where He also placed man.

All of these selected and beautiful trees bore deliciously edible fruit, but even more unique were two, “the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” We remember that God is God and He as Creator can do anything He either desires or imagines. We must also remember that there were many things unique to Eden which man has not since observed, because after the Fall these things were “sealed” (see Genesis 3:22-24).

Verses 10-14 serve two obvious purposes: they establish the richness of God’s provision in Eden and they establish the geographical reality of the story versus an imaginary one. It is theoretically possible to read the word “now” as indicating that Moses was describing the location of Eden in his time rather than in the time of the Eden narrative, but that is a long-stretch — there simply is no apparent added value to the narrative to suddenly make reference to another time and place.

The Lord God placed humankind in the Garden of Eden to fulfill their purpose, caring for it, and He then instructed them as to His boundaries for them: “You may freely eat fruit from every tree of the orchard, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will surely die.”

There are several essentials worthy of note in this segment:

The reference to “caring for” or “maintaining” should not be understood to imply that there were any imperfections in the Garden and might be read as “observing closely” or something similar.

Humankind was offered but not guaranteed eternal life, because they were told by the Lord God that they could freely eat from every tree, including “the tree of life”, and there was nothing created pre-Fall that would have caused them to die (other than eating of the fruit of the forbidden “tree of knowledge”) – but until they reached and ate of the “tree of life” they were vulnerable.

Humankind was capable of dying instantly, both physically and in their spiritual relationship with the Lord God, but only as if He determined that such an intervention was necessary. Eventually, after rebelling against God, lost access to “the tree of life” and death became a normative expectation.

Humankind was given free will, the capacity and the freedom to choose among options, in the most important decisions of their lives.

Humankind was given everything needed, the capacity to both relate spiritually with and to be empowered by the Lord God with authority, knowledge, and strength — thus it was reasonable that they were expected to make wise choices.

Interact With The Text

Consider

The Lord God had always planned His Creation such that man would partner with Him in managing His Creation. Man was called into existence to care for and to maintain the perfect order of His Creation, as well as to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:28), to better accomplish His purpose. The Lord God reminds us in this text that, in the Garden, He had provided for Adam and Eve everything they would ever need, literally everything.

Discuss

What may the magnitude of the caring and order necessary to maintain the health of Creation assigned to them to cultivate - such need requiring that human reproduction would multiply those Whom He would also call to that task? The Lord God calls all Christians to a very similar partnership: we are to care for one another, keep things in order, and partner in spiritually-multiplying the family of God. How would you help people to understand the impact of “free will” - noting that from the beginning the Lord God did not guarantee humankind unlimited certainty of eternal life, regardless of their choices?

Reflect

The way that the Lord God chose to breathe both spiritual and physical life into humankind is remarkable. Try to imagine the importance of a genuine freely-chosen relationship to the Lord God - He gave Adam and Eve everything they needed, all in the context of a perfect creation, yet He still gave them the capacity to choose to be righteous or to be rebellious. (Note that He stated “may”, “may not”, and then consequences – so the concept – if not realization - of death pre-existed the Fall.)

Share

When have you experienced that love offered is not always love accepted and love shared is not always love nurtured and sustained? (The Lord God risked rejection and rebellion when He created lesser beings with the free will to reject or rebel against Him rather than to love Him.) When have you been in a situation where all of your important needs were met yet you still made choices which disrespected your providers and placed their provision for you at risk?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Spirit to reveal to you a better understanding of what the Lord God intended when He gave you the gifts of spiritual understanding and of a functioning conscience and one or more ways that He has made special provision for specific needs and where you have responded with ungrateful neglect and/or rebellion.

Act

Today I will pray, reflect, and study to apprehend what the Holy Spirit has unveiled to me and I will share what I have learned with a fellow Believer for shared edification and praise. I will confess and repent of my carelessness, disrespect, and rebellion. I will repent (turn away from), request forgiveness for, and accept His forgiveness for my sin. I will then share that experience with a fellow Believer, asking for their prayers in-agreement that I will resist a return to the sin, and I will also pray for them as they follow my example.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Thursday (Genesis 2:18-25)

2:19 The Lord God formed out of the ground every living animal of the field and every bird of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them, and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.

2:20 So the man named all the animals, the birds of the air, and the living creatures of the field.

2:18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion for him who corresponds to him.”

20b … but for Adam no companion who corresponded to him was found. 2:21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep, and while he was asleep, he took part of the man’s side and closed up the place with flesh.

2:22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the part he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 2:23 Then the man said,

“This one at last is bone of my bones

and flesh of my flesh;

this one will be called ‘woman,’

for she was taken out of man.”

2:24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and unites with his wife, and they become a new family.

2:25 The man and his wife were both naked, but they were not ashamed.

Prayer

Lord, You Created the creatures then allowed them to be named by Your “in Our likeness” creation (Adam), transferring authority along with responsibility. May I recognize that any authority and responsibility which I have in this world, broken and distorted as it is, is given for the purpose of Your priorities. You formed the plants and trees, birds and beasts - even humankind - from the soil that You had created. You then caused them to reproduce of their own kind. Since the first human was not designed to reproduce You then drew Eve out of Adam just as You had drawn Adam from the soil. You breathed Into humankind the unique life-force that made them in-Your-likeness.

Scripture In Perspective

The Lord God created the creatures from the soil He had already made, both animal and humankind, yet one recalls that He only “breathed life” into the human.

He then brought each creature to man so that man, not God, could name them.

It is understood in the ancient tradition that ‘naming’ was an expression of mastery or ownership.

In the same way, Jesus would later give new names to His apostles (because God rightly claims ownership of man).

Verse 18 is more naturally-understood together with verses 2:20b-24 than when presented prior to verse 19, that is why it was presented slightly out-of-sequence.

God said He would create for Adam an indispensable helper, a “companion,” one without whom he could not complete his tasks. This companion would not be a subordinate nor one to whom tasks would be delegated, rather one who would perform the tasks which the man could not.

In keeping with His former pattern and maintaining a continuity in Creation, God (Who had created Adam from the previously-created soil) took flesh and bone from Adam’s side to create his companion and partner in Eden. Adam did not continue in the process of naming what he “owns” when he said, “this one will be called woman,” he was merely describing her intimate similarity due to the flesh and bone link caused by her being “taken out of man.” Note that only after the Fall, as evidence of an element of the curse (“naming” implies ownership or superiority), did the categorical descriptive word “woman” become the name “Eve” (see Gen. 3:20).

“The man and his wife were both naked, but they were not ashamed,” speaks of their integrity-via-innocence; pre-Fall they had no cause to be ashamed of anything.

They were not ashamed because they were truly innocent, unaware of anything imperfect or of any different state of being. They were free of the knowledge of evil, which would have been the source of their embarrassment when standing naked before one another, or their Lord God.

Adam and Eve had been presented with the “test of the tree” but they had not yet been challenged to allow it to become a temptation – and absent that temptation they had not yet fallen into sin.

Interact With The Text

Consider

The Lord God created, and thus had legitimate dominion over, all of the creatures; yet He chose to delegate that to humankind. The text teaches that it was not the original intent of the Lord God that man and woman be unequal and competitive in relationship; such only became the nature of things after the Fall. When we think of Adam and Eve, “humankind” prior to the Fall, we cannot fully comprehend who they were because - other than Jesus - no other human has ever been as innocent.

Discuss

Do we see that we belong to Him and, as such, He has the right to choose our paths; we have the obligation of loyal subjects to seek His will when making choices?

How might you illustrate an aspect of Heaven, using the pre-Fall description of man and woman - created uniquely, with equal inherent value, and with equal standing - without any hint of conflict or of competition? When we think of our place in Heaven, we may rightly look at pre-Fall Adam and Eve (and Jesus) as models of the innocence we too will possess – blessedly-absent the capacity to rebel. Is the true measure of a faith-saving relationship with Christ the absolute surrender of our free will to His Lordship?

Reflect

How well do we comprehend what it means for the Lord God to have “mastery” or “ownership” over every truly-saved Believer? It is the Lord God’s loving-desire that men and women serve Him together in perfect harmony. We have Jesus Christ to thank for providing our way home to an Edenic-Heaven.

Share

When have you experienced the naming a child or a pet? When have you observed children or adults functioning in synchronicity, helping and sharing with one another, all free of apparent competition and conflict? When have you been truly transparent before the Lord God, and/or before a fellow Believer, and the Holy Spirit gave you a special sense of purity and innocence in His forgiveness and grace?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to amplify your understanding of the importance of separating pre-Fall from post-Fall events and why you need to avoid extrapolating modern-day expectations without regard to the original context and to grant you a sense of innocence (through Christ) before the Lord.

Act

Today I will engage a fellow Christian in discussion about the way that God has named and claimed us, and together we will give Him praise and thanks. I will pause to discuss with a fellow Believer our innate longing for our pre-Fall intimate relationship with the Lord God, with His perfect Creation, and with one another. We will give thanks for the promise of Heaven and ask for comfort and patience as we live in this Fallen-away world. Today I will join with a fellow Believer in a prayerfully-reflective celebration of God’s promise of eternity in Heaven.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Friday (Genesis 3:1-13)

The Temptation and the Fall

3:1 Now the serpent was more shrewd than any of the wild animals that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Is it really true that God said, ‘You must not eat from any tree of the orchard’?”

3:2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit from the trees of the orchard;

3:3 but concerning the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the orchard God said, ‘You must not eat from it, and you must not touch it, or else you will die.’” 3:4 The serpent said to the woman, “Surely you will not die,

3:5 for God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will open and

you will be like divine beings who know good and evil.”

3:6 When the woman saw that the tree produced fruit that was good for food, was attractive to the eye,

and was desirable for making one wise,

she took some of its fruit and ate it.

She also gave some of it to her husband who was with her, and he ate it.

3:7 Then the eyes of both of them opened, and they knew they were naked;

so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

3:8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God moving about in the orchard at the breezy time of the day,

and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the orchard.

3:9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”

3:10 The man replied, “I heard you moving about in the orchard, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.”

3:11 And the Lord God said, “Who told you that you were naked?

Did you eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

3:12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave me,

she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it.”

3:13 So the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

And the woman replied, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.”

Prayer

Lord, as I read this terrible moment in history, second only to the crucifixion of Christ, I am convicted that I am just as ready to allow a test to become a temptation than were Adam and Eve. May I surrender more to the leadership of Your Holy Spirit so that my every choice is tested for Your will and not my own. We are all the same as Eve, looking for what appeals to our flesh rather than the best in us – that which the Holy Spirit empowers and nurtures. May my faith be in the perfection that I see in You, and may I desire that above all. I am shocked to read the dialogue between You and Adam and Eve, because I am certain that You’ve had that same dialogue with me. May I be convicted and reminded that I am responsible to You for every choice that I make.

Scripture In Perspective

Chapters One and Two presented the Creation narrative. Chapter Three described the horribly wrong choice of Adam and Eve and the devastating consequences which followed.

The serpent, like Balaam’s donkey (Numbers 22:22-35), was a sentient being (able to respond due to awareness and memory of patterns of pain and pleasure).

The serpent was, however, non-sapient (lacking the ability to either reflect or make decisions based on acquired wisdom and also lacking the unique human capacity to interact intentionally in the spiritual realm).

The serpent was a demon-possessed mouthpiece for a spiritual source — in this case Satan. (There is the case of the swine in Mathew 8:30-32 and Mark 5:11-13 wherein demons were sent into pigs by Jesus, but in that case they were merely neutral -non-communicating – physical ‘containers’ for those demons.)

Speculation that animals in pre–Fall Eden were capable of verbal communication with humans, and one another, is based on suspect extra-Biblical sources (not part of the “canon” of the Bible, which are Books believed to be approved by the Lord God for inclusion, such as Jubilee 3:28 and Josephus Antiquities 1.1.4 – 1.41) and are thus not to be given credibility in the absence of any supporting canonical Biblical text.

There is also no value-added, and considerable distraction spawned, by such speculation. The text following (see Gen. 3:14) parallels the serpent with the other “wild animals,” adding to the assurance that in its natural state the serpent was merely a mouthpiece and was not speaking independently.

The evil tempting spirit speaking through the serpent challenged the integrity of the relationship between Eve and the Lord God. This included a challenge to the very Lordship of God by deliberately using the name “God” not preceded by the title “Lord,”. Eve made a choice to do the same – converting the ‘test’ of her faithfulness into a ‘temptation’ to overtly rebel and sin.

When Satan, through the serpent, asked, “is it really true...?” he was attacking the integrity of the Lord God and His sovereign authority. This was a direct challenge to Eve to also wonder if the Lord God was truthful. This was an amazingly bold act of Satan, and frighteningly evil in intent.

In reply to the serpent’s challenge, Eve restated the Lord God’s warning about eating from “the tree that is in the middle of the orchard” (by implication, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil); however, she altered both Satan’s words and the actual command of the Lord God. Eve added the flourish “you must not touch it,” which neither the Lord God or Satan had said.

Satan then issued the full-out challenge to the Lord God’s integrity and authority, “Surely you will not die, for God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will open and you will be like divine beings who know good and evil.”

“Divine beings” refers to the Lord God, Satan, and the angels, both the faithful and the fallen.

The command from the Lord God “You must not eat from it”, qualified by “or you will surely die” was not lost on Adam and Eve. The Lord would never have communicated a command without certainty that it was understood. They would likely have understood “die” as associated with their relationship with Him – making sense as that became what they wanted to escape (in terms of accountability and Lordship) when they chose to fail the test, entertain temptation, then sin.

Humankind (Adam and Eve) were already capable of spiritual interaction, but had to-date no need to be cognizant of “evil”, other than to know that the fruit of one tree contained the power to draw them into that knowledge.

When Eve entertained Satan’s challenge to the integrity and Lordship of God, apparently without any effort to consult the Lord nor fear of negative consequences, she voluntarily crossed the threshold from ‘test’ to ‘temptation’ – because she turned her eyes-of-faith from Him to herself.

The key to understanding this text, especially as it applies to the rest of the Bible, is choice. Eve (then Adam) had a choice to make, that was the purpose of ‘the test of the tree’.

Eve (then Adam) did not have to believe the Serpent, they easily could have consulted the Lord God, and they easily could have corrected his error in deleting Lord from Lord God. They chose to not do so because they chose their flesh over their Father.

Eve failed the test when she conspired with the serpent to ignore the Lordship of God. She relied only on her fleshy senses, she observed that the fruit of the forbidden tree appealed to her eye and stomach, and she was tempted to believe that it could magically give her the God-making “wisdom” that the serpent promised. Eve acted upon that temptation and decided to reach out and eat of it.

Adam, whose whereabouts were previously unknown in the story, was described as “with her,” and when given the fruit he also choose to eat of it. The “with her” likely refers to his physical proximity, though it may also report that he was “with her” in her rebellion.

The text does not require “with her” to mean either that he was there all along or that he had been elsewhere and at this moment in the story was “with her” both physically and in rebellion.

It is uncertain if any of the alternative readings matter much to the story; though if one takes Adam to have been physically present throughout the test, temptation, and fall of Eve, one must ponder why he failed to intervene and why he was not also addressed in the story. In general, the best translation defaults to the most-simple solution, unless the text under consideration (or other Biblical texts) support a more complex result.

I Timothy 2:14 says “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman, because she was fully deceived, fell into transgression.

Once “fallen,” they were immediately aware of their newly imperfect state (and that their fellowship with a holy and pure Lord God has been instantly broken), and they rushed to cover themselves.

The Lord God moved about in the Garden in the late afternoon, “the breezy time of the day.” Wishful thinking and inadequate attention to detail in some translations have rendered the idea that God was coming for a daily friendly stroll together with Adam and Eve in the Garden — a right-rendering of the Biblical text does not support such a conjecture.

More probable is that, after their misdeeds together with the serpent, the Lord God arrived to challenge them and was intentionally thrashing about the Garden as if seeking His missing children – of course knowing precisely where they were. He was righteously angry.

The Lord God called to Adam, “Where are you?” not because He could not find Adam, but to challenge Adam to recognize where he had caused himself to be – which was apart from Him. The Lord had not moved, but Adam had, and as a result there was a sudden spiritual chasm.

Adam replied, “I heard you moving about,” so the sound created by God in the Garden was not sensed by Adam as friendly. And his “I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid” tells the reader that something had changed — Adam had been previously unclothed and not afraid to be seen as naked (transparent, vulnerable).

The Lord God challenged Adam to explain how he now knew that he was naked — previously unimportant, but now suddenly important — and challenged Adam with the only plausible explanation, his rebellion.

Adam’s effort to play innocent and to thrust the blame on Eve (if one accepts the reading that Adam was not present during the serpent’s initial temptation of Eve and her decision to sin) may lead one to argue that Adam was engaging in a form of idol worship ― “God gave me Eve , so I trusted her, and she said it was OK.” It is an effort to defraud the Lord, of course; however, at this point, Adam loses either way.

The Lord God then turned to Eve, which appears to grant partial credibility to Adam’s blame-shifting, and challenged her to defend her actions (adding credence to the view that Adam was not present during her testing, her choice to engage in temptation, followed by her decision to sin).

Eve completed the ‘passing of the buck’ by declaring “the serpent tricked me, and I ate,” in an attempt to absolve herself of responsibility for her choice. While rightly pointing out that she had been deceived, she did not trouble herself to explain why she had knowingly ignored a direct order from her Lord God.

Interact With The Text

Consider

We have the same choice(s) as Eve, every minute of every day. Believers must never allow an implied doubt to stand as to the character and integrity and promises of the Lord God. Satan tried the same attack on Jesus that he used on Eve, and he is still using the same old lie on people today. Do we understand that when we choose temptation rather than holiness, when confronted with a test, that we enter into a conspiracy with Satan to disrespect the Lord God? How we often have we blamed others for our own choices, perhaps we’ve even blamed the Lord God?

Discuss

How would you help people to understand that if we go where the Lord God says not to go, do what God says not to do, and dwell upon the things God tells us to avoid, then we also disrespect the Lordship of God and side with Satan? How would you explain the importance of understanding that our lusts and our physical senses are the playground of Satan, and therefore highly subject to our misunderstanding and misplaced priorities? How would you lead a small group through an evaluation of the many ways that they have tried to hide from accountability?

Reflect

Every choice carries consequences, some good, some bad. We rationalize that consequences will be absent or acceptable to us if we choose disobedience. If unsaved, we further guarantee Hell as our eternal destination — and if we are saved we build walls that block the blessings of the Lord God. It is bad enough to agree to convert a test in to a temptation, and then in to overt sin; however, to then multiply our sin by drawing others who trust us into the same sin is even worse. (See the curse of the Fall in the following sections.)

Share

When was there a time that you doubted the Lord God? What were the consequences? What is a circumstance in your life where you clearly knew that what you were doing was wrong yet you rationalized that it served a momentary desire? What were the consequences? What is a circumstance when something you did caused you to have a ‘guilty conscience’ such that when an authority figure approached you felt nervous or startled?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a lie in your life that causes you to rationalize

disobedience to God, and one place in your life where you have allowed the satisfaction of your physical senses to overwhelm your obligation to honor the Lord your God. Perhaps it is eating or drinking too much, going where I may view people in a way that is appealing to my fallen-flesh but offensive to God (e.g., driving by the beach to view partially-clothed people, surfing inappropriate sites on the Internet, watching television where people are demeaned, listening to music or watching movies that distort a holy view of man, abusing substances, avoiding activities that promote fitness of my body “the temple of the Holy Spirit,” or participating in thrill-seeking activities that “test the Lord my God”), and a place in your life where you find yourself deflecting blame to another or engaging in a pattern of avoiding accountability.

Act

Today I will make a change in my thinking, and in my actions, and rather than partner with the Enemy I will partner with the Holy Spirit as He makes this a real rather than merely an intellectual life-changing choice. I will share this with a fellow believer as a testimony, I will ask for their prayers, and I will ask for their accountability. I will move to diminish the thing that the Holy Spirit has revealed as offensive to the Lord and destructive to me. The goal is to eradicate them from my life; perhaps immediately, perhaps after some perseverance, but eventually permanently through the power of prayer and peer-accountability. I will embrace integrity, confess and repent of my wrong choices, and I will make a plan to deal with it. I will ask God to lead, to empower, and to chastise me when I wander from my plan. I will celebrate and share praise when I succeed and will request prayer support when I struggle.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Saturday (Genesis 3:14-24)

The Judgment Oracles of God at the Fall

3:14 The Lord God said to the serpent,

“Because you have done this,

cursed are you above all the wild beasts

and all the living creatures of the field!

On your belly you will crawl

and dust you will eat all the days of your life.

3:15 And I will put hostility between you and the woman

and between your offspring and her offspring;

her offspring will attack your head,

and you will attack her offspring’s heel.”

3:16 To the woman he said,

“I will greatly increase your labor pains;

with pain you will give birth to children.

You will want to control your husband,

but he will dominate you.”

3:17 But to Adam he said,

“Because you obeyed your wife

and ate from the tree about which I commanded you,

‘You must not eat from it,’

cursed is the ground thanks to you;

in painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.

3:18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,

but you will eat the grain of the field.

3:19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat food

until you return to the ground,

for out of it you were taken;

for you are dust, and to dust you will return.”

3:20 The man named his wife Eve,

because she was the mother of all the living.

3:21 The Lord God made garments from skin for Adam and his wife,

and clothed them.

3:22 And the Lord God said, “Now that the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil,

he must not be allowed to stretch out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”

3:23 So the Lord God expelled him from the orchard in Eden to cultivate the ground from which he had been taken.

3:24 When he drove the man out,

he placed on the eastern side of the orchard in Eden

angelic sentries who used the flame of a whirling sword to guard the way to the tree of life.

Prayer

Lord, the temporary alliance between the serpent and Eve is the same as he seeks with us, one where we displace You in favor of our flesh. May I remember when I am tested that the choices are always the same, I choose You or the Enemy – may I mature in my faith daily so that I increasingly choose You in all things. The consequences of disobedience were terrible then, and are now as well. May I be mindful that when I wander from Your Lordship I also wander from Your protection and wisdom. Even though You had to be profoundly-troubled and righteously-offended Your grace triumphed and Your loving-care was displayed. May I rest in the certainty that I am loved, beyond my foolish sin, by the One true Lord God of Creation. Humankind made a terribly-wrong choice and You graciously blocked the path (to the Tree of Eternal Life) to protect them from unrecoverable harm. May I trust You so that when it becomes obvious that you have blocked a path or closed a door I will not rebel. Purity, in Your eyes, means peace with You. May I seek after the purity that You desire for me so that I may be at peace with Your and find my peace in You.

Scripture In Perspective

According to the NET Greek/Hebrew dictionary the qualifying term “tricked” for “The serpent” indicates an authoritative, perhaps king-like, relationship to Eve in which she felt unequal. Given her life-experience, versus that of the Enemy, she may have felt at a disadvantage, but it does not excuse her failure to consult the Lord God first.

God immediately addressed the serpent ― asking no questions, hearing no lies, speaking only truth ― declaring that the serpent had indeed deceived Eve, that Eve had joined him in rebellion, and that she had then solicited Adam to join them in rebellion.

God declared the curse upon the serpent: “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all the wild beasts and all the living creatures of the field!” So all of the wild beasts and living creatures of the field were now cursed, but even more so the serpent, who was estranged and isolated from them and condemned “on your belly you will crawl” humiliated to wallow in the dust rather than merely walk upon it.

The animals lived in harmony with one another and man, but now cursed they (all of the animals, humankind, and the serpent alike ) would have to struggle, strive, suffer, and die. Adam’s mastery/ownership of the animals doomed them to his fate.

The alliance of the serpent with Eve was more than terminated, it became adversarial, her descendants versus his ― “her offspring will attack your head, and you will attack her offspring’s heel.” Both are potentially fatal attacks; the bite to the heel being toxic (sin), the blow to the head being destructive (righteous judgment).

Despite their devastating rebellion the Lord God still allowed Adam and Eve to experience the awe of “creation” through their bodies.

The Lord God addressed the consequences of the choices made by the woman, declaring that reproduction would become an uncomfortable process; knowing that her children and her children’s-children would come into a fallen world and that the Fall was largely her fault. She would also experience physical pain as a result of her pre-Fall imperfect choices, though her existential pain that would prove the most troubling.

As the first human agent in promoting sin, Eve enticed Adam to join her in rebellion; consequently, as part of the curse, she would continue in her efforts to control him, but the Lord God said that Adam would have the upper hand – a dominant role. The Lord defined the nature of the male-female relationship post-Fall as a constant ebb and flow of females using manipulation to gain control and males using power to dominate.

Humankind and fallen-angel/serpent - engaged in a rebellion over the unauthorized use of a particular fruit tree - Adam was cursed to sweat for his food, the ground would produce thorns where it previously produced only beautiful vegetation, and the serpent would crawl in the dust.

The Lord God addressed the hapless Adam, reminding him that because he had chosen Eve over His Lord, when he joined her in rebellion, he became the agent of the curse of the “ground.” [Note: Gen. 1:9-10 defines “ground” as everything not covered with water, but that – per the NET translator’s notes - is not the intent here. Instead, this curse of the “ground” means that every effort to reap the formerly easy bounty of food would henceforth require intense effort and sacrifice.] The Lord commanded that humankind would now suffer in the process of acquiring food to eat because it was in eating-rebelliously that humans caused the Fall.

The first man and woman pridefully accepted the temptation of Satan. They, like him, attempted to become peers with the Lord God in immortality, knowledge, and power, yet they were instead doomed to live frustrated, limited, and difficult lives.

The NET translator’s notes include the following powerful observation: “In general, the themes of the curse oracles are important in the NT teaching that Jesus became the cursed one hanging on the tree. In his suffering and death, all of the motifs are drawn together: the tree, the sweat, the thorns, and the dust of death (see Ps. 22:15). Jesus experienced it all, to have victory over it through the resurrection.”

Adam, post-Fall delegated by the Lord God to dominate the relationship, then named Eve.

Note: Previously we observed that Adam named the animals but not his God-given “helper”; rather, he gave the title “woman” to her, illustrating her status as his equal partner in caring for Creation. The Fall changed everything and the “woman” became “Eve.”

The name Eve was drawn from her role as the “life-giver,” the one who bears children, and the one from whom all future children would descend.

Despite His righteous anger the Lord God still provided for His children, giving them garments made of animal skins. By so doing God both recognized that the mere leafy coverings Adam and Eve had fashioned would not be adequate in the fallen world and that disharmony now reigned – man would draw his needs from the beasts - and the rest of Creation - at a cost to his fellow creatures in Creation.

The essence of the consequences of Adam and Eve’s failure of ‘the test of the tree’ was that humankind had ‘illegally’ acquired an unplanned and unhealthy (because they were not equipped to handle it) attribute of the Lord God - not originally given to them.

The knowledge of good and evil was a major new paradigm for which they were unprepared and which acquisition had required a major act of rebellion.

Humankind now had to be protected from the worst of the consequences - eating from the tree of life – for that would have condemned them to be forever and irredeemably trapped in an alliance with Satan and at-enmity with the Lord.

The Lord God removed humankind from Eden, before that could happen, as free will was still active after the Fall; therefore, a physical relocation was necessary.

So serious was the threat, so powerful the temptation (and perhaps now so undeserving of Eden was humankind), that the Lord God posted Heavenly sentries with whirling swords of flame to keep them and their descendants from ever returning to the Garden (and “the Tree of Eternal Life”) in their unredeemed condition.

Only Jesus the Christ could create the circumstances where humankind could regain access to the gift of eternal life – without the curse.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Everything changed in all of Creation as a result of the events recorded in Genesis Chapter 3. Not only were Adam and Eve and the serpent/Satan cursed, but all of Creation. Because the Lord God had already given Creation over to “man”, when man turned from the Lordship of God to the Lordship of Satan, so also went the way of Creation. We must not expect to be comfortable in this life; the Lord God said it would not be so. Modern research in DNA has suggested that all races of man may be traced back to a single female source, from the region known as northeast Africa — their regional locators match the geographical markers for Eden given in Genesis 2:10-14.

Discuss

Are the similarities of the Fall similar enough to the popular story of Robin Hood to be used as a lesson-illustration? (In the story when King Richard left for the Crusades his less-ethical brother John assumed power and was entrusted with the care of Nottingham and Sherwood Forest, and he turned a beautiful place to one of conflict and evil.) How might we best use every blessing of God to equip ourselves to resist the fleshy temptations to both contest with one another and to place fleshy things before the priorities of the Lord? How would you use these texts to help people to understand that the nature of this fallen world is one of conflict, difficulty, and hopelessness and that genuine hope is found only in the Lord? How would you help others to understand that when man ‘stole’ an attribute of the Lord God – one expressly forbidden to them - it was then that the trouble (estrangement and striving) began?

Reflect

The consequences of Satan dragging man into the spiritual warfare between himself and the Lord God, when he successfully recruited Adam and Even into a state of rebellion, have been terrible. Are we not combatants in that battle whether we want to be or not? (Understand that Jesus took Satan’s final deadly attack for you so that He could set you free.) Are we appropriately amazed to see the connections across the entirety of the Word of God, from Genesis through Revelation, and how the themes and truths of God reign supreme? The Lord God so loved Adam and Eve, and their descendants, that He provided for their physical needs and their pathway to salvation from the consequences of their rebellion. We sometimes rebel the same as Adam and Eve: 1) exercising pride that causes us to brush aside the counsel of the Holy Spirit, 2) functionally-worshiping ‘idols’ such as fame, money, pleasure, power, or 3) neglecting those things that the Lord God says must be the priorities of our lives as Believers.

Share

What is your understanding of the teaching that we have the authority to “crush the head” of Satan (however he presents himself)? How may we exercise caution that Satan is not successful in his attack upon our “heel,” our very vulnerable areas in day-to-day life choices? When have you hear a teaching that explained the fact that man is treated in a fundamentally different way than the rest of Creation — all Creation is subservient to man as he navigates his way through life and back towards a right relationship with the Lord God? What are some ways that you have found yourself, or those around you, striving for perfection to gain access to/recreate an “Eden” by pressing against “gates” that are guarded with flaming swords (knowing that the “new Eden” is accessible only via Jesus and only at the end of created-time?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you at least one circumstance in your life, past or present, which still impacts you – a circumstance over which I have little or no control — and to show me how I can give it to Him “at the foot of the Cross” and never allow Satan to use it to define me again, a place where the temptations of the flesh are repeatedly used by Satan to drag you down from the holy lifestyle-place that the Lord God has prepared for you — be it gluttony, lust, pride, self-loathing, toys, or anything else that gets in the way, something specific about you that will remind you of the wonderful creative hand of God, and/or a specific way that you attempt to return to Eden via an effort to artificially re-create a place of perfection and/or of extreme safety.

Act

Today I will stop and thank Jesus for standing in the gap for me. I will also acknowledge that there are some things confusing and distracting me – some, perhaps, that I have done (or that were done to me), some imperfection(s), or some difficult person — the key is my knowing (and understanding) that such things are proof that this is a fallen world. I will refuse to be abused by the Prince of Darkness and I will choose to stand with the Jesus, Prince of Light. I will confess and repent, request and accept the forgiveness of the Lord God, and then I will develop and implement an accountability plan to resist that temptation. I will ask a fellow believer to pray in-agreement and to be my accountability partner.

Be Specific _________________________________________________

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2012 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study –“Genesis 3. Prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in August of 2012. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

2. Genesis 4 - 6:8 (Early Humankind)

A Chronological Daily Bible Study of the Old Testament
7-Day Sections with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and a Practical Daily Application

Week 2

Sunday (Genesis 4:1-2)

The Story of Cain and Abel

4:1 Now the man had marital relations with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain.

Then she said, “I have created a man just as the Lord did!”

4:2 Then she gave birth to his brother Abel.

Abel took care of the flocks,

while Cain cultivated the ground.

Scripture In Perspective

It seems apparent that very little time passed between the creation of Eve and the expulsion of man from Eden as this appears to be the first couple's first effort at reproduction.

The Lord God ceased from Creation at the end of the 6th Day and then His design for humankind to be self-propagating was initiated.

Verse 4:1 begins with “Now”, announcing the conclusion of the events of Eden and the initiation of their time as exiles. Eve, as close to physically perfect as a person in the first day of the fallen world can be, immediately became pregnant.

The first born of Eve is named Cain, and Eve declares “I have created a man just as the LORD did!” Various understandings of this include Eve suggesting that she is now a peer in Creation with God, secondly that she was remarking that by the same means – out of a human came a new human just as the Lord intended – she now had birthed her first child independently as God had designed her to do and was amazed and delighted but not claiming a God-equivalence, and the third option               is that she was expressing a partnership with the Lord God where He Created a new life using her just as He had used Adam.

Eve then gave birth to Abel (presumably nine months or longer after the birth of Abel) whose name meant “breath, vapor, vanity” according to the NET Bible translator's notes. [Looking ahead to Ecclesiastes where the writer refers to the things of this world as temporary and transitory “vanity vanity”, “like a vapor”, and “like the wind” the name and brief life of Abel should come to mind.]

Abel was a shepherd while Cain worked the soil. Some writers have suggested that Abel's occupation was somehow elevated above Cain's but the prior text does not support that – everything was under the curse – not merely the ground.

The creation of every new life is a partnership between man and God, although the Lord delegated the capacity to reproduce, it is He who gives the spiritual life that separates man from beast.

Interact with the text

Consider

Despite their devastating rebellion the Lord God still allowed Adam and Eve to experience the awe of “creation” through their bodies.

Discuss

What do you believe that Eve meant?

Reflect

The creation of every new life is a partnership between man and God, while God delegated the capacity to reproduce it is He who gives the spiritual life that separates man from beast.

Share

When have you experienced, within the family of those who claim the name of Christ, a tendency to imagine that one role is more or less impacted by “the curse”?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place in your life where you have been uncertain as to your value versus that of another. Also, for someone(s) for whom He wants you to provide encouragement and prayer.

Act

Today I will celebrate life. I will thank the Lord God for His gift of life to me and especially for my new life in Christ. I will encourage and pray for the one(s) whom He has identified.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Monday (Genesis 4:3-7)

4:3 At the designated time Cain brought some of the fruit of the ground for an offering to the Lord.

4:4 But Abel brought some of the firstborn of his flock – even the fattest of them.

And the Lord was pleased with Abel and his offering,

4:5 but with Cain and his offering he was not pleased.

So Cain became very angry, and his expression was downcast.

4:6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why is your expression downcast?

4:7 Is it not true that if you do what is right, you will be fine?

But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door.

It desires to dominate you, but you must subdue it.”

Prayer

Lord, You are the Holy One, deserving of our very best. May I strive to present myself as “a living sacrifice”, doing all things with excellence, as You deserve my very best effort.

Scripture In Perspective

“At the designated time ...” tells the reader that the Lord God had informed Cain and Abel of His expectation that they present an offering to the Lord their God. They came to do so, each from the fruits of his labor, but with very different states of mind.

Cain did not appear to comprehend the great gift that he had in his relationship with the Lord God, while Abel did. Cain evidences a preoccupation with himself whereas Abel understood that God was his first priority.

The text does not help us to understand the divergence in spiritual maturity between the first-born and second-born of Adam and Eve, though we may speculate that they were still in shock following their expulsion from Heaven and some of the bitterness and rebellion spilled over into their raising of Cain whereas they were better parents to Abel.

So, Cain apparently threw a bunch of carelessly selected veggies into his wheelbarrow and reluctantly trudged down to the place of offering, expecting the Lord God's approval so he could get on with life. Abel carefully culled his flock for the first and the best, excited to present them to his Father in Heaven as evidence of his love and respect. The Lord saw their hearts long before He saw their offerings, Abel's offering brought joy to God's heart, Cain's indicated that he clearly did not get it and it was immediately obvious to Cain that God was not pleased.

Reflecting back to Genesis 1-3 the reader may recall that the Lord God Created in order to share His love with the willing. To accomplish that He had to allow for the rejection of the unwilling. In this first post-Fall opportunity Abel proved willing and Cain unwilling.

Cain, who would fit well in our modern-day culture of entitlement, become angry and depressed when his ill-conceived offering was rejected as unfit for the Lord God. It is initially unclear in the text as to with whom he is initially most upset; himself, Abel, or God.

God challenged Cain to explain his reaction to His disappointment “Why are you angry, and why is your expression downcast?” The word “downcast” refers to dejection or depression and “angry” suggests rage, a common reaction to fear-driven anger or frustration-driven anger. Rage generally finds expression in the projection of anger upon others, verbally, physically, or in some less obvious but no less destructive way.

God, knowing what Cain has been taught by his parents, challenged him further “Is it not true that if you do what is right, you will be fine?” The Lord's intent was to stimulate Cain to assess his motives and his actions and to get them right so that He might bless him.

The Lord then warned Cain of the corollary, if you fail to do what is right “... sin is crouching at the door.” There are a couple of important elements in this text worthy of note; first, the phrase “sin is crouching” is intentionally chosen to illustrate the ongoing state-of-war – spiritual - that exists and the consequence of choices; second, God is not allowing for any middle ground, one either does what is right and is blessed, or one fails to do so and is victimized by sin.

God then informed Cain that just as his father Adam had the capacity to resist the efforts of his mother Eve to control him so did Cain have the capacity to resist the efforts of sin (or the demon-beast of sin) to control him. There is a clear choice here, not predestination but clearly an illustration of free will - Cain was not doomed to sin.

Interact With The Text

Consider

From the very beginning of the post-Eden/post-Fall story of man the Lord God expected an outward expression of faithfulness and gratefulness, of obedience, and of loving sacrifice, and He has never ceased His expectation of the same. What relationship is real without the effort to express commitment and love in action?

The consistent message here, and again from Jesus in the New Testament, is that the Lord does not recognize any neutral or safe middle-ground between living-righteously or choosing sin. Jesus phrased it “Be hot or cold, if you are lukewarm I will spit you out.” (Rev. 3:15-16) and James wrote in vs. 1:8 “... a double-minded individual, unstable in all his ways.”

The Lord God does not allow and room for us to blame “I was made that way” or some other factor of our birth or childhood environment for our choices.

Discuss

When we know what the Lord God expects of us and we intentionally under-perform, fail, or intentionally rebel, then His disappointment becomes apparent, how do we react? Anger with ourselves, others, the Lord, or perhaps some of all of the above?

Reflect

Is it really a lot for the Lord God to ask, that we give back a little, given all that He has given to us? (Life, necessities, fellowship, the Holy Spirit, eternal life.)

Share

When have you sensed clearly the Lord's expectations of you; to serve His children even when it is inconvenient, to give to His ministry even when it is sacrificial, to love a hard-to-love person, or to take some time every day to worship Him - even when you'd rather sleep late or enjoy a hobby or some entertainment instead, and then you struggled to do the right and best thing in His eyes?

When have you been confronted with a decision and clearly recognized that your flesh wanted to respond to “the sin crouching at the door” while the indwelling Holy Spirit was calling you to choose the path of the Lord? How did you choose?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you one area in your life where you repeatedly disappoint the Lord, one place where you avoid responsibility for your bad choices and wrong thinking on the circumstances of your birth and/or early life, and/or one specific place where you try to live in-between outright disobedience and intentional-righteousness yet falsely excuse it as morally-neutral.

Act

Today I will confess that my repeated-sin to the Lord, I will make a genuine commitment to repent (turn away) from that sin, I will request and accept his forgiveness (as well as my own and that of anyone offended), and I will also reject the lie that the past can or should define and/or should control me. I will reject the lie that there is any such thing as moral neutral-ground. I will identify the sloppy-thinking, false excuses, and bad influences in my life which can lead me into rebellion. I will request and accept the help of the Holy Spirit to repent (turn away) from these things and will recruit an accountability partner to pray in agreement with me and to encourage me to stay-the-course-to-freedom from these things.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Tuesday (Genesis 4:8-16)

4:8 Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.”

While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

4:9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”

And he replied, “I don’t know! Am I my brother’s guardian?”

4:10 But the Lord said, “What have you done?

The voice of your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground!

4:11 So now, you are banished from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.

4:12 When you try to cultivate the ground it will no longer yield its best for you. You will be a homeless wanderer on the earth.”

4:13 Then Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is too great to endure!

4:14 Look! You are driving me off the land today,

and I must hide from your presence.

I will be a homeless wanderer on the earth;

whoever finds me will kill me.”

4:15 But the Lord said to him, “All right then, if anyone kills Cain, Cain will be avenged seven times as much.”

Then the Lord put a special mark on Cain so that no one who found him would strike him down.

4:16 So Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

Prayer

Lord, despite Cain's murderous heart, when he asked for Your help You gave it. May I be more like You, long-suffering with those who make poor choices, including forgiving myself as well for mine.

Scripture In Perspective

Cain choose to surrender to sin – harboring jealousy which metastasized into rage. He conspired to project his rage upon his younger brother Abel, hiding his crime out of the sight of their parents, he then murdered his unsuspecting brother. A series of choices for evil were by Cain even with obvious righteous-alternatives available to him.

The Lord God retained His pattern of rhetorical challenges; as He did with Adam and Eve, He then did with Cain, asking “Where is your brother Abel?” His purpose was to force Cain to reveal his heart.

Cain displays his heart of arrogant-rebellion and deceit, saying “I don't know. Am I my brother's guardian?” His reply was both mocking of God and an effort to pretend that what happened to his little brother, for good or evil, was not his responsibility.

Cain attached no value whatsoever to his brother – the selfishness of sin-the first-born of Adam and Eve actualized-evil in full display.

The Lord God repeated His challenge to Eve, this time to Cain “What have you done?” In both cases He challenged the sin-doer to acknowledge both their choice and the consequences.

This time Cain was presented with the evidence of his sin “The voice of your brother's blood is crying out to me from the ground!” Cain had no chance to deny his responsibility.

Then the Lord announced the consequences for Cain's actions; he would be unable to successfully farm the land but rather would wander aimlessly, he would be as disconnected as was his expressed desire -- to be free of responsibility for his brother and of respect for his parents.

Cain pleads for the mercy he did not offer Abel, complaining of the loss of the very presence of the Lord God that he tried to avoid when killing his brother, even worrying about being killed as he wandered.

Not addressed is the question of how there were people out there for him to fear if he was the only living child of Adam and Eve, unless he was looking forward to the reality of a long life and the reality that during those hundreds of years thousands of people would be born, reach adulthood, and disperse.

Cain's curse was to wander, and to wander utterly-alone for a few decades (or perhaps a century), which would have been a suitable punishment for the first murderer.

The Lord God responded by giving Cain a mark to warn anyone against attacking him and then sent him on his way “So Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.”

According to the NET Bible translator's notes the term “Nod” means 'wandering' and the term “... lived ...” inferred the passage of some time.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Do we understand that we mock the Lord God when we minimize the people and things that are important to Him? Do we recognize that the first step of sin is preceded by a wrong choice and each step that follows is made easier by our initial rationalizations and our spiritual-surrender to evil?

Discuss

What do we understand it to me when the Lord says that He expects us to care for the well-being of others? And what is our first priority, given limited resources, Christian family or non-Christians?

Reflect

Do we understand that when we reject the Lord God, and refuse to care enough to invest in relationships with and the well-being of others, we condemn ourselves to wander lonely and aimless in the world?

Share

When has the Lord God, through His Holy Spirit and/or a fellow believer, confronted you for separating yourself from worship – which separates one from the presence of God - just as Cain was separated from Him - and by all evidence of the text ceased from worship (as did his descendants)?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you one person toward whom you have an uncaring attitude, as to their well-being, at least one thing that you have allowed to get in the way of consistent and joyful Sunday corporate worship and fellowship, and/or of daily private worship and fellowship time with the Lord my God.

Ask

Today I will pray for, and see a way to reach-out to, the one whom the Holy Spirit has identified. I also commit to overcome the distractions that so I may be more faithful to the Lord's call to intentionally go-apart from the world and into His presence.

Be Specific _________________________________________________

Wednesday (Genesis 4:17-24)

The Beginning of Civilization

4:17 Cain had marital relations with his wife,

and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch.

Cain was building a city,

and he named the city after his son Enoch.

4:18 To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad was the father of Mehujael. Mehujael was the father of Methushael, and Methushael was the father of Lamech.

4:19 Lamech took two wives for himself;

the name of the first was Adah, and the name of the second was Zillah.

4:20 Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the first of those who live in tents and keep livestock.

4:21 The name of his brother was Jubal; he was the first of all who play the harp and the flute.

4:22 Now Zillah also gave birth to Tubal-Cain, who heated metal and shaped all kinds of tools made of bronze and iron.

The sister of Tubal-Cain was Naamah.

4:23 Lamech said to his wives, “Adah and Zillah! Listen to me! You wives of Lamech, hear my words!

I have killed a man for wounding me,

a young man for hurting me.

4:24 If Cain is to be avenged seven times as much,

then Lamech seventy-seven times!”

Prayer

Lord, as humankind multiplied and developed Cain's descendants seem to have forgotten You, but they remembered Cain's bad attitude. May I not become so busy about the tasks of daily life, nor so self-important, that I forget to be humble before You.

Scripture In Perspective

The Bible does not describe the genealogy of Cain in detail so we don't know with specificity the generations that passed prior to the birth and maturing of his wife. We do know that the gene pool had not yet degraded significantly, from the Lord God's perfect Creation, such that the closeness of her relationship would have created a profound genetic problem.

It is possible that Cain wandered for 90 years before he married. Eve's children would likely have reproduced in their early teen years followed by their descendants and the same for six generations - each multiplying ten times - potentially could have resulted in hundreds of thousands within that brief period of time.

Verse 4:17 introduces the first “city”, built by Cain, the enemy of God. Whereas the shepherds would be nomadic and rural and the farmers fixed and rural, Cain-the-lonely-wanderer decided to build a place where people would be gathered – perhaps compensating for a fear of loneliness and a continued rebellion against God – believing that the curse of God was mere physical wandering rather than spiritual wandering without God.

It is worthy of note that when the Bible, in Genesis 4, presents the genealogy of “... the family line of Adam.” it completely excludes mention of Cain or of his descendants. Cain very clearly was living-out the curse of being estranged from God.

Verse 4:20 reported the growth of the population and that specialization had developed to where Jabal became “... the first of those who live in tents and keep livestock.” then verse 4:21 told of “... his brother … Jubal … the first of all who play the harp and the flute.”

Verse 4:22 reported a third brother “... Tubal-Cain, who heated metal and shaped all kinds of tools made of bronze and iron.” The first named female in the Bible, since Eve, was Tubal-Cain's sister, Naamah.

The text recorded the boastful declaration of Lamech to the women, six generations descended from Cain, that anyone who killed him was to be avenged seventy-seven times rather than the seven that the Lord God declared to be the punishment for one who would kill Cain. The arrogance of Cain appears to have grown from generation to generation, here Lamesh attempts to promote himself as more valuable than Cain, as well as attempting to impose an obligation upon the Lord.

Interact With The Text

Consider

The example of Cain is that when we are distant from the Lord God our lives lose relevance to the plans and purposes of God. As the physical offspring of Adam and Eve multiplied they began to select the roles to will play among their peers, the first three of mention are the rancher-shepherd, blacksmith-toolmaker, and the musician. It was not unusual, even from the beginning, that different tasks interested different children.

Discuss

Why do we sometimes find ourselves creating artificial 'safe places' rather than trusting the Lord God to be our “safe place”? Lamesh even found it necessary to proclaim his importance in comparison to others - to the degree of suggesting that his life was seventy-seven times more valuable; do we sometimes do the same?

Reflect

Merely gathering people together does not create meaningful and positive relationship or value. The multi-generational transmission of sloppy thinking is apparent as Lamech, six generations later, still echoed the immaturity of Cain; we should not be surprised when it happens to those around us.

Share

When in the past did you respond to the Lord God with a resentful heart and later made excuses, or sought ways to avoid the consequences? Did it work? Have you observed, or experienced, our human tendency to consider ourselves – or those about whom we care most – as more valuable that others?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you at least one place in your life that you try to live out of your own strength and wisdom and do not intentionally invite the Lord God.

Act

Today I will recognize that the frustration I feel is due to the absence of the Lord. I will also recognize that busyness, together with groups of other people, does not replace intimacy with my Lord; nor does that same busyness, or those numbers of people, create true meaning or value. The emptiness I feel there, and the striving to fit-in, are signals from the Holy Spirit that I am in the wrong place with the wrong expectations. I will make a commitment to invite my Lord God into all of the places of my life. I will also celebrate one place in my life where He has gifted me and I will dedicate that gift or talent to the glory of God alone. I will also identify one way that my gift or talent, or something else, has become a tool of the enemy to cause false pride and arrogant boasting (aloud or in the secrecy of my heart) and I will repent of that.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Thursday (Genesis 4:25-26)

4:25 And Adam had marital relations with his wife again,

and she gave birth to a son.

She named him Seth, saying,

“God has given me another child in place of Abel because Cain killed him.” 4:26 And a son was also born to Seth,

whom he named Enosh.

At that time people began to worship the Lord.

Prayer

Lord, You restored the path of good that Cain – an agent of Satan – had tried to terminate in killing Abel, and You led humankind back to worship of You. May I always remember that You are there, You restore those who have drifted away, and that You preserve Your sovereign plan for Your children with You in heaven for eternity.

Scripture In Perspective

Some translations label verses 4:17-4:26 as “The Beginning of Civilization” but oddly enough all but the final two verses describe a gathering and organizing of people who were estranged from God.

Verse 4:25 describes the gift of another son to Adam and Eve, celebrated by Eve as “… another child in place of Abel because Cain killed him.” Interesting Eve appears to have matured as she no longer celebrates her 'creation' but gives the Lord God full credit.

The name Seth vaguely refers to “given” and “set-apart”. Seth represents a new beginning for the prophetic offspring of Adam and Eve.

“At that time people began to worship the Lord.” The context, though uncertain, appears to relate to the new generations beginning with Seth rather than extending to Cain.

Later in Genesis worship is described as prayer and sacrifice, something that was missing since the expulsion of Cain from the Lord God's presence in Genesis 4:11-16.

Interact With The Text

Consider

The Lord God's plans are not stymied by anything man can do, Cain killed Abel and was banished from God's presence so the Lord caused Eve to give birth to Seth and started over.

Discuss

Do we recognize that prayer and sacrifice are essential to relationship with God?

Reflect

Worship flows from the presence of the Lord God in a life prioritized for the Lord then back to Him. Seth and his descendants practiced that while Cain and his descendants appear to have remained estranged from the Lord.

Share

When has ‘the world’ taken something away from you and although you missed it” terribly the Lord God gave you something new and you continued on?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you an area in your life where you are successfully prioritizing your life for the Lord God.

Act

Today I will celebrate the success that the Holy Spirit has had in leading me to prioritized the Lord. I will also identify one way that I will be more intentional about the priority of prayer to and sacrifice in service of the Lord.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Friday (Genesis 5)

From Adam to Noah

5:1 This is the record of the family line of Adam.

When God created humankind, he made them in the likeness of God. 5:2 He created them male and female; when they were created, he blessed them and named them “humankind.”

5:3 When Adam had lived 130 years he fathered a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and he named him Seth. 5:4 The length of time Adam lived after he became the father of Seth was 800 years; during this time he had other sons and daughters. 5:5 The entire lifetime of Adam was 930 years, and then he died.

5:6 When Seth had lived 105 years, he became the father of Enosh. 5:7 Seth lived 807 years after he became the father of Enosh, and he had other sons and daughters. 5:8 The entire lifetime of Seth was 912 years, and then he died.

5:9 When Enosh had lived 90 years, he became the father of Kenan. 5:10 Enosh lived 815 years after he became the father of Kenan, and he had other sons and daughters. 5:11 The entire lifetime of Enosh was 905 years, and then he died.

5:12 When Kenan had lived 70 years, he became the father of Mahalalel. 5:13 Kenan lived 840 years after he became the father of Mahalalel, and he had other sons and daughters. 5:14 The entire lifetime of Kenan was 910 years, and then he died.

5:15 When Mahalalel had lived 65 years, he became the father of Jared. 5:16 Mahalalel lived 830 years after he became the father of Jared, and he had other sons and daughters. 5:17 The entire lifetime of Mahalalel was 895 years, and then he died.

5:18 When Jared had lived 162 years, he became the father of Enoch. 5:19 Jared lived 800 years after he became the father of Enoch, and he had other sons and daughters. 5:20 The entire lifetime of Jared was 962 years, and then he died.

5:21 When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. 5:22 After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God for 300 years, and he had other sons and daughters. 5:23 The entire lifetime of Enoch was 365 years. 5:24 Enoch walked with God, and then he disappeared because God took him away.

5:25 When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he became the father of Lamech. 5:26 Methuselah lived 782 years after he became the father of Lamech, and he had other sons and daughters. 5:27 The entire lifetime of Methuselah was 969 years, and then he died.

5:28 When Lamech had lived 182 years, he had a son. 5:29 He named him Noah, saying, “This one will bring us comfort from our labor and from the painful toil of our hands because of the ground that the Lord has cursed.” 5:30 Lamech lived 595 years after he became the father of Noah, and he had other sons and daughters. 5:31 The entire lifetime of Lamech was 777 years, and then he died.

5:32 After Noah was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

Prayer

Lord, Seth was faithful and from him came the faithful Noah, though whom You preserved humankind from the Flood. May I be found faithful so that I ma also be an instrument of Your work in the lives of others.

Scripture In Perspective

Adam and Eve were “humankind”, created “in the [partial] likeness of God”, unlike any other creatures of Creation.

The text is silent as to the names of any other children, male or female, between the birth of Cain and Abel and that of Seth, just as it was silent as to the length of time between the creation of Adam and Eve and the birth of Cain and Abel.

While the text occasionally mentions the birth of other sons and daughters the purpose of this text is to document the lineage from Adam to Noah, other details are not germane.

The text does make a point of Seth being in Adam's “own likeness, according to his image”. The text also makes a point of the longevity of early “humankind”, in Adam's case that was 930 years.

The genealogy flowed from Adam to Seth to Enosh to Kenan to Mahalalel to Jared to Enoch where it diverges a moment to observe that Enoch “... walked with God, and then he disappeared because God took him away.” Also notable is that Enoch lived much less than half as long as his predecessors and nearly one-third as long as his son Methuselah.

Reference is made to Enoch in Judges 1:14 “Now Enoch, the seventh in descent beginning with Adam, even prophesied of them, saying, “Look! The Lord is coming with thousands and thousands of his holy ones,” and in Hebrews 11:5 “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he did not see death, and he was not to be found because God took him up. For before his removal he had been commended as having pleased God.”

The genealogy continues from Methuselah to Lamech to Noah and again it pauses to record that the name “Noah” was chosen for a special meaning, “This one will bring us comfort from our labor and from the painful toil of our hands because of the ground that the Lord has cursed.”

The text of Chapter 5 concludes “After Noah was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem, Ham, and Japheth.”

While Chapter 5 does not directly concern itself with the conduct of these generations the contrast between Enoch, who “... walked with God” and Noah, who “... will bring us comfort from our labor and from the painful toil of our hands because of the ground that the Lord has cursed.”, it is clear that there has been continuing trouble between man and God – with Enoch presented as uniquely faithful and Noah as a “type” of “Messiah”.

Interact With The Text

Consider

It is interesting that the first-born of Adam and Eve, Cain, has a lineage described in Genesis 4 and an impact upon the world, whereas their second-born, Abel has none. It is not until Seth that a son is born to them whose lineage has impact, through Noah, and then leads to Christ.

Discuss

Enoch, who was “... the seventh in descent beginning with Adam” appears to have been the first prophet of God. While his 300 years is long by our standards it was brief compared to others of his time. Does this lend itself to the postulate of “de-evolution” (from the perfect to the less perfect), shortened lifespans as time moved on, rather than the speculative postulate of “evolution” (from the less perfect to the more)?

Reflect

While Enoch was the first prophet, and his faithfulness earned Him the Lord God's early call “home”, Jonah was the Lord's first 'type' of Christ whose role was to be a temporary redeemer of humankind.

Share

When have you observed multiple generations of faithfulness to the Lord? What were the factors that contributed to that?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you an opportunity to share this text with someone who is curious about Christ, and/or with a fellow believer.

Act

Today I will emphasize the incredible consistency of the redemption message of God from - Genesis through Revelation – as a witness to the not-yet-saved and as an encouragement to the saved.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Saturday (Genesis 6:1-8)

God’s Grief over Humankind’s Wickedness

6:1 When humankind began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, 6:2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of humankind were beautiful. Thus they took wives for themselves from any they chose.

6:3 So the Lord said, “My spirit will not remain in humankind indefinitely, since they are mortal. They will remain for 120 more years.”

6:4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days (and also after this) when the sons of God were having sexual relations with the daughters of humankind, who gave birth to their children. They were the mighty heroes of old, the famous men.

6:5 But the Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind had become great on the earth. Every inclination of the thoughts of their minds was only evil all the time. 6:6 The Lord regretted that he had made humankind on the earth, and he was highly offended.

6:7 So the Lord said, “I will wipe humankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth – everything from humankind to animals, including creatures that move on the ground and birds of the air, for I regret that I have made them.”

6:8 But Noah found favor in the sight of the Lord.

Prayer

Lord, left to their own flesh-driven lusts, humankind drifted farther and farther away from You. My You find my heart transformed by the Holy Spirit so that I share your offense at sin and that I turn away from it as is your desire for me.

Scripture In Perspective

There is considerable debate as to the meaning of the term “sons of God”, just as the term “son of Man” as applied to Jesus has stimulated debate. Some say that these are fallen angels who assumed human form, others that they are fallen angels (demons) who possessed humans, and other that they were genetically-giant in stature.

A problem is created by the first assertion as this renders the “immaculate conception” of Jesus somewhat mundane – since demons would have done the same thing thousands of years previous – and done so on a widespread scale.

There is no particular problem with the second iteration of the second theory (indirect demon action vs direct) as demon-possessed men impregnate women every day in the modern world, often the woman is a willing-accomplice, as was Eve in her rebellion in the Garden.

The third assertion appears to conflict with the parallel uses of a similar phrase in the Bible yet finds some support in the phrase Nephilim (giants) also found elsewhere in the Bible. (The “Nephilim” were exceptional in stature and strength, much like many modern sports stars, but nothing in the text requires that they have been part-demon or anything else other than fully humankind.)

The Nephilim are described as "the mighty heroes of old, the famous men" who were present prior to the ministry of Noah and afterward in history as well.

For our purposes we recommend the second (indirect-demonic) or third understandings.

There is also some debate as to the third verse. Some take the reference to “120 years” to mean that the Lord God imposed a hard-limit on the longevity of humans. If one understand this limit to have been neutralized at some later point in Bible history this is fine. There would otherwise be a problem as there are documented cases of people living beyond 120 years.

A completely different meaning is that the Lord God would lift His hand of protection and after 120 years He would use Noah and the Ark to wipe the widespread evil from the Earth..

A phrase is used that we will read many more times in both the old and new testaments "... every inclination of the thoughts of their minds was only evil all the time." appears here in this early OT text for the very first time.

While it is not new that the Lord God was unhappy with the choice Adam and Eve made in the Garden, and the necessity of His response to it, this is a new level of Heavenly unhappiness.

The Lord God now regrets making humankind at all because instead of turning back to Him and seeking reconciliation our earlier Chapter 6 text recorded an increased and more-pervasive rebellion through sin.

The Lord God's response is to obliterate all whose hearts are hardened against Him, who are unrepentantly irredeemable “... every inclination of the thoughts of their minds was only evil all the time." (vs 6:5)

Interact With The Text

Consider

Humankind, with the influence of the Enemy, intentionally mated with the men of “giant” stature whose purpose was aggression. The “Nephilim” must have survived the flood through the lineage of Noah (the wives of his sons or the husbands of his daughters) since the text has them present before and after Noah. There is a difference between human imperfection and an unrepentant heart, and there are different consequences for each.

Discuss

What have you been taught about fallen angels mating with human women or Nephilim (giants)? Do you see how this would create an unnecessary conflict with the uniqueness of the immaculate conception of Jesus?

Reflect

If the correct understanding of the “120 years” is that Lord God warned that He would lift His hand of protection in 120 years then it appears that almost everyone continued in their rebellion despite the impending doom.

Share

What are some ways When have you been warned of impending consequences yet continued in the same conduct and suffered the negative consequence? When have you found yourself closing-out God from a part of your life, only to find that you have also blocked His blessings?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you where you may be in rebellion and ignoring warnings from God through His Holy Spirit.

Act

Today I will confess and repent of my rebellion, request and accept His forgiveness, then ask a fellow believer to pray in-agreement and to provide accountability as I establish a new pattern of life. I will also seek an opportunity to share this teaching with others, perhaps in a small group, an opportunity to encourage and to pray for a fellow believer who is drifting away from the Lord God in some area of their life, and also to share these verses with someone who is considering-Christ.

Be Specific _________________________________________________

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2012 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study –“Genesis 3. Prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in August of 2012. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

3. Genesis 6:9 – 11 (Noah, The Flood, Babel)

A Chronological Daily Bible Study of the Old Testament
7-Day Sections with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and a Practical Daily Application

Week 3

Sunday (Genesis 6:9 - 7:24)

The Judgment of the Flood

6:9 This is the account of Noah.

Noah was a godly man;

he was blameless among his contemporaries.

He walked with God.

6:10 Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

6:11 The earth was ruined in the sight of God; the earth was filled with violence. 6:12 God saw the earth, and indeed it was ruined, for all living creatures on the earth were sinful.

6:13 So God said to Noah, “I have decided that all living creatures must die, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. Now I am about to destroy them and the earth.

6:14 Make for yourself an ark of cypress wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it with pitch inside and out.

6:15 This is how you should make it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. 6:16 Make a roof for the ark and finish it, leaving 18 inches from the top. Put a door in the side of the ark, and make lower, middle, and upper decks.

6:17 I am about to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy from under the sky all the living creatures that have the breath of life in them. Everything that is on the earth will die,

6:18 but I will confirm my covenant with you. You will enter the ark – you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.

6:19 You must bring into the ark two of every kind of living creature from all flesh, male and female, to keep them alive with you. 6:20 Of the birds after their kinds, and of the cattle after their kinds, and of every creeping thing of the ground after its kind, two of every kind will come to you so you can keep them alive.

6:21 And you must take for yourself every kind of food that is eaten, and gather it together. It will be food for you and for them.

6:22 And Noah did all that God commanded him – he did indeed.

7:1 The Lord said to Noah, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, for I consider you godly among this generation.

7:2 You must take with you seven of every kind of clean animal, the male and its mate, two of every kind of unclean animal, the male and its mate, 7:3 and also seven of every kind of bird in the sky, male and female, to preserve their offspring on the face of the earth.

7:4 For in seven days I will cause it to rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the ground every living thing that I have made.”

7:5 And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.

7:6 Noah was 600 years old when the floodwaters engulfed the earth. 7:7 Noah entered the ark along with his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives because of the floodwaters. 7:8 Pairs of clean animals, of unclean animals, of birds, and of everything that creeps along the ground, 7:9 male and female, came into the ark to Noah, just as God had commanded him. 7:10 And after seven days the floodwaters engulfed the earth.

7:11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month – on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst open and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. 7:12 And the rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.

7:13 On that very day Noah entered the ark, accompanied by his sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth, along with his wife and his sons’ three wives. 7:14 They entered, along with every living creature after its kind, every animal after its kind, every creeping thing that creeps on the earth after its kind, and every bird after its kind, everything with wings. 7:15 Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life came into the ark to Noah. 7:16 Those that entered were male and female, just as God commanded him. Then the Lord shut him in.

7:17 The flood engulfed the earth for forty days. As the waters increased, they lifted the ark and raised it above the earth. 7:18 The waters completely overwhelmed the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the waters. 7:19 The waters completely inundated the earth so that even all the high mountains under the entire sky were covered. 7:20 The waters rose more than twenty feet above the mountains. 7:21 And all living things that moved on the earth died, including the birds, domestic animals, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all humankind. 7:22 Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died.

7:23 So the Lord destroyed every living thing that was on the surface of the ground, including people, animals, creatures that creep along the ground, and birds of the sky. They were wiped off the earth. Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark survived.

7:24 The waters prevailed over the earth for 150 days.

Prayer

Lord, may Your Holy Spirit teach me how to be as faithful as Noah so that I too would find favor in your sight, please help me to understand the relationship between my obedient living before you, and the blessings that You give to me, so that they may be poured out into the lives of others. Father, your message is simple, but my chosen path to obedience is sometimes more complicated and cluttered than it should be. Please teach me to be as trusting as Noah; as everything around me seems to be falling into ruin, may I know that You will lift me up above the floodwaters of sin and destruction.

Scripture In Perspective

While others were found unrepentantly-sinful Noah was found by the Lord God to be “a godly man”. This does not imply perfection or sinlessness – else he could have been the Messiah - it meant that he prioritized what the Lord said was important, he was teachable, and was he made an exceptional effort to be obedient.

When the Lord God declared that “... all living creatures on the earth were sinful.” He was making the statement on dual levels; first was the reality of the Fall wherein all of Creation was cursed with the sin of Adam and Eve, second was the volitional sin of humankind – most of it unrepentant.

When the Lord God said that “... all living creatures must die … I am about to destroy them and the earth.” He used His terminology narrowly, referring back to the Creation narrative - because Noah was about to float a remnant of creatures and humankind on the waters. (the waters were, during Creation, specifically defined as separate from “the earth”).

The Lord God then gave Noah very specific instructions as to the construction of the “Ark”, followed by His reaffirmation of intent to purge the earth.

Verse 6:18a “... but I will confirm my covenant with you” appears to be a reference to the dialogue between the Lord and Cain in Genesis 4:3-7 where He acknowledges an implicit quid pro quo between a person’s choice to be in right-standing before Him and thus receive His blessing, or to be at-odds with Him and be denied His blessing.

The Lord God extends His covenant with Noah to his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives. No daughters were specifically mentioned.

The Lord also extended His grace to “... two of every kind of living creature from all flesh, male and female” and he commissioned Noah “... to keep them alive with you.”

He added also “... the birds after their kinds, and of the cattle after their kinds, and of every creeping thing of the ground after its kind, two of every kind will come to you so you can keep them alive.”

The Lord God instructed Noah to gather food for the many days they would be on the Ark, and food for all of the animals.

Once again the Lord was specific as to “... every kind of food that is eaten” because different creatures ate different food.

Once again Noah is found faithful “Noah did all that God commanded him – he did indeed.”

The Lord Gods provision was conditional, ... I consider you godly among this generation, therefore He said Come into the ark, you and all your household.

The importance that the Lord placed on the future Old Testament expectation of sacrifice was affirmed as He required of Noah that he include ... seven of every kind of clean animal, the male and its mate as opposed to only two each of the unclean.

When all was ready God gave seven days notice prior to the floodwaters.

The floodwaters came not only from the sky, as is the common depiction, but also from the great deep. The NET translators observe that this is a sort of reversal of Creation as the waters once separated from the earth are now returned to cover it, albeit temporarily.

The waters came up from the ground (springs?) and the seas it came down from the skies for forty days and nights.

In Matthew 24:36-41 and Luke 17:22-27 Jesus reminded His disciples of Noah and that when He returns there will be little warning. In Noahs time He gave seven days warning to Noah but the people were not listening to Him so it was as if they received none.

When Noah had fulfilled Gods instructions as to the construction of the Ark and the assembly of the animals and people they all climbed aboard the great ship.

Then God Himself closed and sealed the door.

Every living thing that breathed the air directly for life was destroyed; it appears that water-bound creatures were not as Noah was not instructed to preserve any of them, and some plant life also survived.

Interact with the text

Consider

The Lord God does not expect us to be perfect any more than He expected Noah to be perfect. Only Jesus lived sinlessly. His desire is to bless us but when we choose rebellion we create floodwaters of sin between ourselves and His blessings. He provides and He shows us how to provide for ourselves and others. It remains our choice to be wise; to listen, and to obey. If the Lord Gods blessings are conditional, how do we learn how to meet His conditions?

Discuss

When you describe “a godly man” or a “godly woman” what are the attributes you highlight which lifts them to that category? Observe the care the Lord God takes with each discrete species of His Creation “after their kinds”, even after the early ill-affects of the Fall. There are no transitional species or cross-species in His plan. How might we listen more closely to the Lord and prepare for the mission He is laying out before each of us? For some it may be some specific learning we need, for others it may be physical fitness, for others it may be gathering certain resources, and for others it may be developing a network of financial and prayer supporters. How has He provided for you the resources you need to praise and worship and serve Him?

Reflect

When Adam and Eve sinned the Lord God administered the consequences required of justice, yet in His mercy and grace He still promised a way back. Once again He finds it necessary to obliterate much of humankind, and the rest of created life, yet He provided a way of survival via the Ark. Had Noah chosen to be like the others all around him what would have happened to his family, not to mention the rest of Creation? Noah tried to be consistently-obedient and therefore the Lord was able to use him in a mighty way; what about us? The Lord God decided to partially roll-back Creation in order to clean up the mess that humankind had made of the world. Does He sometimes roll-back some of the things we have collected or given improper value in ours lives – contrary to what should be in the life of a believer? What may have been the thoughts of those on the Ark as they watched the world below them be swallowed-up by water and all of those living creatures die, leaving them with nothing but each other and the Lord God to comfort and provide for them? When the Lord God chooses to act He leaves nothing to chance, He raised the waters until they were 20 feet above the tallest mountain so that there was no chance of survival and He kept them there long enough so that not even a bird could survive.

Share

When you are reminded of the Lord God’s repeated provision how has that strengthened you during difficult times? When have you observed a clear relationship between your obedient walk before the Lord and His blessings, either direct blessings to you, or blessings poured-out through you into the life of another? When has He directed you toward a task, and showed you the preparation you needed, and then when you were obedient He provided for all of your needs and used you mightily? If not, do you recall a time when He could have (and you should have) but you didn’t, so He couldn’t? What has the Lord God rolled-back in your life so that He could clean you up?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place in your life where your witness as a “godly” person has been compromised. Lord, when the floodwaters of trouble come into the world all around me, please find me faithfully-trusting You to be my Ark of safety and provision. Lord, may your Holy Spirit write this story on my heart so that I will see your consistent message from Noah and up until even now. You give us Yourself and the fellowship of believers and you ask us to recognize that the rest of the world – apart from You – is dead.

Act

Today I will I will ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement with me for a greater sensitivity to the Lord God so that He might find me a little more of an intentionally “godly” person every day. I will pray the same for a fellow believer. In an unconditional prayer, I will welcome the Holy Spirit into my life in a newly powerful way, asking Him to draw me nearer to Him in my daily choices so that I may be used as His means of blessing in the lives of others all around me.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Monday (Genesis 8:1–14)

8:1 But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and domestic animals that were with him in the ark.

God caused a wind to blow over the earth and the waters receded.

8:2 The fountains of the deep and the floodgates of heaven were closed, and the rain stopped falling from the sky.

8:3 The waters kept receding steadily from the earth, so that they had gone down by the end of the 150 days.

8:4 On the seventeenth day of the seventh month, the ark came to rest on one of the mountains of Ararat.

8:5 The waters kept on receding until the tenth month. On the first day of the tenth month, the tops of the mountains became visible.

8:6 At the end of forty days, Noah opened the window he had made in the ark 8:7 and sent out a raven; it kept flying back and forth until the waters had dried up on the earth.

8:8 Then Noah sent out a dove to see if the waters had receded from the surface of the ground.

8:9 The dove could not find a resting place for its feet because water still covered the surface of the entire earth, and so it returned to Noah in the ark. He stretched out his hand, took the dove, and brought it back into the ark.

8:10 He waited seven more days and then sent out the dove again from the ark. 8:11 When the dove returned to him in the evening, there was a freshly plucked olive leaf in its beak! Noah knew that the waters had receded from the earth.

8:12 He waited another seven days and sent the dove out again, but it did not return to him this time.

8:13 In Noah’s six hundred and first year, in the first day of the first month, the waters had dried up from the earth, and Noah removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry. 8:14 And by the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was dry.

Prayer

Lord, remind me often that “God remembers” that I may never fear that I am alone; reveal to me in this text how You brought Noah and his family through the great flood and how their trust and patience may also be mine.

Scripture In Perspective

It appears from the text that another 40 days passed, beyond those previously discussed, before Noah opened a window and loosed a raven to explore. The raven is a carrion bird and once it found the food of drowned bodies it did not return. We recall that the raven is referenced in Proverbs as a tool of harsh discipline, in Psalms and Job compared to babies abandoned by parents and dependent upon God, in the story of Elijah the Lord God used them to feed His prophet, and later in Luke - Jesus notes that the Lord cares for the ravens.

After the raven’s forty days of journeys Noah sent out a dove which returned, unable to find a branch of a tree upon which it could rest, as only the peaks of a lifeless mountains would have been at the water’s surface.

Seven days later the dove went out and returned with “... a freshly plucked olive leaf in its beak”, and another seven days later the dove departed and did not return.

Interact With The Text

Consider

The Lord God remembers, for eternity, those whom He loves; therefore, we who are His children need never worry that He forgets us. God punished rampant sin by purging living things on the earth. He did not purge everything, or everyone, so He clearly had some specific variable(s) in mind.

Discuss

It appears from the text that they may have been aboard the Ark for 300 days. What may it have been like, trapped on an Ark filled with animals, beginning with 40 days and 40 nights of constant rain and floating around for an entire year?

Reflect

The incredible power of the Lord God that opened the water from above and below, then sent it back again, is the same power that had done miracle after miracle over history and continues to do the miracle of salvation in the hearts of persons one-by-one. It was seven days between the olive branch, delivered by the dove - the assurance of life returning to the earth – and the dove’s certainty of food and safety apart from the Ark which caused it to not return. There were four men and four women, all adults on the Ark. There is no mention of children.

Share

When have you felt alone and forgotten only to have the Lord God send someone, or He did something, that reminded you that He remembered you? When have you been as patient as Noah, waiting on God rather than rushing out after a ‘storm’ in your life? When have you been alone with a small group of people for more than a few hours? Did you discover the need to go deep’ because you quickly ran out of shallow things to discuss?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how to be intentional about driving the sin out of your life so that He does not see the need to purge your life of sin the hard way.

Act

Today I will I will prayerfully seek out a fellow believer who is feeling alone and forgotten and I will share these verses as an encouragement. If I have not previously done so I will journal an experience of alone-ness in my past, reflecting on the ways that I now recognize the Lord’s presence. If I am currently struggling I will journals and pray for an “olive branch” from the Lord God to assure me that an end to the trouble and safety are near.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Tuesday (Genesis 8:15-22)

8:15 Then God spoke to Noah and said, 8:16 “Come out of the ark, you, your wife, your sons, and your sons’ wives with you.

8:17 Bring out with you all the living creatures that are with you. Bring out every living thing, including the birds, animals, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. Let them increase and be fruitful and multiply on the earth!”

8:18 Noah went out along with his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives.

8:19 Every living creature, every creeping thing, every bird, and everything that moves on the earth went out of the ark in their groups.

8:20 Noah built an altar to the Lord. He then took some of every kind of clean animal and clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

8:21 And the Lord smelled the soothing aroma and said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of humankind,

even though the inclination of their minds is evil from childhood on.

I will never again destroy everything that lives, as I have just done.

8:22 “While the earth continues to exist,

planting time and harvest,

cold and heat,

summer and winter,

and day and night will not cease.”

Prayer

Lord, You knew that Noah was not perfect, nor was his family, yet You caused them to live in order to preserve humankind. Teach me to trust you like Noah, so that no matter how great your judgment on man – even the troubles of the Great Tribulation – may I be ready to offer myself in worship of You. May I never forget Your loving-grace and Your desire to draw near the children You find so dear. Lord,

Scripture In Perspective

The first thing that Noah did after disembarking from an entire year on the Ark was to build an altar to the Lord. Then he sacrificed some of the seven-each pairs of “clean” animals and birds which the Lord had instructed him to preserve during the flood.

It is said that the same root Hebrew word, depending on the subtleties of context, which is used to describe a “burnt offering to God” is also intended to express humble submission “holocaust” (which has a horrible meaning in modern times).

Oddly, the Great Flood was a sort of holocaust-by-water, as we might term a genocide, and here Noah is offering a burnt offering to the Lord God (whereas the modern “holocaust” often involved gas and fire).

Christians who understand the spiritual battle will recognize that the modern “holocaust” was a “burnt offering” by the Nazi leaders to Satan, even if they did not consciously recognize that fact.

When the Lord God “smelled the soothing aroma” He acknowledged that Noah’s descendants were beginning anew with Him once-again central to their lives and for a very brief moment there was peace between God and man.

The Lord then declared that He would never again “curse the ground because of humankind”, not to mean that the curse of the Fall had been lifted, but that no new all-pervasive curse would be imposed.

The Lord God decided to stay His hand despite acknowledging that “... the inclination of their [humankind] minds is evil from childhood on”.

The Lord declared a conditional “While the earth continues to exist ...”, which reminds us that the earth has a limited lifespan in God’s plan.

The Lord God then affirmed the cycle of the seasons and what they meant to humankind:

“... planting time and harvest,”

“... cold and heat,”

“... summer and winter,”

“... and day and night”

Finally, He confirmed that it is He who causes it all to continue because it is He who has decided that He will not again interrupt things at a planetary-level until the last days of these end times.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Noah wanted to demonstrate his loyalty, his thanks for the Lord God’s provision and protection, and his intent to keep Him first.

Discuss

As New Testament Christians we no longer practice literal “burnt sacrifice”. In what ways might our daily lives include elements of the “sweet aroma” of surrender to the Lordship of Christ? If the earth has a limited lifespan, and that lifespan is only known to the Lord God, how should we approach every day?

Reflect

Is it encouraging to you to know that the Lord has decided to never curse “the ground” at a planetary-scale until the last days of these end times?

Share

Knowing that the Lord God is aware of the our inclination toward evil from childhood, and knowing that believers are blessed with the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, how have you been able to leverage His presence against the sin-inclined tendencies of the flesh? How has God shown you His expectations of you through the cycles of the seasons, both on an annual basis and in your entire lifespan?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to find you a willing partner in becoming more and more of a humble and submitted servant of the Lord God, ready to resist the temptations of the flesh to rebel. Also, ask Him to enlighten your understanding of the best use of the limited cycles of the natural seasons of the year in your walk and of the seasons of your life before your days come to an end.

Act

I will prayerfully identify a part of my life where I have been neither humble or submitted to the Lord but have rather gone my own way – a way that I am sure has offended God – and I will partner with the Holy Spirit to surrender that as a living “burnt offering” to His pleasure in me. I agree to allow the Holy Spirit to re-order my priorities so that my life reflects an awareness of His priorities for the natural cycles of the seasons and for the whole-life seasons of my time here on earth. I will journal or otherwise write down the vision I see of God’s priorities worked-out this year and in a more general sense the seasons of the rest of my life. I will share that with a fellow believer for their prayerful reflection and perhaps as a motivation for them to do the same.

Be Specific _________________________________________________

Wednesday (Genesis 9:1-17)

9:1 Then God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.

9:2 Every living creature of the earth and every bird of the sky will be terrified of you. Everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea are under your authority.

9:3 You may eat any moving thing that lives. As I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

9:4 But you must not eat meat with its life (that is, its blood) in it.

9:5 For your lifeblood I will surely exact punishment, from every living creature I will exact punishment.

From each person I will exact punishment for the life of the individual since the man was his relative.

9:6 “Whoever sheds human blood, by other humans must his blood be shed; for in God’s image God has made humankind.”

9:7 But as for you, be fruitful and multiply; increase abundantly on the earth and multiply on it.”

9:8 God said to Noah and his sons, 9:9 “Look! I now confirm my covenant with you and your descendants after you 9:10 and with every living creature that is with you, including the birds, the domestic animals, and every living creature of the earth with you, all those that came out of the ark with you – every living creature of the earth.

9:11 I confirm my covenant with you: Never again will all living things be wiped out by the waters of a flood; never again will a flood destroy the earth.”

9:12 And God said, “This is the guarantee of the covenant I am making with you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all subsequent generations: 9:13 I will place my rainbow in the clouds, and it will become a guarantee of the covenant between me and the earth.

9:14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 9:15 then I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures of all kinds. Never again will the waters become a flood and destroy all living things.

9:16 When the rainbow is in the clouds, I will notice it and remember the perpetual covenant between God and all living creatures of all kinds that are on the earth.”

9:17 So God said to Noah, “This is the guarantee of the covenant that I am confirming between me and all living things that are on the earth.”

Prayer

Lord, help me to understand the many changes in the relationship of man to the rest of creation, to You, and to one another in this text. Please help me to accept that Your knowledge is perfect and Your instructions to humankind are perfect, even if they challenge generally-accepted notions or traditions of humankind.

Scripture In Perspective

The Lord God reset the standing of humankind before Him “Then God blessed Noah and his sons ...” followed by instructions to get about the business of repopulating the earth.

The creatures of the earth were to “be terrified” of humankind – this is a newly competitive relationship due perhaps to the needs of the growing population for whom the animals represented a useful source of food, labor, clothing, and other resources. The prior Genesis texts implied a more cooperative and peaceful relationship, and one where all need for food had been met and skins for clothing were unnecessary.

Note: The Lord instructed man to care for the creatures He had created in Gen. 1:26-28, then later, after the Fall, in Gen. 3:21He made coverings for Adam and Eve from the skins of animals. Abel brought animals for sacrifice in Gen. 4:4. So it became that the death of an animal brought a benefit to a human – this was not new in Noah’s time.

The text implies that until Noah the Lord had required of His obedient people a purely vegetarian diet, which given their not-too-far-from-Eden genetic ‘de-evolution’ from the perfect to the less-perfect, as well as undisclosed changes to the plant life, a purely vegetarian diet may have been sufficient to their nutritional needs.

Note: It has been suggested that modern efforts to live a purely vegetarian lifestyle has proved unhealthy for many due to the inability of their bodies to extract all of the necessary nutrients from only non-meat sources. Another symptom of the Fall.

The Lord God did provide a qualifier, one that appears from the following text to be not only health-related but emotional and spiritual as well; in this case He wanted them to not become careless about “life” and in that primitive time “blood” was associated with life, therefore avoiding the consumption of blood helped to make His point.

The health element of his preparation instructions for meat was so that they cooked meat and thereby reduced illness from bacteria.

The Lord God declared human life valuable and forbade murder.

The Lord reminded humankind that all were related to one-another, especially so for the generations immediately following the Great Flood.

He also reminded them that the life of humankind has value because we are made in His [partial] image (and even in our Fallen-away state we continue to bear elements of His image to this day).

The Lord God repeated His command from verse one that they were to “... be fruitful and multiply”

Interact With The Text

Consider

The Lord God chose to “bless” – declaring His partnership in the endeavors of Noah and his family. He now allowed humankind to eat meat rather than be vegetarians. Fish are acceptable to many modern vegetarians; however, a pure ‘pure vegan’ diet discourages anything from an animal, including fish. The meat broadened their sources of nutrition but it also created a new tension between humankind and the animals. The Lord God declared that life must be valued and that murder was wrong. This was, historically, well-prior to His giving to Moses the Ten Commandments.

Discuss

How does being reminded that humankind was made in the image of the Lord God impact the way that you think of life? God had intentionally cleansed the gene pool of humankind with the Great Flood, given the length of time and the added imperfections in the genetic code since would it be possible today to select one couple, three sons, and three daughters from other families and repopulate the earth without terrible deformities?

Reflect

The population and resource-challenged humankind now needed other creatures for food and clothing, sacrifice and work – despite their closeness on the Ark they were now competing for resources and humankind had the upper hand. There were many side-effects from the Fall, one of them was that the human body became less and less perfect over time; this was illustrated in the continually-shortened lifespans of humankind.

Share

When have you used a creature in such as way as for them to be “terrified” of you; not in an abusive way but a generic state of imminent death or service, for food or labor?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you the difference between the Lord’s “go forth and multiply” (reproductively) – in addition to teaching future generations about Him - thus to multiply spiritually, and His expectation that our primary “multiplication” today be of new believers and of matured believers.

Act

Share this verse with a fellow believer and ask them to share for what purpose they believe the Lord God has blessed them. Share the same perspective of God’s blessing of you.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Thursday (Genesis 9:18 -10:32)

9:18 The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Now Ham was the father of Canaan.) 9:19 These were the sons of Noah, and from them the whole earth was populated.

9:20 Noah, a man of the soil, began to plant a vineyard.

9:21 When he drank some of the wine, he got drunk and uncovered himself inside his tent.

9:22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness and told his two brothers who were outside.

9:23 Shem and Japheth took the garment and placed it on their shoulders. Then they walked in backwards and covered up their father’s nakedness. Their faces were turned the other way so they did not see their father’s nakedness.

9:24 When Noah awoke from his drunken stupor he learned what his youngest son had done to him. 9:25 So he said, “Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves he will be to his brothers.”

9:26 He also said, “Worthy of praise is the Lord, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem!

9:27 May God enlarge Japheth’s territory and numbers! May he live in the tents of Shem and may Canaan be his slave!”

9:28 After the flood Noah lived 350 years. 9:29 The entire lifetime of Noah was 950 years, and then he died.

The Table of Nations

10:1 This is the account of Noah’s sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Sons were born to them after the flood.

10:2 The sons of Japheth were Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. 10:3 The sons of Gomer were Askenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah. 10:4 The sons of Javan were Elishah, Tarshish, the Kittim, and the Dodanim.

10:5 From these the coastlands of the nations were separated into their lands, every one according to its language, according to their families, by their nations.

10:6 The sons of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan. 10:7 The sons of Cush were Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca. The sons of Raamah were Sheba and Dedan.

10:8 Cush was the father of Nimrod; he began to be a valiant warrior on the earth. 10:9 He was a mighty hunter before the Lord. (That is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the Lord.”)

10:10 The primary regions of his kingdom were Babel, Erech, Akkad, and Calneh in the land of Shinar. 10:11 From that land he went to Assyria, where he built Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir, Calah, 10:12 and Resen, which is between Nineveh and the great city Calah.

10:13 Mizraim was the father of the Ludites, Anamites, Lehabites, Naphtuhites, 10:14 Pathrusites, Casluhites (from whom the Philistines came), and Caphtorites.

10:15 Canaan was the father of Sidon his firstborn, Heth, 10:16 the Jebusites, Amorites, Girgashites, 10:17 Hivites, Arkites, Sinites, 10:18 Arvadites, Zemarites, and Hamathites. Eventually the families of the Canaanites were scattered 10:19 and the borders of Canaan extended from Sidon all the way to Gerar as far as Gaza, and all the way to Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha.

10:20 These are the sons of Ham, according to their families, according to their languages, by their lands, and by their nations.

10:21 And sons were also born to Shem (the older brother of Japheth), the father of all the sons of Eber.

10:22 The sons of Shem were Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram. 10:23 The sons of Aram were Uz, Hul, Gether, and Mash. 10:24 Arphaxad was the father of Shelah, and Shelah was the father of Eber.

10:25 Two sons were born to Eber: One was named Peleg because in his days the earth was divided, and his brother’s name was Joktan.

10:26 Joktan was the father of Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, 10:27 Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, 10:28 Obal, Abimael, Sheba, 10:29 Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab. All these were sons of Joktan.

10:30 Their dwelling place was from Mesha all the way to Sephar in the eastern hills. 10:31 These are the sons of Shem according to their families, according to their languages, by their lands, and according to their nations.

10:32 These are the families of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, by their nations, and from these the nations spread over the earth after the flood.

Prayer

Lord, write on my heart the lessons of respect for others You have illustrated in Your Word, the consequences of disrespect upon oneself and others, and the blessing that respect for others may bring. Thank you that You are not a God of mystery in all things. When you tell Your story You include everything we need to know and then You help us to understand why You included what You included. Lord, thank You for showing us the “big picture” of history along with the more precise stories of Your relationships with individuals and with groups.

Scripture In Perspective

The text begins with an emphasis upon Ham’s lineage flowing out to the Canaanites.

The text tells us that Noah was a farmer and among other things he planted and harvested a vineyard, and when he did he enjoyed more of the fruits of his labor than he should have and thus became ‘stupid drunk’, shedding his clothes and collapsing in his tent.

Ham, although about 100 years old, was the youngest son and came upon him in that sorry state and took his robe to his older brothers laughing about his father’s nakedness – a great disrespect.

The older brothers took the robe and respectfully looked away as they covered their father.

When Noah recovered from his drunkenness he was made aware of his son’s disrespect and declared a curse [a prophesy perhaps] upon the descendents of Ham, the Canaanites, as they would be as disrespectful of the Lord God and others as was Ham to him.

Noah also pronounced a blessing [a prophesy perhaps] on Shem and Japheth’s descendants.

Noah was 600 years old before the Flood and lived another 350 years afterwards before he died.

Genesis 10 is labeled in the text “The Table of Nations”

Translator’s note #3 observes “It appears that the Table of Nations is a composite of at least two ancient sources: Some sections begin with the phrase “the sons of” (בְּנֵי, bÿne) while other sections use “begot” (יָלָד, yalad). It may very well be that the “sons of” list was an old, “bare bones” list that was retained in the family records, while the “begot” sections were editorial inserts by the writer of Genesis, reflecting his special interests.”

It is strongly recommended that the curious “student” of the Word visit the Bible.org resource: http://net.bible.org/bible.php?book=Gen&chapter=10#n55 . They have gone to great lengths to detail the generations and tribes and cities and nations that flowed from each of Noah’s children. They also include references for further study.

This text provides further detail of the dispersal of the people as they were obediently “fruitful” and they multiplied. It also reminds the readers that “languages and nations” accompanied groups of families in various regions.

It is worth noting that the text mentions a grandson of Shem and a son of Aram, named Uz. It was from the land of Uz that Abram was called by God.

The translator’s note associated with Peleg, a decendant of Shem, reads “The expression “the earth was divided” which may refer to dividing the land with canals, but more likely it anticipates the division of languages at Babel (Gen 11). The verb פָּלָג (palag, “separate, divide”) is used in Ps 55:9 for a division of languages.”

Interact With The Text

Consider

The Lord God wants us to know that the way that we choose to live before Him, and in our interactions with others, has an impact on our biological, legal, and spiritual descendants. There is nothing in the Word of God that is there without a specific purpose. The several geneologies are there for “credibility”, not that God needs credibility, but to establish the historic credibility of the Word in a transparent and verifiable manner. As the descendants of Noah multiplied they also spread geographically, resulting in changes to their common language and to the creation of local communities or ‘nations’.

Discuss

When you observe the disciplined respect for the Lord God, passed down from generation to generation, do you also notice that the predisposition toward rebellion against the Lordship of God was also passed on? Look closely at those who followed Ham, the son who disrespected Noah, and see how Noah’s prophesy was fulfilled. Look at your country and see the unique characteristics from region to region (even among people who are biologically and/or legally related) once they gain geological separation from one-another.

Reflect

All three brothers knew the expectations of the Lord God for their treatment of their father yet Ham chose to be disrespectful; we also get to make choices - do we stoop to immaturity with Ham or stand respectful before the Lord with Shem and Japheth? Recall from the story of Jonah that the Lord God’s desire was to provide a pathway to forgiveness for the citizens of Ninevah - then remember from whom that cities founder flowed. Is not the Lord merciful from generation to generation? He is not troubled by our local diversity, His concern is that we share Him in common.

Share

When have you been tempted to disrespect or to shame a parent or other authority figure? What did you choose to do and what was the consequence? Do you know of a family or a community where there has been a long history of bad choices but where the Lord God has found an opportunity to shine the light of forgiveness and truth and that resulted in a break in that “generational curse”? When have you found that diversity has led to disinterest and/or confusion, if not dislike, perhaps even leading to conflict?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you may have more in common with Ham than with Shem and Japheth. Ask Him to remind you every day of the Lord God’s desire to redeem. Ask Him to press into you the same comfort with diversity of color and of language, culture, and geography that He has for all who call Him Lord.

Act

I agree to review my daily life for any patterns of disrespect or shaming toward parents or legitimate authority figures and to prayerfully submit to the Holy Spirit as He helps me to change my attitude and conduct. I agree to spend some quiet time with the Holy Spirit to prayerfully seek awareness of a “generational curse” in my family (or community) which He has either broken or which He is creating an opportunity to break. I will celebrate His blessing where He has already done so (and will share that praise report with a fellow believer) and will make myself available to His liberating work if He is about to enter-into my family or community. I agree to partner with the Holy Spirit, and a prayerful fellow Christian, to search out any place in me where I may hold a bias against a fellow Christian because of differences that the Lord God has demonstrated are unimportant. I will then commit to intentionally purge those wrong thoughts.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Friday (Genesis 11:1-9)

The Dispersion of the Nations at Babel

11:1 The whole earth had a common language and a common vocabulary.

11:2 When the people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.

11:3 Then they said to one another, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” (They had brick instead of stone and tar instead of mortar.)

11:4 Then they said, “Come, let’s build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens so that we may make a name for ourselves. Otherwise we will be scattered across the face of the entire earth.”

11:5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the people had started building.

11:6 And the Lord said, “If as one people all sharing a common language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be beyond them.

11:7 Come, let’s go down and confuse their language so they won’t be able to understand each other.”

11:8 So the Lord scattered them from there across the face of the entire earth, and they stopped building the city.

11:9 That is why its name was called Babel – because there the Lord confused the language of the entire world, and from there the Lord scattered them across the face of the entire earth.

Prayer

Lord, how quickly after Your demonstrations of mercy and of power did humankind forget Who You are and drift again into arrogant rebellion. Thank You for the record of this cycle in Your Word which stands as a reminder to us.

Scripture In Perspective

While the end of Chapter 10 spoke of different languages this text refers to a common language and a common vocabulary. It is reasonable to read the difference as Chapter 10 intending to communicate differing dialects rather than entirely different languages – which makes good sense given the relatively brief time from the eight people on the Ark and the time of this text.

However, if one looks more closely at Chapter 10 one discovers that it was not all of the people on earth who are being spoken of here but one stream of descendants; it was Nimrod, son of Cush and grandson of the rebellious Ham - son of Noah - who settled in Shinar. (Gen. 10:8-10)

In their arrogance their rebellion took the form of building a massive tower as a rallying-point and symbol of their ability to get into “the heavens” without the Lord God; removing their perception of a need for God, and condemning them to generations of eternally-lost people.

In His mercy, rather than destroying the city and the people together with their tower, the Lord God confused their language – fragmenting their sense of cohesion and complicating their communications – so that they gave up and dispersed. One of the sub-groups later went on to build the city of Ninevah.

Interact With The Text

Consider

The Bible speaks of the sins of the father (Exo. 20:5, 34:7; Deut 5:8; Num. 14:18), referring to the impact of rebellion, being passed down from generation to generation. We see this with Ham, just as the Lord God had caused Noah to prophesy.

Discuss

Why is it that humankind is so fond of building cathedrals, cities, and towers, most of which are designed to serve as great monuments to man and not to God?

Reflect

God could have wiped-out Shinar, but in His mercy He chose instead to make it so difficult for them that they gave up, preserving an opportunity for some of the people to escape their evil culture and leaders and perhaps choose obedience to their Lord.

Share

When have you rebelled against the Lord God and He found it necessary to make things so difficult that you turned-away from your rebellion? (It could have been the temptation to commit adultery, to cheat, to lie, to steal, etc. You may not have stopped right away but the consequences may have become more than you were willing to bear. It is not unusual that soon after being saved, within the first year, the Enemy brings temptation in ones weakest areas – the same as he did to the generations soon after the Flood.)

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you something that you need to deal with, that is an act of rebellion against the Lord, however small.

Act

I agree to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, and to engage a prayer-partner, as I identify and deal with a place of rebellion in my life - rather than waiting for the Lord God to take sterner measures to separate me from my sin.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Saturday (Genesis 11:10-32)

The Genealogy of Shem

11:10 This is the account of Shem.

Shem was 100 old when he became the father of Arphaxad, two years after the flood. 11:11 And after becoming the father of Arphaxad, Shem lived 500 years and had other sons and daughters.

11:12 When Arphaxad had lived 35 years, he became the father of Shelah. 11:13 And after he became the father of Shelah, Arphaxad lived 403 years and had other sons and daughters.

11:14 When Shelah had lived 30 years, he became the father of Eber. 11:15 And after he became the father of Eber, Shelah lived 403 years and had other sons and daughters.

11:16 When Eber had lived 34 years, he became the father of Peleg. 11:17 And after he became the father of Peleg, Eber lived 430 years and had other sons and daughters.

11:18 When Peleg had lived 30 years, he became the father of Reu. 11:19 And after he became the father of Reu, Peleg lived 209 years and had other sons and daughters.

11:20 When Reu had lived 32 years, he became the father of Serug. 11:21 And after he became the father of Serug, Reu lived 207 years and had other sons and daughters.

11:22 When Serug had lived 30 years, he became the father of Nahor. 11:23 And after he became the father of Nahor, Serug lived 200 years and had other sons and daughters.

11:24 When Nahor had lived 29 years, he became the father of Terah. 11:25 And after he became the father of Terah, Nahor lived 119 years and had other sons and daughters.

11:26 When Terah had lived 70 years, he became the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran.

The Record of Terah

11:27 This is the account of Terah.

Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran. And Haran became the father of Lot. 11:28 Haran died in the land of his birth, in Ur of the Chaldeans, while his father Terah was still alive. 11:29 And Abram and Nahor took wives for themselves. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milcah; she was the daughter of Haran, the father of both Milcah and Iscah. 11:30 But Sarai was barren; she had no children.

11:31 Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot (the son of Haran), and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and with them he set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. When they came to Haran, they settled there. 11:32 The lifetime of Terah was 205 years, and he died in Haran.

Prayer

Lord, while You allowed sin to have its way with the bodies – the very lifespan – of humankind Your hand is clear as it guided the sovereign thread of Your perfect plan amidst the chaos and confusion of Fallen Creation.

Scripture In Perspective

The genealogy of the descendants of Shem is remarkable as it demonstrates the rapidly declining life-span of humankind as one evidence of the destructive impact of the Fall; due, of course, to multiple variables.

Seven generations later the genealogy of Terah recorded some better known names, those of Abram, Lot, and Sarai, and regions – those of Ur of the Chaldeans and of Caanan.

The genealogy of Abram’s wife, Sarai, is not recorded in this section of text. Her story was remarkable as she was “barren”, and given the emphasis of the Lord God upon reproduction at that time, that had to be a very difficult burden for her and Abram.

Haran’s wife is neither named nor is her genealogy cited. Nahor’s wife was Haran’s daughter Milcah, his niece.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Using the version of still-evolving English language that was available to them in the Elizabethian-era older versions of the New Testament rendered the text of Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” In Genesis 11:10-24 the shortened lifespan of humankind bears plain evidence of the temporal “wages of sin”.

Discuss

Among a people recently commissioned by the Lord God to “go forth and multiply”, and as they were surrounded by the children and grandchildren of Abram’s brothers, how must Abram and Sarai have suffered emotionally? How often might they have pleaded to the Lord to give them a child? (Compare this to the New Testament where His emphasis is on salvific-reproduction rather than biological.)

Reflect

The Lord God provided a clear map of the genealogy of Abram and his shared need, together with his wife Sarai, so clearly He was preparing the reader for the story to follow.

Share

When have you desired something that you believed to be the Lord God’s will only to have roadblock arise repeatedly to block your path? How did that impact your relationship with the Lord?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to amplify His presence as you seek awareness of current and past occasions where He was teaching you dependence and patience upon the Lord God.

Act

I agree to prayerfully assess my past and present for evidence of the Lord God’s hand in my life, holding me back when I was rushing ahead of His timing, testing my faith in His perfect provision and timing – and in the keeping of His promises, and strengthening me along the way.

Be Specific _________________________________________________

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2012 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study. Prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in August of 2012. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

4. Job 1 – 3 (Job’s Troubles)

A Chronological Daily Bible Study of the Old Testament
7-Day Sections with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and a Practical Daily Application

Week 4

Sunday (Job 1:1-5)

Job’s Good Life

1:1 There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job.

And that man was pure and upright,

one who feared God and turned away from evil.

1:2 Seven sons and three daughters were born to him.

1:3 His possessions included 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys; in addition he had a very great household.

Thus he was the greatest of all the people in the east.

1:4 Now his sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one in turn, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and to drink with them. 1:5 When the days of their feasting were finished,

Job would send for them and sanctify them; he would get up early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all.

For Job thought, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.”

This was Job’s customary practice.

Prayer

Lord, Job was an amazing man in many ways, not only was he rich in possessions he was also faithful in worship of You. May I remember that everything I have and everything I care about belongs to You and that I owe You my praise, thanks, and wisdom.

Scripture In Perspective

Job lived in an area known as Uz. In Genesis 10 the text records that a grandson of Shem, and a son of Aram, was named Uz. It was from the land of Uz that Abram was called by God.

Job was “... pure and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil” and was the wealthiest man “... in the east”. It is worth noting the linkage between “pure and upright”, that he made the choice to turn “away from evil”, and that he was blessed to be the wealthiest man “... in the east.” Satan would later observe, but misrepresent, the linkage between Job’s wealth and his relationship with the Lord God.

Job’s wealth included a great “household” which, as will be revealed in text to follow, included many employees “servants”.

Job had seven grown sons and three daughters who were fond of gathering for feats of food and drink. No mention was made of the children's relationship with the Lord God.

The text reports that Job thought “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.”, so following each of their feasts he would offer burnt offerings for them.

The text does not say why Job might have such a thought, perhaps it was merely an abundance of caution, or perhaps it was because his children offered no praise or worship of the Lord God in their extravagant lifestyle.

In either case Job was a God-honoring human role model for his children and for his community.

Interact with the text

Consider

Humankind is very early in recovery after the Flood, the practice of worship has yet to be enshrined in any recorded law, making Job’s faithfulness in his fortune all the more remarkable.

Discuss

How might Job’s sacrifices on behalf of his children be a role model for modern parents, and perhaps other relatives and friends, praying for the well-being of children and young adults as their make their way through life?

Reflect

No mention was made of the children being engaged in any work, though they may have, rather the implication was that they busied themselves in the indulgences that Job’s great wealth provided.

Share

When have you observed the children of honorable and hard-working people carelessly living-off the wealth of their parents without regard to matters of faith and due respect to the Lord God?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place in your life where you tend to take the Lord God’s blessings for granted.

Act

Today I will confess and repent of my presumption upon the Lord God. I will request and humbly accept His forgiveness and will adjust my attitude and my schedule to make time to give thanks – in addition to a general ‘attitude of gratitude’.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Monday (Job 1:6-12)

Satan’s Accusation of Job

1:6 Now the day came when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord – and Satan also arrived among them.

1:7 The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”

And Satan answered the Lord, “From roving about on the earth, and from walking back and forth across it.”

1:8 So the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job?

There is no one like him on the earth, a pure and upright man,

one who fears God and turns away from evil.”

1:9 Then Satan answered the Lord, “Is it for nothing that Job fears God?

1:10 Have you not made a hedge around him and his household and all that he has on every side?

You have blessed the work of his hands, and his livestock have increased in the land.

1:11 But extend your hand and strike everything he has, and he will no doubt curse you to your face!”

1:12 So the Lord said to Satan, “All right then, everything he has is in your power.

Only do not extend your hand against the man himself!”

So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

Prayer

Lord, just as the Newt Testament reminded us, Satan is on an evil mission to destroy those who love the Lord. May I be watchful for his evils schemes, quick to send him away and to seek-after You, and patient for Your resolution of the troubles he brings.

Scripture In Perspective

In the royal court of the Lord God “... the day came when the sons of God” [The NET translator’s notes explain that this phrase refers to the angelic beings, faithful and fallen alike “a poetic way of describing their nature and relationship to God”] “... came to present themselves before the Lord”, and on that day Satan showed up, whereupon the Lord challenged him to explain from what activity had he come.

Satan declared that he had been walking around the world. Many generations later, in the New Testament text, we are again reminded that Satan roams the earth in search of opportunities to harm those who love the Lord. (1 Peter 5:8)

The Lord, knowing his arrogant and dark heart, then challenged him, “Have you considered my servant Job?” He described the positive attributes of Job, both among his peers and in his relationship to Him, as a challenge to Satan.

Satan accused the Lord God of manipulating Job unfairly, providing great wealth and every other need, and protecting him from harm. Satan declared that if He removed those protections that Job would rebel and reject Him.

The Lord God then gave Satan permission to try all of the things he had in mind to drive Job to rebellion, short of touching Job directly, and dismissed him from His royal court.

Interact With The Text

Consider

As the Lord God allowed the working-out of justice, perfectly balanced by His grace, He permitted the evil one to challenge those who chose loyalty to the Lord. This was part of the cure of the Fall; humankind chose to allow Satan a combative role in creation, the Lord God therefore tolerated the continuous choice-making process.

Discuss

When you study this text alone, or in small group, have you found it helpful to recall that Satan only has a continuing role in human affairs because we invited him into them at the Fall?

Reflect

Satan continues to prey upon humankind, he continues to challenge the integrity of the Lord God, and he continues to fail to comprehend that he is hopelessly outmatched by the Lord God.

Share

When have you observed someone who was apparently trying to be faithful to the Lord God still come under attack and oppression from the enemy for a time?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a fellow believer for whom He'd like you to pray and to encouragement.

Act

Today I will pray for the one to whom He has directed me and I will, as is appropriate, seek ways to otherwise encourage and serve them as they bear-up under an attack from the enemy.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Tuesday (Job 1:13-22)

Job’s Integrity in Adversity

1:13 Now the day came when Job’s sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house,

1:14 and a messenger came to Job, saying, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing beside them, 1:15 and the Sabeans swooped down and carried them all away, and they killed the servants with the sword! And I – only I alone – escaped to tell you!”

1:16 While this one was still speaking, another messenger arrived and said, “The fire of God has fallen from heaven and has burned up the sheep and the servants – it has consumed them! And I – only I alone – escaped to tell you!”

1:17 While this one was still speaking another messenger arrived and said, “The Chaldeans formed three bands and made a raid on the camels and carried them all away, and they killed the servants with the sword! And I – only I alone – escaped to tell you!”

1:18 While this one was still speaking another messenger arrived and said, “Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 1:19 and suddenly a great wind swept across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they died! And I – only I alone – escaped to tell you!”

1:20 Then Job got up and tore his robe. He shaved his head, and then he threw himself down with his face to the ground.

1:21 He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will return there. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. May the name of the Lord be blessed!”

1:22 In all this Job did not sin, nor did he charge God with moral impropriety.

Prayer

Lord, we all face terrifying moments in our lives; danger, loss, and suffering. May I remember from Job’s story that You understand the groanings of our hearts as we cry-out in pain, You are patient and forgiving, and You give us strength when we have none left of our own. Your knowledge, justice, and wisdom are perfect. You are not as concerned about our worldly comforts – as are we - because Your focus is upon our eternal well-being. While mere humans seize upon crises and tragedies as opportunities to promote their selfish personal agendas You use them to cleanse and to teach. May I be as Job and never doubt Your right to do as You please with me as I have surrendered all.

Scripture In Perspective

Satan used various tribes to raid and kill and destroy Job’s animals and crops, and bizarre weather (fire and wind) to kill his children, as well as destroying buildings and servants.

Job responded to the news by tearing his robes, falling to the ground, acknowledging the Lord’s sovereignty over all things and His right to give them and to take them.

The text uses the expression that Job never accused the Lord God of any “moral impropriety” in permitting these events. This is important as the balance of the book of Job will be filled with debate as to the reason for such events and the Lord God’s hand in them.

Job’s initial response was his best, as he would later parse his words some, and thus deviate from the only correct response to such a tragedy.

Interact With The Text

Consider

While Job never accused the Lord God of any “moral impropriety” and did not sin in saying “the Lord gives and the Lord takes away” the text does not say that Job was either perfect in his faith nor that he was without sin.

Discuss

What sort of bone and soul-deep faith does it take to respond as Job did to such devastating news as all of this?

Reflect

Job had nothing of the Old Testament or New Testament writings, only stories and traditions passed-down through the generation, thus his faith was all the more remarkable.

Share

When have you observed someone, confronted with terrible news, who immediately gave it over to the Lord God?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you an opportunity to grow in your faith so that you may also be more inclined to give-over to Him those things which might otherwise overwhelm you.

Act

Today I will follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and will make the time to invest myself in the discipleship necessary to grow significantly deeper in faith.

Be Specific _________________________________________________

Wednesday (Job 2:1-10)

Satan’s Additional Charge

2:1 Again the day came when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also arrived among them to present himself before the Lord.

2:2 And the Lord said to Satan, “Where do you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roving about on the earth, and from walking back and forth across it.”

2:3 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a pure and upright man, one who fears God and turns away from evil. And he still holds firmly to his integrity, so that you stirred me up to destroy him without reason.”

2:4 But Satan answered the Lord, “Skin for skin! Indeed, a man will give up all that he has to save his life!

2:5 But extend your hand and strike his bone and his flesh, and he will no doubt curse you to your face!”

2:6 So the Lord said to Satan, “All right, he is in your power; only preserve his life.”

Job’s Integrity in Suffering

2:7 So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and he afflicted Job with a malignant ulcer from the sole of his feet to the top of his head.

2:8 Job took a shard of broken pottery to scrape himself with while he was sitting among the ashes.

2:9 Then his wife said to him, “Are you still holding firmly to your integrity? Curse God, and die!”

2:10 But he replied, “You’re talking like one of the godless women would do! Should we receive what is good from God, and not also receive what is evil?”

In all this Job did not sin by what he said.

Prayer

Lord, even when confronted by direct physical attack and undermined by a heartsick wife who was angry with You, Job resisted the urge to question Your righteousness. May my faith grow as deep so my trust in You I will keep.

Scripture In Perspective

Once again Satan showed up in the royal court of the Lord God at a time allotted to the angels to present themselves.

Once again the Lord God questions Satan as to where he had been, perhaps to force him to confess before the angels that he was no longer among them but rather cast-down to wander about the earth.

He then challenged Satan once more, “... he [Job] still holds firmly to his integrity, so that you stirred Me up to destroy him without reason.”

Satan replied that a human would do anything for their own well-being but might appear righteous when it is others who are suffering, so he asked permission to attack Job’s health. The Lord granted him permission, but he was not permitted to kill Job.

Satan struck Job with ulcers over his entire body and as he sat in the ashes of his formerly great estate, scraping them with a shard of broken pottery, his wife tempted him to “curse God and die”.

Job's wife followed the pattern of Eve, and later of David's wife Michal, where they made a situation about themselves or their spouse rather than looking to the Lord for perspective and strength.

Job chastised his wife for speaking like a non-believer, thought not for being an unbeliever, it was unsurprising that her losses confused her thinking.

The NET translator's notes observe that Job was not later instructed to pray for her restoration to right-relationship with Him, as was the case for Job's friends, so the Lord's loving-grace was not offended by her momentary outburst – He knew her heart.

Job explained to his wife that we must be willing to accept both good gifts and difficult challenges from the Lord God.

The text concluded that “Job did not sin by what he said” therefore reinforcing that his responses to this point had been correct.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Job’s wife had endured the loss of ten children whom she had birthed and raised, plus the loss of their worldly resources, and then had to watch her husband’s health shattered.

Discuss

Why would Job’s wife have said what she said, since the text and the NET translator’s notes suggest that she was otherwise in good standing with the Lord?

Reflect

The arrogant and proud Satan was twice embarrassed before the heavenly host,

first forced to confess his lowly status among humankind rather than among them as he once was, then mocked for his failure to undermine Job by attacking his family and resources. Desperate to win he asked to attack Job directly.

Share

When have you, or someone you know, been struggling against adversity – or to do the right thing – only to have someone close to them give poor counsel?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you either a source of poor counsel and/or someone for whom you could provide God-honoring encouragement.

Act

Today I will either set a boundary with someone whose counsel is not God-honoring and/or I will encourage someone from the Word who needs support in standing their ground with the Lord.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Thursday (Job 2:11-13)

The Visit of Job’s Friends

2:11 When Job’s three friends heard about all this calamity that had happened to him, each of them came from his own country – Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They met together to come to show sympathy for him and to console him.

2:12 But when they gazed intently from a distance but did not recognize him, they began to weep loudly.

Each of them tore his robes, and they threw dust into the air over their heads. 2:13 Then they sat down with him on the ground for seven days and seven nights,

yet no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great.

Prayer

Lord, sometimes in times of great loss the best thing You would have us do is to be present but in silent prayer. May I listen to Your Holy Spirit for the wisdom and strength to know when to do just that.

Scripture In Perspective

Job’s three friends came to console him but so great was his affliction that they could not even recognize him from a distance.

They tore their robes, threw dust in the air, and wept.

Then they went to him and sat quietly for seven days as his terrible losses and great affliction rendered them speechless.

Interact With The Text

Consider

His friends hear the news, stopped what they were doing, and came to be with him. Job’s friends respected his angst and kept him company without feeling compelled to speak a word.

Discuss

How does one know when to keep silent and when to speak?

Reflect

For seven days they waited until he first spoke. Such patience and respect.

Share

When have you observed someone experiencing a terrible loss and struggled with a right response to God and man?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you someone who is struggling with major losses – whom He wants you to comfort.

Act

Today I will stop and make a special effort to assist and to encourage someone who is dealing with major losses. As is appropriate I will do so by just being-there without forcing my thoughts upon them.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Friday (Job 3:1-12)

3:1 After this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day he was born.

3:2 Job spoke up and said:

3:3 “Let the day on which I was born perish, and the night that said, ‘A man has been conceived!’

3:4 That day – let it be darkness; let not God on high regard it, nor let light shine on it!

3:5 Let darkness and the deepest shadow claim it; let a cloud settle on it; let whatever blackens the day terrify it!

3:6 That night – let darkness seize it; let it not be included among the days of the year; let it not enter among the number of the months!

3:7 Indeed, let that night be barren; let no shout of joy penetrate it!

3:8 Let those who curse the day curse it – those who are prepared to rouse Leviathan.

3:9 Let its morning stars be darkened; let it wait for daylight but find none, nor let it see the first rays of dawn,

3:10 because it did not shut the doors of my mother’s womb on me, nor did it hide trouble from my eyes!

Job Wishes He Had Died at Birth

3:11 “Why did I not die at birth, and why did I not expire as I came out of the womb?

3:12 Why did the knees welcome me, and why were there two breasts that I might nurse at them?

Prayer

Lord, sometimes this world seems to hard to bear, and sometimes we believe the lie that You really don’t care. May I always trust that Your knowledge and wisdom, grace and justice, are perfect.

Scripture In Perspective

When Job broke his silence he spoke from his emotional and physical agony and wished-aloud that he had never been born.

Job was as-one with everyone he knew who had ever suffered a loss, considering his own loss the equivalent of the sum of theirs and wishing for a monster to swallow-up the daylight as it only served to remind him of his losses.

The NET translator’s notes remind the reader that “Leviathan” refers to an ancient mythological creature of the deep waters.

Interact With The Text

Consider

As Satan observed, Job had lived a blessed life, and although he engaged in ‘just in case’ sacrifices for the sanctification of his children he was ill-prepared for loss from any direct experience.

Discuss

How would you respond to someone who said that they also would prefer to die if they suffered a loss anything like that of Job?

Reflect

The Lord God loved Job but He loves justice and right-thinking as well and these events set up opportunities to demonstrate justice and to enhance right-thinking in both heavenly and earthly realms.

Share

When have you experienced or observed significant loss and the associated emotions? What did that look like?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place in your life that is so emotionally-powerful and scary, real (past or present) or imagined (a fear of what might happen), that you may wish to die rather than deal with it.

Act

Today I will confess that I have at times believed the lie of the enemy that the Lord God is not sufficient, at least not in the most-scary places of my life. I will accept His forgiveness, I will repent (turn away from) of that false belief (which may be more emotional than intellectual), and I will trust Him to guide me through the process of overcoming my fears.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Saturday (Job 3:13-26)

3:13 For now I would be lying down and would be quiet, I would be asleep and then at peace

3:14 with kings and counselors of the earth who built for themselves places now desolate,

3:15 or with princes who possessed gold, who filled their palaces with silver.

3:16 Or why was I not buried like a stillborn infant, like infants who have never seen the light?

3:17 There the wicked cease from turmoil, and there the weary are at rest.

3:18 There the prisoners relax together; they do not hear the voice of the oppressor.

3:19 Small and great are there, and the slave is free from his master.

Longing for Death

3:20 “Why does God give light to one who is in misery, and life to those whose soul is bitter,

3:21 to those who wait for death that does not come, and search for it more than for hidden treasures,

3:22 who rejoice even to jubilation, and are exultant when they find the grave?

3:23 Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden, and whom God has hedged in?

3:24 For my sighing comes in place of my food, and my groanings flow forth like water.

3:25 For the very thing I dreaded has happened to me, and what I feared has come upon me.

3:26 I have no ease, I have no quietness; I cannot rest; turmoil has come upon me.”

Prayer

Lord, following wave after wave of devastating news Job held the ground of his faith, but finally he was emotionally exhausted and sought the peace of death. Thank You Lord for Your indwelling Holy Spirit so that we do not have to bear-up under the challenges of this fallen world in our own strength, but rather we rest in You.

Scripture In Perspective

Job observe the concept of the ‘common sleep, unaware of one-another nor of the passage of time’, among all who have died.

It matters not whether one was great or common, rich or poor, good or evil, old or young in this world, unless the Lord returns before death comes all sleep until He awakens.

The apostle Paul described all who have died as waiting on the awakening call of the Lord, though they all are “asleep”. (e.g. 1Thess. 4:13)

Interact With The Text

Consider

Job managed his angst longer than many might have, seven days after his friends arrived, plus the days prior to that.

Discuss

How would you advise someone who had suffered a terrible loss and whose emotional exhaustion in grieving had caused them to contemplate giving up on life altogether?

Reflect

We sometimes give the enemy a free second victory by giving-up rather than stepping-up.

Share

What are some ways that you have observed that people dealt with major losses?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place where you have not done well with a loss; perhaps a job or money or a relationship or the death of someone close.

Act

Today I will confess my failure to trust me perspective and my healing to the Lord God and rather tried to handle it all myself. I will request and receive His forgiveness, comfort, healing, strength, and wisdom. I will share the story of His work in me with a fellow believer as a testimony and an encouragement for them should they also be confronted with a difficult loss.

Be Specific _________________________________________________

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2012 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study – Job. Prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in August of 2012. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

5. Job 4 – 31 (Job’s Friends)

A Chronological Daily Bible Study of the Old Testament
7-Day Sections
with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and a Practical Daily Application

Week 5

Sunday (Job 4)

Eliphaz Begins to Speak

4:1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered:

4:2 “If someone should attempt a word with you, will you be impatient?

But who can refrain from speaking?

4:3 Look, you have instructed many; you have strengthened feeble hands.

4:4 Your words have supported those who stumbled, and you have strengthened the knees that gave way.

4:5 But now the same thing comes to you, and you are discouraged; it strikes you, and you are terrified.

4:6 Is not your piety your confidence, and your blameless ways your hope?

4:7 Call to mind now: Who, being innocent, ever perished?

And where were upright people ever destroyed?

4:8 Even as I have seen, those who plow iniquity and those who sow trouble reap the same.

4:9 By the breath of God they perish, and by the blast of his anger they are consumed.

4:10 There is the roaring of the lion and the growling of the young lion, but the teeth of the young lions are broken.

4:11 The mighty lion perishes for lack of prey, and the cubs of the lioness are scattered.

Ungodly Complainers Provoke God’s Wrath

4:12 “Now a word was secretly brought to me, and my ear caught a whisper of it.

4:13 In the troubling thoughts of the dreams in the night when a deep sleep falls on men,

4:14 a trembling gripped me – and a terror! – and made all my bones shake.

4:15 Then a breath of air passes by my face; it makes the hair of my flesh stand up.

4:16 It stands still, but I cannot recognize its appearance; an image is before my eyes, and I hear a murmuring voice:

4:17 “Is a mortal man righteous before God?

Or a man pure before his Creator?

4:18 If God puts no trust in his servants and attributes folly to his angels,

4:19 how much more to those who live in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, who are crushed like a moth?

4:20 They are destroyed between morning and evening; they perish forever without anyone regarding it.

4:21 Is not their excess wealth taken away from them?

They die, yet without attaining wisdom.

5:1 “Call now! Is there anyone who will answer you?

To which of the holy ones will you turn?

5:2 For wrath kills the foolish person, and anger slays the silly one.

5:3 I myself have seen the fool taking root, but suddenly I cursed his place of residence.

5:4 His children are far from safety, and they are crushed at the place where judgment is rendered, nor is there anyone to deliver them.

5:5 The hungry eat up his harvest, and take it even from behind the thorns, and the thirsty swallow up their fortune.

5:6 For evil does not come up from the dust, nor does trouble spring up from the ground,

5:7 but people are born to trouble, as surely as the sparks fly upward.

Blessings for the One Who Seeks God

5:8 “But as for me, I would seek God, and to God I would set forth my case.

5:9 He does great and unsearchable things, marvelous things without number;

5:10 he gives rain on the earth, and sends water on the fields;

5:11 he sets the lowly on high, that those who mourn are raised to safety.

5:12 He frustrates the plans of the crafty so that their hands cannot accomplish what they had planned!

5:13 He catches the wise in their own craftiness, and the counsel of the cunning is brought to a quick end.

5:14 They meet with darkness in the daytime, and grope about in the noontime as if it were night.

5:15 So he saves from the sword that comes from their mouth, even the poor from the hand of the powerful.

5:16 Thus the poor have hope, and iniquity shuts its mouth.

5:17 “Therefore, blessed is the man whom God corrects, so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.

5:18 For he wounds, but he also bandages; he strikes, but his hands also heal.

5:19 He will deliver you from six calamities; yes, in seven no evil will touch you.

5:20 In time of famine he will redeem you from death, and in time of war from the power of the sword.

5:21 You will be protected from malicious gossip, and will not be afraid of the destruction when it comes.

5:22 You will laugh at destruction and famine and need not be afraid of the beasts of the earth.

5:23 For you will have a pact with the stones of the field, and the wild animals will be at peace with you.

5:24 And you will know that your home will be secure, and when you inspect your domains, you will not be missing anything.

5:25 You will also know that your children will be numerous, and your descendants like the grass of the earth.

5:26 You will come to your grave in a full age, As stacks of grain are harvested in their season.

5:27 Look, we have investigated this, so it is true. Hear it, and apply it for your own good.”

Job Replies to Eliphaz

6:1 Then Job responded:

6:2 “Oh, if only my grief could be weighed, and my misfortune laid on the scales too!

6:3 But because it is heavier than the sand of the sea, that is why my words have been wild.

6:4 For the arrows of the Almighty are within me; my spirit drinks their poison;

God’s sudden terrors are arrayed against me.

Complaints Reflect Suffering

6:5 “Does the wild donkey bray when it is near grass?

Or does the ox low near its fodder?

6:6 Can food that is tasteless be eaten without salt?

Or is there any taste in the white of an egg?

6:7 I have refused to touch such things; they are like loathsome food to me.

A Cry for Death

6:8 “Oh that my request would be realized, and that God would grant me what I long for!

6:9 And that God would be willing to crush me, that he would let loose his hand and kill me.

6:10 Then I would yet have my comfort, then I would rejoice, in spite of pitiless pain, for I have not concealed the words of the Holy One.

6:11 What is my strength, that I should wait?

and what is my end, that I should prolong my life?

6:12 Is my strength like that of stones?

or is my flesh made of bronze?

6:13 Is not my power to help myself nothing, and has not every resource been driven from me?

Disappointing Friends

6:14 “To the one in despair, kindness should come from his friend even if he forsakes the fear of the Almighty.

6:15 My brothers have been as treacherous as a seasonal stream, and as the riverbeds of the intermittent streams that flow away.

6:16 They are dark because of ice; snow is piled up over them.

6:17 When they are scorched, they dry up, when it is hot, they vanish from their place.

6:18 Caravans turn aside from their routes; they go into the wasteland and perish.

6:19 The caravans of Tema looked intently for these streams; the traveling merchants of Sheba hoped for them.

6:20 They were distressed, because each one had been so confident; they arrived there, but were disappointed.

6:21 For now you have become like these streams that are no help; you see a terror, and are afraid.

Friends’ Fears

6:22 “Have I ever said, ‘Give me something, and from your fortune make gifts in my favor’?

6:23 Or ‘Deliver me from the enemy’s power, and from the hand of tyrants ransom me’?

No Sin Discovered

6:24 “Teach me and I, for my part, will be silent; explain to me how I have been mistaken.

6:25 How painful are honest words!

But what does your reproof prove?

6:26 Do you intend to criticize mere words, and treat the words of a despairing man as wind?

6:27 Yes, you would gamble for the fatherless, and auction off your friend.

Other Explanation

6:28 “Now then, be good enough to look at me; and I will not lie to your face!

6:29 Relent, let there be no falsehood; reconsider, for my righteousness is intact!

6:30 Is there any falsehood on my lips?

Can my mouth not discern evil things?

The Brevity of Life

7:1 “Does not humanity have hard service on earth?

Are not their days also like the days of a hired man?

7:2 Like a servant longing for the evening shadow, and like a hired man looking for his wages,

7:3 thus I have been made to inherit months of futility, and nights of sorrow have been appointed to me.

7:4 If I lie down, I say, ‘When will I arise?’,

and the night stretches on and I toss and turn restlessly until the day dawns.

7:5 My body is clothed with worms and dirty scabs; my skin is broken and festering.

7:6 My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle and they come to an end without hope.

7:7 Remember that my life is but a breath, that my eyes will never again see happiness.

7:8 The eye of him who sees me now will see me no more; your eyes will look for me, but I will be gone.

7:9 As a cloud is dispersed and then disappears, so the one who goes down to the grave does not come up again.

7:10 He returns no more to his house, nor does his place of residence know him any more.

Job Remonstrates with God

7:11 “Therefore, I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.

7:12 Am I the sea, or the creature of the deep, that you must put me under guard?

7:13 If I say, “My bed will comfort me, my couch will ease my complaint,”

7:14 then you scare me with dreams and terrify me with visions,

7:15 so that I would prefer strangling, and death more than life.

7:16 I loathe it; I do not want to live forever; leave me alone, for my days are a vapor!

Insignificance of Humans

7:17 “What is mankind that you make so much of them, and that you pay attention to them?

7:18 And that you visit them every morning, and try them every moment?

7:19 Will you never look away from me, will you not let me alone long enough to swallow my spittle?

7:20 If I have sinned – what have I done to you, O watcher of men?

Why have you set me as your target?

Have I become a burden to you?

7:21 And why do you not pardon my transgression, and take away my iniquity?

For now I will lie down in the dust, and you will seek me diligently, but I will be gone.”

Prayer

Lord, often in challenging times we imaging that a multitude of words may explain things that we really do not fully comprehend. Please help me to acknowledge when I simply do not understand rather than trying to explain everything in human terms.

Scripture In Perspective

Eliphaz, one of Job’s closest associates/friends, challenges Job to not be offended as he speaks as he feels that what he has to say is important because of what Job has said.

Eliphaz recognizes that Job has been an encourager and teacher to many in their times of trouble, but seems to crumble when the same comes to him, and then asks “Is not your piety your confidence, and your blameless ways your hope?”

Eliphaz suggests that Job needs to confess his secret sin so that the Lord God will not continue to punish him. He says that Job should please to the Lord God for understanding, mercy, and restoration. He declares that no mortal many is righteous before God, so Job needed to stop claiming to have been punished, despite a lack of sin.

Eliphaz concludes that blessings come to those who seek the Lord but that one must not despise His discipline as it always has a cause and a purpose.

Job continued to complain of his losses, and to long for death, while observing that he had been brought to the end of his prior considerable worldly means - with which he had always been able help himself (and others).

Job challenged his friends as being unhelpful; falsely accusing him secret sin, oblivious to the reality that it didn’t matter anyhow since he had lost everything of value.

Job lamented that his life no longer had hope or purpose and that he had no expectation that he would every be happy again.

Job then complained to the Lord God; declaring that since he, like all humans, was insignificant - so why would God continue to trouble him with His presence, why punish him so terribly, and why not just let him die?

Job asked “If I have sinned – what have I done to you, O watcher of men? Why have you set me as your target? Have I become a burden to you? And why do you not pardon my transgression, and take away my iniquity?” then he said that he was about to lay down and die so that when the Lord God returned he would be gone.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Job is reasonably upset but now has become defensive, both toward his friends and toward the Lord God.

Discuss

Why would Eliphaz assume that Job was hiding a specific sin, for which he certainly knew though refused to confess, that God was punishing him? Why would Job chastise his friends for suggesting that he had sinned, then imply that he may in fact have sinned - but that somehow he had not against God - when he then addressed God?

Reflect

Eliphaz embedded some questionable notions amidst a great deal of wisdom, much of which he may have learned from Job, based on his introductory compliments for him.

It is interesting that Job threatens the Lord God with his own death, imagining that such would somehow successfully place him out of God’s reach.

Share

When have you struggled so badly that you even questioned the love of God?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place in your life where you have relied upon your own resources and believed that you were righteous as a result of those choices alone.

Act

Today I will confess that I have not allowed the Lord God to be Lord of some parts of my life, that I have resented any effort He has made to challenge my choices, and I have blamed Him when things went wrong. I will repent of that wrong-thinking and accept His forgiveness – then I will enter into an accountability relation with one or more fellow believers to prayerfully reflect upon my attitude and choices so that they are of the Lord God and not of the world.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Monday (Job 8 - 10)

Bildad’s First Speech to Job

8:1 Then Bildad the Shuhite spoke up and said:

8:2 “How long will you speak these things, seeing that the words of your mouth are like a great wind?

8:3 Does God pervert justice?

Or does the Almighty pervert what is right?

8:4 If your children sinned against him, he gave them over to the penalty of their sin.

8:5 But if you will look to God, and make your supplication to the Almighty,

8:6 if you become pure and upright, even now he will rouse himself for you, and will restore your righteous abode.

8:7 Your beginning will seem so small, since your future will flourish.

8:8 “For inquire now of the former generation, and pay attention to the findings of their ancestors;

8:9 For we were born yesterday and do not have knowledge, since our days on earth are but a shadow.

8:10 Will they not instruct you and speak to you, and bring forth words from their understanding?

8:11 Can the papyrus plant grow tall where there is no marsh?

Can reeds flourish without water?

8:12 While they are still beginning to flower and not ripe for cutting, they can wither away faster than any grass!

8:13 Such is the destiny of all who forget God; the hope of the godless perishes,

8:14 whose trust is in something futile, whose security is a spider’s web.

8:15 He leans against his house but it does not hold up, he takes hold of it but it does not stand.

8:16 He is a well-watered plant in the sun, its shoots spread over its garden.

8:17 It wraps its roots around a heap of stones and it looks for a place among stones.

8:18 If he is uprooted from his place, then that place will disown him, saying, ‘I have never seen you!’

8:19 Indeed, this is the joy of his way, and out of the earth others spring up.

8:20 “Surely, God does not reject a blameless man, nor does he grasp the hand of the evildoers.

8:21 He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with gladness.

8:22 Those who hate you will be clothed with shame, and the tent of the wicked will be no more.”

Job’s Reply to Bildad

9:1 Then Job answered:

9:2 “Truly, I know that this is so.

But how can a human be just before God?

9:3 If someone wishes to contend with him, he cannot answer him one time in a thousand.

9:4 He is wise in heart and mighty in strength – who has resisted him and remained safe?

9:5 He who removes mountains suddenly, who overturns them in his anger;

9:6 he who shakes the earth out of its place so that its pillars tremble;

9:7 he who commands the sun and it does not shine and seals up the stars;

9:8 he alone spreads out the heavens, and treads on the waves of the sea;

9:9 he makes the Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades, and the constellations of the southern sky;

9:10 he does great and unsearchable things, and wonderful things without number.

9:11 If he passes by me, I cannot see him, if he goes by, I cannot perceive him.

9:12 If he snatches away, who can turn him back?

Who dares to say to him, ‘What are you doing?’

9:13 God does not restrain his anger; under him the helpers of Rahab lie crushed.

The Impossibility of Facing God in Court

9:14 “How much less, then, can I answer him and choose my words to argue with him!

9:15 Although I am innocent, I could not answer him; I could only plead with my judge for mercy.

9:16 If I summoned him, and he answered me, I would not believe that he would be listening to my voice –

9:17 he who crushes me with a tempest, and multiplies my wounds for no reason.

9:18 He does not allow me to recover my breath, for he fills me with bitterness.

9:19 If it is a matter of strength, most certainly he is the strong one!

And if it is a matter of justice, he will say, ‘Who will summon me?’

9:20 Although I am innocent, my mouth would condemn me; although I am blameless, it would declare me perverse.

9:21 I am blameless. I do not know myself. I despise my life.

Accusation of God’s Justice

9:22 “It is all one! That is why I say, ‘He destroys the blameless and the guilty.’

9:23 If a scourge brings sudden death, he mocks at the despair of the innocent.

9:24 If a land has been given into the hand of a wicked man, he covers the faces of its judges; if it is not he, then who is it?

Renewed Complaint

9:25 “My days are swifter than a runner, they speed by without seeing happiness.

9:26 They glide by like reed boats, like an eagle that swoops down on its prey.

9:27 If I say, ‘I will forget my complaint, I will change my expression and be cheerful,’

9:28 I dread all my sufferings, for I know that you do not hold me blameless.

9:29 If I am guilty, why then weary myself in vain?

9:30 If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands clean with lye,

9:31 then you plunge me into a slimy pit and my own clothes abhor me.

9:32 For he is not a human being like I am, that I might answer him, that we might come together in judgment.

9:33 Nor is there an arbiter between us, who might lay his hand on us both,

9:34 who would take his rod away from me so that his terror would not make me afraid.

9:35 Then would I speak and not fear him, but it is not so with me.

An Appeal for Revelation

10:1 “I am weary of my life; I will complain without restraint; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.

10:2 I will say to God, ‘Do not condemn me; tell me why you are contending with me.’

10:3 Is it good for you to oppress, to despise the work of your hands, while you smile on the schemes of the wicked?

Motivations of God

10:4 “Do you have eyes of flesh, or do you see as a human being sees?

10:5 Are your days like the days of a mortal, or your years like the years of a mortal,

10:6 that you must search out my iniquity, and inquire about my sin,

10:7 although you know that I am not guilty, and that there is no one who can deliver out of your hand?

Contradictions in God’s Dealings

10:8 “Your hands have shaped me and made me, but now you destroy me completely.

10:9 Remember that you have made me as with the clay; will you return me to dust?

10:10 Did you not pour me out like milk, and curdle me like cheese?

10:11 You clothed me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews.

10:12 You gave me life and favor, and your intervention watched over my spirit.

10:13 “But these things you have concealed in your heart; I know that this is with you:

10:14 If I sinned, then you would watch me and you would not acquit me of my iniquity.

10:15 If I am guilty, woe to me, and if I am innocent, I cannot lift my head; I am full of shame, and satiated with my affliction.

10:16 If I lift myself up, you hunt me as a fierce lion, and again you display your power against me.

10:17 You bring new witnesses against me, and increase your anger against me; relief troops come against me.

An Appeal for Relief

10:18 “Why then did you bring me out from the womb?

I should have died and no eye would have seen me!

10:19 I should have been as though I had never existed; I should have been carried right from the womb to the grave!

10:20 Are not my days few?

Cease, then, and leave me alone, that I may find a little comfort,

10:21 before I depart, never to return, to the land of darkness and the deepest shadow,

10:22 to the land of utter darkness, like the deepest darkness, and the deepest shadow and disorder, where even the light is like darkness.”

Prayer

Lord, You allowed Job – and us – to pour out our hearts, even though we may misrepresent You as we do so. May I always be honest with You, but also honest about You, because Your perfection is there to be plainly known in Your Word.

Scripture In Perspective

Based on a false presumption that Job and his children had sinned sufficiently to earn punishment Bildad challenged Job to acknowledge history – that the Lord God rewards the righteous and punishes the sinner.

He reminded Job that if he confessed and repented the Lord would forgive him and make his future far more bright than his past.

Job replied that he agreed with Bildad about the character of God, but he continued to declare that he was innocent.

Job mused about the righteousness of God’s justice, saying that he punished the guilty and innocent alike and “mocked” the innocent in their suffering.

Job continued to complain to the Lord, repeating his charge of unfair treatment – because of his innocence – and lamenting the absence of an arbiter between himself and God.

Job again declared his desire to die since God had taken everything of value from him.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Job and Bildad agreed that confession and repentance result in the Lord God’s mercy and restoration.

Discuss

Why did Job drift into doubts about the righteousness of God’s justice?

Reflect

How might one reconcile believing in a loving and merciful God who restores and also believe Him to be uncaring in His justice?

Share

When have you been so troubled in life that you blamed, and perhaps doubted, God?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place where you currently have, or have had in the past, doubts about the Lord God – perhaps based on a different perspective than that taught in your past or current association, denomination, or independent fellowship.

Act

Today I will confess my doubts and seek answers in prayer and in the study of His Word, requesting assistance from one who meets the Biblical qualifications of an “elder” as necessary. I will accept His forgiveness and celebrate the new light in my walk with Him.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Tuesday (Job 11 - 14)

Zophar’s First Speech to Job

11:1 Then Zophar the Naamathite spoke up and said:

11:2 “Should not this abundance of words be answered, or should this talkative man be vindicated?

11:3 Will your idle talk reduce people to silence, and will no one rebuke you when you mock?

11:4 For you have said, ‘My teaching is flawless, and I am pure in your sight.’

11:5 But if only God would speak, if only he would open his lips against you,

11:6 and reveal to you the secrets of wisdom – for true wisdom has two sides – so that you would know that God has forgiven some of your sins.

11:7 “Can you discover the essence of God?

Can you find out the perfection of the Almighty?

11:8 It is higher than the heavens – what can you do?

It is deeper than Sheol – what can you know?

11:9 Its measure is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.

11:10 If he comes by and confines you and convenes a court, then who can prevent him?

11:11 For he knows deceitful men; when he sees evil, will he not consider it?

11:12 But an empty man will become wise, when a wild donkey’s colt is born a human being.

11:13 “As for you, if you prove faithful, and if you stretch out your hands toward him,

11:14 if iniquity is in your hand – put it far away, and do not let evil reside in your tents.

11:15 For then you will lift up your face without blemish; you will be securely established and will not fear.

11:16 For you will forget your trouble; you will remember it like water that has flowed away.

11:17 And life will be brighter than the noonday; though there be darkness, it will be like the morning.

11:18 And you will be secure, because there is hope; you will be protected and will take your rest in safety.

11:19 You will lie down with no one to make you afraid, and many will seek your favor.

11:20 But the eyes of the wicked fail, and escape eludes them; their one hope is to breathe their last.”

Job’s Reply to Zophar

12:1 Then Job answered:

12:2 “Without a doubt you are the people, and wisdom will die with you.

12:3 I also have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you. Who does not know such things as these?

12:4 I am a laughingstock to my friends, I, who called on God and whom he answered – a righteous and blameless man is a laughingstock!

12:5 For calamity, there is derision (according to the ideas of the fortunate) – a fate for those whose feet slip!

12:6 But the tents of robbers are peaceful, and those who provoke God are confident – who carry their god in their hands.

Knowledge of God’s Wisdom

12:7 “But now, ask the animals and they will teach you, or the birds of the sky and they will tell you.

12:8 Or speak to the earth and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea declare to you.

12:9 Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this,

12:10 in whose hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all the human race.

12:11 Does not the ear test words, as the tongue tastes food?

12:12 Is not wisdom found among the aged?

Does not long life bring understanding?

12:13 “With God are wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his.

12:14 If he tears down, it cannot be rebuilt; if he imprisons a person, there is no escape.

12:15 If he holds back the waters, then they dry up; if he releases them, they destroy the land.

12:16 With him are strength and prudence; both the one who goes astray and the one who misleads are his.

12:17 He leads counselors away stripped and makes judges into fools.

12:18 He loosens the bonds of kings and binds a loincloth around their waist.

12:19 He leads priests away stripped and overthrows the potentates.

12:20 He deprives the trusted advisers of speech and takes away the discernment of elders.

12:21 He pours contempt on noblemen and disarms the powerful.

12:22 He reveals the deep things of darkness, and brings deep shadows into the light.

12:23 He makes nations great, and destroys them; he extends the boundaries of nations and disperses them.

12:24 He deprives the leaders of the earth of their understanding; he makes them wander in a trackless desert waste.

12:25 They grope about in darkness without light; he makes them stagger like drunkards.

Job Pleads His Cause to God

13:1 “Indeed, my eyes have seen all this, my ears have heard and understood it.

13:2 What you know, I know also; I am not inferior to you!

13:3 But I wish to speak to the Almighty, and I desire to argue my case with God.

13:4 But you, however, are inventors of lies; all of you are worthless physicians!

13:5 If only you would keep completely silent!

For you, that would be wisdom.

13:6 “Listen now to my argument, and be attentive to my lips’ contentions.

13:7 Will you speak wickedly on God’s behalf?

Will you speak deceitfully for him?

13:8 Will you show him partiality?

Will you argue the case for God?

13:9 Would it turn out well if he would examine you?

Or as one deceives a man would you deceive him?

13:10 He would certainly rebuke you if you secretly showed partiality!

13:11 Would not his splendor terrify you and the fear he inspires fall on you?

13:12 Your maxims are proverbs of ashes; your defenses are defenses of clay.

13:13 “Refrain from talking with me so that I may speak; then let come to me what may.

13:14 Why do I put myself in peril, and take my life in my hands?

13:15 Even if he slays me, I will hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face!

13:16 Moreover, this will become my deliverance, for no godless person would come before him.

13:17 Listen carefully to my words; let your ears be attentive to my explanation.

13:18 See now, I have prepared my case; I know that I am right.

13:19 Who will contend with me?

If anyone can, I will be silent and die.

13:20 Only in two things spare me, O God, and then I will not hide from your face:

13:21 Remove your hand far from me and stop making me afraid with your terror.

13:22 Then call, and I will answer, or I will speak, and you respond to me.

13:23 How many are my iniquities and sins?

Show me my transgression and my sin.

13:24 Why do you hide your face and regard me as your enemy?

13:25 Do you wish to torment a windblown leaf and chase after dry chaff?

13:26 For you write down bitter things against me and cause me to inherit the sins of my youth.

13:27 And you put my feet in the stocks and you watch all my movements; you put marks on the soles of my feet.

13:28 So I waste away like something rotten, like a garment eaten by moths.

The Brevity of Life

14:1 “Man, born of woman, lives but a few days, and they are full of trouble.

14:2 He grows up like a flower and then withers away; he flees like a shadow, and does not remain.

14:3 Do you fix your eye on such a one?

And do you bring me before you for judgment?

14:4 Who can make a clean thing come from an unclean?

No one!

14:5 Since man’s days are determined, the number of his months is under your control; you have set his limit and he cannot pass it.

14:6 Look away from him and let him desist, until he fulfills his time like a hired man.

The Inevitability of Death

14:7 “But there is hope for a tree: If it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail.

14:8 Although its roots may grow old in the ground and its stump begins to die in the soil,

14:9 at the scent of water it will flourish and put forth shoots like a new plant.

14:10 But man dies and is powerless; he expires – and where is he?

14:11 As water disappears from the sea, or a river drains away and dries up,

14:12 so man lies down and does not rise; until the heavens are no more, they will not awake nor arise from their sleep.

The Possibility of Another Life

14:13 “O that you would hide me in Sheol, and conceal me till your anger has passed!

O that you would set me a time and then remember me!

14:14 If a man dies, will he live again?

All the days of my hard service I will wait until my release comes.

14:15 You will call and I – I will answer you; you will long for the creature you have made.

The Present Condition

14:16 “Surely now you count my steps; then you would not mark my sin.

14:17 My offenses would be sealed up in a bag; you would cover over my sin.

14:18 But as a mountain falls away and crumbles, and as a rock will be removed from its place,

14:19 as water wears away stones, and torrents wash away the soil, so you destroy man’s hope.

14:20 You overpower him once for all, and he departs; you change his appearance and send him away.

14:21 If his sons are honored, he does not know it; if they are brought low, he does not see it.

14:22 Only his flesh has pain for himself, and he mourns for himself.”

Prayer

Lord, as we reflect upon the events of our lives we see partially but You see every detail, and so sometimes we come to wrong conclusions about ourselves – about others - and sometimes about You. May I be careful, prayerful, and lean upon Your Word as I reflect on my life, and on how You are moving therein.

Scripture In Perspective

Zophar joined the others and challenged Job to admit his sin and allow the Lord God to forgive and to restore him, and he mocked him from suggesting that he was better than everyone else, and free of sin.

Job replied that the fortunate were presuming to judge him merely because God had brought trouble to him – presuming that guilt for secret sin was the cause – forgetting that everything was God’s to do with as He pleased and that for some unknown reason it was His pleasure to bring him low.

Job declared that his associates/friends were wrong to speak on God’s behalf because they misrepresented him in so-doing – and he asked them to be quiet as he would now bring his case before the Lord God – certain of vindication due to his innocence.

Job then pleaded with God to allow him to speak plainly and not strike fear into him as he did so. He then demanded that God show him how he had sinned to deserve the punishment.

Job then makes a number of declarations about the condition of man and his relationship with the Lord God.

Job requested that the Lord hide him away until His anger passed and then bring him back, taking away his past sin, and restoring him.

Interestingly, Job again affirms the concept of death as a sleep of unawareness “... so man lies down and does not rise; until the heavens are no more, they will not awake nor arise from their sleep.” (vs. 14:12)

Interact With The Text

Consider

It is very important that one not take any of the statements of Job, or his associates/friends, as correct doctrine - unless they are positively affirmed elsewhere in the Biblical text.

Discuss

Why would Job think that the Lord God would hide him somewhere then bring him back out and then just overlook his sin – if his sin was the cause of His righteous anger?

Reflect

Job waffled back and forth between declaring his innocence and acknowledging that he may have some sin, actually confessing to youthful sin, yet insisting that there was nothing recent or that he was denying which could be the cause of his terrible troubles.

Share

When have you observed someone who was struggling and who was accused by some of being in denial of some sin that was secretly the cause of their troubles?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any place in your life where you have, or are now, resenting the Lord God’s chastening – because you don’t think you have done anything ‘that bad’.

Act

Today I will confess and repent of my ‘little sin’, acknowledging that there is no such thing in the Lord’s eyes, and I will accept the forgiveness of the Lord God. I will then intentionally seek to avoid drifting back into that ‘little sin’.

Be Specific _________________________________________________

Wednesday (Job 15 - 17)

Eliphaz’s Second Speech

15:1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered:

15:2 “Does a wise man answer with blustery knowledge, or fill his belly with the east wind?

15:3 Does he argue with useless talk, with words that have no value in them?

15:4 But you even break off piety, and hinder meditation before God.

15:5 Your sin inspires your mouth; you choose the language of the crafty.

15:6 Your own mouth condemns you, not I; your own lips testify against you.

15:7 “Were you the first man ever born?

Were you brought forth before the hills?

15:8 Do you listen in on God’s secret council?

Do you limit wisdom to yourself?

15:9 What do you know that we don’t know?

What do you understand that we don’t understand?

15:10 The gray-haired and the aged are on our side, men far older than your father.

15:11 Are God’s consolations too trivial for you; or a word spoken in gentleness to you?

15:12 Why has your heart carried you away, and why do your eyes flash,

15:13 when you turn your rage against God and allow such words to escape from your mouth?

15:14 What is man that he should be pure, or one born of woman, that he should be righteous?

15:15 If God places no trust in his holy ones, if even the heavens are not pure in his eyes,

15:16 how much less man, who is abominable and corrupt, who drinks in evil like water!

15:17 “I will explain to you; listen to me, and what I have seen, I will declare,

15:18 what wise men declare, hiding nothing, from the tradition of their ancestors,

15:19 to whom alone the land was given when no foreigner passed among them.

15:20 All his days the wicked man suffers torment, throughout the number of the years that are stored up for the tyrant.

15:21 Terrifying sounds fill his ears; in a time of peace marauders attack him.

15:22 He does not expect to escape from darkness; he is marked for the sword;

15:23 he wanders about – food for vultures; he knows that the day of darkness is at hand.

15:24 Distress and anguish terrify him; they prevail against him like a king ready to launch an attack,

15:25 for he stretches out his hand against God, and vaunts himself against the Almighty,

15:26 defiantly charging against him with a thick, strong shield!

15:27 Because he covered his face with fat, and made his hips bulge with fat,

15:28 he lived in ruined towns and in houses where no one lives, where they are ready to crumble into heaps.

15:29 He will not grow rich, and his wealth will not endure, nor will his possessions spread over the land.

15:30 He will not escape the darkness; a flame will wither his shoots and he will depart by the breath of God’s mouth.

15:31 Let him not trust in what is worthless, deceiving himself; for worthlessness will be his reward.

15:32 Before his time he will be paid in full, and his branches will not flourish.

15:33 Like a vine he will let his sour grapes fall, and like an olive tree he will shed his blossoms.

15:34 For the company of the godless is barren, and fire consumes the tents of those who accept bribes.

15:35 They conceive trouble and bring forth evil; their belly prepares deception.”

Job’s Reply to Eliphaz

16:1 Then Job replied:

16:2 “I have heard many things like these before. What miserable comforters are you all!

16:3 Will there be an end to your windy words?

Or what provokes you that you answer?

16:4 I also could speak like you, if you were in my place; I could pile up words against you and I could shake my head at you.

16:5 But I would strengthen you with my words; comfort from my lips would bring you relief.

Abandonment by God and Man

16:6 “But if I speak, my pain is not relieved, and if I refrain from speaking – how much of it goes away?

16:7 Surely now he has worn me out, you have devastated my entire household.

16:8 You have seized me, and it has become a witness; my leanness has risen up against me and testifies against me.

16:9 His anger has torn me and persecuted me; he has gnashed at me with his teeth; my adversary locks his eyes on me.

16:10 People have opened their mouths against me, they have struck my cheek in scorn; they unite together against me.

16:11 God abandons me to evil men, and throws me into the hands of wicked men.

16:12 I was in peace, and he has shattered me. He has seized me by the neck and crushed me. He has made me his target;

16:13 his archers surround me. Without pity he pierces my kidneys and pours out my gall on the ground.

16:14 He breaks through against me, time and time again; he rushes against me like a warrior.

16:15 I have sewed sackcloth on my skin, and buried my horn in the dust;

16:16 my face is reddened because of weeping, and on my eyelids there is a deep darkness,

16:17 although there is no violence in my hands and my prayer is pure.

An Appeal to God as Witness

16:18 “O earth, do not cover my blood, nor let there be a secret place for my cry.

16:19 Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high.

16:20 My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God;

16:21 and he contends with God on behalf of man as a man pleads for his friend.

16:22 For the years that lie ahead are few, and then I will go on the way of no return.

17:1 My spirit is broken, my days have faded out, the grave awaits me.

17:2 Surely mockery is with me; my eyes must dwell on their hostility.

17:3 Make then my pledge with you. Who else will put up security for me?

17:4 Because you have closed their minds to understanding, therefore you will not exalt them.

17:5 If a man denounces his friends for personal gain, the eyes of his children will fail.

17:6 He has made me a byword to people, I am the one in whose face they spit.

17:7 My eyes have grown dim with grief; my whole frame is but a shadow.

17:8 Upright men are appalled at this; the innocent man is troubled with the godless.

17:9 But the righteous man holds to his way, and the one with clean hands grows stronger.

Anticipation of Death

17:10 “But turn, all of you, and come now!

I will not find a wise man among you.

17:11 My days have passed, my plans are shattered, even the desires of my heart.

17:12 These men change night into day; they say, ‘The light is near in the face of darkness.’

17:13 If I hope for the grave to be my home, if I spread out my bed in darkness,

17:14 If I cry to corruption, ‘You are my father,’ and to the worm, ‘My Mother,’ or ‘My sister,’

17:15 where then is my hope?

And my hope, who sees it?

17:16 Will it go down to the barred gates of death?

Will we descend together into the dust?”

Prayer

Lord, in our troubled times we are prone to make of You an enemy, when – in fact – You are our one and only forever-true friend. May I cling to You, no matter what.

Scripture In Perspective

Eliphaz replied to Job, challenging him to not be so arrogant toward the Lord God, and reminding him that there is no forgiveness or restoration for the unrepentant.

Job declares his associates/friends to be poor comforters and perhaps even his enemies for criticizing him so aggressively in his suffering. He also asserts that were he in their place he would not criticize but comfort.

Job again asserts that the Lord God is “picking on him” without cause and that he has lost hope as a result. But he still clings to God and cries out in desperation for relief.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Eliphaz essentially calls Job a pompous windbag, a sinner in-denial, and an arrogant apostate who dares to challenge the Lord God with self-righteous declarations of his victimization. While he is correct on many points, indeed some of his words are later repeated by the Lord God, he presumes to know what only the Lord may know and thus becomes an emissary of the ‘accuser’ – the enemy – rather than the Lord.

Discuss

Why would Job care what his associates/friends say if he truly believed himself innocent?

Reflect

Job and his friends are all guilty of misrepresenting the Lord God in one or more ways, but he is the victim of terrible tragedy and they are more obsessed in a theological debate than in comforting their friend.

Share

When have you experienced or observed a traumatized person being challenged about theology rather than comforted with loving-care and heartfelt-prayer?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal an opportunity to you to encourage someone who is suffering.

Act

Today I will be the one who just-loves someone who is struggling and I will save doctrinal correction and discussions of theological precision for later.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Thursday (Job 18 – 21:6)

Bildad’s Second Speech

18:1 Then Bildad the Shuhite answered:

18:2 “How long until you make an end of words?

You must consider, and then we can talk.

18:3 Why should we be regarded as beasts, and considered stupid in your sight?

18:4 You who tear yourself to pieces in your anger, will the earth be abandoned for your sake?

Or will a rock be moved from its place?

18:5 “Yes, the lamp of the wicked is extinguished; his flame of fire does not shine.

18:6 The light in his tent grows dark; his lamp above him is extinguished.

18:7 His vigorous steps are restricted, and his own counsel throws him down.

18:8 For he has been thrown into a net by his feet and he wanders into a mesh.

18:9 A trap seizes him by the heel; a snare grips him.

18:10 A rope is hidden for him on the ground and a trap for him lies on the path.

18:11 Terrors frighten him on all sides and dog his every step.

18:12 Calamity is hungry for him, and misfortune is ready at his side.

18:13 It eats away parts of his skin; the most terrible death devours his limbs.

18:14 He is dragged from the security of his tent, and marched off to the king of terrors.

18:15 Fire resides in his tent; over his residence burning sulfur is scattered.

18:16 Below his roots dry up, and his branches wither above.

18:17 His memory perishes from the earth, he has no name in the land.

18:18 He is driven from light into darkness and is banished from the world.

18:19 He has neither children nor descendants among his people, no survivor in those places he once stayed.

18:20 People of the west are appalled at his fate; people of the east are seized with horror, saying,

18:21 ‘Surely such is the residence of an evil man; and this is the place of one who has not known God.’”

Job’s Reply to Bildad

19:1 Then Job answered:

19:2 “How long will you torment me and crush me with your words?

19:3 These ten times you have been reproaching me; you are not ashamed to attack me!

19:4 But even if it were true that I have erred, my error remains solely my concern!

19:5 If indeed you would exalt yourselves above me and plead my disgrace against me,

19:6 know then that God has wronged me and encircled me with his net.

Job’s Abandonment and Affliction

19:7 “If I cry out, ‘Violence!’

I receive no answer; I cry for help, but there is no justice.

19:8 He has blocked my way so I cannot pass, and has set darkness over my paths.

19:9 He has stripped me of my honor and has taken the crown off my head.

19:10 He tears me down on every side until I perish; he uproots my hope like one uproots a tree.

19:11 Thus his anger burns against me, and he considers me among his enemies.

19:12 His troops advance together; they throw up a siege ramp against me, and they camp around my tent.

Job’s Forsaken State

19:13 “He has put my relatives far from me; my acquaintances only turn away from me.

19:14 My kinsmen have failed me; my friends have forgotten me.

19:15 My guests and my servant girls consider me a stranger; I am a foreigner in their eyes.

19:16 I summon my servant, but he does not respond, even though I implore him with my own mouth.

19:17 My breath is repulsive to my wife; I am loathsome to my brothers.

19:18 Even youngsters have scorned me; when I get up, they scoff at me.

19:19 All my closest friends detest me; and those whom I love have turned against me.

19:20 My bones stick to my skin and my flesh; I have escaped alive with only the skin of my teeth.

19:21 Have pity on me, my friends, have pity on me, for the hand of God has struck me.

19:22 Why do you pursue me like God does?

Will you never be satiated with my flesh?

Job’s Assurance of Vindication

19:23 “O that my words were written down, O that they were written on a scroll,

19:24 that with an iron chisel and with lead they were engraved in a rock forever!

19:25 As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that as the last he will stand upon the earth.

19:26 And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God,

19:27 whom I will see for myself, and whom my own eyes will behold, and not another. My heart grows faint within me.

19:28 If you say, ‘How we will pursue him, since the root of the trouble is found in him!’

19:29 Fear the sword yourselves, for wrath brings the punishment by the sword, so that you may know that there is judgment.”

Zophar’s Second Speech

20:1 Then Zophar the Naamathite answered:

20:2 “This is why my troubled thoughts bring me back – because of my feelings within me.

20:3 When I hear a reproof that dishonors me, then my understanding prompts me to answer.

20:4 “Surely you know that it has been from old, ever since humankind was placed on the earth,

20:5 that the elation of the wicked is brief, the joy of the godless lasts but a moment.

20:6 Even though his stature reaches to the heavens and his head touches the clouds,

20:7 he will perish forever, like his own excrement; those who used to see him will say, ‘Where is he?’

20:8 Like a dream he flies away, never again to be found, and like a vision of the night he is put to flight.

20:9 People who had seen him will not see him again, and the place where he was will recognize him no longer.

20:10 His sons must recompense the poor; his own hands must return his wealth.

20:11 His bones were full of his youthful vigor, but that vigor will lie down with him in the dust.

20:12 “If evil is sweet in his mouth and he hides it under his tongue,

20:13 if he retains it for himself and does not let it go, and holds it fast in his mouth,

20:14 his food is turned sour in his stomach; it becomes the venom of serpents within him.

20:15 The wealth that he consumed he vomits up, God will make him throw it out of his stomach.

20:16 He sucks the poison of serpents; the fangs of a viper kill him.

20:17 He will not look on the streams, the rivers, which are the torrents of honey and butter.

20:18 He gives back the ill-gotten gain without assimilating it; he will not enjoy the wealth from his commerce.

20:19 For he has oppressed the poor and abandoned them; he has seized a house which he did not build.

20:20 For he knows no satisfaction in his appetite; he does not let anything he desires escape.

20:21 “Nothing is left for him to devour; that is why his prosperity does not last.

20:22 In the fullness of his sufficiency, distress overtakes him. the full force of misery will come upon him.

20:23 “While he is filling his belly, God sends his burning anger against him, and rains down his blows upon him.

20:24 If he flees from an iron weapon, then an arrow from a bronze bow pierces him.

20:25 When he pulls it out and it comes out of his back, the gleaming point out of his liver, terrors come over him.

20:26 Total darkness waits to receive his treasures; a fire which has not been kindled will consume him and devour what is left in his tent.

20:27 The heavens reveal his iniquity; the earth rises up against him.

20:28 A flood will carry off his house, rushing waters on the day of God’s wrath.

20:29 Such is the lot God allots the wicked, and the heritage of his appointment from God.”

Job’s Reply to Zophar

21:1 Then Job answered:

21:2 “Listen carefully to my words; let this be the consolation you offer me.

21:3 Bear with me and I will speak, and after I have spoken you may mock.

21:4 Is my complaint against a man?

If so, why should I not be impatient?

21:5 Look at me and be appalled; put your hands over your mouths.

21:6 For, when I think about this, I am terrified and my body feels a shudder.

Prayer

Lord, You listen to us when we cry out to You, and You stand quietly as we thrash-about in our agony and our often-sloppy doctrine – then You speak when the time is right. May I trust You enough to always be honest in my prayers, and may I know You better and better so that I never question Your perfect knowledge, love, justice, and wisdom.

Scripture In Perspective

Bildad complained that Job treated his friends as dumb, yet he beat himself up - even suggesting that his suffering should cause the world to stop and maybe even collapse because of it.

Job returned to his complaint that his friends were unfairly attacking him, that he was innocent, and that even the Lord God had treated him unfairly.

He asserted that even if his friends were correct it would be none of their business and that they appeared to be arrogant and proud.

Job complained that in addition to his friends turning against him - his servants, slaves, and relatives also turned against him – even his wife found him disgusting.

Job re-asserted his assurance that there is a “Vindicator” in the Lord God and that he would at some point be vindicated.

Job also warned his associates/friends that they needed to worry that the sword of judgment might also come against them.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Bildad and Job both felt as though the other was disrespecting them. Job’s friends spoke out of fear because Job’s suggestion of no sin-associated cause for his massive suffering placed them at-risk of the same – so they felt the need to isolate the event to Job.

Discuss

Why would Job believe that the Lord God would be his vindicator right after he said that the Lord was his persecutor?

Reflect

If Job’s friends truly believed that he must have sinned to have been punished so heavily, and if they believed that his confession and repentance of that sin would result in healing and restoration, would it have wrong for them to not speak?

Share

When have you felt unfairly judged and criticized?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a situation where you have criticized someone in a way that you would not have been pleased to have been criticized.

Act

Today I will confess and repent of treating someone as I would not wish to be treated. I will remember to “Do to others as I would have them do to me”, as is appropriate I will apologize to the one whom I have been unfairly (and/or out-of-proportion) critical and ask their forgiveness.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Friday (Job 21:7 - 28)

The Wicked Prosper

21:7 “Why do the wicked go on living, grow old, even increase in power?

21:8 Their children are firmly established in their presence, their offspring before their eyes.

21:9 Their houses are safe and without fear; and no rod of punishment from God is upon them.

21:10 Their bulls breed without fail; their cows calve and do not miscarry.

21:11 They allow their children to run like a flock; their little ones dance about.

21:12 They sing to the accompaniment of tambourine and harp, and make merry to the sound of the flute.

21:13 They live out their years in prosperity and go down to the grave in peace.

21:14 So they say to God, ‘Turn away from us!

We do not want to know your ways.

21:15 Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him?

What would we gain if we were to pray to him?’

21:16 But their prosperity is not their own doing. The counsel of the wicked is far from me!

How Often Do the Wicked Suffer?

21:17 “How often is the lamp of the wicked extinguished?

How often does their misfortune come upon them?

How often does God apportion pain to them in his anger?

21:18 How often are they like straw before the wind, and like chaff swept away by a whirlwind?

21:19 You may say, ‘God stores up a man’s punishment for his children!’

Instead let him repay the man himself so that he may know it!

21:20 Let his own eyes see his destruction; let him drink of the anger of the Almighty.

21:21 For what is his interest in his home after his death, when the number of his months has been broken off?

21:22 Can anyone teach God knowledge, since he judges those that are on high?

Death Levels Everything

21:23 “One man dies in his full vigor, completely secure and prosperous,

21:24 his body well nourished, and the marrow of his bones moist.

21:25 And another man dies in bitterness of soul, never having tasted anything good.

21:26 Together they lie down in the dust, and worms cover over them both.

Futile Words, Deceptive Answers

21:27 “Yes, I know what you are thinking, the schemes by which you would wrong me.

21:28 For you say, ‘Where now is the nobleman’s house, and where are the tents in which the wicked lived?’

21:29 Have you never questioned those who travel the roads?

Do you not recognize their accounts –

21:30 that the evil man is spared from the day of his misfortune, that he is delivered from the day of God’s wrath?

21:31 No one denounces his conduct to his face; no one repays him for what he has done.

21:32 And when he is carried to the tombs, and watch is kept over the funeral mound,

21:33 The clods of the torrent valley are sweet to him; behind him everybody follows in procession, and before him goes a countless throng.

21:34 So how can you console me with your futile words?

Nothing is left of your answers but deception!”

Eliphaz’s Third Speech

22:1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered:

22:2 “Is it to God that a strong man is of benefit?

Is it to him that even a wise man is profitable?

22:3 Is it of any special benefit to the Almighty that you should be righteous, or is it any gain to him that you make your ways blameless?

22:4 Is it because of your piety that he rebukes you and goes to judgment with you?

22:5 Is not your wickedness great and is there no end to your iniquity?

22:6 “For you took pledges from your brothers for no reason, and you stripped the clothing from the naked.

22:7 You gave the weary no water to drink and from the hungry you withheld food.

22:8 Although you were a powerful man, owning land, an honored man living on it,

22:9 you sent widows away empty-handed, and the arms of the orphans you crushed.

22:10 That is why snares surround you, and why sudden fear terrifies you,

22:11 why it is so dark you cannot see, and why a flood of water covers you.

22:12 “Is not God on high in heaven?

And see the lofty stars, how high they are!

22:13 But you have said, ‘What does God know?

Does he judge through such deep darkness?

22:14 Thick clouds are a veil for him, so he does not see us, as he goes back and forth in the vault of heaven.’

22:15 Will you keep to the old path that evil men have walked –

22:16 men who were carried off before their time, when the flood was poured out on their foundations?

22:17 They were saying to God, ‘Turn away from us,’ and ‘What can the Almighty do to us?’

22:18 But it was he who filled their houses with good things – yet the counsel of the wicked was far from me.

22:19 The righteous see their destruction and rejoice; the innocent mock them scornfully, saying,

22:20 ‘Surely our enemies are destroyed, and fire consumes their wealth.’

22:21 “Reconcile yourself with God, and be at peace with him; in this way your prosperity will be good.

22:22 Accept instruction from his mouth and store up his words in your heart.

22:23 If you return to the Almighty, you will be built up; if you remove wicked behavior far from your tent,

22:24 and throw your gold in the dust – your gold of Ophir among the rocks in the ravines –

22:25 then the Almighty himself will be your gold, and the choicest silver for you.

22:26 Surely then you will delight yourself in the Almighty, and will lift up your face toward God.

22:27 You will pray to him and he will hear you, and you will fulfill your vows to him.

22:28 Whatever you decide on a matter, it will be established for you, and light will shine on your ways.

22:29 When people are brought low and you say ‘Lift them up!’ then he will save the downcast;

22:30 he will deliver even someone who is not innocent, who will escape through the cleanness of your hands.”

Job’s Reply to Eliphaz

23:1 Then Job answered:

23:2 “Even today my complaint is still bitter; his hand is heavy despite my groaning.

23:3 O that I knew where I might find him, that I could come to his place of residence!

23:4 I would lay out my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments.

23:5 I would know with what words he would answer me, and understand what he would say to me.

23:6 Would he contend with me with great power?

No, he would only pay attention to me.

23:7 There an upright person could present his case before him, and I would be delivered forever from my judge.

The Inaccessibility and Power of God

23:8 “If I go to the east, he is not there, and to the west, yet I do not perceive him.

23:9 In the north when he is at work, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I see no trace of him.

23:10 But he knows the pathway that I take; if he tested me, I would come forth like gold.

23:11 My feet have followed his steps closely; I have kept to his way and have not turned aside.

23:12 I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my allotted portion.

23:13 But he is unchangeable, and who can change him?

Whatever he has desired, he does.

23:14 For he fulfills his decree against me, and many such things are his plans.

23:15 That is why I am terrified in his presence; when I consider, I am afraid because of him.

23:16 Indeed, God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me.

23:17 Yet I have not been silent because of the darkness, because of the thick darkness that covered my face.

The Apparent Indifference of God

24:1 “Why are times not appointed by the Almighty?

Why do those who know him not see his days?

24:2 Men move boundary stones; they seize the flock and pasture them.

24:3 They drive away the orphan’s donkey; they take the widow’s ox as a pledge.

24:4 They turn the needy from the pathway, and the poor of the land hide themselves together.

24:5 Like wild donkeys in the desert they go out to their labor, seeking diligently for food; the wasteland provides food for them and for their children.

24:6 They reap fodder in the field, and glean in the vineyard of the wicked.

24:7 They spend the night naked because they lack clothing; they have no covering against the cold.

24:8 They are soaked by mountain rains and huddle in the rocks because they lack shelter.

24:9 The fatherless child is snatched from the breast, the infant of the poor is taken as a pledge.

24:10 They go about naked, without clothing, and go hungry while they carry the sheaves.

24:11 They press out the olive oil between the rows of olive trees; they tread the winepresses while they are thirsty.

24:12 From the city the dying groan, and the wounded cry out for help, but God charges no one with wrongdoing.

24:13 There are those who rebel against the light; they do not know its ways and they do not stay on its paths.

24:14 Before daybreak the murderer rises up; he kills the poor and the needy; in the night he is like a thief.

24:15 And the eye of the adulterer watches for the twilight, thinking, ‘No eye can see me,’ and covers his face with a mask.

24:16 In the dark the robber breaks into houses, but by day they shut themselves in; they do not know the light.

24:17 For all of them, the morning is to them like deep darkness; they are friends with the terrors of darkness.

24:18 “You say, ‘He is foam on the face of the waters; their portion of the land is cursed so that no one goes to their vineyard.

24:19 The drought as well as the heat carry away the melted snow; so the grave takes away those who have sinned.

24:20 The womb forgets him, the worm feasts on him, no longer will he be remembered. Like a tree, wickedness will be broken down.

24:21 He preys on the barren and childless woman, and does not treat the widow well.

24:22 But God drags off the mighty by his power; when God rises up against him, he has no faith in his life.

24:23 God may let them rest in a feeling of security, but he is constantly watching all their ways.

24:24 They are exalted for a little while, and then they are gone, they are brought low like all others, and gathered in, and like a head of grain they are cut off.’

24:25 “If this is not so, who can prove me a liar and reduce my words to nothing?”

Bildad’s Third Speech

25:1 Then Bildad the Shuhite answered:

25:2 “Dominion and awesome might belong to God; he establishes peace in his heights.

25:3 Can his armies be numbered?

On whom does his light not rise?

25:4 How then can a human being be righteous before God?

How can one born of a woman be pure?

25:5 If even the moon is not bright, and the stars are not pure as far as he is concerned,

25:6 how much less a mortal man, who is but a maggot – a son of man, who is only a worm!”

Job’s Reply to Bildad

26:1 Then Job replied:

26:2 “How you have helped the powerless!

How you have saved the person who has no strength!

26:3 How you have advised the one without wisdom, and abundantly revealed your insight!

26:4 To whom did you utter these words?

And whose spirit has come forth from your mouth?

A Better Description of God’s Greatness

26:5 “The dead tremble – those beneath the waters and all that live in them.

26:6 The underworld is naked before God; the place of destruction lies uncovered.

26:7 He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth on nothing.

26:8 He locks the waters in his clouds, and the clouds do not burst with the weight of them.

26:9 He conceals the face of the full moon, shrouding it with his clouds.

26:10 He marks out the horizon on the surface of the waters as a boundary between light and darkness.

26:11 The pillars of the heavens tremble and are amazed at his rebuke.

26:12 By his power he stills the sea; by his wisdom he cut Rahab the great sea monster to pieces.

26:13 By his breath the skies became fair; his hand pierced the fleeing serpent.

26:14 Indeed, these are but the outer fringes of his ways!

How faint is the whisper we hear of him!

But who can understand the thunder of his power?”

A Protest of Innocence

27:1 And Job took up his discourse again:

27:2 “As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice, the Almighty, who has made my life bitter –

27:3 for while my spirit is still in me, and the breath from God is in my nostrils,

27:4 my lips will not speak wickedness, and my tongue will whisper no deceit.

27:5 I will never declare that you three are in the right; until I die, I will not set aside my integrity!

27:6 I will maintain my righteousness and never let it go; my conscience will not reproach me for as long as I live.

The Condition of the Wicked

27:7 “May my enemy be like the wicked, my adversary like the unrighteous.

27:8 For what hope does the godless have when he is cut off, when God takes away his life?

27:9 Does God listen to his cry when distress overtakes him?

27:10 Will he find delight in the Almighty?

Will he call out to God at all times?

27:11 I will teach you about the power of God; What is on the Almighty’s mind I will not conceal.

27:12 If you yourselves have all seen this, Why in the world do you continue this meaningless talk?

27:13 This is the portion of the wicked man allotted by God, the inheritance that evildoers receive from the Almighty.

27:14 If his children increase – it is for the sword!

His offspring never have enough to eat.

27:15 Those who survive him are buried by the plague, and their widows do not mourn for them.

27:16 If he piles up silver like dust and stores up clothing like mounds of clay,

27:17 what he stores up a righteous man will wear, and an innocent man will inherit his silver.

27:18 The house he builds is as fragile as a moth’s cocoon, like a hut that a watchman has made.

27:19 He goes to bed wealthy, but will do so no more. When he opens his eyes, it is all gone.

27:20 Terrors overwhelm him like a flood; at night a whirlwind carries him off.

27:21 The east wind carries him away, and he is gone; it sweeps him out of his place.

27:22 It hurls itself against him without pity as he flees headlong from its power.

27:23 It claps its hands at him in derision and hisses him away from his place.

III. Job’s Search for Wisdom (28:1-28)

No Known Road to Wisdom

28:1 “Surely there is a mine for silver, and a place where gold is refined.

28:2 Iron is taken from the ground, and rock is poured out as copper.

28:3 Man puts an end to the darkness; he searches the farthest recesses for the ore in the deepest darkness.

28:4 Far from where people live he sinks a shaft, in places travelers have long forgotten, far from other people he dangles and sways.

28:5 The earth, from which food comes, is overturned below as though by fire;

28:6 a place whose stones are sapphires and which contains dust of gold;

28:7 a hidden path no bird of prey knows – no falcon’s eye has spotted it.

28:8 Proud beasts have not set foot on it, and no lion has passed along it.

28:9 On the flinty rock man has set to work with his hand; he has overturned mountains at their bases.

28:10 He has cut out channels through the rocks; his eyes have spotted every precious thing.

28:11 He has searched the sources of the rivers and what was hidden he has brought into the light.

No Price Can Buy Wisdom

28:12 “But wisdom – where can it be found?

Where is the place of understanding?

28:13 Mankind does not know its place; it cannot be found in the land of the living.

28:14 The deep says, ‘It is not with me.’ And the sea says, ‘It is not with me.’

28:15 Fine gold cannot be given in exchange for it, nor can its price be weighed out in silver.

28:16 It cannot be measured out for purchase with the gold of Ophir, with precious onyx or sapphires.

28:17 Neither gold nor crystal can be compared with it, nor can a vase of gold match its worth.

28:18 Of coral and jasper no mention will be made; the price of wisdom is more than pearls.

28:19 The topaz of Cush cannot be compared with it; it cannot be purchased with pure gold.

God Alone Has Wisdom

28:20 “But wisdom – where does it come from?

Where is the place of understanding?

28:21 For it has been hidden from the eyes of every living creature, and from the birds of the sky it has been concealed.

28:22 Destruction and Death say, ‘With our ears we have heard a rumor about where it can be found.’

28:23 God understands the way to it, and he alone knows its place.

28:24 For he looks to the ends of the earth and observes everything under the heavens.

28:25 When he made the force of the wind and measured the waters with a gauge.

28:26 When he imposed a limit for the rain, and a path for the thunderstorm,

28:27 then he looked at wisdom and assessed its value; he established it and examined it closely.

28:28 And he said to mankind, ‘The fear of the Lord – that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.’”

Prayer

Lord, You are never absent, but when our hearts are not humble we cannot sense Your presence. In troubled times may I never doubt that You are near and always seek how I might be used by You for good rather than thinking only of what You could do to make me most comfortable.

Your wisdom is perfect and You have made it available through the Holy Spirit and through Your Word. May I remember to rely on prayer and Your Word, and the enlightenment and guidance of Your indwelling Holy Spirit, rather than only my own ideas – and those of others.

Scripture In Perspective

Eliphaz joined Zophar in a more direct attack on Job, declaring that he was indifferent to the need of the poor and took financial advantage of his sons and others, therefore he was guilty before the Lord God and was rightfully the recipient of his punishment.

Eliphaz concluded, however, that were Job to confess and repent the Lord would bless him and make him to conduit of His blessings to others.

Job responded that if only he could get God’s attention then he could plead his case and He would listen, but that the Lord was unavailable.

Job declared that he was innocent of wrongdoing but God had chosen a path of punishment and there was nothing anyone could do to change that.

Job explained that while evil men may have peace and prosperity in this world – God sees everything and they will receive what is due them.

Bildad challenged Job’s insistence that he stood innocent before God, reminding him that all humans are imperfect and are like worms before the Lord God.

Job replied, accusing Bildad of providing an inaccurate – or at least inadequate – description of God, then he offered a much more grand description.

Job then returned to his declaration of innocence, stating that the Lord God had denied him justice and that he would never confess guilt (before God or his three associates/friends) as he remained righteous and his integrity required him to stand his ground.

Job suggested that his associates/friends may be “godless” and then described for them the same fate that they had described for him when they accused him of being either dishonest about his sin or “godless”.

Job compared and contrasted the capacity of man to discover and excavate gold and jewels to his apparent inability to search-out wisdom and understanding.

Job declared that only the Lord God has wisdom and understanding and that He has chosen to withhold all but the following “The fear of the Lord – that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.’”

Interact With The Text

Consider

Zophar judged Job a wicked man, deserving his fate, because he could imagine any other explanation of Job’s condition. Eliphaz and Zophar were not only convinced that Job’s troubles could only be punishment for his sins but they also found it necessary to presume what were his sins, and to condemn him for them. Rather than look to the Lord God in prayer Job and his associates/friends chose to engage in an intellectual debate and to impugn one another’s faith.

Discuss

Why would Zophar be unable to see that there must be another explanation, especially when confronted with Job’s evidence that the wicked are often unpunished in this world and that the righteous often struggle? To what degree may Eliphaz and Jophar be correct that it is Job’s insistence upon declaring his innocence which was blocking him from recognizing the Lord God’s availability? How could Job claim “... my lips will not speak wickedness, and my tongue will whisper no deceit” and then declare “As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice, the Almighty, who has made my life bitter ...” ?

Reflect

Job remained conflicted as he had doubts about the motivations of God in causing (or allowing) his terrible suffering yet he is certain it could not be directly associated with his sin. While Job challenged the error in the doctrine of his friends, was he missing his own error in doubting God’s caring and informed-judgment? Job made a reference to local pagan stories of great beasts as he described the power of the Lord God to merely sweep-aside what the pagans took to be terrible creatures of power.

Share

When have you tried to show someone, using plain facts, that they are wrong and had them cling to a notion – irrationally? When have you been falsely accused amidst a larger conflict not entirely of your making? When have you experienced or observed believers who were so invested in their intellectual debate that they neglected to make room for the Lord God?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you some knowledge that will help to you clarify facts from fantasy, truth from lies, and clarity amidst confusion, to reveal to you a greater awareness of His constant presence, and to reveal to you a place where you have placed intellectual argumentation and/or doctrinal squabbles ahead of a humble seeking of His will, or have participated in maligning the faith of another in the midst of such a debate.

Act

Today I will prayerfully search the Bible, and the counsel of the Holy Spirit, as I seek clarity about a matter in conflict. I will refuse to do less than a “good Berean”, I will insist that the answer be Biblically-supported, and I will walk in the truth no matter what others may say or do. I will spend time in prayer and in the Word of God so that I will become more aware, through the enlightenment of the indwelling Holy Spirit, of the constant presence of the Lord God. I will give thanks for His loving-care for me, that He desires to know my heart, and that He desires to love me as His eternal child. I will confess the occasion, occasions, or perhaps even a pattern of conduct where I neglect the Lord God in the pursuit of winning an argument with a fellow believer. I will repent, accept His forgiveness, then ask a fellow believer to pray in-agreement and to check-in with me regularly as I receive the gift of discipline from the Holy Spirit to keep me safe from returning to that way.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Saturday (Job 29 - 31)

IV. Job’s Concluding Soliloquy (29:1-31:40)

29:1 Then Job continued his speech:

29:2 “O that I could be as I was

in the months now gone, in the days when God watched over me,

29:3 when he caused his lamp to shine upon my head, and by his light

I walked through darkness;

29:4 just as I was in my most productive time,

when God’s intimate friendship was experienced in my tent,

29:5 when the Almighty was still with me

and my children were around me;

29:6 when my steps were bathed with butter

and the rock poured out for me streams of olive oil!

29:7 When I went out to the city gate

and secured my seat in the public square,

29:8 the young men would see me and step aside, and the old men would get up and remain standing;

29:9 the chief men refrained from talking

and covered their mouths with their hands;

29:10 the voices of the nobles fell silent,

and their tongues stuck to the roof of their mouths.

Job’s Benevolence

29:11 “As soon as the ear heard these things, it blessed me,

and when the eye saw them, it bore witness to me,

29:12 for I rescued the poor who cried out for help, and the orphan who had no one to assist him;

29:13 the blessing of the dying man descended on me,

and I made the widow’s heart rejoice;

29:14 I put on righteousness and it clothed me,

my just dealing was like a robe and a turban;

29:15 I was eyes for the blind

and feet for the lame;

29:16 I was a father to the needy,

and I investigated the case of the person I did not know;

29:17 I broke the fangs of the wicked,

and made him drop his prey from his teeth.

Job’s Confidence

29:18 “Then I thought, ‘I will die in my own home,

my days as numerous as the grains of sand.

29:19 My roots reach the water,

and the dew lies on my branches all night long.

29:20 My glory will always be fresh n me,

and my bow ever new in my hand.’

Job’s Reputation

29:21 “People listened to me and waited silently;

they kept silent for my advice.

29:22 After I had spoken, they did not respond;

my words fell on them drop by drop.

29:23 They waited for me as people wait for the rain,

and they opened their mouths

as for the spring rains.

29:24 If I smiled at them, they hardly believed it;

and they did not cause the light of my face to darken.

29:25 I chose the way for them

and sat as their chief;

I lived like a king among his troops;

I was like one who comforts mourners.

Job’s Present Misery

30:1 “But now they mock me, those who are younger than I, whose fathers I disdained too much to put with my sheep dogs.

30:2 Moreover, the strength of their hands – what use was it to me?

Men whose strength had perished;

30:3 gaunt with want and hunger, they would gnaw the parched land, in former time desolate and waste.

30:4 By the brush they would gather herbs from the salt marshes, and the root of the broom tree was their food.

30:5 They were banished from the community – people shouted at them like they would shout at thieves –

30:6 so that they had to live in the dry stream beds, in the holes of the ground, and among the rocks.

30:7 They brayed like animals among the bushes and were huddled together under the nettles.

30:8 Sons of senseless and nameless people, they were driven out of the land with whips.

Job’s Indignities

30:9 “And now I have become their taunt song; I have become a byword among them.

30:10 They detest me and maintain their distance; they do not hesitate to spit in my face.

30:11 Because God has untied my tent cord and afflicted me, people throw off all restraint in my presence.

30:12 On my right the young rabble rise up; they drive me from place to place, and build up siege ramps against me.

30:13 They destroy my path; they succeed in destroying me without anyone assisting them.

30:14 They come in as through a wide breach; amid the crash they come rolling in.

30:15 Terrors are turned loose on me; they drive away my honor like the wind, and like a cloud my deliverance has passed away.

Job’s Despondency

30:16 “And now my soul pours itself out within me; days of suffering take hold of me.

30:17 Night pierces my bones; my gnawing pains never cease.

30:18 With great power God grasps my clothing; he binds me like the collar of my tunic.

30:19 He has flung me into the mud, and I have come to resemble dust and ashes.

30:20 I cry out to you, but you do not answer me; I stand up, and you only look at me.

30:21 You have become cruel to me; with the strength of your hand you attack me.

30:22 You pick me up on the wind and make me ride on it; you toss me about in the storm.

30:23 I know that you are bringing me to death, to the meeting place for all the living.

The Contrast With the Past

30:24 “Surely one does not stretch out his hand against a broken man when he cries for help in his distress.

30:25 Have I not wept for the unfortunate?

Was not my soul grieved for the poor?

30:26 But when I hoped for good, trouble came; when I expected light, then darkness came.

30:27 My heart is in turmoil unceasingly; the days of my affliction confront me.

30:28 I go about blackened, but not by the sun; in the assembly I stand up and cry for help.

30:29 I have become a brother to jackals and a companion of ostriches.

30:30 My skin has turned dark on me; my body is hot with fever.

30:31 My harp is used for mourning and my flute for the sound of weeping.

Job Vindicates Himself

31:1 “I made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I entertain thoughts against a virgin?

31:2 What then would be one’s lot from God above, one’s heritage from the Almighty on high?

31:3 Is it not misfortune for the unjust, and disaster for those who work iniquity?

31:4 Does he not see my ways and count all my steps?

31:5 If I have walked in falsehood, and if my foot has hastened to deceit –

31:6 let him weigh me with honest scales; then God will discover my integrity.

31:7 If my footsteps have strayed from the way, if my heart has gone after my eyes, or if anything has defiled my hands,

31:8 then let me sow and let another eat, and let my crops be uprooted.

31:9 If my heart has been enticed by a woman, and I have lain in wait at my neighbor’s door,

31:10 then let my wife turn the millstone for another man, and may other men have sexual relations with her.

31:11 For I would have committed a shameful act, an iniquity to be judged.

31:12 For it is a fire that devours even to Destruction, and it would uproot all my harvest.

31:13 “If I have disregarded the right of my male servants or my female servants when they disputed with me,

31:14 then what will I do when God confronts me in judgment; when he intervenes, how will I respond to him?

31:15 Did not the one who made me in the womb make them?

Did not the same one form us in the womb?

31:16 If I have refused to give the poor what they desired, or caused the eyes of the widow to fail,

31:17 If I ate my morsel of bread myself, and did not share any of it with orphans –

31:18 but from my youth I raised the orphan like a father, and from my mother’s womb I guided the widow!

31:19 If I have seen anyone about to perish for lack of clothing, or a poor man without a coat,

31:20 whose heart did not bless me as he warmed himself with the fleece of my sheep,

31:21 if I have raised my hand to vote against the orphan, when I saw my support in the court,

31:22 then let my arm fall from the shoulder, let my arm be broken off at the socket.

31:23 For the calamity from God was a terror to me, and by reason of his majesty I was powerless.

31:24 “If I have put my confidence in gold or said to pure gold, ‘You are my security!’

31:25 if I have rejoiced because of the extent of my wealth, or because of the great wealth my hand had gained,

31:26 if I looked at the sun when it was shining, and the moon advancing as a precious thing,

31:27 so that my heart was secretly enticed, and my hand threw them a kiss from my mouth,

31:28 then this also would be iniquity to be judged, for I would have been false to God above.

31:29 If I have rejoiced over the misfortune of my enemy or exulted because calamity found him –

31:30 I have not even permitted my mouth to sin by asking for his life through a curse –

31:31 if the members of my household have never said, ‘If only there were someone who has not been satisfied from Job’s meat!’ –

31:32 But no stranger had to spend the night outside, for I opened my doors to the traveler –

31:33 if I have covered my transgressions as men do, by hiding iniquity in my heart,

31:34 because I was terrified of the great multitude, and the contempt of families terrified me, so that I remained silent and would not go outdoors –

Job’s Appeal

31:35 “If only I had someone to hear me!

Here is my signature – let the Almighty answer me!

If only I had an indictment that my accuser had written.

31:36 Surely I would wear it proudly on my shoulder, I would bind it on me like a crown;

31:37 I would give him an accounting of my steps; like a prince I would approach him.

Job’s Final Solemn Oath

31:38 “If my land cried out against me and all its furrows wept together,

31:39 if I have eaten its produce without paying, or caused the death of its owners,

31:40 then let thorns sprout up in place of wheat, and in place of barley, weeds!”

The words of Job are ended.

Prayer

Lord, Your wisdom is perfect and You have made it available through the Holy Spirit and through Your Word. May I remember to rely on prayer and Your Word, and the enlightenment and guidance of Your indwelling Holy Spirit, rather than only my own ideas – or those of others.

Scripture In Perspective

Job reflected upon his high-standing in the community as one to whom people looked for encouragement and help, and who was treated with near-reverence.

He then he described the way that people avoided him, and even the least of the least mocked him, since the series of tragedies.

Job again blamed the Lord God for his condition “I cry out to you, but you do not answer me; I stand up, and you only look at me. You have become cruel to me ...”

He again declared his innocence, that he was undeserving of his earthly-fate, and the Lord God had failed to fairly-consider his righteousness when finding him guilty and worthy of his terrible predicament.

Job concluded by declaring that if the Lord would grant him an audience he would explain his innocence and the Lord God would correct His error.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Job actually believed that the Lord God had made an error.

Discuss

Why would Job be so adamant as to declare that wisdom and understanding was impossible to find in the Lord God’s creation – fallen as it may be?

Reflect

Job’s doubts about the Lord’s perfect knowledge represented a dangerous flaw in his doctrine, and as an influential person in the community (up until the recent calamity) that was not healthy.

Share

When have you wondered if maybe the Lord God was not taking adequate care of you?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you something you have lost, and for which loss you have blamed the Lord God, perhaps subtly (or not so subtly) harming your relationship with Him.

Act

Today I will confess and repent of any doubt I have as to the perfect knowledge, love, and justice of the Lord God. I will celebrate that no matter what happens in this world that He knows all, loves me more than I can imagine, and will reveal to me (here or in Heaven) the working-out of His perfect justice.

Be Specific _________________________________________________

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2012 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study. Prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in August of 2012. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

6. Job 32 – 42 (Job’s Conclusions)

A Chronological Daily Bible Study of the Old Testament
7-Day Sections
with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and a Practical Daily Application

Week 6

Sunday (Job 32 – 34:30)

V. The Speeches of Elihu (32:1-37:24)

Elihu̵

32:1 So these three men refused to answer Job further, because he was righteous in his own eyes. 32:2 Then Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, became very angry. He was angry with Job for justifying himself rather than God. 32:3 With Job’s three friends he was also angry, because they could not find an answer, and so declared Job guilty. 32:4 Now Elihu had waited before speaking to Job, because the others were older than he was. 32:5 But when Elihu saw that the three men had no further reply, he became very angry.

Elihu Claims Wisdom

32:6 So Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite spoke up: “I am young, but you are elderly; that is why I was fearful, and afraid to explain to you what I know.

32:7 I said to myself, ‘Age should speak, and length of years should make wisdom known.’

32:8 But it is a spirit in people, the breath of the Almighty, that makes them understand.

32:9 It is not the aged who are wise, nor old men who understand what is right.

32:10 Therefore I say, ‘Listen to me. I, even I, will explain what I know.’

32:11 Look, I waited for you to speak; I listened closely to your wise thoughts, while you were searching for words.

32:12 Now I was paying you close attention, yet there was no one proving Job wrong, not one of you was answering his statements!

32:13 So do not say, ‘We have found wisdom!

God will refute him, not man!’

32:14 Job has not directed his words to me, and so I will not reply to him with your arguments.

Job’s Friends Failed to Answer

32:15 “They are dismayed and cannot answer any more; they have nothing left to say.

32:16 And I have waited. But because they do not speak, because they stand there and answer no more,

32:17 I too will answer my part, I too will explain what I know.

32:18 For I am full of words, and the spirit within me constrains me.

32:19 Inside I am like wine which has no outlet, like new wineskins ready to burst!

32:20 I will speak, so that I may find relief; I will open my lips, so that I may answer.

32:21 I will not show partiality to anyone, nor will I confer a title on any man.

32:22 for I do not know how to give honorary titles, if I did, my Creator would quickly do away with me.

Elihu Invites Job’s Attention

33:1 “But now, O Job, listen to my words, and hear everything I have to say!

33:2 See now, I have opened my mouth; my tongue in my mouth has spoken.

33:3 My words come from the uprightness of my heart, and my lips will utter knowledge sincerely.

33:4 The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

33:5 Reply to me, if you can; set your arguments in order before me and take your stand!

33:6 Look, I am just like you in relation to God; I too have been molded from clay.

33:7 Therefore no fear of me should terrify you, nor should my pressure be heavy on you.

Elihu Rejects Job’s Plea of Innocence

33:8 “Indeed, you have said in my hearing (I heard the sound of the words!):

33:9 ‘I am pure, without transgression; I am clean and have no iniquity.

33:10 Yet God finds occasions with me; he regards me as his enemy!

33:11 He puts my feet in shackles; he watches closely all my paths.’

33:12 Now in this, you are not right – I answer you, for God is greater than a human being.

33:13 Why do you contend against him, that he does not answer all a person’s words?

Elihu Disagrees With Job’s View of God

33:14 “For God speaks, the first time in one way, the second time in another, though a person does not perceive it.

33:15 In a dream, a night vision, when deep sleep falls on people as they sleep in their beds.

33:16 Then he gives a revelation to people, and terrifies them with warnings,

33:17 to turn a person from his sin, and to cover a person’s pride.

33:18 He spares a person’s life from corruption, his very life from crossing over the river.

33:19 Or a person is chastened by pain on his bed, and with the continual strife of his bones,

33:20 so that his life loathes food, and his soul rejects appetizing fare.

33:21 His flesh wastes away from sight, and his bones, which were not seen, are easily visible.

33:22 He draws near to the place of corruption, and his life to the messengers of death.

33:23 If there is an angel beside him, one mediator out of a thousand, to tell a person what constitutes his uprightness;

33:24 and if God is gracious to him and says, ‘Spare him from going down to the place of corruption, I have found a ransom for him,’

33:25 then his flesh is restored like a youth’s; he returns to the days of his youthful vigor.

33:26 He entreats God, and God delights in him, he sees God’s face with rejoicing, and God restores to him his righteousness.

33:27 That person sings to others, saying: ‘I have sinned and falsified what is right, but I was not punished according to what I deserved.

33:28 He redeemed my life from going down to the place of corruption, and my life sees the light!’

Elihu’s Appeal to Job

33:29 “Indeed, God does all these things, twice, three times, in his dealings with a person,

33:30 to turn back his life from the place of corruption, that he may be enlightened with the light of life.

33:31 Pay attention, Job – listen to me; be silent, and I will speak.

33:32 If you have any words, reply to me; speak, for I want to justify you.

33:33 If not, you listen to me; be silent, and I will teach you wisdom.”

Elihu’s Second Speech

34:1 Elihu answered:

34:2 “Listen to my words, you wise men; hear me, you learned men.

34:3 For the ear assesses words as the mouth tastes food.

34:4 Let us evaluate for ourselves what is right; let us come to know among ourselves what is good.

34:5 For Job says, ‘I am innocent, but God turns away my right.

34:6 Concerning my right, should I lie?

My wound is incurable, although I am without transgression.’

34:7 What man is like Job, who drinks derision like water!

34:8 He goes about in company with evildoers, he goes along with wicked men.

34:9 For he says, ‘It does not profit a man when he makes his delight with God.’

God is Not Unjust

34:10 “Therefore, listen to me, you men of understanding. Far be it from God to do wickedness, from the Almighty to do evil.

34:11 For he repays a person for his work, and according to the conduct of a person, he causes the consequences to find him.

34:12 Indeed, in truth, God does not act wickedly, and the Almighty does not pervert justice.

34:13 Who entrusted to him the earth?

And who put him over the whole world?

34:14 If God were to set his heart on it, and gather in his spirit and his breath,

34:15 all flesh would perish together and human beings would return to dust.

God Is Impartial and Omniscient

34:16 “If you have understanding, listen to this, hear what I have to say.

34:17 Do you really think that one who hates justice can govern?

And will you declare guilty the supremely righteous One,

34:18 who says to a king, ‘Worthless man’ and to nobles, ‘Wicked men,’

34:19 who shows no partiality to princes, and does not take note of the rich more than the poor, because all of them are the work of his hands?

34:20 In a moment they die, in the middle of the night, people are shaken and they pass away.

The mighty are removed effortlessly.

34:21 For his eyes are on the ways of an individual, he observes all a person’s steps.

34:22 There is no darkness, and no deep darkness, where evildoers can hide themselves.

34:23 For he does not still consider a person, that he should come before God in judgment.

34:24 He shatters the great without inquiry, and sets up others in their place.

34:25 Therefore, he knows their deeds, he overthrows them in the night and they are crushed.

34:26 He strikes them for their wickedness, in a place where people can see,

34:27 because they have turned away from following him, and have not understood any of his ways,

34:28 so that they caused the cry of the poor to come before him, so that he hears the cry of the needy.

34:29 But if God is quiet, who can condemn him?

If he hides his face, then who can see him?

Yet he is over the individual and the nation alike,

34:30 so that the godless man should not rule, and not lay snares for the people.

Prayer

Lord, it is often true that we see most of Who You are, yet we make you over into our image of Who we want You to be to serve our preferences. May I learn from the stories of others You have provided in Your Word and strive to trust and obey when my comprehension falls short of knowing You perfectly.

Scripture In Perspective

As is apparent from the text, and affirmed by the NET translator’s notes, Elihu is not corrected by anyone, The Lord God does not ask Job to pray for him, and many of the things he says also appear in the Lord’s words to Job.

Elihu, younger than the others, spoke up when he saw that the three older men had ceased from contesting with Job.

Elihu reminded them that despite the age difference they were all created by God from the same clay and all stood equally before the Lord God. (Later, in the New Testament, the apostle Paul encourages Timothy to be unafraid to speak truth – even to those older than he – and to not allow them to intimidate him to silence.)

Elihu challenged Job’s insistence that he was innocent before the Lord God – noting that only God could claim perfection.

Elihu challenged Job’s derisive attitude toward the Lord God when he declare the Lord to have been absent from a fair hearing and unjust toward him.

Interact With The Text

Consider

The younger man jumped in with perspective and wisdom that he may have learned from the others and which he could now see that they had missed in their speeches.

Discuss

Might the three older men have ceased from speaking because they realized that they were in error, or had they simply had exhausted themselves accusing Job of lying?

Reflect

Elihu may have been mentored in awe of the Lord God by these men, and may have looked-up to Job as a model of righteousness, so to hear him raise doubts about the integrity of God would have been highly offensive.

Share

When have you observed a student challenging a teacher, or a mentee challenging their mentor, using the very principles and words they had been taught?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you someone whom you have trusted as a teacher but who had mixed some incorrect things in with the correct, perhaps in the past, or perhaps more recently.

Act

Today I will acknowledge the truth of what the Holy Spirit has revealed and will accept His clarification as a good Berean – one who seeks after truth. As is possible I will respectfully share what I have learned with the one whom I believe has been incorrect and pray that they will be teachable and will refrain from the wrong teaching in the future.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Monday (Job 34:31 - 37)

Job Is Foolish to Rebel

34:31 “Has anyone said to God, ‘I have endured chastisement, but I will not act wrongly any more.

34:32 Teach me what I cannot see. If I have done evil, I will do so no more.’

34:33 Is it your opinion that God should recompense it, because you reject this?

But you must choose, and not I, so tell us what you know.

34:34 Men of understanding say to me – any wise man listening to me says –

34:35 that Job speaks without knowledge and his words are without understanding.

34:36 But Job will be tested to the end, because his answers are like those of wicked men.

34:37 For he adds transgression to his sin; in our midst he claps his hands, and multiplies his words against God.”

Elihu’s Third Speech

35:1 Then Elihu answered:

35:2 “Do you think this to be just: when you say, ‘My right before God.’

35:3 But you say, ‘What will it profit you,’ and, ‘What do I gain by not sinning?’

35:4 I will reply to you, and to your friends with you.

35:5 Gaze at the heavens and see; consider the clouds, which are higher than you!

35:6 If you sin, how does it affect God?

If your transgressions are many, what does it do to him?

35:7 If you are righteous, what do you give to God, or what does he receive from your hand?

35:8 Your wickedness affects only a person like yourself, and your righteousness only other people.

35:9 “People cry out because of the excess of oppression; they cry out for help because of the power of the mighty.

35:10 But no one says, ‘Where is God, my Creator, who gives songs in the night,

35:11 who teaches us more than the wild animals of the earth, and makes us wiser than the birds of the sky?’

35:12 Then they cry out – but he does not answer – because of the arrogance of the wicked.

35:13 Surely it is an empty cry – God does not hear it; the Almighty does not take notice of it.

35:14 How much less, then, when you say that you do not perceive him, that the case is before him and you are waiting for him!

35:15 And further, when you say that his anger does not punish, and that he does not know transgression!

35:16 So Job opens his mouth to no purpose; without knowledge he multiplies words.”

Elihu’s Fourth Speech

36:1 Elihu said further:

36:2 “Be patient with me a little longer and I will instruct you, for I still have words to speak on God’s behalf.

36:3 With my knowledge I will speak comprehensively, and to my Creator I will ascribe righteousness.

36:4 For in truth, my words are not false; it is one complete in knowledge who is with you.

36:5 Indeed, God is mighty; and he does not despise people, he is mighty, and firm in his intent.

36:6 He does not allow the wicked to live, but he gives justice to the poor.

36:7 He does not take his eyes off the righteous; but with kings on the throne he seats the righteous and exalts them forever.

36:8 But if they are bound in chains, and held captive by the cords of affliction,

36:9 then he reveals to them what they have done, and their transgressions, that they were behaving proudly.

36:10 And he reveals this for correction, and says that they must turn from evil.

36:11 If they obey and serve him, they live out their days in prosperity and their years in pleasantness.

36:12 But if they refuse to listen, they pass over the river of death, and expire without knowledge.

36:13 The godless at heart nourish anger, they do not cry out even when he binds them.

36:14 They die in their youth, and their life ends among the male cultic prostitutes.

36:15 He delivers the afflicted by their afflictions, he reveals himself to them by their suffering.

36:16 And surely, he drew you from the mouth of distress, to a wide place, unrestricted, and to the comfort of your table filled with rich food.

36:17 But now you are preoccupied with the judgment due the wicked, judgment and justice take hold of you.

36:18 Be careful that no one entices you with riches; do not let a large bribe turn you aside.

36:19 Would your wealth sustain you, so that you would not be in distress, even all your mighty efforts?

36:20 Do not long for the cover of night to drag people away from their homes.

36:21 Take heed, do not turn to evil, for because of this you have been tested by affliction.

36:22 Indeed, God is exalted in his power; who is a teacher like him?

36:23 Who has prescribed his ways for him?

Or said to him, ‘You have done what is wicked’?

36:24 Remember to extol his work, which people have praised in song.

36:25 All humanity has seen it; people gaze on it from afar.

The Work and Wisdom of God

36:26 “Yes, God is great – beyond our knowledge!

The number of his years is unsearchable.

36:27 He draws up drops of water; they distill the rain into its mist,

36:28 which the clouds pour down and shower on humankind abundantly.

36:29 Who can understand the spreading of the clouds, the thunderings of his pavilion?

36:30 See how he scattered his lightning about him; he has covered the depths of the sea.

36:31 It is by these that he judges the nations and supplies food in abundance.

36:32 With his hands he covers the lightning, and directs it against its target.

36:33 His thunder announces the coming storm, the cattle also, concerning the storm’s approach.

37:1 At this also my heart pounds and leaps from its place.

37:2 Listen carefully to the thunder of his voice, to the rumbling that proceeds from his mouth.

37:3 Under the whole heaven he lets it go, even his lightning to the far corners of the earth.

37:4 After that a voice roars; he thunders with an exalted voice, and he does not hold back his lightning bolts when his voice is heard.

37:5 God thunders with his voice in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding.

37:6 For to the snow he says, ‘Fall to earth,’ and to the torrential rains, ‘Pour down.’

37:7 He causes everyone to stop working, so that all people may know his work.

37:8 The wild animals go to their lairs, and in their dens they remain.

37:9 A tempest blows out from its chamber, icy cold from the driving winds.

37:10 The breath of God produces ice, and the breadth of the waters freeze solid.

37:11 He loads the clouds with moisture; he scatters his lightning through the clouds.

37:12 The clouds go round in circles, wheeling about according to his plans, to carry out all that he commands them over the face of the whole inhabited world.

37:13 Whether it is for punishment for his land, or whether it is for mercy, he causes it to find its mark.

37:14 “Pay attention to this, Job!

Stand still and consider the wonders God works.

37:15 Do you know how God commands them, how he makes lightning flash in his storm cloud?

37:16 Do you know about the balancing of the clouds, that wondrous activity of him who is perfect in knowledge?

37:17 You, whose garments are hot when the earth is still because of the south wind,

37:18 will you, with him, spread out the clouds, solid as a mirror of molten metal?

37:19 Tell us what we should say to him. We cannot prepare a case because of the darkness.

37:20 Should he be informed that I want to speak?

If a man speaks, surely he would be swallowed up!

37:21 But now, the sun cannot be looked at – it is bright in the skies – after a wind passed and swept the clouds away.

37:22 From the north he comes in golden splendor; around God is awesome majesty.

37:23 As for the Almighty, we cannot attain to him!

He is great in power, but justice and abundant righteousness he does not oppress.

37:24 Therefore people fear him, for he does not regard all the wise in heart.”

Prayer

Lord, You instruct us to cry-out to You with the groanings of our hearts, but You do not give us permission to instruct You as to when and how You must respond to us. May I always be humble, respectful, and trusting - You are my Lord.

Scripture In Perspective

Elihu rightly observed that Job had gone beyond bringing his grief to the Lord and had challenged Him as unfair and unavailable.

Elihu then launched into one of the most-profound declarations of praise of the Lord God in all of the Bible.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Elihu’s words were spoken in very ancient times and the sophistication of his understanding testifies to an advanced intellectual culture.

Discuss

How would you compare Elihu’s testimony of the Lord to those of others in the Bible?

Reflect

It is notable that the three older men are not reported as raising objection to Elihu’s words, nor does Job appear to contest them.

Share

When have you sat under the teaching of deacons or elders or others and discovered that they were blind to one or more important teachings of the Bible? Did you have an opportunity to share your observation? What was the response?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you either an error or a gap in the Biblical teaching of others, or in your own teaching.

Act

Today I will respectfully share my perspective of an error or a gap in teaching and/or I will confess and repent of my own, request and receive the forgiveness of the Lord, and act to correct the error/gap – including informing those I have previously taught.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Tuesday (Job 38 - 39)

VI. The Divine Speeches (38:1-42:6)

The Lord’s First Speech

38:1 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind:

38:2 “Who is this who darkens counsel with words without knowledge?

38:3 Get ready for a difficult task like a man; I will question you and you will inform me!

God’s questions to Job

38:4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?

Tell me, if you possess understanding!

38:5 Who set its measurements – if you know – or who stretched a measuring line across it?

38:6 On what were its bases set, or who laid its cornerstone –

38:7 when the morning stars sang in chorus, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

38:8 “Who shut up the sea with doors when it burst forth, coming out of the womb,

38:9 when I made the storm clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band,

38:10 when I prescribed its limits, and set in place its bolts and doors,

38:11 when I said, ‘To here you may come and no farther, here your proud waves will be confined’?

38:12 Have you ever in your life commanded the morning, or made the dawn know its place,

38:13 that it might seize the corners of the earth, and shake the wicked out of it?

38:14 The earth takes shape like clay under a seal; its features are dyed like a garment.

38:15 Then from the wicked the light is withheld, and the arm raised in violence is broken.

38:16 Have you gone to the springs that fill the sea, or walked about in the recesses of the deep?

38:17 Have the gates of death been revealed to you?

Have you seen the gates of deepest darkness?

38:18 Have you considered the vast expanses of the earth?

Tell me, if you know it all!

38:19 “In what direction does light reside, and darkness, where is its place,

38:20 that you may take them to their borders and perceive the pathways to their homes?

38:21 You know, for you were born before them; and the number of your days is great!

38:22 Have you entered the storehouse of the snow, or seen the armory of the hail,

38:23 which I reserve for the time of trouble, for the day of war and battle?

38:24 In what direction is lightning dispersed, or the east winds scattered over the earth?

38:25 Who carves out a channel for the heavy rains, and a path for the rumble of thunder,

38:26 to cause it to rain on an uninhabited land, a desert where there are no human beings,

38:27 to satisfy a devastated and desolate land, and to cause it to sprout with vegetation?

38:28 Does the rain have a father, or who has fathered the drops of the dew?

38:29 From whose womb does the ice emerge, and the frost from the sky, who gives birth to it,

38:30 when the waters become hard like stone, when the surface of the deep is frozen solid?

38:31 Can you tie the bands of the Pleiades, or release the cords of Orion?

38:32 Can you lead out the constellations in their seasons, or guide the Bear with its cubs?

38:33 Do you know the laws of the heavens, or can you set up their rule over the earth?

38:34 Can you raise your voice to the clouds so that a flood of water covers you?

38:35 Can you send out lightning bolts, and they go?

Will they say to you, ‘Here we are’?

38:36 Who has put wisdom in the heart, or has imparted understanding to the mind?

38:37 Who by wisdom can count the clouds, and who can tip over the water jars of heaven,

38:38 when the dust hardens into a mass, and the clumps of earth stick together?

38:39 “Do you hunt prey for the lioness, and satisfy the appetite of the lions,

38:40 when they crouch in their dens, when they wait in ambush in the thicket?

38:41 Who prepares prey for the raven, when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of food?

39:1 “Are you acquainted with the way the mountain goats give birth?

Do you watch as the wild deer give birth to their young?

39:2 Do you count the months they must fulfill, and do you know the time they give birth?

39:3 They crouch, they bear their young, they bring forth the offspring they have carried.

39:4 Their young grow strong, and grow up in the open; they go off, and do not return to them.

39:5 Who let the wild donkey go free?

Who released the bonds of the donkey,

39:6 to whom I appointed the steppe for its home, the salt wastes as its dwelling place?

39:7 It scorns the tumult in the town; it does not hear the shouts of a driver.

39:8 It ranges the hills as its pasture, and searches after every green plant.

39:9 Is the wild ox willing to be your servant?

Will it spend the night at your feeding trough?

39:10 Can you bind the wild ox to a furrow with its rope, will it till the valleys, following after you?

39:11 Will you rely on it because its strength is great?

Will you commit your labor to it?

39:12 Can you count on it to bring in your grain, and gather the grain to your threshing floor?

39:13 “The wings of the ostrich flap with joy, but are they the pinions and plumage of a stork?

39:14 For she leaves her eggs on the ground, and lets them be warmed on the soil.

39:15 She forgets that a foot might crush them, or that a wild animal might trample them.

39:16 She is harsh with her young, as if they were not hers; she is unconcerned about the uselessness of her labor.

39:17 For God deprived her of wisdom, and did not impart understanding to her.

39:18 But as soon as she springs up, she laughs at the horse and its rider.

39:19 “Do you give the horse its strength?

Do you clothe its neck with a mane?

39:20 Do you make it leap like a locust?

Its proud neighing is terrifying!

39:21 It paws the ground in the valley, exulting mightily, it goes out to meet the weapons.

39:22 It laughs at fear and is not dismayed; it does not shy away from the sword.

39:23 On it the quiver rattles; the lance and javelin flash.

39:24 In excitement and impatience it consumes the ground; it cannot stand still when the trumpet is blown.

39:25 At the sound of the trumpet, it says, ‘Aha!’ And from a distance it catches the scent of battle, the thunderous shouting of commanders, and the battle cries.

39:26 “Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars, and spreads its wings toward the south?

39:27 Is it at your command that the eagle soars, and builds its nest on high?

39:28 It lives on a rock and spends the night there, on a rocky crag and a fortress.

39:29 From there it spots its prey, its eyes gaze intently from a distance.

39:30 And its young ones devour the blood, and where the dead carcasses are, there it is.”

Prayer

Lord, we never have standing to question You, though You are not troubled when we cry out to You and do so imperfectly. May I learn from Job’s experience the difference between crying-out in anguished uncertainty and doubting the integrity or knowledge of the Lord God.

Scripture In Perspective

The Lord God had allowed Job and his associates/friends sufficient time to dialogue and then brought a devastating challenge to Job “Who is this who darkens counsel with words without knowledge?”

The Lord declared that Job, who had demanded a judicial audience so that he could justify himself to God (Whom he had accused of doing him an injustice), now must stand and himself be questioned – then required to respond to His questions.

The Lord God directed Job’s attention “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?”, then He continued to quiz him about many details of creation, even mocking him about the source and destination of light “You know, for you were born before them; and the number of your days is great!”

The Lord God then continued across the planet, listing detailed specifics about many varieties of living things and asking Job to inform Him about his (Job’s) knowledge of them, mocking him again “Is it at your command that the eagle soars, and builds its nest on high?”

Interact With The Text

Consider

Job had doubted the Lord God’s justice to-date, indeed His understanding of his (Job’s) righteousness, and he had made the determination as to what were the rules-of-engagement must be between the Lord and man – then he declared that the Lord God had fallen short.

Discuss

How do you imagine Job felt just half way through the audience he had demanded before the Lord God?

Reflect

The Lord God began with context and perspective – Job needed to understand the fullness of the distance between himself and God.

Share

When have you experienced or observed someone who “... darken[ed] counsel with words without knowledge?”

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a new-found awe of the Lord God.

Act

Today I will make a list of things that the Lord God has done, and of some of the things of which He is intimately-aware, drawn from these verses of Job. I will read and reflect upon the list I have made. I will also keep the list handy for the next time I, or someone I know, express any doubt that the Lord God is aware and cares.

Be Specific _________________________________________________

Wednesday (Job 40)

Job’s Reply to God’s Challenge

40:1 Then the Lord answered Job:

40:2 “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?

Let the person who accuses God give him an answer!”

40:3 Then Job answered the Lord:

40:4 “Indeed, I am completely unworthy – how could I reply to you?

I put my hand over my mouth to silence myself.

40:5 I have spoken once, but I cannot answer; twice, but I will say no more.”

The Lord’s Second Speech

40:6 Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind:

40:7 “Get ready for a difficult task like a man. I will question you and you will inform me!

40:8 Would you indeed annul my justice?

Would you declare me guilty so that you might be right?

40:9 Do you have an arm as powerful as God’s, and can you thunder with a voice like his?

40:10 Adorn yourself, then, with majesty and excellency, and clothe yourself with glory and honor!

40:11 Scatter abroad the abundance of your anger. Look at every proud man and bring him low;

40:12 Look at every proud man and abase him; crush the wicked on the spot!

40:13 Hide them in the dust together, imprison them in the grave.

40:14 Then I myself will acknowledge to you that your own right hand can save you.

The Description of Behemoth

40:15 “Look now at Behemoth, which I made as I made you; it eats grass like the ox.

40:16 Look at its strength in its loins, and its power in the muscles of its belly.

40:17 It makes its tail stiff like a cedar, the sinews of its thighs are tightly wound.

40:18 Its bones are tubes of bronze, its limbs like bars of iron.

40:19 It ranks first among the works of God, the One who made it has furnished it with a sword.

40:20 For the hills bring it food, where all the wild animals play.

40:21 Under the lotus trees it lies, in the secrecy of the reeds and the marsh.

40:22 The lotus trees conceal it in their shadow; the poplars by the stream conceal it.

40:23 If the river rages, it is not disturbed, it is secure, though the Jordan should surge up to its mouth.

40:24 Can anyone catch it by its eyes, or pierce its nose with a snare?

Prayer

Lord, there is none like You, and none to legitimately challenge You – only that old fraud, the devil, and those whom He deceives. May I rest in the humble assurance that You are perfect, that all imperfection flows from the sin of Satan and humankind, and that when I seek answers they will always begin with trusting You.

Scripture In Perspective

Job replied “Indeed, I am completely unworthy – how could I reply to you?” acknowledging that he had spoken twice but had not given answers, but merely spoken, and now he would remain silent.

The Lord God again challenged Job to prepare to answer His questions, beginning “Would you indeed annul my justice? Would you declare me guilty so that you might be right?”

The Lord then reviewed several of His unique attributes – demonstrating to Job that he was in no position to be questioning God.

The NET translator’s notes include some valuable discussion of several phrases used in this text. One is Behemoth, perhaps a predecessor of a modern animal (suggestions have included an ancient cow as “cattle” are specifically mentioned in Gen. 1:24-26), but it is difficult to infer based on modern geographical distributions of animals as the dispersal of humans following the Tower of Babel incident would have resulted in animals traveling outward as well.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Job had already figured out that he needed to stop talking.

Discuss

Which of the challenges that the Lord God raised against Job may fairly brought against people today?

Reflect

Only a tiny recitation of the great deeds of the Lord God are enough to humble any honest-thinking being.

Share

When have you been called before an authority and challenged to justify something you are accused of saying that undermined their authority?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a moment in your recent past, or perhaps present, where you have had doubts about the Lord God’s ‘fairness’ in your life, or that of someone (or some circumstance).

Act

Today I will humbly and prayerfully review the Lord God’s speech to Job and consider how it caused Job to be humbled to silence. I will confess and repent of my doubts, past or present, request and accept His forgiveness, then mark the day on my calendar when I decided to revisit this text whenever I am tempted to doubt the Lord.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Thursday (Job 41)

The Description of Leviathan

41:1 “Can you pull in Leviathan with a hook, and tie down its tongue with a rope?

41:2 Can you put a cord through its nose, or pierce its jaw with a hook?

41:3 Will it make numerous supplications to you, will it speak to you with tender words?

41:4 Will it make a pact with you, so you could take it as your slave for life?

41:5 Can you play with it, like a bird, or tie it on a leash for your girls?

41:6 Will partners bargain for it?

Will they divide it up among the merchants?

41:7 Can you fill its hide with harpoons or its head with fishing spears?

41:8 If you lay your hand on it, you will remember the fight, and you will never do it again!

41:9 See, his expectation is wrong, he is laid low even at the sight of it.

41:10 Is it not fierce when it is awakened?

Who is he, then, who can stand before it?

41:11 (Who has confronted me that I should repay?

Everything under heaven belongs to me!)

41:12 I will not keep silent about its limbs, and the extent of its might, and the grace of its arrangement.

41:13 Who can uncover its outer covering?

Who can penetrate to the inside of its armor?

41:14 Who can open the doors of its mouth?

Its teeth all around are fearsome.

41:15 Its back has rows of shields, shut up closely together as with a seal;

41:16 each one is so close to the next that no air can come between them.

41:17 They lock tightly together, one to the next; they cling together and cannot be separated.

41:18 Its snorting throws out flashes of light; its eyes are like the red glow of dawn.

41:19 Out of its mouth go flames, sparks of fire shoot forth!

41:20 Smoke streams from its nostrils as from a boiling pot over burning rushes.

41:21 Its breath sets coals ablaze and a flame shoots from its mouth.

41:22 Strength lodges in its neck, and despair runs before it.

41:23 The folds of its flesh are tightly joined; they are firm on it, immovable.

41:24 Its heart is hard as rock, hard as a lower millstone.

41:25 When it rises up, the mighty are terrified, at its thrashing about they withdraw.

41:26 Whoever strikes it with a sword will have no effect, nor with the spear, arrow, or dart.

41:27 It regards iron as straw and bronze as rotten wood.

41:28 Arrows do not make it flee; slingstones become like chaff to it.

41:29 A club is counted as a piece of straw; it laughs at the rattling of the lance.

41:30 Its underparts are the sharp points of potsherds, it leaves its mark in the mud like a threshing sledge.

41:31 It makes the deep boil like a cauldron and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment,

41:32 It leaves a glistening wake behind it; one would think the deep had a head of white hair.

41:33 The likes of it is not on earth, a creature without fear.

41:34 It looks on every haughty being; it is king over all that are proud.”

Prayer

Lord, You are beyond any human estimate in power or size, as well as beyond our imagination in perfection and wisdom. May I be humbled and surrendered to You so that I may never drift into doubt or misunderstanding.

Scripture In Perspective

The NET Greek/Hebrew reference defines Leviathan as possibly a “sea monster, dragon 1a) large aquatic animal 1b) perhaps the extinct dinosaur, plesiosaurus, exact meaning unknown”.

The concept of Leviathan is three-pronged in nature, on one hand the use of an exceptionally-large creature to illustrate a point about power, on another perhaps a rhetorical image to describe any unusually-difficult life challenge, and the third to illustrate Job’s standing before the Lord God (a Behemoth or Leviathan by comparison).

The Lord asks Job what mere human (Job or any other) can handle “Behemoth” or “Leviathan” at all, let alone with a mere word, a look, or a casual action.

Interact With The Text

Consider

As has always been true, explanations with examples are a powerful means of teaching.

Discuss

What modern examples would you use to help a student to comprehend the magnitude of difference between a human and the Lord God?

Reflect

Are we appropriately humbled when we contemplate our expectations of the Lord God?

Share

When have you found yourself trying to ‘stuff the Lord God into a man-sized box’ only to realize that not only will He never fit, but that doing so created confusion and doubt?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a circumstance where a clear sense of the perfection, power, and wisdom of the Lord God was precisely what you needed in order to stand in faith.

Act

Today I will share the story of my awareness of a right-sized Lord God and how that was the assurance I needed to trust Him when everything else was uncertain.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Friday (Job 42:1-6)

Job’s Confession

42:1 Then Job answered the Lord:

42:2 “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted;

42:3 you asked,

‘Who is this who darkens counsel without knowledge?’

But I have declared without understanding things too wonderful for me to know.

42:4 You said, ‘Pay attention, and I will speak; I will question you, and you will answer me.’

42:5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye has seen you.

42:6 Therefore I despise myself, and I repent in dust and ashes!

Prayer

Lord, absolute humility before You is the beginning of wisdom. May I be humble and teachable so that You may find me useful in Your great plan.

Scripture In Perspective

Job was attacked by his three friends and he reacted by defending himself and diminishing the Lord God.

Elihu described the foolishness of any effort to diminish the Lord and challenged Job to repent.

The Lord God demanded that Job be accountable for his thought and words.

Job discovered absolute humility, just as David in the desert would later proclaim that if he faded into the dust of the desert – were that the Lord’s will – he would still praise Him.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Job moved from humility before the Lord God to doubting Him when tested by his friends by their attacks – he allowed the test to become a temptation and then overt sin – when he doubted the Lord.

Discuss

How would your past week or month stand before the Lord challenging you about moments where you doubted or ignored Him?

Reflect

The Lord God loved Job but could not allow the seed of doubt to remain buried deep in his heart – it had to be drawn out.

Share

When have you heard someone doubt the Lord God? Were they teachable and did they respond to Biblical redirection, or were they unteachable?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place in your walk where sometimes doubt, or ignore, the Lord God.

Act

Today I will confess and repent, accept and receive His forgiveness, then prayerfully-commit to remember the lesson of Job and to remember the perfection of the Lord God in all things at all times.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Saturday (Job 42:7-17)

VII. The Epilogue (42:7-17)

42:7 After the Lord had spoken these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My anger is stirred up against you and your two friends, because you have not spoken about me what is right, as my servant Job has. 42:8 So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer a burnt offering for yourselves. And my servant Job will intercede for you, and I will respect him, so that I do not deal with you according to your folly, because you have not spoken about me what is right, as my servant Job has.”

42:9 So they went, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite, and did just as the Lord had told them; and the Lord had respect for Job.

42:10 So the Lord restored what Job had lost after he prayed for his friends, and the Lord doubled all that had belonged to Job. 42:11 So they came to him, all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and they dined with him in his house. They comforted him and consoled him for all the trouble the Lord had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring.

42:12 So the Lord blessed the second part of Job’s life more than the first. He had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. 42:13 And he also had seven sons and three daughters. 42:14 The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah, and the third Keren-Happuch. 42:15 Nowhere in all the land could women be found who were as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance alongside their brothers.

42:16 After this Job lived 140 years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. 42:17 And so Job died, old and full of days.

Prayer

Lord, You tolerate wrong teaching about You for only so long, then there are consequences. May I be a good Berean and check everything with Your Word – whether I am the student or the teacher.

Scripture In Perspective

The Lord God declared that Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar has spoken wrongly about the Lord’s treatment of Job (assigning a proportional sin-guilt to Job) and that they needed to make offerings.

He further instructed that Job would function as their high priest and pray to Him on their behalf and that then He would forgive them.

The Lord then blessed Job with children and animals and great health and wealth.

Job gave inheritances to both his sons and his daughters, a practice not later continued.

Interact With The Text

Consider

The Lord God never explained to Job why He had done what He had done, nor did He give to Job (or anyone else) the authority/right to question His motivations.

Discuss

Job was chastised by the Lord God and he repented directly to Him and was forgiven, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar were chastised by the Lord God and they offered a sacrificial ram of their repentance and were forgiven, but why was Elihu not chastised? Did the Lord ignore him because he was not an elder and not held to the same standard? Or had Elihu spoken the truth?

Reflect

The difference between what Job said that was incorrect, and what Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar said that was incorrect, was that they presumed to know that he had sinned – and deserved punishment for that – when they had no such knowledge. They were guilty of “bearing false witness” and then they tried to make the Lord God complicit in their misrepresentation of truth.

Share

When have you experienced or observed the Lord God being blamed for something bad?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you someone who has misrepresented the Lord God, for whom you may pray so that they recognize their error, will repent, and that the Lord God will have mercy upon them.

Act

Today I will pray in-earnest for the one whom the Holy Spirit has led me to pray. It may be a local teacher or preacher, a radio or television teacher or preacher, the author of a book or other teaching material, or a celebrity who claims to speak for the Lord God – but who does so in error.

Be Specific _________________________________________________

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2012 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study. Prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in August of 2012. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

7. Genesis 12 – 16 (Abraham – Part 1)

A Chronological Daily Bible Study of the Old Testament
7-Day Sections
with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and a Practical Daily Application

Week 7

Sunday (Genesis 12:1-7)

The Obedience of Abram

12:1 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go out from your country, your relatives, and your father’s household to the land that I will show you.

12:2 Then I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will make your name great, so that you will exemplify divine blessing.

12:3 I will bless those who bless you, but the one who treats you lightly I must curse, and all the families of the earth will bless one another by your name.”

12:4 So Abram left, just as the Lord had told him to do, and Lot went with him. (Now Abram was 75 years old when he departed from Haran.) 12:5 And Abram took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, and all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they left for the land of Canaan. They entered the land of Canaan.

12:6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the oak tree of Moreh at Shechem. (At that time the Canaanites were in the land.) 12:7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” So Abram built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.

Prayer

Lord, I am Yours, please send me so that I may be Your conduit of blessing to others. Find me bold and courageous like Abram, surrendering comfort for obedience.

Scripture In Perspective

First Abram’s father Terah moved them from their home in Uz and then the Lord God instructed Abram to travel even further, leaving his remaining family and friends behind. He was to be completely dependent on God.

The patience of Abram reminds one of Noah; he labored and waited 100 years before God brought the rains that would float the Ark and waited another year on the Ark.

The Lord promised to reward Abram’s faithful obedience in great ways. He also promised to defend Abram.

Abram obeyed the Lord and took a huge entourage along with him; his immediate family, his extended family (Lot and others), their many physical possessions, and their servants “people acquired in Haran”.

They traveled to Canaan, which had been founded by the rebellious Ham and his equally rebellious descendants. The land, the ‘Promised Land’ was currently occupied by the Canaanites. The Lord God promised that land to Abram and his descendants but did not instruct him to take immediate possession thereof.

Abram traveled to a specific oak tree in a specific location, Shechem, a location to which Joshua would return in Joshua 24, and there the Lord appeared to him and he in reverence build an altar to the Lord.

Literal references to “oak tree” occur 20 times across the Old Testament and most of them refer to important moments; generally, moments of celebration, memorials, sacrifices, or worship.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Abram was already struggling with Sarai’s infertility yet he still stepped out in faith when the Lord God sent him. Abram’s leadership was powerful as many chose to follow him into lands unknown to them.

Discuss

When has the Lord God asked you to go somewhere unfamiliar (not necessarily geographical but perhaps a different role in ministry or a different job or different social group) and you were already struggling some with an unmet desire that you believed to be on God’s list of good things? Have you found your patience with the Lord sometimes runs short? Does reading these texts chastise you to grow your patience?

Reflect

The Lord God not only promised to bless Abram, He also promised to protect Him. The Lord uses not only the specific oak tree symbolism many times in the Old Testament but also uses “oak” to symbolize strength and “tree” as a metaphor and a physical reality throughout the Old and New Testament, including - of course - the Cross.

Share

When have you stepped out in faith with the assurance that God would bless you, bless others through you, provide for you, and protect you – and He did? What has God used in your life as a symbolic rallying-point of faith? Is it a meaningful Bible-centered song, a geographical location, or perhaps even literally a tree?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to challenge you with something new, and to empower you to be bold in action and in leadership, yet humble to stop and worship the Lord God every time He shows His presence to you.

Act

Prayerfully demonstrate you faith in the Lord by partnering with Him to ‘go forth’ a little outside your comfort zone, trusting Him to bless you, bless others through you, to provide for you, and to protect you. Resist the temptation to place any limits on God. Share with a fellow believer how the Lord is causing or prompting you to ‘move’, and what He is doing or has done to show you that He is in it. Your ‘move’ may be out of one ministry and into another, a geographical move, an employment move, a discipleship move to increase your maturity, a church move for doctrinal or ministry-call reasons, a move from a living situation that distracts you from Him, or perhaps a move in your lifestyle toward a more righteous direction.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Monday (Genesis 12:8-20)

12:8 Then he moved from there to the hill country east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and worshiped the Lord. 12:9 Abram continually journeyed by stages down to the Negev.

The Promised Blessing Jeopardized

12:10 There was a famine in the land, so Abram went down to Egypt to stay for a while because the famine was severe. 12:11 As he approached Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “Look, I know that you are a beautiful woman. 12:12 When the Egyptians see you they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will keep you alive. 12:13 So tell them you are my sister so that it may go well for me because of you and my life will be spared on account of you.”

12:14 When Abram entered Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. 12:15 When Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh. So Abram’s wife was taken into the household of Pharaoh, 12:16 and he did treat Abram well on account of her. Abram received sheep and cattle, male donkeys, male servants, female servants, female donkeys, and camels.

12:17 But the Lord struck Pharaoh and his household with severe diseases because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. 12:18 So Pharaoh summoned Abram and said, “What is this you have done to me? Why didn’t you tell me that she was your wife? 12:19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Here is your wife! Take her and go!” 12:20 Pharaoh gave his men orders about Abram, and so they expelled him, along with his wife and all his possessions.

Prayer

Lord, help us to learn from this text that when we misrepresent ourselves to others we may cause them to make wrong choice and may even lead them into harm.

Scripture In Perspective

Once again Abram paused in his busy travels to worship the Lord and to build an altar to Him.

The NET translator’s notes explain that Abram was in a nomadic mode, continuously moving through “the South [country],” and that “Negev is the name for the southern desert region in the land of Canaan.”

Because there were persistent drought conditions in the Negev Abrah decided to travel to Egypt in search of food and water for his family and entourage.

He apparently had some awareness of the practices of local leaders and feared for the safety of his family because Sarai was very beautiful.

If they knew her to be his wife they would make her a widow so they’d be free to overpower his people take her by force, but if he lied and said she was his sister than he might be able to better position himself (during negotiations) to escape once he announced she was actually his wife.

No knowing that Sarai was Abram’s wife Pharoah has her taken without negotiation and attempted to compensate Abram with a variety of animals and gifts.

The Lord God, always true to His Word, defended Abram’s family and struck “Pharaoh and his household with severe diseases because of Sarai”.

Pharoah was selectively-indignant at Abram for deceiving him, thereby causing him trouble with God, forgetting that he had kidnapped one whom he believed to be Abram’s sister with the intent of forcing her to be his wife.

He immediately set her free and expelled all of Abram’s entourage from Egypt.

Interact With The Text

Consider

The translator’s notes state that Sarai was indeed his sister. We were not previously told this in the prior Genesis text. His full disclosure would have been to say that she was both his sister and his wife, and his trust of the Lord God would have had him trust the Lord to protect them all.

Discuss

Why would Pharaoh think it was OK to kidnap a man’s sister and force her to be his wife?

Reflect

Even though Abram was foolish for not trusting the Lord God to provide and to protect, He kept His Word and defended Abram’s family. There was now established an animosity and master-slave mindset between Egypt and the descendants of Abram.

Share

When has your misrepresentation of all of the facts and a mistrust of the Lord God, due to a fear of some sort, led to a misunderstanding?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how He has provided for and protected you in the past.

Act

Today I will do something difficult that the Holy Spirit has been prompting me to do, I will trust Him to provide and to protect, and I will do all things with integrity so that none are led into harm because of me.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Tuesday (Genesis 13)

Abram’s Solution to the Strife

13:1 So Abram went up from Egypt into the Negev. He took his wife and all his possessions with him, as well as Lot. 13:2 (Now Abram was very wealthy in livestock, silver, and gold.)

13:3 And he journeyed from place to place from the Negev as far as Bethel. He returned to the place where he had pitched his tent at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai. 13:4 This was the place where he had first built the altar, and there Abram worshiped the Lord.

13:5 Now Lot, who was traveling with Abram, also had flocks, herds, and tents. 13:6 But the land could not support them while they were living side by side. Because their possessions were so great, they were not able to live alongside one another. 13:7 So there were quarrels between Abram’s herdsmen and Lot’s herdsmen. (Now the Canaanites and the Perizzites were living in the land at that time.)

13:8 Abram said to Lot, “Let there be no quarreling between me and you, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are close relatives. 13:9 Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself now from me. If you go to the left, then I’ll go to the right, but if you go to the right, then I’ll go to the left.”

13:10 Lot looked up and saw the whole region of the Jordan. He noticed that all of it was well-watered (before the Lord obliterated Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, all the way to Zoar. 13:11a Lot chose for himself the whole region of the Jordan and traveled toward the east.

13:11b So the relatives separated from each other. 13:12 Abram settled in the land of Canaan, but Lot settled among the cities of the Jordan plain and pitched his tents next to Sodom. 13:13 (Now the people of Sodom were extremely wicked rebels against the Lord.)

13:14 After Lot had departed, the Lord said to Abram, “Look from the place where you stand to the north, south, east, and west. 13:15 I will give all the land that you see to you and your descendants forever. 13:16 And I will make your descendants like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone is able to count the dust of the earth, then your descendants also can be counted. 13:17 Get up and walk throughout the land, for I will give it to you.”

13:18 So Abram moved his tents and went to live by the oaks of Mamre in Hebron, and he built an altar to the Lord there.

Prayer

Lord, may I learn anew about grace toward ‘family’ [In the NT the parallel context for ‘family’ is not biological or legal but rather speaks of fellow-believers.]. May I trust in Your provision when confronted with conflict about limited resources so that I am not so fearful that I engage in conflict. Lord, I ask that you write on my heart the lesson you have for me which illustrates the important difference between Lot and Abram.

Scripture In Perspective

By the time that Abram had been expelled from Egypt the Lord God had blessed him with many possessions, some even from the Egyptian Pharoah.

Abram returned to the formerly drought-stricken Negev, and after some additional nomadic life returned to the location when God had “met” him and where he had erected an altar, where he again worshiped the Lord.

His entourage had continued to grow as the flocks and people multiplied and the time came where Lot’s herdsmen and Abram’s quarreled due to limited areas of fertile grazing apart from those in use by the current residents “... the Canaanites and the Perizzitesh.

Abram gave Lot the first choice of and he took the best-watered most-fertile he could see in the Jordan valley to the East.

Lot responded to Abram’s generosity in Gen. 13:10-11a by choosing with his eyes, selecting the best-watered area, even though it was dangerously close to the infamously sin-filled city of Sodom.

Abram then settled in Canaan.

The Lord God spoke to Abram (waiting until the selfish-Lot has departed) and promised him all of the land, and that he would have “... descendants [in number] like the dust of the earth.”

The Lord told Abram to “walk” or move about the land which He would give him and Abram did so – pausing in Mamre in Hebron to build another altar to God.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Although Abram had made some poor choices the Lord God continued to keep His promise. Lot demonstrated a reliance on the flesh rather than on the Lord which place him and those with him in both spiritual and physical harms-way.

Discuss

Despite his wife Sarai being kidnapped, being expelled from Egypt, and his circular travels in the Negev, Abram still took time to worship the Lord. How often have you found this response among self-declared Christians in the midst of difficulty? While Lot rushed off to claim the best looking land Abram chose to seek the path chosen for him by the Lord God. What have those choices looked like in your life?

Reflect

The text observes that the Jordan valley was at that time still “... well- watered, like the garden of the Lord”. It also notes that this is “(before the Lord obliterated Sodom and Gomorrah)”. Lot made a decision to unnecessarily locate his people near a spiritually and physically dangerous place because he wanted the best looking land – is that the mark of a good leader?

Share

When were you been caught in a struggle with fellow-believers for resources? Did someone, you or another, modeled their response after Abram and gave the first choice to the other? Did you choose a way that looked good but that would repeatedly test your obedience to God ‘dancing too close to the fire’ or choosing the way that leads toward righteousness? What happened?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of the Lord God’s promise to protect and to provide, to bless and to multiply. Ask the Holy Spirit to challenge your choice-making – to reflect a desire toward righteous rather than constant temptation.

Act

I agree to pursue an opportunity for the Lord God to bless another though my sacrifice in order to multiply those in His eternal family. As I walk through this act of faith I will remember to pause and to worship the Lord frequently. I will share with a fellow believer a choice with which I have struggled, one where I may choose to go where the challenge will constantly be between ‘how close to the fire can I dance without getting burned’ and ‘how righteous can I live’. I will ask them to pray in-agreement that I will honor the Lord in my choices and I will intentionally open the windows and doors to the Holy Spirit so that He may enlighten and refresh my thinking.

Be Specific _________________________________________________

Wednesday (Genesis 14)

The Blessing of Victory for God’s People

14:1 At that time Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations 14:2 went to war against Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). 14:3 These last five kings joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea). 14:4 For twelve years they had served Kedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled. 14:5 In the fourteenth year, Kedorlaomer and the kings who were his allies came and defeated the Rephaites in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzites in Ham, the Emites in Shaveh Kiriathaim, 14:6 and the Horites in their hill country of Seir, as far as El Paran, which is near the desert. 14:7 Then they attacked En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh) again, and they conquered all the territory of the Amalekites, as well as the Amorites who were living in Hazazon Tamar.

14:8 Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) went out and prepared for battle. In the Valley of Siddim they met 14:9 Kedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of nations, Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar. Four kings fought against five. 14:10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits. When the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, they fell into them, but some survivors fled to the hills. 14:11 The four victorious kings took all the possessions and food of Sodom and Gomorrah and left. 14:12 They also took Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions when they left, for Lot was living in Sodom.

14:13 A fugitive came and told Abram the Hebrew. Now Abram was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, the brother of Eshcol and Aner. (All these were allied by treaty with Abram.)

14:14 When Abram heard that his nephew had been taken captive, he mobilized his 318 trained men who had been born in his household, and he pursued the invaders as far as Dan.

14:15 Then, during the night, Abram divided his forces against them and defeated them. He chased them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus.

14:16 He retrieved all the stolen property. He also brought back his nephew Lot and his possessions, as well as the women and the rest of the people.

14:17 After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet Abram in the Valley of Shaveh (known as the King’s Valley).

14:18 Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (Now he was the priest of the Most High God.)

14:19 He blessed Abram, saying, Blessed be Abram by the Most High God, Creator of heaven and earth. 14:20a Worthy of praise is the Most High God, who delivered your enemies into your hand.

14:20b Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of everything.

14:21 Then the king of Sodom said to Abram, Give me the people and take the possessions for yourself. 14:22 But Abram replied to the king of Sodom, I raise my hand to the Lord, the Most High God, Creator of heaven and earth, and vow 14:23 that I will take nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the strap of a sandal. That way you can never say, It is I who made Abram rich.

14:24 I will take nothing except compensation for what the young men have eaten. As for the share of the men who went with me – Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre – let them take their share.

Prayer

Lord, many times our decision to choose the proximity of people prone to conflict and rebellion may result in danger to ourselves. My we consider carefully your message here. You have promised to defend those who love and obey You and not to bless disobedience. May this piece of Biblical history be written on our hearts for those moments when we falter and doubt You. Lord, may I be found as humble and as willing to fore-go the riches of this world, as was Abram, so that I may remain especially-free of the influence of people-of-rebellion (like the king of Sodom) to better serve You.

Scripture In Perspective

Not many generations after Noah humankind had fragmented into warring fiefdoms, in this case one king had pressured others into paying tribute or protection money in exchange for freedom from attack – by him.

Several of the kings decided that they would no longer pay tribute and they rebelled. The dominant king gathered the kings who remained loyal to him and attacked, conquering the others, and expanding their territory - carrying off many spoils.

During this adventure the kings of the chronically-sinful city-states of Sodom and of Gomorrah fell into the tar pits and perished.

Swept up in the conquest of the invading kings was Abram’s nephew, Lot, who was taken along with his family and resources.

Families/people-groups/tribes had developed alliances in order to defend themselves against others, Abram was allied with Mamre the Amorite, Eshcol, and Aner. As soon as he heard of Lot’s capture he triggered an allied response.

It is notable that their fighting-force was small, as was that of those involved in the prior battle in which Lot was swept-up - these were not the more epic battles of thousands that would come later.

Abram’s 318 men not only defeated the enemy, they divided - for a strategic advantage - and then pursued the fleeing enemy to retrieve what had been stolen – especially Lot and his family.

In the text of Genesis 14:10 it seemed that the former king of Sodom had perished in the tar pits, together with the king of Gomorrah “When the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, they fell into them, but some survivors fled to the hills.” The phrase “some survivors” could have intended that the kings were survivors, though they were defeated, and some other survivors “fled to the hills”, or it could mean that the phrase “some survivors” along with “fell” indicates that the kings died and some survivors lived and fled to the hills. If the latter is correct then another man had apparently been quickly enthroned as the new king of Sodom as he meets Abram-the-liberator in the valley.

“Melchizedek king of Salem ...” is a somewhat challenging character to identify. The name also appears in Psalm 110. The NET translator’s notes suggest he was a Canaanite priest used to renew the promise to Abram. Psalm 110 refers to him as an “eternal priest in the order of Melchizedek”.

An ‘eternal priest’ may refer to one who serves the one true God of eternity and/or one whose own eternity is assured because of one’s faith has met God’s standard. Melchizedek has appeared on the list of characters described as literal appearances of Christ in the Old Testament.

Melchizedek rightly contextualizes Abram’s victory as the Lord God’s victory - realized through his servant Abram - and he declares the Lord worthy of praise; thus Abram gives an offering of “... a tenth of everything” to him as a faithful priestly servant of God.

The Enemy then sent the rebellious and unrepentantly-sinful king of Sodom to Abram, asking for his people back – as thanks he offered the same possessions that had been stolen then recovered to Abram. Abram discerned the trap and declared that he will keep nothing he did not earn so there was no encumbrance.

Abram did allow the others in their shared alliance to “... take their share”, apparently the others were not leaders for the Lord God – so they had no need to avoid the appearance of compromise.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Lot knew that Sodom was a city-state prone to rebellion against God and in a state of disharmony with its aggressive and domineering neighbors, yet still he still chose to settle his family in that region. There is nothing new about alliances, evil men plotting to take what is not theirs, and wars motivated on one side by greed and on the other by the desire to preserve freedom. The Apostle Paul followed the model of Abram, choosing to labor as a tentmaker so that he could speak the truth without fear of financial threat from the ungodly.

Discuss

Just as unbelievers may be blessed when in the proximity of believers, whom the Lord God has chosen to bless - thereby benefiting from some of that blessing - is not the corollary true? Do you agree with Abram’s decision to go to war to rescue Lot? Abram’s offer of “... a tenth of everything” was an instinctive act of respect for and support of a messenger from God. How might we respond as New Testament Christians?

Reflect

The rebellion against the oppression of their neighboring city-state appears to have been ill-conceived. Not only did they not recognize the military superiority of their enemy but they also appeared to have little awareness of dangers in their own back yard (the tar pits). Do modern-day Christians stand together when one of the ‘family’ is improperly attacked? The Enemy, the obvious ‘god’ of the lives of the kings of Sodom and of Gomorrah, acted quickly to try to compromise Abram – but Abram avoided becoming ensnared.

Share

When have you suffered because of a conflict involving a person or group – a conflict you neither started nor voluntarily joined, but you were caught-up in it because you were somehow near to them physically and/or through a business, personal, or other association? When have you come alongside someone who has been improperly attacked? When have you been used of God to assist someone only to have a compromising offer made on the pretext of thanks? (It could be money of which you have cause to believe the source was sinful, alcohol or drugs, sexual favors, a special favor which would require an abuse of the person’s otherwise legitimate access to a business or government or other organization, or the perhaps property of others.)

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to find you teachable as He shows you the potential negative consequences of some of your associations. Listen as He helps you to discern what is important enough to fight for and what is not. Give the Holy Spirit permission to warn you more loudly when you may be drifting into a compromising situation as a result of a kindness you have done.

Act

Make a list of business, personal, and other associations. List the positives and negatives. Rate them on a risk-scale as to probability of conflict with others. Prayerfully assess if your association is wise or if it exposes you to temptation or other unnecessary threats. I agree to join with a spiritually-mature fellow believer and to make a list of the people and/or things of which we believe to be worth (in a Biblically-faithful context as New Testament Christians) a ‘fight’; this may mean a verbal confrontation, a legal confrontation, a political action, physical self-defense (or physical intervention in the defense of another), and even war. We will pray over our lists several times a day for several days and then revisit them, then we will share them with a spiritual leader (deacon-elder, elder, pastor, counseling-elder, etc.) for their perspective, and again we will gather with our partner in the exercise to finalize our lists. Prayerfully assess some of the circumstances where you have been, or are currently, helping others. Invite the Holy Spirit to directly, or indirectly through a spiritually mature friend, show you if there are any compromises slipped into your life by the Enemy using that person or those people. Refuse to accept those compromising things and be fulfilled and joy-filled that you have been used of the Lord as His instrument of blessing.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Thursday (Genesis 15:1-6)

15:1 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram! I am your shield and the one who will reward you in great abundance.”

15:2 But Abram said, “O sovereign Lord, what will you give me since I continue to be childless, and my heir is Eliezer of Damascus?” 15:3 Abram added, “Since you have not given me a descendant, then look, one born in my house will be my heir!”

15:4 But look, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but instead a son who comes from your own body will be your heir.”

15:5 The Lord took him outside and said, “Gaze into the sky and count the stars – if you are able to count them!” Then he said to him, “So will your descendants be.”

15:6 Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord considered his response of faith as proof of genuine loyalty.

Prayer

Lord, your covenant with me through Jesus is the completed/perfected version of Your covenant with Abram, thank you! Lord, I praise and thank you for these verses, they remind me of Your faithfulness over the generations.

Scripture In Perspective

Once again the faith and trust of Abram was rewarded by a vision from the Lord God to bless him.

Abram, still tortured by his state of childlessness by Sarai, questioned the Lord’s promise - as without a son his death will result in a non-blood heir inheriting all that he had gathered - and bring an end to his family lineage.

Eliezer appeared to be the default heir, as per tradition he was the only son born in Abram’s house, though not to Abram.

The Lord God corrected Abram’s misconception and assured him that His promise would be kept, no matter what Abram’s limited imagination may yet have comprehended.

The Lord once-again showed Abram a symbolic representation of the numeric size of his descendents.

Abram’s response in-belief was blessed as “... the Lord considered his response of faith as proof of genuine loyalty.” The terms used were parallel with those describing a New Testament surrender in-faith to the Lordship of Christ.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Abram’s obsession with a son appeared to be growing and his questioning of the Lord God created an opportunity for the Enemy to do some mischief later on. The Lord did not condemn Abram for his initial unbelief but patiently corrected him. Our God is a patient God.

Discuss

The Lord God renewed His promise to Abram several times yet Abram still questioned Him, have you observed a similar demandingness of the Lord in your life, or in that of others? Close your eyes, or perhaps go outside on a cloudless night, and imagine that you are Abram being taken outside of his tent and shown the stars and promised that your descendants would be as numerous as the stars. Describe your sense of the feelings that must have flooded Abram’s senses.

Reflect

When Abram doubted God’s promise did that remind you of Eve when the serpent challenged her to doubt God? The Lord God counted Abram’s belief “... in the Lord” as faith, so the pattern of God’s requirement of faith for salvation is not new to the New Testament.

Share

When you find yourself questioning the Lord God; does He really love me, will He really provide for me, will He really protect me, where does your mind wander? When you believed in Jesus, what was the primary thing that caused you to finally recognize Him for Who He is and that caused you to choose to surrender to His Lordship?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to impress upon you a profound and constant awareness God’s perfect knowledge and perfect power so that you stand in awe - stripped of any doubt. Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you where and how the Lord God led you to believe.

Act

Make a list of the promises that you believe that you have received from God, write next to them the cases where God has already fulfilled some of them, and pray that you will recognize them as the others are fulfilled – and that you will praise God for the past, present, and future. Share with some fellow believers the circumstances leading to your decision to believe and to surrender in faith. Celebrate together and give praise to the Lord God.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Friday (Genesis 15:7-21)

15:7 The Lord said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.” 15:8 But Abram said, “O sovereign Lord, by what can I know that I am to possess it?”

15:9 The Lord said to him, “Take for me a heifer, a goat, and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.” 15:10 So Abram took all these for him and then cut them in two and placed each half opposite the other, but he did not cut the birds in half. 15:11 When birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.

15:12 When the sun went down, Abram fell sound asleep, and great terror overwhelmed him. 15:13 Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign country. They will be enslaved and oppressed for four hundred years. 15:14 But I will execute judgment on the nation that they will serve. Afterward they will come out with many possessions. 15:15 But as for you, you will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. 15:16 In the fourth generation your descendants will return here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its limit.”

15:17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking firepot with a flaming torch passed between the animal parts.

15:17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking firepot with a flaming torch passed between the animal parts.

15:18 That day the Lord made a covenant with Abram: “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates River –

15:19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 15:20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 15:21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites.”

Prayer

Lord, teach me to never doubt or to question You. What You say you always do.

Scripture In Perspective

Abram continued to harbor some doubts as to the working-out of the Lord God’s promise. It is unclear if he was actually doubting God or was just confused as he could not see the details of the path to its fulfillment.

The Lord used a powerful and stark illustration to drive home His point – that there would be difficult times and Abram would not see their conclusion – but the Lord God would keep His promise.

The Lord prophesied the Egyptian slavery and the eventual freedom, He also noted that the Amorites were in-process and that He was allowing their rebellion against Him to play-out.

The “... smoking firepot with a flaming torch which passed between the divided animal parts was an illustration drawn from a local custom with which Abram would have been familiar – the Suzerin Treaty. The custom was that the victor in battle would do the same and then make the losers walk between the parts. He would then declare what the loser would be required to do and what not allowed to do – failure to obey resulting in the same being done to them as to the animals. In this case it was the Lord God, in the form of the flame, Who was pledging Himself to His covenant with Abram.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Abram still doesn’t get it and continued to pester the Lord God for confirmation, and He patiently instructed him one more time. Use of the Suzerin Treaty was to say that He was unlike all the false gods, He would not turn away from His Word, and He would be willing to give Himself in death on behalf of His people (those with an eternally saving relationship) so that their disobedience to Him would not result in their destruction.

The Lord described both the geographical boundaries of the convenental lands and the tribes which would be displaced in order that His promise would be fulfilled.

He described both the geographical boundaries of the convenental lands and how the tribes would be displaced in order that His promise would be fulfilled.

Discuss

God knew that it was important to persuade Abram that He was irreversibly committed to the covenant He had presented – given Abram’s repeated doubts did it not seem necessary? Abram’s apparent desire to stuff God into a man-sized box seems to predispose him to a bad decision in the future. Have you experienced this?

Reflect

God used highly visual communication tools to be certain that there was no mistaking His intentions on the part of Abram. Knowing the challenges ahead Abram continued to go wherever God led.

Share

When have you struggled to get someone to understand the promise that you were making to them? What kinds of illustrations have you used that you believe would be both familiar to them and would effectively make your point? When has God asked you to do something new, or to persist in what you are already doing for Him, and you have obeyed even though you knew the going would be tough.

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to find you receptive as He tries to lead you to a clearer understanding of His message to you. Ask the Holy Spirit to build you up in courage.

Act

Prayerfully select a Biblical teaching, either the literal Word or some doctrine that has been taught in your hearing or reading, which you have had some difficulty understanding. (While the Word is always true, the interpretation of and/or application from it may be flawed. The doctrinal teaching may be fundamentally flawed or true. In either case ask the Lord to give you an illustration which will assist you in your understanding, then share it with another believer. Prayerfully identify something God wants you to persist in, or to begin newly, then journal or describe to a fellow believer the challenges that you know this will bring. Pray for courage and then commit to the Lord that you will persevere.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Saturday (Genesis 16)

The Birth of Ishmael

16:1 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not given birth to any children, but she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar. 16:2 So Sarai said to Abram, “Since the Lord has prevented me from having children, have sexual relations with my servant. Perhaps I can have a family by her.” Abram did what Sarai told him.

16:3 So after Abram had lived in Canaan for ten years, Sarai, Abram’s wife, gave Hagar, her Egyptian servant, to her husband to be his wife. 16:4 He had sexual relations with Hagar, and she became pregnant. Once Hagar realized she was pregnant, she despised Sarai. 16:5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “You have brought this wrong on me! I allowed my servant to have sexual relations with you, but when she realized that she was pregnant, she despised me. May the Lord judge between you and me!”

16:6 Abram said to Sarai, “Since your servant is under your authority, do to her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai treated Hagar harshly, so she ran away from Sarai.

16:7 The Lord’s angel found Hagar near a spring of water in the desert – the spring that is along the road to Shur. 16:8 He said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” She replied, “I’m running away from my mistress, Sarai.”

16:9 Then the Lord’s angel said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her authority. 16:10 I will greatly multiply your descendants,” the Lord’s angel added, “so that they will be too numerous to count.” 16:11 Then the Lord’s angel said to her,

“You are now pregnant and are about to give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard your painful groans.

16:12 He will be a wild donkey of a man. He will be hostile to everyone, and everyone will be hostile to him. He will live away from his brothers.”

16:13 So Hagar named the Lord who spoke to her, “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “Here I have seen one who sees me!” 16:14 That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi. (It is located between Kadesh and Bered.)

16:15 So Hagar gave birth to Abram’s son, whom Abram named Ishmael. 16:16 (Now Abram was 86 years old when Hagar gave birth to Ishmael.)

Prayer

Lord, may I learn from this to never get out ahead of Your perfectly-timed plan for me. May this text help me to understand that a child born as a result of disobedience to You will also be born into many forms of conflict; may I be kind, prayerful, and understanding.

Scripture In Perspective

Abram and Sarai become impatient and decided together to have Abram mate with Sarai’s servant, Hagar (who was functionally her property, therefore legally an extension of her).

Once Hagar was pregnant Abram naturally paid her extra attention and makes certain that she is well cared for – thereby provoking Hagar to consider herself considerably more than a mere servant – provoking Sarai to become indignant.

Sarai confronted Abram, blaming him for her improper attitude, and demanded that the Lord God judge who was right or wrong.

Abram responded to Sarai’s jealous challenge by acknowledging her owner-master relationship with Hagar. Sarai then mistreated Hagar who fled.

“The Lord’s angel ...” greeted Hagar and instructed her to return to Sarai. He also delivered the Lord God’s message that her descendants would be many and that she was to name him Ishmael (the God Who hears).

She is given a prophesy that Ishmael and his descendants would live apart from traditional people, often wandering, and often in sociological conflict due to different styles, temperament, and traditions.

She obediently returned and gave birth. Abram obeyed the instruction of the angel and named the child Ishmael.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Despite the Lord God’s promise that Abram’s descendants would come from Abram and Sarai, Sarai – like Eve – decided to go her own way, and Abram – like Adam – followed her lead. (This appears to be the first recorded case of a “surrogate mother”.) The frustration and anger Hagar felt became a desire for freedom at any cost – and Ishmael lived that life of separateness and disconnectedness with his extended family.

Discuss

Have you ever grown tired of the waiting and acted in a manner less than honoring to the Lord God in order to speed things along? Are you, or is someone whom you know well, a child of conflict and rebellion? How has that impacted your life?

Reflect

Hagar was caught in the middle. She would have been in trouble had she said no to Sarai’s request to mate with Abram but then was in trouble because she did. Of course her newfound less-than-humble attitude was a significant factor as well. The Lord God’s promise to Abram partially extended to his child with Hagar, and although that was not the original intent, the Lord was faithful – even when Abram was not.

Share

Have you, or someone you know, received a special blessing and then been misunderstood when you/they celebrated it perhaps a little too much? When has then Lord God offered to bless something but you took a short cut so that when the blessing came it was distorted somehow? (e.g. Perhaps the Lord God promised to bless a new ministry but you took a short cut and placed a new believer in a role of leadership, despite Biblical warnings to not do so, and as a result the ministry grew but was plagued with conflicts centered around that person?)

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to use you, along with this text, to teach someone younger in the faith, and to remind you of the important principles which the Lord God wants all of His children to learn, remember, and apply. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you may be drifting off of the path He has for you.

Act

Prayerfully seek an opportunity to teach someone younger in the faith that the Lord God’s timing is perfect and what He has promised He will fulfill in His time and in His way. If He wants our help He will ask for it. Also, teach them about humility in the face of blessing so that their celebration is full but not disrespectful of others. As you teach remember that the lesson applies equally to you. Prayerfully review the choices that you are making. With the help of the Holy Spirit discern one area where you are trying to accomplish in your flesh that which God has said He will do. Confess and repent (turn away from) that and patiently wait on the Lord – being faithful in the small things along the way.

Be Specific _________________________________________________

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2012 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study. Prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in August of 2012. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

8. Genesis 17 – 25:18 (Abraham -- Part 2)

A Chronological Daily Bible Study of the Old Testament
7-Day Sections
with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and a Practical Daily Application

Week 8

Sunday (Genesis 17)

The Sign of the Covenant

17:1 When Abram was 99 years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am the sovereign God. Walk before me and be blameless. 17:2 Then I will confirm my covenant between me and you, and I will give you a multitude of descendants.”

17:3 Abram bowed down with his face to the ground, and God said to him, 17:4 “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of a multitude of nations. 17:5 No longer will your name be Abram. Instead, your name will be Abraham because I will make you the father of a multitude of nations. 17:6 I will make you extremely fruitful. I will make nations of you, and kings will descend from you. 17:7 I will confirm my covenant as a perpetual covenant between me and you. It will extend to your descendants after you throughout their generations. I will be your God and the God of your descendants after you. 17:8 I will give the whole land of Canaan – the land where you are now residing – to you and your descendants after you as a permanent possession. I will be their God.”

17:9 Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep the covenantal requirement I am imposing on you and your descendants after you throughout their generations.

17:10 This is my requirement that you and your descendants after you must keep: Every male among you must be circumcised. 17:11 You must circumcise the flesh of your foreskins. This will be a reminder of the covenant between me and you.

17:12 Throughout your generations every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, whether born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not one of your descendants. 17:13 They must indeed be circumcised, whether born in your house or bought with money. The sign of my covenant will be visible in your flesh as a permanent reminder.

17:14 Any uncircumcised male who has not been circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin will be cut off from his people – he has failed to carry out my requirement.”

17:15 Then God said to Abraham, “As for your wife, you must no longer call her Sarai; Sarah will be her name. 17:16 I will bless her and will give you a son through her. I will bless her and she will become a mother of nations. Kings of countries will come from her!”

17:17 Then Abraham bowed down with his face to the ground and laughed as he said to himself, “Can a son be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Can Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?”

17:18 Abraham said to God, “O that Ishmael might live before you!”

17:19 God said, “No, Sarah your wife is going to bear you a son, and you will name him Isaac. I will confirm my covenant with him as a perpetual covenant for his descendants after him.

17:20 As for Ishmael, I have heard you. I will indeed bless him, make him fruitful, and give him a multitude of descendants. He will become the father of twelve princes; I will make him into a great nation.

17:21 But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this set time next year.”

17:22 When he finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him.

17:23 Abraham took his son Ishmael and every male in his household (whether born in his house or bought with money) and circumcised them on that very same day, just as God had told him to do.

17:24 Now Abraham was 99 years old when he was circumcised; 17:25 his son Ishmael was thirteen years old when he was circumcised. 17:26 Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised on the very same day.

17:27 All the men of his household, whether born in his household or bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.

Prayer

Lord, I wish to walk before you blameless and to be a fruitful part of Your perfect plan in this world. While the whole notion of adult circumcision makes us wince, and the nature of such a primitive and legalistic/performance-based relationship contrary to our Christian reality of a grace-based relationship, we do want to be mindful that there is a 'spiritual circumcision' that takes place when we accept Your Lordship of our lives. Lord, may I never be found laughing in doubt at any of Your prophesies, You always keep Your word and nothing You promise is absurd. Lord, find me grateful that rather than occasional moments when You come to be near to me You are always with me through Your Holy Spirit. May I be as faithful in following Your instructions as was Abraham, no matter the cost.

Scripture In Perspective

The Lord God systematically and incrementally communicated the details of His covenant to Abram. He communicated His decision to re-name Abram to Abraham in order to clarify His ‘ownership’ of Abraham and his descendants.

The Lord again affirmed His commitment to make Abraham “fruitful”, to raise up great leaders from his descendants, to give to them a large territory, and to be their God.

God described to Abraham His system to bring the men in Abraham’s extended family and community to an awareness of the high-level of commitment they were making to His covenant – adult circumcision.

He instructed Abraham that newly born boys must also be circumcised.

He extended the circumcision requirements to every male in “the camp”.

He informed Abraham that He was also asserting “lordship/ownership” of Sarai and that He had renamed her, Sarah.

He instructed Abraham to inform Sarah that she would bear a child from Abraham and that child would be the first in a line to include kings of countries (and The King),

Abraham, bowing in submission laughed at the very notion that an elderly couple like he and Sarah could have a child – his laughter was sorrowful rather than derisive.

Abraham plead for God to fulfill His promise through Ishmael.

The Lord corrected Abraham’s error and instructed him to name the son, to be born of Abraham and Sarai - Isaac. He advised Abraham that the birth will be in one year’s time.

He notified Abraham that He would confirm His covenant directly with Isaac.

He also informed Abraham that He has already declared that He would bless Ishmael because of Abraham, making his descendants many and powerful, eventually gathered into a large nation. Interestingly He declares that Ishmael will be the father of twelve princes.

When the Lord God completed His instruction of Abraham He departed.

Abraham immediately obeyed God’s instruction and had every male circumcised.

The circumcision included Abraham (99 years old) and Ishmael (13).

Interact With The Text

Consider

Observe Abram’s response to the presence of God “Abram bowed down with his face to the ground ...” The Holy Spirit of God dwells within us, do we “bow down” before His presence through lives lived in humble submission? Is it not amazing that despite Abram and Sarai’s rebellion, which had just created the tribe of Ishmael, the Lord still comes to Abram to continue the revelation of His covenant?

In the primitive medical conditions this would have been dangerous and debilitating of the men limiting their capacity to defend the community or to work. Abraham still failed to fully appreciate Who God was and therefore doubted His capacity to literally fulfill His prophesy. The Lord did not choose to confront Abraham angrily, despite his rebellion via Hagar, and his doubts about His promise. There were no hospitals as we know them, little in the way of sanitation, and every male was circumcised – creating a military vulnerability while they recovered.

Discuss

Compare the severity of the physical pain and significance of the social impact associated with the Abrahamic covenant to that which we experience for our public declaration of faith in the generally Christian-friendly West, as well as parts of the rest of the world. When have you doubted one of God’s promises could really come to you? When have you known that you deserved God’s anger and Hand of discipline yet He has withheld both. Since He knows your heart was His restraint due to your repentance? Abraham was apparently held in extraordinary high-regard as there is no report of rebellion against this extreme requirement for all of the men.

Reflect

What must it have meant to Abram, now Abraham, to hear the Lord God declare of his descendants “I will be their God.” The instructions of God, detailed later, would specify the 8th week of life for baby boys to be circumcised. Modern research has uncovered the fact that the 8th week is when Vitamin K spikes in the child – Vitamin K is a clotting agent which would have prevented them from excessive bleeding. Abraham is focused on himself, through the eyes of the world seeing himself and Sarah as impossible vessels for God's fulfilled prophesy, and the he places God in a man-sized 'box'. Prior to the coming of the indwelling Holy Spirit those who worshiped God generally only knew His presence occasionally whereas NT believers have His presence continually. Abraham never asked for an exemption based on his age and was circumcised along with Ishmael, humbly submitting as leader and son for all to know that it was the required thing to do and that he was willing to model obedience even in very difficult things.

Share

When has your realization that the Holy Spirit in you is the Lord God present with you caused to you pause in reverent awe – and moved you to live more righteously before Him? What do you know of cultures where a public confession of faith represents a major physical and/or sociological risk and sacrifice? When have you doubted your suitability for God’s promise and, perhaps unintentionally, then doubted God’s capacity to do as He has promised in and through you? When has God had to confront you in some way to correct your wrong thinking? When has God made a sacrificial claim on your life? Did you obey despite the cost?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of the covenant God has made with you in Christ. Ask the Holy Spirit to make you mindful of the ‘circumcision of your heart’ which God asks of you, as described by the apostle Paul in the NT as a parallel to that experienced by Abraham and his community. Ask the Holy Spirit to extinguish any smoldering fire of doubt which the enemy has started in you. Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you frequently every day of His presence. Ask the Holy Spirit to find you a willing partner in learning to be the first to sacrifice and a positive role model of obedience to God – even in the hard things.

Act

Prayerfully seek a place in your life where you have not experienced a 'circumcision of the heart', that is, a place where your loyalty remains in the world rather than in Christ. Agree to cooperate with the Holy Spirit to walk through the challenging process of surrendering that part of your life to the Lordship of Christ – no matter the cost. Prayerfully seek out a new or stuck believer and share this text and discussion with them, encouraging them to discover anew the awe of the presence of God within. Prayerfully ponder the most challenging or difficult promise God has made to you. [His promises to His children are all in His Word.] Honestly list the doubts you have, both of yourself as fit to be the vessel of His promise, and if you really understood correctly His amazing promise. Ask a fellow believer to pray in-agreement that your faith would be expanded to accept God at His Word. I agree to be intentional about beginning my every day with a conversation with the Holy Spirit of God through prayer, to pause and do so during the day, and to be at least as faithful in this as an adherent to Islam is in his ot her daily pauses for worship.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Monday (Genesis 18)

Three Special Visitors

18:1 The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent during the hottest time of the day. 18:2 Abraham looked up and saw three men standing across from him. When he saw them he ran from the entrance of the tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.

18:3 He said, “My lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by and leave your servant. 18:4 Let a little water be brought so that you may all wash your feet and rest under the tree. 18:5 And let me get a bit of food so that you may refresh yourselves since you have passed by your servant’s home. After that you may be on your way.” “All right,” they replied, “you may do as you say.”

18:6 So Abraham hurried into the tent and said to Sarah, Quick! Take three measures of fine flour, knead it, and make bread. 18:7 Then Abraham ran to the herd and chose a fine, tender calf, and gave it to a servant, who quickly prepared it. 18:8 Abraham then took some curds and milk, along with the calf that had been prepared, and placed the food before them. They ate while he was standing near them under a tree.

18:9 Then they asked him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” He replied, “There, in the tent.” 18:10 One of them said, “I will surely return to you when the season comes round again, and your wife Sarah will have a son!” (Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, not far behind him. 18:11 Abraham and Sarah were old and advancing in years; Sarah had long since passed menopause.) 18:12 So Sarah laughed to herself, thinking, “After I am worn out will I have pleasure, especially when my husband is old too?”

18:13 The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child when I am old?’ 18:14 Is anything impossible for the Lord? I will return to you when the season comes round again and Sarah will have a son.” 18:15 Then Sarah lied, saying, “I did not laugh,” because she was afraid. But the Lord said, “No! You did laugh.”

Abraham Pleads for Sodom

18:16 When the men got up to leave, they looked out over Sodom. (Now Abraham was walking with them to see them on their way.) 18:17 Then the Lord said, “Should I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? 18:18 After all, Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all the nations on the earth will pronounce blessings on one another using his name. 18:19 I have chosen him so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. Then the Lord will give to Abraham what he promised him.”

18:20 So the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so blatant 18:21 that I must go down and see if they are as wicked as the outcry suggests. If not, I want to know.”

18:22 The two men turned and headed toward Sodom, but Abraham was still standing before the Lord.

18:23 Abraham approached and said, “Will you sweep away the godly along with the wicked?

18:24 What if there are fifty godly people in the city? Will you really wipe it out and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty godly people who are in it? 18:25 Far be it from you to do such a thing – to kill the godly with the wicked, treating the godly and the wicked alike! Far be it from you! Will not the judge of the whole earth do what is right?”

18:26 So the Lord replied, “If I find in the city of Sodom fifty godly people, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

18:27 Then Abraham asked, “Since I have undertaken to speak to the Lord (although I am but dust and ashes), 18:28 what if there are five less than the fifty godly people? Will you destroy the whole city because five are lacking?” He replied, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.”

18:29 Abraham spoke to him again, “What if forty are found there?” He replied, “I will not do it for the sake of the forty.”

18:30 Then Abraham said, “May the Lord not be angry so that I may speak! What if thirty are found there?” He replied, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”

18:31 Abraham said, “Since I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty are found there?” He replied, “I will not destroy it for the sake of the twenty.”

18:32 Finally Abraham said, “May the Lord not be angry so that I may speak just once more. What if ten are found there?” He replied, “I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten.”

18:33 The Lord went on his way when he had finished speaking to Abraham. Then Abraham returned home.

Prayer

Lord, may I recognize You and rush to worship and to serve You. May I be mature enough so that even when Your promises seem impossible I will trust You, and even when caught doubting I will not lie but will confess and ask that my faith be increased. May I be as sensitive as Abraham for the righteous hidden among the multitudes of the unrighteous.

Scripture In Perspective

The three “men” are clearly “heavenly” in origin:

Abraham ran to them, something unusual for a man, especially of his age.

Abraham addressed at least one as “Lord”.

Abraham bowed in submission.

Abraham pleaded to be permitted to provide foot washing, food, and a shady place for rest.

Abraham had Sarah and his servants prepare “fine” bread and a “fine” calf – the best for his very special guests. He then stood apart from them, as a servant from his master, as they ate.

The heavenly visitors announced again, in the most specific and unambiguous language, the Lord God’s plan for Sarah’s pregnancy.

Sarah was bitter and hopeless as she was post-menopausal. (From the experience- based perspective of the world she was no longer able to become pregnant and to bear a child, so she laughed when they made their announcement.)

The Lord challenged Abraham about Sarah’s doubts, at which moment Sarah – frightened that the Lord was aware of her lack of faith – denied lying. The Lord corrected her with the truth while He steadfastly declared His intention to return when it was time for the child to be born.

As Abraham was “... still standing before the Lord” God announced that He intended to bring a terrible judgment upon Sodom.

Abraham challenged the Lord God to reconsider the destruction of Sodom and He agreed – of course knowing that Abraham’s condition of righteous men could not be met.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Abraham was a powerful and wealthy man in that part of the world, he had only previously shown such deference to Melchizedek (Gen. 14:17-20). Meanwhile, Sarah’s eyes were on her imperfect flesh and not on her perfect Lord. Later, Abraham was so concerned for the righteous in Sodom that he was willing to challenge the Lord God several times to consider withholding His hand of judgment.

Discuss

Despite the history of the Lord’s faithfulness and power Sarah failed to trust. Why?

Reflect

Abraham had a sense of fatherly responsibility for the people in the region, even Sodom – whom he had previously rescued from an invading army, perhaps even more-so because his nephew Lot lived there.

Share

When have you recognized a special gift in someone and rather than competing with them for attention or distracting them from their task you have humbly served them? When have you struggled to see things through God’s eyes instead of the limited vision of the world? When have you pleaded with God to withhold His hand of judgment upon a parent for the sake of a child or a spouse for the sake of their mate or some other unrighteous person for the sake of a righteous one who might be harmed?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to direct you to a small group of people, perhaps students at a college or other school or employees in a workplace, who are surrounded by people immersed in sin and who need support.

Act

Today I agree to communicate a word of encouragement to those whom the Holy Spirit has directed me and to pray for protection for them.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Tuesday (Genesis 19)

The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah

19:1 The two angels came to Sodom in the evening while Lot was sitting in the city’s gateway. When Lot saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face toward the ground.

19:2 He said, “Here, my lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house. Stay the night and wash your feet. Then you can be on your way early in the morning.” “No,” they replied, “we’ll spend the night in the town square.”

19:3 But he urged them persistently, so they turned aside with him and entered his house. He prepared a feast for them, including bread baked without yeast, and they ate.

19:4 Before they could lie down to sleep, all the men – both young and old, from every part of the city of Sodom – surrounded the house. 19:5 They shouted to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so we can have sex with them!”

19:6 Lot went outside to them, shutting the door behind him. 19:7 He said, “No, my brothers! Don’t act so wickedly! 19:8 Look, I have two daughters who have never had sexual relations with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do to them whatever you please. Only don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”

19:9 “Out of our way!” they cried, and “This man came to live here as a foreigner, and now he dares to judge us! We’ll do more harm to you than to them!” They kept pressing in on Lot until they were close enough to break down the door.

19:10 So the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house as they shut the door. 19:11 Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, from the youngest to the oldest, with blindness. The men outside wore themselves out trying to find the door.

19:12 Then the two visitors said to Lot, “Who else do you have here? Do you have any sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or other relatives in the city? Get them out of this place 19:13 because we are about to destroy it. The outcry against this place is so great before the Lord that he has sent us to destroy it.”

19:14 Then Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law who were going to marry his daughters. He said, “Quick, get out of this place because the Lord is about to destroy the city!” But his sons-in-law thought he was ridiculing them.

19:15 At dawn the angels hurried Lot along, saying, “Get going! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or else you will be destroyed when the city is judged!” 19:16 When Lot hesitated, the men grabbed his hand and the hands of his wife and two daughters because the Lord had compassion on them. They led them away and placed them outside the city. 19:17 When they had brought them outside, they said, “Run for your lives! Don’t look behind you or stop anywhere in the valley! Escape to the mountains or you will be destroyed!”

19:18 But Lot said to them, “No, please, Lord! 19:19 Your servant has found favor with you, and you have shown me great kindness by sparing my life. But I am not able to escape to the mountains because this disaster will overtake me and I’ll die. 19:20 Look, this town over here is close enough to escape to, and it’s just a little one. Let me go there. It’s just a little place, isn’t it? Then I’ll survive.”

19:21 “Very well,” he replied, “I will grant this request too and will not overthrow the town you mentioned. 19:22 Run there quickly, for I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” (This incident explains why the town was called Zoar.)

19:23 The sun had just risen over the land as Lot reached Zoar. 19:24 Then the Lord rained down sulfur and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah. It was sent down from the sky by the Lord. 19:25 So he overthrew those cities and all that region, including all the inhabitants of the cities and the vegetation that grew from the ground. 19:26 But Lot’s wife looked back longingly and was turned into a pillar of salt.

19:27 Abraham got up early in the morning and went to the place where he had stood before the Lord. 19:28 He looked out toward Sodom and Gomorrah and all the land of that region. As he did so, he saw the smoke rising up from the land like smoke from a furnace.

19:29 So when God destroyed the cities of the region, God honored Abraham’s request. He removed Lot from the midst of the destruction when he destroyed the cities Lot had lived in.

19:30 Lot went up from Zoar with his two daughters and settled in the mountains because he was afraid to live in Zoar. So he lived in a cave with his two daughters.

19:31 Later the older daughter said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man anywhere nearby to have sexual relations with us, according to the way of all the world. 19:32 Come, let’s make our father drunk with wine so we can have sexual relations with him and preserve our family line through our father.”

19:33 So that night they made their father drunk with wine, and the older daughter came and had sexual relations with her father. But he was not aware that she had sexual relations with him and then got up. 19:34 So in the morning the older daughter said to the younger, “Since I had sexual relations with my father last night, let’s make him drunk again tonight. Then you go and have sexual relations with him so we can preserve our family line through our father.” 19:35 So they made their father drunk that night as well, and the younger one came and had sexual relations with him. But he was not aware that she had sexual relations with him and then got up.

19:36 In this way both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father. 19:37 The older daughter gave birth to a son and named him Moab. He is the ancestor of the Moabites of today. 19:38 The younger daughter also gave birth to a son and named him Ben-Ammi. He is the ancestor of the Ammonites of today.

19:30 Lot went up from Zoar with his two daughters and settled in the mountains because he was afraid to live in Zoar. So he lived in a cave with his two daughters.

Prayer

Lord, may I treat fellow believers with the same sacrificial courtesy and bravery as Lot. Lord, when You tell me to “Get going!” may I be as Lot and obey immediately. Lord, please do not find me so impatient that in my desperation I do things my own way instead of trusting You. Lord, teach me to trust in You so that the enemy cannot use fear to manipulate me.

Scripture In Perspective

The two beings mentioned previously arrived in Sodom to destroy the city and they find Lot at the city gates – generally the place of the religious “elders”.

Lot, like Moses, recognized them as of-God and he bowed to them – insisting that they dine and spend the night in the comfort and safety of his home.

The crazed men of Sodom attacked Lot’s home, demanding the visitors for their homosexual pleasures.

Lot realized that if he could not persuade the mob to leave they would break down his door and take his guests – who according to ancient custom he was duty-bound to protect by any means necessary – so he stepped outside of his house to confront them at mortal risk to his own life.

Since the men were crazed with sex and would probably have raped and murdered everyone in Lot’s household he offered his virgin daughters so as to protect the “men” (angels) of-God, his highest responsibility (in his mind).

The men refused as they were so mad with homosexual lust, having long-ago given themselves over to unbridled sin, reject his offer and shoved him aside to attack the door.

The “angels” reached out, pulled Lot to safety, then blinded the men so they were unable to find the door – though they tried throughout the night – exhausting themselves from the effort.

Just as the Lord God had done with Noah, He extended His blessing for the one to his closest relatives by instructing Lot to gather-up his “... sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or other relatives in the city”.

Lot’s “son-in-laws”, men who were engaged to his daughters, refused to take him seriously and refused to leave. [Note: According to Old Testament tradition, when a couple were engaged they were considered all-but-married – with the exception of their wedding night consummation. This remained true even until the time of Joseph and Mary in the New Testament.]

When it was dawn and time to actually leave the angels rushed Lot and his family out of the city; even Lot hesitated as he was leaving everything of worldly value behind, so the angels compassionately took his hand and led him out.

Seeing the distance from the city to the mountains Lot asked to be permitted to take refuge in a nearby village, Zoar, which the angels granted. The members of Lot’s group were warned by the angel to not look back at the city.

As the Lord God obliterated Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot’s wife looked back at the city with longing in her heart for that sinful place, this was in direct disobedience to the instruction of the angel and thus she was turned to a pillar of salt.

When Abraham awoke he went and stood in the place where the Lord had taken him to show him the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah which He intended to obliterate – and Abraham saw their ruins – he was also aware that God had honored his request to spare his nephew Lot.

Lot fled Zoar for a cave in the mountains as he feared that the people may have blamed him for God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Lot and his daughters were isolated from other people as they had for some reason not chosen to seek out Abraham.

Lot’s daughters has lost their husbands-to-be in the destruction of Sodom were desperate to bear children so that the tradition of biological descendants might continue.

Since their father was the only available male they decided to get him so drunk that he would not know that they had sex with him, and they did so.

Their descendants from those two acts of incest were the Ammonites and Moabites.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Lot welcomed the angels into his home, practicing what is in the New Testament described by the Apostle Paul as the gift of hospitality, and accepting responsibility for their well-being – including to the point of everything over which he had authority – even his family and his own life. Lot made a foolish and selfish choice to settle near Sodom and Gomorrah, then Abraham had to rescue him from the raiding armies, and again had to ask God to spare him from His wrath upon those evil cities. Zoar, to which Lot had initially fled Sodom, was the only community spared God’s wrath because God had promised Abraham He would protect Lot; however Lot feared that the people there would blame him for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot never gave a thought to using the wrath of God as a teachable moment to share God with them as his relationship with God was a very shallow one in contrast to that of Abraham. If we are fearful what others may think then we have made of them idols with more power than the God Who created all that exists.

Discuss

Lot knew that these men/angels would not be safe I the city square, where they had said they’d be willing to spend the night, and they – being of-God, knew also the danger into which Lot was placing himself by taking them in for the night. God clearly had a timetable in mind for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah but took the time to offer safety to Lot and his family. In keeping with His provision for free will, the son-in-laws were allowed to decide to stay and Lot’s wife was allowed to be disobedient once outside of the city and suffer the mortal consequences. Fear of being unable to flee to the mountains in time before the destruction of Sodom caused Lot to ask to stop in Zoar instead, fear of persecution in Zoar caused Lot to flee to a cave in the mountains, fear kept Lot and his daughters from leaving the cave in search of Abraham, and fear caused Lot’s daughters to turn to incest in order to have children. What sort of fear-driven caves have you known others to live in?

Reflect

Imagine the horror of Lot when he realized that the mob of men would certainly break down his door and do whatever they desired with the occupants and his heartsick decision to sacrifice his virgin daughters to the mob in hopes of saving at least some of the occupants – especially the men/angels he had given his solemn oath to protect at any cost. [Note: Lot was not trying to protect himself, when he went outside he had already made it clear that he was willing to place himself in harm’s way to protect his guests. He quickly discovered that he had no power to protect anyone from the mob.] Lot, knowing that God was about to destroy Sodom still hesitated in leaving. Lot’s wife did worse, she looked back longing for the city of sin, just as we sometimes long for things we have left behind – and should never long to return to. Lot had a long pattern of poor choices because he did not rely upon God, as did Abraham, and now he had passed his poor judgment on to his daughters. Because Lot was motivated by fear he created the circumstances which led to the unfortunate choices of his daughters.

Share

When have you been confronted with a lose-lose proposition when every choice seemed equally unpleasant, your integrity was on the line, and the only best-choice apparent to you was a sacrifice that would surely break your heart? What choice did you make and what happened? When has God led you away from people and places that embodied a culture of sin and you struggled to leave and to not long to return? When has fear caused you to make a choice which upon reflection was clearly not what God would have wanted, and upon reflection one which patience would have made unnecessary as God had already made plans to meet your true needs. When have you been fearful but have overcome and acted and/or spoken boldly about the Lord?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to make you mindful of the Lord God’s call upon your life, and everything in it, as sacrificed at the moment of true salvation to Him in its entirety and to chastise you whenever you long for what He has rescued you from – the way of destruction and pollution that is sin. Ask for confidence and patience in the face of challenges and to remind you that New Testament Christians were not given “a spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7)

Act

Today I will prayerfully contemplate the things in my life for which I would sacrifice greatly, I will share with a fellow believer which of them are Biblical-priorities and which are worldly, and then I will ask for prayer in-agreement that my priorities become God’s. I will prayerfully search my heart for one or more people or places from my past for which I sometimes long, they may be bondage to ‘idols’ like possessions or title or wealth, wrong relationships, addictive substances, or irresponsibly chasing after adrenaline rush after adrenaline rush. I will commit to the Holy Spirit to partner in purging the lie that those things have any part of my walk with Christ. I will prayerfully seek out a brother or a sister who is struggling to break free of their fear and I will encourage them with prayer.

Be Specific _________________________________________________

Wednesday (Genesis 20 – 21:8)

Abraham and Abimelech

20:1 Abraham journeyed from there to the Negev region and settled between Kadesh and Shur. While he lived as a temporary resident in Gerar, 20:2 Abraham said about his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” So Abimelech, king of Gerar, sent for Sarah and took her.

20:3 But God appeared to Abimelech in a dream at night and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken, for she is someone else’s wife.”

20:4 Now Abimelech had not gone near her. He said, “Lord, would you really slaughter an innocent nation? 20:5 Did Abraham not say to me, “She is my sister.” And she herself said, “He is my brother.” I have done this with a clear conscience and with innocent hands!”

20:6 Then in the dream God replied to him, “Yes, I know that you have done this with a clear conscience. That is why I have kept you from sinning against me and why I did not allow you to touch her. 20:7 But now give back the man’s wife. Indeed he is a prophet and he will pray for you; thus you will live. But if you don’t give her back, know that you will surely die along with all who belong to you.”

20:8 Early in the morning Abimelech summoned all his servants. When he told them about all these things, they were terrified. 20:9 Abimelech summoned Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? What sin did I commit against you that would cause you to bring such great guilt on me and my kingdom? You have done things to me that should not be done!” 20:10 Then Abimelech asked Abraham, “What prompted you to do this thing?”

20:11 Abraham replied, “Because I thought, “Surely no one fears God in this place. They will kill me because of my wife.” 20:12 What’s more, she is indeed my sister, my father’s daughter, but not my mother’s daughter. She became my wife. 20:13 When God made me wander from my father’s house, I told her, “This is what you can do to show your loyalty to me: Every place we go, say about me, “He is my brother.”“

20:14 So Abimelech gave sheep, cattle, and male and female servants to Abraham. He also gave his wife Sarah back to him. 20:15 Then Abimelech said, “Look, my land is before you; live wherever you please.”

20:16 To Sarah he said, “Look, I have given a thousand pieces of silver to your “brother.” This is compensation for you so that you will stand vindicated before all who are with you.”

20:17 Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, as well as his wife and female slaves so that they were able to have children. 20:18 For the Lord had caused infertility to strike every woman in the household of Abimelech because he took Sarah, Abraham’s wife.

The Birth of Isaac

21:1 The Lord visited Sarah just as he had said he would and did for Sarah what he had promised. 21:2 So Sarah became pregnant and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the appointed time that God had told him. 21:3 Abraham named his son – whom Sarah bore to him – Isaac.

21:4 When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him just as God had commanded him to do. 21:5 (Now Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.)

21:6 Sarah said, “God has made me laugh. Everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” 21:7 She went on to say, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have given birth to a son for him in his old age!”

21:8 The child grew and was weaned. Abraham prepared a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned.

Prayer

Lord, even though You often intervene without my awareness to prevent my fear-driven foolishness from harming myself and/or others, I long to be a better witness by being a more trusting child of God. May I never forget Your faithfulness to Abraham and Sarah, despite their repeated lack of faithfulness to You, and be encouraged that Your love overcomes my weaknesses.

Scripture In Perspective

For the second time Abraham causes a foreign leader to fall into trouble with the Lord God because he (Abraham) lied about his relationship with Sarah, again saying that she was his sister (conveniently leaving out that she was his half-sister and his wife).

Abraham’s excuse was fear that “Abimelech, king of Gera” would kill him and take his wife, who even at 90 must have been quite a beautiful woman, instead of trusting the Lord to protect him and his wife.

God intervenes to prevent permanent harm from coming to anyone - but Abraham’s reputation has been harmed in that region. Abimelech rightfully challenges Abraham’s integrity and wisdom.

Once again the Lord God was faithful in protecting Abraham and those close to him despite Abraham’s lack of faith in God’s protection in the first case.

God kept His promise to Abraham despite Abraham’s repeated failure to trust God with his provision of a son and his protection as he traveled.

Abraham was obedient in the naming and circumcision of Isaac.

Sarah celebrated God’s amazing miracle of the promised child despite their age.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Give the history Abraham should never have feared as the Lord God had always protected him and those close to him. When God makes a promise He always keeps it.

Discuss

Setting up others to fail before the Lord is a terrible thing to do. When you read a Bible story like this do you find it encouraging?

Reflect

As beautiful as she may have been at her age she was clearly not of childbearing age, absent a miracle of God, so what would have been Abimelech’s attraction? Her obvious wealth? What sort of testimony do you suppose Abraham and Sarah had of the Lord’s integrity and His power after the birth of Isaac?

Share

When have you made a choice that was wrong before God and that created a situation where someone else was placed at-risk of harm? When has He used you to demonstrate His integrity and power despite your doubts and wandering off of the path He had laid out for you?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a decision you have made which places others at risk, either through your poor role model, or through an action you have taken. (Perhaps a woman dressing provocatively, a single man flirting with a married woman, a student cheating in school and encouraging others to do so as well, someone downloading games, software, or videos illegally and sharing that with others.) Ask Him to more-firmly direct you on God’s path, to chastise you when you doubt, and to remind you of the many ways He has affirmed His integrity and power in your life.

Act

I will prayerfully seek-out something that I do, or perhaps fail to do, that makes me a poor witness – or worse – a co-conspirator with the enemy to set someone else up to fail. I will repent of that and immediately partner with the Holy Spirit to purge that from my life. I will ask a fellow believer who knows me well to assist me in making a short list of the many ways that the Lord has affirmed His integrity and power in my life and we will celebrate together His faithfulness.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Thursday (Genesis 21:9-34)

21:9 But Sarah noticed the son of Hagar the Egyptian – the son whom Hagar had borne to Abraham – mocking. 21:10 So she said to Abraham, “Banish that slave woman and her son, for the son of that slave woman will not be an heir along with my son Isaac!”

21:11 Sarah’s demand displeased Abraham greatly because Ishmael was his son. 21:12 But God said to Abraham, “Do not be upset about the boy or your slave wife. Do all that Sarah is telling you because through Isaac your descendants will be counted. 21:13 But I will also make the son of the slave wife into a great nation, for he is your descendant too.”

21:14 Early in the morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He put them on her shoulders, gave her the child, and sent her away. So she went wandering aimlessly through the wilderness of Beer Sheba. 21:15 When the water in the skin was gone, she shoved the child under one of the shrubs. 21:16 Then she went and sat down by herself across from him at quite a distance, about a bowshot away; for she thought, “I refuse to watch the child die.” So she sat across from him and wept uncontrollably.

21:17 But God heard the boy’s voice. The angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and asked her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Don’t be afraid, for God has heard the boy’s voice right where he is crying. 21:18 Get up! Help the boy up and hold him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” 21:19 Then God enabled Hagar to see a well of water. She went over and filled the skin with water, and then gave the boy a drink.

21:20 God was with the boy as he grew. He lived in the wilderness and became an archer. 21:21 He lived in the wilderness of Paran. His mother found a wife for him from the land of Egypt.

21:22 At that time Abimelech and Phicol, the commander of his army, said to Abraham, “God is with you in all that you do. 21:23 Now swear to me right here in God’s name that you will not deceive me, my children, or my descendants. Show me, and the land where you are staying, the same loyalty that I have shown you.” 21:24 Abraham said, “I swear to do this.”

21:25 But Abraham lodged a complaint against Abimelech concerning a well that Abimelech’s servants had seized. 21:26 “I do not know who has done this thing,” Abimelech replied. “Moreover, you did not tell me. I did not hear about it until today.”

21:27 Abraham took some sheep and cattle and gave them to Abimelech. The two of them made a treaty.

21:28 Then Abraham set seven ewe lambs apart from the flock by themselves. 21:29 Abimelech asked Abraham, “What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs that you have set apart?” 21:30 He replied, “You must take these seven ewe lambs from my hand as legal proof that I dug this well.” 21:31 That is why he named that place Beer Sheba, because the two of them swore an oath there.

21:32 So they made a treaty at Beer Sheba. Then Abimelech and Phicol, the commander of his army, returned to the land of the Philistines.

21:33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beer Sheba. There he worshiped the Lord, the eternal God. 21:34 So Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines for quite some time.

Prayer

Lord, Sarah was selfish and vindictive like the world. May I look first to You so that I have Your heart toward others rather than the heart of my fallen-flesh.

Scripture In Perspective

Sarah was selfish for her child, not wanting Ishmael to appear to be a co-heir with Isaac, or even worse to appear to be superior as the first-born of Abraham - so she demanded that Abraham banish him.

Abraham was reluctant but the Lord God cared for Ishmael as He had promised.

Hagar did not understand and presumed that Ishmael would die in the wilderness. The Lord God blessed him with talents and a wife.

Abimelech, the local ruler whom Abraham had placed in harms-way by lying about his relationship with Sarah, sought a peaceful agreement that Abraham would not deceive him again.

A dispute about the ownership of a well led Abraham to make a special effort to demonstrate his integrity, given the awkward history, as to his ownership of the well.

After the matter of the well had been resolved Abraham made a point of planting a Tamarisk tree at the site. [The NET translator’s notes explain that this was an evidence of his intent to stay a while and of his expectation that water would continue to be available, as a provision of God.]

Abraham also made a point of worshiping the Lord as he had done previously.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Sarah carried-forward her animosity toward Hagar and took it out on her son. Abraham had earned the distrust of Abimelech; as a result, not only did Abimelech bring the commander of his army but Abraham found it necessary to give seven ewe lambs to enhance his damaged credibility to support his assertion that he had dug the disputed well.

Discuss

Is it unusual to hold on to fear and jealousy, transferring it from one family member to another? Is it not easier to establish and maintain credibility than to restore it once lost?

Reflect

The Lord God remained faithful to Hagar and Ishmael because of His promise to Abraham. He allowed Sarah’s poor choices to exacerbate and to initiate an estrangement of Ishmael’s from the rest of his family as He had prophesied prior to his [Ishmael’s] birth. While Abimelech feared the God of Abraham he appeared to have little respect for, or trust of, Abraham. Abraham’s testimony was harmed.

Share

When have you been the perpetrator or victim of the persecution of multiple family members even though only one member may have done anything to cause conflict with others? How did that work out? When have you made a bad first-impression and later struggled to rebuild your standing?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you to bear-up under injustice, or to refuse to be a party to injustice, but rather to trust the Lord God to handle things. Ask Him to keep you constantly mindful that you belong God and that your every word and deed reflects upon His power in your life.

Act

Prayerfully discern a place where you have been victimized by injustice, or where you have mistreated another improperly, and make a commitment to the Holy Spirit to put God right in the middle to bring peace. Prayerfully consider your day-to-day walk and look for a place where you may be acting in a manner that does not well-represent the ethics of God. It may be a choice you are making in the workplace to enhance sales or to improve your standing for a promotion, it may be related to a hobby or sports, it may be in a romantic relationship (or in the pursuit of one), it may be in political discourse, or in some other area. Repent of the choice that you have identified as unworthy of God and make a new one that is. Share the experience with a fellow believer as an example that they may also choose to follow, or as a testimony to the transformative power of the Holy Spirit.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Friday (Genesis 22 - 23)

The Sacrifice of Isaac

22:1 Some time after these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am!” Abraham replied. 22:2 God said, “Take your son – your only son, whom you love, Isaac – and go to the land of Moriah! Offer him up there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I will indicate to you.”

22:3 Early in the morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took two of his young servants with him, along with his son Isaac. When he had cut the wood for the burnt offering, he started out for the place God had spoken to him about.

22:4 On the third day Abraham caught sight of the place in the distance. 22:5 So he said to his servants, “You two stay here with the donkey while the boy and I go up there. We will worship and then return to you.”

22:6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and put it on his son Isaac. Then he took the fire and the knife in his hand, and the two of them walked on together. 22:7 Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father?” “What is it, my son?” he replied. “Here is the fire and the wood,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” 22:8 “God will provide for himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham replied. The two of them continued on together.

22:9 When they came to the place God had told him about, Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood on it. Next he tied up his son Isaac and placed him on the altar on top of the wood. 22:10 Then Abraham reached out his hand, took the knife, and prepared to slaughter his son.

22:11 But the Lord’s angel called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am!” he answered. 22:12 “Do not harm the boy!” the angel said. “Do not do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God because you did not withhold your son, your only son, from me.”

22:13 Abraham looked up and saw behind him a ram caught in the bushes by its horns. So he went over and got the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 22:14 And Abraham called the name of that place “The Lord provides.” It is said to this day, “In the mountain of the Lord provision will be made.”

22:15 The Lord’s angel called to Abraham a second time from heaven 22:16 and said, ““I solemnly swear by my own name,” decrees the Lord, “that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 22:17 I will indeed bless you, and I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be as countless as the stars in the sky or the grains of sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the strongholds of their enemies. 22:18 Because you have obeyed me, all the nations of the earth will pronounce blessings on one another using the name of your descendants.”“

22:19 Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set out together for Beer Sheba where Abraham stayed.

22:20 After these things Abraham was told, “Milcah also has borne children to your brother Nahor – 22:21 Uz the firstborn, his brother Buz, Kemuel (the father of Aram), 22:22 Kesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel.” 22:23 (Now Bethuel became the father of Rebekah.) These were the eight sons Milcah bore to Abrahamfs brother Nahor. 22:24 His concubine, whose name was Reumah, also bore him children – Tebah, Gaham, Tahash, and Maacah.

The Death of Sarah

23:1 Sarah lived 127 years. 23:2 Then she died in Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. Abraham went to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her.

23:3 Then Abraham got up from mourning his dead wife and said to the sons of Heth, 23:4 “I am a temporary settler among you. Grant me ownership of a burial site among you so that I may bury my dead.”

23:5 The sons of Heth answered Abraham, 23:6 “Listen, sir, you are a mighty prince among us! You may bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will refuse you his tomb to prevent you from burying your dead.”

23:7 Abraham got up and bowed down to the local people, the sons of Heth. 23:8 Then he said to them, “If you agree that I may bury my dead, then hear me out. Ask Ephron the son of Zohar 23:9 if he will sell me the cave of Machpelah that belongs to him; it is at the end of his field. Let him sell it to me publicly for the full price, so that I may own it as a burial site.”

23:10 (Now Ephron was sitting among the sons of Heth.) Ephron the Hethite replied to Abraham in the hearing of the sons of Heth – before all who entered the gate of his city – 23:11 “No, my lord! Hear me out. I sell you both the field and the cave that is in it. In the presence of my people I sell it to you. Bury your dead.”

23:12 Abraham bowed before the local people 23:13 and said to Ephron in their hearing, “Hear me, if you will. I pay to you the price of the field. Take it from me so that I may bury my dead there.”

23:14 Ephron answered Abraham, saying to him, 23:15 “Hear me, my lord. The land is worth 400 pieces of silver, but what is that between me and you? So bury your dead.”

23:16 So Abraham agreed to Ephron’s price and weighed out for him the price that Ephron had quoted in the hearing of the sons of Heth – 400 pieces of silver, according to the standard measurement at the time.

23:17 So Abraham secured Ephron’s field in Machpelah, next to Mamre, including the field, the cave that was in it, and all the trees that were in the field and all around its border, 23:18 as his property in the presence of the sons of Heth before all who entered the gate of Ephron’s city.

23:19 After this Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave in the field of Machpelah next to Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. 23:20 So Abraham secured the field and the cave that was in it as a burial site from the sons of Heth.

Prayer

Lord, may I be found as obedient as Abraham where I know Your clear direction, not arguing with You but acting from trust knowing that You never change and Your promises are always kept. May I be always-grateful that You provided the sacrifice for my salvation. May we mourn briefly, bury our dead, and move on with our lives like Abraham rather than allow this evidence of the Fall to be used by the enemy to neutralize us.

Scripture In Perspective

The Lord God came to Abraham with a test of his obedience.

Abraham had strong feelings of protectiveness about Ishmael and even stronger ones about Isaac, those feelings could have drifted into a form of idolatry.

The Lord instructed Abraham to offer Isaac to Him as a sacrifice, a “burnt offering”

Abraham followed the Lord God’s instructions obediently, offering no recorded objections.

When Abraham was questioned by Isaac as to the missing sacrificial animal Abraham explained that the Lord would provide one.

Abraham faithfully prepared to sacrifice his son and an angel from the Lord God stopped him.

The Lord provided a “ram in the thicket” as the necessary sacrifice and Issac was spared.

The Lord God explained that Abraham’s obedience demonstrated his “fear of God” and therefore justified countless descendants and blessings.

Sarah lived to be 127 years of age and then died.

Abraham mourned then arranged her burial.

Abraham negotiated a purchase (paying 30 pieces of silver, the same as Judas would later be paid to betray Jesus) with local landowners who demonstrated a great deal of respect for him, using the term “prince” to describe his status among men.

The text then listed the next generations descended from Abraham.

Interact With The Text

Consider

The Lord God came to Abraham with a test. It was not a temptation, but Abraham could have turned it into one had he doubted God and tried to go his own way, as he had with Hagar and twice lying about Sarah. Although Abraham had been told by God that Isaac would be the next generation which would lead to countless descendants he still obeyed God’s instructions. God never contradicts Himself, even though there are times from out human perspective we think He has. Despite all of the travel, being twice kidnapped, the stress of Hagar and Ishmael, and the travails of carrying and birthing Isaac as an elderly woman, Sarah lived to be 127 years of age.

Discuss

Sometimes God asks us to prove our willingness to place that which we value most in this world at His feet, He does not necessarily intend to take it from us, but He needs us to be genuine in our willingness to let go if He asks. Is it not difficult to walk in faith when sometimes the future is not only uncertain but terrifying? There is no mention of an extremely lengthy time of mourning nor of an excessively lavish funeral - despite his significant wealth Abraham appears to have remained a man of simple lifestyle.

Reflect

Abraham had acted based on the fear of man instead of trust in God on several prior occasions, God herein tests him at an extremely difficult level to clarify that Abraham had finally matured to where God was first in all things. Just as God provided the sacrifice to save Isaac He provided Jesus as the sacrifice to save us. Abraham seems to have earned the respect of his neighbors after a rough beginning.

Share

When has God led you to a place where He has asked you to let go of something you valued greatly? Did you say yes to Him in word and deed? What did you learn from that experience? When have you been confronted with a test of your faith and God has provided in an unexpected way? When have you started out on the wrong foot yet though a consistent effort to demonstrate caring for and integrity in dealing with others earned their respect and trust?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any place where you are placing someone or some thing in the world ahead of God. Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you that God is always faithful and He never asks you to do anything unless He has already gone on ahead and provided what you need. Ask the Holy Spirit to find you teachable as He leads you along the way to earning the right to be heard for Christ.

Act

I will prayerfully seek out someone or some thing in this world that I exclude from God’s Lordship. Perhaps it is a relationship that He seeks to end or to modify, a position or title that is distorting my priorities, something I own or of which I am envious which belongs to another but that absorbs too much of my time and attention – taken away from God and/or family, etc. I will repent (turn away from) that by offering to surrender it entirely to God. If He gives it back or if He takes it that must be OK with me.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Saturday (Genesis 24 - 25)

The Wife for Isaac

24:1 Now Abraham was old, well advanced in years, and the Lord had blessed him in everything. 24:2 Abraham said to his servant, the senior one in his household who was in charge of everything he had, “Put your hand under my thigh 24:3 so that I may make you solemnly promise by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of the earth: You must not acquire a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living. 24:4 You must go instead to my country and to my relatives to find a wife for my son Isaac.”

24:5 The servant asked him, “What if the woman is not willing to come back with me to this land? Must I then take your son back to the land from which you came?”

24:6 “Be careful never to take my son back there!” Abraham told him. 24:7 “The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and the land of my relatives, promised me with a solemn oath, ‘To your descendants I will give this land.’ He will send his angel before you so that you may find a wife for my son from there. 24:8 But if the woman is not willing to come back with you, you will be free from this oath of mine. But you must not take my son back there!” 24:9 So the servant placed his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham and gave his solemn promise he would carry out his wishes.

24:10 Then the servant took ten of his master’s camels and departed with all kinds of gifts from his master at his disposal. He journeyed to the region of Aram Naharaim and the city of Nahor. 24:11 He made the camels kneel down by the well outside the city. It was evening, the time when the women would go out to draw water. 24:12 He prayed, “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, guide me today. Be faithful to my master Abraham. 24:13 Here I am, standing by the spring, and the daughters of the people who live in the town are coming out to draw water. 24:14 I will say to a young woman, ‘Please lower your jar so I may drink.’ May the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac reply, ‘Drink, and I’ll give your camels water too.’ In this way I will know that you have been faithful to my master.”

24:15 Before he had finished praying, there came Rebekah with her water jug on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milcah (Milcah was the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor). 24:16 Now the young woman was very beautiful. She was a virgin; no man had ever had sexual relations with her. She went down to the spring, filled her jug, and came back up. 24:17 Abraham’s servant ran to meet her and said, “Please give me a sip of water from your jug.” 24:18 “Drink, my lord,” she replied, and quickly lowering her jug to her hands, she gave him a drink. 24:19 When she had done so, she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels too, until they have drunk as much as they want.” 24:20 She quickly emptied her jug into the watering trough and ran back to the well to draw more water until she had drawn enough for all his camels. 24:21 Silently the man watched her with interest to determine if the Lord had made his journey successful or not.

24:22 After the camels had finished drinking, the man took out a gold nose ring weighing a beka and two gold bracelets weighing ten shekels and gave them to her. 24:23 “Whose daughter are you?” he asked. “Tell me, is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?”

24:24 She said to him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, whom Milcah bore to Nahor. 24:25 We have plenty of straw and feed,” she added, “and room for you to spend the night.”

24:26 The man bowed his head and worshiped the Lord, 24:27 saying “Praised be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his faithful love for my master! The Lord has led me to the house of my master’s relatives!”

24:28 The young woman ran and told her mother’s household all about these things. 24:29 (Now Rebekah had a brother named Laban.) Laban rushed out to meet the man at the spring. 24:30 When he saw the bracelets on his sister’s wrists and the nose ring and heard his sister Rebekah say, “This is what the man said to me,” he went out to meet the man. There he was, standing by the camels near the spring. 24:31 Laban said to him, “Come, you who are blessed by the Lord! Why are you standing out here when I have prepared the house and a place for the camels?”

24:32 So Abraham’s servant went to the house and unloaded the camels. Straw and feed were given to the camels, and water was provided so that he and the men who were with him could wash their feet. 24:33 When food was served, he said, “I will not eat until I have said what I want to say.” “Tell us,” Laban said.

24:34 “I am the servant of Abraham,” he began. 24:35 “The Lord has richly blessed my master and he has become very wealthy. The Lord has given him sheep and cattle, silver and gold, male and female servants, and camels and donkeys. 24:36 My master’s wife Sarah bore a son to him when she was old, and my master has given him everything he owns. 24:37 My master made me swear an oath. He said, ‘You must not acquire a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, 24:38 but you must go to the family of my father and to my relatives to find a wife for my son.’ 24:39 But I said to my master, ‘What if the woman does not want to go with me?’ 24:40 He answered, ‘The Lord, before whom I have walked, will send his angel with you. He will make your journey a success and you will find a wife for my son from among my relatives, from my father’s family. 24:41 You will be free from your oath if you go to my relatives and they will not give her to you. Then you will be free from your oath.’ 24:42 When I came to the spring today, I prayed, ‘O Lord, God of my master Abraham, if you have decided to make my journey successful, may events unfold as follows: 24:43 Here I am, standing by the spring. When the young woman goes out to draw water, I’ll say, “Give me a little water to drink from your jug.” 24:44 Then she will reply to me, “Drink, and I’ll draw water for your camels too.” May that woman be the one whom the Lord has chosen for my master’s son.’

24:45 “Before I finished praying in my heart, along came Rebekah with her water jug on her shoulder! She went down to the spring and drew water. So I said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.’ 24:46 She quickly lowered her jug from her shoulder and said, ‘Drink, and I’ll give your camels water too.’ So I drank, and she also gave the camels water. 24:47 Then I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ She replied, ‘The daughter of Bethuel the son of Nahor, whom Milcah bore to Nahor.’ I put the ring in her nose and the bracelets on her wrists. 24:48 Then I bowed down and worshiped the Lord. I praised the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me on the right path to find the granddaughter of my master’s brother for his son. 24:49 Now, if you will show faithful love to my master, tell me. But if not, tell me as well, so that I may go on my way.”

24:50 Then Laban and Bethuel replied, “This is the Lord’s doing. Our wishes are of no concern. 24:51 Rebekah stands here before you. Take her and go so that she may become the wife of your master’s son, just as the Lord has decided.”

24:52 When Abraham’s servant heard their words, he bowed down to the ground before the Lord. 24:53 Then he brought out gold, silver jewelry, and clothing and gave them to Rebekah. He also gave valuable gifts to her brother and to her mother. 24:54 After this, he and the men who were with him ate a meal and stayed there overnight.

When they got up in the morning, he said, “Let me leave now so I can return to my master.” 24:55 But Rebekah’s brother and her mother replied, “Let the girl stay with us a few more days, perhaps ten. Then she can go.” 24:56 But he said to them, “Don’t detain me – the Lord has granted me success on my journey. Let me leave now so I may return to my master.” 24:57 Then they said, “We’ll call the girl and find out what she wants to do.” 24:58 So they called Rebekah and asked her, “Do you want to go with this man?” She replied, “I want to go.”

24:59 So they sent their sister Rebekah on her way, accompanied by her female attendant, with Abraham’s servant and his men. 24:60 They blessed Rebekah with these words:

“Our sister, may you become the mother of thousands of ten thousands!

May your descendants possess the strongholds of their enemies.”

24:61 Then Rebekah and her female servants mounted the camels and rode away with the man. So Abraham’s servant took Rebekah and left.

24:62 Now Isaac came from Beer Lahai Roi, for he was living in the Negev. 24:63 He went out to relax in the field in the early evening. Then he looked up and saw that there were camels approaching. 24:64 Rebekah looked up and saw Isaac. She got down from her camel 24:65 and asked Abraham’s servant, “Who is that man walking in the field toward us?” “That is my master,” the servant replied. So she took her veil and covered herself.

24:66 The servant told Isaac everything that had happened. 24:67 Then Isaac brought Rebekah into his mother Sarah’s tent. He took her as his wife and loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

The Death of Abraham

25:1 Abraham had taken another wife, named Keturah. 25:2 She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. 25:3 Jokshan became the father of Sheba and Dedan. The descendants of Dedan were the Asshurites, Letushites, and Leummites. 25:4 The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida, and Eldaah. All these were descendants of Keturah.

25:5 Everything he owned Abraham left to his son Isaac. 25:6 But while he was still alive, Abraham gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them off to the east, away from his son Isaac.

25:7 Abraham lived a total of 175 years. 25:8 Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man who had lived a full life. He joined his ancestors. 25:9 His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar, the Hethite. 25:10 This was the field Abraham had purchased from the sons of Heth. There Abraham was buried with his wife Sarah. 25:11 After Abraham’s death, God blessed his son Isaac. Isaac lived near Beer Lahai Roi.

The Sons of Ishmael

25:12 This is the account of Abraham’s son Ishmael, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s servant, bore to Abraham.

25:13 These are the names of Ishmael’s sons, by their names according to their records: Nebaioth (Ishmael’s firstborn), Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, 25:14 Mishma, Dumah, Massa, 25:15 Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah. 25:16 These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names by their settlements and their camps – twelve princes according to their clans.

25:17 Ishmael lived a total of 137 years. He breathed his last and died; then he joined his ancestors. 25:18 His descendants settled from Havilah to Shur, which runs next to Egypt all the way to Asshur. They settled away from all their relatives.

Jacob and Esau

25:19 This is the account of Isaac, the son of Abraham.

Abraham became the father of Isaac. 25:20 When Isaac was forty years old, he married Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan Aram and sister of Laban the Aramean.

25:21 Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. 25:22 But the children struggled inside her, and she said, “If it is going to be like this, I’m not so sure I want to be pregnant!” So she asked the Lord, 25:23 and the Lord said to her,

“Two nations are in your womb,

and two peoples will be separated from within you.

One people will be stronger than the other,

and the older will serve the younger.”

25:24 When the time came for Rebekah to give birth, there were twins in her womb. 25:25 The first came out reddish all over, like a hairy garment, so they named him Esau. 25:26 When his brother came out with his hand clutching Esau’s heel, they named him Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when they were born.

25:27 When the boys grew up, Esau became a skilled hunter, a man of the open fields, but Jacob was an even-tempered man, living in tents. 25:28 Isaac loved Esau because he had a taste for fresh game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

25:29 Now Jacob cooked some stew, and when Esau came in from the open fields, he was famished. 25:30 So Esau said to Jacob, “Feed me some of the red stuff – yes, this red stuff – because I’m starving!” (That is why he was also called Edom.)

25:31 But Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.” 25:32 “Look,” said Esau, “I’m about to die! What use is the birthright to me?” 25:33 But Jacob said, “Swear an oath to me now.” So Esau swore an oath to him and sold his birthright to Jacob.

25:34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and lentil stew; Esau ate and drank, then got up and went out. So Esau despised his birthright.

Prayer

Lord, may I be moved to stop in amazement and to praise You for the way that You go on ahead, preparing the way for those who seek Your will. Lord, may I be found sensitive enough to Your working in my life, and as obedient as well, that like Laban and Bethuel I may confidently and humbly declare “This is the Lord’s doing. Our wishes are of no concern.” Lord, may I have the commitment of Rebekah to follow where You lead, to trust You, and not to procrastinate. Lord, may You grant long life to those who serve You faithfully, to fulfill Your loving plan that more may know and grow in You. Lord, may Your faithfulness lead us to greater trust in You. Lord, we often fail to understand Your workings in this world, when You allow things to happen as a result of the Fall and when You have intervened. But we always trust You. Lord, I long to never despise the new birthright You gave to me when I joined Your eternal family through Jesus.

Scripture In Perspective

Hagar, a single-parent following her banishment, found Ishmael a wife.

Abraham then sought a wife for Isaac prior to his death.

The NET translator’s notes explain that instructing the servant to “Put your hand under my thigh ...” was known as a “patriarchal oath” related to the continuation of the family.

Abraham instructed his servant to get Isaac a wife from a distant relative, not from a foreign tribe, and to not bring Isaac to their lands.

The servant prayed a type of fleece to be certain that it was the Lord God Who had identified the woman He had prepared to be the wife of Isaac – his fleece was immediately answered.

Rebekah ran to tell her family of the visiting servant then her brother Laban returned with her to greet him and to encourage him to come to their home.

The servant refused their request to dine with them until he shares the story of the purpose of his visit and what had transpired between he and Rebekah.

Rebekah’s father Bethuel and her brother Laban immediately recognize God’s hand in the story and immediately acknowledge that His will must be done.

Abraham’s servant first worshiped the Lord God, then presented the gifts Abraham had sent, dined and slept, and then in the morning made known his plan to return to Abraham and Isaac with Rebekah.

Rebekah’s family expressed their desire for a little more time with her but Abraham’s servant implored them to not delay his return. They consulted with Rebekah who agreed to leave immediately.

It was apparently acceptable for Rebekah to travel without her veil but when meeting her betrothed, Isaac, f or the first time she felt it necessary to veil her face from him.

Isaac received the report of the servant, married Rebekah, and she filled an empty place in his life that had been left by his mother Sarah’s death.

After the death of Sarah Abraham remarried, and somewhere along the way he also inexplicably acquired several concubines, with whom he had several children.

Before he died Abraham provided for the children he fathered with his concubines then sent them away, presumably to not become a distraction to Isaac.

Abraham left everything to Isaac and given Isaac’s maturity it may be presumed that he was expected to provide for the children his second wife Keturah bore Abraham.

Abraham lived to be 175 years old and was buried with Sarah.

Isaac received the blessing of God via Abraham and took his place in the divinely established lineage of Jesus through Mary.

Ishmael lived to be 137 years old and fathered twelve sons who then multiplied into twelve “clans”. [The text notes that they “settled away from all their relatives.” which was the practice beginning with Ishmael.]

Isaac, like his father Abraham, suffered with infertility. The Bible does not tell us if the weakness was in Isaac or Rebekah or both.

Isaac asks God to given them a child and God answers his prayer.

Twenty years after Isaac married Rebekah, when he was 60, they had twin children.

The children struggled in the womb and came out looking very different, first Esau, then Jacob.

God’s prophesy unfolded as Esau and Jacob grew and the parents chose favorites, Issac favored Esau because he enjoyed fresh game and Rebekah favored Jacob for his more-even temperament and more-settled lifestyle.

Esau’s tendency was to live from the flesh, and moment-to-moment, he arrived home hungry and demanded some of the fresh stew that Jacob had just made. Jacob, seeing an opportunity, challenged the impetuous Esau to sell him his first-born birthright in exchange for the stew. Esau thoughtlessly agreed.

The result of this seemingly childish interaction was that the second-born now could claim the unique rights of the first-born as Esau had rejected that gift of God, one that would have placed him in the line of succession to Jesus.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Abraham was concerned that Isaac not be confused by other faiths, thus he insisted that his wife come from a relative, just as the New Testament teaches that a believer must never marry a non-believer. Rebekah was a strong young woman as she pumped many containers of water for multiple camels, she also was confident, generous, and hospitable. Ware mostly unfamiliar with the ancient cultural tradition of parents finding spouses for their children; however, notice that Rebekah was granted a great deal of input to the decision, even in ancient times. The lifespan of man had decreased rapidly from the early times of hundreds of years so that Abraham’s 175 years of life, without any reports of frailty or sickness. God was faithful but Abraham and Sarah were not, the result – via Hagar – was a child from Abraham whom God in keeping His word was integrity-bound to bless. Since there is a lot of common genetic material between Abraham, Isaac, and Rebekah it is difficult to discern if any specific individual carried the reproductive weakness, nor does the text tell us that. What the text does share is that God once again made an infertile couple fertile. It is unlikely that Esau was truly “starving”; more likely he was hungry and carelessly lived in that moment without regard to the long-term consequences of his choices.

Discuss

The servant was careful to make God the definer of truth by asking Him to make known how he might fulfill his mission. How may we be as careful about our decisions? Abraham’s servant placed his mission first, even before eating after a long journey. Are we as God-first in our daily walk? How difficult must it have been for Rebekah to agree to leave all that she knew to travel a great distance to marry a man she had never met, even with the assurance that it was God’s will? Isaac became the patriarch of a significant tribe. What are the positive and negative elements of the role model he saw in Abraham? God allows the consequences of Abraham and Sarah’s foolishness to be experienced by the entirety of mankind as a testament to the importance of obedience and trust. Have you experienced, or been close to a pregnant woman who experienced, a difficult pregnancy with twins during which it seemed that they were struggling with one-another? Have you ever heard of such a thing? The birthright of a Christian comes through Jesus the Christ, although we cannot really “sell” our birthright, in what ways do we “despise” it in the choices we sometimes make?

Reflect

The Lord God had attended, in advance, to every detail in order to answer Abraham’s prayer. Abraham’s distant family had been well-taught as they were all sensitive to the working of the Lord and ready to humbly submit to His will. Perhaps Abraham’s was anxious to return quickly due to concerns as to Abraham’s health, or perhaps because the longer the delay the more opportunity the enemy might have to create trouble, the text is silent on those details. God’s prophesy for Isaac was an impressive one, the prayer of blessing of Abraham upon Isaac must have been a powerful moment. When we take the promises of God and distort them the consequences can be dire. The infertility, the nature of Esau and Jacob’s relationship as one of conflict – beginning in the womb, and the radical difference in appearance at birth all may be the consequence of sin which God allows to play itself out. Or might one of more of them may be the result of God’s intervention. The text is silent. Perhaps Jacob had been looking for an opportunity to trick his brother and saw an opening, or perhaps it was merely quick – though devious – thinking. While Genesis 25:23 prophesied that “... the older would serve the younger” it did not specify how that would come to be. The text does not tell us if either boy had been informed of that prophesy.

Share

When have you known what God wanted in general but were uncertain of the details? What was your conversation with God as you proceeded step by step? When has God asked you to sacrifice the comfortable and familiar to follow His lead? What did you decide and what was the result? When have you wondered if God had intervened or if circumstances were merely the result of “the world” and God was watching and waiting to see how you reacted, including if you invited Him into those circumstances? When have you been tempted by a desire of your flesh to “despise” your standing as a child of God in favor of momentary gain or pleasure?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how He is leading you right now. Ask Him to enhance your sensitivity to God’s working, to give you the courage and discernment of Rebekah. Ask Him to make you sensitive to the way that even small acts of disobedience or rebellion demonstrate a type of “despising” of your birthright as born-again in Christ.

Act

I will pause in my busyness to pray. I agree to be prayerfully-alert to God moving around me and when I discern His activity I commit to partner with the Holy Spirit in whatever He asks of me. I now commit to pray for the leader, or leadership team, of the fellowship where I serve and worship and to do whatever I can to support them as they serve the fellowship that God has called them to. I will pray especially that they will be faithful to God in all of their duties. I will prayerfully review my life for evidence of a place where I am living from my own wisdom and I will consider what potential trouble that could lead to. I will prayerfully review the past week of my life, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, and identify at least one place where I diminish the value of my identity in Christ in order to be at peace with the world or to please my flesh. I agree to repent of that and to make a special effort to honor my birthright rather than to despise it.

Be Specific _________________________________________________

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2012 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study. Prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in August of 2012. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

9. Genesis 25:19 – 36 (Isaac, Jacob, Esau)

A Chronological Daily Bible Study of the Old Testament
7-Day Sections
with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and a Practical Daily Application

Week 9

Sunday (Genesis 25:19 - 26)

Jacob and Esau

25:19 This is the account of Isaac, the son of Abraham.

Abraham became the father of Isaac. 25:20 When Isaac was forty years old, he married Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan Aram and sister of Laban the Aramean.

25:21 Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. 25:22 But the children struggled inside her, and she said, “If it is going to be like this, I’m not so sure I want to be pregnant!” So she asked the Lord, 25:23 and the Lord said to her,

“Two nations are in your womb,

and two peoples will be separated from within you.

One people will be stronger than the other,

and the older will serve the younger.”

25:24 When the time came for Rebekah to give birth, there were twins in her womb. 25:25 The first came out reddish all over, like a hairy garment, so they named him Esau. 25:26 When his brother came out with his hand clutching Esau’s heel, they named him Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when they were born.

25:27 When the boys grew up, Esau became a skilled hunter, a man of the open fields, but Jacob was an even-tempered man, living in tents. 25:28 Isaac loved Esau because he had a taste for fresh game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

25:29 Now Jacob cooked some stew, and when Esau came in from the open fields, he was famished. 25:30 So Esau said to Jacob, “Feed me some of the red stuff – yes, this red stuff – because I’m starving!” (That is why he was also called Edom.)

25:31 But Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.” 25:32 “Look,” said Esau, “I’m about to die! What use is the birthright to me?” 25:33 But Jacob said, “Swear an oath to me now.” So Esau swore an oath to him and sold his birthright to Jacob.

25:34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and lentil stew; Esau ate and drank, then got up and went out. So Esau despised his birthright.

Isaac and Abimelech

26:1 There was a famine in the land, subsequent to the earlier famine that occurred in the days of Abraham. Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines at Gerar. 26:2 The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; settle down in the land that I will point out to you. 26:3 Stay in this land. Then I will be with you and will bless you, for I will give all these lands to you and to your descendants, and I will fulfill the solemn promise I made to your father Abraham. 26:4 I will multiply your descendants so they will be as numerous as the stars in the sky, and I will give them all these lands. All the nations of the earth will pronounce blessings on one another using the name of your descendants. 26:5 All this will come to pass because Abraham obeyed me and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” 26:6 So Isaac settled in Gerar.

26:7 When the men of that place asked him about his wife, he replied, “She is my sister.” He was afraid to say, “She is my wife,” for he thought to himself, “The men of this place will kill me to get Rebekah because she is very beautiful.”

26:8 After Isaac had been there a long time, Abimelech king of the Philistines happened to look out a window and observed Isaac caressing his wife Rebekah. 26:9 So Abimelech summoned Isaac and said, “She is really your wife! Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’?” Isaac replied, “Because I thought someone might kill me to get her.”

26:10 Then Abimelech exclaimed, “What in the world have you done to us? One of the men might easily have had sexual relations with your wife, and you would have brought guilt on us!” 26:11 So Abimelech commanded all the people, “Whoever touches this man or his wife will surely be put to death.”

26:12 When Isaac planted in that land, he reaped in the same year a hundred times what he had sown, because the Lord blessed him. 26:13 The man became wealthy. His influence continued to grow until he became very prominent. 26:14 He had so many sheep and cattle and such a great household of servants that the Philistines became jealous of him. 26:15 So the Philistines took dirt and filled up all the wells that his father’s servants had dug back in the days of his father Abraham.

26:16 Then Abimelech said to Isaac, “Leave us and go elsewhere, for you have become much more powerful than we are.” 26:17 So Isaac left there and settled in the Gerar Valley. 26:18 Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug back in the days of his father Abraham, for the Philistines had stopped them up after Abraham died. Isaac gave these wells the same names his father had given them.

26:19 When Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well with fresh flowing water there, 26:20 the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen, saying, “The water belongs to us!” So Isaac named the well Esek because they argued with him about it. 26:21 His servants dug another well, but they quarreled over it too, so Isaac named it Sitnah. 26:22 Then he moved away from there and dug another well. They did not quarrel over it, so Isaac named it Rehoboth, saying, “For now the Lord has made room for us, and we will prosper in the land.”

26:23 From there Isaac went up to Beer Sheba. 26:24 The Lord appeared to him that night and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you. I will bless you and multiply your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.” 26:25 Then Isaac built an altar there and worshiped the Lord. He pitched his tent there, and his servants dug a well.

26:26 Now Abimelech had come to him from Gerar along with Ahuzzah his friend and Phicol the commander of his army. 26:27 Isaac asked them, “Why have you come to me? You hate me and sent me away from you.” 26:28 They replied, “We could plainly see that the Lord is with you. So we decided there should be a pact between us – between us and you. Allow us to make a treaty with you 26:29 so that you will not do us any harm, just as we have not harmed you, but have always treated you well before sending you away in peace. Now you are blessed by the Lord.”

26:30 So Isaac held a feast for them and they celebrated. 26:31 Early in the morning the men made a treaty with each other. Isaac sent them off; they separated on good terms.

26:32 That day Isaac’s servants came and told him about the well they had dug. “We’ve found water,” they reported. 26:33 So he named it Shibah; that is why the name of the city has been Beer Sheba to this day.

26:34 When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, as well as Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite. 26:35 They caused Isaac and Rebekah great anxiety.

Prayer

Lord, we often fail to understand Your workings in this world, when You allow things to happen as a result of the Fall and when You have intervened. But we always trust You. I long to never despise the new birthright You gave to me when I joined Your eternal family through Jesus. Please find me learning from prior generations and not repeating their errors and may my life be one of faithfulness to You so that as You bless me in your service others may come seeking peace with You as well.

Scripture In Perspective

Isaac, like his father Abraham, suffered with infertility in his marriage. The Bible does not tell us if the weakness is in Isaac or Rebekah or both.

Isaac asks the Lord God to given them a child and He answered his prayer.

Twenty years after Isaac married Rebekah, when he was 60, they had twin children.

The children struggled in the womb and came out looking very different, first Esau, then Jacob.

The Lord God’s prophesy unfolded as Esau and Jacob grew and the parents chose favorites, Isaac favored Esau because he enjoyed fresh game and Rebekah favored Jacob for his more-even temperament and more-settled lifestyle.

Esau’s tendency to live from the flesh and moment-to-moment arrived home hungry and demanded some of the fresh stew that Jacob had just made. Jacob, seeing an opportunity, challenged the impetuous Esau to sell him his first-born birthright in exchange for the stew. Esau thoughtlessly agreed.

The result of this seemingly childish interaction was that the second-born now could claim the unique rights of the first-born as Esau had rejected that gift of God, one that would have placed him in the line of succession to Jesus.

Another famine leads Isaac to seek a new location. He goes to Abimelech, with whom Abraham had an uneasy relationship, but was apparently considering further travel to Egypt.

God warns Isaac to remain in the land promised to Abraham and to not travel to Egypt. This land was part of that region controlled by Abimelech.

Once again Abimelech spots a woman in the camp of Isaac (Rebekah) whom he desires and asks Isaac about her. Isaac, like his father, lies and declares that she is his sister – out of fear of being killed so they could take his wife as a widow.

Before Abimelech, or his men, tried to take her he sees Isaac with her and realizes that Isaac lies and that Rebekah is his wife.

Once again Abimelech is offended that he has been deceived and set-up for punishment from God. Although his confession that he might have kidnapped her, or his men might have raped her, gives evidence of his lack of civility – he is righteously indignant that the son of Abraham lied to him.

Isaac settled in the famine-free region that Abimelech offered and God blessed him greatly.

When the Philistines in Abimelech’s territory saw Isaac’s great success they were jealous and they created conflict.

Abimelech persuaded Isaac to move to the Valley of Gerar but the conflict continued as he re-opened the wells Abraham had built there and the locals claimed ownership of them.

Abimelech, recognizing Isaac’s power, decided to avoid an escalation of trouble and sought a treaty – to which Isaac agreed. God provided Isaac a new well which then went uncontested.

Meanwhile, Esau took two wives, both Hittites rather than relatives – which caused Isaac and Rebekah concern as to the cultural influence and the potential unfriendly allegiances.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Since there is a lot of common genetic material between Abraham, Isaac, and Rebekah it is difficult to discern if any specific individual carried the reproductive weakness, nor does the text tell us that. What the text does share is that God once again made an infertile couple fertile. It is unlikely that Esau was truly “starving”, more likely he was hungry and carelessly lived in that moment without regard to the long-term consequences of his choices. Isaac, like Abraham, was more afraid of the potential violence of man than trusting in the power and protection of God. When God blesses you others may become jealous, especially the enemy, and he will look for ways to steal some of that blessing.

Discuss

Have you experienced, or been close to a pregnant woman who experienced, a difficult pregnancy with twins during which it seemed that they were struggling with one-another? Have you ever heard of such a thing? The birthright of a Christian comes through Jesus the Christ, although we cannot really “sell” our birthright, in what ways do we “despise” it in the choices we sometimes make? Given their family and personal history with God why are Abimelech and Isaac still both more concerned with fear (Isaac) and lust (Abimelech) than respect for Rebekah (Abimelech) and trust in God (Isaac)? How have you seen jealousy generate bad conduct, in business, community, family, or politics?

Reflect

The infertility, the nature of Esau and Jacob’s relationship as one of conflict – beginning in the womb, and the radical difference in appearance at birth all may be the consequence of sin which God allows to play itself out. Or might one of more of them may be the result of God’s intervention. The text is silent. Perhaps Jacob had been looking for an opportunity to trick his brother and saw an opening, or perhaps it was merely quick – though devious – thinking. While Genesis 25:23 prophesied that “... the older would serve the younger” it did not specify how that would come to be. The text does not tell us if either boy had been informed of that prophesy. Isaac was contemplating leaving the land given to Abraham, and then him, by God and traveling to Egypt when times got hard. The text doesn’t tell us that he appealed to God but that God came to him with a warning to not do so. Esau married outside of the family, generating great concern, for the same reasons that the Bible counsels Christians to never marry non-Christians.

Share

When have you wondered if God had intervened or if circumstances were merely the result of “the world” and God was watching and waiting to see how you reacted, including if you invited Him into those circumstances? Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to recognize the difference between the normative state of events unfolding as the consequence of millions of variables that came before from Creation until that moment, and events that show evidence of God’s touch. When have you been tempted by a desire of your flesh to “despise” your standing as a child of God in favor of momentary gain or pleasure? When has fear or lust overwhelmed your respect for others or for God? What was the result? When have you paused before acting from fear or lust and given the situation over to God? What was the result? When have you observed a believer marrying outside of the faith and what has been the result?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to make you sensitive to the way that even small acts of disobedience or rebellion demonstrate a type of “despising” of your birthright as born-again in Christ. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you a place where you are failing to consult God first. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you something that you have done out of jealousy.

Act

Make a list of events that people tend to attribute to God and then label them as “normative” or “miraculous”, based upon the predicate that God ceased from Creation on the 6th Day and thus any intervention after that must be a miraculous intervention. (e.g. A child is born with a handicap, or someone has a tendency to be overweight, or a person has a tendency to anger easily, and in each case someone says “God made them that way.” Is that Biblically accurate?) Share your list with a fellow believer and search your Bible for clarity. I will prayerfully review the past week of my life, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, and identify at least one place where I diminish the value of my identity in Christ in order to be at peace with the world or to please my flesh. I agree to repent of that and to make a special effort to honor my birthright rather than to despise it. I will prayerfully partner with the Holy Spirit to recognize a place in my life where I am making decisions without God, perhaps a reaction to fear or a submission to some sort of lust (envy, money, relationship, title, etc) and I agree to surrender that to God. I will confess this, in confidence, to a mature fellow believer and ask them to hold me accountable, to pray in-agreement, and to celebrate with me God’s victory in my life. I agree to repent of any place or places in my life where jealousy toward others for the blessings of God have caused me to avoid them, or maybe to even act in ways that might interfere with the full benefit of that blessing. If I have not done this I will pray for someone whom I perceive has done so and that there will be an awareness and repentance of that behavior.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Monday (Genesis 27)

Jacob Cheats Esau out of the Blessing

27:1 When Isaac was old and his eyes were so weak that he was almost blind, he called his older son Esau and said to him, “My son!” “Here I am!” Esau replied. 27:2 Isaac said, “Since I am so old, I could die at any time. 27:3 Therefore, take your weapons – your quiver and your bow – and go out into the open fields and hunt down some wild game for me. 27:4 Then prepare for me some tasty food, the kind I love, and bring it to me. Then I will eat it so that I may bless you before I die.”

27:5 Now Rebekah had been listening while Isaac spoke to his son Esau. When Esau went out to the open fields to hunt down some wild game and bring it back, 27:6 Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Look, I overheard your father tell your brother Esau, 27:7 ‘Bring me some wild game and prepare for me some tasty food. Then I will eat it and bless you in the presence of the Lord before I die.’ 27:8 Now then, my son, do exactly what I tell you! 27:9 Go to the flock and get me two of the best young goats. I’ll prepare them in a tasty way for your father, just the way he loves them. 27:10 Then you will take it to your father. Thus he will eat it and bless you before he dies.”

27:11 “But Esau my brother is a hairy man,” Jacob protested to his mother Rebekah, “and I have smooth skin! 27:12 My father may touch me! Then he’ll think I’m mocking him and I’ll bring a curse on myself instead of a blessing.” 27:13 So his mother told him, “Any curse against you will fall on me, my son! Just obey me! Go and get them for me!”

27:14 So he went and got the goats and brought them to his mother. She prepared some tasty food, just the way his father loved it. 27:15 Then Rebekah took her older son Esau’s best clothes, which she had with her in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob. 27:16 She put the skins of the young goats on his hands and the smooth part of his neck. 27:17 Then she handed the tasty food and the bread she had made to her son Jacob.

27:18 He went to his father and said, “My father!” Isaac replied, “Here I am. Which are you, my son?” 27:19 Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau, your firstborn. I’ve done as you told me. Now sit up and eat some of my wild game so that you can bless me.” 27:20 But Isaac asked his son, “How in the world did you find it so quickly, my son?” “Because the Lord your God brought it to me,” he replied. 27:21 Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Come closer so I can touch you, my son, and know for certain if you really are my son Esau.” 27:22 So Jacob went over to his father Isaac, who felt him and said, “The voice is Jacob’s, but the hands are Esau’s.” 27:23 He did not recognize him because his hands were hairy, like his brother Esau’s hands. So Isaac blessed Jacob. 27:24 Then he asked, “Are you really my son Esau?” “I am,” Jacob replied. 27:25 Isaac said, “Bring some of the wild game for me to eat, my son. Then I will bless you.” So Jacob brought it to him, and he ate it. He also brought him wine, and Isaac drank. 27:26 Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come here and kiss me, my son.” 27:27 So Jacob went over and kissed him. When Isaac caught the scent of his clothing, he blessed him, saying,

“Yes, my son smells

like the scent of an open field

which the Lord has blessed.

27:28 May God give you

the dew of the sky

and the richness of the earth,

and plenty of grain and new wine.

27:29 May peoples serve you

and nations bow down to you.

You will be lord over your brothers,

and the sons of your mother will bow down to you.

May those who curse you be cursed,

and those who bless you be blessed.”

27:30 Isaac had just finished blessing Jacob, and Jacob had scarcely left his father’s presence, when his brother Esau returned from the hunt. 27:31 He also prepared some tasty food and brought it to his father. Esau said to him, “My father, get up and eat some of your son’s wild game. Then you can bless me.” 27:32 His father Isaac asked, “Who are you?” “I am your firstborn son,” he replied, “Esau!” 27:33 Isaac began to shake violently and asked, “Then who else hunted game and brought it to me? I ate all of it just before you arrived, and I blessed him. He will indeed be blessed!”

27:34 When Esau heard his father’s words, he wailed loudly and bitterly. He said to his father, “Bless me too, my father!” 27:35 But Isaac replied, “Your brother came in here deceitfully and took away your blessing.” 27:36 Esau exclaimed, “‘Jacob’ is the right name for him! He has tripped me up two times! He took away my birthright, and now, look, he has taken away my blessing!” Then he asked, “Have you not kept back a blessing for me?”

27:37 Isaac replied to Esau, “Look! I have made him lord over you. I have made all his relatives his servants and provided him with grain and new wine. What is left that I can do for you, my son?” 27:38 Esau said to his father, “Do you have only that one blessing, my father? Bless me too!” Then Esau wept loudly.

27:39 So his father Isaac said to him,

“Indeed, your home will be

away from the richness of the earth,

and away from the dew of the sky above.

27:40 You will live by your sword

but you will serve your brother.

When you grow restless,

you will tear off his yoke

from your neck.”

27:41 So Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing his father had given to his brother. Esau said privately, “The time of mourning for my father is near; then I will kill my brother Jacob!”

27:42 When Rebekah heard what her older son Esau had said, she quickly summoned her younger son Jacob and told him, “Look, your brother Esau is planning to get revenge by killing you. 27:43 Now then, my son, do what I say. Run away immediately to my brother Laban in Haran. 27:44 Live with him for a little while until your brother’s rage subsides. 27:45 Stay there until your brother’s anger against you subsides and he forgets what you did to him. Then I’ll send someone to bring you back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?”

27:46 Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I am deeply depressed because of these daughters of Heth. If Jacob were to marry one of these daughters of Heth who live in this land, I would want to die!”

Prayer

Lord, Your prophesy for Jacob was certain to be fulfilled, You never specified the details. You are never the author of the sinful choices of man but You sometimes choose to redeem something good from our poor choices. In my flesh I am often confused, deceitful, and selfish; please draw me near so that I am protected from that part of me that is so wicked.

Scripture In Perspective

Isaac, recognizing that his days were short, asked Esau to hunt and to prepare him some wild game – with the intent of passing-on the Lord God’s blessing to him.

Rebekah, who preferred Jacob, overheard the conversation and schemed with Jacob to trick the feeble and nearly blind Isaac into blessing Jacob instead.

Jacob lied multiple times as Isaac recognized his voice versus that of Esau – but Isaac was tricked and gave to Jacob the blessing Esau owned by birthright - but had previously “sold” to Jacob.

Esau and Isaac discovered Jacob’s deception of Isaac too late.

Esau falsely complained that Jacob had tricked him out of both his birthright and his blessing.

Isaac was reported as visibly-shaken by what had happened and that he was unable to do otherwise than to repeat the prophesy of the Lord God for Esau.

Esau declared his intention to murder Jacob as soon as Isaac died and the time of mourning had passed.

Rebekah heard Esau’s threat and acted quickly to find an excuse for Jacob to flee to her relatives before Esau could murder him.

Interact With The Text

Consider

There were many ways for the Lord God’s prophesy for Jacob to receive the blessings, rather than Isaac, but He chose to allow the fleshy workings of Rebekah and Jacob, and weaknesses of Isaac and Esau, to become the means. Esau failed to comprehend that when he sold his birthright he also surrendered his right to claim the associated blessing; his anger was misdirected – his loss was the consequence of his own immaturity.

Discuss

Esau no longer had the right to claim his birthright from Isaac as he had “sold” (or bartered) it away to Jacob for a bowl of soup. The similarity between Esau’s violent anger and that of Cain – is interesting – is it not a refusal to accept responsibility for wrong choices that is at the root of both?

Reflect

Isaac and Rebekah knew of the Lord God’s prophesy, perhaps Isaac had forgotten it – or he was playing favorites with Esau in spite of it, and perhaps Rebekah had forgotten – or she was just playing-favorites. Rebekah, like Sarah, imagined that he actions would ‘help’ the Lord God to accomplish His ends. Isaac remembered God’s prophesy as to the future of Esau but seemed to have forgotten the rest about Isaac.

Share

When have you observed a person receiving a reward that clearly belonged to another? When have you, or someone you know, acted rashly and then instinctively blamed someone else for the ill-consequences that came to you?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any place where you may be playing favorites instead of conducting yourself as God directs. Ask Him to make you more accountable to God and less prone to careless decision making and blaming others for your poor choices.

Act

Today I will repent of playing favorites, I will request and accept the Lord God’s forgiveness, and will alter my behavior and thought life. I will instead invest equally in the lives of those alongside of whom I am blessed to walk, be it a child, a co-worker, a friend, or anyone else. I now commit to review my walk for any place where I am making impetuous decisions - creating future negative consequences for myself and for others. I surrender my decision making to the Lordship of Christ through His Holy Spirit. I will consult Biblical ‘elders’, those who meet the New Testament Biblical definition, whenever I am uncertain.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Tuesday (Genesis 28)

28:1 So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him. Then he commanded him, “You must not marry a Canaanite woman! 28:2 Leave immediately for Paddan Aram! Go to the house of Bethuel, your mother’s father, and find yourself a wife there, among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. 28:3 May the sovereign God bless you! May he make you fruitful and give you a multitude of descendants! Then you will become a large nation. 28:4 May he give you and your descendants the blessing he gave to Abraham so that you may possess the land God gave to Abraham, the land where you have been living as a temporary resident.” 28:5 So Isaac sent Jacob on his way, and he went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean and brother of Rebekah, the mother of Jacob and Esau.

28:6 Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him off to Paddan Aram to find a wife there. As he blessed him, Isaac commanded him, “You must not marry a Canaanite woman.” 28:7 Jacob obeyed his father and mother and left for Paddan Aram. 28:8 Then Esau realized that the Canaanite women were displeasing to his father Isaac. 28:9 So Esau went to Ishmael and married Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Abraham’s son Ishmael, along with the wives he already had.

Jacob’s Dream at Bethel

28:10 Meanwhile Jacob left Beer Sheba and set out for Haran. 28:11 He reached a certain place where he decided to camp because the sun had gone down. He took one of the stones and placed it near his head. Then he fell asleep in that place 28:12 and had a dream. He saw a stairway erected on the earth with its top reaching to the heavens. The angels of God were going up and coming down it 28:13 and the Lord stood at its top. He said, “I am the Lord, the God of your grandfather Abraham and the God of your father Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the ground you are lying on. 28:14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west, east, north, and south. All the families of the earth will pronounce blessings on one another using your name and that of your descendants. 28:15 I am with you! I will protect you wherever you go and will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I promised you!”

28:16 Then Jacob woke up and thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, but I did not realize it!” 28:17 He was afraid and said, “What an awesome place this is! This is nothing else than the house of God! This is the gate of heaven!”

28:18 Early in the morning Jacob took the stone he had placed near his head and set it up as a sacred stone. Then he poured oil on top of it. 28:19 He called that place Bethel, although the former name of the town was Luz. 28:20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God is with me and protects me on this journey I am taking and gives me food to eat and clothing to wear, 28:21 and I return safely to my father’s home, then the Lord will become my God. 28:22 Then this stone that I have set up as a sacred stone will be the house of God, and I will surely give you back a tenth of everything you give me.”

Prayer

Lord, may I be found obedient to You and not a people-pleaser like Esau. May I recognize the provision You make in my life and commit to serve You more.

Scripture In Perspective

Isaac’s instructions to Jacob were overheard by Esau.

Jacob accepted the wisdom of his parents and set-off to do as instructed.

Esau attempted to earn his father’s pleasure by rushing-off to marry a woman, in addition to his existing wives (Canaanite) whom he thought may meet with Isaac’s approval.

Jacob had a dream of a ladder or ramp from earth, where he was, up to Heaven. He “saw” angels coming up and down.

The Lord renewed His promises to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to protect, to provide, and to bless with many descendants and with ownership of the very land where he was resting.

When Jacob awoke from his divinely-inspired dream he was struck by the presence of the Lord God and set up an altar. [It appears that until this point his relationship with the Lord was weak at best.]

Jacob set forth a ‘fleece’ to the Lord God, agreeing that if He provided and protected during his trip that he would submit to the Lordship of God, including a 10% tithe.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Jacob became the leader-in-waiting of his people and started the process of walking- through the steps necessary to prepare to assume that role. The Lord God told Jacob how He was already providing and protecting yet Jacob challenged Him to show him more-specifically during his trip.

Discuss

Although Jacob would not have been prepared for the top leadership role, since Esau was the first-born, he would have been aware of the expectations. Once it was clear that he was ‘the guy’ how might his perspective of life changed? If you were to have a similar dream how would you understand it and how would you respond?

Reflect

Esau, trapped in the consequences of his impetuous choices in the past, made yet another impetuous decision to ‘earn’ Isaac’s approval. It seems odd, given his father and grandfather, that Jacob had not previously surrendered to God as his Lord.

Share

When have you been given unexpected authority and responsibility? How did your perspective change as a result? When have you promised God your increased commitment if He would do something that you asked? What was the result?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you opportunities to improve your preparedness to be a leader for God. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how God has been providing protection and provision in your life.

Act

I will review my responsibilities and seek ways that I may be better prepared so as to be more valuable in God’s service; be it as a parent or student, employee or boss, leader or team member. I will seek someone with successful experience and humbly ask their counsel. I will recognize that Jesus was the greatest gift ever and make a new commitment to surrender more of my life to the Lordship of Christ through the Holy Spirit. I will select a specific area of my life where my obedience and/or sacrifice in serving Him has lagged and make that right.

Be Specific _________________________________________________

Wednesday (Genesis 29 – 30)

The Marriages of Jacob

29:1 So Jacob moved on and came to the land of the eastern people. 29:2 He saw in the field a well with three flocks of sheep lying beside it, because the flocks were watered from that well. Now a large stone covered the mouth of the well. 29:3 When all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone off the mouth of the well and water the sheep. Then they would put the stone back in its place over the well’s mouth.

29:4 Jacob asked them, “My brothers, where are you from?” They replied, “We’re from Haran.” 29:5 So he said to them, “Do you know Laban, the grandson of Nahor?” “We know him,” they said. 29:6 “Is he well?” Jacob asked. They replied, “He is well. Now look, here comes his daughter Rachel with the sheep.” 29:7 Then Jacob said, “Since it is still the middle of the day, it is not time for the flocks to be gathered. You should water the sheep and then go and let them graze some more.” 29:8 “We can’t,” they said, “until all the flocks are gathered and the stone is rolled off the mouth of the well. Then we water the sheep.”

29:9 While he was still speaking with them, Rachel arrived with her father’s sheep, for she was tending them. 29:10 When Jacob saw Rachel, the daughter of his uncle Laban, and the sheep of his uncle Laban, he went over and rolled the stone off the mouth of the well and watered the sheep of his uncle Laban. 29:11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel and began to weep loudly. 29:12 When Jacob explained to Rachel that he was a relative of her father and the son of Rebekah, she ran and told her father. 29:13 When Laban heard this news about Jacob, his sister’s son, he rushed out to meet him. He embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his house. Jacob told Laban how he was related to him. 29:14 Then Laban said to him, “You are indeed my own flesh and blood.” So Jacob stayed with him for a month.

29:15 Then Laban said to Jacob, “Should you work for me for nothing because you are my relative? Tell me what your wages should be.” 29:16 (Now Laban had two daughters; the older one was named Leah, and the younger one Rachel. 29:17 Leah’s eyes were tender, but Rachel had a lovely figure and beautiful appearance.) 29:18 Since Jacob had fallen in love with Rachel, he said, “I’ll serve you seven years in exchange for your younger daughter Rachel.” 29:19 Laban replied, “I’d rather give her to you than to another man. Stay with me.” 29:20 So Jacob worked for seven years to acquire Rachel. But they seemed like only a few days to him because his love for her was so great.

29:21 Finally Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife, for my time of service is up. I want to have marital relations with her.” 29:22 So Laban invited all the people of that place and prepared a feast. 29:23 In the evening he brought his daughter Leah to Jacob, and Jacob had marital relations with her. 29:24 (Laban gave his female servant Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her servant.)

29:25 In the morning Jacob discovered it was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, “What in the world have you done to me! Didn’t I work for you in exchange for Rachel? Why have you tricked me?” 29:26 “It is not our custom here,” Laban replied, “to give the younger daughter in marriage before the firstborn. 29:27 Complete my older daughter’s bridal week. Then we will give you the younger one too, in exchange for seven more years of work.”

29:28 Jacob did as Laban said. When Jacob completed Leah’s bridal week, Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. 29:29 (Laban gave his female servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel to be her servant.) 29:30 Jacob had marital relations with Rachel as well. He loved Rachel more than Leah, so he worked for Laban for seven more years.

The Family of Jacob

29:31 When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, he enabled her to become pregnant while Rachel remained childless. 29:32 So Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “The Lord has looked with pity on my oppressed condition. Surely my husband will love me now.”

29:33 She became pregnant again and had another son. She said, “Because the Lord heard that I was unloved, he gave me this one too.” So she named him Simeon.

29:34 She became pregnant again and had another son. She said, “Now this time my husband will show me affection, because I have given birth to three sons for him.” That is why he was named Levi.

29:35 She became pregnant again and had another son. She said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” That is why she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children.

30:1 When Rachel saw that she could not give Jacob children, she became jealous of her sister. She said to Jacob, “Give me children or I’ll die!” 30:2 Jacob became furious with Rachel and exclaimed, “Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?” 30:3 She replied, “Here is my servant Bilhah! Have sexual relations with her so that she can bear children for me and I can have a family through her.”

30:4 So Rachel gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife, and Jacob had marital relations with her. 30:5 Bilhah became pregnant and gave Jacob a son. 30:6 Then Rachel said, “God has vindicated me. He has responded to my prayer and given me a son.” That is why she named him Dan.

30:7 Bilhah, Rachel’s servant, became pregnant again and gave Jacob another son. 30:8 Then Rachel said, “I have fought a desperate struggle with my sister, but I have won.” So she named him Naphtali.

30:9 When Leah saw that she had stopped having children, she gave her servant Zilpah to Jacob as a wife. 30:10 Soon Leah’s servant Zilpah gave Jacob a son. 30:11 Leah said, “How fortunate!” So she named him Gad.

30:12 Then Leah’s servant Zilpah gave Jacob another son. 30:13 Leah said, “How happy I am, for women will call me happy!” So she named him Asher.

30:14 At the time of the wheat harvest Reuben went out and found some mandrake plants in a field and brought them to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, “Give me some of your son’s mandrakes.” 30:15 But Leah replied, “Wasn’t it enough that you’ve taken away my husband? Would you take away my son’s mandrakes too?” “All right,” Rachel said, “he may sleep with you tonight in exchange for your son’s mandrakes.” 30:16 When Jacob came in from the fields that evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must sleep with me because I have paid for your services with my son’s mandrakes.” So he had marital relations with her that night. 30:17 God paid attention to Leah; she became pregnant and gave Jacob a son for the fifth time. 30:18 Then Leah said, “God has granted me a reward because I gave my servant to my husband as a wife.” So she named him Issachar.

30:19 Leah became pregnant again and gave Jacob a son for the sixth time. 30:20 Then Leah said, “God has given me a good gift. Now my husband will honor me because I have given him six sons.” So she named him Zebulun.

30:21 After that she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah.

30:22 Then God took note of Rachel. He paid attention to her and enabled her to become pregnant. 30:23 She became pregnant and gave birth to a son. Then she said, “God has taken away my shame.” 30:24 She named him Joseph, saying, “May the Lord give me yet another son.”

The Flocks of Jacob

30:25 After Rachel had given birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me on my way so that I can go home to my own country. 30:26 Let me take my wives and my children whom I have acquired by working for you. Then I’ll depart, because you know how hard I’ve worked for you.”

30:27 But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor in your sight, please stay here, for I have learned by divination that the Lord has blessed me on account of you.” 30:28 He added, “Just name your wages – I’ll pay whatever you want.”

30:29 “You know how I have worked for you,” Jacob replied, “and how well your livestock have fared under my care. 30:30 Indeed, you had little before I arrived, but now your possessions have increased many times over. The Lord has blessed you wherever I worked. But now, how long must it be before I do something for my own family too?”

30:31 So Laban asked, “What should I give you?” “You don’t need to give me a thing,” Jacob replied, “but if you agree to this one condition, I will continue to care for your flocks and protect them: 30:32 Let me walk among all your flocks today and remove from them every speckled or spotted sheep, every dark-colored lamb, and the spotted or speckled goats. These animals will be my wages. 30:33 My integrity will testify for me later on. When you come to verify that I’ve taken only the wages we agreed on, if I have in my possession any goat that is not speckled or spotted or any sheep that is not dark-colored, it will be considered stolen.” 30:34 “Agreed!” said Laban, “It will be as you say.”

30:35 So that day Laban removed the male goats that were streaked or spotted, all the female goats that were speckled or spotted (all that had any white on them), and all the dark-colored lambs, and put them in the care of his sons. 30:36 Then he separated them from Jacob by a three-day journey, while Jacob was taking care of the rest of Laban’s flocks.

30:37 But Jacob took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond, and plane trees. He made white streaks by peeling them, making the white inner wood in the branches visible. 30:38 Then he set up the peeled branches in all the watering troughs where the flocks came to drink. He set up the branches in front of the flocks when they were in heat and came to drink. 30:39 When the sheep mated in front of the branches, they gave birth to young that were streaked or speckled or spotted. 30:40 Jacob removed these lambs, but he made the rest of the flock face the streaked and completely dark-colored animals in Laban’s flock. So he made separate flocks for himself and did not mix them with Laban’s flocks. 30:41 When the stronger females were in heat, Jacob would set up the branches in the troughs in front of the flock, so they would mate near the branches. 30:42 But if the animals were weaker, he did not set the branches there. So the weaker animals ended up belonging to Laban and the stronger animals to Jacob. 30:43 In this way Jacob became extremely prosperous. He owned large flocks, male and female servants, camels, and donkeys.

Prayer

Lord, it is sad to see the deceit in the lives of these historic people, may such deceit never be practiced among Your children today or tomorrow. Lord, please find us sensitive to people with tender eyes as that also implies tender hearts as that is the innocence and teachability that You have said is desirable. Lord, may be more concerned with our walk with You than the number of our children or competition with those around us. Lord, when it is time for me to change where I am or what I am doing may it not be necessary to engage in schemes to break-free.

Scripture In Perspective

“... the land of the eastern people” was merely a geographical reference rather than the culturally- laden term it would represent today.

Jacob is continuing his flight from the wrath of Esau and is also following the instructions of Isaac to find a wife among Rebekah’s relatives.

Jacob symbolically reverses roles versus the story of Abraham’s servant and Rebekah, providing water for Rachel’s animals rather than Rachel serving his.

Jacob shares his relationship information with the family and is invited to stay. He offers to work alongside them while there and Laban asks what should be his pay – to which Jacob replies – he would like to marry the beautiful Rachel.

Laban, as crafty as Jacob versus Esau, requires Jacob to work seven years for Rachel and then tricks him into marrying the older sister Leah instead.

Jacob is indignant but agrees to work another seven to get Rachel as well.

Jacob was legally-engaged to Rachel from the moment that Laban agreed that Jacob could work 7 years for her, but even though “engagement” meant that he was “married” for most purposes he was not allowed “marital relations” until the agreed moment – when his 7 years were over.

When Laban tricked Jacob, presumably by sending Leah to the marriage bed after dark and when Jacob was drunk and tired from the celebrations, he caused her to be his first “completed” wife.

When challenged by Jacob for his deception Laban then agreed to allow Rachel to become Jacob’s second “completed” wife once the traditional first week with Leah had been completed.

Laban would have been anxious to marry-off Leah not only because she was less physically appealing than Rachel, and older, but also because it meant he’d have two daughters in Jacob’s very wealthy and powerful family.

Jacob, unable to see beyond the lust of his eyes, continued to ignore the gift that was Leah - with her tender eyes (a phrase often meant to infer a tender heart). He fulfilled his duties as a husband but otherwise showed no affection to her. God compensated by giving her children whereas Rachel remained childless.

The first born children of Jacob and Leah were Reuben, Simeon, Lei, and Judah would be among the tribes of the nation known as Israel.

Rachel is obsessed with bearing children and jealous of Leah, but when she demands of Jacob that he cause her to become pregnant he insists that it is God who is keeping her from pregnancy.

Rachel, like Sarah before her, decides to “help” God and gives her servant Bilhah to Jacob and she bears children for them.

Leah follows suit and gives her servant Zilpah to Jacob with the same result.

Leah then seeks a chemical advantage through the Mandrake root which was thought to have aphrodesiac properties. Rachel hears of this and demands some of the root. Leah cleverly agrees on the condition access to Jacob – essentially “paying” for him to have marital relations with her. There is nothing in the text to detail how it came to be that Leah would have to bribe Rachel for access to her husband but Rachel agrees to the arrangement.

In the one night Leah becomes pregnant and produces a fifth son. The text does not explain how she again gained access to Jacob but Leah becomes pregnant again and delivers a sixth son, then another child, this one a daughter.

The text says that “God too notice of Rachel” and she finally had a son, whom she named Joseph, rather than pausing to celebrate him she was already longing for another son in her competition with Leah.

After the birth of many sons and a daughter Jacob decides that it is time to return home.

Laban has figured out that he is benefiting from Jacob’s presence because the God of Abraham and Isaac is blessing Jacob, so he does not want Jacob to leave.

Jacob senses an opportunity and negotiates an arrangement to separate the animals in which he is certain to benefit and which Laban, blinded by selfish greed, does not see Jacob’s scheme.

Jacob manipulates the breeding process so that the marked animals that Laban promised him are healthier, larger, and more plentiful.

Interact With The Text

Consider

It seems that Jacob has received as good as he gave Esau from his uncle Laban. Jacob’s carelessness about his thinking process allowed Laban an opportunity to trick him, just as Esau’s carelessness had allowed Jacob to trick him, in both cases it was a lust of the flesh which made them more vulnerable. There appears to be an unhealthy relationship among everyone in Jacob’s family circle, an obsession with reproduction, and a competition to claim some “ownership” of success. God appears to be a largely ignored factor, at least there is nothing in the text which describes anyone inviting Him into the process, He chooses to intervene just the same. Jacob had served Laban well, indeed Laban had taken great advantage of Jacob, so when Jacob asked to return home Laban’s selfishness set him up to be taken advantage of in return.

Discuss

Does Jacob’s obsession with the appearance of Rachel, which blinded him to Laban’s trickery, remind you of Satan’s appeal to Eve base on the lust of her eyes? When have you found yourself, upon reflection, making decisions based on a momentary desire to satisfy the flesh rather than a thoughtful consideration of your choices through a prayer-conversation with God and perhaps a consultation with an “elder”? When have you experienced and/or observed people so obsessed with some goal or religious practice or tradition that they engaged in inappropriate conduct and never paused to ask God what were His priorities and His timing Jacob’s scheme with the striped branches does not appear to have any basis in science, or did it? How might it have worked?

Reflect

Leah is trapped between the lust of Jacob for Rachel and the scheming of Laban to marry-off his less-attractive eldest daughter. No one seems concerned for her perspective. Since Jacob failed to love his wife God blessed her with children, the first four of the historic tribes of “Israel.” Jacob appeared to exercise little leadership in his social relationships. Might God have led Jacob to use the striped branch system so that He could bless him and get him on-track to return home?

Share

When have you found yourself so distracted by things that your flesh desired that you missed the more important things of God’s priorities? [It may have been clothes or money, power or title, physical appearance or fame, special food or the approval of the “popular people.”] When have you observed a situation where God has blessed someone who has been “overlooked” by fellow believers due to some worldly priority? When have you experienced and/or observed the consequence of a father/husband failing to exercise Biblical leadership? What was the result? When have you sensed a call from God to change where you were or what you were doing and someone or some thing was blocking your way? What happened?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to make you more sensitive to the subtle signs of His presence in fellow believers and of their tender-hearted availability to His working. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you may be forgetting to invite Him into the process of decision making and peace making among fellowship and family members. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you a “check in the Spirit” whenever you are drifting away from His priorities and into those of the “world.” Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you both the “roadblock(s)” between you and what He has planned for you and the way around or through it/them.

Act

I will ask a prayer-partner to walk with me through a careful assessment of my daily walk in order that we may discern, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, where there are wrong priorities. I agree to surrender those to the Lordship of Christ through the Holy Spirit through repentance and a renewed sense for God’s priorities in my brief life here in the world. I agree to pray that God will show me someone whom others have under-valued based on some worldly priority, perhaps they are not athletic or attractive, not a scholar or a charismatic personality but rather a gentle and humble person who lives a consistent life from-love before God. I will make a point to encourage and fellowship with that person. I agree to prayerfully partner with the Holy Spirit to discern any place in my life where I am rushing to compete with others and/or some self-imposed priority that I have not brought before God. I will surrender that to God and ask Him to teach me what He desires for my life in that area. I will prayerfully identify a place of change God has been asking me to make in my life. I will ask a mature believer “elder” to pray and seek God’s affirmation. If affirmed then I agree to then prayerfully what are the roadblocks and how God would have me overcome them – then do so.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Thursday (Genesis 31)

Jacobs Flight from Laban

31:1 Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were complaining, “Jacob has taken everything that belonged to our father! He has gotten rich at our father’s expense!” 31:2 When Jacob saw the look on Laban’s face, he could tell his attitude toward him had changed.

31:3 The Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your relatives. I will be with you.” 31:4 So Jacob sent a message for Rachel and Leah to come to the field where his flocks were. 31:5 There he said to them, “I can tell that your father’s attitude toward me has changed, but the God of my father has been with me. 31:6 You know that I’ve worked for your father as hard as I could, 31:7 but your father has humiliated me and changed my wages ten times. But God has not permitted him to do me any harm. 31:8 If he said, ‘The speckled animals will be your wage,’ then the entire flock gave birth to speckled offspring. But if he said, ‘The streaked animals will be your wage,’ then the entire flock gave birth to streaked offspring. 31:9 In this way God has snatched away your father’s livestock and given them to me.

31:10 “Once during breeding season I saw in a dream that the male goats mating with the flock were streaked, speckled, and spotted. 31:11 In the dream the angel of God said to me, ‘Jacob!’ ‘Here I am!’ I replied. 31:12 Then he said, ‘Observe that all the male goats mating with the flock are streaked, speckled, or spotted, for I have observed all that Laban has done to you. 31:13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed the sacred stone and made a vow to me. Now leave this land immediately and return to your native land.’”

31:14 Then Rachel and Leah replied to him, “Do we still have any portion or inheritance in our father’s house? 31:15 Hasn’t he treated us like foreigners? He not only sold us, but completely wasted the money paid for us! 31:16 Surely all the wealth that God snatched away from our father belongs to us and to our children. So now do everything God has told you.”

31:17 So Jacob immediately put his children and his wives on the camels. 31:18 He took away all the livestock he had acquired in Paddan Aram and all his moveable property that he had accumulated. Then he set out toward the land of Canaan to return to his father Isaac.

31:19 While Laban had gone to shear his sheep, Rachel stole the household idols that belonged to her father. 31:20 Jacob also deceived Laban the Aramean by not telling him that he was leaving. 31:21 He left with all he owned. He quickly crossed the Euphrates River and headed for the hill country of Gilead.

31:22 Three days later Laban discovered Jacob had left. 31:23 So he took his relatives with him and pursued Jacob for seven days. He caught up with him in the hill country of Gilead. 31:24 But God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream at night and warned him, “Be careful that you neither bless nor curse Jacob.”

31:25 Laban overtook Jacob, and when Jacob pitched his tent in the hill country of Gilead, Laban and his relatives set up camp there too. 31:26 “What have you done?” Laban demanded of Jacob. “You’ve deceived me and carried away my daughters as if they were captives of war! 31:27 Why did you run away secretly and deceive me? Why didn’t you tell me so I could send you off with a celebration complete with singing, tambourines, and harps? 31:28 You didn’t even allow me to kiss my daughters and my grandchildren good-bye. You have acted foolishly! 31:29 I have the power to do you harm, but the God of your father told me last night, ‘Be careful that you neither bless nor curse Jacob.’ 31:30 Now I understand that you have gone away because you longed desperately for your father’s house. Yet why did you steal my gods?”

31:31 “I left secretly because I was afraid!” Jacob replied to Laban. “I thought you might take your daughters away from me by force. 31:32 Whoever has taken your gods will be put to death! In the presence of our relatives identify whatever is yours and take it.” (Now Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen them.)

31:33 So Laban entered Jacob’s tent, and Leah’s tent, and the tent of the two female servants, but he did not find the idols. Then he left Leah’s tent and entered Rachel’s. 31:34 (Now Rachel had taken the idols and put them inside her camel’s saddle and sat on them.) Laban searched the whole tent, but did not find them. 31:35 Rachel said to her father, “Don’t be angry, my lord. I cannot stand up in your presence because I am having my period.” So he searched thoroughly, but did not find the idols.

31:36 Jacob became angry and argued with Laban. “What did I do wrong?” he demanded of Laban. “What sin of mine prompted you to chase after me in hot pursuit? 31:37 When you searched through all my goods, did you find anything that belonged to you? Set it here before my relatives and yours, and let them settle the dispute between the two of us!

31:38 “I have been with you for the past twenty years. Your ewes and female goats have not miscarried, nor have I eaten rams from your flocks. 31:39 Animals torn by wild beasts I never brought to you; I always absorbed the loss myself. You always made me pay for every missing animal, whether it was taken by day or at night. 31:40 I was consumed by scorching heat during the day and by piercing cold at night, and I went without sleep. 31:41 This was my lot for twenty years in your house: I worked like a slave for you – fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for your flocks, but you changed my wages ten times! 31:42 If the God of my father – the God of Abraham, the one whom Isaac fears – had not been with me, you would certainly have sent me away empty-handed! But God saw how I was oppressed and how hard I worked, and he rebuked you last night.”

31:43 Laban replied to Jacob, “These women are my daughters, these children are my grandchildren, and these flocks are my flocks. All that you see belongs to me. But how can I harm these daughters of mine today or the children to whom they have given birth? 31:44 So now, come, let’s make a formal agreement, you and I, and it will be proof that we have made peace.”

31:45 So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a memorial pillar. 31:46 Then he said to his relatives, “Gather stones.” So they brought stones and put them in a pile. They ate there by the pile of stones. 31:47 Laban called it Jegar Sahadutha, but Jacob called it Galeed.

31:48 Laban said, “This pile of stones is a witness of our agreement today.” That is why it was called Galeed. 31:49 It was also called Mizpah because he said, “May the Lord watch between us when we are out of sight of one another. 31:50 If you mistreat my daughters or if you take wives besides my daughters, although no one else is with us, realize that God is witness to your actions.”

31:51 “Here is this pile of stones and this pillar I have set up between me and you,” Laban said to Jacob. 31:52 “This pile of stones and the pillar are reminders that I will not pass beyond this pile to come to harm you and that you will not pass beyond this pile and this pillar to come to harm me. 31:53 May the God of Abraham and the god of Nahor, the gods of their father, judge between us.” Jacob took an oath by the God whom his father Isaac feared. 31:54 Then Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain and invited his relatives to eat the meal. They ate the meal and spent the night on the mountain.

31:55 Early in the morning Laban kissed his grandchildren and his daughters goodbye and blessed them. Then Laban left and returned home.

Prayer

Lord, even when we are careless and unfaithful You are caring and faithful. He watches over His children and provides for us even when we are unaware. Lord, the world sees through blindly-selfish eyes, may I be faithful in seeing things through Your eyes of truth.

Scripture In Perspective

As we speculated in the previous study God was indeed preparing the way for Jacob to return home.

Laban’s sons, as selfish as their father, observed the blessings of God upon Jacob and were resentful.

Jacob saw the jealousy and unhappiness in Laban’s eyes, replacing his sense of familial affection and pride at his initial cleverness in manipulating Jacob, and recognized that it was time to part company.

God came to Jacob in a dream and showed him how He had been blessing him and then instructed Jacob to return home.

Jacob shared this with Rachel who observed that her father had “sold” Leah and her to Jacob and then wasted all of the money, that Jacob was now the one with the resources, so she encouraged him to gather things up and move home.

Jacob wasted no time in gathering those resources that could be moved and heading home.

Jacob fled to Laban from Esau and now he is fleeing from Laban.

Rachel sinned in stealing from her father and Jacob was disrespectful, inconsiderate, and lacking in trust in God for rushing away without communicating with Laban.

Rachel’s theft of the idols testified to her lack of faith in the Lord God, then she lied to her father and husband (the latter is implied) in order to hide her crime, compounding her sin.

Laban declared that he had the capacity to do harm to Jacob but that “the God of your father” warned him to not even attempt to “... bless nor curse” Jacob. let alone physically harm him. Jacob was rightfully fearful in his flesh, knowing that Laban had turned against him, and that Laban and his sons were very selfish.

Jacob declares his innocence (not knowing of the stolen idols) and his right to claim his family and property after 20 years of sacrificial service to Laban.

Laban falsely declares ownership of Jacob’s daughters (he gave/sold them to Jacob) and of all of Jacob’s property (earned by Jacob under an agreement with Laban).

They make peace as neither desires a conflict and Laban remains fearful due to the vision from God.

The differences are illustrated in their names for the place of the “memorial pillar”, the God/gods to whom they “swear”, and their perspective of their own righteousness.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Laban and his sons had lived well as a result of Jacob’s presence – it is often true that those near to one who is blessed by God are themselves indirectly blessed. Jacob has clearly not been the spiritual leader of his household. Not only does his wife steal idols from her father, then lie about it, but the Lord God is known as that of Jacob’s father rather than the Lord God of Jacob. Jacob was clearly righteous in his claim to his wives and property, Laban was not.

Discuss

It appears that Jacob’s awareness of God’s caring presence has grown. Given the history of his grandfather, Abraham, does it seem odd that it required a dream and so many blessings for Jacob to recognize God’s active presence in his life? Would Rachel have stolen her father’s idols out of spite, because they were made of something valuable, or because she still believed in them as a pagan? If not for the intervention of God – placing fear in the heart of Laban – what might have happened between Laban and Jacob?

Reflect

Jacob has served Laban for at least 14 years, trapped in a land far from his home, gaining sons and a daughter and many resources but not where God wants him to be. Despite his own selfishness toward Jacob and even his daughters Laban was righteously indignant at the way that Jacob departed, in addition to the theft of his idols. Does the fear of God cause us to be peacemakers, despite differences, or do we sometimes rush to demand what is “ours” without regard to God?

Share

When have you found yourself trapped in a situation where you are working hard in a church/religious environment and you were seeing physical fruit (perhaps expanding buildings and programs and adding people) but not the spiritual fruit that God says is more important? Did God finally get your attention and call you out of that into something more focused on what is eternally important? [Note: The intent here is not to condemn all “church” buildings and programs but to encourage a careful assessment of priorities.] When have you, or someone else, separated from a community, a place of employment, or some other situation and neglected to participate in the process of separation? [Note: There are some situations where is quick and clean break is indicated and others where some degree of process is “safe” and therefore appropriate. This is not to suggest that one lingers – God clearly instructed Jacob to leave promptly – but does suggest that we consider the best way to part even if it is a very brief and simple process.] When have you experienced or observed a situation where God, though His Holy Spirit, has caused a peaceful resolution to what would otherwise have been an unnecessary conflict?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where your labors and resources are being invested in what is not eternal and diverted away from what is – and how you might change that. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you what you need to know about recent or soon-to-happen changes in your life. Ask the Holy Spirit to protect you from those whose selfishness might cause them to harm you, and from your own rush-to-action where you might unnecessarily create conflict with others.

Act

I will engage in a prayerful conversation with the Holy Spirit as I study the Word of God, and inquire of “elders”, in order to discover if I am being a good steward of my time and resources. I will make certain that I am investing in what is eternal much more than that which is temporary. Where I discover an imbalance I agree to adjust my priorities toward the eternal (The “Great Commission” - evangelism and discipleship - which flows from the “Greatest Commandment” - loving people enough to be used of God to share the gift of eternity and to care for them along the way.). I will prayerfully discern where I am carrying some doctrinal and/or spiritual debris from an unhealthy past association, where I may have unnecessarily caused some emotional harm due to a rush to move-on, and/or where I need to take action to move-on instead of remaining stuck where He does not want me – and I will act appropriately. I will prayerfully partner with the Holy Spirit to seek a peaceful settlement where there is conflict. I will not sell-out truth or be abused I any way but I will not make unreasonable demands nor will I insist that the other agree with me where it is clear that they cannot [for doctrinal or maturity or spiritual or other reasons]. I will find a middle ground where a parting and/or a resolution is possible with minimal conflict and/or harm.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Friday (Genesis 32 - 33)

Jacob Wrestles at Peniel

32:1 So Jacob went on his way and the angels of God met him. 32:2 When Jacob saw them, he exclaimed, “This is the camp of God!” So he named that place Mahanaim.

32:3 Jacob sent messengers on ahead to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the region of Edom. 32:4 He commanded them, “This is what you must say to my lord Esau: ‘This is what your servant Jacob says: I have been staying with Laban until now. 32:5 I have oxen, donkeys, sheep, and male and female servants. I have sent this message to inform my lord, so that I may find favor in your sight.’”

32:6 The messengers returned to Jacob and said, “We went to your brother Esau. He is coming to meet you and has four hundred men with him.” 32:7 Jacob was very afraid and upset. So he divided the people who were with him into two camps, as well as the flocks, herds, and camels. 32:8 “If Esau attacks one camp,” he thought, “then the other camp will be able to escape.”

32:9 Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, O Lord, you said to me, ‘Return to your land and to your relatives and I will make you prosper.’ 32:10 I am not worthy of all the faithful love you have shown your servant. With only my walking stick I crossed the Jordan, but now I have become two camps. 32:11 Rescue me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, as well as the mothers with their children. 32:12 But you said, ‘I will certainly make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand on the seashore, too numerous to count.’”

32:13 Jacob stayed there that night. Then he sent as a gift to his brother Esau 32:14 two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 32:15 thirty female camels with their young, forty cows and ten bulls, and twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. 32:16 He entrusted them to his servants, who divided them into herds. He told his servants, “Pass over before me, and keep some distance between one herd and the next.” 32:17 He instructed the servant leading the first herd, “When my brother Esau meets you and asks, ‘To whom do you belong? Where are you going? Whose herds are you driving?’ 32:18 then you must say, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob. They have been sent as a gift to my lord Esau. In fact Jacob himself is behind us.’”

32:19 He also gave these instructions to the second and third servants, as well as all those who were following the herds, saying, “You must say the same thing to Esau when you meet him. 32:20 You must also say, ‘In fact your servant Jacob is behind us.’” Jacob thought, “I will first appease him by sending a gift ahead of me. After that I will meet him. Perhaps he will accept me.” 32:21 So the gifts were sent on ahead of him while he spent that night in the camp.

32:22 During the night Jacob quickly took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 32:23 He took them and sent them across the stream along with all his possessions. 32:24 So Jacob was left alone. Then a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 32:25 When the man saw that he could not defeat Jacob, he struck the socket of his hip so the socket of Jacob’s hip was dislocated while he wrestled with him.

32:26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” “I will not let you go,” Jacob replied, “unless you bless me.” 32:27 The man asked him, “What is your name?” He answered, “Jacob.” 32:28 “No longer will your name be Jacob,” the man told him, “but Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have prevailed.”

32:29 Then Jacob asked, “Please tell me your name.” “Why do you ask my name?” the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there. 32:30 So Jacob named the place Peniel, explaining, “Certainly I have seen God face to face and have survived.”

32:31 The sun rose over him as he crossed over Penuel, but he was limping because of his hip. 32:32 That is why to this day the Israelites do not eat the sinew which is attached to the socket of the hip, because he struck the socket of Jacob’s hip near the attached sinew.

Jacob Meets Esau

33:1 Jacob looked up and saw that Esau was coming along with four hundred men. So he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and the two female servants. 33:2 He put the servants and their children in front, with Leah and her children behind them, and Rachel and Joseph behind them. 33:3 But Jacob himself went on ahead of them, and he bowed toward the ground seven times as he approached his brother. 33:4 But Esau ran to meet him, embraced him, hugged his neck, and kissed him. Then they both wept. 33:5 When Esau looked up and saw the women and the children, he asked, “Who are these people with you?” Jacob replied, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.” 33:6 The female servants came forward with their children and bowed down. 33:7 Then Leah came forward with her children and they bowed down. Finally Joseph and Rachel came forward and bowed down.

33:8 Esau then asked, “What did you intend by sending all these herds to meet me?” Jacob replied, “To find favor in your sight, my lord.” 33:9 But Esau said, “I have plenty, my brother. Keep what belongs to you.” 33:10 “No, please take them,” Jacob said. “If I have found favor in your sight, accept my gift from my hand. Now that I have seen your face and you have accepted me, it is as if I have seen the face of God. 33:11 Please take my present that was brought to you, for God has been generous to me and I have all I need.” When Jacob urged him, he took it.

33:12 Then Esau said, “Let’s be on our way! I will go in front of you.” 33:13 But Jacob said to him, “My lord knows that the children are young, and that I have to look after the sheep and cattle that are nursing their young. If they are driven too hard for even a single day, all the animals will die. 33:14 Let my lord go on ahead of his servant. I will travel more slowly, at the pace of the herds and the children, until I come to my lord at Seir.”

33:15 So Esau said, “Let me leave some of my men with you.” “Why do that?” Jacob replied. “My lord has already been kind enough to me.”

33:16 So that same day Esau made his way back to Seir. 33:17 But Jacob traveled to Succoth where he built himself a house and made shelters for his livestock. That is why the place was called Succoth.

33:18 After he left Paddan Aram, Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem in the land of Canaan, and he camped near the city. 33:19 Then he purchased the portion of the field where he had pitched his tent; he bought it from the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for a hundred pieces of money. 33:20 There he set up an altar and called it “The God of Israel is God.”

Prayer

Lord, like Jacob I am often prone to live from the flesh rather than through You, may I learn to become more reliant upon You. May I be a humble toward You as was Jacob toward Esau.

Scripture In Perspective

Jacob, traveling home, is greeted by angels sent by God. He names that place “Mahanaim” as he thinks that they live there.

Jacob’s servants, send to greet Esau and to communicate Jacob’s intention to bring peace offerings, report that Esau is traveling with 400 men.

Jacob pleads with God to protect him, reciting the promises to Isaac, and humbling himself as unworthy.

Jacob sends ahead the offerings and hides his two wives, their female servants, and his eleven sons. His daughter, Dinah, is not mentioned.

While Jacob rests he has a confrontation with what he believes to be a man, they wrestle and as peers Jacob prevails, but the angel “touches” Jacob’s hip – partially crippling him – making him aware of the weakness of his flesh in spiritual matters. Jacob still clings to the ‘man’, refusing to let go.

The angel-man asks Jacob his name and then changes his name to Israel, meaning that now that he finally understands that his flesh alone is insufficient he will be successful because of God’s provision and protection.

Jacob, still of the magical-thinking mindset, wants to know the same of the spiritual being because ancient pagan tradition taught that knowing the name of a spiritual being empowered one to use that name as a weapon. Jacob, thinking the “man” was like his father, also demands a blessing.

The angel, on God’s behalf, recites the prior promise and prophesy of God that Israel would prosper because of faithfulness and God’s blessing.

Jacob, still fearful of the rage of Esau, greets him like a defenseless nation before an invading army.

Esau, apparently long-over his childhood losses, greets Jacob joyfully and reluctantly accepts his gifts.

Esau wants them to rush home but Jacob is mindful of tired and vulnerable livestock and children and chooses to move at a safer pace.

Jacob finds good places for the livestock and for his family along the ways and begins to settle-in.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Jacob anticipates a battle with Esau and is hopeful that a large offering will temper Esau’s rage. He is very aware that in his flesh he, and his people, are no match for Esau. While Jacob could be strong, for example when wrestling with the angel-man, there would always be others like Esau who were stronger in a mere flesh-to-flesh contest. Jacob’s fear of Esau proved to be misplaced, as many of our fears often are.

Discuss

As Jacob wrestled with the angel-man his flesh is strong but he has no spiritual power and thus the angel was able to easily overcome his flesh. Jacob’s flesh had often led him into trouble, if he was to be God’s leader he would need to surrender, and the angel was sent to confront him with that truth. Isn’t the declaration of Jacob that he had “prevailed” in the flesh but needed God to succeed in the “big picture” a foreshadowing of the New Testament teaching of our surrender of everything in this world to Christ for our salvation? Esau had not only grown-beyond his childhood resentments he provided a partial model for the father’s response in the Parable of the Prodigal Son as he ran to greet his brother Jacob.

Reflect

Jacob’s new name, Israel, tells everyone that he is now God’s man and no longer his own. How different might this story had gone has Esau been dwelling in his rage for the entire time Jacob was gone? What might that have meant for the life of Esau for 20 years as well as for Jacob as he tried to return home?

Share

What was the moment, or what have been the moments, where you recognized that while in the world your flesh was strong – you needed God for anything to have real purpose and meaning and not mere striving with man? When have you needed to deal with the anger of another, or your own, for something from the past? How did it impact each of you in your own life and in your reaction to the other? Had either of you resolved your anger without the other knowing?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where conflict in the past has distorted your relationship(s) and perhaps your sense of freedom or safety or value in the present.

Act

I will prayerfully consider where in my life I am “wrestling in the flesh” with God, trying to be strong in the flesh, rather than acknowledging my need for Him. I will surrender to Him and through my faithfulness to Him be made truly strong in His power. I agree to allow the Holy Spirit to take me to a difficult place in my past so that He may set me free. I will be wise in my practical choices while I trust Him to lead me to reconciliation. I will pray for the other or others that they two may seek His healing.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Saturday (Genesis 34 - 36)

Dinah and the Shechemites

34:1 Now Dinah, Leah’s daughter whom she bore to Jacob, went to meet the young women of the land. 34:2 When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, who ruled that area, saw her, he grabbed her, forced himself on her, and sexually assaulted her. 34:3 Then he became very attached to Dinah, Jacob’s daughter. He fell in love with the young woman and spoke romantically to her. 34:4 Shechem said to his father Hamor, “Acquire this young girl as my wife.” 34:5 When Jacob heard that Shechem had violated his daughter Dinah, his sons were with the livestock in the field. So Jacob remained silent until they came in.

34:6 Then Shechem’s father Hamor went to speak with Jacob about Dinah. 34:7 Now Jacob’s sons had come in from the field when they heard the news. They were offended and very angry because Shechem had disgraced Israel by sexually assaulting Jacob’s daughter, a crime that should not be committed.

34:8 But Hamor made this appeal to them: “My son Shechem is in love with your daughter. Please give her to him as his wife. 34:9 Intermarry with us. Let us marry your daughters, and take our daughters as wives for yourselves. 34:10 You may live among us, and the land will be open to you. Live in it, travel freely in it, and acquire property in it.”

34:11 Then Shechem said to Dinah’s father and brothers, “Let me find favor in your sight, and whatever you require of me I’ll give. 34:12 You can make the bride price and the gift I must bring very expensive, and I’ll give whatever you ask of me. Just give me the young woman as my wife!”

34:13 Jacob’s sons answered Shechem and his father Hamor deceitfully when they spoke because Shechem had violated their sister Dinah. 34:14 They said to them, “We cannot give our sister to a man who is not circumcised, for it would be a disgrace to us. 34:15 We will give you our consent on this one condition: You must become like us by circumcising all your males. 34:16 Then we will give you our daughters to marry, and we will take your daughters as wives for ourselves, and we will live among you and become one people. 34:17 But if you do not agree to our terms by being circumcised, then we will take our sister and depart.”

34:18 Their offer pleased Hamor and his son Shechem. 34:19 The young man did not delay in doing what they asked because he wanted Jacob’s daughter Dinah badly. (Now he was more important than anyone in his father’s household.) 34:20 So Hamor and his son Shechem went to the gate of their city and spoke to the men of their city, 34:21 “These men are at peace with us. So let them live in the land and travel freely in it, for the land is wide enough for them. We will take their daughters for wives, and we will give them our daughters to marry. 34:22 Only on this one condition will these men consent to live with us and become one people: They demand that every male among us be circumcised just as they are circumcised. 34:23 If we do so, won’t their livestock, their property, and all their animals become ours? So let’s consent to their demand, so they will live among us.”

34:24 All the men who assembled at the city gate agreed with Hamor and his son Shechem. Every male who assembled at the city gate was circumcised. 34:25 In three days, when they were still in pain, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each took his sword and went to the unsuspecting city and slaughtered every male. 34:26 They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the sword, took Dinah from Shechem’s house, and left. 34:27 Jacob’s sons killed them and looted the city because their sister had been violated. 34:28 They took their flocks, herds, and donkeys, as well as everything in the city and in the surrounding fields. 34:29 They captured as plunder all their wealth, all their little ones, and their wives, including everything in the houses.

34:30 Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought ruin on me by making me a foul odor among the inhabitants of the land – among the Canaanites and the Perizzites. I am few in number; they will join forces against me and attack me, and both I and my family will be destroyed!” 34:31 But Simeon and Levi replied, “Should he treat our sister like a common prostitute?”

The Return to Bethel

35:1 Then God said to Jacob, “Go up at once to Bethel and live there. Make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” 35:2 So Jacob told his household and all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have among you. Purify yourselves and change your clothes. 35:3 Let us go up at once to Bethel. Then I will make an altar there to God, who responded to me in my time of distress and has been with me wherever I went.”

35:4 So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods that were in their possession and the rings that were in their ears. Jacob buried them under the oak near Shechem 35:5 and they started on their journey. The surrounding cities were afraid of God, and they did not pursue the sons of Jacob.

35:6 Jacob and all those who were with him arrived at Luz (that is, Bethel) in the land of Canaan. 35:7 He built an altar there and named the place El Bethel because there God had revealed himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother. 35:8 (Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died and was buried under the oak below Bethel; thus it was named Oak of Weeping.)

35:9 God appeared to Jacob again after he returned from Paddan Aram and blessed him. 35:10 God said to him, “Your name is Jacob, but your name will no longer be called Jacob; Israel will be your name.” So God named him Israel. 35:11 Then God said to him, “I am the sovereign God. Be fruitful and multiply! A nation – even a company of nations – will descend from you; kings will be among your descendants! 35:12 The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you. To your descendants I will also give this land.” 35:13 Then God went up from the place where he spoke with him. 35:14 So Jacob set up a sacred stone pillar in the place where God spoke with him. He poured out a drink offering on it, and then he poured oil on it. 35:15 Jacob named the place where God spoke with him Bethel.

35:16 They traveled on from Bethel, and when Ephrath was still some distance away, Rachel went into labor – and her labor was hard. 35:17 When her labor was at its hardest, the midwife said to her, “Don’t be afraid, for you are having another son.” 35:18 With her dying breath, she named him Ben-Oni. But his father called him Benjamin instead. 35:19 So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). 35:20 Jacob set up a marker over her grave; it is the Marker of Rachel’s Grave to this day.

35:21 Then Israel traveled on and pitched his tent beyond Migdal Eder. 35:22 While Israel was living in that land, Reuben had sexual relations with Bilhah, his father’s concubine, and Israel heard about it.

Jacob had twelve sons:

35:23 The sons of Leah were Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, as well as Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun.

35:24 The sons of Rachel were Joseph and Benjamin.

35:25 The sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s servant, were Dan and Naphtali.

35:26 The sons of Zilpah, Leah’s servant, were Gad and Asher.

These were the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan Aram.

35:27 So Jacob came back to his father Isaac in Mamre, to Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had stayed. 35:28 Isaac lived to be 180 years old. 35:29 Then Isaac breathed his last and joined his ancestors. He died an old man who had lived a full life. His sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

The Descendants of Esau

36:1 What follows is the account of Esau (also known as Edom).

36:2 Esau took his wives from the Canaanites: Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Oholibamah the daughter of Anah and granddaughter of Zibeon the Hivite, 36:3 in addition to Basemath the daughter of Ishmael and sister of Nebaioth.

36:4 Adah bore Eliphaz to Esau, Basemath bore Reuel, 36:5 and Oholibamah bore Jeush, Jalam, and Korah. These were the sons of Esau who were born to him in the land of Canaan.

36:6 Esau took his wives, his sons, his daughters, all the people in his household, his livestock, his animals, and all his possessions which he had acquired in the land of Canaan and went to a land some distance away from Jacob his brother 36:7 because they had too many possessions to be able to stay together and the land where they had settled was not able to support them because of their livestock. 36:8 So Esau (also known as Edom) lived in the hill country of Seir.

36:9 This is the account of Esau, the father of the Edomites, in the hill country of Seir.

36:10 These were the names of Esau’s sons:

Eliphaz, the son of Esau’s wife Adah, and Reuel, the son of Esau’s wife Basemath.

36:11 The sons of Eliphaz were:

Teman, Omar, Zepho, Gatam, and Kenaz.

36:12 Timna, a concubine of Esau’s son Eliphaz, bore Amalek to Eliphaz. These were the sons of Esau’s wife Adah.

36:13 These were the sons of Reuel: Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah. These were the sons of Esau’s wife Basemath.

36:14 These were the sons of Esau’s wife Oholibamah the daughter of Anah and granddaughter of Zibeon: She bore Jeush, Jalam, and Korah to Esau.

36:15 These were the chiefs among the descendants of Esau, the sons of Eliphaz, Esau’s firstborn: chief Teman, chief Omar, chief Zepho, chief Kenaz, 36:16 chief Korah, chief Gatam, chief Amalek. These were the chiefs descended from Eliphaz in the land of Edom; these were the sons of Adah.

36:17 These were the sons of Esau’s son Reuel: chief Nahath, chief Zerah, chief Shammah, chief Mizzah. These were the chiefs descended from Reuel in the land of Edom; these were the sons of Esau’s wife Basemath.

36:18 These were the sons of Esau’s wife Oholibamah: chief Jeush, chief Jalam, chief Korah. These were the chiefs descended from Esau’s wife Oholibamah, the daughter of Anah.

36:19 These were the sons of Esau (also known as Edom), and these were their chiefs.

36:20 These were the sons of Seir the Horite, who were living in the land: Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, 36:21 Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan. These were the chiefs of the Horites, the descendants of Seir in the land of Edom.

36:22 The sons of Lotan were Hori and Homam; Lotan’s sister was Timna.

36:23 These were the sons of Shobal: Alvan, Manahath, Ebal, Shepho, and Onam.

36:24 These were the sons of Zibeon: Aiah and Anah (who discovered the hot springs in the wilderness as he pastured the donkeys of his father Zibeon).

36:25 These were the children of Anah: Dishon and Oholibamah, the daughter of Anah.

36:26 These were the sons of Dishon: Hemdan, Eshban, Ithran, and Keran.

36:27 These were the sons of Ezer: Bilhan, Zaavan, and Akan.

36:28 These were the sons of Dishan: Uz and Aran.

36:29 These were the chiefs of the Horites: chief Lotan, chief Shobal, chief Zibeon, chief Anah, 36:30 chief Dishon, chief Ezer, chief Dishan. These were the chiefs of the Horites, according to their chief lists in the land of Seir.

36:31 These were the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before any king ruled over the Israelites:

36:32 Bela the son of Beor reigned in Edom; the name of his city was Dinhabah.

36:33 When Bela died, Jobab the son of Zerah from Bozrah reigned in his place.

36:34 When Jobab died, Husham from the land of the Temanites reigned in his place.

36:35 When Husham died, Hadad the son of Bedad, who defeated the Midianites in the land of Moab, reigned in his place; the name of his city was Avith.

36:36 When Hadad died, Samlah from Masrekah reigned in his place.

36:37 When Samlah died, Shaul from Rehoboth by the River reigned in his place.

36:38 When Shaul died, Baal-Hanan the son of Achbor reigned in his place.

36:39 When Baal-Hanan the son of Achbor died, Hadad reigned in his place; the name of his city was Pau. His wife’s name was Mehetabel, the daughter of Matred, the daughter of Me-Zahab.

36:40 These were the names of the chiefs of Esau, according to their families, according to their places, by their names: chief Timna, chief Alvah, chief Jetheth, 36:41 chief Oholibamah, chief Elah, chief Pinon, 36:42 chief Kenaz, chief Teman, chief Mibzar, 36:43 chief Magdiel, chief Iram. These were the chiefs of Edom, according to their settlements in the land they possessed. This was Esau, the father of the Edomites.

Prayer

Lord, may I understand that there are some things “... that should not be committed” and which have consequences that may include even greater conflict with You and fellow humankind. Lord, may the blindness of greed and lust be swept away from my life so that my eyes are always upon You alone. Lord, may I pause regularly to fellowship with You, to lift praises to You, and to clear-out anything that is an idol which displaces You in any part of my life. Lord, Your Word is always true, so even though there was confusion and rebellion in the House of Isaac Your promise to bless his children extended to Esau.

Scripture In Perspective

Once again the lust of the eyes has led a man to act unwisely toward a woman. “Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, who ruled that area ...” raped Israel’s daughter Dinah.

After his crime Shechem became emotionally attached to Dinah, perhaps parallel with the fear of consequences for his crime, and petitions Israel to allow him to marry her – for which he would pay a large dowry and welcome her people into the land.

The text does not report Israel’s reply to the offer to and marry among the family of the rapist and those who occupied the land already promised to Israel.

Simeon and Levi, apparently the leaders of their brothers, challenge Shechem and Hamor to have all of their men circumcised to make it acceptable to live together with them.

The greed and lust of Shechem and Hamor were not isolated to Dinah. Just as they tried to lure Israel into an alliance to cover-over the terrible crime against Dinah, they promote this to their people in order to persuade them to be circumcised.

Note the text of 34:23 “If we do so, won’t their livestock, their property, and all their animals become ours?” They were not satisfied with Dinah, they were willing to intermarry with a foreign people of an unfamiliar God and traditions in order to gain access to their resources.

Simeon and Levi, as clever as Jacob and Laban before them, used the worldly vulnerability of Shechem and Hamor against them – setting them up for slaughter and the loss of everything.

Israel is upset, fearing retribution from the other people in the land, Simeon and Levi declare that the crime against their sister Dinah was a crime against Israel which had to be avenged.

After the action of Simeon and Levi God instructs Israel to relocate his people and to stop and renew their commitment to Him as their Lord God.

Before the people of Israel are prepared to build an altar and worship the Lord God they needed to remove all of the idols from their presence and to prepare their bodies and clothes as seemed proper to come into the presence (however indirect) of heavenly-royalty.

Meanwhile, God had placed fear in the hearts of the “cities” around them – as He had with Laban – so that they did not dare to attack Israel.

Lord, may my life be known for my faithfulness in pausing to give you the glory, praise, and worship, and for the way that I have multiplied those who are known by Your name.

Jacob/Israel returned to Bethel where Rebekah’s servant Deborah died and was buried. Jacob/Israel built an altar there in remembrance of God meeting him there 20 years prior when he was fleeing the rage of Esau.

God appears again to Jacob, reiterating His promise for Abraham and Isaac to Jacob/Israel’s descendants and reiterating His prior message to Jacob that his name was now Israel. Jacob erected a stone pillar in remembrance and poured-out a “drink offering”, possibly wine or blood from an animal sacrifice, followed by oil.

Near Ephrath, midway from Bethel to Bethlehem Rachel gives birth to Benjamin and dies in childbirth. She is buried there.

During the journey that followed Jacob/Israel’s son Reuben had sexual relations with Bilhah, Jacob/Israel’s father’s concubine, and he became aware of that sin.

Jacob/Israel returned to “... Isaac in Mamre, to Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had stayed.” in time see Isaac before he died at 180 years of age.

Just as Abraham had experienced before them Esau and Jacob’s large herds of animals could not be managed in close proximity – so Esau again moved away from his family into Seir where he became “the father of the Edomites”.

The descendants of Esau are provided as a testimony of God’s faithfulness to His promise to bless the children of Isaac.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Shechem and Hamor were unaware that God had already promised all of the land to Abraham, then Isaac, and then Jacob – they were unaware that their penitence for the sin of Shechem was a peaceful way for Israel to begin occupying the promised land. The greed and lust of Shechem and Hamor make them very vulnerable. Jacob/Israel has a developing relationship with God, as a young man it seemed to be non-existent, then it was somewhat superstitious, and only in his later years did it seem to grow into more of a relationship and one where God became his Lord God. Jacob was told by the man/angel with whom he had earlier wrestled that his name would become Israel and now God makes it so. According to http://bible.org the Edomites are referenced 39 times in the Old Testament, often in conflict with the Tribes of Israel Gen: 36:9, 36:43; Num: 34:3; Deu: 2:4 23:7, 23:8; Jdg: 1:36; 1Sa: 14:47 21:7 22:9 22:18 22:22; 2Sa: 8:13 8:14; 1Ki: 11:1 11:14; 11:17; 2Ki: 8:20 8:21 14:7 16:6 24:2; 1Ch: 18:12 18:13; 2Ch: 21:8 21:9 21:10 25:11 25:14               25:19 28:17; Psa: 52:1 60:1 83:6 137:7; Jer: 9:26 49:19 49:22; Eze: 16:57

Discuss

What sense of entitlement, lack of respect for women, and of local power must Hamor and Shechem had to approach Israel in this way? What statement about their character would Israel, as leader of his people, have made were they to have agreed to the marriage of Shechem to Dinah, the intermarriage with the local people, and to the merging of the resources that God had given them?: While we have a significantly different relationship with the Lord God than that of pre-Cross/Resurrection/Pentecost Old Testament (and early New Testament) people He is still the royalty of royalty and deserving of our honor and obedience and praise. How do we prepare ourselves to enter into His presence for special times of praise and worship? When Adam named the animals in the Garden it was a statement of ‘ownership’ or of a hierarchical relationship where the one who names is above the being that is named. Here God acknowledges that Jacob’s relationship with Him has matured to a place where he is truly God’s man and thus God gives him a new name. This is not the first time that God did this. While Esau had apparently forgiven Jacob the text does not imply that their relationship warmed. Damaged relationships may often be reconciled, where the conflict ceases, but not restored, where affection and fellowship are intimate.

Reflect

The invitation to live and marry among the family of the rapist and those who occupied the land already promised to Israel must have sounded odd to Dinah’s relatives. Israel continues his pattern of fear-driven weakness whereas his sons acted aggressively and cleverly to enforce high standards of integrity despite the risk. How might you have chosen between the alternatives facing the people of Israel? Israel appears to have been aware of the presence of idols among his people yet his relationship with and understanding of the Lord God has matured to where he knew that those idols must be removed. Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin, comforted in her final moments of suffering when told that she was bearing Jacob/Israel another son. Her desperate desire to compete with Leah in producing sons was a priority until the final moments of her life. Choices have consequences and the one that led to Esau at odds with his brother Jacob led to generations of conflict among their descendants.

Share

When have you, or someone with whom you have interacted, tried to ‘make things right’ after an offense in a way that upon reflection seems inappropriate? When have you been faced with a decision which presented what appeared to be two competing bad ethical options? Was the deception and destruction by Simeon and Levi justified? When have you felt led to prepare yourself in a special way to enter into praise and worship of God – what did that process look like for you? When have a series of major events, mixed blessings and losses such as Jacob/Israel experienced along the way home, caused you to draw nearer to God? When have you experienced of observed a relationship that had been seriously troubled where the two people reconciled but did not restore to an intimacy one might expect; be it siblings, a couple (men and women previously married or close to it), or business or ministry partners, etc.?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where and how the lust of your flesh may be leading you in a direction that may result in harm to others and to you. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom when confronted by ethical challenges. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any idols in your life. [Note: Idols may be people we hold up so high that their opinion or approval eclipses that of God and His Word, may be money or power, fame or appearance, possessions or talents, elements of other religions merged with Biblical Christianity, habits that are superstition-based, etc.] Ask the Holy Spirit to seek you in all of the moments of my life, the difficult and the good. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you might both reconcile and restore a broken relationship, and if not possible to restore to clarify the ‘why’.

Act

I agree to partner with the Holy Spirit to identify places in my life where an impetuous reaction to the desires of my flesh are leading me to make poor choices. I agree to surrender those places to the Lordship of Christ through the Holy Spirit. I will prayerfully review my life for any place where fear may be causing me to consider compromise with those who are not followers of Christ for the sake of a temporary peace. I will act boldly to stand for honor and trust God to be my strength and my protector. I will partner with the Holy Spirit, and as-necessary a fellow believer, to prayerfully discern the presence of any idols in my life. Since I am in His presence always, due to His indwelling Holy Spirit, any idols are always an offense to Him. I agree to purge those idols from my life and to make an intentional effort to keep them and others from entering-in ever again. I will reflect upon a list of several of the most difficult and the most joyful events of my life and prayerfully seek the presence of God in them, and even today as He teaches me something new through them. I will share what the Holy Spirit shows me with a fellow believer, as an encouragement and a praise, and with someone considering-Christ, as a witness to God’s faithful love. I will prayerfully partner with the Holy Spirit to be made aware of a previously broken relationship which He wants healed. I will seek reconciliation and restoration, but only with the wise counsel of a Biblical elder, so that I neither rush things or force them beyond what the Lord declares to be right and safe.

Be Specific _________________________________________________

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2012 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study. Prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in August of 2012. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

10. Genesis 37 – 50 (Joseph)

A Chronological Daily Bible Study of the Old Testament
7-Day Sections with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and a Practical Daily Application

Week 10

Sunday (Genesis 37)

Joseph’s Dreams

37:1 But Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, in the land of Canaan.

37:2 This is the account of Jacob.

Joseph, his seventeen-year-old son, was taking care of the flocks with his brothers. Now he was a youngster working with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives. Joseph brought back a bad report about them to their father.

37:3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons because he was a son born to him late in life, and he made a special tunic for him. 37:4 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated Joseph and were not able to speak to him kindly.

37:5 Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers about it, they hated him even more. 37:6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 37:7 There we were, binding sheaves of grain in the middle of the field. Suddenly my sheaf rose up and stood upright and your sheaves surrounded my sheaf and bowed down to it!” 37:8 Then his brothers asked him, “Do you really think you will rule over us or have dominion over us?” They hated him even more because of his dream and because of what he said.

37:9 Then he had another dream, and told it to his brothers. “Look,” he said. “I had another dream. The sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” 37:10 When he told his father and his brothers, his father rebuked him, saying, “What is this dream that you had? Will I, your mother, and your brothers really come and bow down to you?” 37:11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept in mind what Joseph said.

37:12 When his brothers had gone to graze their father’s flocks near Shechem, 37:13 Israel said to Joseph, “Your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I will send you to them.” “I’m ready,” Joseph replied. 37:14 So Jacob said to him, “Go now and check on the welfare of your brothers and of the flocks, and bring me word.” So Jacob sent him from the valley of Hebron.

37:15 When Joseph reached Shechem, a man found him wandering in the field, so the man asked him, “What are you looking for?” 37:16 He replied, “I’m looking for my brothers. Please tell me where they are grazing their flocks.” 37:17 The man said, “They left this area, for I heard them say, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.’” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan.

37:18 Now Joseph’s brothers saw him from a distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him. 37:19 They said to one another, “Here comes this master of dreams! 37:20 Come now, let’s kill him, throw him into one of the cisterns, and then say that a wild animal ate him. Then we’ll see how his dreams turn out!”

37:21 When Reuben heard this, he rescued Joseph from their hands, saying, “Let’s not take his life!” 37:22 Reuben continued, “Don’t shed blood! Throw him into this cistern that is here in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him.” (Reuben said this so he could rescue Joseph from them and take him back to his father.)

37:23 When Joseph reached his brothers, they stripped him of his tunic, the special tunic that he wore. 37:24 Then they took him and threw him into the cistern. (Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it.)

37:25 When they sat down to eat their food, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were carrying spices, balm, and myrrh down to Egypt. 37:26 Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is there if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 37:27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites, but let’s not lay a hand on him, for after all, he is our brother, our own flesh.” His brothers agreed. 37:28 So when the Midianite merchants passed by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. The Ishmaelites then took Joseph to Egypt.

37:29 Later Reuben returned to the cistern to find that Joseph was not in it! He tore his clothes, 37:30 returned to his brothers, and said, “The boy isn’t there! And I, where can I go?” 37:31 So they took Joseph’s tunic, killed a young goat, and dipped the tunic in the blood. 37:32 Then they brought the special tunic to their father and said, “We found this. Determine now whether it is your son’s tunic or not.”

37:33 He recognized it and exclaimed, “It is my son’s tunic! A wild animal has eaten him! Joseph has surely been torn to pieces!” 37:34 Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth, and mourned for his son many days. 37:35 All his sons and daughters stood by him to console him, but he refused to be consoled. “No,” he said, “I will go to the grave mourning my son.” So Joseph’s father wept for him.

37:36 Now in Egypt the Midianites sold Joseph to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.

Judah and Tamar

38:1 At that time Judah left his brothers and stayed with an Adullamite man named Hirah.

38:2 There Judah saw the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua. Judah acquired her as a wife and had marital relations with her. 38:3 She became pregnant and had a son. Judah named him Er. 38:4 She became pregnant again and had another son, whom she named Onan. 38:5 Then she had yet another son, whom she named Shelah. She gave birth to him in Kezib.

38:6 Judah acquired a wife for Er his firstborn; her name was Tamar. 38:7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was evil in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord killed him.

38:8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Have sexual relations with your brother’s wife and fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to her so that you may raise up a descendant for your brother.” 38:9 But Onan knew that the child would not be considered his. So whenever he had sexual relations with his brother’s wife, he withdrew prematurely so as not to give his brother a descendant. 38:10 What he did was evil in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord killed him too.

38:11 Then Judah said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Live as a widow in your father’s house until Shelah my son grows up.” For he thought, “I don’t want him to die like his brothers.” So Tamar went and lived in her father’s house.

38:12 After some time Judah’s wife, the daughter of Shua, died. After Judah was consoled, he left for Timnah to visit his sheepshearers, along with his friend Hirah the Adullamite. 38:13 Tamar was told, “Look, your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep.” 38:14 So she removed her widow’s clothes and covered herself with a veil. She wrapped herself and sat at the entrance to Enaim which is on the way to Timnah. (She did this because she saw that she had not been given to Shelah as a wife, even though he had now grown up.)

38:15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute because she had covered her face. 38:16 He turned aside to her along the road and said, “Come on! I want to have sex with you.” (He did not realize it was his daughter-in-law.) She asked, “What will you give me in exchange for having sex with you?” 38:17 He replied, “I’ll send you a young goat from the flock.” She asked, “Will you give me a pledge until you send it?” 38:18 He said, “What pledge should I give you?” She replied, “Your seal, your cord, and the staff that’s in your hand.” So he gave them to her and had sex with her. She became pregnant by him. 38:19 She left immediately, removed her veil, and put on her widow’s clothes.

38:20 Then Judah had his friend Hirah the Adullamite take a young goat to get back from the woman the items he had given in pledge, but Hirah could not find her. 38:21 He asked the men who were there, “Where is the cult prostitute who was at Enaim by the road?” But they replied, “There has been no cult prostitute here.” 38:22 So he returned to Judah and said, “I couldn’t find her. Moreover, the men of the place said, ‘There has been no cult prostitute here.’” 38:23 Judah said, “Let her keep the things for herself. Otherwise we will appear to be dishonest. I did indeed send this young goat, but you couldn’t find her.”

38:24 After three months Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar has turned to prostitution, and as a result she has become pregnant.” Judah said, “Bring her out and let her be burned!” 38:25 While they were bringing her out, she sent word to her father-in-law: “I am pregnant by the man to whom these belong.” Then she said, “Identify the one to whom the seal, cord, and staff belong.” 38:26 Judah recognized them and said, “She is more upright than I am, because I wouldn’t give her to Shelah my son.” He did not have sexual relations with her again.

38:27 When it was time for her to give birth, there were twins in her womb. 38:28 While she was giving birth, one child put out his hand, and the midwife took a scarlet thread and tied it on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.” 38:29 But then he drew back his hand, and his brother came out before him. She said, “How you have broken out of the womb!” So he was named Perez. 38:30 Afterward his brother came out – the one who had the scarlet thread on his hand – and he was named Zerah.

Prayer

Lord, when we play-favorites among children, or anyone else with whom we should have equally-loving relationships, we sow the seeds of jealousy. Help me to be appropriately balanced in all of my relationships. Lord, may I learn from this story of the greed and jealousy of Joseph's brothers to not be likewise motivated from my selfish and shallow flesh. Lord, when we join with evil the result is usually evil. May I be found faithful in consulting you before joining in business, ministry, and/or personal relationship with others. Lord, may I obey Your Holy Spirit when He warns me that even a small deceit on my part can lead others to deceive as well – and what I thought I had accomplished in the moment may easily become a greater hassle than I imagined I was avoiding.

Scripture In Perspective

We read in Genesis 36:1-43 the record of the descendants of Esau, then the text turned to Jacob, who “... lived in the land where his father had stayed, in the land of Canaan.”

At the age of seventeen Joseph would have worked in the fields for many years but was now old enough to be trusted to travel about independently. He observed the sons of Bilhah, his brothers Dan and Naphtali, and the sons of Zilpah, Gad and Asher, and determined that they were not giving his father Jacob a full days work – so he brought that report to his father.

Despite the trouble caused by Isaac’s preferential treatment of Esau, and Rebekah’s preference for Jacob, Jacob repeated their error and was obvious in his preference for Joseph – creating an environment likely to cause his brothers to be angry.

Joseph, immaturely broadcasting his dreams about authority over his older brothers, parents, and others added to their anger.

The feeding of large herds would have required that the shepherds move from field to field across many miles. They could have been away from home for days or weeks at a time.

Jacob/Israel sent Joseph to check on his brothers and to return with a report as to their “welfare”. They were not where he expected but had moved on to Dothan.

Joseph’s brothers saw him coming and plotted to kill him, hide his body, and report him as killed and eaten by a “wild animal”.

Reuben persuaded them to throw him into a dry cistern (shallow well) instead as he planned to sneak back and rescue him – not out of love – but because he didn’t want Joseph’s blood on his hands.

Reuben apparently left them and while he was away his brothers spotted a band of Midianite merchants, Ismaelites (now known as Arabs) and they sold Joseph into slavery for 20 pieces of silver. (Joseph was later resold, presumably for profit, in Egypt.)

When Reuben returned and discovered what they had done he was desperate and allowed them to draw him into their scheme to deceive their father Jacob/Israel into believing Joseph dead.

Jacob/Israel vowed to go to his grave still mourning for Joseph.

After selling their brother Joseph into slavery, then covering-up by deceiving their father Jacob/Israel into believing thast Joseph was dead, Judah separated himself from his brothers and married a Canaanite, something the Lord God had previously forbidden.

Judah had three sons and as was traditional he found a wife named Tamar for his first son, Er. But the Lord God found him to be evil and killed him.

Judah, as was traditional, required his second son to sleep with her in order to give her a son so as to carry-on his brother’s line – but Onan was selfish as he knew the son would not be considered his own – and therefore he would not himself inherit Er’s blessings as the first born. So Onan deliberately acted to keep her from getting pregnant. The Lord God saw that as evil and killed him.

Judah, down to the last of three sons asked Tamar to live elsewhere while Shelah grew up enough to be available for marriage. Judah’s true motivation was a superstitious fear that Tamar was somehow the cause of the deaths of Er and Onan and he wanted to protect Shelah. Tamar believed him and agreed to live apart for a while.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Jacob exhibited poor judgment throughout his life, always because he was not listening to the Lord God, so once again he behaved impetuously and irresponsibly and the result was conflict. Joseph’s brothers were both vengeful and greedy. (Judas later sold-out Jesus, also for 20 pieces of silver.) Judah’s sons were half-Canaanite and Tamar likely Canaanite, therefore their children would have been three-quarters Canaanite - that culture was pagan. Following in the pattern of his father, Jacob/Israel’s mutually-deceitful relationship with Laban, Judah became ensnared in one with Tamar.

Discuss

Why would anyone not expect anger and jealousy when someone who should be a peer, indeed should be submitted to his elder brothers, is instead arbitrarily treated with favoritism?

When Joseph brought a bad report against some of his brothers, even with the good intention of loyalty to his father, should he not have anticipated they’d be angry?

Judah buried and mourned his wife and then decided to travel with his friend to Timnah where the sheep were being sheared.

Tamar, left waiting long after Judah’s third son Shelah was old enough to give her a son in the name of her dead husband Er, decided that Judah was vulnerable to a trick.

Tamar disguised herself along the road to Timnah and as she suspected Judah mistook her for a cult prostitute and propositioned her. He offered her a goat in exchange for sex, but did not have one with him, so she requested his “... seal, cord, and staff” as collateral to assure that he would keep his promise.

When Tamar later was found to be pregnant Judah intended to punish her until she proved, with his “... seal, cord, and staff”, that the child was his. (She had twins, with the curious twist of the first partially-leaving the womb only to retreat and the second to be fully-birthed before the first finally came out, perhaps an echo of Jacob and Esau.)

Have you ever been so angry with someone, or so jealous of them, that you plotted in your mind a way to “get rid of them”? What did you do? If you did not act on your plot, what was it that stopped you? If you did act on it in some way was your action restrained by someone or something? Esau was “evil in the Lord’s sight”. but it was Onan’s disobedience and selfishness was “... was evil in the Lord’s sight”, what is the difference? Judah had in some way or ways “taught” Tamar that he would be vulnerable to the appeal of a cult prostitute. Perhaps it was something he said during his mourning for his wife, perhaps she had observed him being unfaithful in the past, perhaps it was just the deceitful way he had dealt with her. How have people “taught” you that they would be vulnerable to certain temptations?

Reflect

Knowing that his brothers were already hostile might Joseph have shared his dreams only with his father? Reuben had violated an important tradition when he slept with Bilhah, his father's concubine, and he failed to demand that his brothers not harm Joseph in any way - so there was a pattern of poor choices in his life. Twice the Lord intervened and punished evil, killing the two sons, yet Judah does not appear to have consulted the Lord God, rather choosing to deceive Tamar to protect his remaining son. The promise Tamar wanted kept by Judah was not a goat for sex but a child by Judah's son Shelah to continue the line of Er (which would also entitle her to Er’s inheritance). She bore twins by Judah whose standing would have been somewhat equal to that of Shelah.

Share

When have you experienced and/or observed favoritism among people who should be peers-in-relationship? What was the result? When have you observed others doing the wrong thing, and because you were somehow sympathetic with their feelings, you failed to challenge them to do the right thing before the Lord? When have you ever been fearful and reacted defensively without first consulting God?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you may be imbalanced in your treatment of peers, also to reveal to you where greed or jealously or some other weakness has (or is) lead (leading) you to commit acts of evil against others - or to condone them when committed by others. Ask Him to reveal to you where you may be making choices out of fear without first consulting Him, also to reveal to you any place in your life where your actions and/or words might be 'teaching' observers that you are vulnerable to temptation.

Act

I will accept what the Holy Spirit shows me, perhaps affirmed through a Biblical 'elder', and will immediately act to restore balance. I agree to not merely acknowledge that I make poor choices based on greed or jealousy or the fear to confront evil in others but to act upon it in the area(s) that the Holy Spirit reveals to me. I will ask a fellow believer to pray in-agreement with me for courage and wisdom and to hold me accountable. I will prayerfully listen to the Holy Spirit as He shows me what it is that I say and/or do that conveys the message of my vulnerability to specific temptation(s). It may be crude and crass humor about romantic relationship, a lust for money or power, a predisposition toward 'experience' (needing emotional stimulation), a predisposition to danger 'adrenaline junkie', dressing provocatively, a need to 'keep up with the Joneses', a pattern of making idols of celebrities (the physically-attractive, sports stars, entertainers, the rich, the powerful, etc.). I will confess and repent of those things and submit them to the Holy Spirit for purging. I will ask at least one fellow believer to help me in monitoring my actions and/or words for any sign of their return.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Monday (Genesis 39 - 40)

Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife

39:1 Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt. An Egyptian named Potiphar, an official of Pharaoh and the captain of the guard, purchased him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him there. 39:2 The Lord was with Joseph. He was successful and lived in the household of his Egyptian master. 39:3 His master observed that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made everything he was doing successful. 39:4 So Joseph found favor in his sight and became his personal attendant. Potiphar appointed Joseph overseer of his household and put him in charge of everything he owned. 39:5 From the time Potiphar appointed him over his household and over all that he owned, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s household for Joseph’s sake. The blessing of the Lord was on everything that he had, both in his house and in his fields. 39:6 So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; he gave no thought to anything except the food he ate.

Now Joseph was well built and good-looking. 39:7 Soon after these things, his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Have sex with me.” 39:8 But he refused, saying to his master’s wife, “Look, my master does not give any thought to his household with me here, and everything that he owns he has put into my care. 39:9 There is no one greater in this household than I am. He has withheld nothing from me except you because you are his wife. So how could I do such a great evil and sin against God?” 39:10 Even though she continued to speak to Joseph day after day, he did not respond to her invitation to have sex with her.

39:11 One day he went into the house to do his work when none of the household servants were there in the house. 39:12 She grabbed him by his outer garment, saying, “Have sex with me!” But he left his outer garment in her hand and ran outside. 39:13 When she saw that he had left his outer garment in her hand and had run outside, 39:14 she called for her household servants and said to them, “See, my husband brought in a Hebrew man to us to humiliate us. He tried to have sex with me, but I screamed loudly. 39:15 When he heard me raise my voice and scream, he left his outer garment beside me and ran outside.”

39:16 So she laid his outer garment beside her until his master came home. 39:17 This is what she said to him: “That Hebrew slave you brought to us tried to humiliate me, 39:18 but when I raised my voice and screamed, he left his outer garment and ran outside.”

39:19 When his master heard his wife say, “This is the way your slave treated me,” he became furious. 39:20 Joseph’s master took him and threw him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined. So he was there in the prison.

39:21 But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him kindness. He granted him favor in the sight of the prison warden. 39:22 The warden put all the prisoners under Joseph’s care. He was in charge of whatever they were doing. 39:23 The warden did not concern himself with anything that was in Joseph’s care because the Lord was with him and whatever he was doing the Lord was making successful.

The Cupbearer and the Baker

40:1 After these things happened, the cupbearer to the king of Egypt and the royal baker offended their master, the king of Egypt. 40:2 Pharaoh was enraged with his two officials, the cupbearer and the baker, 40:3 so he imprisoned them in the house of the captain of the guard in the same facility where Joseph was confined. 40:4 The captain of the guard appointed Joseph to be their attendant, and he served them.

They spent some time in custody. 40:5 Both of them, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison, had a dream the same night. Each man’s dream had its own meaning. 40:6 When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were looking depressed. 40:7 So he asked Pharaoh’s officials, who were with him in custody in his master’s house, “Why do you look so sad today?” 40:8 They told him, “We both had dreams, but there is no one to interpret them.” Joseph responded, “Don’t interpretations belong to God? Tell them to me.”

40:9 So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph: “In my dream, there was a vine in front of me. 40:10 On the vine there were three branches. As it budded, its blossoms opened and its clusters ripened into grapes. 40:11 Now Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, so I took the grapes, squeezed them into his cup, and put the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.”

40:12 “This is its meaning,” Joseph said to him. “The three branches represent three days. 40:13 In three more days Pharaoh will reinstate you and restore you to your office. You will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you did before when you were cupbearer. 40:14 But remember me when it goes well for you, and show me kindness. Make mention of me to Pharaoh and bring me out of this prison, 40:15 for I really was kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews and I have done nothing wrong here for which they should put me in a dungeon.”

40:16 When the chief baker saw that the interpretation of the first dream was favorable, he said to Joseph, “I also appeared in my dream and there were three baskets of white bread on my head. 40:17 In the top basket there were baked goods of every kind for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating them from the basket that was on my head.”

40:18 Joseph replied, “This is its meaning: The three baskets represent three days. 40:19 In three more days Pharaoh will decapitate you and impale you on a pole. Then the birds will eat your flesh from you.”

40:20 On the third day it was Pharaoh’s birthday, so he gave a feast for all his servants. He “lifted up” the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker in the midst of his servants. 40:21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his former position so that he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand, 40:22 but the chief baker he impaled, just as Joseph had predicted. 40:23 But the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph – he forgot him.

Prayer

Lord, sometimes life isn’t fair but You are always faithful. Please help me to be faithful to You no matter what happens! Lord, may I be as faithful and wise as Joseph, remembering that all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (in this case the gift of interpretation) and all power belong to you.

Scripture In Perspective

Joseph was a slave but his strong work ethic overcame his fear and sadness and earned him the respect of his owner, Potiphar.

The text draws attention to Joseph’s concern for his diet, perhaps a precursor to those Hebrews who were later taken into slavery and who also requested special consideration for the foods they were served.

Potipher’s wife persistently attempted to seduce Joseph but he refused, citing both his loyalty to Potipher and to God – noting that his sin would be against God and man.

Potiphar’s wife, feeling scorned, unleashed her lustful and selfish fury in a terrible lie – turning her husband against Joseph – landing him in prison.

Joseph, powerless to defend himself against the false charges, was cared for by God Who touched the heart of the prison warden with a kindness toward Joseph.

As the warden observed the Lord’s blessings of Joseph spilling-out into the prison population, making his job easier, he trusted Joseph with more and more of the responsibilities.

The text does not trouble itself to explain how it was that the baker and the cupbearer “... offended their master, the king of Egypt”, it could easily have been something very trivial before a petty tyrant. They were tossed into the same prison as Joseph and he was assigned oversight of them.

The baker and the cupbearer both received prophetic dreams from God in the same evening and Joseph, sensitive to their moods, inquired as to what was troubling them.

His interpretation of the cupbearer’s dream was positive so the baker shared his as well – but the baker’s dream-prophesy was of his death.

When Joseph informed the cupbearer that he would be reinstated he asked the cupbearer to mention his name, and his plea of innocence to the king, but the cupbearer was either fearful of once-again offending the king - or simply careless and forgetful – so Joseph remained forgotten in prison.

Interact With The Text

Consider

What Joseph’s brothers meant for evil, which means they were unknowingly partnering with Satan, the Lord God eventually turned to good in the life of Joseph. Facing false accusations from Potiphar’s wife Joseph was in a lose-lose situation. If he tried to defend himself, a foreigner and a slave, he would have to call Potiphar’s wife a harlot and a liar. Sometimes life isn’t fair. Joseph was careful to remind the baker and the cupbearer “Don’t interpretations belong to God?” Are we as careful as Joseph to direct people to recognize that all glory, all power, and all understanding belong to the Lord God?

Discuss

How different might Joseph’s future have been had he ignored the Lord God and submitted to temptation? The Lord blessed his obedience and later used him to save his people. Had Joseph failed then God would have used another, perhaps Benjamin or Reuben. Why do you think that the Lord did not intervene, perhaps causing Potiphar to secretly observe his wife’s infidelity? He gave Joseph the gift of interpretation so that he could demonstrate it to the cupbearer because He had a future plan to use that knowledge to bring Joseph before the king of Egypt.

Reflect

Satan was not done with Joseph. He used his brother’s greed and pride against him and then he used Potipher’s wife’s lust to tempt him – but because Joseph honored God Satan’s attempted-temptation never got that far – it became a test which Joseph passed. What Satan meant for evil, through Potiphar’s wife’s treachery, God mitigated – blessing Joseph while in prison. Does He not often still do the same for the faithful? Sometimes things don’t happen in the time and the way that we desire, but the Lord will make a way for us as best serves His great and perfect plan.

Share

When have you been confronted with an appealing and ‘easy’ sin but you chose to declare your obligation to neither sin against man or God? Or did you? What was the result of your choice? When have you, or someone you know, been treated in an unfair manner, unable to mount a defense? How did the Lord God turn those circumstances to good because you remained faithful to Him? When have you done a favor and expected one in return and been forgotten – or have forgotten another to whom you owed a favor?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place where the Enemy is tempting you. Ask Him to show you where the Lord God has blessed you despite the ill-intentions of someone who abused their power against you. Ask Him to reveal to you a place where you either owe someone a favor or where God has given you a gift and you have failed to be certain that everyone knows that the gift is from God and you are merely His vessel of power.

Act

Today I will be honest with myself, and the Holy Spirit, and acknowledge the place or places in my life where He has revealed that I am being tested and am allowing it to become a temptation. As necessary I will ask a fellow believer to pray in-agreement with me for the courage and wisdom to resist. I will also assert my authority as a child of God to instruct the Enemy (or his demonic emissary) to depart. I will testify to the human agent of temptation, where possible, my reasons for resisting (to not sin against God or man). I will share the story of God’s blessing despite the ill-treatment of the world – giving all of the glory to Him – and emphasizing the blessing rather than the earlier mistreatment. I will make specific plans to return an overdue favor and/or I will testify to the source of my gifts – the Lord God – and use the opportunity to tell of His grace and power, share with others as He uses me as His vessel.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Tuesday (Genesis 41)

Joseph’s Rise to Power

41:1 At the end of two full years Pharaoh had a dream. As he was standing by the Nile, 41:2 seven fine-looking, fat cows were coming up out of the Nile, and they grazed in the reeds. 41:3 Then seven bad-looking, thin cows were coming up after them from the Nile, and they stood beside the other cows at the edge of the river. 41:4 The bad-looking, thin cows ate the seven fine-looking, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.

41:5 Then he fell asleep again and had a second dream: There were seven heads of grain growing on one stalk, healthy and good. 41:6 Then seven heads of grain, thin and burned by the east wind, were sprouting up after them. 41:7 The thin heads swallowed up the seven healthy and full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up and realized it was a dream.

41:8 In the morning he was troubled, so he called for all the diviner-priests of Egypt and all its wise men. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him. 41:9 Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I recall my failures. 41:10 Pharaoh was enraged with his servants, and he put me in prison in the house of the captain of the guards – me and the chief baker. 41:11 We each had a dream one night; each of us had a dream with its own meaning. 41:12 Now a young man, a Hebrew, a servant of the captain of the guards, was with us there. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted the meaning of each of our respective dreams for us. 41:13 It happened just as he had said to us – Pharaoh restored me to my office, but he impaled the baker.”

41:14 Then Pharaoh summoned Joseph. So they brought him quickly out of the dungeon; he shaved himself, changed his clothes, and came before Pharaoh. 41:15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. But I have heard about you, that you can interpret dreams.” 41:16 Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “It is not within my power, but God will speak concerning the welfare of Pharaoh.”

41:17 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing by the edge of the Nile. 41:18 Then seven fat and fine-looking cows were coming up out of the Nile, and they grazed in the reeds. 41:19 Then seven other cows came up after them; they were scrawny, very bad-looking, and lean. I had never seen such bad-looking cows as these in all the land of Egypt! 41:20 The lean, bad-looking cows ate up the seven fat cows. 41:21 When they had eaten them, no one would have known that they had done so, for they were just as bad-looking as before. Then I woke up. 41:22 I also saw in my dream seven heads of grain growing on one stalk, full and good. 41:23 Then seven heads of grain, withered and thin and burned with the east wind, were sprouting up after them. 41:24 The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven good heads of grain. So I told all this to the diviner-priests, but no one could tell me its meaning.”

41:25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “Both dreams of Pharaoh have the same meaning. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 41:26 The seven good cows represent seven years, and the seven good heads of grain represent seven years. Both dreams have the same meaning. 41:27 The seven lean, bad-looking cows that came up after them represent seven years, as do the seven empty heads of grain burned with the east wind. They represent seven years of famine. 41:28 This is just what I told Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. 41:29 Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the whole land of Egypt. 41:30 But seven years of famine will occur after them, and all the abundance will be forgotten in the land of Egypt. The famine will devastate the land. 41:31 The previous abundance of the land will not be remembered because of the famine that follows, for the famine will be very severe. 41:32 The dream was repeated to Pharaoh because the matter has been decreed by God, and God will make it happen soon.

41:33 “So now Pharaoh should look for a wise and discerning man and give him authority over all the land of Egypt. 41:34 Pharaoh should do this – he should appoint officials throughout the land to collect one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. 41:35 They should gather all the excess food during these good years that are coming. By Pharaoh’s authority they should store up grain so the cities will have food, and they should preserve it. 41:36 This food should be held in storage for the land in preparation for the seven years of famine that will occur throughout the land of Egypt. In this way the land will survive the famine.”

41:37 This advice made sense to Pharaoh and all his officials. 41:38 So Pharaoh asked his officials, “Can we find a man like Joseph, one in whom the Spirit of God is present?” 41:39 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Because God has enabled you to know all this, there is no one as wise and discerning as you are! 41:40 You will oversee my household, and all my people will submit to your commands. Only I, the king, will be greater than you.

41:41 “See here,” Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I place you in authority over all the land of Egypt.” 41:42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his own hand and put it on Joseph’s. He clothed him with fine linen clothes and put a gold chain around his neck. 41:43 Pharaoh had him ride in the chariot used by his second-in-command, and they cried out before him, “Kneel down!” So he placed him over all the land of Egypt. 41:44 Pharaoh also said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, but without your permission no one will move his hand or his foot in all the land of Egypt.” 41:45 Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah. He also gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, to be his wife. So Joseph took charge of all the land of Egypt.

41:46 Now Joseph was 30 years old when he began serving Pharaoh king of Egypt. Joseph was commissioned by Pharaoh and was in charge of all the land of Egypt. 41:47 During the seven years of abundance the land produced large, bountiful harvests. 41:48 Joseph collected all the excess food in the land of Egypt during the seven years and stored it in the cities. In every city he put the food gathered from the fields around it. 41:49 Joseph stored up a vast amount of grain, like the sand of the sea, until he stopped measuring it because it was impossible to measure.

41:50 Two sons were born to Joseph before the famine came. Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, was their mother. 41:51 Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, saying, “Certainly God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s house.” 41:52 He named the second child Ephraim, saying, “Certainly God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”

41:53 The seven years of abundance in the land of Egypt came to an end. 41:54 Then the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had predicted. There was famine in all the other lands, but throughout the land of Egypt there was food. 41:55 When all the land of Egypt experienced the famine, the people cried out to Pharaoh for food. Pharaoh said to all the people of Egypt, “Go to Joseph and do whatever he tells you.”

41:56 While the famine was over all the earth, Joseph opened the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians. The famine was severe throughout the land of Egypt. 41:57 People from every country came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain because the famine was severe throughout the earth.

Prayer

Lord, may Your perfect meaning be made known to me by Your indwelling Holy Spirit and may I be as bold as Joseph in sharing that with others. May my faithful submission to Your Word and to Your Holy Spirit equip me to be a valuable servant in Your service.

Scripture In Perspective

Two years passed, the Cupbearer was back in the palace, the Baker was dead, and Joseph was still in prison.

The Pharaoh had dreams and visions visited upon him by the Lord God, but his “... diviner-priests” (men whose “gift of interpretation” came to them from the evil one because he was the one usually giving the visions to Pharaoh - even if they would not have acknowledged that), were unable to interpret these dreams (because they came from the Lord).

The Cupbearer finally remembered Joseph’s request, perhaps as it would now make him a ‘hero’ to the Pharaoh, and told the story of Joseph’s accuracy in interpreting dreams.

God’s message, repeated to Pharaoh twice for emphasis, was that a terrible famine of seven years was to follow seven good years. The counsel of God was that they store one-fifth of the grain during each of the seven good years to carry them through the seven years of famine.

Joseph advised Pharaoh to appoint and empower someone he trusted to oversee this so it would happen as instructed.

Pharaoh was impressed with Joseph’s connection to the God Who sent his dreams so he echoed Joseph’s advice to appoint one “wise and discerning” - and appointed Joseph.

Pharaoh went well beyond what Joseph had suggested, making him all-but his equal in power throughout all of Egypt.

Joseph did as he had learned from God, storing-up the grain for the famine – when it came the people Egypt, and in the nations surrounding it, bought the grain they had stored and the people’s needs met.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Neither the Cupbearer or the Pharaoh would have understood the difference between the sources of their dreams, they just pragmatically and superstitiously went to whomever seemed most-capable of providing answers. Joseph was faithful to God in his ethics and his humility, thus he was valuable to God in providing a source of grain for his people when the famine came.

Discuss

Joseph would appear to have prepped Pharaoh a little with his choice of phrases as he described the one Pharaoh whom should choose to lead the famine preparations “... a wise and discerning man” (Joseph was the only one with a clue as to the dreams) and “... give him authority” (Pharaoh was unlikely to have trusted many of those around him). The text does not report that Joseph offered any resistance to the Pharaoh’s provision of an Egyptian to be his wife, even though the daughter of the “priest of On” very probably practiced witchcraft. Sometimes one may be faithful in some areas and not even think to invite the Lord into decision making in others.

Reflect

Joseph, as a result of God’s action, went from a falsely-imprisoned man to informing Pharaoh and even advising him. Joseph’s ascension to power would be like someone from South Korea becoming the second most powerful man in China.

Share

When has the Lord God blessed you with the opportunity to inform, and perhaps advise, someone in authority? Were you humble in so-doing? How did they receive your input? When have you observed someone wisely anticipating difficult times and leading others to make wise provision – and thus they were better prepared and could even help others? (Perhaps investing in healthy relationships, preparing for storms, getting a generator, storing extra wood for a fireplace, investing wisely, etc.)

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where He has given you information of value to someone in a position of authority. Pray for clarity, wisdom (knowledge plus understanding), and courage. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you need to prepare for difficult times ahead.

Act

Today I will find a way to deliver the information that I have been given. This may be a teacher, parent, bureaucrat, politician, member of law enforcement, coach, neighbor, or friend. I will do so in an appropriate manner and remain humble throughout the process. I will consult with a Biblical “elder” before, during, and after the process for prayer, accountability, and wise counsel. I agree to act promptly and wisely on what the Holy Spirit shows me about the areas where I need to be better prepared for the storms of life; be they Bible knowledge and understanding (wisdom), energy, finances, food, health, healthy relationships, or other areas.

Be Specific _________________________________________________

Wednesday (Genesis 42 - 44)

Joseph’s Brothers in Egypt

42:1 When Jacob heard there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why are you looking at each other?” 42:2 He then said, “Look, I hear that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy grain for us so that we may live and not die.”

42:3 So ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt. 42:4 But Jacob did not send Joseph’s brother Benjamin with his brothers, for he said, “What if some accident happens to him?” 42:5 So Israel’s sons came to buy grain among the other travelers, for the famine was severe in the land of Canaan.

42:6 Now Joseph was the ruler of the country, the one who sold grain to all the people of the country. Joseph’s brothers came and bowed down before him with their faces to the ground. 42:7 When Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger to them and spoke to them harshly. He asked, “Where do you come from?” They answered, “From the land of Canaan, to buy grain for food.”

42:8 Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him. 42:9 Then Joseph remembered the dreams he had dreamed about them, and he said to them, “You are spies; you have come to see if our land is vulnerable!”

42:10 But they exclaimed, “No, my lord! Your servants have come to buy grain for food! 42:11 We are all the sons of one man; we are honest men! Your servants are not spies.”

42:12 “No,” he insisted, “but you have come to see if our land is vulnerable.” 42:13 They replied, “Your servants are from a family of twelve brothers. We are the sons of one man in the land of Canaan. The youngest is with our father at this time, and one is no longer alive.”

42:14 But Joseph told them, “It is just as I said to you: You are spies! 42:15 You will be tested in this way: As surely as Pharaoh lives, you will not depart from this place unless your youngest brother comes here. 42:16 One of you must go and get your brother, while the rest of you remain in prison. In this way your words may be tested to see if you are telling the truth. If not, then, as surely as Pharaoh lives, you are spies!” 42:17 He imprisoned them all for three days. 42:18 On the third day Joseph said to them, “Do as I say and you will live, for I fear God. 42:19 If you are honest men, leave one of your brothers confined here in prison while the rest of you go and take grain back for your hungry families. 42:20 But you must bring your youngest brother to me. Then your words will be verified and you will not die.” They did as he said.

42:21 They said to one other, “Surely we’re being punished because of our brother, because we saw how distressed he was when he cried to us for mercy, but we refused to listen. That is why this distress has come on us!” 42:22 Reuben said to them, “Didn’t I say to you, ‘Don’t sin against the boy,’ but you wouldn’t listen? So now we must pay for shedding his blood!” 42:23 (Now they did not know that Joseph could understand them, for he was speaking through an interpreter.) 42:24 He turned away from them and wept. When he turned around and spoke to them again, he had Simeon taken from them and tied up before their eyes.

42:25 Then Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, to return each man’s money to his sack, and to give them provisions for the journey. His orders were carried out. 42:26 So they loaded their grain on their donkeys and left.

42:27 When one of them opened his sack to get feed for his donkey at their resting place, he saw his money in the mouth of his sack. 42:28 He said to his brothers, “My money was returned! Here it is in my sack!” They were dismayed; they turned trembling one to another and said, “What in the world has God done to us?”

42:29 They returned to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan and told him all the things that had happened to them, saying, 42:30 “The man, the lord of the land, spoke harshly to us and treated us as if we were spying on the land. 42:31 But we said to him, ‘We are honest men; we are not spies! 42:32 We are from a family of twelve brothers; we are the sons of one father. One is no longer alive, and the youngest is with our father at this time in the land of Canaan.’

42:33 “Then the man, the lord of the land, said to us, ‘This is how I will find out if you are honest men. Leave one of your brothers with me, and take grain for your hungry households and go. 42:34 But bring your youngest brother back to me so I will know that you are honest men and not spies. Then I will give your brother back to you and you may move about freely in the land.’”

42:35 When they were emptying their sacks, there was each man’s bag of money in his sack! When they and their father saw the bags of money, they were afraid. 42:36 Their father Jacob said to them, “You are making me childless! Joseph is gone. Simeon is gone. And now you want to take Benjamin! Everything is against me.”

42:37 Then Reuben said to his father, “You may put my two sons to death if I do not bring him back to you. Put him in my care and I will bring him back to you.” 42:38 But Jacob replied, “My son will not go down there with you, for his brother is dead and he alone is left. If an accident happens to him on the journey you have to make, then you will bring down my gray hair in sorrow to the grave.”

The Second Journey to Egypt

43:1 Now the famine was severe in the land. 43:2 When they finished eating the grain they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Return, buy us a little more food.”

43:3 But Judah said to him, “The man solemnly warned us, ‘You will not see my face unless your brother is with you.’ 43:4 If you send our brother with us, we’ll go down and buy food for you. 43:5 But if you will not send him, we won’t go down there because the man said to us, ‘You will not see my face unless your brother is with you.’”

43:6 Israel said, “Why did you bring this trouble on me by telling the man you had one more brother?”

43:7 They replied, “The man questioned us thoroughly about ourselves and our family, saying, ‘Is your father still alive? Do you have another brother?’ So we answered him in this way. How could we possibly know that he would say, ‘Bring your brother down’?”

43:8 Then Judah said to his father Israel, “Send the boy with me and we will go immediately. Then we will live and not die – we and you and our little ones. 43:9 I myself pledge security for him; you may hold me liable. If I do not bring him back to you and place him here before you, I will bear the blame before you all my life. 43:10 But if we had not delayed, we could have traveled there and back twice by now!”

43:11 Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be so, then do this: Take some of the best products of the land in your bags, and take a gift down to the man – a little balm and a little honey, spices and myrrh, pistachios and almonds. 43:12 Take double the money with you; you must take back the money that was returned in the mouths of your sacks – perhaps it was an oversight. 43:13 Take your brother too, and go right away to the man. 43:14 May the sovereign God grant you mercy before the man so that he may release your other brother and Benjamin! As for me, if I lose my children I lose them.”

43:15 So the men took these gifts, and they took double the money with them, along with Benjamin. Then they hurried down to Egypt and stood before Joseph. 43:16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the servant who was over his household, “Bring the men to the house. Slaughter an animal and prepare it, for the men will eat with me at noon.” 43:17 The man did just as Joseph said; he brought the men into Joseph’s house.

43:18 But the men were afraid when they were brought to Joseph’s house. They said, “We are being brought in because of the money that was returned in our sacks last time. He wants to capture us, make us slaves, and take our donkeys!” 43:19 So they approached the man who was in charge of Joseph’s household and spoke to him at the entrance to the house. 43:20 They said, “My lord, we did indeed come down the first time to buy food. 43:21 But when we came to the place where we spent the night, we opened our sacks and each of us found his money – the full amount – in the mouth of his sack. So we have returned it. 43:22 We have brought additional money with us to buy food. We do not know who put the money in our sacks!”

43:23 “Everything is fine,” the man in charge of Joseph’s household told them. “Don’t be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has given you treasure in your sacks. I had your money.” Then he brought Simeon out to them.

43:24 The servant in charge brought the men into Joseph’s house. He gave them water, and they washed their feet. Then he gave food to their donkeys. 43:25 They got their gifts ready for Joseph’s arrival at noon, for they had heard that they were to have a meal there.

43:26 When Joseph came home, they presented him with the gifts they had brought inside, and they bowed down to the ground before him. 43:27 He asked them how they were doing. Then he said, “Is your aging father well, the one you spoke about? Is he still alive?” 43:28 “Your servant our father is well,” they replied. “He is still alive.” They bowed down in humility.

43:29 When Joseph looked up and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son, he said, “Is this your youngest brother, whom you told me about?” Then he said, “May God be gracious to you, my son.” 43:30 Joseph hurried out, for he was overcome by affection for his brother and was at the point of tears. So he went to his room and wept there.

43:31 Then he washed his face and came out. With composure he said, “Set out the food.” 43:32 They set a place for him, a separate place for his brothers, and another for the Egyptians who were eating with him. (The Egyptians are not able to eat with Hebrews, for the Egyptians think it is disgusting to do so.) 43:33 They sat before him, arranged by order of birth, beginning with the firstborn and ending with the youngest. The men looked at each other in astonishment. 43:34 He gave them portions of the food set before him, but the portion for Benjamin was five times greater than the portions for any of the others. They drank with Joseph until they all became drunk.

The Final Test

44:1 He instructed the servant who was over his household, “Fill the sacks of the men with as much food as they can carry and put each man’s money in the mouth of his sack. 44:2 Then put my cup – the silver cup – in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack, along with the money for his grain.” He did as Joseph instructed.

44:3 When morning came, the men and their donkeys were sent off. 44:4 They had not gone very far from the city when Joseph said to the servant who was over his household, “Pursue the men at once! When you overtake them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid good with evil? 44:5 Doesn’t my master drink from this cup and use it for divination? You have done wrong!’”

44:6 When the man overtook them, he spoke these words to them. 44:7 They answered him, “Why does my lord say such things? Far be it from your servants to do such a thing! 44:8 Look, the money that we found in the mouths of our sacks we brought back to you from the land of Canaan. Why then would we steal silver or gold from your master’s house? 44:9 If one of us has it, he will die, and the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves!”

44:10 He replied, “You have suggested your own punishment! The one who has it will become my slave, but the rest of you will go free.” 44:11 So each man quickly lowered his sack to the ground and opened it. 44:12 Then the man searched. He began with the oldest and finished with the youngest. The cup was found in Benjamin’s sack! 44:13 They all tore their clothes! Then each man loaded his donkey, and they returned to the city.

44:14 So Judah and his brothers came back to Joseph’s house. He was still there, and they threw themselves to the ground before him. 44:15 Joseph said to them, “What did you think you were doing? Don’t you know that a man like me can find out things like this by divination?”

44:16 Judah replied, “What can we say to my lord? What can we speak? How can we clear ourselves? God has exposed the sin of your servants! We are now my lord’s slaves, we and the one in whose possession the cup was found.”

44:17 But Joseph said, “Far be it from me to do this! The man in whose hand the cup was found will become my slave, but the rest of you may go back to your father in peace.”

44:18 Then Judah approached him and said, “My lord, please allow your servant to speak a word with you. Please do not get angry with your servant, for you are just like Pharaoh. 44:19 My lord asked his servants, ‘Do you have a father or a brother?’ 44:20 We said to my lord, ‘We have an aged father, and there is a young boy who was born when our father was old. The boy’s brother is dead. He is the only one of his mother’s sons left, and his father loves him.’

44:21 “Then you told your servants, ‘Bring him down to me so I can see him.’ 44:22 We said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father. If he leaves his father, his father will die.’ 44:23 But you said to your servants, ‘If your youngest brother does not come down with you, you will not see my face again.’ 44:24 When we returned to your servant my father, we told him the words of my lord.

44:25 “Then our father said, ‘Go back and buy us a little food.’ 44:26 But we replied, ‘We cannot go down there. If our youngest brother is with us, then we will go, for we won’t be permitted to see the man’s face if our youngest brother is not with us.’

44:27 “Then your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife gave me two sons. 44:28 The first disappeared and I said, “He has surely been torn to pieces.” I have not seen him since. 44:29 If you take this one from me too and an accident happens to him, then you will bring down my gray hair in tragedy to the grave.’

44:30 “So now, when I return to your servant my father, and the boy is not with us – his very life is bound up in his son’s life. 44:31 When he sees the boy is not with us, he will die, and your servants will bring down the gray hair of your servant our father in sorrow to the grave. 44:32 Indeed, your servant pledged security for the boy with my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, then I will bear the blame before my father all my life.’

44:33 “So now, please let your servant remain as my lord’s slave instead of the boy. As for the boy, let him go back with his brothers. 44:34 For how can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? I couldn’t bear to see my father’s pain.”

Prayer

Lord, sometimes You test me because I have shown evidence of a poor character in the past. May I be humble and allow Your testing to teach me and never respond with rebellion so that it becomes a temptation and then sin. Numbers 32:23 and John 3:20 remind us that our sins will find us out, and 1 John 1:10 says that if we claim to be without sin we make Jesus a liar (He said all have sinned) and therefore the Word does not live in us (we are unsaved). So please accept my confession so that I may be wiped clean and not have to look over my shoulder every day in fear of the retribution of God or of man. Sometimes we give too much information to people who may misuse it, give us the wisdom to know what to share and when to take a little extra care. May we be both surprised and grateful when You have gone on ahead and prepared just what we need for us, blessing us beyond our rightfully-humble expectations. When You test me for integrity and obedience may I not be found wanting, rather willing to be fully honest and fully surrendered.

Scripture In Perspective

Jacob/Israel challenged his older sons for standing around looking helpless in the face of the famine to go to Egypt and to buy some grain, but he refused to send Benjamin with them.

When they arrived in Egypt Joseph recognized them but they did not recognize him.

Joseph decided to test them by accusing them of being spies, at which time they defended themselves by saying they have a father and younger brother in Canaan – thinking that would be evidence that they were not spies – but Joseph wanted to see his brother Benjamin and wanted to know if his brothers were still selfish and untrustworthy.

Joseph threw them in jail for 3 days then demanded that one stay in prison as hostage while the others go and bring back Benjamin as evidence that they were not lying.

Joseph’s brothers had carried the burden of their merciless mistreatment for many years, now they believed that their predicament in Egypt was punishment for that.

Joseph, yet to be recognized and communicating through an interpreter, was driven to tears and turned away.

Joseph had their bags filled and the money secretly returned to them in their bags. When they found the money they were frightened that the Egyptians might accuse them of theft, but as an evidence of their spiritual immaturity, they blamed God.

They told their story to Jacob/Israel but he refused to allow Benjamin to go, even after Reuben offered his own sons’ lives as assurance of Benjamin’s safe return. And so they waited as the famine worsened.

Jacob/Israel’s family finally ran out of grain and was faced with the need to return to Egypt for more.

The older sons reminded their father that they cannot return to Egypt without Benjamin. He chastised them for sharing the information about Benjamin, not knowing that they were speaking to Joseph, and they explained that they had no way of knowing the way that he reacted to the information.

Jacob/Israel relented and instructed them to bring the first payments plus a second and well as the best of many other special things - so that they would be well-received, their older brother released, Benjamin left unharmed, and all would return with grain.

His final exclamation was “As for me, if I lose my children I lose them.”, meaning that he recognized that them not going meant they all would starve to death – so his desire to withhold Benjamin was meaningless.

Joseph’s brothers arrived and immediately sought to neutralize any potential trouble due to the gold that had been returned to their grain sacks during their prior visit.

Joseph’s servant explained that it was “Your God and the God of your father has given you treasure in your sacks.”

Joseph questioned them about their father, Jacob/Israel, and then greeted his younger brother Benjamin. Joseph was overwhelmed by emotion at the reunion, even though only he knew it to be a reunion, and left the room to weep and to compose himself.

Joseph then joined them in a great feast, treating Benjamin to five-times more food than his brothers. They were “astonished” that he would do such a thing, as it would appear impolite to the others, but given Jacob/Israel’s propensity toward favoritism they were possibly most-surprised that even in Egypt Benjamin was treated with favoritism.

They all ate and drank together until they were “drunk”, which given what is believed to be the traditionally low-alcohol content of wine served at feasts (in those days) may have been an indicator of how long they were together, and/or as the NET translator’s notes suggest “they drank and were intoxicated with him” (or very comfortable and merry with him).

Joseph was not yet done in his testing of his brothers. He set them up with his silver cup on Benjamin’s bag to see if they would sell-him-out for their own sakes.

Whereas on the first trip it was Reuben who pleaded for mercy and who offered himself as hostage, this time it was Judah.

The evidence of Judah’s changed heart was not only his offer to remain as a slave in Benjamin’s place but his exclamation “I couldn’t bear to see my father’s pain.”

Interact With The Text

Consider

Joseph had good cause to mistrust his brothers. Joseph’s testing of his brothers continued and their tortured souls from their mistreatment of him (though they though him dead, or lost forever in slavery) made them cooperative rather than rebellious. Joseph’s father and brothers were in a no-win situation, Joseph had the food and the power of a huge nation, and they were hungry and powerless.

Joseph may have been working his way toward forgiveness, once he had tested the character of those who had so badly mistreated him. Joseph is testing his brothers one last time – apparently the pain of their betrayal remained intensely difficult for him to overcome.

Discuss

Jacob/Israel feared the loss of Benjamin because he had never ceased mourning the loss of Joseph, however, because the other sons had lied to him about Joseph they no longer whined about his improper favoritism. When they sinned in their anger against Joseph they lost the right to complain about their father’s sin. Simeon was in prison in Egypt, the people were hungry due to the famine, yet Jacob/Israel’s fear of losing Benjamin caused him to refuse to allow the only thing that will make it possible to buy more grain. Is this wisdom evidence of an absence of trust in the Lord God? Why do you suppose that the record does not show Jacob/Israel ever consulting God about this situation? Would you offer yourself as a slave for a sibling, especially one who had been treated with favoritism ahead of you all of his life?

Putting yourself in Joseph’s place, the favored son of his father (a man of considerable means), sold into slavery by his brothers, falsely accused and imprisoned while a slave, raised to great authority and power by a foreign king, married to an Egyptian woman with children by her, and now confronted with his brothers. How easy would it be for you to forgive them after all of that? Remember that he was raised to be a Hebrew, not an Egyptian; believing that being-Hebrew was something special whereas Egyptians thought Hebrews to be a lesser-people not fit to even dine with.

Reflect

If Joseph had not been there to save and to later distribute the grain what might Jacob/Israel’s family done for food during the famine? God surely would have provided but what a convoluted way for it to happen because of the sin of Joseph’s brothers. Had Joseph/Israel been a more pious man, one who properly discipled his sons in the importance of a healthy relationship with God, they might have made many better decisions. Jacob/Israel does refer to the “sovereign God” (El Shaddai), as opposed to the “Lord God”, which suggests that he still views his relationship with God as hierarchical and distant. [Note: Genesis 1 uses “sovereign” as God is acting alone in Creation and His relationship with man is not yet the purpose of the text, Genesis 2 and 3 use “Lord”, which also becomes an element of Satan’s deception as he persuades Eve to drop “Lord” from her title of respect for God.] Even after all that had transpired Joseph still struggled to disclose his identity to them. Perhaps out of insecurity that they might condemn him for appearing to sell-out to the Egyptians? Perhaps still working-past his mistrust? Would you offer yourself as a slave for a sibling, especially one who had been treated with favoritism ahead of you all of his life? How is Judah’s offer to be a substitute for Benjamin a precursor to the offer of Jesus to be our substitute? Judah’s offer was significantly motivated by guilt, for what he had helped to do to Benjamin’s brother Joseph, and for the pain that had caused his father Jacob/Israel for many years.

Share

When have you made a bad decision that made something in your future a whole lot more complicated and difficult than it may otherwise have been? When have you been faced with a difficult decision, one that places someone or something you value greatly in harms-way, but one which is plainly unavoidable? How did you manage your decision making process? Was the Lord God intentionally invited into that process? How did things work out? When have you found yourself in a no-win situation, partially a result of your own prior poor choices, and you initially forgot to invite God into your decision making?

When did you finally invite Him and what was the result? When have you been mistreated by someone, or a group/organization, and the roles have been reversed and they are now before you in need of your grace. How did you evaluate their sincerity? How did you deal with your need to give them grace? When have you stood-up for another, even offering to take the blame or to fill their place? What was your motivation and how did it work out?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you may be complicating your future because of poor choices today, to reveal to you a place of decision making where He’d like to be invited but one where you have so far made decisions without inviting His input, and to show you where you need to reconsider resistance to a changed strategy as your circumstances do not allow you the luxury of stubbornness – especially stubbornness born of fear. Ask Him to show you where you need to forgive and reconcile and perhaps even restore a broken relationship, to show you where you where your decisions may be motivated by a sense of guilt, and whether or not that guilt is genuine or a lie of the enemy. Ask Him also to remind you when He asked you to stand-in for another and you were faithful in so-doing.

Act

I agree to accept what the Holy Spirit shows me and to act to bring my choices into line with what God desires rather than what I have been doing out of the weakness of my flesh. I will intentionally invite the Holy Spirit to direct my decision making in the area(s) that He reveals to me where I have to-date been making decisions in the flesh. If I have difficulty being certain what He is saying I will ask one who is qualified as a Biblical “elder” to ask God to reveal it to him. I will prayerfully consult the Holy Spirit for wisdom and will allow Him to direct my decisions – and to be my courage where I need to make some risky choices. I will follow where the Holy Spirit leads me, even though difficult, to offer the same grace that my Lord God – Whom I have so often and grievously offended – has given me – to those who have offended me. Restoration of relationship may not be possible or even wise, but forgiveness equals freedom and reconciliation means that I stand with Christ with a heart of love. I will prayerfully reject any false-guilt the Holy Spirit reveals to me. I will acknowledge and seek to make-right anything He reveals that requires it. I will celebrate the occasion, or occasions, that He has found me a useful tool of His blessing to serve another as a substitute – or at least to have made a genuine offer to do so.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Thursday (Genesis 45 - 46)

The Reconciliation of the Brothers

45:1 Joseph was no longer able to control himself before all his attendants, so he cried out, “Make everyone go out from my presence!” No one remained with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. 45:2 He wept loudly; the Egyptians heard it and Pharaoh’s household heard about it.

45:3 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” His brothers could not answer him because they were dumbfounded before him. 45:4 Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me,” so they came near. Then he said, “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. 45:5 Now, do not be upset and do not be angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me ahead of you to preserve life! 45:6 For these past two years there has been famine in the land and for five more years there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. 45:7 God sent me ahead of you to preserve you on the earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 45:8 So now, it is not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me an adviser to Pharaoh, lord over all his household, and ruler over all the land of Egypt. 45:9 Now go up to my father quickly and tell him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: “God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; do not delay! 45:10 You will live in the land of Goshen, and you will be near me – you, your children, your grandchildren, your flocks, your herds, and everything you have. 45:11 I will provide you with food there because there will be five more years of famine. Otherwise you would become poor – you, your household, and everyone who belongs to you.”‘ 45:12 You and my brother Benjamin can certainly see with your own eyes that I really am the one who speaks to you. 45:13 So tell my father about all my honor in Egypt and about everything you have seen. But bring my father down here quickly!”

45:14 Then he threw himself on the neck of his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck. 45:15 He kissed all his brothers and wept over them. After this his brothers talked with him.

45:16 Now it was reported in the household of Pharaoh, “Joseph’s brothers have arrived.” It pleased Pharaoh and his servants. 45:17 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Say to your brothers, ‘Do this: Load your animals and go to the land of Canaan! 45:18 Get your father and your households and come to me! Then I will give you the best land in Egypt and you will eat the best of the land.’ 45:19 You are also commanded to say, ‘Do this: Take for yourselves wagons from the land of Egypt for your little ones and for your wives. Bring your father and come. 45:20 Don’t worry about your belongings, for the best of all the land of Egypt will be yours.’”

45:21 So the sons of Israel did as he said. Joseph gave them wagons as Pharaoh had instructed, and he gave them provisions for the journey. 45:22 He gave sets of clothes to each one of them, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver and five sets of clothes. 45:23 To his father he sent the following: ten donkeys loaded with the best products of Egypt and ten female donkeys loaded with grain, food, and provisions for his father’s journey. 45:24 Then he sent his brothers on their way and they left. He said to them, “As you travel don’t be overcome with fear.”

45:25 So they went up from Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan. 45:26 They told him, “Joseph is still alive and he is ruler over all the land of Egypt!” Jacob was stunned, for he did not believe them. 45:27 But when they related to him everything Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to transport him, their father Jacob’s spirit revived. 45:28 Then Israel said, “Enough! My son Joseph is still alive! I will go and see him before I die.”

The Family of Jacob goes to Egypt

46:1 So Israel began his journey, taking with him all that he had. When he came to Beer Sheba he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. 46:2 God spoke to Israel in a vision during the night and said, “Jacob, Jacob!” He replied, “Here I am!” 46:3 He said, “I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. 46:4 I will go down with you to Egypt and I myself will certainly bring you back from there. Joseph will close your eyes.”

46:5 Then Jacob started out from Beer Sheba, and the sons of Israel carried their father Jacob, their little children, and their wives in the wagons that Pharaoh had sent along to transport him. 46:6 Jacob and all his descendants took their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in the land of Canaan, and they went to Egypt. 46:7 He brought with him to Egypt his sons and grandsons, his daughters and granddaughters – all his descendants.

46:8 These are the names of the sons of Israel who went to Egypt – Jacob and his sons:

Reuben, the firstborn of Jacob.

46:9 The sons of Reuben:

Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi.

46:10 The sons of Simeon:

Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jakin, Zohar,

and Shaul (the son of a Canaanite woman).

46:11 The sons of Levi:

Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.

46:12 The sons of Judah:

Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez, and Zerah

(but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan).

The sons of Perez were Hezron and Hamul.

46:13 The sons of Issachar:

Tola, Puah, Jashub, and Shimron.

46:14 The sons of Zebulun:

Sered, Elon, and Jahleel.

46:15 These were the sons of Leah, whom she bore to Jacob in Paddan Aram, along with Dinah his daughter. His sons and daughters numbered thirty-three in all.

46:16 The sons of Gad:

Zephon, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi, and Areli.

46:17 The sons of Asher:

Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi, Beriah, and Serah their sister.

The sons of Beriah were Heber and Malkiel.

46:18 These were the sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to Leah his daughter. She bore these to Jacob, sixteen in all.

46:19 The sons of Rachel the wife of Jacob:

Joseph and Benjamin.

46:20 Manasseh and Ephraim were born to Joseph in the land of Egypt. Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, bore them to him.

46:21 The sons of Benjamin:

Bela, Beker, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim and Ard.

46:22 These were the sons of Rachel who were born to Jacob, fourteen in all.

46:23 The son of Dan: Hushim.

46:24 The sons of Naphtali:

Jahziel, Guni, Jezer, and Shillem.

46:25 These were the sons of Bilhah, whom Laban gave to Rachel his daughter. She bore these to Jacob, seven in all.

46:26 All the direct descendants of Jacob who went to Egypt with him were sixty-six in number. (This number does not include the wives of Jacob’s sons.) 46:27 Counting the two sons of Joseph who were born to him in Egypt, all the people of the household of Jacob who were in Egypt numbered seventy.

46:28 Jacob sent Judah before him to Joseph to accompany him to Goshen. So they came to the land of Goshen. 46:29 Joseph harnessed his chariot and went up to meet his father Israel in Goshen. When he met him, he hugged his neck and wept on his neck for quite some time.

46:30 Israel said to Joseph, “Now let me die since I have seen your face and know that you are still alive.” 46:31 Then Joseph said to his brothers and his father’s household, “I will go up and tell Pharaoh, ‘My brothers and my father’s household who were in the land of Canaan have come to me. 46:32 The men are shepherds; they take care of livestock. They have brought their flocks and their herds and all that they have.’ 46:33 Pharaoh will summon you and say, ‘What is your occupation?’ 46:34 Tell him, ‘Your servants have taken care of cattle from our youth until now, both we and our fathers,’ so that you may live in the land of Goshen, for everyone who takes care of sheep is disgusting to the Egyptians.”

Prayer

Lord, despite the evil intentions of mere humankind Your great plan will be fulfilled. May I not be afraid as I step out in faith and go where You send me.

Scripture In Perspective

Although his brothers had intended to do him evil the Lord God’s plan was to prepare a way for His children to survive the terrible famine to come.

Pharaoh was so fond of Joseph, and grateful for what he had done for Egypt, that he was more than delighted to welcome Joseph’s family.

Jacob/Israel gathered everything that his people could transport and headed to Egypt. He stopped to make a sacrifice to the Lord God and during the night the Lord gave him a vision to encourage him on his journey

The Lord God knew then that Joseph would use the famine as a tool to enslave all of the peoples in Egypt, trading grain for all of their money, then for all of their cattle, and finally even for their freedom - and that he would give it all to Pharaoh.

The people of Jacob/Israel were headed into what was to become a land of slavery, but it was a land where they could multiply in great numbers, and one of which the Lord God promised he would ... certainly bring you back from there.

The descendants of Jacob/Israel were listed in detail by the author as a matter of historical documentation.

Joseph instructed his family to deceive Pharaoh, telling him that they tended cattle, because he wanted to give them Goshen because “... everyone who takes care of sheep is disgusting to the Egyptians” and the Egyptians would have objected.

Interact With The Text

Consider

When we are dealing with matters of importance to the Lord God humankind only imagines that they have decisive power.

Discuss

Why would God allow Jacob/Israel’s people to relocate to a land of slaves? (Joseph created a nation of slaves to benefit Pharaoh, his use of power went far beyond what he had originally proposed to Pharaoh as a solution to the famine.)

Reflect

Joseph’s integrity had limits as he had no problem with his family deceiving Pharaoh.

Share

When have you experienced, or observed, someone who was generally of high-integrity forget their integrity for the sake of family or friends, or to abuse their power in unexpected ways?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any place where you may be careless about integrity for the sake of temporary benefit to family or friends.

Act

I will carefully consider if I am selling-out my integrity to assist family or friends. If so I will make things right. If not I will celebrate God’s victory in that part of my life.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Friday (Genesis 47)

Joseph’s Wise Administration

47:1 Joseph went and told Pharaoh, “My father, my brothers, their flocks and herds, and all that they own have arrived from the land of

Canaan. They are now in the land of Goshen.” 47:2 He took five of his brothers and introduced them to Pharaoh.

47:3 Pharaoh said to Joseph’s brothers, “What is your occupation?” They said to Pharaoh, “Your servants take care of flocks, just as our ancestors did.” 47:4 Then they said to Pharaoh, “We have come to live as temporary residents in the land. There is no pasture for your servants’ flocks because the famine is severe in the land of Canaan. So now, please let your servants live in the land of Goshen.”

47:5 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you. 47:6 The land of Egypt is before you; settle your father and your brothers in the best region of the land. They may live in the land of Goshen. If you know of any highly capable men among them, put them in charge of my livestock.”

47:7 Then Joseph brought in his father Jacob and presented him before Pharaoh. Jacob blessed Pharaoh. 47:8 Pharaoh said to Jacob, “How long have you lived?” 47:9 Jacob said to Pharaoh, “All the years of my travels are 130. All the years of my life have been few and painful; the years of my travels are not as long as those of my ancestors.” 47:10 Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from his presence.

47:11 So Joseph settled his father and his brothers. He gave them territory in the land of Egypt, in the best region of the land, the land of Rameses, just as Pharaoh had commanded. 47:12 Joseph also provided food for his father, his brothers, and all his father’s household, according to the number of their little children.

47:13 But there was no food in all the land because the famine was very severe; the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan wasted away because of the famine. 47:14 Joseph collected all the money that could be found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan as payment for the grain they were buying. Then Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s palace. 47:15 When the money from the lands of Egypt and Canaan was used up, all the Egyptians came to Joseph and said, “Give us food! Why should we die before your very eyes because our money has run out?”

47:16 Then Joseph said, “If your money is gone, bring your livestock, and I will give you food in exchange for your livestock.” 47:17 So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them food in exchange for their horses, the livestock of their flocks and herds, and their donkeys. He got them through that year by giving them food in exchange for livestock.

47:18 When that year was over, they came to him the next year and said to him, “We cannot hide from our lord that the money is used up and the livestock and the animals belong to our lord. Nothing remains before our lord except our bodies and our land. 47:19 Why should we die before your very eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land in exchange for food, and we, with our land, will become Pharaoh’s slaves. Give us seed that we may live and not die. Then the land will not become desolate.”

47:20 So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh. Each of the Egyptians sold his field, for the famine was severe. So the land became Pharaoh’s. 47:21 Joseph made all the people slaves from one end of Egypt’s border to the other end of it. 47:22 But he did not purchase the land of the priests because the priests had an allotment from Pharaoh and they ate from their allotment that Pharaoh gave them. That is why they did not sell their land.

47:23 Joseph said to the people, “Since I have bought you and your land today for Pharaoh, here is seed for you. Cultivate the land. 47:24 When you gather in the crop, give one-fifth of it to Pharaoh, and the rest will be yours for seed for the fields and for you to eat, including those in your households and your little children.” 47:25 They replied, “You have saved our lives! You are showing us favor, and we will be Pharaoh’s slaves.”

47:26 So Joseph made it a statute, which is in effect to this day throughout the land of Egypt: One-fifth belongs to Pharaoh. Only the land of the priests did not become Pharaoh’s.

47:27 Israel settled in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen, and they owned land there. They were fruitful and increased rapidly in number.

47:28 Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years; the years of Jacob’s life were 147 in all. 47:29 The time for Israel to die approached, so he called for his son Joseph and said to him, “If now I have found favor in your sight, put your hand under my thigh and show me kindness and faithfulness. Do not bury me in Egypt, 47:30 but when I rest with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burial place.” Joseph said, “I will do as you say.”

47:31 Jacob said, “Swear to me that you will do so.” So Joseph gave him his word. Then Israel bowed down at the head of his bed.

Prayer

Lord, when people are hungry they become easy prey for manipulation, may we be good stewards as You meet our physical needs so that we are never vulnerable to the world.

Scripture In Perspective

Joseph used the famine to systematically bring all of the money, all of the livestock, all of the land, and all of the people under the ownership and control of the Pharaoh.

After making the people slaves without money, land, or livestock he offers them seed to plant Pharaoh’s crops.

The Lord God had placed the Hebrews in the best land in Egypt and they were not initially subject to the Pharaoh’s ownership of them and all that they owned, so they flourished.

At 147 years old and near-death Jacob/Israel copied the priestly vow that Abraham administered to the servant he was sending to find a wife for Isaac and had Joseph swear, with his hand under his thigh – an intimate and submissive act – to bury him in Canaan and not in Egypt. Joseph gave his word.

Interact With The Text

Consider

One of the seeds Joseph planted is of the opportunity for a future Pharaoh to add his family to the population of slaves in Egypt. The Hebrews multiplied financially in a fertile land which allowed them to benefit from their hard work - and numerically - as they were blessed by the Lord God in fulfillment of His prophesy.

Discuss

What were Joseph’s options? Buy greater loyalty of the people to the Pharaoh through the giving of the grain to them? Barter a percentage of crops, a lease of the land, only a percentage of the livestock, and/or a term of free-labor instead of slavery and the taking of all of the money and the land and the livestock and the freedom of the people? Jacob/Israel never forgot that Egypt was not his home, nor was it to become the permanent home of his people, he used the symbolism of his burial in Canaan as a reminder to everyone of the promise of the Lord God to one day return them to the Promised Land.

Reflect

Joseph’s family was not included in the enslavement of the people and the acquisition of their money, land, and livestock. With only those closely associated with the Pharaoh and the priests still free a great deal more power was concentrated in a ruling class and the potential for great jealousy toward the non-Egyptian Hebrews planted. The Lord God had revealed to Jacob/Israel, and to Joseph through him, His plan to make His people a nation of tribes for the first time. The nature of leadership in Israel would have to change in recognition of the needs of their increased numbers.

Share

When have you observed a concentration of power and resources in a community, or a region/nation, where not everyone was treated equally? What sort of troubles did that create? When have you been a part of a growing fellowship or other organization and experienced the demands of that growth for shared leadership?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you may be vulnerable to losing your freedom because you are becoming, or have become, too dependent upon others – who do not serve the Lord God. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where more leaders may be needed, and where a clarification of foundational values may also need to be emphasized.

Act

I agree to make an intentional effort to get out of debt, to reduce spending, to become as energy-independent as possible, to grow as much food as possible, to network with others to share food and other resources, and to otherwise limit my actual and potential dependence upon government should circumstances become economically difficult - as described in today’s Bible text. I will prayerfully see if I need to be prepared for leadership, or if I need to be preparing others, or both – and I will do so. I will also prayerfully consider if our community/institutional growth has weakened, or threatens to weaken, our remembrance of our foundational purpose and values – and I will do what I can to remind myself and others of them.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Saturday (Genesis 48 - 50)

Manasseh and Ephraim

48:1 After these things Joseph was told, “Your father is weakening.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim with him. 48:2 When Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has just come to you,” Israel regained strength and sat up on his bed. 48:3 Jacob said to Joseph, “The sovereign God appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me. 48:4 He said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and will multiply you. I will make you into a group of nations, and I will give this land to your descendants as an everlasting possession.’

48:5 “Now, as for your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, they will be mine. Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine just as Reuben and Simeon are. 48:6 Any children that you father after them will be yours; they will be listed under the names of their brothers in their inheritance. 48:7 But as for me, when I was returning from Paddan, Rachel died – to my sorrow – in the land of Canaan. It happened along the way, some distance from Ephrath. So I buried her there on the way to Ephrath” (that is, Bethlehem).

48:8 When Israel saw Joseph’s sons, he asked, “Who are these?” 48:9 Joseph said to his father, “They are the sons God has given me in this place.” His father said, “Bring them to me so I may bless them.” 48:10 Now Israel’s eyes were failing because of his age; he was not able to see well. So Joseph brought his sons near to him, and his father kissed them and embraced them. 48:11 Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see you again, but now God has allowed me to see your children too.”

48:12 So Joseph moved them from Israel’s knees and bowed down with his face to the ground. 48:13 Joseph positioned them; he put Ephraim on his right hand across from Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh on his left hand across from Israel’s right hand. Then Joseph brought them closer to his father. 48:14 Israel stretched out his right hand and placed it on Ephraim’s head, although he was the younger. Crossing his hands, he put his left hand on Manasseh’s head, for Manasseh was the firstborn.

48:15 Then he blessed Joseph and said,

“May the God before whom my fathers

Abraham and Isaac walked –

the God who has been my shepherd

all my life long to this day,

48:16 the Angel who has protected me

from all harm –

bless these boys.

May my name be named in them,

and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac.

May they grow into a multitude on the earth.”

48:17 When Joseph saw that his father placed his right hand on Ephraim’s head, it displeased him. So he took his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 48:18 Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this is the firstborn. Put your right hand on his head.”

48:19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He too will become a nation and he too will become great. In spite of this, his younger brother will be even greater and his descendants will become a multitude of nations.” 48:20 So he blessed them that day, saying,

“By you will Israel bless, saying,

‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’”

So he put Ephraim before Manasseh.

48:21 Then Israel said to Joseph, “I am about to die, but God will be with you and will bring you back to the land of your fathers. 48:22 As one who is above your brothers, I give to you the mountain slope, which I took from the Amorites with my sword and my bow.”

The Blessing of Jacob

49:1 Jacob called for his sons and said, “Gather together so I can tell you what will happen to you in the future.

49:2 “Assemble and listen, you sons of Jacob;

listen to Israel, your father.

49:3 Reuben, you are my firstborn,

my might and the beginning of my strength,

outstanding in dignity, outstanding in power.

49:4 You are destructive like water and will not excel,

for you got on your father’s bed,

then you defiled it – he got on my couch!

49:5 Simeon and Levi are brothers,

weapons of violence are their knives!

49:6 O my soul, do not come into their council,

do not be united to their assembly, my heart,

for in their anger they have killed men,

and for pleasure they have hamstrung oxen.

49:7 Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce,

and their fury, for it was cruel.

I will divide them in Jacob,

and scatter them in Israel!

49:8 Judah, your brothers will praise you.

Your hand will be on the neck of your enemies,

your father’s sons will bow down before you.

49:9 You are a lion’s cub, Judah,

from the prey, my son, you have gone up.

He crouches and lies down like a lion;

like a lioness – who will rouse him?

49:10 The scepter will not depart from Judah,

nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,

until he comes to whom it belongs;

the nations will obey him.

49:11 Binding his foal to the vine,

and his colt to the choicest vine,

he will wash his garments in wine,

his robes in the blood of grapes.

49:12 His eyes will be dark from wine,

and his teeth white from milk.

49:13 Zebulun will live by the haven of the sea

and become a haven for ships;

his border will extend to Sidon.

49:14 Issachar is a strong-boned donkey

lying down between two saddlebags.

49:15 When he sees a good resting place,

and the pleasant land,

he will bend his shoulder to the burden

and become a slave laborer.

49:16 Dan will judge his people

as one of the tribes of Israel.

49:17 May Dan be a snake beside the road,

a viper by the path,

that bites the heels of the horse

so that its rider falls backward.

49:18 I wait for your deliverance, O Lord.

49:19 Gad will be raided by marauding bands,

but he will attack them at their heels.

49:20 Asher’s food will be rich,

and he will provide delicacies to royalty.

49:21 Naphtali is a free running doe,

he speaks delightful words.

49:22 Joseph is a fruitful bough,

a fruitful bough near a spring

whose branches climb over the wall.

49:23 The archers will attack him,

they will shoot at him and oppose him.

49:24 But his bow will remain steady,

and his hands will be skillful;

because of the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob,

because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,

49:25 because of the God of your father,

who will help you,

because of the sovereign God,

who will bless you

with blessings from the sky above,

blessings from the deep that lies below,

and blessings of the breasts and womb.

49:26 The blessings of your father are greater

than the blessings of the eternal mountains

or the desirable things of the age-old hills.

They will be on the head of Joseph

and on the brow of the prince of his brothers.

49:27 Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;

in the morning devouring the prey,

and in the evening dividing the plunder.”

49:28 These are the twelve tribes of Israel. This is what their father said to them when he blessed them. He gave each of them an appropriate blessing.

49:29 Then he instructed them, “I am about to go to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite. 49:30 It is the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought for a burial plot from Ephron the Hittite. 49:31 There they buried Abraham and his wife Sarah; there they buried Isaac and his wife Rebekah; and there I buried Leah. 49:32 The field and the cave in it were acquired from the sons of Heth.”

49:33 When Jacob finished giving these instructions to his sons, he pulled his feet up onto the bed, breathed his last breath, and went to his people.

The Burials of Jacob and Joseph

50:1 Then Joseph hugged his father’s face. He wept over him and kissed him. 50:2 Joseph instructed the physicians in his service to embalm his father, so the physicians embalmed Israel. 50:3 They took forty days, for that is the full time needed for embalming. The Egyptians mourned for him seventy days.

50:4 When the days of mourning had passed, Joseph said to Pharaoh’s royal court, “If I have found favor in your sight, please say to Pharaoh, 50:5 ‘My father made me swear an oath. He said, “I am about to die. Bury me in my tomb that I dug for myself there in the land of Canaan.” Now let me go and bury my father; then I will return.’” 50:6 So Pharaoh said, “Go and bury your father, just as he made you swear to do.”

50:7 So Joseph went up to bury his father; all Pharaoh’s officials went with him – the senior courtiers of his household, all the senior officials of the land of Egypt, 50:8 all Joseph’s household, his brothers, and his father’s household. But they left their little children and their flocks and herds in the land of Goshen. 50:9 Chariots and horsemen also went up with him, so it was a very large entourage.

50:10 When they came to the threshing floor of Atad on the other side of the Jordan, they mourned there with very great and bitter sorrow. There Joseph observed a seven day period of mourning for his father. 50:11 When the Canaanites who lived in the land saw them mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “This is a very sad occasion for the Egyptians.” That is why its name was called Abel Mizraim, which is beyond the Jordan.

50:12 So the sons of Jacob did for him just as he had instructed them. 50:13 His sons carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, near Mamre. This is the field Abraham purchased as a burial plot from Ephron the Hittite. 50:14 After he buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, along with his brothers and all who had accompanied him to bury his father.

50:15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph bears a grudge and wants to repay us in full for all the harm we did to him?” 50:16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave these instructions before he died: 50:17 ‘Tell Joseph this: Please forgive the sin of your brothers and the wrong they did when they treated you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sin of the servants of the God of your father.” When this message was reported to him, Joseph wept. 50:18 Then his brothers also came and threw themselves down before him; they said, “Here we are; we are your slaves.” 50:19 But Joseph answered them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 50:20 As for you, you meant to harm me, but God intended it for a good purpose, so he could preserve the lives of many people, as you can see this day. 50:21 So now, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your little children.” Then he consoled them and spoke kindly to them.

50:22 Joseph lived in Egypt, along with his father’s family. Joseph lived 110 years. 50:23 Joseph saw the descendants of Ephraim to the third generation. He also saw the children of Makir the son of Manasseh; they were given special inheritance rights by Joseph.

50:24 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to you and lead you up from this land to the land he swore on oath to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” 50:25 Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath. He said, “God will surely come to you. Then you must carry my bones up from this place.” 50:26 So Joseph died at the age of 110. After they embalmed him, his body was placed in a coffin in Egypt.

Prayer

Lord, Your prophesy is revealed at the perfect time, may we serve You in faithful and patient-trust and not demand to know every detail of the future. Lord, may I remember that there is a difference between hurt and harm, the way that Jacob/Israel understood in his prayer for Joseph’s children. Your knowledge of the future is accurate, Your understanding of the heart of man clear, and Your wisdom perfect. May I be found as humble and kind as Joseph, meekly refusing to use the power I have to take vengeance upon those who have wronged me.

Scripture In Perspective

Joseph heard that Jacob/Israel was fading and brought his two sons to him. Jacob/Israel reminded Joseph of God’s prophesy to him – one that contained an additional detail not in that given to Abraham and Isaac before him “I will make you into a group of nations ...

Jacob/Israel – who had acknowledged many hurts to Pharaoh and then the loss of Rachel to Joseph - asked God to cause the angel that kept him from harm to also be with Joseph’s sons.

Joseph thought that Jacob/Israel was troubled by blindness, or confusion, when he was blessing the younger Ephraim before Manasseh – but it was God’s will.

Ephraim and Manasseh were numbered among the tribes, one taking Joseph’s place and the other Levi’s – who would be a ‘distributed’ people serving as priests but not as one of the 12-peer tribes.

He repeated God’s prophesy that Joseph and the rest of the extended family would one day return ... to the land of your fathers, then reiterated his favoritism by giving Joseph “... the mountain slope” as symbolic of Joseph being above his brothers in favor.

On his death bed Jacob/Israel gathered his family to communicate God’s blessing and prophesy for each of those who would become the 12 political Tribes, plus the special priestly Tribe.

Reuben, despite being the first born, was denied leadership due to his effort to manipulate power by his sin against his father with Behulah. The tribe by his name would tend toward the destructive and would not excel.

Simeon and Levi were called-out for his cruelty, together with Levi, and told that the tribes by their name would be divided in Jacob (physical inheritance) and Israel (tribal roles).

Judah was lifted to the role of leader of the 12 Tribes and was identified as the next in the line that would flow from him to Jesus the Christ The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the rulers staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs; the nations will obey him.

Zebulun’s tribe would be fishermen, sailors, and traders.

Issachar’s tribe would readily exchange freedom for comfort, working hard but as slaves.

Dan’s tribe would be a means of the Lord God’s accountability to fellow tribes.

Gad’s tribe would struggle to remain in freedom and at peace but would cleverly harass their enemies even though facing great odds.

Asher’s tribe would be chefs and servants of royalty, perhaps looking ahead to the Israelite kings and/or the service of foreign kings while in captivity.

Naphtali’s tribe would be artists and poets prone to constant movement.

Joseph would become two tribes though his sons, adopted by Jacob/Israel as peers to Joseph and his brothers: Ephraim and Manasseh were already blessed and given their prophesies in 48:5-12, one taking Joseph’s place and the other Levi’s.

Benjamin’s tribe would be effective hunter-warriors who would acquire clothing, food, and other resources for the other tribes.

He concluded with an insistence that they bury him with Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, and Leah.

Joseph was so highly respected and trusted in Egypt that not only did they join him in mourning the entire senior court of the Pharaoh, and many others (but not Pharaoh) traveled with him to Canaan to bury Jacob/Israel.

Joseph’s brothers, still stuck in their small world of fear, fussed about the possibility that Joseph might harm them now that their father was no longer alive. They went to Joseph in humility and pleaded for his mercy.

Joseph declared “Am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant to harm me, but God intended it for a good purpose, so he could preserve the lives of many people, as you can see this day.

Joseph also promised to provide for them and their children and he comforted and encouraged them – as the prophesy had foretold they bowed-down to him, as even before his death Jacob/Israel had traveled to Egypt so that Joseph could provide for him (and his family).

Joseph later died and received the promise of his family that when God took them out of Egypt they would bring his bones with them.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Jacob/Israel , at the direction of God, makes two of Joseph’s sons peers with Joseph’s brothers as heads of tribes. Perhaps as a reward for Joseph’s faithful and personally-sacrificial service. The rest of the Old Testament revolves around the Tribes of Israel and these blessings and prophesies serve as a guideline to understanding.

Was it God’s desire that Joseph’s brothers sell him into slavery so that he might become powerful enough to provide for them? The text does not say that – God saw what was in their hearts, prophesied in general how He would turn their evil to good, and then guided the process. God is never the author of sin.

Discuss

The angels of God were sent to protect us from harm but not from hurt, are not hurts often a vehicle for learning? How does the blessing and prophesy of Judah remind you of Jesus the Christ? Joseph could have sought revenge – do you think that anyone, his brothers or the people in Egypt, would have questioned his right to do so? Joseph remained humble – clearly recognizing that vengeance belonged to the Lord.

Reflect

God has revealed to Jacob/Israel and Joseph, through him, His plan to make His people a nation of tribes for the first time, this would change the nature of their leadership in recognition of the leadership needs of their increased numbers. Once again God directs that the first-born is not always the leader among the sons. Jacob/Israel was not communicating his personal opinion but the blessing and prophesy given to him by God. Despite all that he had suffered, most of his life lived away from his family, Joseph was gracious.

Share

When have you been a part of a growing fellowship or other organization and experienced the demands of that growth for shared leadership? What have you been taught about the role of angels in the life of believers? Where in the Old Testament have you observed the blessing and prophesy that Jacob/Israel communicated to his sons actualized in the generations to come? When have you had the right, in the eyes of the world, and the power to wreak vengeance upon someone who had wronged you in the past. What did you do?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where more leaders may be needed, and where a clarification of foundational values may also need to be emphasized. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the times when God allowed you to experience hurt but protected you from harm. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you choices that you are making that make it more or less probable God will choose to bless you. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where God has redeemed good from what humans have intended for evil.

Act

I will thank the Lord God for allowing hurts where I needed to be taught, or I was His tool to teach another, and that He has protected me from harm. I will share those stories with a fellow believer as a praise and with someone considering-Christ as an encouragement to surrender to Him. I will listen to the Holy Spirit and emphasize those areas of my life where I am living rightly before Him and repent, turn away from, those where I am in rebellion – no matter how minor. Where I am uncertain I will seek the prayerful counsel of one who is Biblically qualified as an “elder”. I will listen closely to the Holy Spirit to discover a place when I may show God’s forgiveness and grace, where I may choose to surrender my claim of righteous-vengeance to Him, and where I may encourage rather than terrify someone who has wronged me.

Be Specific _________________________________________________

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2012 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study. Prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in August of 2012. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

11. Exodus 1 – 4 (Egyptian Captivity and Moses Called)

A Chronological Daily Bible Study of the Old Testament
7-Day Sections
with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and a Practical Daily Application

Week 11

Sunday (Exodus 1)

Blessing during Bondage in Egypt

1:1 These are the names of the sons of Israel who entered Egypt – each man with his household entered with Jacob: 1:2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, 1:3 Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, 1:4 Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. 1:5 All the people who were directly descended from Jacob numbered seventy. But Joseph was already in Egypt, 1:6 and in time Joseph and his brothers and all that generation died. 1:7 The Israelites, however, were fruitful, increased greatly, multiplied, and became extremely strong, so that the land was filled with them.

1:8 Then a new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power over Egypt. 1:9 He said to his people, “Look at the Israelite people, more numerous and stronger than we are! 1:10 Come, let’s deal wisely with them. Otherwise they will continue to multiply, and if a war breaks out, they will ally themselves with our enemies and fight against us and leave the country.”

1:11 So they put foremen over the Israelites to oppress them with hard labor. As a result they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. 1:12 But the more the Egyptians oppressed them, the more they multiplied and spread. As a result the Egyptians loathed the Israelites, 1:13 and they made the Israelites serve rigorously. 1:14 They made their lives bitter by hard service with mortar and bricks and by all kinds of service in the fields. Every kind of service the Israelites were required to give was rigorous.

1:15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 1:16 “When you assist the Hebrew women in childbirth, observe at the delivery: If it is a son, kill him, but if it is a daughter, she may live.” 1:17 But the midwives feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them; they let the boys live.

1:18 Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this and let the boys live?” 1:19 The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women – for the Hebrew women are vigorous; they give birth before the midwife gets to them!” 1:20 So God treated the midwives well, and the people multiplied and became very strong. 1:21 And because the midwives feared God, he made households for them.

1:22 Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “All sons that are born you must throw into the river, but all daughters you may let live.”

Prayer

Lord, those who do not know You have always been jealous of those who do, may we be fearless in living righteously before You no matter what the world may say or do.

Scripture In Perspective

The Lord God blessed the Israelites and they multiplied and prospered.

The blessing that Joseph was to Egypt was soon forgotten by a new king (Pharaoh) who was fearful of the rapidly multiplying foreigners in his land.

He decided to make them slaves, like much of the rest of the population, and he decided to oppress them with the heaviest labors. The Lord continued to bless them and so they continued to multiply.

Pharaoh decided that genocide was the solution, so he ordered the two midwives (or, as the NET translator’s observe, more probably the two who had oversight of the midwives to the Hebrews) to drown all of the newborn male children of the Hebrews.

Because they honored the Lord God above Pharaoh they did not do so and when challenged gave the excuse that the Hebrew women were stronger than the Egyptian women and gave birth before they could arrive.

The Lord blessed them with families of their own as a result of them refusing Pharaoh’s barbaric and anti-God order.

Pharaoh then gave the order that “all” must drown their male children and only allow the females to live.

Note1: The designation “Hebrew” was generally a derogatory term used by others to refer to these nomadic people, including but not exclusively the Israelites. Not all of the descendants of Abraham were nomadic. Not all were all members of one of the Israelite Tribes, though if nomadic, they were labeled ‘Hebrews’.

Note 2: The text says “all” but the context is the control of the Israelite (Hebrew) population only, so it is probable that his genocidal edict was directed at them. Pharaoh presumably threatened to kill any adult among the Hebrews who disobeyed, hoping that generalized fear would motivate obedience, which it likely did among the more-faithless. He also expected his people to assist with the killing, but clearly they did not, and even his own daughter ignored the order.

Note 3: Had the Hebrew midwives answered Pharaoh’s question fully it would have resulted in their deaths for disobedience. Because Pharaoh’s order was in direct contradiction to the will of the Lord God (all life belongs to him, not a pagan leader), and was also an attack upon His people, Pharaoh had no right to expect cooperation or truth.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Pharaoh, like many who find themselves in positions of power, made fear-driven and irrational assumptions about the Israelites and then acted upon them.

Discuss

Do we have integrity and a work-ethic to honor the Lord God that allows Him to bless us despite oppression? Is the modern day abortion industry (both customers and providers) the moral-equivalent of those who obeyed Pharaoh’s unconscionable order, and the political forces that benefit from their donations the moral-equivalent of the “thirty pieces of silver” paid in rebellion for the betrayal of Jesus?

Reflect

How different are leaders today, often making foolish decisions - and when challenged they escalate rather than repent of them – thus failing to learn from their mistakes and bring harm to those over whom they have authority?

Share

When have you been confronted with a person of power who pressured you to do things that the Lord God says you must not? How did you respond?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any place where you are obeying man in contradiction to God.

Act

Today I will seek the prayerful wisdom of one who is Biblically qualified as an ‘elder’ as I determine how I will respond to a worldly-challenge to disobey the Lord's commands in my life. It may be in a hobby or sports, at school or at work, at home or in the neighborhood. Doing what is right before God often triggers a negative reaction by those in power, and whose idols are in and of the world, so I must pray and choose wisely my course of action.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Monday (Exodus 2:1-10)

The Birth of the Deliverer

2:1 A man from the household of Levi married a woman who was a descendant of Levi. 2:2 The woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a healthy child, she hid him for three months. 2:3 But when she was no longer able to hide him, she took a papyrus basket for him and sealed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and set it among the reeds along the edge of the Nile. 2:4 His sister stationed herself at a distance to find out what would happen to him.

2:5 Then the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself by the Nile, while her attendants were walking alongside the river, and she saw the basket among the reeds. She sent one of her attendants, took it, 2:6 opened it, and saw the child – a boy, crying! – and she felt compassion for him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.”

2:7 Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get a nursing woman for you from the Hebrews, so that she may nurse the child for you?” 2:8 Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Yes, do so.” So the young girl went and got the child’s mother. 2:9 Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse him for me, and I will pay your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him.

2:10 When the child grew older she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, “Because I drew him from the water.”

Prayer

Lord, the ways that You provide are often a mystery to us, bit we are grateful and trusting that You know all things and love us dearly.

Scripture In Perspective

Moses was born of descendants of Levi, those of the priestly tribe of Israel.

His mother hid him from Pharaoh’s murderous edict and when he was too big to hide she technically did as Pharaoh said – she put him in the river – but according to the Lord God’s way, not Pharaoh’s.

She placed him in an ‘ark.’

Note: According to the NET translators notes the descriptive terms used to describe the Ark, and the papyrus basket, are similar.

Her sister, the aunt of Moses, observed as the attendants to Pharaoh’s daughter discovered the basket and brought it to her. She recognized the blanket as Hebrew. Her sister stepped forward and offered to find a Hebrew nursemaid for the child and Pharaoh’s daughter agreed.

She brought Moses’ mother, her identity remained unknown to Pharaoh’s daughter, and Moses’ mother was paid by Pharaoh’s household to care for Moses!

Interact With The Text

Consider

What an amazing way for God to provide for the deliverer of Israel to be protected and cared for, in-Egypt but not of-Egypt – cared for as a baby by his own mother on the Pharaoh’s payroll.

Discuss

Is it possible that Moses’ mother’s three-month wait to place him in an ‘ark’ not only is explained by her inability to continue to hide him but also provided time for her to no longer appear to the daughter of Pharaoh as one who had recently given birth?

Reflect

The Lord God used an ‘ark’ to save Moses from the water and to deliver him to the place (palace) where he could be raised and later deliver His edict to Pharaoh so that the Hebrews/Israelites could be set free – as He prophesied.

Share

When has it been necessary for you to use a creative solution to honor the Lord God despite efforts of His enemies to block your path?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you an opportunity to ‘rescue’ a child whom He has placed in an ‘ark’ of safety.

Act

Today I will seize the opportunity placed before me; it may be to adopt a child, to assist someone else to do so, to provide foster care, or to support someone who does, to donate funds to a responsible God-honoring organization that cares for children, to pray against abortion and perhaps to donate to organizations that educate and provide alternatives, or to do so in some other way. And I will give God all of the glory.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Tuesday (Exodus 2:11-22)

The Presumption of the Deliverer

2:11 In those days, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and observed their hard labor, and he saw an Egyptian man attacking a Hebrew man, one of his own people. 2:12 He looked this way and that and saw that no one was there, and then he attacked the Egyptian and concealed the body in the sand. 2:13 When he went out the next day, there were two Hebrew men fighting. So he said to the one who was in the wrong, “Why are you attacking your fellow Hebrew?”

2:14 The man replied, “Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? Are you planning to kill me like you killed that Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid, thinking, “Surely what I did has become known.” 2:15 When Pharaoh heard about this event, he sought to kill Moses. So Moses fled from Pharaoh and settled in the land of Midian, and he settled by a certain well.

2:16 Now a priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came and began to draw water and fill the troughs in order to water their father’s flock. 2:17 When some shepherds came and drove them away, Moses came up and defended them and then watered their flock. 2:18 So when they came home to their father Reuel, he asked, “Why have you come home so early today?” 2:19 They said, “An Egyptian man rescued us from the shepherds, and he actually drew water for us and watered the flock!” 2:20 He said to his daughters, “So where is he? Why in the world did you leave the man? Call him, so that he may eat a meal with us.”

2:21 Moses agreed to stay with the man, and he gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage. 2:22 When she bore a son, Moses named him Gershom, for he said, “I have become a resident foreigner in a foreign land.”

Prayer

Lord, sometimes people in the Bible got out ahead of You and You had to slow them down while You prepared them, and perhaps others. May I be careful to patiently look for places where You are already acting, assess how You have prepared me to be a useful instrument in that work, and then join in with You.

Scripture In Perspective

As a grown man Moses observed an Egyptian attacking a Hebrew and seeing no one watching he stuck and killed him and buried him in the sand.

The next day he confronted two Hebrew men fighting and asked why they would attack a brother, to which they challenged his ruler-judge like behavior and asked if he planned to kill them too.

Pharaoh heard of what Moses had done and sought to have him killed for the murder of an Egyptian – so Moses fled to Midian.

The daughters of a priest in Midian were harassed by other shepherds and Moses intervened, then he watered their flocks for them. They returned home earlier than usual and when questioned told their father what had happened. He told them to bring the man to him and invited him to remain as their guest.

Moses was given the priest’s daughter Zipporah in marriage and their firstborn son was named “Gershom,” for he said, “I have become a resident foreigner in a foreign land.”

Interact With The Text

Consider

There appears to be a pattern of impetuous conduct early in the life of Moses; killing the Egyptian who was attacking a Hebrew, confronting fellow Hebrews, coming to the aid of the Midianite women at the well.

Discuss

There are multiple echoes or types of Jesus already apparent in the life of Moses; protected from a murderous king, he lived in Egypt for a time, he returned home, he assisted the women at the well, he lived a quiet life - until his time for ministry arrived.

Do you see the relationship between Moses-the-deliverer at the well and Jesus?

Reflect

When have you sensed a need to act boldly, and have done so, only to be confronted with challenges as a result?

Share

What is a circumstance when you had to leave a familiar place with familiar people and traditions and found yourself in an unfamiliar place – where you needed to become a part of their social system?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you places in your life where you are, like Moses, divided between two worlds – the world-system (like pagan Egypt) and the Kingdom of God (like God-fearing Midian).

Act

Today I will carefully and prayerfully make and execute a plan to separate myself from any associations, habits, or lifestyles that bind me too-closely to the world-system. It may be people who constantly influence me to sin, or habits and lifestyle choices (e.g. adultery, gambling, lying, risk-taking/adrenaline-junky behavior, substance abuse, etc.).

Be Specific _________________________________________________

Wednesday (Exodus 2:23 – 3:10)

The Call of the Deliverer

2:23 During that long period of time the king of Egypt died, and the Israelites groaned because of the slave labor. They cried out, and their desperate cry because of their slave labor went up to God. 2:24 God heard their groaning, God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob, 2:25 God saw the Israelites, and God understood….

3:1 Now Moses was shepherding the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to the mountain of God, to Horeb. 3:2 The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from within a bush. He looked – and the bush was ablaze with fire, but it was not being consumed! 3:3 So Moses thought, “I will turn aside to see this amazing sight. Why does the bush not burn up?”

3:4 When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to look, God called to him from within the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” 3:5 God said, “Do not approach any closer! Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” 3:6 He added, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

3:7 The Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt. I have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. 3:8 I have come down to deliver them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up from that land to a land that is both good and spacious, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the region of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. 3:9 And now indeed the cry of the Israelites has come to me, and I have also seen how severely the Egyptians oppress them. 3:10 So now go, and I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”

Prayer

Lord, Your dwell in us through Your Holy Spirit and You speak to us from Your Book, find us as humble and respectful in Your presence as was Moses.

Scripture In Perspective

Moses was working as a shepherd and came to Mount Horeb (aka Mount Sinai, the place he would later go for the Commandments) and there he saw a burning bush that did not appear to be consumed by the fire.

In an almost humorous turn of a phrase the English translation renders “3:3 So Moses thought, “I will turn aside to see this amazing sight. Why does the bush not burn up?”“

The Lord informed Moses that He was both aware of the struggles of Israel, perhaps to avoid any Job-like confusion, and that He intended to intervene.

The Lord God called to Moses and instructed him as to his new calling as the deliverer of His (and his) people out of Egypt – as He had long ago promised.

The Lord ordered Moses to remove his sandals as he was standing “on holy ground”, establishing clearly the nature of His presence.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Why was Egypt wealthy, let alone even still a kingdom? Because the Lord God blessed Joseph and that blessing overflowed to the indirect benefit of Egypt so that there would be a provision for the Israelites.

Discuss

There is a linkage in all things in God’s plan - here Moses was greeted by the Lord God on Mount Horeb, the same place where God will later give him the 10 Commandments – twice. Can you recall other linkages within the Old Testament or between the Old and the New?

Reflect

Egypt turned on the Israelites and enslaved them – stealing the product of their forced-labor. Egypt owed their survival of a terrible famine to God, via Joseph, and their wealth to Joseph’s skilled leadership. They owed a huge debt to God’s people.

Share

When have you been confronted by the Lord God in an unusual way, so unusual that you knew that He really wanted your attention?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you something you may do to serve Him in a very special way.

Act

Today I will go and I will do whatever the Lord asks of me. I will confirm what I believe that the Holy Spirit is telling me through prayer, in consultation with someone qualified to be a Biblical elder, and in careful study of His Word.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Thursday (Exodus 3:11-22)

3:11 Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, or that I should bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” 3:12 He replied, “Surely I will be with you, and this will be the sign to you that I have sent you: When you bring the people out of Egypt, you and they will serve God on this mountain.”

3:13 Moses said to God, “If I go to the Israelites and tell them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ – what should I say to them?”

3:14 God said to Moses, “I am that I am.” And he said, “You must say this to the Israelites, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” 3:15 God also said to Moses, “You must say this to the Israelites, ‘The Lord – the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob – has sent me to you. This is my name forever, and this is my memorial from generation to generation.’

3:16 “Go and bring together the elders of Israel and tell them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, appeared to me – the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – saying, “I have attended carefully to you and to what has been done to you in Egypt, 3:17 and I have promised that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, to a land flowing with milk and honey.”‘

3:18 “The elders will listen to you, and then you and the elders of Israel must go to the king of Egypt and tell him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. So now, let us go three days’ journey into the wilderness, so that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.’ 3:19 But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go, not even under force. 3:20 So I will extend my hand and strike Egypt with all my wonders that I will do among them, and after that he will release you.

3:21 “I will grant this people favor with the Egyptians, so that when you depart you will not leave empty-handed. 3:22 Every woman will ask her neighbor and the one who happens to be staying in her house for items of silver and gold and for clothing. You will put these articles on your sons and daughters – thus you will plunder Egypt!”

Prayer

Lord, Your are The One Who existed before time-itself, without beginning or end. May I stand in awe, may I know that Your presence is holy ground, and may I listen and obey so as to be a useful instrument in Your great plan of redemption.

Scripture In Perspective

Moses asked how he should describe or identify the Lord God to the people to which the Lord replied “I am that I am.” And he said, “You must say this to the Israelites, ‘I am has sent me to you.’ This has been interpreted many ways; consider this “I AM Who has always been, I AM Who is now, and I AM Who will always be.”

He then instructed Moses “Go and bring together the elders of Israel and tell them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, appeared to me – the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – saying, “I have attended carefully to you and to what has been done to you in Egypt, 3:17 and I have promised that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, to a land flowing with milk and honey.”‘

God instructed Moses that the elders were to go to Pharaoh and demand their release - but that Pharaoh would refuse. He then prophesied His escalating plagues upon Egypt until Pharaoh finally relented, and of the plunder of Egypt as Egyptian neighbors give gold and silver and jewels to them as they leave.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Since Joseph saved Egypt and the Israelites suffered the theft of their labor for 400 years in order that Egypt grew rich – they had a right to plunder Egypt.

Discuss

How would you explain the meaning of the Lord God’s identification as “I am”?

Reflect

God saw to it that there were few surprises for Moses, prophesying many of the key events to come in the great exodus.

Share

What is a circumstance where you had to inform a person in authority that something important had changed – and you did not anticipate a positive reaction?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you an opportunity to explore and share an awareness and celebration of the amazing and unique attributes of the Lord God.

Act

Today I will seize the opportunity to share in study and celebration of the Lord God with fellow believers.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Friday (Exodus 4:1-17)

The Source of Sufficiency

4:1 Moses answered again, “And if they do not believe me or pay attention to me, but say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you’?” 4:2 The Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A staff.” 4:3 The Lord said, “Throw it to the ground.” So he threw it to the ground, and it became a snake, and Moses ran from it. 4:4 But the Lord said to Moses, “Put out your hand and grab it by the tail” – so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand – 4:5 “that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”

4:6 The Lord also said to him, “Put your hand into your robe.” So he put his hand into his robe, and when he brought it out – there was his hand, leprous like snow! 4:7 He said, “Put your hand back into your robe.” So he put his hand back into his robe, and when he brought it out from his robe – there it was, restored like the rest of his skin! 4:8 “If they do not believe you or pay attention to the former sign, then they may believe the latter sign. 4:9 And if they do not believe even these two signs or listen to you, then take some water from the Nile and pour it out on the dry ground. The water you take out of the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.”

4:10 Then Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I am not an eloquent man, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant, for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”

4:11 The Lord said to him, “Who gave a mouth to man, or who makes a person mute or deaf or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 4:12 So now go, and I will be with your mouth and will teach you what you must say.”

4:13 But Moses said, “O my Lord, please send anyone else whom you wish to send!”

4:14 Then the Lord became angry with Moses, and he said, “What about your brother Aaron the Levite? I know that he can speak very well. Moreover, he is coming to meet you, and when he sees you he will be glad in his heart.

4:15 “So you are to speak to him and put the words in his mouth. And as for me, I will be with your mouth and with his mouth, and I will teach you both what you must do. 4:16 He will speak for you to the people, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were his God. 4:17 You will also take in your hand this staff, with which you will do the signs.”

Prayer

Lord, when You give me a task to do may I respond without question, and when Your truth is spoken may people believe in You.

Scripture In Perspective

The Lord God instructed Moses to tell his people what He wanted him to do and Moses questioned the Lord’s choice of him, trying to pass-off the task to his brother-in-law Aaron. God was displeased but made Aaron the spokesman for Moses-the-prophet.

The Lord God gave Moses some small miracles, in addition to His name I AM that I AM; the rod which could become a snake, the hand that could become leprous and not leprous, and the turning of water to blood.

Interact With The Text

Consider

The Lord God made Moses His instrument of deliverance to his people and Moses looked for a way out, to the point that the text says that he angered God.

Discuss

Do we have a long list of excuses, like Moses, when the Lord God asks us to do something challenging?

Reflect

Might Moses have been a little cautious due to the bad outcome of his prior adventures in Egypt?

Share

While Moses is a type of Jesus, a deliverer sent by God to set His/his people free, he is unlike Jesus (and more like Peter) as he resisted the call to dangerous and sacrificial ministry.

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal a special task that God has prepared for you.

Act

Today I will pursue whatever the Holy Spirit asks of me, while I am sensitive to His prodding for me to deal with anything that might interfere with His work through me, and I will deal with those things so that I may be as valuable and undistracted as I can be.

Be Specific ____________________________________________________

Saturday (Exodus 18-31)

The Return of Moses

4:18 So Moses went back to his father-in-law Jethro and said to him, “Let me go, so that I may return to my relatives in Egypt and see if they are still alive.” Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.”

4:19 The Lord said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, because all the men who were seeking your life are dead.”

4:20 Then Moses took his wife and sons and put them on a donkey and headed back to the land of Egypt, and Moses took the staff of God in his hand.

4:21 The Lord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the wonders I have put under your control. But I will harden his heart and he will not let the people go.

4:22 You must say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Israel is my son, my firstborn, 4:23 and I said to you, ‘Let my son go that he may serve me,’ but since you have refused to let him go, I will surely kill your son, your firstborn!”‘“

4:24 Now on the way, at a place where they stopped for the night, the Lord met Moses and sought to kill him. 4:25 But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off the foreskin of her son and touched it to Moses’ feet, and said, “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me.” 4:26 So the Lord let him alone. (At that time she said, “A bridegroom of blood,” referring to the circumcision.)

4:27 The Lord said to Aaron, “Go to the wilderness to meet Moses. So he went and met him at the mountain of God and greeted him with a kiss. 4:28 Moses told Aaron all the words of the Lord who had sent him and all the signs that he had commanded him.

4:29 Then Moses and Aaron went and brought together all the Israelite elders. 4:30 Aaron spoke all the words that the Lord had spoken to Moses and did the signs in the sight of the people, 4:31 and the people believed. When they heard that the Lord had attended to the Israelites and that he had seen their affliction, they bowed down close to the ground.

Prayer

Lord, You choose to use us in Your great plan, but often You have to clean us up along the way. May I stay the course in Your ministry despite challenges along the way.

Scripture In Perspective

The Lord prophesied the resistance of Pharaoh and His intention to overpower his resistance with incrementally more devastating plagues up to and including the death of Pharaoh’s son.

The Lord God told Moses that He would further-harden the already-hard heart of Pharaoh so as to move the process along – He knew the heart of Pharaoh and that he would never agree to release the Israelites.

The story of “... the Lord met Moses and sought to kill him” is much like Jacob’s story of wrestling with the angel/man. Moses, both a man of the flesh (impulsive) and a spiritually-sensitive man, to create a deeper sense of dependence upon and obedience to the Lord God. Moses had not been obedient in circumcising his own son – so his wife did so (bringing Moses back into a right-relationship with God).

Aaron agreed to serve with Moses and the people heard and believed what Aaron told them from what Moses told him.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Jethro seemed excited by the adventure, perhaps because he had Moses with him, or perhaps that was just his personality – plus his training and experience as a priest.

Discuss

When have you found yourself on a mission for the Lord God and He has blocked your way because you were doing what He had asked you – but you had left something important in your relationship with Him incomplete – and He saw that it was necessary to His pouring blessings through you into others? (An example might be during planning and preparations for a short-term missions trip He required you to divert attention to deal with a place of unforgiveness or unrepented sin or bad doctrine – that you might pass-on to others.)

Reflect

Moses-the-deliverer returned to Egypt with his wife and sons on a donkey. Later, Joseph would travel with Mary-about-to-deliver-Jesus on a donkey, then Jesus-the-deliverer would enter Jerusalem on a donkey.

Share

What are some ways that you have experienced or observed where those called to leadership were refined by the Lord God?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place in your life which you need to address prior to Him entrusting you with greater responsibilities.

Act

Today I will confess and repent of that which might compromise my value as His instrument. I will ask a fellow believer to walk alongside me in prayer, and otherwise, as I clean-up my walk – rather than persist in rebellion and force the Lord to clean me up the hard way.

Be Specific _________________________________________________

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2012 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study. Prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in August of 2012. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

12. Exodus 5 – 11 (Plagues Upon Egypt)

A Chronological Daily Bible Study of the Old Testament
7-Day Sections with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and a Practical Daily Application

Week 12

Sunday (Exodus 5)

Opposition to the Plan of God

5:1 Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Release my people so that they may hold a pilgrim feast to me in the desert.’”

5:2 But Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord that I should obey him by releasing Israel? I do not know the Lord, and I will not release Israel!”

5:3 And they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Let us go a three-day journey into the desert so that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God, so that he does not strike us with plague or the sword.”

5:4 The king of Egypt said to them, “Moses and Aaron, why do you cause the people to refrain from their work? Return to your labor!” 5:5 Pharaoh was thinking, “The people of the land are now many, and you are giving them rest from their labor.”

5:6 That same day Pharaoh commanded the slave masters and foremen who were over the people: 5:7 “You must no longer give straw to the people for making bricks as before. Let them go and collect straw for themselves. 5:8 But you must require of them the same quota of bricks that they were making before. Do not reduce it, for they are slackers. That is why they are crying, ‘Let us go sacrifice to our God.’ 5:9 Make the work harder for the men so they will keep at it and pay no attention to lying words!”

5:10 So the slave masters of the people and their foremen went to the Israelites and said, “Thus says Pharaoh: ‘I am not giving you straw. 5:11 You go get straw for yourselves wherever you can find it, because there will be no reduction at all in your workload.’” 5:12 So the people spread out through all the land of Egypt to collect stubble for straw. 5:13 The slave masters were pressuring them, saying, “Complete your work for each day, just like when there was straw!” 5:14 The Israelite foremen whom Pharaoh’s slave masters had set over them were beaten and were asked, “Why did you not complete your requirement for brickmaking as in the past – both yesterday and today?”

5:15 The Israelite foremen went and cried out to Pharaoh, “Why are you treating your servants this way? 5:16 No straw is given to your servants, but we are told, ‘Make bricks!’ Your servants are even being beaten, but the fault is with your people.”

5:17 But Pharaoh replied, “You are slackers! Slackers! That is why you are saying, ‘Let us go sacrifice to the Lord.’ 5:18 So now, get back to work! You will not be given straw, but you must still produce your quota of bricks!” 5:19 The Israelite foremen saw that they were in trouble when they were told, “You must not reduce the daily quota of your bricks.”

5:20 When they went out from Pharaoh, they encountered Moses and Aaron standing there to meet them, 5:21 and they said to them, “May the Lord look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the opinion of Pharaoh and his servants, so that you have given them an excuse to kill us!”

The Assurance of Deliverance

5:22 Moses returned to the Lord, and said, “Lord, why have you caused trouble for this people? Why did you ever send me? 5:23 From the time I went to speak to Pharaoh in your name, he has caused trouble for this people, and you have certainly not rescued them!”

Prayer

Lord, Your ways are not our ways, please teach me obedience and patience.

Scripture In Perspective

The Lord God had warned Moses that things would not go well initially.

When Moses told Pharaoh that God demanded that he allow the Israelites to go to Canaan to sacrifice to their God Pharaoh responded that he didn’t know or respect their God and refused.

Then he decided that the Israelites must not be adequately oppressed that they would even ask such a thing, so he took away the provision of straw – which made the making of bricks easier – and still required them to produce as many bricks. When they failed he had his soldiers beat their foremen and them.

Pharaoh’s goal was also to turn the Israelites against Moses and Aaron with their “lying words”.

The Hebrew foremen blamed Moses and Aaron.

Moses whined to God, as if God had not warned him, but God merely instructed Moses to stay the course and to see what He did to force Pharaoh to obey.

Interact With The Text

Consider

The Lord explained what would happen in advance, but at the first sign of opposition Moses whined to God, rather than going to Him and humbly asking what should be their next step together.

Discuss

Moses got in trouble as a young man because he was impatient and impetuous, now he appears to demonstrate some of the same immaturity. Perhaps God chose him because he was not one of the Israelites in Egypt who had grown fearfully-compliant after generations in slavery?

Reflect

Why would Moses expect Pharaoh to listen to such a demand when he didn't know the Lord God, had no vested self-interest in the Israelites' religious desires, and was fearful of the huge population of Israelites gaining any sense of independence or self-respect?

Share

When have you set out on a task only to face resistance? How did you respond to the resistance? How has that changed from when you were younger?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place where some resistance in the world, including direct spiritual resistance from the Enemy, has caused you to hesitate in doing God's will.

Act

Today I will partner with the Holy Spirit in overcoming my confusion and fear and will forge ahead despite resistance to complete the task which God has placed before me. It may be freedom from an addiction or a destructive lifestyle, it may be earning the certification, education, or other training I need for the vocation for which He has gifted me, it may be stepping-away from an unhealthy religious affiliation/association, it may be an evangelical/missionary outreach, it may be a volunteer role in a fellowship, or some other circumstance, opportunity, or task He has placed before me.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Monday (Exodus 6)

6:1 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh, for compelled by my strong hand he will release them, and by my strong hand he will drive them out of his land.”

6:2 God spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am the Lord. 6:3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name ‘the Lord’ I was not known to them. 6:4 I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they were living as resident foreigners. 6:5 I have also heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant. 6:6 Therefore, tell the Israelites, ‘I am the Lord. I will bring you out from your enslavement to the Egyptians, I will rescue you from the hard labor they impose, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 6:7 I will take you to myself for a people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from your enslavement to the Egyptians. 6:8 I will bring you to the land I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob – and I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord!’”

6:9 Moses told this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and hard labor. 6:10 Then the Lord said to Moses, 6:11 “Go, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt that he must release the Israelites from his land.” 6:12 But Moses replied to the Lord, “If the Israelites did not listen to me, then how will Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with difficulty?”

6:13 The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron and gave them a charge for the Israelites and Pharaoh king of Egypt to bring the Israelites out of the land of Egypt.

The Ancestry of the Deliverer

6:14 These are the heads of their fathers’ households:

The sons of Reuben, the firstborn son of Israel, were Hanoch and Pallu, Hezron and Carmi. These were the clans of Reuben.

6:15 The sons of Simeon were Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jakin, Zohar, and Shaul, the son of a Canaanite woman. These were the clans of Simeon.

6:16 Now these are the names of the sons of Levi, according to their records: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. (The length of Levi’s life was 137 years.)

6:17 The sons of Gershon, by their families, were Libni and Shimei.

6:18 The sons of Kohath were Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. (The length of Kohath’s life was 133 years.)

6:19 The sons of Merari were Mahli and Mushi. These were the clans of Levi, according to their records.

6:20 Amram married his father’s sister Jochebed, and she bore him Aaron and Moses. (The length of Amram’s life was 137 years.)

6:21 The sons of Izhar were Korah, Nepheg, and Zikri.

6:22 The sons of Uzziel were Mishael, Elzaphan, and Sithri.

6:23 Aaron married Elisheba, the daughter of Amminadab and sister of Nahshon, and she bore him Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.

6:24 The sons of Korah were Assir, Elkanah, and Abiasaph. These were the Korahite clans.

6:25 Now Eleazar son of Aaron married one of the daughters of Putiel and she bore him Phinehas.

These are the heads of the fathers’ households of Levi according to their clans.

6:26 It was the same Aaron and Moses to whom the Lord said, “Bring the Israelites out of the land of Egypt by their regiments.” 6:27 They were the men who were speaking to Pharaoh king of Egypt, in order to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. It was the same Moses and Aaron.

The Authentication of the Word

6:28 When the Lord spoke to Moses in the land of Egypt, 6:29 he said to him, “I am the Lord. Tell Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I am telling you.” 6:30 But Moses said before the Lord, “Since I speak with difficulty, why should Pharaoh listen to me?”

Prayer

Lord, may you find me a willing servant – nervous like Moses or bold like Aaron – but still willing.

Scripture In Perspective

The line of God’s family extends from Levi to Kohath to Amram to Aaron and Moses.

The Lord God repeated His instructions to Moses to speak to Pharaoh and again Moses hesitated with fear due to his insecurity about his speaking ability. The Lord once-again authorized Aaron to speak for Moses what He told Moses to do, and to handle the staff He had empowered as His sign.

As the Lord prophesied, Pharaoh was resistant, so Aaron cast down the staff which became a snake. The wizards did as Aaron did, then Aarons snake ate theirs and turned back into a staff. Pharaoh, his hard heart further-hardened by God (to escalate the confrontation in His time) refused to act wisely and refused to let the people go.

Interact With The Text

Consider

The Word contains the history of the generations of man and of the great civilization of Egypt, the accountability-for-credibility built into the Bible gives more cause to people to trust it.

Discuss

The Word tells us of God’s desire to use imperfect men as His messengers, and His flexibility to allow the insecure Moses to delegate to Aaron. Why do you think God used such role models?

Reflect

How different are we than Moses? Do we make excuses to avoid doing as God has asked?

Share

When have you seen God clearly demonstrate His power yet some have refused to acknowledge Him, or have acknowledged Him but refuse to respond rightly?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you something that you can do for Him.

Act

Today I will go and do as the Holy Spirit directs. If needed I will ask a fellow believer to join me in that ministry.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Tuesday (Exodus 7)

7:1 So the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet. 7:2 You are to speak everything I command you, and your brother Aaron is to tell Pharaoh that he must release the Israelites from his land. 7:3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and although I will multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt, 7:4 Pharaoh will not listen to you. I will reach into Egypt and bring out my regiments, my people the Israelites, from the land of Egypt with great acts of judgment. 7:5 Then the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord, when I extend my hand over Egypt and bring the Israelites out from among them.

7:6 And Moses and Aaron did so; they did just as the Lord commanded them. 7:7 Now Moses was eighty years old and Aaron was eighty-three years old when they spoke to Pharaoh.

7:8 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 7:9 “When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Do a miracle,’ and you say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh,’ it will become a snake.” 7:10 When Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh, they did so, just as the Lord had commanded them – Aaron threw down his staff before Pharaoh and his servants and it became a snake. 7:11 Then Pharaoh also summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the magicians of Egypt by their secret arts did the same thing. 7:12 Each man threw down his staff, and the staffs became snakes. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. 7:13 Yet Pharaoh’s heart became hard, and he did not listen to them, just as the Lord had predicted.

The First Blow: Water to Blood

7:14 The Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is hard; he refuses to release the people. 7:15 Go to Pharaoh in the morning when he goes out to the water. Position yourself to meet him by the edge of the Nile, and take in your hand the staff that was turned into a snake. 7:16 Tell him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to you to say, “Release my people, that they may serve me in the desert!” But until now you have not listened. 7:17 Thus says the Lord: “By this you will know that I am the Lord: I am going to strike the water of the Nile with the staff that is in my hand, and it will be turned into blood. 7:18 Fish in the Nile will die, the Nile will stink, and the Egyptians will be unable to drink water from the Nile.”‘” 7:19 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over Egypt’s waters – over their rivers, over their canals, over their ponds, and over all their reservoirs – so that it becomes blood.’ There will be blood everywhere in the land of Egypt, even in wooden and stone containers.” 7:20 Moses and Aaron did so, just as the Lord had commanded. Moses raised the staff and struck the water that was in the Nile right before the eyes of Pharaoh and his servants, and all the water that was in the Nile was turned to blood. 7:21 When the fish that were in the Nile died, the Nile began to stink, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile. There was blood everywhere in the land of Egypt! 7:22 But the magicians of Egypt did the same by their secret arts, and so Pharaoh’s heart remained hard, and he refused to listen to Moses and Aaron – just as the Lord had predicted. 7:23 And Pharaoh turned and went into his house. He did not pay any attention to this. 7:24 All the Egyptians dug around the Nile for water to drink, because they could not drink the water of the Nile.

The Second Blow: Frogs

7:25 Seven full days passed after the Lord struck the Nile.

Prayer

Lord, why do we force You to come down so hard? May you find me obedient and teachable and willing rather than hard-hearted, stiff-necked, and stubborn.

Scripture In Perspective

The Lord God instructed Moses and Aaron to strike the water of the Nile with the staff, in the presence of Pharaoh, and that it and even the water people had in containers, would turn to blood – the fish would die and the Nile would stink.

They did so but then Satan empowered Pharaoh’s witches, the magicians (7:11 “... wise men and sorcerers, and the magicians of Egypt by their secret arts ), to duplicate what Moses had done (on a smaller scale), so Pharaoh chose to not believe and not to obey God.

The people were able to dig new wells near the Nile and find some drinkable water.

Seven days later it is unclear but it appears that the water of the Nile may have remained in the form of blood.

Interact With The Text

Consider

The Nile river is a massive body of water, for anyone to turn all of that to blood – plus the water already in containers throughout Egypt – should have gotten Pharaoh’s attention.

Discuss

Have you heard of, or observed, people performing feats that appeared to be beyond the capacity of man? From where do you believe that they acquired that power?

Reflect

Pharaoh cared about himself, and the power that the great nation he ruled gave to him, but he appears to have traded to the Enemy his caring for his people for his power over them – that explains why the terrible suffering they endured from the first plague of the Nile turned to blood – and the hassle and minimal solution that came from their need to dig new wells failed to trouble him … so he just went inside.

Share

When have you tried to teach someone about God by telling of His miracles, only to have a highly-resistant person attempt to explain-away those miracles?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place in your life where God has been doing miracles to get your attention.

Act

Today I will recognize the miracles of God all around me, albeit somewhat more subtle than those in today’s text, and I will respond to whatever is His call. (God’s miracle may be His provision of food or money I didn’t expect, a small healing that man’s medical knowledge cannot adequately explain, an opportunity to use my gifts at home or school or work that I did not expect, or some other intervention that a time of prayerful listening and reflecting reveals.)

Be Specific _________________________________________________

Wednesday (Exodus 8)

8:1 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and tell him, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Release my people in order that they may serve me! 8:2 But if you refuse to release them, then I am going to plague all your territory with frogs. 8:3 The Nile will swarm with frogs, and they will come up and go into your house, in your bedroom, and on your bed, and into the houses of your servants and your people, and into your ovens and your kneading troughs. 8:4 Frogs will come up against you, your people, and all your servants.”‘”

8:5 The Lord spoke to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Extend your hand with your staff over the rivers, over the canals, and over the ponds, and bring the frogs up over the land of Egypt.’” 8:6 So Aaron extended his hand over the waters of Egypt, and frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt.

8:7 The magicians did the same with their secret arts and brought up frogs on the land of Egypt too.

8:8 Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Pray to the Lord that he may take the frogs away from me and my people, and I will release the people that they may sacrifice to the Lord.” 8:9 Moses said to Pharaoh, “You may have the honor over me – when shall I pray for you, your servants, and your people, for the frogs to be removed from you and your houses, so that they will be left only in the Nile?” 8:10 He said, “Tomorrow.” And Moses said, “It will be as you say, so that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God. 8:11 The frogs will depart from you, your houses, your servants, and your people; they will be left only in the Nile.”

8:12 Then Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh, and Moses cried to the Lord because of the frogs that he had brought on Pharaoh. 8:13 The Lord did as Moses asked – the frogs died out of the houses, the villages, and the fields. 8:14 The Egyptians piled them in countless heaps, and the land stank. 8:15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not listen to them, just as the Lord had predicted.

The Third Blow: Gnats

8:16 The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Extend your staff and strike the dust of the ground, and it will become gnats throughout all the land of Egypt.’” 8:17 They did so; Aaron extended his hand with his staff, he struck the dust of the ground, and it became gnats on people and on animals. All the dust of the ground became gnats throughout all the land of Egypt. 8:18 When the magicians attempted to bring forth gnats by their secret arts, they could not. So there were gnats on people and on animals. 8:19 The magicians said to Pharaoh, “It is the finger of God!” But Pharaoh’s heart remained hard, and he did not listen to them, just as the Lord had predicted.

The Fourth Blow: Flies

8:20 The Lord said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning and position yourself before Pharaoh as he goes out to the water, and tell him, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Release my people that they may serve me! 8:21 If you do not release my people, then I am going to send swarms of flies on you and on your servants and on your people and in your houses. The houses of the Egyptians will be full of flies, and even the ground they stand on. 8:22 But on that day I will mark off the land of Goshen, where my people are staying, so that no swarms of flies will be there, that you may know that I am the Lord in the midst of this land. 8:23 I will put a division between my people and your people. This sign will take place tomorrow.”‘” 8:24 The Lord did so; a thick swarm of flies came into Pharaoh’s house and into the houses of his servants, and throughout the whole land of Egypt the land was ruined because of the swarms of flies.

8:25 Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God within the land.” 8:26 But Moses said, “That would not be the right thing to do, for the sacrifices we make to the Lord our God would be an abomination to the Egyptians. If we make sacrifices that are an abomination to the Egyptians right before their eyes, will they not stone us? 8:27 We must go on a three-day journey into the desert and sacrifice to the Lord our God, just as he is telling us.”

8:28 Pharaoh said, “I will release you so that you may sacrifice to the Lord your God in the desert. Only you must not go very far. Do pray for me.”

8:29 Moses said, “I am going to go out from you and pray to the Lord, and the swarms of flies will go away from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people tomorrow. Only do not let Pharaoh deal falsely again by not releasing the people to sacrifice to the Lord.” 8:30 So Moses went out from Pharaoh and prayed to the Lord, 8:31 and the Lord did as Moses asked – he removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people. Not one remained! 8:32 But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also and did not release the people.

Prayer

Lord, You taught Your people – and those around them – that You are not to be trifled-with – and that Your sovereign will is never blocked. May I be watchful that I not arrogantly or carelessly ignore Your action and direction in my life.

Scripture In Perspective

Seven days later God sent Moses and Aaron to challenge Pharaoh with a plague of frogs.

Once again Satan used Pharaoh’s witches/wizards to draw a token number of frogs out of the Nile, so Pharaoh’s heart remained hard.

This time Pharaoh asked Moses to remove the frogs, because unlike the bloodied-water the frogs directly interfered with everything in Egypt – therefore directly impacting him.

He promised to let the Israelites go and sacrifice to their God. The next day Moses responded and the frogs that were on the land all died, resulting in piles of them all over Egypt, rotting in the sun. But once the frogs were dead Pharaoh reneged on his promise.

God then told Moses and Aaron to strike the dust of the earth with the staff and it turned into gnats all over the animals and people of Egypt. The witch/wizards who unable to duplicate this and acknowledged that it was the “finger of God”, but Pharaoh’s hard heart would not allow him to submit.

God instructed Moses to warn Pharaoh of the plague of flies, but this time Moses did nothing more than to deliver the message.

One of the other unique elements in this text is that God explained His protection of Goshen, where the Israelites lived, from the plague – “... that you may know that I am the Lord in the midst of this land.

Moses negotiated with Pharaoh, who wanted them to worship in Goshen, but Moses said they must do so in Canaan – outside of Egypt. Pharaoh agreed but asked that they not travel far, and he asked that Moses would pray to have the flies removed (not because they only affected others but because they affected him).

Interact With The Text

Consider

The Pharaoh continued to demonstrate his selfishness and his superstition.

Discuss

Have you heard of, or observed, people performing feats that appeared to be beyond the capacity of man? From where do you believe that they acquired that power? It is easy to question Pharaoh’s sanity here but could someone not find a blind-spot in your life where you have plenty of evidence to cause you to do something differently but you continue in a wrong direction?

Reflect

After the first two plagues Pharaoh’s witches/wizards were no longer able to duplicate the miracles of God, once again demonstrating the limitations of the power of Satan’s deceptions, and his ability to imitate God.

Share

God twice stuck Egypt and clearly protected the Israelites – how hard could it have been for Pharaoh to recognize the power and precision of God – and when should something have been obvious to you but what you wanted to believe/see blinded you to the truth?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a blind-spot in your life.

Act

Today I will act on the information the Holy Spirit has revealed, choosing wisdom over stubbornness.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Thursday (Exodus 9)

The Fifth Blow: Disease

9:1 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and tell him, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, “Release my people that they may serve me! 9:2 For if you refuse to release them and continue holding them, 9:3 then the hand of the Lord will surely bring a very terrible plague on your livestock in the field, on the horses, the donkeys, the camels, the herds, and the flocks. 9:4 But the Lord will distinguish between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt, and nothing will die of all that the Israelites have.”‘”

9:5 The Lord set an appointed time, saying, “Tomorrow the Lord will do this in the land.” 9:6 And the Lord did this on the next day; all the livestock of the Egyptians died, but of the Israelites’ livestock not one died. 9:7 Pharaoh sent representatives to investigate, and indeed, not even one of the livestock of Israel had died. But Pharaoh’s heart remained hard, and he did not release the people.

The Sixth Blow: Boils

9:8 Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Take handfuls of soot from a furnace, and have Moses throw it into the air while Pharaoh is watching. 9:9 It will become fine dust over the whole land of Egypt and will cause boils to break out and fester on both people and animals in all the land of Egypt.” 9:10 So they took soot from a furnace and stood before Pharaoh, Moses threw it into the air, and it caused festering boils to break out on both people and animals.

9:11 The magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils, for boils were on the magicians and on all the Egyptians. 9:12 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not listen to them, just as the Lord had predicted to Moses.

The Seventh Blow: Hail

9:13 The Lord said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning, stand before Pharaoh, and tell him, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews: “Release my people so that they may serve me! 9:14 For this time I will send all my plagues on your very self and on your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth. 9:15 For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with plague, and you would have been destroyed from the earth. 9:16 But for this purpose I have caused you to stand: to show you my strength, and so that my name may be declared in all the earth. 9:17 You are still exalting yourself against my people by not releasing them. 9:18 I am going to cause very severe hail to rain down about this time tomorrow, such hail as has never occurred in Egypt from the day it was founded until now. 9:19 So now, send instructions to gather your livestock and all your possessions in the fields to a safe place. Every person or animal caught in the field and not brought into the house – the hail will come down on them, and they will die!”‘”

9:20 Those of Pharaoh’s servants who feared the word of the Lord hurried to bring their servants and livestock into the houses, 9:21 but those who did not take the word of the Lord seriously left their servants and their cattle in the field.

9:22 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Extend your hand toward the sky that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, on people and on animals, and on everything that grows in the field in the land of Egypt.” 9:23 When Moses extended his staff toward the sky, the Lord sent thunder and hail, and fire fell to the earth; so the Lord caused hail to rain down on the land of Egypt. 9:24 Hail fell and fire mingled with the hail; the hail was so severe that there had not been any like it in all the land of Egypt since it had become a nation. 9:25 The hail struck everything in the open fields, both people and animals, throughout all the land of Egypt. The hail struck everything that grows in the field, and it broke all the trees of the field to pieces. 9:26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the Israelites lived, was there no hail.

9:27 So Pharaoh sent and summoned Moses and Aaron and said to them, “I have sinned this time! The Lord is righteous, and I and my people are guilty. 9:28 Pray to the Lord, for the mighty thunderings and hail are too much! I will release you and you will stay no longer.”

9:29 Moses said to him, “When I leave the city I will spread my hands to the Lord, the thunder will cease, and there will be no more hail, so that you may know that the earth belongs to the Lord. 9:30 But as for you and your servants, I know that you do not yet fear the Lord God.”

9:31 (Now the flax and the barley were struck by the hail, for the barley had ripened and the flax was in bud. 9:32 But the wheat and the spelt were not struck, for they are later crops.)

9:33 So Moses left Pharaoh, went out of the city, and spread out his hands to the Lord, and the thunder and the hail ceased, and the rain stopped pouring on the earth. 9:34 When Pharaoh saw that the rain and hail and thunder ceased, he sinned again: both he and his servants hardened their hearts. 9:35 So Pharaoh’s heart remained hard, and he did not release the Israelites, as the Lord had predicted through Moses.

Prayer

Lord, You warn us and You warn us again, but sometimes we are so stubborn that You must increase the loudness of Your message until we listen.

Scripture In Perspective

Moses kept his word but Pharaoh, once again, did not – as God foretold.

The Lord God then struck only the cattle of the Egyptians with a deadly plague and even though Pharaoh verifies that the Israelite cattle were unharmed he refused to release them.

The Sixth plague was unmistakably the hand of God through Moses; the boils covered the people and the animals and even the magician/witches, Pharaoh still refused to relent.

The Lord God instructed Moses to inform Pharaoh that much worse was to come and to further explained “9:15 For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with plague, and you would have been destroyed from the earth. 9:16 But for this purpose I have caused you to stand: to show you my strength, and so that my name may be declared in all the earth.

The Lord instructed Moses to warn Pharaoh and his people to protect anything they cared about because He was sending hail and fire from the sky, interestingly there were apparently many who were wiser than Pharaoh as the text reports “9:20 Those of Pharaohs servants who feared the word of the Lord hurried to bring their servants and livestock into the houses,” Once again God protected Goshen, the land in Egypt where the Israelites lived.

The destruction was terrible and Pharaoh uttered some new words “I have sinned this time! The Lord is righteous, and I and my people are guilty.

Even so, when the storm ceased so did Pharaoh’s will to do the right thing.

Interact With The Text

Consider

In a new variable the Lord God warned Pharaoh and his people to protect themselves against the coming hail and fire storm. Some had become wise enough to listen to the Lord God and some, despite all of the evidence of the first six plagues, had not.

Discuss

Was it not God’s grace which motivated His merciful warning to those who would believe His prophesy and heed His instructions to protect their servants and livestock?

Reflect

The Lord did not simply destroy the Egyptians for their disobedience - because He wanted to make His power and presence known through them to all of the known world.

Share

When have you been warned about something yet refused to pay attention – and the result was bad?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of something the Lord God has warned you to avoid or to flee.

Act

Today I will act on God’s warning, separating myself from a place of danger, or avoiding it in the first place. It may be a bad attitude, bad associations, bad habits, bad theology, or other bad influences that rain evil down upon me (sources of entertainment, friends, non-Biblical philosophies and religions, etc.)

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Friday (Exodus 10)

The Eighth Blow: Locusts

10:1 The Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, in order to display these signs of mine before him, 10:2 and in order that in the hearing of your son and your grandson you may tell how I made fools of the Egyptians and about my signs that I displayed among them, so that you may know that I am the Lord.”

10:3 So Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh and told him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews: ‘How long do you refuse to humble yourself before me? Release my people so that they may serve me! 10:4 But if you refuse to release my people, I am going to bring locusts into your territory tomorrow. 10:5 They will cover the surface of the earth, so that you will be unable to see the ground. They will eat the remainder of what escaped – what is left over for you – from the hail, and they will eat every tree that grows for you from the field. 10:6 They will fill your houses, the houses of your servants, and all the houses of Egypt, such as neither your fathers nor your grandfathers have seen since they have been in the land until this day!’” Then Moses turned and went out from Pharaoh.

10:7 Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How long will this man be a menace to us? Release the people so that they may serve the Lord their God. Do you not know that Egypt is destroyed?”

10:8 So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh, and he said to them, “Go, serve the Lord your God. Exactly who is going with you?” 10:9 Moses said, “We will go with our young and our old, with our sons and our daughters, and with our sheep and our cattle we will go, because we are to hold a pilgrim feast for the Lord.”

10:10 He said to them, “The Lord will need to be with you if I release you and your dependents! Watch out! Trouble is right in front of you! 10:11 No! Go, you men only, and serve the Lord, for that is what you want.” Then Moses and Aaron were driven out of Pharaoh’s presence.

10:12 The Lord said to Moses, “Extend your hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come up over the land of Egypt and eat everything that grows in the ground, everything that the hail has left.” 10:13 So Moses extended his staff over the land of Egypt, and then the Lord brought an east wind on the land all that day and all night. The morning came, and the east wind had brought up the locusts! 10:14 The locusts went up over all the land of Egypt and settled down in all the territory of Egypt. It was very severe; there had been no locusts like them before, nor will there be such ever again. 10:15 They covered the surface of all the ground, so that the ground became dark with them, and they ate all the vegetation of the ground and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Nothing green remained on the trees or on anything that grew in the fields throughout the whole land of Egypt.

10:16 Then Pharaoh quickly summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you! 10:17 So now, forgive my sin this time only, and pray to the Lord your God that he would only take this death away from me.” 10:18 Moses went out from Pharaoh and prayed to the Lord, 10:19 and the Lord turned a very strong west wind, and it picked up the locusts and blew them into the Red Sea. Not one locust remained in all the territory of Egypt. 10:20 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not release the Israelites.

The Ninth Blow: Darkness

10:21 The Lord said to Moses, “Extend your hand toward heaven so that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness so thick it can be felt.”

10:22 So Moses extended his hand toward heaven, and there was absolute darkness throughout the land of Egypt for three days. 10:23 No one could see another person, and no one could rise from his place for three days. But the Israelites had light in the places where they lived.

10:24 Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and said, “Go, serve the Lord – only your flocks and herds will be detained. Even your families may go with you.”

10:25 But Moses said, “Will you also provide us with sacrifices and burnt offerings that we may present them to the Lord our God? 10:26 Our livestock must also go with us! Not a hoof is to be left behind! For we must take these animals to serve the Lord our God. Until we arrive there, we do not know what we must use to serve the Lord.”

10:27 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he was not willing to release them. 10:28 Pharaoh said to him, “Go from me! Watch out for yourself! Do not appear before me again, for when you see my face you will die!” 10:29 Moses said, “As you wish! I will not see your face again.”

Prayer

Lord, may our hearts not be found hard toward You, so that You must bring “a plague of locusts” into our lives to get our attention.

Scripture In Perspective

The Lord God explained that He not only does not have Pharaoh's attention but that He still desires that the children and grandchildren of Moses and Aaron become properly acquainted with His Lordship, and for that purpose Pharaoh's arrogant stubbornness is opportune.

Moses warned Pharaoh about the plague of locusts and Pharaoh's advisers pleaded  with him to let the Israelites go because Egypt “is already destroyed” (they were trying to preserve the barley and spelt crops as well as some fruit and nut trees which survived the hail).  Pharaoh arrogantly attempted to control the details of Moses' request for the exodus of the Israelites to serve God, Moses refused to negotiate, so Pharaoh had him run out of the palace.

The plague of the locusts is as God warned Pharaoh through Moses and once again Pharaoh acknowledged that he had sinned against God and asked Moses to pray for the locusts to be gone.

God sends three days of utter darkness upon Egypt, yet the part of Egypt occupied by the Israelites remained light.

Pharaoh continued to think that he had the power to dictate boundaries for the Israelites.  When Moses rejected his limitations Pharaoh threatened to kill him the next time he saw him.

Interact With The Text

Consider

The Lord God always has a perfect purpose, in this case it was to teach the next two generations of Israelites about Himself in contrast to a mere human king, and as a demonstration of His power to protect and to provide.  (The latter they should have known from Joseph.)

Discuss

Does it seem absurd to you that Pharaoh would be so obsessed with holding onto the “Hebrew” slaves to build his temples and other structures that he would allow the rest of Egypt to be systematically-destroyed?

Reflect

The expression “But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart ...” is worth revisiting here in the midst of this titanic struggle between Pharaoh, who thinks he is one among many gods, and the Lord God Who is the only true God.  Pharaoh's heart was hardened against God from the beginning, God didn't cause it to be so, He amplified the hardness to serve as an object lesson to those observing.

Share

When has the Lord overcome what seemed to be insurmountable odds in you life?  Did that increase your faith?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you a place in your life where you need to see things through His eyes.

Act

Today I will accept the leading of the Holy Spirit and repent (turn away from ) those things I value which are blocking my vision of that which God says is most valuable.  It may be an obsession with comfort, entertainment, hobby, money, popularity, power, sports, tradition, or anything else that is out of balance in my life and is keeping me from being and doing what Jesus saved me to be and to do.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Saturday (Exodus 11)

Manasseh The Tenth Blow: Death

11:1 The Lord said to Moses, “I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt; after that he will release you from this place. When he releases you, he will drive you out completely from this place. 11:2 Instruct the people that each man and each woman is to request from his or her neighbor items of silver and gold.”

11:3 (Now the Lord granted the people favor with the Egyptians. Moreover, the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, respected by Pharaoh’s servants and by the Egyptian people.)

11:4 Moses said, “Thus says the Lord: ‘About midnight I will go throughout Egypt, 11:5 and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, to the firstborn son of the slave girl who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle. 11:6 There will be a great cry throughout the whole land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever will be again. 

11:7 But against any of the Israelites not even a dog will bark against either people or animals, so that you may know that the Lord distinguishes between Egypt and Israel.’ 11:8 All these your servants will come down to me and bow down to me, saying, ‘Go, you and all the people who follow you,’ and after that I will go out.” Then Moses went out from Pharaoh in great anger.

11:9 The Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh will not listen to you, so that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.”

11:10 So Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh, but the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not release the Israelites from his land.

Prayer

Lord, may we not be so stubborn, and our words so violent and ill-conceived, that we bring upon ourselves that which we wish upon others.

Scripture In Perspective

Joseph Before Moses left Pharaoh God gave him one last pronouncement; the death of the firstborns, even of the cattle.

God reminded Moses of His prophesy, saying “Instruct the people that each man and each woman is to request from his or her neighbor items of silver and gold.”

God declared His intention to leave a lasting impression upon the Egyptians, and any who would hear of what He had done, saying  “But against any of the Israelites not even a dog will bark against either people or animals, so that you may know that the Lord distinguishes between Egypt and Israel.”

Interact With The Text

Consider

When the Lord says that a person or a people belong to Him those so affiliated will benefit from His protection and provision.

The Pharaoh threatening the life of God's anointed - Moses, after all of the evidence of his close association with the God of power, seems foolish in retrospect.

Discuss

Why do you think that Moses was so angry?  “All these your servants will come down to me and bow down to me, saying, ‘Go, you and all the people who follow you,’ and after that I will go out.” Then Moses went out from Pharaoh in great anger.”

Reflect

Egypt had been blessed in many ways due to its association with the Israelites, from the time of Joseph to the time of Moses, including the immoral benefit of their slave-labor.  God stripped-away all that they had gained – crops, livestock, health, and valuables (gold and silver) – restoring Egypt to their pre-Israelite condition, perhaps minus something extra for their mistreatment of His people.

Share

When have you observed a situation where someone who has no power, and who has behaved badly, continued to make demands or to try to dictate terms despite the clear evidence that in so doing they make their situation worse?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where, following a time of trouble, He has 'brought you out' and provided for you.

Act

Today I will share, with a fellow believer, the story of God's restoration and blessing of me.  It may be when He saved me from an addiction, a destructive relationship, an ethically-compromising work environment, a sin-promoting lifestyle, or other place of bondage to the world.  And, as the Lord provides, I will also share this story with someone who is considering-Christ as an act of evangelistic-missions.

Be Specific _________________________________________________

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2012 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study. Prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in August of 2012. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

13. Exodus 12 – 15:21 (Passover and Escape from Egypt)

A Chronological Daily Bible Study of the Old Testament
7-Day Sections with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and a Practical Daily Application

Week 13

Sunday (Exodus 12:1-28)

The Institution of the Passover

12:1 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 12:2 “This month is to be your beginning of months; it will be your first month of the year. 12:3 Tell the whole community of Israel, ‘In the tenth day of this month they each must take a lamb for themselves according to their families – a lamb for each household. 12:4 If any household is too small for a lamb, the man and his next-door neighbor are to take a lamb according to the number of people – you will make your count for the lamb according to how much each one can eat. 12:5 Your lamb must be perfect, a male, one year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 12:6 You must care for it until the fourteenth day of this month, and then the whole community of Israel will kill it around sundown. 12:7 They will take some of the blood and put it on the two side posts and top of the doorframe of the houses where they will eat it. 12:8 They will eat the meat the same night; they will eat it roasted over the fire with bread made without yeast and with bitter herbs. 12:9 Do not eat it raw or boiled in water, but roast it over the fire with its head, its legs, and its entrails. 12:10 You must leave nothing until morning, but you must burn with fire whatever remains of it until morning. 12:11 This is how you are to eat it – dressed to travel, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. You are to eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover.

12:12 I will pass through the land of Egypt in the same night, and I will attack all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both of humans and of animals, and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment. I am the Lord. 12:13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, so that when I see the blood I will pass over you, and this plague will not fall on you to destroy you when I attack the land of Egypt.

12:14 This day will become a memorial for you, and you will celebrate it as a festival to the Lord – you will celebrate it perpetually as a lasting ordinance. 12:15 For seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. Surely on the first day you must put away yeast from your houses because anyone who eats bread made with yeast from the first day to the seventh day will be cut off from Israel.

12:16 On the first day there will be a holy convocation, and on the seventh day there will be a holy convocation for you. You must do no work of any kind on them, only what every person will eat – that alone may be prepared for you. 12:17 So you will keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because on this very day I brought your regiments out from the land of Egypt, and so you must keep this day perpetually as a lasting ordinance. 12:18 In the first month, from the fourteenth day of the month, in the evening, you will eat bread made without yeast until the twenty-first day of the month in the evening. 12:19 For seven days yeast must not be found in your houses, for whoever eats what is made with yeast – that person will be cut off from the community of Israel, whether a foreigner or one born in the land. 12:20 You will not eat anything made with yeast; in all the places where you live you must eat bread made without yeast.’”

12:21 Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel, and told them, “Go and select for yourselves a lamb or young goat for your families, and kill the Passover animals. 12:22 Take a branch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and apply to the top of the doorframe and the two side posts some of the blood that is in the basin. Not one of you is to go out the door of his house until morning. 12:23 For the Lord will pass through to strike Egypt, and when he sees the blood on the top of the doorframe and the two side posts, then the Lord will pass over the door, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you. 12:24 You must observe this event as an ordinance for you and for your children forever. 12:25 When you enter the land that the Lord will give to you, just as he said, you must observe this ceremony. 12:26 When your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ – 12:27 then you will say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, when he passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt, when he struck Egypt and delivered our households.’” The people bowed down low to the ground, 12:28 and the Israelites went away and did exactly as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron.

Prayer

Lord, the initiation of the Passover rite was significant step-up in the commitment of Your people to recognize Your Lordship, may we Christians remember that what we call “Communion” is an equally powerful symbol of Your Lordship. Although the old festival and sacrificial system has passed away, may we never forget all that You did because of Your faithful love for Israel – so that it remains a constant reminder that You are equally faithful to us.

Scripture In Perspective

The Lord God instructed the Israelites as to how they might protect themselves against the coming final judgment of the Egyptians who had held them in captivity and who had rejected God’s demand to set them free.

The Israelites, at least the obedient among them, were to sacrifice a “perfect” lamb (goat or sheep).

This text refers only in the generic to “firstborn”, but the prior Chapter Verse 11:5 is rendered “... and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, to the firstborn son of the slave girl who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle.”, implying that it was the firstborn males who were to be targeted. Psalm 135:8 offers clarification “He struck down the firstborn of Egypt, including both men and animals.” In both cases the Net Bible - Word Analysis shows the intended meaning to be gender-specific: male.

The Lord explained how they would keep this new rite as a reminder of His protection, provision, and His Lordship.

He warned that the failure to obey His detailed instructions closely would result in tragedy.

Celebration, convocation, feast, festival, memorial, passover, and sacrifice are all terms the text uses to define the rite of remembrance of the plague which brought the exodus from Egypt.

God explained the reason for the perpetual (for the generations of Israelites) requirement “... because on this very day I brought your regiments out from the land of Egypt”

God described in general, and with some specificity, what was to be done and not done. (Additional detail would come later in the life of Israel.)

According to the Net translators the hyssop was a common plant whose shape and texture was well-suited for painting blood on the doorframe and for use by priests in rituals that involved blood. It may also have been an aromatic herb.

Interact With The Text

Consider

The Lord God destroyed the last and most valued thing of all, the firstborn male of both humans and livestock – taking the final step of getting the Pharaoh’s attention – and that of the Egyptians whose cooperation allowed Pharaoh to enslave God’s people. He only offered protection to the people of Israel “Tell the whole community of Israel Just as the blood of the “perfect” lamb protected the Israelites against the “destroyer” in Egypt the blood of The Lamb, Jesus, will protect us in the last days of the end times when God comes in final judgment.

Discuss

This is the first time that God told the people to dress to travel and that what was about to happen was to be remembered in a rite to be repeated annually – how must they have felt after several false-starts to finally be told that this it the time of their exodus from Egypt? After all of the plagues visited upon Egypt, how frightening must it have been to hear that the very angel of death “the destroyer” would be passing through all of Egypt – including Goshen – which had previously been spared?

Reflect

Note how sensitive the Lord God is to the details where He allowed that a small family, or one with small children who did not eat much might join with another family, as they were required to eat the entire lamb and to burn the leftovers. God knew how quickly people would forget His liberation of them from bondage in Egypt, so not only did He require an annual remembrance, He placed strict limits to prevent them from being distracted with the busyness of their usual work.

Share

When have you anticipated a change for a while but circumstances forced you to wait, even after more than one false-start? How did you feel when the time finally arrived? When have you made time to pause and to remember how and when God set you free from the bondage of eternally-unforgiven sin?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you somewhere in your life where He has provided a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13) and to bring to your remembrance how and when He set you free.

Act

Today I will share with a fellow Christian God's provision of a way out, and exodus, in my life. We will celebrate His faithfulness together. I also will make plans for an annual celebration of my salvation. I will not make it about me, or about the sin from which I was set free, but rather about the One Who set me free and celebrate His victory.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Monday (Exodus 12:29 – 12:42)

The Deliverance from Egypt

12:29 It happened at midnight – the Lord attacked all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the prison, and all the firstborn of the cattle. 12:30 Pharaoh got up in the night, along with all his servants and all Egypt, and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was no house in which there was not someone dead. 12:31 Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron in the night and said, “Get up, get out from among my people, both you and the Israelites! Go, serve the Lord as you have requested! 12:32 Also, take your flocks and your herds, just as you have requested, and leave. But bless me also.”

12:33 The Egyptians were urging the people on, in order to send them out of the land quickly, for they were saying, “We are all dead!” 12:34 So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, with their kneading troughs bound up in their clothing on their shoulders. 12:35 Now the Israelites had done as Moses told them – they had requested from the Egyptians silver and gold items and clothing. 12:36 The Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, and they gave them whatever they wanted, and so they plundered Egypt.

12:37 The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Sukkoth. There were about 600,000 men on foot, plus their dependants. 12:38 A mixed multitude also went up with them, and flocks and herds – a very large number of cattle. 12:39 They baked cakes of bread without yeast using the dough they had brought from Egypt, for it was made without yeast – because they were thrust out of Egypt and were not able to delay, they could not prepare food for themselves either.

12:40 Now the length of time the Israelites lived in Egypt was 430 years. 12:41 At the end of the 430 years, on the very day, all the regiments of the Lord went out of the land of Egypt. 12:42 It was a night of vigil for the Lord to bring them out from the land of Egypt, and so on this night all Israel is to keep the vigil to the Lord for generations to come.

Prayer

Lord, when You sovereignly decide that the moment has come there is no power in all of existence that can resist You.

Scripture In Perspective

Pharaoh finally got God’s message and joined the rest of Egypt in pressing the Israelites to leave Egypt – before anything else awful happened to them.

As would later be the method for counting the population in some New Testament texts, e.g. the “Feeding of the Four Thousand”, only the men with dependents are numbered. In this case that is given as 600,000. One is left to extrapolate the wives and children and other dependents to gather a sense of the huge community that was suddenly on the move.

The unleavened bread was first part of the first Passover meal, and then a necessity of the sudden migration, and thereafter part of both the religious rites as well as a frequent rhetorical tool in God’s teaching.

Just as God prophesied before the exodus-ministry of Moses started, because the Egyptians were glad to see them go God was free to cause them to “favor” the departing Israelites with gold and silver and clothing “.. they plundered Egypt.”

As was the prophesy of the Messiah, not a bone broken, so also was God’s instruction for the Passover lamb. God additionally linked circumcision with the eating of the Passover.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Imagine the Egyptians, devastated by plague after plague, helping the Israelites to load their wagons, pressing gold and silver and clothing into their hands, pleading with them to leave while there is something left of Egypt and of their families.

Discuss

Even in this early time of Israel the Lord God was writing His prophesy of Jesus on the Cross. How does reading “… you must not break a bone of it” (the Passover lamb) encourage your trust in Him?

Reflect

The Israelites had lived for 430 years in Egypt, multiple generations had known no other home. While slavery was troubling and the traditional stories reminded them of their tribal history, leaving Egypt had to have been very emotionally-conflicting.

Share

When have you had to make a sudden and significant change in your life? How did that continue to imbalance you for a while? Did you sometimes long to return to the past, even though it was unpleasant?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where change is coming in your life.

Act

Today I will step out in faith, making whatever change the Lord asks of me, not looking back longingly on what I am leaving but looking ahead to what He has prepared.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Tuesday (Exodus 12:43 – 13:16)

Participation in the Passover

12:43 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the ordinance of the Passover. No foreigner may share in eating it. 12:44 But everyone’s servant who is bought for money, after you have circumcised him, may eat it. 12:45 A foreigner and a hired worker must not eat it. 12:46 It must be eaten in one house; you must not bring any of the meat outside the house, and you must not break a bone of it. 12:47 The whole community of Israel must observe it.

12:48 “When a foreigner lives with you and wants to observe the Passover to the Lord, all his males must be circumcised, and then he may approach and observe it, and he will be like one who is born in the land – but no uncircumcised person may eat of it. 12:49 The same law will apply to the person who is native-born and to the foreigner who lives among you.”

12:50 So all the Israelites did exactly as the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron. 12:51 And on this very day the Lord brought the Israelites out of the land of Egypt by their regiments.

The Law of the Firstborn

13:1 The Lord spoke to Moses: 13:2 “Set apart to me every firstborn male – the first offspring of every womb among the Israelites, whether human or animal; it is mine.”

13:3 Moses said to the people, “Remember this day on which you came out from Egypt, from the place where you were enslaved, for the Lord brought you out of there with a mighty hand – and no bread made with yeast may be eaten. 13:4 On this day, in the month of Abib, you are going out.

13:5 When the Lord brings you to the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites, and Jebusites, which he swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, then you will keep this ceremony in this month. 13:6 For seven days you must eat bread made without yeast, and on the seventh day there is to be a festival to the Lord. 13:7 Bread made without yeast must be eaten for seven days; no bread made with yeast shall be seen among you, and you must have no yeast among you within any of your borders.

13:8 You are to tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ 13:9 It will be a sign for you on your hand and a memorial on your forehead, so that the law of the Lord may be in your mouth, for with a mighty hand the Lord brought you out of Egypt. 13:10 So you must keep this ordinance at its appointed time from year to year.

13:11 When the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, as he swore to you and to your fathers, and gives it to you, 13:12 then you must give over to the Lord the first offspring of every womb. Every firstling of a beast that you have – the males will be the Lord’s. 13:13 Every firstling of a donkey you must redeem with a lamb, and if you do not redeem it, then you must break its neck. Every firstborn of your sons you must redeem.

13:14 In the future, when your son asks you ‘What is this?’ you are to tell him, ‘With a mighty hand the Lord brought us out from Egypt, from the land of slavery. 13:15 When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to release us, the Lord killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of people to the firstborn of animals. That is why I am sacrificing to the Lord the first male offspring of every womb, but all my firstborn sons I redeem.’ 13:16 It will be for a sign on your hand and for frontlets on your forehead, for with a mighty hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt.”

Prayer

Lord, You set them free, guided them, and protected them – You are a truly loving God.

Scripture In Perspective

God requires of the Israelites the firstborn animals as sacrifices of remembrance and the firstborn children as ones dedicated to His service.

God explains that this will be an assurance they never forget what He did for them in Egypt.

As the people left Egypt they left after generations as slaves, they were ill-equipped for a nomadic life nor were they prepared for military conflict, so God directed them away from the land of the Philistines. Although God could have easily protected them against the Philistines He knew that their faith was weak and their hearts fickle and He did not want them retreating to Egypt out of fear.

Moses kept the word that had been given to Joseph and brought his bones with them. There was no spiritual power in that but a matter of integrity and of symbolism of the return home.

God guided this huge populace, over a million people “Now the Lord was going before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them in the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel day or night. 13:22 He did not remove the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night from before the people.

Interact With The Text

Consider

While the Egyptians would not soon forget the God Who tore His people free of their selfish clutches, the Israelites, facing danger and trial, might have more readily forgotten – so the Lord required of them several elements of sacrificial remembrance.

Discuss

Over a million people traveling together, something rarely seen in the history of the world, what must it have been like to deal with all of the needs?

Reflect

The Lord God made it possible for everyone to see Him leading, a “... pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night He kept them from getting lost along the way and allowed them to travel as was best due to the weather.

Share

When have you been through a time of change and the Lord provided clear guidance to you?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you a path around conflict so that you will not be distracted from the task He has set before you.

Act

Today I will pray and study, and I will ask a fellow believer to pray in-agreement, that I hear rightly from the Holy Spirit how I might avoid a looming conflict. This is not because I should fear conflict, indeed sometimes it is unavoidable, but this is about avoidable conflict that might distract me from His mission. I will act according to lead of the Holy Spirit and I will share the results with a fellow believer as an encouragement to them.

Be Specific _________________________________________________

Wednesday (Exodus 13:17-22)

The Leading of God

13:17 When Pharaoh released the people, God did not lead them by the way to the land of the Philistines, although that was nearby, for God said, “Lest the people change their minds and return to Egypt when they experience war.”

13:18 So God brought the people around by the way of the desert to the Red Sea, and the Israelites went up from the land of Egypt prepared for battle.

13:19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph had made the Israelites solemnly swear, “God will surely attend to you, and you will carry my bones up from this place with you.”

13:20 They journeyed from Sukkoth and camped in Etham, on the edge of the desert.

13:21 Now the Lord was going before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them in the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel day or night.

13:22 He did not remove the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night from before the people.

Prayer

Lord, You know how fickle fallen humankind can be, our bravery turns to cowardice in a moment. May I be attentive to Your directions as to ways to avoid, and means to stand, so that I never retreat from the right path.

Scripture In Perspective

As the Israelites departed Egypt the most-direct path to their destination would have created the probability of an armed conflict with the Philistines – so the Lord God guided them away.

Although they were great in number they had just escaped generations of slavery and were not prepared, emotionally or militarily.

He took used the extra time of travel to prepare them for a more controlled battle, with the Egyptians rather than the Philistines.

He guided them continuously so that they were completely dependent upon His obvious presence.

Interact With The Text

Consider

The Lord God was completely familiar with the nature of the Israelites and guided them accordingly.

Discuss

Had the Israelites been immediately confronted in battle by the Philistines how likely is it that they would have fled back to Egypt?

Reflect

Even though the Lord God was constantly present in the cloud and the fire he knew that the moment the Israelites were confronted by force they’d wither – slavery can have that impact.

Share

When have you been guided away from a conflict – and in retrospect you recognized that your were not prepared to deal with it?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place in your life where you need to allow the Lord God to guide you and prepare you.

Act

I agree to prayerfully listen for the voice of the Lord through His Holy Spirit, engaging where He tells me to engage, and diverting away from engagement where He so directs. When I am uncertain I will ask a fellow believer to pray in-agreement for clarity, and as-appropriate I will consult one who meets the Biblical definition of an “elder”.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Thursday (Exodus 14:1-18)

The Victory at the Red Sea

14:1 The Lord spoke to Moses: 14:2 “Tell the Israelites that they must turn and camp before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea; you are to camp by the sea before Baal Zephon opposite it. 14:3 Pharaoh will think regarding the Israelites, ‘They are wandering around confused in the land – the desert has closed in on them.’ 14:4 I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after them. I will gain honor because of Pharaoh and because of all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” So this is what they did.

14:5 When it was reported to the king of Egypt that the people had fled, the heart of Pharaoh and his servants was turned against the people, and the king and his servants said, “What in the world have we done? For we have released the people of Israel from serving us!” 14:6 Then he prepared his chariots and took his army with him. 14:7 He took six hundred select chariots, and all the rest of the chariots of Egypt, and officers on all of them.

14:8 But the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he chased after the Israelites. Now the Israelites were going out defiantly. 14:9 The Egyptians chased after them, and all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh and his horsemen and his army overtook them camping by the sea, beside Pi-hahiroth, before Baal-Zephon. 14:10 When Pharaoh got closer, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians marching after them, and they were terrified. The Israelites cried out to the Lord, 14:11 and they said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the desert? What in the world have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 14:12 Isn’t this what we told you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone so that we can serve the Egyptians, because it is better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!’”

14:13 Moses said to the people, “Do not fear! Stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord that he will provide for you today; for the Egyptians that you see today you will never, ever see again. 14:14 The Lord will fight for you, and you can be still.”

14:15 The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. 14:16 And as for you, lift up your staff and extend your hand toward the sea and divide it, so that the Israelites may go through the middle of the sea on dry ground. 14:17 And as for me, I am going to harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will come after them, that I may be honored because of Pharaoh and his army and his chariots and his horsemen. 14:18 And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I have gained my honor because of Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”

Prayer

Lord, Your are my Lord and my defender, Who can march against the Lord God and live?

Scripture In Perspective

The Lord instructed Moses to divide the camp into two locations near the Red Sea in order to convince Pharaoh that they were in disarray.

Pharaoh, meanwhile, once-again changed his mind about the Israelites and decided to retrieve them – and he committed not only his most elite chariots but also all of the others – each of them carrying an officer.

The people saw the approach and immediately questioned the wisdom of Moses in taking them from relative safety-in-slavery into an expected slaughter in the desert. Moses instructed them to stand their ground, and though Moses’ words are not provided in the text the Lord God corrected Moses “Why do you cry out to me?” and directed him instead to tell the Israelites to march to the sea and to extend his staff over sea so which God would part and dry.

Meanwhile an angel of the Lord placed the columns of fire and cloud between the Israelites and Egyptians as a protective shield while the Israelites crossed the dry sea bed.

God again “hardened the heart of Pharaoh”, that is He amplified the already hard and stubborn heart of Pharaoh so that he would again act rashly and Pharaoh had his chariots charge after the Israelites.

God caused the charioteers to panic and their wheels to get stuck and then he brought the waters down upon them and Pharaoh’s entire army of chariots and horses and horsemen were drowned.

God’s stated purpose was then achieved “When Israel saw the great power that the Lord had exercised over the Egyptians, they feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Pharaoh seemed to have had a very short memory. Every time he opposed the freedom of the Israelites Egypt suffered terribly.

Discuss

After all of the plagues and the great power God had applied, through Moses, to set the Israelites free from Egyptian bondage why would they immediately doubt Moses the moment they saw Pharaoh’s army?

Reflect

Man had lots of agendas and God did also – to get everyone’s attention focused upon Him – in order that they would believe in Him and trust in His anointed leader, Moses.

Share

When have you made it necessary for God to get your attention?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how He has protected you against danger and trouble.

Act

Today I will remember what the Lord has done for me and I will celebrate it with at least one fellow believer.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Friday (Exodus 14:19-31)

14:19 The angel of God, who was going before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them. 14:20 It came between the Egyptian camp and the Israelite camp; it was a dark cloud and it lit up the night so that one camp did not come near the other the whole night.

14:21 Moses stretched out his hand toward the sea, and the Lord drove the sea apart by a strong east wind all that night, and he made the sea into dry land, and the water was divided.

14:22 So the Israelites went through the middle of the sea on dry ground, the water forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.

14:23 The Egyptians chased them and followed them into the middle of the sea – all the horses of Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.

14:24 In the morning watch the Lord looked down on the Egyptian army through the pillar of fire and cloud, and he threw the Egyptian army into a panic. 14:25 He jammed the wheels of their chariots so that they had difficulty driving, and the Egyptians said, “Let’s flee from Israel, for the Lord fights for them against Egypt!”

14:26 The Lord said to Moses, “Extend your hand toward the sea, so that the waters may flow back on the Egyptians, on their chariots, and on their horsemen!”

14:27 So Moses extended his hand toward the sea, and the sea returned to its normal state when the sun began to rise. Now the Egyptians were fleeing before it, but the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the middle of the sea.

14:28 The water returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen and all the army of Pharaoh that was coming after the Israelites into the sea – not so much as one of them survived!

14:29 But the Israelites walked on dry ground in the middle of the sea, the water forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.

14:30 So the Lord saved Israel on that day from the power of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the shore of the sea.

14:31 When Israel saw the great power that the Lord had exercised over the Egyptians, they feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.

Prayer

Lord, Your have always been consistent, protecting Your people from punishment meant only for their enemies. May I trust that You control the elements and everything else in creation and may with them as You sovereignly choose.

Scripture In Perspective

The Israelites had complained and grumbled against the Lord and Moses when they felt threatened by their former captors.

The Lord God blocked the Egyptians from attacking the Israelites throughout the night.

He then used Moses as His instrument of power, parting the sea and drying the seabed for their ease of travel.

In their arrogance, and despite their past experiences – and the immediate evidence of the power of the Lord on behalf of the Israelites – the Egyptians charged after them.

The Lord God stalled the Egyptian attack, they became disorganized when they finally recognized His presence, and then allowed the waters to return only upon the Egyptians.

He accomplished His multiple goals, protecting the Israelites from the Egyptians, punishing the Egyptians, causing the Israelites to return to a right-recognition of Himself, and to cause the Israelites to recognize Moses as His chosen instrument.

Interact With The Text

Consider

The Lord God could easily have struck the Egyptians dead but He chose another process so as to accomplish more.

Discuss

Watching this from his vantage point what must have been going through the mind of Pharaoh?

Reflect

The pattern of this was consistent with most of the plagues where only the Egyptians were harmed.

Share

When have you been faced with a challenge only to recognize that the Lord God had protected you as He punished those who sought to harm you?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place where I am doubting you, or refusing to be led by Your chosen leader, and may be creating the need for Him to educate you.

Act

I agree to be still and listen to the Holy Spirit, to humbly receive His correction, and to be teachable by His chosen leader and trusting in Him.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Saturday (Exodus 15:1-21)

The Song of Triumph

15:1 Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord. They said, “I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously, the horse and its rider he has thrown into the sea.

15:2 The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation. This is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

15:3 The Lord is a warrior, the Lord is his name.

15:4 The chariots of Pharaoh and his army he has thrown into the sea, and his chosen officers were drowned in the Red Sea.

15:5 The depths have covered them, they went down to the bottom like a stone.

15:6 Your right hand, O Lord, was majestic in power, your right hand, O Lord, shattered the enemy.

15:7 In the abundance of your majesty you have overthrown those who rise up against you. You sent forth your wrath; it consumed them like stubble.

15:8 By the blast of your nostrils the waters were piled up, the flowing water stood upright like a heap, and the deep waters were solidified in the heart of the sea.

15:9 The enemy said, ‘I will chase, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my desire will be satisfied on them. I will draw my sword, my hand will destroy them.’

15:10 But you blew with your breath, and the sea covered them. They sank like lead in the mighty waters.

15:11 Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you? – majestic in holiness, fearful in praises, working wonders?

15:12 You stretched out your right hand, the earth swallowed them.

15:13 By your loyal love you will lead the people whom you have redeemed; you will guide them by your strength to your holy dwelling place.

15:14 The nations will hear and tremble; anguish will seize the inhabitants of Philistia.

15:15 Then the chiefs of Edom will be terrified, trembling will seize the leaders of Moab, and the inhabitants of Canaan will shake.

15:16 Fear and dread will fall on them; by the greatness of your arm they will be as still as stone until your people pass by, O Lord, until the people whom you have bought pass by.

15:17 You will bring them in and plant them in the mountain of your inheritance, in the place you made for your residence, O Lord, the sanctuary, O Lord, that your hands have established.

15:18 The Lord will reign forever and ever!

15:19 For the horses of Pharaoh came with his chariots and his footmen into the sea, and the Lord brought back the waters of the sea on them, but the Israelites walked on dry land in the middle of the sea.”

15:20 Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a hand-drum in her hand, and all the women went out after her with hand-drums and with dances. 15:21 Miriam sang in response to them, “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and its rider he has thrown into the sea.”

The Bitter Water

15:22 Then Moses led Israel to journey away from the Red Sea. They went out to the Desert of Shur, walked for three days into the desert, and found no water. 15:23 Then they came to Marah, but they were not able to drink the waters of Marah, because they were bitter. (That is why its name was Marah.)

15:24 So the people murmured against Moses, saying, “What can we drink?” 15:25 He cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When Moses threw it into the water, the water became safe to drink. There the Lord made for them a binding ordinance, and there he tested them. 15:26 He said, “If you will diligently obey the Lord your God, and do what is right in his sight, and pay attention to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, then all the diseases that I brought on the Egyptians I will not bring on you, for I, the Lord, am your healer.”

15:27 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees, and they camped there by the water.

Prayer

Lord, may we be as excited in our celebration of Your great deeds as were Moses and the Israelites.

Scripture In Perspective

Moses and the Israelites created a song of celebration of God’s liberation and protection. Songs were a common means of remembering history.

Their song also looked ahead to God’s prophesy of their conquest and occupation of the promised lands currently occupied but other people.

The huge nation continued their travels but went three days without a source of fresh water. They found water but it was too bitter, unsafe, to drink. Moses asked God and God directed him to a nearby tree which when placed in the water rendered it safe to drink.

God then tells them that so long as they are faithful to Him they need not worry about any of the plagues of Egypt being visited upon them.

Interact With The Text

Consider

The Israelite method of celebrating and remembering history through the use of songs has also been used in other cultures.

Discuss

How important is the linkage between the remembrance of what God has done and what he has promised to do?

Reflect

Over a million people and their livestock needed water and were without a fresh source after 3 days of travel in the desert.

Share

When have you felt as though you were in an emotional and/or spiritual desert, without hope of water, and when you thought you had found it you discovered a problem? How did God heal that situation so that you were refreshed?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of what He has done in your life and what He is promising to do.

Act

Today I will find time apart for the busyness for prayer and time in the Word. I will be silent before the Lord and will submit to the Holy Spirit as He teaches me. I will be encouraged by remembrances of God’s faithfulness and reassured by His promises for my future. I will ask at least one fellow believer to pray for this special time with the Lord and I will share what I learn.

Be Specific _________________________________________________

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2012 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study. Prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in August of 2012. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

14. Exodus 15:21 – 19 (Journey to the Sinai)

A Chronological Daily Bible Study of the Old Testament
7-Day Sections
with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and a Practical Daily Application

Week 14

Sunday (Exodus 15:22-27)

The Bitter Water

15:22 Then Moses led Israel to journey away from the Red Sea. They went out to the Desert of Shur, walked for three days into the desert, and found no water. 15:23 Then they came to Marah, but they were not able to drink the waters of Marah, because they were bitter. (That is why its name was Marah.)

15:24 So the people murmured against Moses, saying, “What can we drink?” 15:25 He cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When Moses threw it into the water, the water became safe to drink. There the Lord made for them a binding ordinance, and there he tested them.

15:26 He said, “If you will diligently obey the Lord your God, and do what is right in his sight, and pay attention to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, then all the diseases that I brought on the Egyptians I will not bring on you, for I, the Lord, am your healer.”

15:27 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees, and they camped there by the water.

Prayer

Lord, may we recognize that Your desire is to bless us, but that the consequence of rebellion is trouble.

Scripture In Perspective

The huge nation continued their travels but went three days without a source of fresh water. They found water but it was too bitter, unsafe, to drink. Moses asked God and God directed him to a nearby tree which when placed in the water rendered it safe to drink.

God then tells them that so long as they are faithful to Him they need not worry about any of the plagues of Egypt being visited upon them.

Interact With The Text

Consider

A right expectation in this fallen world is for difficulties, but nothing is to great for the Lord God.

Discuss

Why is it that the Israelites, and we, have such short memories of the Lord’s protection and provision – and that His blessings are conditioned upon our obedience?

Reflect

Over a million people and their livestock needed water and were without a fresh source after 3 days of travel in the desert.

Share

When have you felt as though you were in an emotional and/or spiritual desert, without hope of water, and when you thought you had found it you discovered a problem? How did God heal that situation so that you were refreshed?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of what He has done in your life and what He is promising to do.

Act

Today I will find time apart for the busyness for prayer and time in the Word. I will be silent before the Lord and will submit to the Holy Spirit as He teaches me. I will be encouraged by remembrances of God's faithfulness and reassured by His promises for my future. I will ask at least one fellow believer to pray for this special time with the Lord and I will share what I learn.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Monday (Exodus 16)

The Provision of Manna

16:1 When they journeyed from Elim, the entire company of Israelites came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their exodus from the land of Egypt.

16:2 The entire company of Israelites murmured against Moses and Aaron in the desert.

16:3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this desert to kill this whole assembly with hunger!”

16:4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people will go out and gather the amount for each day, so that I may test them. Will they will walk in my law or not?

16:5 On the sixth day they will prepare what they bring in, and it will be twice as much as they gather every other day.”

16:6 Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you will know that the Lord has brought you out of the land of Egypt, 16:7 and in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your murmurings against the Lord. As for us, what are we, that you should murmur against us?”

16:8 Moses said, “You will know this when the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening and bread in the morning to satisfy you, because the Lord has heard your murmurings that you are murmuring against him. As for us, what are we? Your murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord.”

16:9 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Tell the whole community of the Israelites, ‘Come before the Lord, because he has heard your murmurings.’”

16:10 As Aaron spoke to the whole community of the Israelites and they looked toward the desert, there the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud, 16:11 and the Lord spoke to Moses: 16:12 “I have heard the murmurings of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘During the evening you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be satisfied with bread, so that you may know that I am the Lord your God.’”

16:13 In the evening the quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning a layer of dew was all around the camp. 16:14 When the layer of dew had evaporated, there on the surface of the desert was a thin flaky substance, thin like frost on the earth.

16:15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” because they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you for food.

16:16 “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Each person is to gather from it what he can eat, an omer per person according to the number of your people; each one will pick it up for whoever lives in his tent.’”

16:17 The Israelites did so, and they gathered – some more, some less.

16:18 When they measured with an omer, the one who gathered much had nothing left over, and the one who gathered little lacked nothing; each one had gathered what he could eat.

16:19 Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.”

16:20 But they did not listen to Moses; some kept part of it until morning, and it was full of worms and began to stink, and Moses was angry with them.

16:21 So they gathered it each morning, each person according to what he could eat, and when the sun got hot, it would melt.

16:22 And on the sixth day they gathered twice as much food, two omers per person; and all the leaders of the community came and told Moses.

16:23 He said to them, “This is what the Lord has said: ‘Tomorrow is a time of cessation from work, a holy Sabbath to the Lord. Whatever you want to bake, bake today; whatever you want to boil, boil today; whatever is left put aside for yourselves to be kept until morning.’”

16:24 So they put it aside until the morning, just as Moses had commanded, and it did not stink, nor were there any worms in it.

16:25 Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the area.

16:26 Six days you will gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any.”

16:27 On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather it, but they found nothing. 16:28 So the Lord said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to obey my commandments and my instructions?

16:29 See, because the Lord has given you the Sabbath, that is why he is giving you food for two days on the sixth day. Each of you stay where you are; let no one go out of his place on the seventh day.”

16:30 So the people rested on the seventh day.

16:31 The house of Israel called its name “manna.” It was like coriander seed and was white, and it tasted like wafers with honey.

16:32 Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Fill an omer with it to be kept for generations to come, so that they may see the food I fed you in the desert when I brought you out from the land of Egypt.’”

16:33 Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar and put in it an omer full of manna, and place it before the Lord to be kept for generations to come.”

16:34 Just as the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron placed it before the Testimony for safekeeping.

16:35 Now the Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was inhabited; they ate manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan. 16:36 (Now an omer is one tenth of an ephah.)

Prayer

Lord, we are quick to complain when things are difficult, yet You bear our immature whining and continue to love us. Thank you Lord for Your patience.

Scripture In Perspective

After previously complaining about the lack of water the Israelites now complain about the lack of food, even suggesting that Moses had led them to the desert to starve, as they previously accused him of leading them into the desert to die for lack of water. They again declare that it would have been better to die as slaves if only their stomachs were full.

God tells Moses that He will send bread and meat, that the people should gather a double-ration on the sixth day (Friday by the ancient Jewish reckoning) and to rest on Saturday. They were also to gather only enough for their family and not to hoard any.

God told Moses that He was doing it this way as a test to see if the people would “walk in My law”.

The people were corrected by Moses who reminded them that he was not the One who brought they out of captivity nor was he the One Who protected them and Who could provide for them – they were complaining about and to God, not him.

Moses told Aaron who told the people. Everyone who gathered discovered that they had just enough, whether they gathered more than their neighbor or less.

Some people disobeyed and hoarded extra and what they had hoarded rotted and Moses was righteously-angry with their disobedience. Then when the Sabbath day came they grumbled that there was no new food – and were reminded that they received a double-portion the day before.

Verses 16:32 to 34 describe God’s command that they gather an “omer” (one tenth of an ephah, about 1 or 2 liters) of manna and put it with the “Testimony” for a remembrance. Some have suggested that this is a misplaced text from the end of Exodus when the Ark of the Covenant had been created at God’s command (see NET translators notes). Another possibility is that just as their forefathers had built various memorials of stones to remember intersections with God, so also may Moses have kept a scroll or other article of remembrance as a pre-Ark physical “Testimony”.

God provided manna for all of the forty years of their journey in the desert.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Rather than make a humble and polite request for food the Israelites were instead accusatory and demanding, not to mention disrespectful to Moses.

Discuss

Why did God test the people in the way that he did?

Reflect

How different are we from the Israelites? Do we not also hoard, out of fear and/or greed, and forget to rest in God but rather prefer the pursuit of money and pleasure?

Share

When have you had your needs met but when it came time to take time to rest in the Lord God you busied yourself with other things?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you have displaced rest in the Lord with other things.

Act

Today I will listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit and re-order my priorities. I will set aside significant time for the Lord and will not worry myself with the distractions of other things. It does not need to become a rigid day and time schedule but it does need to be intentional and significant.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Tuesday (Exodus 17:1-7)

Water at Massa and Meribah

17:1 The whole community of the Israelites traveled on their journey from the Desert of Sin according to the Lord’s instruction, and they pitched camp in Rephidim. Now there was no water for the people to drink.

17:2 So the people contended with Moses, and they said, “Give us water to drink!” Moses said to them, “Why do you contend with me? Why do you test the Lord?”

17:3 But the people were very thirsty there for water, and they murmured against Moses and said, “Why in the world did you bring us up out of Egypt – to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?”

17:4 Then Moses cried out to the Lord, “What will I do with this people? – a little more and they will stone me!”

17:5 The Lord said to Moses, “Go over before the people; take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand your staff with which you struck the Nile and go.

17:6 I will be standing before you there on the rock in Horeb, and you will strike the rock, and water will come out of it so that the people may drink.” And Moses did so in plain view of the elders of Israel.

17:7 He called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the contending of the Israelites and because of their testing the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

Prayer

Lord, just as the people with Moses were desperate for water for temporary earthly life, we are desperate to You for the water of eternal life.

Scripture In Perspective

Once again there was a shortage of water for the traveling nation and once again instead of asking respectfully they questioned the wisdom of Moses, and by-association, God – and Moses again chastised them for that.

The Lord God still provided, instructing Moses to gather the elders and to strike a rock upon which He will appear, and Moses did so and water flowed. (It is important to remember the details of this interaction because something similar occurs later which Moses mishandles.)

Interact With The Text

Consider

The pattern of distrust of and disrespect toward Moses, whenever they were uncomfortable, has been established by this time. It will rear its ugly head later and result in a terrible consequence for the fearful and rebellious Israelites.

Discuss

Do some imagine themselves in a saving relationship with the Lord God merely because they are members of a man-made 'church' institution? How many have never truly received the water of eternal life?

Reflect

The Lord God required the presences of the elders, the tribal leaders of Israel, when He appeared at the rock and had Moses strike the rock with the staff to cause water to flow. It was a dramatic demonstration of His power and of His expression of that power through Moses.

Share

When has a group within a fellowship challenged the leadership in a somewhat disrespectful way rather than respectfully seeking guidance to seek their needs in-faithful prayer?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place in your life where you tend to be demanding rather than respectfully-requesting of the Lord God.

Act

Today I will confess and repent of my disrespectful attitude, request and receive Your forgiveness, and prayerfully bring my requests to You with a humble heart.

Be Specific _________________________________________________

Wednesday (Exodus 17:8-16)

Victory over the Amalekites

17:8 Amalek came and attacked Israel in Rephidim.

17:9 So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.”

17:10 So Joshua fought against Amalek just as Moses had instructed him;and Moses and Aaron and Hur went up to the top of the hill.

17:11 Whenever Moses would raise his hands, then Israel prevailed, but whenever he would rest his hands, then Amalek prevailed.

17:12 When the hands of Moses became heavy, they took a stone and put it under him, and Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side and one on the other, and so his hands were steady until the sun went down.

17:13 So Joshua destroyed Amalek and his army with the sword.

17:14 The Lord said to Moses, “Write this as a memorial in the book, and rehearse it in Joshua’s hearing; for I will surely wipe out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.

17:15 Moses built an altar, and he called it “The Lord is my Banner,” 17:16 for he said, “For a hand was lifted up to the throne of the Lord – that the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”

Prayer

Lord, despite our whining and improperly demanding attitudes You are faithful to us; please find me more faithful to and trusting of You.

Scripture In Perspective

The Amalekites attacked Israel and Moses dispatched Joshua to lead an army against them. The staff of Moses when upheld caused Israel to prevail but when Moses’ arms became tired Israel did not prevail. Aaron and Hur brought a stone for Moses to sit on and they each held one side of the staff and Israel destroyed the Amalekites.

God declared that He would wipe the Amalekites from the face of the earth (after a war with them “from generation to generation”) and instructed Moses to “Write this as a memorial in the book, and rehearse it in Joshuas hearing ...”, which further enhances the likelihood that the reference to “The Testimony” (in Exo. 16:34) may have been about an ongoing record – which was later added to the artifacts in the Ark of the Covenant.

Interact With The Text

Consider

The Enemy, imagining the Israelites to be vulnerable, used the Amalekites in an attempt to destroy them – his insane rage blinding him to the obvious – that the Lord God would defend His chosen people.

Discuss

God continued to choose the staff as a tool of His expression of power, and He allowed His power to flow only as Moses’ arms raise and steady the staff (this time eventually requiring the assistance of Aaron and Hur), what message might God have been communicating to the people? To Moses?

Reflect

The transmission of the Lord God’s promises from Moses to Joshua was vital to the perpetuation of a right-understanding of the Lord and the reliance His people were to have upon Him.

Share

When have you experienced the power and provision of God, delivered to you through another?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place where you need to allow Him to minister to you through another, someone whom He has equipped with His power to assist you.

Act

Today I will set aside my pride and allow God to intervene on my behalf through another. It may be someone physically able to complete a task for which my body is not capable, it may be a counselor or mediator or spokesman who can persuade another to favor me, it may be an accountant or doctor or lawyer or other professional acting on my behalf, or it may be someone intervening through intercessory prayer and/or spiritual warfare.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Thursday (Exodus 18:1-16)

The Advice of Jethro

18:1 Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law, heard about all that God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, that the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt.

18:2 Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, took Moses’ wife Zipporah after he had sent her back, 18:3 and her two sons, one of whom was named Gershom (for Moses had said, “I have been a foreigner in a foreign land”), 18:4 and the other Eliezer (for Moses had said, “The God of my father has been my help and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh”).

18:5 Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, together with Moses’ sons and his wife, came to Moses in the desert where he was camping by the mountain of God.

18:6 He said to Moses, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you, along with your wife and her two sons with her.”

18:7 Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him; they each asked about the other’s welfare, and then they went into the tent.

18:8 Moses told his father-in-law all that the Lord had done to Pharaoh and to Egypt for Israel’s sake, and all the hardship that had come on them along the way, and how the Lord had delivered them.

18:9 Jethro rejoiced because of all the good that the Lord had done for Israel, whom he had delivered from the hand of Egypt.

18:10 Jethro said, “Blessed be the Lord who has delivered you from the hand of Egypt, and from the hand of Pharaoh, who has delivered the people from the Egyptians’ control!

18:11 Now I know that the Lord is greater than all the gods, for in the thing in which they dealt proudly against them he has destroyed them.”

18:12 Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and sacrifices for God, and Aaron and all the elders of Israel came to eat food with the father-in-law of Moses before God.

18:13 On the next day Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning until evening.

18:14 When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why are you sitting by yourself, and all the people stand around you from morning until evening?”

18:15 Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God.

18:16 When they have a dispute, it comes to me and I decide between a man and his neighbor, and I make known the decrees of God and his laws.”

Prayer

Lord, what You did in and through Moses was a testimony of power and of truth to Jethro “Priest of the Midianites”, as well as Moses’ father-in-law. May Your work in and through me also be a testimony to You.

Scripture In Perspective

Jethro had cared for the family of Moses while he served the Lord God in the liberation of His (and his) people in Egypt.

Now that the Israelites were past the liberation and conflict with the Amalekites Jethro brought them to Moses.

Moses treated Jethro with gratefulness and honor and humbly shared what the Lord had done.

Jethro recognized and surrendered to the Lordship of God and brought an offering.

Jethro then observed Moses as he attempted to judge all of the people of Israel, a nation very likely over half of a million people.

Moses explained his reasons.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Up until this point Jethro did not acknowledge the Lordship of God, he was a priest for another religion, and very likely taught the same to his daughter and to Moses’ children.

Discuss

Why would Moses think that he could, and should, attempt to judge the entire nation of Israel alone?

Reflect

Jethro, despite his age and title, remained teachable. A role model to Moses.

Share

When have you observed a person who was older and who held a title of some sort learn from someone younger and alter something they thought and/or did?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you something that He wants to change in your thinking.

Act

I will humble myself and be teachable so that the lesson the Lord God has for me may make me wiser and a more valuable instrument in His great work.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Friday (Exodus 18:17-27)

18:17 Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good! 18:18 You will surely wear out, both you and these people who are with you, for this is too heavy a burden for you; you are not able to do it by yourself.

18:19 Now listen to me, I will give you advice, and may God be with you: You be a representative for the people to God, and you bring their disputes to God; 18:20 warn them of the statutes and the laws, and make known to them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do.

18:21 But you choose from the people capable men, God-fearing, men of truth, those who hate bribes, and put them over the people as rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.

18:22 They will judge the people under normal circumstances, and every difficult case they will bring to you, but every small case they themselves will judge, so that you may make it easier for yourself, and they will bear the burden with you.

18:23 If you do this thing, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all these people will be able to go home satisfied.”

18:24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he had said. 18:25 Moses chose capable men from all Israel, and he made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.

18:26 They judged the people under normal circumstances; the difficult cases they would bring to Moses, but every small case they would judge themselves.

18:27 Then Moses sent his father-in-law on his way, and so Jethro went to his own land.

Prayer

Lord, may leaders be humble and trusting enough to delegate, and may those to whom they delegate be faithful, and in whichever role You place me may I give my best.

Scripture In Perspective

Jethro observed Moses carrying the weight of resolving every small and great legal conflict among the Israelite nation of over a million people.

He advised Moses to recruit men of maturity to handle the small matters so that he would only have to handle the major ones.

Moses was humble enough to hear and heed the counsel of Jethro. (The NET translators notes remark that this is a role model for all leaders. One might also observe that much of the modern court system owes its roots to this wise counsel, presumably instigated in Jethro by God.)

Interact With The Text

Consider

Moses made a decision to submit as the Lord God’s chosen instrument in leading the Israelites out of Egyptian captivity and left his family in the safekeeping of Jethro.

Discuss

Do you agree with the NET translators that Jethro was in a strong position to have his advice heard by Moses because of his age, his relationship, and that he had no plans to remain and be one of those to whom Moses delegated, nor to continue to give additional advise?

Reflect

Moses was advised to choose men who were respected in the community, much as the apostle Paul later counseled Timothy to do the same when choosing elders. Moses would also need to instruct them as to the dividing line between minor cases, which they would handle, and major cases, which they were to escalate-up to him.

Share

When have you experienced or observed a leader who became overwhelmed by too many responsibilities? Was that leader able to receive the wisdom of taking the risk to delegate?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to send me a Jethro, and to give me the humility to receive what he says.

Act

Today I will humbly delegate where I need to delegate, respectfully counsel where I need to counsel a leader to delegate, or humbly make myself available to answer the call to fill a gap where there is a gap for which God has equipped and prepared me to fill.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Saturday (Exodus 19)

Israel at Sinai

19:1 In the third month after the Israelites went out from the land of Egypt, on the very day, they came to the Desert of Sinai. 19:2 After they journeyed from Rephidim, they came to the Desert of Sinai, and they camped in the desert; Israel camped there in front of the mountain.

19:3 Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, “Thus you will tell the house of Jacob, and declare to the people of Israel: 19:4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt and how I lifted you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 19:5 And now, if you will diligently listen to me and keep my covenant, then you will be my special possession out of all the nations, for all the earth is mine, 19:6 and you will be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you will speak to the Israelites.”

19:7 So Moses came and summoned the elders of Israel. He set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him, 19:8 and all the people answered together, “All that the Lord has commanded we will do!” So Moses brought the words of the people back to the Lord.

19:9 The Lord said to Moses, “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people may hear when I speak with you and so that they will always believe in you.” And Moses told the words of the people to the Lord.

19:10 The Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and make them wash their clothes 19:11 and be ready for the third day, for on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 19:12 You must set boundaries for the people all around, saying, ‘Take heed to yourselves not to go up on the mountain nor touch its edge. Whoever touches the mountain will surely be put to death! 19:13 No hand will touch him – but he will surely be stoned or shot through, whether a beast or a human being; he must not live.’ When the ram’s horn sounds a long blast they may go up on the mountain.”

19:14 Then Moses went down from the mountain to the people and sanctified the people, and they washed their clothes. 19:15 He said to the people, “Be ready for the third day. Do not go near your wives.”

19:16 On the third day in the morning there was thunder and lightning and a dense cloud on the mountain, and the sound of a very loud horn; all the people who were in the camp trembled. 19:17 Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their place at the foot of the mountain. 19:18 Now Mount Sinai was completely covered with smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire, and its smoke went up like the smoke of a great furnace, and the whole mountain shook violently. 19:19 When the sound of the horn grew louder and louder, Moses was speaking and God was answering him with a voice.

19:20 The Lord came down on Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain, and the Lord summoned Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. 19:21 The Lord said to Moses, “Go down and solemnly warn the people, lest they force their way through to the Lord to look, and many of them perish. 19:22 Let the priests also, who approach the Lord, sanctify themselves, lest the Lord break through against them.”

19:23 Moses said to the Lord, “The people are not able to come up to Mount Sinai, because you solemnly warned us, ‘Set boundaries for the mountain and set it apart.’” 19:24 The Lord said to him, “Go, get down, and come up, and Aaron with you, but do not let the priests and the people force their way through to come up to the Lord, lest he break through against them.” 19:25 So Moses went down to the people and spoke to them.

Prayer

Lord, Your presence of perfection is like fire to the dross that is a fallen creature (man or beast) here on Earth. May I remember that while You love me, You are still a holy and perfect Lord God and I am only worthy to call you Abba Father because of Jesus. Please find me humble.

Scripture In Perspective

90 days after they left Egypt the Israelites arrived at the base of Mount Sinai. The precise location of Mount Sinai has been debated based upon archeology and differing interpretations of Biblical mention of specific features and stopping points along the way there.

Moses climbed the mountain and the Lord God instructed him to tell the people that He desired them to be a nation guided by priests, as they were obedient they would become a holy nation - worthy of His blessing - as a nation set apart from all others by Him.

Moses traveled back down and delivered God’s message to elders who on behalf of the people agreed to His terms. Moses then returned to the mountain to deliver the message that the elders had agreed.

The Lord was pleased and instructed Moses to have the people ceremonially prepare themselves for three days and to warn them to keep themselves, and their animals, from touching any part of the mountain or else they would die.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Israel had a simple, indeed primitive, national relationship with (and an understanding of) God. They had suffered a lot of distracting influences from their days in Egypt, as well as other influenced from their national past.

Discuss

Over a million strong, generations accustomed to the predictability of life in Egypt, challenged by the Egyptian charioteers at the Red Sea, attacked by the Amorites along the way, twice running out of water and once out of food, and now confronted with a mountain that rumbled and roared with clouds and smoke – all in the brief span of 90 days (during a period when they were constantly moving). How confused, disoriented, exhausted, and frightened must they have been?

Reflect

God used what was probably a volcanic mountain to stage His meeting with Moses, on behalf of the Israelites, to establish Himself as their Lord God – it was designed to be a profoundly visual manifestation.

Share

When have you found yourself in the midst of many changes and discovered that things you had previously found easy to manage, and to understand, somehow became more challenging?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you may need some work on your walk before the Lord.

Act

Today I will humbly and prayerfully accept the guidance of the Holy Spirit as to areas in my walk that are not guided by the new covenant Biblical expectations of the “priesthood of all believers” so that I may be more-intimately and profoundly part of the “righteous nation” that is Christ’s church.

Be Specific _________________________________________________

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2012 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study. Prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in August of 2012. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

15. Exodus 20 – 31:11 (Decalogue, Sanctuary, Priests)

A Chronological Daily Bible Study of the Old Testament
7-Day Sections
with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and a Practical Daily Application

Week 15

Sunday (Exodus 20)

The Decalogue

20:1 God spoke all these words:

20:2 “I, the Lord, am your God, who brought you from the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery.

20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

20:4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or that is on the earth beneath or that is in the water below. 20:5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous God, responding to the transgression of fathers by dealing with children to the third and fourth generations of those who reject me, 20:6 and showing covenant faithfulness to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

20:7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold guiltless anyone who takes his name in vain.

20:8 “Remember the Sabbath day to set it apart as holy. 20:9 For six days you may labor and do all your work, 20:10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; on it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, or your male servant, or your female servant, or your cattle, or the resident foreigner who is in your gates. 20:11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that is in them, and he rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.

20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, that you may live a long time in the land the Lord your God is giving to you.

20:13 “You shall not murder.

20:14 “You shall not commit adultery.

20:15 “You shall not steal.

20:16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

20:17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

20:18 All the people were seeing the thundering and the lightning, and heard the sound of the horn, and saw the mountain smoking – and when the people saw it they trembled with fear and kept their distance. 20:19 They said to Moses, “You speak to us and we will listen, but do not let God speak with us, lest we die.” 20:20 Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you so that you do not sin.” 20:21 The people kept their distance, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was.

The Altar

20:22 The Lord said to Moses: “Thus you will tell the Israelites: ‘You yourselves have seen that I have spoken with you from heaven. 20:23 You must not make gods of silver alongside me, nor make gods of gold for yourselves.

20:24 ‘You must make for me an altar made of earth, and you will sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your cattle. In every place where I cause my name to be honored I will come to you and I will bless you. 20:25 If you make me an altar of stone, you must not build it of stones shaped with tools, for if you use your tool on it you have defiled it. 20:26 And you must not go up by steps to my altar, so that your nakedness is not exposed.’

Prayer

Lord, Your 10 Commandments are as valid today as when You gave them to the Israelites, may I be found faithful to them.

Scripture In Perspective

The Lord God gave Moses the “Decalogue”, which in the Bible means the 10 Commandments, and elsewhere refers to a list of laws, rules – together with the associated authority.

He introduced the Decalogue by reminding them of Who He was to them – the Liberator – the One Who with-power set them free from 400 years of slavery in Egypt.

One

20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.”

The Lord God declared His superiority. He pre-existed all else and caused it to be, He is sovereign.

Two

20:4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or that is on the earth beneath or that is in the water below. 20:5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous God, responding to the transgression of fathers by dealing with children to the third and fourth generations of those who reject me, 20:6 and showing covenant faithfulness to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

The Lord God declared monotheism and then He left no room whatsoever for multiple Gods. He also included a curse for disobedience and His conditional-promise; “... showing covenant faithfulness to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

Three

20:7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold guiltless anyone who takes his name in vain.

The Lord God required respect, His name was holy because He is holy. In this case the failure to obey included a curse.

Four

20:8 “Remember the Sabbath day to set it apart as holy. 20:9 For six days you may labor and do all your work, 20:10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; on it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, or your male servant, or your female servant, or your cattle, or the resident foreigner who is in your gates. 20:11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that is in them, and he rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.

The Lord God had previously “given” the Sabbath to His people, He knew that in their busyness they would lose site of the priority of their relationship with Him, forget their history with Him, and drift into the ways of non-Israelites around them. He removed their freedom to work; which did not mean they could do nothing at all on the Sabbath. He would later define this all in greater detail. He also explained that they were to model His pattern in Creation.

Five

20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, that you may live a long time in the land the Lord your God is giving to you.

He included a curse and a promise; a long life in the promised land, or the corollary.

Six

20:13 “You shall not murder.

The Lord God put a fine-edge on this command as it required a measure of heart-intent; He did not say (as some have mistranslated) “You shall not kill”, He very intentionally said “You shall not murder”. All murder is killing but all killing is not murder.

Murder is a selfish action, killing has multiple motivations. Murder begins with a heart of rebellion, it degrades what God says is in His image – humankind – and it is committed for selfish personal gain.

Killing was not only done by God, it was done at the behest of God, to make of all killing a act of sin one makes God the author of sin – which is blasphemy. Killing may be accidental, in self-defense, in defense of another, due to carelessness, or may be in war.

Seven

20:14 “You shall not commit adultery.

The Lord God set a literal standard, one that precluded a specific (and presumably physical) relational act, that of sexual contact with one not ones spouse, if one were married, (or contact with a married person if one were single).

Jesus would later expand the definition to include a heart of lust toward one not ones spouse, if one were married, or toward a married person if one were single. While God's legal standard was challenging for the undisciplined person the grace-centered heart-based requirement of Jesus called for a transformative surrender to the Holy Spirit, for without that no man or woman could remain free of sin.

The presumption for all sexual contact involved God-ordained male-female marriage, there was no provision for two non-married people having sexual contact, nor for same-gender relationships.

Eight

20:15 “You shall not steal.

The essence of the Lord God's law against stealing permeated all of the others. To have another God before Him would be to steal His rightful place. To worship idols would be to steal His rightful place. To dishonor ones parents is to steal from them due-respect. To murder steals life from another, and their dependents and loved-ones for selfish gain. To commit adultery steals affections not rightfully yours (whether stealing them from the disrespected spouse or taking them from another single person without the protective context of marriage). To give false testimony steals justice from another.

Nine

20:16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

Just as adultery, disrespect, murder, and stealing would destroy the Israelite family, God knew that lying about one-another would do so as well.

Ten

20:17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

Covetousness was also a wrong heart condition. God knew that if His people focused on what others possessed, be it their house, spouse, servants, beasts of burden, or anything else it would become an obsession which would drive them to compete with or to take away from others.

Interact With The Text

Consider

The 10 Commandments are often found, at least in part, in the guidelines for every successful civilization, yet rarely do they give the Lord God proper credit. There is evidence from the earliest recorded history of man that these things had been placed in their hearts by the Lord God, yet here God makes them ordinances for a nation who had promised to be a holy and priest-led people.

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you may be violating some of the 10 Commandments, and where you have been faithful in honoring them.

Act

Today I will make an unflinching assessment of my walk, acknowledging where the Holy Spirit points out strengths and weaknesses in my partnership with Him. I will celebrate those areas where I have been found faithful and recommit myself to mature in the areas of failure.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Monday (Exodus 21 - 23)

The Decisions

21:1 “These are the decisions that you will set before them:

Hebrew Servants

21:2 “If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years, but in the seventh year he will go out free without paying anything. 21:3 If he came in by himself he will go out by himself; if he had a wife when he came in, then his wife will go out with him. 21:4 If his master gave him a wife, and she bore sons or daughters, the wife and the children will belong to her master, and he will go out by himself. 21:5 But if the servant should declare, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ 21:6 then his master must bring him to the judges, and he will bring him to the door or the doorposts, and his master will pierce his ear with an awl, and he shall serve him forever.

21:7 “If a man sells his daughter as a female servant, she will not go out as the male servants do. 21:8 If she does not please her master, who has designated her for himself, then he must let her be redeemed. He has no right to sell her to a foreign nation, because he has dealt deceitfully with her. 21:9 If he designated her for his son, then he will deal with her according to the customary rights of daughters. 21:10 If he takes another wife, he must not diminish the first one’s food, her clothing, or her marital rights. 21:11 If he does not provide her with these three things, then she will go out free, without paying money.

Personal Injuries

21:12 “Whoever strikes someone so that he dies must surely be put to death. 21:13 But if he does not do it with premeditation, but it happens by accident, then I will appoint for you a place where he may flee. 21:14 But if a man willfully attacks his neighbor to kill him cunningly, you will take him even from my altar that he may die.

21:15 “Whoever strikes his father or his mother must surely be put to death.

21:16 “Whoever kidnaps someone and sells him, or is caught still holding him, must surely be put to death.

21:17 “Whoever treats his father or his mother disgracefully must surely be put to death.

21:18 “If men fight, and one strikes his neighbor with a stone or with his fist and he does not die, but must remain in bed, 21:19 and then if he gets up and walks about outside on his staff, then the one who struck him is innocent, except he must pay for the injured person’s loss of time and see to it that he is fully healed.

21:20 “If a man strikes his male servant or his female servant with a staff so that he or she dies as a result of the blow, he will surely be punished. 21:21 However, if the injured servant survives one or two days, the owner will not be punished, for he has suffered the loss.

21:22 “If men fight and hit a pregnant woman and her child is born prematurely, but there is no serious injury, he will surely be punished in accordance with what the woman’s husband demands of him, and he will pay what the court decides. 21:23 But if there is serious injury, then you will give a life for a life, 21:24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 21:25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

21:26 “If a man strikes the eye of his male servant or his female servant so that he destroys it, he will let the servant go free as compensation for the eye. 21:27 If he knocks out the tooth of his male servant or his female servant, he will let the servant go free as compensation for the tooth.

Laws about Animals

21:28 “If an ox gores a man or a woman so that either dies, then the ox must surely be stoned and its flesh must not be eaten, but the owner of the ox will be acquitted. 21:29 But if the ox had the habit of goring, and its owner was warned, and he did not take the necessary precautions, and then it killed a man or a woman, the ox must be stoned and the man must be put to death. 21:30 If a ransom is set for him, then he must pay the redemption for his life according to whatever amount was set for him. 21:31 If the ox gores a son or a daughter, the owner will be dealt with according to this rule. 21:32 If the ox gores a male servant or a female servant, the owner must pay thirty shekels of silver, and the ox must be stoned.

21:33 “If a man opens a pit or if a man digs a pit and does not cover it, and an ox or a donkey falls into it, 21:34 the owner of the pit must repay the loss. He must give money to its owner, and the dead animal will become his. 21:35 If the ox of one man injures the ox of his neighbor so that it dies, then they will sell the live ox and divide its proceeds, and they will also divide the dead ox. 21:36 Or if it is known that the ox had the habit of goring, and its owner did not take the necessary precautions, he must surely pay ox for ox, and the dead animal will become his.

Laws about Property

22:1 (21:37) “If a man steals an ox or a sheep and kills it or sells it, he must pay back five head of cattle for the ox, and four sheep for the one sheep.

22:2 “If a thief is caught breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there will be no blood guilt for him. 22:3 If the sun has risen on him, then there is blood guilt for him. A thief must surely make full restitution; if he has nothing, then he will be sold for his theft. 22:4 If the stolen item should in fact be found alive in his possession, whether it be an ox or a donkey or a sheep, he must pay back double.

22:5 “If a man grazes his livestock in a field or a vineyard, and he lets the livestock loose and they graze in the field of another man, he must make restitution from the best of his own field and the best of his own vineyard.

22:6 “If a fire breaks out and spreads to thorn bushes, so that stacked grain or standing grain or the whole field is consumed, the one who started the fire must surely make restitution.

22:7 “If a man gives his neighbor money or articles for safekeeping, and it is stolen from the man’s house, if the thief is caught, he must repay double. 22:8 If the thief is not caught, then the owner of the house will be brought before the judges to see whether he has laid his hand on his neighbor’s goods. 22:9 In all cases of illegal possessions, whether for an ox, a donkey, a sheep, a garment, or any kind of lost item, about which someone says ‘This belongs to me,’ the matter of the two of them will come before the judges, and the one whom the judges declare guilty must repay double to his neighbor. 22:10 If a man gives his neighbor a donkey or an ox or a sheep or any beast to keep, and it dies or is hurt or is carried away without anyone seeing it, 22:11 then there will be an oath to the Lord between the two of them, that he has not laid his hand on his neighbor’s goods, and its owner will accept this, and he will not have to pay. 22:12 But if it was stolen from him, he will pay its owner. 22:13 If it is torn in pieces, then he will bring it for evidence, and he will not have to pay for what was torn.

22:14 “If a man borrows an animal from his neighbor, and it is hurt or dies when its owner was not with it, the man who borrowed it will surely pay. 22:15 If its owner was with it, he will not have to pay; if it was hired, what was paid for the hire covers it.

Moral and Ceremonial Laws

22:16 “If a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged and has sexual relations with her, he must surely endow her to be his wife. 22:17 If her father refuses to give her to him, he must pay money for the bride price of virgins.

22:18 “You must not allow a sorceress to live.

22:19 “Whoever has sexual relations with a beast must surely be put to death.

22:20 “Whoever sacrifices to a god other than the Lord alone must be utterly destroyed.

22:21 “You must not wrong a foreigner nor oppress him, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.

22:22 “You must not afflict any widow or orphan. 22:23 If you afflict them in any way and they cry to me, I will surely hear their cry, 22:24 and my anger will burn and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives will be widows and your children will be fatherless.

22:25 “If you lend money to any of my people who are needy among you, do not be like a moneylender to him; do not charge him interest. 22:26 If you do take the garment of your neighbor in pledge, you must return it to him by the time the sun goes down, 22:27 for it is his only covering – it is his garment for his body. What else can he sleep in? And when he cries out to me, I will hear, for I am gracious.

22:28 “You must not blaspheme God or curse the ruler of your people.

22:29 “Do not hold back offerings from your granaries or your vats. You must give me the firstborn of your sons. 22:30 You must also do this for your oxen and for your sheep; seven days they may remain with their mothers, but give them to me on the eighth day.

22:31 “You will be holy people to me; you must not eat any meat torn by animals in the field. You must throw it to the dogs.

Justice

23:1 “You must not give a false report. Do not make common cause with the wicked to be a malicious witness.

23:2 “You must not follow a crowd in doing evil things; in a lawsuit you must not offer testimony that agrees with a crowd so as to pervert justice, 23:3 and you must not show partiality to a poor man in his lawsuit.

23:4 “If you encounter your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, you must by all means return it to him. 23:5 If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen under its load, you must not ignore him, but be sure to help him with it.

23:6 “You must not turn away justice for your poor people in their lawsuits. 23:7 Keep your distance from a false charge – do not kill the innocent and the righteous, for I will not justify the wicked.

23:8 “You must not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and subverts the words of the righteous.

23:9 “You must not oppress a foreigner, since you know the life of a foreigner, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.

Sabbaths and Feasts

23:10 “For six years you are to sow your land and gather in its produce. 23:11 But in the seventh year you must let it lie fallow and leave it alone so that the poor of your people may eat, and what they leave any animal in the field may eat; you must do likewise with your vineyard and your olive grove. 23:12 For six days you are to do your work, but on the seventh day you must cease, in order that your ox and your donkey may rest and that your female servant’s son and any hired help may refresh themselves.

23:13 “Pay attention to do everything I have told you, and do not even mention the names of other gods – do not let them be heard on your lips.

23:14 “Three times in the year you must make a pilgrim feast to me. 23:15 You are to observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread; seven days you must eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you, at the appointed time of the month of Abib, for at that time you came out of Egypt. No one may appear before me empty-handed.

23:16 “You are also to observe the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors that you have sown in the field, and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year when you have gathered in your harvest out of the field. 23:17 At three times in the year all your males will appear before the Lord God.

23:18 “You must not offer the blood of my sacrifice with bread containing yeast; the fat of my festal sacrifice must not remain until morning. 23:19 The first of the firstfruits of your soil you must bring to the house of the Lord your God.

“You must not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.

The Angel of the Presence

23:20 “I am going to send an angel before you to protect you as you journey and to bring you into the place that I have prepared. 23:21 Take heed because of him, and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgressions, for my name is in him. 23:22 But if you diligently obey him and do all that I command, then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and I will be an adversary to your adversaries. 23:23 For my angel will go before you and bring you to the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and I will destroy them completely.

23:24 “You must not bow down to their gods; you must not serve them or do according to their practices. Instead you must completely overthrow them and smash their standing stones to pieces. 23:25 You must serve the Lord your God, and he will bless your bread and your water, and I will remove sickness from your midst. 23:26 No woman will miscarry her young or be barren in your land. I will fulfill the number of your days.

23:27 “I will send my terror before you, and I will destroy all the people whom you encounter; I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. 23:28 I will send hornets before you that will drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite before you. 23:29 I will not drive them out before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the wild animals multiply against you. 23:30 Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you become fruitful and inherit the land. 23:31 I will set your boundaries from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the desert to the River, for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you will drive them out before you.

23:32 “You must make no covenant with them or with their gods. 23:33 They must not live in your land, lest they make you sin against me, for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.”

Prayer

Lord, Your law was perfect in its time as is your grace, may I have your heart for justice and love. You are the author of love, the definer of justice, and the source of holiness – please draw me nearer to You. You instructed the ancient Israelites to not even mention the name of other Gods, to destroy their places of worship, to copy none of their religious customs or traditions, or to dwell among them. May You find me as equally-yoked to You-alone, in all of these ways, for all of my days.

Scripture In Perspective

The Lord God dictated the laws or regulations for the Israelites, recognizing their primitive social customs and economic systems, and He provided guidelines for the Elders to whom Moses had delegated much of the justice system.

Hebrew servants were generally in that role for economic reasons rather than involuntary servitude, perhaps “indentured servant” might be a better term. While the term Hebrew was to the Egyptians a generic term for nomadic people, whose lineage was not limited to the twelve tribes but may have traced back to Abraham, in this case it appears to have been narrowed to the Israelites (the 12 tribes).

The Lord God provides for consideration of intent and for what would later become known as a city of refuge 21:12 “Whoever strikes someone so that he dies must surely be put to death. 21:13 But if he does not do it with premeditation, but it happens by accident, then I will appoint for you a place where he may flee.“

In an interesting reference to the unborn God required special caution around pregnant women “21:22 “If men fight and hit a pregnant woman and her child is born prematurely, but there is no serious injury, he will surely be punished in accordance with what the woman’s husband demands of him, and he will pay what the court decides. 21:23 But if there is serious injury, then you will give a life for a life, 21:24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 21:25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.”

In multiple cases God provides for consideration of careless and reckless disregard for the safety of others, something often thought of as a modern legal concept, for example 21:29 But if the ox had the habit of goring, and its owner was warned, and he did not take the necessary precautions, and then it killed a man or a woman, the ox must be stoned and the man must be put to death.

The Lord God continues to define the boundaries for a balanced and just society.

The rules for the new Israelite civilization included moral regulations, a prohibition against witchcraft (among them), and a “do to others” imperative in the treatment of non-Israelites in their midst (“... for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt”).

Widows and orphans were not to be mistreated in any way, if funds were loaned to fellow Israelites then interest was not to be charged and ones last possessions (e.g. their coat) was only allowed to be kept for a day, not overnight when they desperately needed it.

The NET translators note that 22:28 could reasonably be translated to refer to not blaspheming God by cursing leaders Whom God had chosen and empowered “You must not blaspheme God or curse the ruler of your people.”

The Lord God continued His instructions as to the administration of justice among the Israelites.

He then also required of them sabbaths and feasts of celebration, remembrance, and sacrifice.

He required that they not even say the names of false foreign gods.

He then announced 23:20 “I am going to send an angel before you ...”, which in some ways would be like the power they viewed from a distance on the mountain, or in the columns of cloud/smoke and fire as they traveled away from Egypt, and in some others like the angel/man with Whom Jacob wrestled, and the One who appeared standing on the rock which Moses struck to draw forth water. While speculation has been that this may refer to a preincarnate Jesus, such is not required (nor excluded) by the text as there is a pattern throughout the OT of angelic appearances and various expressions of God's power in men, animals, and even inanimate objects.

The Lord God once-again makes clear that His provision and protection is conditional “23:22 But if you diligently obey him and do all that I command ...”

He concluded this section of instructions with a warning to not be in fellowship with, or yoked to, those who worshiped foreign Gods.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Many of our so-called modern legal concepts find their roots in the ancient Book of Exodus, as well as others. These were a million somewhat primitive people who had grown dependent upon the provision and regulations of their Egyptian captors, they had more than once expressed a desire to return to captivity rather than face struggles and the unknown, thus they required a very clear and detailed structure. Most, if not all of these laws and regulations, sabbaths, feasts, and promises have been completed, yet all are valuable upon which to reflect God's character and wisdom.

Discuss

How uncomfortable does the ancient primitive social and legal system make you in these modern times? Are you aware that Sharia Law, promoted by a powerful minority in Islam, bears much in common with this law – though Sharia it is not as enlightened in many ways e.g. the Lord God singles out widows and orphans for special protection; in primitive societies, then and now, is not their vulnerability profound? God forbade the Israelites from even speaking the names of the false foreign gods. Perhaps it was because He did not want them to become in any way comfortable with them by so doing? Surely God Himself was repelled by them.

Reflect

While a Hebrew servant was not treated with equal value to a non-servant God provided some considerable protections to them. God's moral boundaries span a wide range of circumstances from the seduction of a virgin to the loaning of money, He addressed all of those issues which could be used by the enemy to attack the Israelites from within. How amazing must it have been to hear that the Lord God would send the “angel of His presence” ahead of and among them to guide, to provide, and to protect.

Share

When have you been a participant in a legal proceeding, or been aware of the details of one? Share something from that proceeding that now reminds you of something in Exodus 21. When have you faced one of the circumstances described in this text? If the others involved did not deal with you justly, and/or honor these moral boundaries, how might things have worked out better if they had? When have you experienced or observed conflict and confusion that resulted from Christians who had become enmeshed in relationships with non-Christians and/or with non-Christian religious influences?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you need to learn to be an greater control of your actions and your words, to show you where you a widow or an orphan who is being mistreated and/or who needs assistance, to show you where you may be compromising your pure Biblical faith due to improper associations and/or mixing-in the religious beliefs and/or practices of non-Biblical faiths. (This is called syncretism).

Act

Today I will begin a week of careful monitoring of my actions and my words, and may choose to invite a fellow believer to observe and keep notes for me as well. Where my actions and/or words result in harm to another, be they physically violent of otherwise improper or unloving, I will repent (turn away) from them. I will reach out to a Christian widow or a Christian orphan and encourage them, pray for them, and provide them some sort of assistance. I may provide services if my gifts and/or profession matches their need, or some sort of practical assistance in the form of food or clothing. I will heed the warning of the Holy Spirit and cleanse my faith-walk of any non-Biblical influences and I will place careful boundaries upon my associations with non-Christians so that I may be certain to be not of this world while I remain in this world to honor, obey, and serve the Lord God.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Tuesday (Exodus 24)

The Lord Ratifies the Covenant

24:1 But to Moses the Lord said, “Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from a distance. 24:2 Moses alone may come near the Lord, but the others must not come near, nor may the people go up with him.”

24:3 Moses came and told the people all the Lord’s words and all the decisions. All the people answered together, “We are willing to do all the words that the Lord has said,” 24:4 and Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. Early in the morning he built an altar at the foot of the mountain and arranged twelve standing stones – according to the twelve tribes of Israel. 24:5 He sent young Israelite men, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls for peace offerings to the Lord. 24:6 Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and half of the blood he splashed on the altar. 24:7 He took the Book of the Covenant and read it aloud to the people, and they said, “We are willing to do and obey all that the Lord has spoken.” 24:8 So Moses took the blood and splashed it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

24:9 Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up, 24:10 and they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear like the sky itself. 24:11 But he did not lay a hand on the leaders of the Israelites, so they saw God, and they ate and they drank.

24:12 The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me to the mountain and remain there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the law and the commandments that I have written, so that you may teach them.” 24:13 So Moses set out with Joshua his attendant, and Moses went up the mountain of God. 24:14 He told the elders, “Wait for us in this place until we return to you. Here are Aaron and Hur with you. Whoever has any matters of dispute can approach them.”

24:15 Moses went up the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. 24:16 The glory of the Lord resided on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days. On the seventh day he called to Moses from within the cloud. 24:17 Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in plain view of the people. 24:18 Moses went into the cloud when he went up the mountain, and Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.

Prayer

Lord, in Your new Covenant we no longer “worship at a distance”, nor do we have a mere human priest like Moses to stand in our stead. You, in the Holy Person of Jesus the Christ – the Son - are both priest and God for every believer. Thank You that I may approach Your throne because of Christ.

Scripture In Perspective

The Lord God instructed that only Moses was allowed to come to the top of the mountain.

Moses brought the Lord God's “decisions”, as reported to us in Exodus 21-23, to the people. They agreed and sealed their commitment to the covenant with blood splashed on twelve stones – one for each tribe – and on their tribal leaders – the elders.

God allowed “Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel” to come part way up the mountain and He appeared to them “... and they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear like the sky itself.” His appearance was not His full presence, else they would have been destroyed.

The Lord called Moses up the mountain and Moses instructed the elders to bring the most significant justice matters to Aaron and Hur in his absence.

The text reports “... and Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord”. Archeologists date early usage of papyrus to 3,000 BC, at this point in the OT story it is about1600 BC. Moses would have learned to write while living in Pharaoh's home and would have had access to papyrus and to writing utensils. It is reasonable to expect that he took some of those tools and supplies with him during the Exodus. It may be that on some of the occasions when Moses was away with the Lord the time may have been a result of the slowness of writing.

The Lord God had Moses wait 7 days and then kept him for 40 days.

Interact With The Text

Consider

It is important to remember that the elders, on behalf of the people, agreed to the terms of God's covenant. They were now bound to them.

Discuss

The text says that Moses was writing everything down that God told him. Why does God decide to write on stone tablets Himself and give them to Moses “... so that you may teach them”?

Reflect

“... Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up, 24:10 and they saw the God of Israel.” along with Moses. In addition to hearing what God had said to Moses and then agreeing to the covenant via the ritual of animal blood, now God brings them into His symbolic presence to worship, and then He says He will write the law and commandments on stone. How much more clear could He have made the terms of their relationship with Him?

Share

When have you found it valuable to be able to refer to God's Word for authority and guidance, and when has He corrected you for violating your agreement to honor and obey Him?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you anew what God expects of you in the new covenant, with a focus on one area where you are doing well (submitting to the Holy Spirit), and one area where you remain in rebellion against complete submission to the Holy Spirit.

Act

Today I will celebrate that area of my walk that the Holy Spirit shows me is in His hands, and I will prayerfully commit to an intentional process of submission where I have willfully resisted the control of the Holy Spirit.

Be Specific _________________________________________________

Wednesday (Exodus 25)

The Materials for the Sanctuary

25:1 The Lord spoke to Moses: 25:2 “Tell the Israelites to take an offering for me; from every person motivated by a willing heart you are to receive my offering. 25:3 This is the offering you are to accept from them: gold, silver, bronze, 25:4 blue, purple, scarlet, fine linen, goat’s hair, 25:5 ram skins dyed red, fine leather, acacia wood, 25:6 oil for the light, spices for the anointing oil and for fragrant incense, 25:7 onyx stones, and other gems to be set in the ephod and in the breastpiece. 25:8 Let them make for me a sanctuary, so that I may live among them. 25:9 According to all that I am showing you – the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings – you must make it exactly so.

The Ark of the Covenant

25:10 “They are to make an ark of acacia wood – its length is to be three feet nine inches, its width two feet three inches, and its height two feet three inches. 25:11 You are to overlay it with pure gold – both inside and outside you must overlay it, and you are to make a surrounding border of gold over it. 25:12 You are to cast four gold rings for it and put them on its four feet, with two rings on one side and two rings on the other side. 25:13 You are to make poles of acacia wood, overlay them with gold, 25:14 and put the poles into the rings at the sides of the ark in order to carry the ark with them. 25:15 The poles must remain in the rings of the ark; they must not be removed from it. 25:16 You are to put into the ark the testimony that I will give to you.

25:17 “You are to make an atonement lid of pure gold; its length is to be three feet nine inches, and its width is to be two feet three inches. 25:18 You are to make two cherubim of gold; you are to make them of hammered metal on the two ends of the atonement lid. 25:19 Make one cherub on one end and one cherub on the other end; from the atonement lid you are to make the cherubim on the two ends. 25:20 The cherubim are to be spreading their wings upward, overshadowing the atonement lid with their wings, and the cherubim are to face each other, looking toward the atonement lid. 25:21 You are to put the atonement lid on top of the ark, and in the ark you are to put the testimony I am giving you. 25:22 I will meet with you there, and from above the atonement lid, from between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will command you for the Israelites.

The Table for the Bread of the Presence

25:23 “You are to make a table of acacia wood; its length is to be three feet, its width one foot six inches, and its height two feet three inches. 25:24 You are to overlay it with pure gold, and you are to make a surrounding border of gold for it. 25:25 You are to make a surrounding frame for it about three inches broad, and you are to make a surrounding border of gold for its frame. 25:26 You are to make four rings of gold for it and attach the rings at the four corners where its four legs are. 25:27 The rings are to be close to the frame to provide places for the poles to carry the table. 25:28 You are to make the poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold, so that the table may be carried with them. 25:29 You are to make its plates, its ladles, its pitchers, and its bowls, to be used in pouring out offerings; you are to make them of pure gold. 25:30 You are to set the Bread of the Presence on the table before me continually.

The Lampstand

25:31 “You are to make a lampstand of pure gold. The lampstand is to be made of hammered metal; its base and its shaft, its cups, its buds, and its blossoms are to be from the same piece. 25:32 Six branches are to extend from the sides of the lampstand, three branches of the lampstand from one side of it and three branches of the lampstand from the other side of it. 25:33 Three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms are to be on one branch, and three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms are to be on the next branch, and the same for the six branches extending from the lampstand. 25:34 On the lampstand there are to be four cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms, 25:35 with a bud under the first two branches from it, and a bud under the next two branches from it, and a bud under the third two branches from it, according to the six branches that extend from the lampstand. 25:36 Their buds and their branches will be one piece, all of it one hammered piece of pure gold.

25:37 “You are to make its seven lamps, and then set its lamps up on it, so that it will give light to the area in front of it. 25:38 Its trimmers and its trays are to be of pure gold. 25:39 About seventy-five pounds of pure gold is to be used for it and for all these utensils. 25:40 Now be sure to make them according to the pattern you were shown on the mountain.

Prayer

Lord, You have made of those who belong to Christ a new kind of “Ark of the Covenant”, You – as the Holy Spirit - dwell in us and meet with us continually. May I be ever-grateful and mindful of Your incredible gift and of Your amazing presence.

Scripture In Perspective

The Lord God instructed Moses to take up a special collection because He wanted the Israelites to build a sanctuary where He could come among them without destroying them.

He gave Moses very detailed instructions as to every detail.

Key to it all was God's desire to draw the eyes of the Israelites away from the corrupting fallen things of the world and rather to His healing a loving and perfect presence.

Interact With The Text

Consider

The Israelites had plundered Egypt of many valuables, God now asked that they voluntarily surrender some of what had become dear to them to build a place for sacrifice and worship.

Discuss

Imagine the reaction of the Israelites to the announcement that the Lord God wanted a sanctuary in order to dwell among them? Would their reaction have been fear, or joy, or some mixture of both?

Reflect

Everything the Lord God described was portable – He knew that they would be traveling for a while.

Share

When you planned to travel what were the valuables which you prepared to be certain that they traveled well and were readily accessible?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you have sacrificed something that the world considers important for the sake of improving your intimacy with God.

Act

Today I will celebrate the success of the Holy Spirit in leading me to the moment of maturity where I sacrificed something that the world sees as valuable for the sake of drawing nearer to Him. It may have been money and time spend on entertainment or a hobby, the pursuit of fame or fortune, popularity or possessions, but whatever it was it came between me and intimacy with my Lord God. And then I will commit to partner with the Holy Spirit to do it again in another area of my life.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Thursday (Exodus 26 - 27)

The Tabernacle

26:1 “The tabernacle itself you are to make with ten curtains of fine twisted linen and blue and purple and scarlet; you are to make them with cherubim that are the work of an artistic designer. 26:2 The length of each curtain is to be forty-two feet, and the width of each curtain is to be six feet – the same size for each of the curtains. 26:3 Five curtains are to be joined, one to another, and the other five curtains are to be joined, one to another. 26:4 You are to make loops of blue material along the edge of the end curtain in one set, and in the same way you are to make loops in the outer edge of the end curtain in the second set. 26:5 You are to make fifty loops on the one curtain, and you are to make fifty loops on the end curtain which is on the second set, so that the loops are opposite one to another. 26:6 You are to make fifty gold clasps and join the curtains together with the clasps, so that the tabernacle is a unit.

26:7 “You are to make curtains of goats’ hair for a tent over the tabernacle; you are to make eleven curtains. 26:8 The length of each curtain is to be forty-five feet, and the width of each curtain is to be six feet – the same size for the eleven curtains. 26:9 You are to join five curtains by themselves and six curtains by themselves. You are to double over the sixth curtain at the front of the tent. 26:10 You are to make fifty loops along the edge of the end curtain in one set and fifty loops along the edge of the curtain that joins the second set. 26:11 You are to make fifty bronze clasps and put the clasps into the loops and join the tent together so that it is a unit. 26:12 Now the part that remains of the curtains of the tent – the half curtain that remains will hang over at the back of the tabernacle. 26:13 The foot and a half on the one side and the foot and a half on the other side of what remains in the length of the curtains of the tent will hang over the sides of the tabernacle, on one side and the other side, to cover it.

26:14 “You are to make a covering for the tent out of ram skins dyed red and over that a covering of fine leather.

26:15 “You are to make the frames for the tabernacle out of acacia wood as uprights. 26:16 Each frame is to be fifteen feet long, and each frame is to be two feet three inches wide, 26:17 with two projections per frame parallel one to another. You are to make all the frames of the tabernacle in this way. 26:18 So you are to make the frames for the tabernacle: twenty frames for the south side, 26:19 and you are to make forty silver bases to go under the twenty frames – two bases under the first frame for its two projections, and likewise two bases under the next frame for its two projections; 26:20 and for the second side of the tabernacle, the north side, twenty frames, 26:21 and their forty silver bases, two bases under the first frame, and two bases under the next frame. 26:22 And for the back of the tabernacle on the west you will make six frames. 26:23 You are to make two frames for the corners of the tabernacle on the back. 26:24 At the two corners they must be doubled at the lower end and finished together at the top in one ring. So it will be for both. 26:25 So there are to be eight frames and their silver bases, sixteen bases, two bases under the first frame, and two bases under the next frame.

26:26 “You are to make bars of acacia wood, five for the frames on one side of the tabernacle, 26:27 and five bars for the frames on the second side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the frames on the back of the tabernacle on the west. 26:28 The middle bar in the center of the frames will reach from end to end. 26:29 You are to overlay the frames with gold and make their rings of gold to provide places for the bars, and you are to overlay the bars with gold. 26:30 You are to set up the tabernacle according to the plan that you were shown on the mountain.

26:31 “You are to make a special curtain of blue, purple, and scarlet yarn and fine twisted linen; it is to be made with cherubim, the work of an artistic designer. 26:32 You are to hang it with gold hooks on four posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold, set in four silver bases. 26:33 You are to hang this curtain under the clasps and bring the ark of the testimony in there behind the curtain. The curtain will make a division for you between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. 26:34 You are to put the atonement lid on the ark of the testimony in the Most Holy Place. 26:35 You are to put the table outside the curtain and the lampstand on the south side of the tabernacle, opposite the table, and you are to place the table on the north side.

26:36 “You are to make a hanging for the entrance of the tent of blue, purple, and scarlet yarn and fine twined linen, the work of an embroiderer. 26:37 You are to make for the hanging five posts of acacia wood and overlay them with gold, and their hooks will be gold, and you are to cast five bronze bases for them.

The Altar

27:1 “You are to make the altar of acacia wood, seven feet six inches long, and seven feet six inches wide; the altar is to be square, and its height is to be four feet six inches. 27:2 You are to make its four horns on its four corners; its horns will be part of it, and you are to overlay it with bronze. 27:3 You are to make its pots for the ashes, its shovels, its tossing bowls, its meat hooks, and its fire pans – you are to make all its utensils of bronze. 27:4 You are to make a grating for it, a network of bronze, and you are to make on the network four bronze rings on its four corners. 27:5 You are to put it under the ledge of the altar below, so that the network will come halfway up the altar. 27:6 You are to make poles for the altar, poles of acacia wood, and you are to overlay them with bronze. 27:7 The poles are to be put into the rings so that the poles will be on two sides of the altar when carrying it. 27:8 You are to make the altar hollow, out of boards. Just as it was shown you on the mountain, so they must make it.

The Courtyard

27:9 “You are to make the courtyard of the tabernacle. For the south side there are to be hangings for the courtyard of fine twisted linen, one hundred fifty feet long for one side, 27:10 with twenty posts and their twenty bronze bases, with the hooks of the posts and their bands of silver. 27:11 Likewise for its length on the north side, there are to be hangings for one hundred fifty feet, with twenty posts and their twenty bronze bases, with silver hooks and bands on the posts. 27:12 The width of the court on the west side is to be seventy-five feet with hangings, with their ten posts and their ten bases. 27:13 The width of the court on the east side, toward the sunrise, is to be seventy-five feet. 27:14 The hangings on one side of the gate are to be twenty-two and a half feet long, with their three posts and their three bases. 27:15 On the second side there are to be hangings twenty-two and a half feet long, with their three posts and their three bases. 27:16 For the gate of the courtyard there is to be a curtain of thirty feet, of blue, purple, and scarlet yarn and fine twined linen, the work of an embroiderer, with four posts and their four bases. 27:17 All the posts around the courtyard are to have silver bands; their hooks are to be silver, and their bases bronze. 27:18 The length of the courtyard is to be one hundred fifty feet and the width seventy-five feet, and the height of the fine twisted linen hangings is to be seven and a half feet, with their bronze bases. 27:19 All the utensils of the tabernacle used in all its service, all its tent pegs, and all the tent pegs of the courtyard are to be made of bronze.

Offering the Oil

27:20 “You are to command the Israelites that they bring to you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, so that the lamps will burn regularly. 27:21 In the tent of meeting outside the curtain that is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons are to arrange it from evening to morning before the Lord. This is to be a lasting ordinance among the Israelites for generations to come.

Prayer

Lord, Your attention to detail was with perfect precision and with perfect purpose, thank You that You are equally attentive to the lives of all who belong to You.

Scripture In Perspective

The Lord God continued His presentation of the details of the portable tabernacle.

A key element in the design “You are to hang this curtain under the clasps and bring the ark of the testimony in there behind the curtain. The curtain will make a division for you between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. 26:34 You are to put the atonement lid on the ark of the testimony in the Most Holy Place.

He reminded Moses “You are to set up the tabernacle according to the plan that you were shown on the mountain.

Even the orientation of the tabernacle, when not being transported, was important “You are to put the table outside the curtain and the lampstand on the south side of the tabernacle, opposite the table, and you are to place the table on the north side.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Moses had been previously given a vision of the tabernacle, as well as many of the details, so the Lord God was repeating Himself to be certain that Moses did not forget any of the important detail.

Discuss

Does the Lord's attention to detail give you greater confidence as to His awareness of the details of your life as well?

Reflect

The Lord God was making it very clear that every detail of His laws and regulations were important.

Share

When have you been given a big picture by God, and later to experience Him filling in all of the detail?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you are skipping some of the Lord God's details for you life.

Act

Today I will humbly acknowledge that I do not have all of the details, nor that I am even fully following the ones that I do know, and I will ask the Holy Spirit to remind me of what I have left undone. I will submit myself anew to study and prayer, service and discipline as the Holy Spirit leads.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Friday (Exodus 28 - 29)

The Clothing of the Priests

28:1 “And you, bring near to you your brother Aaron and his sons with him from among the Israelites, so that they may minister as my priests – Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons. 28:2 You must make holy garments for your brother Aaron, for glory and for beauty. 28:3 You are to speak to all who are specially skilled, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, so that they may make Aaron’s garments to set him apart to minister as my priest. 28:4 Now these are the garments that they are to make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a fitted tunic, a turban, and a sash. They are to make holy garments for your brother Aaron and for his sons, that they may minister as my priests. 28:5 The artisans are to use the gold, blue, purple, scarlet, and fine linen.

28:6 “They are to make the ephod of gold, blue, purple, scarlet, and fine twisted linen, the work of an artistic designer. 28:7 It is to have two shoulder pieces attached to two of its corners, so it can be joined together. 28:8 The artistically woven waistband of the ephod that is on it is to be like it, of one piece with the ephod, of gold, blue, purple, scarlet, and fine twisted linen.

28:9 “You are to take two onyx stones and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel, 28:10 six of their names on one stone, and the six remaining names on the second stone, according to the order of their birth. 28:11 You are to engrave the two stones with the names of the sons of Israel with the work of an engraver in stone, like the engravings of a seal; you are to have them set in gold filigree settings. 28:12 You are to put the two stones on the shoulders of the ephod, stones of memorial for the sons of Israel, and Aaron will bear their names before the Lord on his two shoulders for a memorial. 28:13 You are to make filigree settings of gold 28:14 and two braided chains of pure gold, like a cord, and attach the chains to the settings.

28:15 “You are to make a breastpiece for use in making decisions, the work of an artistic designer; you are to make it in the same fashion as the ephod; you are to make it of gold, blue, purple, scarlet, and fine twisted linen. 28:16 It is to be square when doubled, nine inches long and nine inches wide. 28:17 You are to set in it a setting for stones, four rows of stones, a row with a ruby, a topaz, and a beryl – the first row; 28:18 and the second row, a turquoise, a sapphire, and an emerald; 28:19 and the third row, a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; 28:20 and the fourth row, a chrysolite, an onyx, and a jasper. They are to be enclosed in gold in their filigree settings. 28:21 The stones are to be for the names of the sons of Israel, twelve, according to the number of their names. Each name according to the twelve tribes is to be like the engravings of a seal.

28:22 “You are to make for the breastpiece braided chains like cords of pure gold, 28:23 and you are to make for the breastpiece two gold rings and attach the two rings to the upper two ends of the breastpiece. 28:24 You are to attach the two gold chains to the two rings at the ends of the breastpiece; 28:25 the other two ends of the two chains you will attach to the two settings and then attach them to the shoulder pieces of the ephod at the front of it. 28:26 You are to make two rings of gold and put them on the other two ends of the breastpiece, on its edge that is on the inner side of the ephod. 28:27 You are to make two more gold rings and attach them to the bottom of the two shoulder pieces on the front of the ephod, close to the juncture above the waistband of the ephod. 28:28 They are to tie the breastpiece by its rings to the rings of the ephod by blue cord, so that it may be above the waistband of the ephod, and so that the breastpiece will not be loose from the ephod. 28:29 Aaron will bear the names of the sons of Israel in the breastpiece of decision over his heart when he goes into the holy place, for a memorial before the Lord continually.

28:30 “You are to put the Urim and the Thummim into the breastpiece of decision; and they are to be over Aaron’s heart when he goes in before the Lord. Aaron is to bear the decisions of the Israelites over his heart before the Lord continually.

28:31 “You are to make the robe of the ephod completely blue. 28:32 There is to be an opening in its top in the center of it, with an edge all around the opening, the work of a weaver, like the opening of a collar, so that it cannot be torn. 28:33 You are to make pomegranates of blue, purple, and scarlet all around its hem and bells of gold between them all around. 28:34 The pattern is to be a gold bell and a pomegranate, a gold bell and a pomegranate, all around the hem of the robe. 28:35 The robe is to be on Aaron as he ministers, and his sound will be heard when he enters the Holy Place before the Lord and when he leaves, so that he does not die.

28:36 “You are to make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it the way a seal is engraved: “Holiness to the Lord.” 28:37 You are to attach to it a blue cord so that it will be on the turban; it is to be on the front of the turban, 28:38 It will be on Aaron’s forehead, and Aaron will bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the Israelites are to sanctify by all their holy gifts; it will always be on his forehead, for their acceptance before the Lord. 28:39 You are to weave the tunic of fine linen and make the turban of fine linen, and make the sash the work of an embroiderer.

28:40 “For Aaron’s sons you are to make tunics, sashes, and headbands for glory and for beauty.

28:41 “You are to clothe them – your brother Aaron and his sons with him – and anoint them and ordain them and set them apart as holy, so that they may minister as my priests. 28:42 Make for them linen undergarments to cover their naked bodies; they must cover from the waist to the thighs. 28:43 These must be on Aaron and his sons when they enter to the tent of meeting, or when they approach the altar to minister in the Holy Place, so that they bear no iniquity and die. It is to be a perpetual ordinance for him and for his descendants after him.

The Consecration of Aaron and His Sons

29:1 “Now this is what you are to do for them to consecrate them so that they may minister as my priests. Take a young bull and two rams without blemish; 29:2 and bread made without yeast, and perforated cakes without yeast mixed with oil, and wafers without yeast spread with oil – you are to make them using fine wheat flour. 29:3 You are to put them in one basket and present them in the basket, along with the bull and the two rams.

29:4 “You are to present Aaron and his sons at the entrance of the tent of meeting. You are to wash them with water 29:5 and take the garments and clothe Aaron with the tunic, the robe of the ephod, the ephod, and the breastpiece; you are to fasten the ephod on him by using the skillfully woven waistband. 29:6 You are to put the turban on his head and put the holy diadem on the turban. 29:7 You are to take the anointing oil and pour it on his head and anoint him. 29:8 You are to present his sons and clothe them with tunics 29:9 and wrap the sashes around Aaron and his sons and put headbands on them, and so the ministry of priesthood will belong to them by a perpetual ordinance. Thus you are to consecrate Aaron and his sons.

29:10 “You are to present the bull at the front of the tent of meeting, and Aaron and his sons are to put their hands on the head of the bull. 29:11 You are to kill the bull before the Lord at the entrance to the tent of meeting 29:12 and take some of the blood of the bull and put it on the horns of the altar with your finger; all the rest of the blood you are to pour out at the base of the altar. 29:13 You are to take all the fat that covers the entrails, and the lobe that is above the liver, and the two kidneys and the fat that is on them, and burn them on the altar. 29:14 But the meat of the bull, its skin, and its dung you are to burn up outside the camp. It is the purification offering.

29:15 “You are to take one ram, and Aaron and his sons are to lay their hands on the ram’s head, 29:16 and you are to kill the ram and take its blood and splash it all around on the altar. 29:17 Then you are to cut the ram into pieces and wash the entrails and its legs and put them on its pieces and on its head 29:18 and burn the whole ram on the altar. It is a burnt offering to the Lord, a soothing aroma; it is an offering made by fire to the Lord.

29:19 “You are to take the second ram, and Aaron and his sons are to lay their hands on the ram’s head, 29:20 and you are to kill the ram and take some of its blood and put it on the tip of the right ear of Aaron, on the tip of the right ear of his sons, on the thumb of their right hand, and on the big toe of their right foot, and then splash the blood all around on the altar. 29:21 You are to take some of the blood that is on the altar and some of the anointing oil and sprinkle it on Aaron, on his garments, on his sons, and on his sons’ garments with him, so that he may be holy, he and his garments along with his sons and his sons’ garments.

29:22 “You are to take from the ram the fat, the fat tail, the fat that covers the entrails, the lobe of the liver, the two kidneys and the fat that is on them, and the right thigh – for it is the ram for consecration – 29:23 and one round flat cake of bread, one perforated cake of oiled bread, and one wafer from the basket of bread made without yeast that is before the Lord. 29:24 You are to put all these in Aaron’s hands and in his sons’ hands, and you are to wave them as a wave offering before the Lord. 29:25 Then you are to take them from their hands and burn them on the altar for a burnt offering, for a soothing aroma before the Lord. It is an offering made by fire to the Lord. 29:26 You are to take the breast of the ram of Aaron’s consecration; you are to wave it as a wave offering before the Lord, and it is to be your share. 29:27 You are to sanctify the breast of the wave offering and the thigh of the contribution, which were waved and lifted up as a contribution from the ram of consecration, from what belongs to Aaron and to his sons. 29:28 It is to belong to Aaron and to his sons from the Israelites, by a perpetual ordinance, for it is a contribution. It is to be a contribution from the Israelites from their peace offerings, their contribution to the Lord.

29:29 “The holy garments that belong to Aaron are to belong to his sons after him, so that they may be anointed in them and consecrated in them. 29:30 The priest who succeeds him from his sons, when he first comes to the tent of meeting to minister in the Holy Place, is to wear them for seven days.

29:31 “You are to take the ram of the consecration and cook its meat in a holy place. 29:32 Aaron and his sons are to eat the meat of the ram and the bread that was in the basket at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 29:33 They are to eat those things by which atonement was made to consecrate and to set them apart, but no one else may eat them, for they are holy. 29:34 If any of the meat from the consecration offerings or any of the bread is left over until morning, then you are to burn up what is left over. It must not be eaten, because it is holy.

29:35 “Thus you are to do for Aaron and for his sons, according to all that I have commanded you; you are to consecrate them for seven days. 29:36 Every day you are to prepare a bull for a purification offering for atonement. You are to purge the altar by making atonement for it, and you are to anoint it to set it apart as holy. 29:37 For seven days you are to make atonement for the altar and set it apart as holy. Then the altar will be most holy. Anything that touches the altar will be holy.

29:38 “Now this is what you are to prepare on the altar every day continually: two lambs a year old. 29:39 The first lamb you are to prepare in the morning, and the second lamb you are to prepare around sundown. 29:40 With the first lamb offer a tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with a fourth of a hin of oil from pressed olives, and a fourth of a hin of wine as a drink offering. 29:41 The second lamb you are to offer around sundown; you are to prepare for it the same meal offering as for the morning and the same drink offering, for a soothing aroma, an offering made by fire to the Lord.

29:42 “This will be a regular burnt offering throughout your generations at the entrance of the tent of meeting before the Lord, where I will meet with you to speak to you there. 29:43 There I will meet with the Israelites, and it will be set apart as holy by my glory.

29:44 “So I will set apart as holy the tent of meeting and the altar, and I will set apart as holy Aaron and his sons, that they may minister as priests to me. 29:45 I will reside among the Israelites, and I will be their God, 29:46 and they will know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out from the land of Egypt, so that I may reside among them. I am the Lord their God.

Prayer

Lord, thank You that the era of the priest has passed and all who belong to You are priests whose high priest is Christ. You drew me near and offered me the gift provided by Jesus, then You washed me clean of my past – You own me and have set me apart as holy. May I be found faithful in a life devoted to You.

Scripture In Perspective

The Lord God called “Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons.” to the priesthood, to serve in the newly created tabernacle.

He declared that “It is to be a perpetual ordinance for him and for his descendants after him.”

The details of their clothing were designed to set them apart and to indicate that their service is only valid through God and their speech only has authority as it comes from God.

For Aaron was to be made “... a breastpiece, an ephod, and a robe, abd each element of his priestly clothing had a meaning and a purpose:

The breastpiece is summarized “You are to make a breastpiece for use in making decisions... You are to put the Urim and the Thummim into the breastpiece of decision” [From the NET translators notes: “U. Cassuto has the most thorough treatment of the subject (Exodus, 378-82); he lists several very clear rules for their uses gathered from their instances in the Bible, including that they were a form of sacred lot, that priests or leaders of the people only could use them, and that they were used for discovering the divine will in areas that were beyond human knowledge.”]

The ephod bore the names of the 12 tribes as a reminder of God's chosen people and whom, o earth, the priest served at God's anointing.

The robe included “... a gold bell and a pomegranate, all around the hem of the robe. 28:35 The robe is to be on Aaron as he ministers, and his sound will be heard when he enters the Holy Place before the Lord and when he leaves, so that he does not die.”

For Aaron's sons was to be made “... a fitted tunic, a turban, and a sash.”

If they were to survive entry into the altar-area they must be dressed in this specific respectful manner.

It took more than clothes to prepare Aaron and his sons to serve in God's tabernacle, He instructed Moses “... consecrate them so that they may minister as my priests.”

Aaron and his sons were prepared somewhat like the sacrificial offerings they were being consecrated to handle on behalf of the Israelite people “... present Aaron and his sons at the entrance of the tent of meeting. You are to wash them with water”

Everything that was handled in the consecration received a status of holy, so that the bread and the meat could only be eaten by Aaron and his sons, leftovers had to be burned. Aaron's specially designed robes were to be passed to his sons and then to those who followed, to be worn for 7 days.

The Lord God established the tabernacle as “... the tent of meeting before the Lord, where I will meet with you to speak to you there. 29:43 There I will meet with the Israelites, and it will be set apart as holy by my glory.”

Interact With The Text

Consider

The Lord God did not merely call but He also attended to the details of preparation so that the one whom He had called displayed appropriate respect before Him for all of the people to see. The covenant to which the elders (the leaders of the 12 tribes) agreed on behalf of their people required their assent to be a priest-led people, so here the Lord God established that priesthood.

Discuss

How scary must it have been for Aaron, and especially his sons, to know that their preparation to enter the altar-area was so specific that death could result from any carelessness. One wonders how long it took the Israelites to discover that their lives just became more accountable and complex with the establishment of rules and rule-keepers?

Reflect

The Lord God made certain that Aaron and his sons knew that they were servants of the 12 tribes and that every detail of everything that they did was specified by God and not subject to their changes. The Lord God was no longer a stranger to most of the Israelites, He “... will meet with the Israelites”.

Share

When have you sensed that the Holy Spirit was preparing you for a special form of service? Perhaps leading you to discipleship with mentoring in some area, leading you to learn about a different culture or nation, leading you into fellowship with a new community of people, etc. When did you discover a way that you prepare yourself to really come-apart with the Lord that helped you to make the most of that time? Perhaps fasting, perhaps going to a certain location, perhaps listening to certain music, perhaps reciting certain Bible text; not to create a rigid ritual but more-so learning how you focus on Him and disconnect from the busyness and noise of the world.

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to make you aware of your next place of service and to show you how to prepare yourself to be set apart for holy service.

Act

Today I will ask a fellow believer to pray for confirmation of my calling and will then immediately and humbly pursue the preparation He calls me to so that I will be fully prepared with the tools to be His hands and feet in the world. I will humbly acknowledge my artificial piety, my carelessness, my distractedness, my rigid religiosity, or whatever other impediment to a full surrender to fellowship with the Holy Spirit during my time(s) apart with God. I will joyfully follow the leading of the Holy Spirit to a healthier means of preparing my special time with the Lord.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Saturday (Exodus 30 – 31:11)

The Altar of Incense

30:1 “You are to make an altar for burning incense; you are to make it of acacia wood. 30:2 Its length is to be a foot and a half and its width a foot and a half; it will be square. Its height is to be three feet, with its horns of one piece with it. 30:3 You are to overlay it with pure gold – its top, its four walls, and its horns – and make a surrounding border of gold for it. 30:4 You are to make two gold rings for it under its border, on its two flanks; you are to make them on its two sides. The rings will be places for poles to carry it with. 30:5 You are to make the poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold.

30:6 “You are to put it in front of the curtain that is before the ark of the testimony (before the atonement lid that is over the testimony), where I will meet you. 30:7 Aaron is to burn sweet incense on it morning by morning; when he attends to the lamps he is to burn incense. 30:8 When Aaron sets up the lamps around sundown he is to burn incense on it; it is to be a regular incense offering before the Lord throughout your generations. 30:9 You must not offer strange incense on it, nor burnt offering, nor meal offering, and you must not pour out a drink