Welcome to a study focused on the lives of the Patriarchs: Isaac, Jacob and Joseph who we call “Covenant Keepers.” The Patriarch Abraham’s life is covered in another study I have written.
These Patriarchs of the nation Israel were descendants of Abraham, uniquely called by God to pass on the faith to the next generation of believers in the One True God. They remained faithful to the Covenant, overcoming obstacles and threats of assimilation and annihilation often waiting years for God to fulfill His Promises, in His timing, to them.
This study provides daily questions, audio and/or manuscript teaching, PowerPoint and handouts. It can be used for individual or group settings. A disclaimer: my manuscripts are not word perfect. Instead they are a model for you of what my notes look like when I’ve finished my study. I do not read them as I lecture but I create the manuscript so I can return to them at a later date. Use any and all parts of this material to study and/or teach to others.
My hope and prayer for you as you read and study is that you will see yourself as part of God's great narrative, His Story of Grace and Redemption. You will identify with the ups and downs of these ancient people of faith, learning to trust and believe in the One True God.
Blessings and love, Dianne
Note: The accompanying student study guide for the series may be downloaded to the right. The PowerPoint, Audio, and WordDocs may be downloaded on each page.
How was your summer? Was it restful? Did you relax? You say you’ve got to be kidding, my busiest time of year at work, kids at home, company, hot Ok, but did you get your summer projects done? I hear a groan. I almost did. My goal was closets. June I did my clothes closet, skipped July, 3 weeks ago my husband and I, this was really scary, tackled my study closet and the game room. My study took all day, the game room took all weekend. We took everything out, he made shelves and we went to Container store 3 times. By the end everything had a “place”. Need to admit not everything is really organized yet, it just has a place. My photos are in that closet= all are there, but they exist in 3 huge plastic boxes, not organized, but in one place. Next summer= organize them or maybe the Lord will return first? Truthfully, I did get a little “sidetracked” because I started looking at them, reminiscing, remembering special times, people, places. These photos, family albums, are so much more than just pieces of paper, part of my life, witnesses to who I am, where I have come from, that part of the narrative, the story of my life: parents, grandparents, great grandparents, hospital where I was born, siblings, second grade class, college sorority, husband, my children, my grandchildren, my life.
I thought of how the Bible is the photo album of mankind, snapshots of people and events throughout history, epic narrative of us all. From that perspective, I started to get more excited about our study this fall. We are opening up photos from one family, the family of Abraham. If you weren’t part of our study this spring on the Life of Abraham, that is not going to matter, because this is a continuing story that you can jump in at any point, and we’ll do a little review along the way as we look at photos of the Patriarchs and their families.
The burning question we have to ask and answer is “Do these photos that we’re going to look at together, do these life stories, can they say anything really relevant to us today? If they can relate to our lives, if God wants to speak to us thru them, question becomes what will be our response? As we study, will we ask individually the question God what do you have for me, for my life, for right now. You are not the same person you were a year ago, even months ago. The situations of your life are not exactly the same as they were a year ago, and we know they will change tomorrow, life is like that. Today, God what do you have for me today through the study of your Word, promise you if you ask that He will speak to you. Let’s take an overview of what’s ahead for us.
I. Family Tree (people) (slide)
II. Family Life (themes)
III. Family Legacy (faith)
Numerous family members over period of approx 260 years from the birth of Isaac to the death of Joseph. These are the sons of Abraham who was called from Ur in Chaldees (MAP) to move to Canaan, Promised Land. God made a covenant with him (slide) promised basically 3 things: Genesis 12:1-3 Land, Nation, Blessing. Genesis 15:6 Abraham was declared righteous because he believed God. Good news, gospel of the OT/same in NT= our righteousness comes through believing God, what He says. (Hebrews 1:2) in these last days he (God) has spoken to us by His Son. Belief in Jesus, trusting Him that is how we are right with God, not because of any good works, deeds that we’ve done, but “by grace through faith that we are saved, gift to us” (Ephesians 2:8,9).
When Abraham was 100 Isaac, the son of the promise, was born.
1.Our study will start in Genesis 25 when Isaac at 60 years old becomes a father, after dealing with infertility for 20 years, many prayers, God gives him twin sons, Esau and Jacob. Even before they were born they were fighting in the womb, pushing and shoving to the point Rebekah, original very pregnant desperate housewife, prays and asks God “what is going on? did I really ask for this?” God tells her, these boys are never get along, live separate lives and by the way the younger is going to be the boss, he’s younger but he’s the chosen one to inherit the covenant, his older brother will serve him. Prophecy comes true. The way is becomes true is through manipulation, taking advantage, favoritism and deception…sounds like a tv show. Jacob acquires both the birthright of the older son and the blessing of the covenant. Esau is left with very little regarding the inheritance but he is left with a great deal of anger, frustration and bitterness to the point of planning his brother’s murder. That probably would have happened if Rebekah had not stepped in and arranged for Jacob to leave home, go back to her family with the pretext of finding a godly wife. Jacob and Esau at this point are about 75 yrs old. Step back just a few years, when Esau, the older, was 40 he married 2 pagan wives, he married outside the faith, these wives “source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah,” NET= “they caused Isaac, Rebekah great anxiety” Esau will just slowly move off the radar of our main story as we follow Jacob to Paddam Aram, Rebekah’s family, to 20 years of joy and misery with his uncle Laban. (Map)
2. Jacob will travel a couple hundred miles to Paddam Arram, one night along the way, he encounters God through a dream, sees a ladder reaching to heaven, angels. God, Himself made the same covenantal promises to him that He had made to Abraham and Isaac, Jacob believes, God becomes real and personal to him. God has no grandchildren, you can’t inherit your faith from your parents, grandparents. You personally yourself have to encounter and embrace God as your God, to inherit, Jacob had to do this too. It is our Parental responsibility is to live their faith authentically in word and deed before our children, teach them God’s truth, God’s ways, words, that’s how we strive to pass on our faith. But ultimately each child, each person must make their own way with God, receive, trust, believe the gospel themselves. Probably at Bethel that Jacob confirmed his trust and faith in Almighty God.
3. He reaches uncle Laban’s house and immediately falls in love with Rachel, the younger daughter and is more than willing to work 7 years in order to marry her. But he had no idea how painfully he would learn “what goes around, comes around.” Uncle Laban pulls a fast one and substitutes the older daughter, Leah, that wedding night for Rachel (never quite figured that one out). Wakes up angry, makes new deal works another 7 years for Rachel and finally wants to go home. Not quite so fast, uncle Laban offers him another deal, stay with me, you can build your own business, right here among the family. Amazing in the next 6 years God so blessed Jacob that his portfolio went sky high, business boomed to the point his brothers in laws got really jealous, started false rumors about him. Tense. During the 14 years of his marriages he also has 11 sons and one daughter. He has himself a big family, lots of flocks and God comes again and says, time to go home, time to leave and return to Canaan. While Laban is out of town, in the middle of the night, pack up and everybody leaves and sneaks out of town. Seem to get away with the escape, but Laban catches up and family confrontation, thanks to a God intervention, they part somewhat friendly. That’s just the first family confrontation, Jacob now begins to fear meeting his brother Esau, because even after 20 years he still may be mad enough to kill. Again, right when he needs God’s presence, his assurance, again, in the middle of the night, God comes, this time, Jacob wrestles and clings and receives a significant name change= he is no longer Jacob, he is Israel, God’s man.
4. As Israel he re-enters the promised land, he meets his brother, peacefully. Sets up an altar, this man needs a vacation, buys some land, from Hamor, the father of Shechem settles down for a while. Whether Jacob was too permissive with his children or just wasn’t watching, daughter Dinah visits the city, alone without her brothers or mother or father. She is raped by Shechem, son of Hamor, pretty prominent family. Shechem wants to marry her asks his father to get permission from Jacob. When her brothers found out, enraged, ready to avenge, their plan involved, (surprise), deception and manipulation. Raid the city, kill all the men, they plundered the city taking the women and children as slaves and confiscating all the wealth for themselves. When we read this and we say with Jacob “What have you done, ruined our reputation, this will make all the others around want to attack us?” God again intervenes says “yes, get out of town” go south, back to Bethel, clean up your family, get rid of idols, take control” After leaving Bethel=south, Jacob suffers first great loss, first great broken heart= the love of his life Rachel dies giving birth to his 12th son, baby Benjamin. There are no words in the scripture here to describe his grief, days ahead would be very hard without her.
5. Our story now shifts to focus on Jacob’s son Joseph who everyone knew was his father’s favorite of all the children, he got special treatment, wore special clothes, clothes dad had made just for him. He was favored which had disastrous implications for the rest of the brothers. They hated him. That’s exactly what happens with favoritism; it breeds resentment, comparison, envy and unfair pressure to the one who is favored. It’s really a “no win” situation, provided the basis for great injustices done to Joseph.
Our story picks up when Joseph is 17 yrs old. Do you remember what that was like? Young, immature, full of life, know it all, world circles around you. At this age, Joseph has some dreams, dreams that would guide him and assure him of God’s purposes, God’s plan for his life, dreams that would encourage him in the darkness.
6. He’s sent to check on his brothers, finds them, they capture him, sell him as a slave, ends up in Egypt. Life for Joseph for the next 13, 14 years are a series of trials, start in Potiphar’s house, forgotten in the jail, all these life circumstances seemingly spiral downward, we wonder why? Why all this suffering for this good man? It is amazing, that through it all, Joseph never became bitter, he never became hard, instead his character and his faith grew stronger as he clung to God and his trust that God was working all things out for good in and through his life both for himself and for others. He had rock solid faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
7. Finally God uses a famine to bring together one of history’s greatest family reunions. While he’s still in prison, God enabled Joseph to help the baker, the butler and eventually Pharaoh by interpreting their dreams. Seems that Pharaoh had a reoccurring dream that really haunted him, No one surrounding him could recount the dream or its meaning. He became so frustrated that he planned to kill everyone, including the butler who finally remembered Joseph back in prison, how Joseph had the ability to interpret dreams. Joseph is brought to Pharaoh, giving glory to God, he interpreted the dream, 7 years of plenty and 7 years of famine, at 30 yrs old was promoted to head the Department of Agriculture, to oversee the coming national disaster. Part of the perks of the job, was given a wife and they started their family, had 2 sons. Finally things are looking up for Joseph. Meanwhile, back at family ranch, Canaan, the famine spreads, people are starting to feel hungry, no food- but the rumor is that there is food in Egypt. So Jacob sends 10 of his sons to get food, but Benjamin, now favored son, stays home. Can’t you imagine the scene when they are brought before Joseph to ask for grain? Joseph devise a plan to discover what kind of men these brothers are now 20 years later, is his father still alive, what about his younger brother, how do they feel toward him? After two difficult trips to Egypt, Joseph reveals his identity to them, weeping, hugging, and kissing beginning with Benjamin, the brothers are reunited at last. Joseph had every reason to hate these men, to punish them but instead he showed grace and forgiveness. His personal relationship with God strengthened his courage/determination to love and show mercy instead of seeking revenge. Does that describe your life too? Does your faith and trust in God and his help point you in the direction Joseph took?
Turn with me to think about Jacob, back home with the women, waiting, hoping, praying for his sons to return. See him pacing outside when he sees the carts, camels, wagons loaded with food pull up and all the sons run up and start talking at once. Overcome with joy and hope, Jacob packs up everything, everyone, heads to Egypt. Can’t wait until we study that chapter, that reunion of Joseph and Jacob. God intended it all for good.
8. Good place to end, but this story is not over. In the last chapters, Jacob passes the blessing and the birthright on to... you have to come back to hear the rest of the story.
If you study the Life of Abraham and then the rest of the Patriarchs, you see some familiar, repeated themes, but these themes are seen through new people, who lived totally unique, individual lives, rooted in time, they each have their own story, just like us. However the themes we’ll see are not so unique, in fact they are common to all of us, common to humanity. This “commonness” is part of what makes their lives applicable and relevant to us. We’ve already looked at a few themes: family conflict, favoritism, suffering, lying, deception, but also woven into this story are snapshots of: love: marital love, parental love, love for God. Along with love we’ll see great family loyalty- see how that develops over time. One of the most moving, beautiful monologues you will ever read is Judah’s plea to Joseph: to exchange his life for his brother because he loves his father, he has learned how important the family is to each other. Also going to see great character development as these men learn to trust God and let him shape them. Perhaps most important of all is the legacy of faith they guarded and have passed down to us. They are truly sons of Abraham. As we think of their family legacy of faith..
We’ll see how their faith is in God Almighty, the one true God, maker of heaven and earth. Their legacy to us is based on believing and trusting in His Sovereignty and His faithfulness to keep His promises, His covenant, His prophecies, His true Word. Their lives testify to us that in the midst of living in a sinful, self-centered, morally corrupt, power-hungry world, you can believe God’s Words and you can give your life to following Him. You can be that Covenant Keeper and pass the faith to the next generation.
Ie. Dr Campbell. A couple weeks ago I stopped by Starbucks after second service. If you ever do that you will always see Dr Campbell and his wife drinking coffee and reading the Wall Street Journal because they go to first service, he teaches at second and then Starbucks. So I sat down with them for awhile and we caught up and what’s going on in our lives. He shared with me that he’s teaching Psalm 119, verse by verse, he always wanted to slowly go through it and savor all its richness. I asked him, what had God been teaching him as he studied to teach others. He said something like this “I was reminded again how the Word of God is the tool that the Holy Spirit uses to change me, to change my life”. The teacher of teachers is changed by the Word. That’s my challenge to you and to myself. This fall, will you commit to coming and studying with us, will you commit to let the Word change your life? Will you? Prayer
Can you imagine what it would be like to be a son/daughter of a very famous person? Grow up in their shadow? Whoever you were, whatever talents or gifts you had would always seem “less than” inferior, read you this quote:
For Peter Fonda, being a son of Hollywood royalty wasn't easy. For one thing, he couldn't escape the comparisons; every time Peter went on an audition, it seemed, they wondered why he didn't possess the same natural skill as his dad, the great Henry Fonda. Then there were the other actors and directors who resented him, assuming his surname had given Peter an unfair advantage. And his relationship with his dad was hardly picture-perfect.
“Famous Fathers, Celebrity Sons” by Steve Ryfle Netscape Celebrity
Isaac was like Peter Fonda. For him, his life was somewhat obscured by the more eventful lives of both his father Abraham and his son Jacob. There’s only one chapter that is solely devoted to his life, 26. He did have a miraculous birth, and it seems he willingly submitted to almost a sacrificial death on Mt Moriah and like a fairy tale, he loved the woman God had chosen for him; like his father he is believer in the Covenant. Also like his father he was forced to wait a very long time for his children to be born. Both he and his father became entangled with ruler Abimelech in Gerar and tried to convince others that his wife was his sister.
But Isaac was also very much unlike his father. He never traveled more than a few miles from his birthplace. He had only one wife, only 2 sons. He was never in a battle, his disposition seems to have been more of a follower than a leader. Yet, he is a Patriarch of Israel, Covenant Keeper.
Today we’re going to focus on Isaac.
I. Isaac becomes a Father - Genesis 25:19-26
II. Isaac receives Command and Covenant - Genesis 26:1-6
III. Isaac repeats Father’s sin - Genesis 26:7-11
IV. Isaac reveals patience in conflict - Genesis 26:12-22
V. Isaac rewarded by God and Abimelech - Genesis 26:23-33
A. Read Genesis 25:19-21a. I imagine Abraham was a great source of comfort to his son during these 20 years of infertility. Abraham himself had waited 25 years for Isaac’s birth, God seems to have a purpose and a pattern in waiting for his promises, at times unknown to us. Finally Rebekah becomes pregnant, she should be the happiest woman on earth but not quite, in fact she’s miserable, “If it is going to be like this, I’m not so sure I want to be pregnant!”(NET) She asks God why is this happening to me? READ Genesis 25:23. I’m sure she was encouraged by this prophecy. When you’re pregnant all you can think about is giving birth to a healthy baby. Rebekah is told that and much more, she is going to give birth successfully to two boys that would survive, grow up and they too would have families and descendants. There’s a little cloud over this joy, the prophecy says these boys would be separated, older would serve the younger. These boys are to be “two peoples, going their own ways from birth” NEB. I think it’s every parent’s desire that your children love each other, get along, some even hope they’ll be best friends. But that’s not always what happens. Right here, God says before they were born “they’re not going to get along, they won’t live near each other, power play in their relationship, younger is going to dominate”. READ Genesis 25:24-26. Esau’s name means “hairy one” =hairiness in the ancient world indicated an animal-like nature. Jacob’s name means “El will protect” but the Hebrew spelling of Jacob (ya’aaob) is similar to the word “heel” when Jacob grasped Esau’s heel during the birth he got the nickname “heel-holder” sometimes called “deceiver, trickster”. With their births Isaac becomes a father and the Covenant has a new heir, God has kept His promise.
We’re going to skip over the story of the birthright and pick that up next week, stay focused on Isaac. In chapter 26 we’re going to see a series of circumstances which are amazingly similar to what his father Abraham experienced.
A. READ Genesis 26:1. Separate event, nearly 100 yrs later from Abraham’s encounter with Abimelech in chapter 20. There is a famine in the land, Isaac is tested. Every event in our lives also has the potential to be a test for us. Whether it’s feast or famine, life or death, seems good or bad, everything we do/decisions we make, they have the potential for spiritual growth or slipping backwards. God allowed this famine to come at this time to encourage Isaac to trust Him in all things. MAP.
He went to Gerar. He had been living in Beer-lahai-roi (SW of Beersheba, area of Kadesh- Barnea) Semi-arid region. Perhaps Isaac thought he might do better where there was more rainfall, traveled about 50 miles NE to Gerar, closer to the coast. There another Abimelech was ruling, son or grandson of chapter 20. “Abimelech” seems to have been a title like Ceasar or Pharaoh or King. No mention of praying for guidance, seems that Isaac may have temporarily forgotten about relying on God’s direction, or dependent faith in God to provide, protect, instead he decided to act on his own, figure out how to feed his family himself, take control of his own life. He must have been making plans to go to Egypt when God intervenes.
B. READ Genesis 26:2-5 Lord appeared. This is the first time we see the Lord appearing to Isaac alone. God’s command “don’t go to Egypt” is followed by His promise of the Abrahamic Covenant, it now belongs Isaac. It includes the land, to become a great nation, to have and to bring blessings to all the world, this is promised to Isaac. God says “I will be with you and bless you” (Genesis 26:3).Why? Was it some good deed that Isaac had done? No, he was chosen the same way his father was chosen, by the Sovereignty of God. Out of all the people in the world, God chose Abraham- made promises to him and to his descendants – and Isaac was heir to the promises. God chose
C. READ Genesis 26:6 Isaac stayed in Gerar. Isaac obeyed God, stayed in the Promised Land, did not go down to Egypt. This section gives us a glimpse of possibly when the God of Abraham truly became the God of Isaac. Up until now, Isaac had lived in the shadow of his father. Back in chapter 22 on Mt Moriah Isaac had a willing faith and trust, in chapter 24, 25 we see he is a man of prayer. Now we see Isaac relating to God in a personal, one-on-one way. As we said last week, this personal faith, personal encounter with God is the way we all must come to have a saving relationship with God. It wasn’t enough that his father, his mother were believers, wasn’t enough that he was brought up in a godly home, wasn’t enough that he was the son of the promise, Isaac himself had to embrace the faith, he had to put his trust in the Living God, obey him. He did.
Application: What about you? I know some of you have been brought up like Isaac. You mother and father have been strong Christians all your life. You’ve always gone to church, always known of Jesus, He has always been part of your life. If I were to ask you “when did you become a believer?” you might answer “I’ve always gone to church, I grew up in the church.” If you answered that way I’d have to ask you respectfully, No the question is “When did you personally become a believer” You might answer my whole family is Christian. But, when did you decide their faith was your faith? Bible makes it clear, we individually must choose to when we hear the gospel, good news, we must either accept Christ as our Lord/Savior or we reject Him by default. Do you have a personal faith or is it second-hand? Is it your faith or is it the faith of your parents/grandparents that you’re relying on. Is it Your faith or the faith of your spouse, sibling or a close friend?
John 1:12 But to all who have received him - those who believe in his name- he has given the right to become God's children
God of Abraham became the God of Isaac, later we’ll see Jacob too must have a personal encounter with the Living God to become a Covenant Keeper.
Now Isaac has his father’s faith but he also has something else from his father.
A. READ Genesis 26:7. Poor Isaac, like his father, is burdened with a beautiful wife. It seems the men in the city were interested in her, maybe they even came up to Isaac and said “she’s gorgeous, I’d love to date her, who is she, is she related to you?” Isaac, like his father, became fearful for his life. Isaac, like his father, was worried that they might kill him to get Rebekah. And Isaac, like his father, knew lying wasn’t right but Isaac, like his father, thought perhaps in this circumstance it was necessary to save his life. Maybe Isaac was remembering how Dad lied, he got away with it and they didn’t kill him. We’re so disappointed when we read that he just like his father Abraham, too lied about his wife, but I wonder how many of us have restored to lying to get ourselves out of a jam, how many of us have lied to cover-up a mistake, to avoid something unpleasant? STORY. Lying is a sin, it can never truly help us, we can never expect God to bless the circumstance if we’re deceitful. God is gracious, slow to anger, but He doesn’t overlook sin, there will be consequences. What makes this particularly tragic is it is the same lie his father had used. His sin was just a repetition of his father’s sin. The easy way that Isaac repeated Abraham’s sin shows us it is much easier to imitate the weaknesses of our parents than to emulate their virtues. There’s great contrast between the personalities of Abraham and Isaac but they commit the same sin.
B. Back to the story. READ Genesis 26:8 This lie had gone on a long time but Isaac got careless, he was caught. Nothing harder than to live a lie over a lengthy period of time, it affects your whole life. Numbers 32:23 And know that your sin will find you out Why?
Hebrews 4:13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. God said enough lying, no more. How disappointed Abimelech was READ Genesis 26:9,10. Abimelech saw and rightly confronted Isaac, Isaac had to admit what he’s done wrong. OUR SIN AFFECTS OTHERS, but sometimes its consequences are not apparent, at first, and we think we’ve gotten away with it. Isaac didn’t mean to hurt anyone, certainly not the King, but he did. Abimelech basically said, “you didn’t have to lie, you were being unfair to us, you could have hurt us by allowing someone to commit adultery and people are mad at you, you messed up. Instead of retaliating, I’m going to back off and sign a restraining order for your protection (Genesis 26:11) Imagine the humiliation.
Application. Why is that so difficult for us? Why do we have to learn how to be transparent, vulnerable and honest with others? Perhaps it’s because most of us are so concerned about other’s think of us we can’t risk being see as “less than perfect, or good, or righteous.” I wonder if Abraham ever said “Son, I had to learn a hard lesson about lying when I was afraid, I made a terrible mistake, I put your mother in great danger, and when the lie was exposed I felt awful, God forgave me, but I was so embarrassed that I let God down, I embarrassed the family, I pray you never have to go through that, it’s was too painful, learn from my mistake.”
Have you ever had a conversation with your children like that? With a loved one? We are not perfect, we do sin, and we need confession and forgiveness and we need to help others avoid repeating our sins.
Has this story spoken to you? Is there a habit, behavior, some language you see in your children that makes you cringe because it a mirror, you see yourself in them. How are you handling it?
A. Isaac stays in the area, must have acquired some land because the text says he planted crops and within one year they multiplied 100x because the Lord blessed him, rich, wealthy. Wait a minute, didn’t we just read he lied and now God is blessing him? Why? Glimpse of the mercy, grace, forgiveness, faithfulness of God Psalms 130:1-5 (LB) O Lord, from the depths of despair I cry for your help: “Hear me! Answer! Help me!” Lord, if you keep in mind our sins then who can ever get an answer to his prayers? But you forgive! What an awesome thing this is! That is why I wait expectantly, trusting God to help, for he has promised. What did God promise Isaac READ Psalm 130:3 (to bless him). God is faithful, God keeps His promises, even when we do not. Isaac was blessed because God said He was going to bless him.
B. With this blessing comes conflict READ Genesis 26:13,14 As long as mankind is human the prosperity of one will be the envy of another. Envy= displeasure with God and His way of dividing up His resources. Do you ever struggle with envy? I do, I love nice things, nice houses, cars, trips. My great grandmother used to say “there’s nothing shameful in being poor, it’s just terribly inconvenient” We all would rather be rich and not be inconvenienced! This is convicting, the opposite of envy is contentment! But Isaac’s neighbors are envious, it may have seemed a surprise to Isaac but they are determined to ruin his life. They start by stopping up an old well (Genesis 26:15) Adequate water was necessary to live- needed it for his herds, crops and his family. Complaints must have reached the court, Abimelech gets involved and says “Go away, too powerful”. Moves away but not far enough. Begins again, he re-digs old wells his father had dug, finds fresh water, as soon as the well was discovered the Philistines claimed territorial rights. This happened several times (Genesis 26:17-22). Isaac had to come to grips with how to handle this conflict. Bible says rather than argue, fight over the disputed rights, he decided to move on. Decided he wouldn’t “power up” and fight. Don’t misunderstand, Isaac is not sweeping these problems under the rug- the names he gives the wells (Genesis 26:20,21) prove he is fully aware of the problem, his choices (Esek=dispute; Sitnah=opposition) Isaac is choosing, as Abraham did with Lot, to give up his own rights for the sake of peaceful relations. He is going to trust God’s care and promise to protect, bless and give him the land in His way, His timing.
We have conflicts in our lives too. There are times when we must confront wrongs, when we can’t overlook. Share some questions we can ask, making the decision to overlook or confront:
When and How should you go and confront someone? (Peacemakers Ministry)
When someone has something against you (Matthew 5:21-24)
When someone’s sins are too serious to overlook (Matthew 18:15)
Questions to ask yourself=
Is it dishonoring God? (Romans 2:21-24)
Is it damaging your relationship?
Is it hurting others? (Luke 17:2-3)
Is it hurting the offender? (James 5:19-20)
Isaac is a man in search of peace, decision to move on. These are wells, why go to war over a well when we can move a mile or two and dig another. It’s not worth it. There are always 2 ways to handle conflict: God’s Way and your way. God’s way may mean getting godly advice, it may take longer and it be harder but God will lead and guide and help.
Application: Is there a conflict over “rights” in your home that you’re struggling with? Would gentleness describe the way you’re reacting? Listening to radio, “strange lack of civility” today, convicted me along with this lesson, trait of Isaac I want to develop is manifesting peace, actions, language, opinions. Are you living in peace? In your family? With your neighbors, even at personal sacrifice? Ours is a “don’t get mad, get even” world= but is your life different? Or are you right now jeopardizing your testimony over some personal right or thing? Isaac was a peacemaker who was rewarded by God and surprisingly also by Abimelech.
A. Isaac moves on to Beersheba, very same night after he puts up the tents, unpacking boxes, God comes to him. This is the second and last recorded time that God appears to personally to Isaac. READ Genesis 26:23 Don’t be afraid I am with you. Wonder what Isaac had been fearing? Was it that there would be enough water in Beersheba? Crops and herds continue to produce enough food? Would they be in personal danger there? God comes and says “don’t be afraid, you are my chosen one, you are the heir of my promises” Just like his father Isaac responded by building an altar and worshipping God revealing he is a Covenant keeper to a watching world, not long after
B. Abimelech and 2 leading men in his court visit Isaac to make a treaty with him. Isaac asks a great question “why after you kicked me out have you come to see me”? READ Genesis 26:28 God is with you, you are a man of faith, you can be trusted, we want to be at peace with you. They saw his prosperity and rightly attributed to God’s blessing and they were impressed with the way he handled conflict
Isaac was not his father, he was his own unique person, entrusted with the responsibility as heir of the Promises of God, entrusted to live his faith before a watching world, set apart to trust God’s provisions and to worship Him openly, he was challenged to resolve conflict as a godly peacemaker. Though he was not perfect, Isaac was called to be a Covenant Keeper. May God grant us the grace and strength to also be God’s covenant keepers.
Do you have a favorite in the family? Favorite child, grandchild, sister, nephew?
Play video. Isaac’s family had favorites and we’ll see how that played out in their story.
I. Birthright sold to Jacob - Genesis 25:27-34
II. Blessing stolen by Jacob - Genesis 27:1-46
III. Blessing is given by Isaac - Genesis 28:1-9
IV. Blessing is confirmed by God - Genesis 28:10-22
A. Favorites READ Genesis 25:27-28. Last week we looked at their birth, scripture seems to skip over their childhood, pick up the story when they are young men. By this time, Esau is an outdoorsman, loves to fish, hunt, shops at Bass Pro and REI while Jacob is a homebody, like to cook and read books, orders on line from Williams Sonoma and Amazon. These men are vastly different, and isn’t that way with your children, nieces, nephews, so different. That’s the uniqueness of each of us but tragic problems in this family stem from the fact that Isaac and Rebekah each favored one child over another.
The parents fail to provide the background of justice on which all true community and family life must be founded. They each champion a favourite; they allow the boys to divide them. As a result they further divide the boys and break apart what they are meant to unite.
Ronald S. Wallace1
This favoritism will result in marital discord, sibling rivalry, hatred, distrust. Sadly this learned trait will be passed on to the next generation.
If you have ever taken favoritism lightly, laughed at it in your family, I encourage you to re-examine the potentially disastrous consequences on everyone. If you have been the favored or the non-favored in a family, I want to remind you that God loves us all equally, that is so comforting.
Romans 2:11 For God does not show favoritism
God chooses people for certain callings, he places us in different families for His purposes, but He loves all His creation, sent his Son for all to be saved.
I Timothy 2:5,6 There is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men…
Knowing that family tension between the two sons, let’s look at the story of the birthright. Picture the scene: Imagine Jacob in the kitchen, smell the bacon and onions cooking, lentil stew is simmering, corn bread and butter. In walks Esau who hasn’t eaten anything all day. READ Genesis 25:30-34. You read in your lesson the significance of the birthright. It was basically the inheritance rights of the eldest son: headship of the family, major share of the family’s property, and the right to the parental blessing. But Esau was hungry! Starving! Also very foolish. This casual attitude and lack of respect for the birthright shows how little Esau valued the Covenant. They had grown up knowing about the blessing, twins were 15 years old when Abraham died, so there were probably many years of grandparenting/parenting, of investing in these boys, of telling them about the Promises of God, sharing his experiences with God. It would seem that Jacob somewhat understood the value of this Covenant but Esau did not. Esau later regretted his decision, he even tries to put all the blame on Jacob but in fact he had a choice, he chose instant gratification over spiritual blessings.
Application: We have a birthright too if we have trusted Christ as our Lord and Savior. We have been promised eternal security that begins now and is forever. We also have the reality of our inheritance right now through the person of the indwelling Holy Spirit. New Covenant is written on our hearts. Are you making any “Esau choices” right now? How did you answer that question? Is there an area of your spiritual inheritance that you’re neglecting or ignoring? Are you making wise decisions regarding your spiritual health? How awake is your soul? In this story we are warned: watch out what choices you’re making, they reveal your heart’s treasure.
The Birthright is sold to Jacob and sometime later The Blessing is stolen by Jacob
A. Isaac’s decision. READ Genesis 27:1-4. Isaac is approx 137 yrs, boys are 77. Perhaps Isaac is thinking of his older half brother Ishmael who had died at 137. Seems his thoughts were full of his own death, decided to take care of his will=for him was the Patriarchal blessing. It was customary for his time/place, in basically an nonliterate world, to give this orally, an oral blessing, legally binding. Isaac is ready but he has a problem. He wanted to give the blessing to Esau, his favorite son, but he knew God’s will was to have Jacob the heir through the prophecy given to Rachel. Maybe he didn’t know that Esau had sold the birthright, he did know about the pagan wives Esau had foolishly chosen. How could this blessing be passed on to Esau? Only one way, secretly. It was also customary to gather all the family together for the blessing to be transferred (Genesis 49). Isaac knew that if he told the household of his intention of blessing Esau there would be a great uproar. Rebekah would loudly protest, nag him about the prophecy, probably make him feel guilty and miserable- only way to avoid that would be to secretly, hurriedly arrange the blessing just between Esau and himself. Isaac determines to give the blessing to the wrong son.
Application: Do you ever see yourself doing that? I remember a time in my life where I said to myself “I want this so bad, it’s a good thing, I’m sure God would want it for me too” and I can’t truly say I ever asked “God is this what You want for me?” Consequences of that are sometimes God will give you what you want, and it’s not at all good, not really want you wanted. Psalm 106:15 Israelites in the wilderness craved food, grumbling, I want what I want, God gave them “overgave” them, caused “leanness of their soul” “wasting disease”
B. Rebekah’s been listening READ Genesis 27:5-10. She devises a daring plan instructing Jacob to impersonate Esau to get the blessing. Rebekah is the instigator, Jacob is the accomplice.
He’s not thrilled about the plan, objects READ Genesis 27:11-13. So Jacob leaves and gets the meat and Rebekah makes stew, while it’s cooking she goes in Esau’s closet, gets his best clothes, still smell like outdoors, dresses Jacob in them, disguises him, gets the tray ready and sends him in to Isaac, who by now probably has cataracts so bad he can hardly see anything, certainly nothing clearly.
C. READ Genesis 27:18 Jacob tells one lie after another, last is the worst. READ v19-20 I succeeded because God helped me. Wonder if he didn’t worry that thunder and lightning might strike him. Tension builds, Isaac still has some doubts and wants to examine him, come over and let me touch you. “At this point” says Martin Luther, (if I were Jacob) I would have let the dish fall and would have run” but Bishop Hall responds and says no doubt Rebekah was standing at the door, and wouldn’t have wanted to run into her, stays let’s dad touch him, voice almost gives him away. He has one last opportunity to make things right READ Genesis 27:24. Lies again. Isaac eats and gives the
D. Blessing Genesis 27:27-29 to Jacob. a. Material Genesis 27:28 dew, grain, wine. b. Spiritual Genesis 27:29 Jacob will be lord over his brethren and the nations, God’s blessings are upon him. God’s choice is blessed but the consequences of this deception are tragic.
1. The motivation for scheming was unbelief. Rebekah panicked when she heard about Isaac’s plans. She believed the promise but she didn’t believe that God could accomplish it without her help. Impatient, didn’t pray, took matters into her own hands.
2. The ends never justify the means. God will not bless you for doing wrong to achieve good. God’s covenantal blessing of Jacob was because He sovereignly chose him to inherit the promises but there were great severe tragic consequences from this deception.
Proverbs 19:5 A false witness will not go unpunished, and the one who spouts out lies will not escape punishment.
The whole family suffered in the strife it brought the household, Rebekah suffered-as far as we know she never saw her son again, she was burdened with daughter-in-laws who gave her great grief. Jacob had to leave home, deal for 20 years with Laban who abused and cheated him, Jacob ultimately was deceived by his own sons, all the consequences of not trusting God to work out His promises His way
Application: Deception is one of the repeated generational sins in this family. Is it in yours? Can you see where it shows up? Is unbelief in God’s promise to take care of you, meet your needs, provide for you, is that causing you to run ahead of Him? Have you ever panicked like Rebekah thinking God is not coming through for me, I need to do something!
Jacob leaves, Esau enters. Hey dad, sit up, just got home from hunting, made your favorite stew, let’s eat and you can bless me. ”Who are you” What do you mean, I’m Esau.
E. Isaac’s discovery READ Genesis 27:33. Isaac trembled violently, shook all over, Turning point in the story, in the life of Isaac. Isaac realizes he’s been up against the will of God, he can’t revoke Jacob’s blessing, not culturally allowed. Esau is crushed and begs his father for some kind of blessing.
F. Esau’s determination is a warning to us.
a. READ Genesis 27:34 bitter cry= angry and mad b. blames others Genesis 27:36 doesn’t see his own part, own wrong choices c. demanding, badgers dad “do something for me too” Genesis 27:38 bless me too..weeps. We might feel some sympathy for him but his tears were simply frustrated selfishness. READ Hebrews Genesis 27:39-40.
Esau and his descendants would live in the mountains of Edom, some of the most desolate and barren places on earth, southeast of the Dead Sea. MAP and picture of area.
Esau held a grudge that turned into a murder plot.
G. Rebekah heard about it, determined to protect Jacob at all costs, calls for him. Jacob, dear, your brother’s angry, in fact I’ve heard he wants to kill you, so go away for a few days until he gets over it. In that culture, she didn’t have the authority to send him away, the head of the household would have to make that decision, there would be a formal send-off, so she needed a reason. Again, she uses deception and goes to Isaac says “now look, Jacob’s not getting any younger, needs a wife, we don’t want any more Canaanite girls, godly wife, send Jacob back to my relatives for a god-fearing girl. Why? Commentators: 1. foreshadowing of OT LAW Exodus 34:16; Deuteronomy 7:3. 2. marriage w/in a clan was culturally favored custom of the time. 3. stay within own ethnic group. She discreetly doesn’t say anything about the death threats on Jacob’s life. I wonder how much Isaac really knew of Rebekah’s part in the deception, he doesn’t seem to get angry with her, agrees with her suggestion about seeking a godly wife. Although he may have been mad at Jacob, he recognizes and affirms God’s preference for him as heir of the Covenant. Family gathers together, Jacob’s bags are packed, ready to go.
READ Genesis 28:1-5 Isaac confirms the Covenantal Promises given to Abraham, blessings, great nation, land, these promises are for Jacob. What Isaac wanted for his child is what all believers want for theirs: he wanted Jacob married to a fellow believer who walks with God and values spiritual truths. Isn’t that what you want for your loved ones? Whether or not they have a lot of money, a great education, social standing, it all pales in comparison to their spiritual walk with God, doesn’t it? Question becomes: If that’s what we want, is that the message we are sending out to our family? Is that the way we live our lives? Does our spiritual life, our walk with God, is it real? Is that what we are known to value most of all? Ie story: lunch “does anyone want to talk about what God is doing in their lives?”
A. Jacob leaves, gone about 45 miles north of Beersheba, 45 miles from home, night, alone, homesick, fearful (what would keep Esau from following him) robbers, wild animals, perhaps he was thinking of his past: what a mess, feel like a failure, hate what I did. Perhaps thinking of his present: what am I doing here? basically running away from home when I’m supposed to be the heir, what if dad dies while I’m gone? Maybe thinking of his future: long journey ahead, could be hazardous, how am I going to find a wife, what if I don’t like her? How long am I going to be away from home? Whatever his thoughts were as he went to sleep, God knew his needs, he needed a word from God.
God does that for us too, when we’re at the end of ourselves, when we’re facing something new, when we have no strength left, God comes.
B. Dream Genesis 28:12-15 READ
Well-known story. Ladder,stairway=“sullam” Hebrew only occurs here, unique appearing of God, first of 7 times recorded God appears to Jacob (Genesis 31:3; Genesis 32:1,2,24-30;Genesis 35:1,9-13;Genesis 46:1-4). God reaffirms the Covenant, we wonder what does this unique ladder, stairway with angels going up/down mean? Clue=v15 God says “I am with you” “I’m here in everything that happens to you, with you” No matter what mess you’ve gotten yourself in, no matter what consequences you’re living with because of your own choices, no matter how fearful you might be, no matter what, I am with you, going to take care of you and accomplish My purposes for your life.
Hebrews 13:5; Matthew 28:20 I am with you always
Application: There may be times that God seems to be far off; those are the times we walk by faith and not by sight, but if we are determined to trust, follow even in the darkness- one day you, like Jacob, you’ll probably wake up, look back and say “surely the Lord is in this place” Genesis 28:16. I know God is with me, God has been here even when I didn’t see Him. Jacob’s response is worship and a vow, commentators differ interpreting these verses, I personally don’t think Jacob is bargaining here, I think he’s taking his first steps with God, testing out if this faith thing is really real. Ie My conversion story. Here the God of Abraham and Isaac becomes the God of Jacob.
Application: In our story, who do you identify with?
If I were honest= Esau, really want what I want when I want it, don’t like to wait.
Isaac= I want what I want too, I want my favorite things, favorite people, my way, ok it may mean I have to be a little secretive but who’s going to know?
Rebekah= I too want what you want, my favorites too and by the way I know what is best, I know how to get it even if I have to tell a little white lie, re-arrange circumstances, I don’t want anyone to be hurt, but really, haven’t you read the statistics: nobody tells the truth all the time.
Jacob= times I just go along to get what I want: lie, deception, I don’t want to get in trouble but I do want what I want
Our struggle is not so much discovering the will of God but in doing it. It is NOT God’s Will that we have favoritism, deception, manipulation, hatred, lying in our lives, they come with unavoidable consequences. It IS His Will that we listen, obey and follow His leading, His Words. Learn these lessons, choose to be a Covenant Keeper.
1 Ronald S. Wallace, Isaac and Jacob (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982) 30.
I love Broadway musicals don’t you? One of my all-time favorites is Annie, life of little orphan Annie, one of my favorite songs is it’s a “Hard Knock Life” describing the misery of growing up in an orphanage. WATCH VIDEO Without the song and dance, if we were going to describe this period in the life of Jacob, it would be his “hard knocks”
Scriptures tell us Jeremiah 18/Romans 9 that we are like clay in God the potter’s hands. He can mold us, make us, refine us as He chooses, “shaping as seemed best to him”
Last week we saw Jacob’s deception, his scheming, his manipulating to get the Blessing but even in those wrong methods God saw the potential in Jacob that never seemed to be in Esau, the potential to value the spiritual and yet God also saw in Jacob the strong will that was bent on doing things his way. It was that strong will that God took and put back on the potter’s wheel and through a series of hard knock life lessons, difficult circumstances, God is refining Jacob, God is using the 20 years of hard knocks in Laban’s household to prepare him to return home, to fulfill His purposes for this man.
I. Jacob deceived has double wedding - Genesis 29:1-30
II. Jacob divided has children - Genesis 29:31-30:24
III. Jacob dealing bargains for wages - Genesis 30:25-43
IV. Jacob determined flees from Laban - Genesis 31:1-55
A. Meeting family Genesis 29:1-14
Jacob finally reaches Paddam Aram (MAP) sees a well, sheep, shepherds waiting around to water the animals. To him this is unusual, thirsty animals and a covered up well, so he starts a conversation, where you from= Haran. do you know my relatives= yes, here comes his daughter Rachel. why aren’t you watering the animals= we can’t yet, whether the well belonged to Laban or it was the custom to wait until all the herds were there we don’t know but Rachel finally gets to the well, the first thing Jacob does is roll the top off the well and water her flocks and then READ Genesis 29:11 insight into Jacob’s character, tender and affectionate man, looking at Rachel perhaps thinking this is my mother’s family, this is my cousin, here is my uncle Laban, hugs, kisses but in about a month the party over.
B. Matchmaking READ Genesis 29:15
Sounds generous of Laban but actually saying “if you’re going to stay here, you’re going to need to work” Jacob was used to hard work but it was in the position of being the wealthy son of Isaac, now he would be the servant of Laban, his hard knock life begins.
Jacob came w/nothing, says he’ll work 7 yrs for Rachel. Laban has 2 daughters Genesis 29:16,17. Oldest Leah, weak eyes=poor vision(nearsighted), pale eyes, light colored= in a culture that valued dark, fiery oriental eyes, eyes were best feature compared to her beautiful sister, Rachel had a great figure( how could you tell under all those clothes?) Willing to work 7 yrs= seems incredible in our instant gratification culture to wait, for anything that long, but he does because READ Genesis 29:18-20 this should be a foreshadowing, he has to remind Laban, time’s up, I want to get married.
C. Wedding night Jacob is going to learn a lesson in the school of hard knocks. “Reap what you sow” READ Genesis 29:22-25. Poor Jacob has the wrong wife and we’re still wondering why he didn’t figure this out until morning, maybe she was about the same size, dressed in some of Rachel’s clothes, a lot of perfume, veils, still don’t get it…my only conclusion is “we know how observant men are” ie cartilage earring. Why did you deceive me? Genesis 29:25 it’s our custom, older daughter marries first, Jacob is trapped, Laban’s new deal: wait a week marry Rachel, work another 7yrs for her.
Deceiver Jacob was deceived. Tragic that this repeated family sin hangs on with different family members. Biblical truth shows up in so many stories: Pharaoh (Exodus 1:22) has every Hebrew male child drowned, in the end his men were drowned in the Red Sea. Evil King Ahab caused innocent Naboth’s death and “dogs licked up his blood” (I Kings 21:19) when Ahab died in battle, his chariot was brought back to Samaria, when they washed it in the pool “the dogs licked his blood” (I Kings 22:38) Haman prepared gallows for Mordecai was hanged upon them himself (Esther 7:10). Not always do we see the close connection between doing something wrong and its consequences, but God says we will reap what we sow, eventually. Application: What are you sowing right now in your life? What are you reaping from what you sowed earlier? What will 5, 10 years from now look like because of your current behavior? In your family, at work, are you sowing trust, love, encouragement, support, honesty, justice, understanding, peace? Or something else?
This section records the births of 12 children, should be a time of great happiness, but as we read we’re disappointed w/all the domestic fighting, envying, jealousy. See Leah, wife not loved, does bear children but she frustrated longs for Jacob to love her. Rachel, beautiful, favored wife, barren, jealous of her sister’s ability to have children, complainer. Just like today, all this family infighting left its mark on these children.
A. Leah Genesis 29:31 “not loved”, this is really all the commentary we have about the relationship between Jacob/Leah. Counterpart today=neglected wife, one who is in a “less than perfect” marriage, marriage seems like no marriage at all, going separate ways. In a culture where divorce was not an option, no getting away, Leah’s marriage seemed to drive her to depend on the Lord.
NLT© Psalms 27:10 Even if my father and mother (HUSBAND) abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.
We see her dependence on the Lord in the names she gives her sons, look @progression
Reuben “see a son” Genesis 29:32 Covenant name Yahweh, for Lord has seen, husband will love
Simeon “hearing” Genesis 29:33 Lord heard, how did he hear, thru her prayers,
Levi “attached” Genesis 29:34 not what happens
Judah “praise” Genesis 29:35 possible that Leah has stopped seeing the births as a means to get Jacob’s love, praised God for his gift of her children
Leah had a bad situation, one that God didn’t change, but instead he gave her the grace to live in that situation, her joy came from the Lord and the gifts He gave her. He gave her sons that would become the fathers of the Jewish Tribes of Israel, through her son Levi, priests would come. Judah her son of praise would be the tribe that Messiah Jesus Christ would come. She was definitely a Covenant mother, Covenant Keeper.
B. Rachel-she seems every bit as miserable as Leah, more, couldn’t get pregnant in a society that demanded that of her. Maybe she wondered “would she lose Jacob’s love because she couldn’t give him a child? Would he begin to love Leah more? Her worries led her to acts of despair:
1. Genesis 30:1 demanded children from Jacob: Jacob doesn’t seem to have a problem making babies. Jacob’s response= sees her irrational behavior gets angry READ Genesis 30:2. Comment to all unmarried, engaged getting ready to marry: in every marriage, even the love story of Jacob/Rachel, point when the honeymoon is OVER. Glimpse here of marital fighting.
2. Rachel gives her maid Bilhah. Hard to imagine she didn’t know about Hagar/Ishmael, Jacob did, he should have warned her, wait let’s do it God’s way, let’s pray like my dad did. Jacob goes along, Dan is born “judged” v6; that worked so let’s try it again, Naphtali Genesis 30:8 “my struggle”
C. Leah plays same game Genesis 30:9-13 her maid Zilpah, Gad Genesis 30:11=“good fortune” Asher=Happy.
D. Mandrakes Genesis 30:14-21 story of the mandrakes, seems a strange insert. Reuben, small boy found them=Mandrakes are the fruit of the Mandragora officinarum, a member of the Solanaceae or potato order, closely allied to the Atropa belladonna. It is a common plant all over Israel, flourishing particularly in the spring and ripening about the time of the wheat harvest (Genesis 30:14). The plant has a rosette of handsome dark leaves, dark purple flowers and orange, tomato-like fruit.
‘love apples’ thousands of years regarded as an aphrodisiac. Rachel begs Leah. Insight into these sister wives relationship Genesis 30:15 whatever else was happening Rachel had nothing to do with that, in fact the opposite happened, Leah took Rachel’s husband, but we see how desperate Rachel is to get pregnant, she barters sleeping with Jacob for the mandrake hoping they would solve her problem. Instead ironically Leah gets pregnant with #5 son Issachar Genesis 30:18 “reward”, Zebulun Genesis 30:20 “honor” Leah gives all the credit to God for sons, daughter named Dinah “judgment”
E. light in this darkness for Rachel Genesis 30:22-24. God listened to her prayers, He answered. This birth had nothing to do with mandrakes, nothing to do with manipulation, nothing to do with demands, everything to do with God’s timing, God’s will. Rachel had to stop trying to control her life and turn it over to God.
Whether you marry or don’t marry, have children or don’t have children, get that job or don’t, move or stay, STOP striving in your own strength to get your way, give it up holding so tightly and open your hands to receive the good things God has planned.
Application: Basically both Leah and Rachel had to learn the same lesson. Their sufficiency, their happiness could not come from their husband or even their children. Their jealousy, sibling rivalry, bitterness, envy over what they did not have, did not lead to happiness. Only when they saw, at times, that their source of true fulfillment was in Yahweh, the Lord and his blessings did they find peace.
A. 14 yrs pass. Jacob wants to be released from contract and permitted to go home. In this culture, it was necessary to get the father’s permission to release his wives/children because they were still technically part of his household. Jacob talks with Laban, stay, I’ll pay you, work out a deal, more lessons in this hard knock life for Jacob.
B. Jacob really needed to think about this. Been there 14yrs working hard, nothing to show for it except 2 wives/2 maids/12 kids. Ie Troy at rehearsal dinner, wife, 3 kids, mortgage
Jacob had a family but didn’t have any money, no flocks, herds of his own, no capital, if he left how could he support them? Negotiates w/Laban, they decide his wages will be the abnormal colored animals that are bred, deviant colored ones. Today as back then, the dominant color of Bedouin sheep is solid white, dominant color of goats is dark brown/black. Spotted, striped are the minority. This agreement seems to favor Laban but Jacob has the blessings of God promised to him. Life lessons to learn:
Protect your integrity. At this point Jacob had been working for 14 yrs to pay off the dowry, no doubt he had opportunity to put away something for himself, didn’t. conscientiously worked as Laban’s servant, no complaining, quietly working hard, honestly, so that he could say Genesis 30:32,33 my integrity will testify for me. No matter who you work for, even if it’s Laban, protect your integrity.
Mature your work ethic. If Jacob had not wanted to work hard he could have found many excuses: Laban cheated me, now he owes me or God promised to bless me so I don’t have to put in too many hours. That wasn’t his attitude READ Genesis 31:38-41.
See your success as from God. Jacob is going to acquire great wealth in these few years, yes he works hard, yes uses unusual to us breeding techniques, but in the end Jacob knows his prosperity is from God. Genesis 31:10-13 I had this dream God told me I see what Laban has been doing to you, remember I’m the God you met at Bethel, remember the promises I made to you, to be with you, to bless you.
Prosperity can have one of two effects on people. Some view their success as a trust from God and put it to good use for him. Others, however see it as a personal accomplishment and the means to personal power. Such an independent, self-sufficient attitude is harmful to the faith, for it robs God of his honor by attributing the prosperity to human ingenuity.
Allen P Ross 1
Finally it’s time to go home
With his prosperity comes conflict, increasing animosity between households of Laban/Jacob.
God comes in a dream, “leave, time to go” Jacob decides to have a family meeting, calls his wives out the field- no wiretaps, no one can listen, secret meeting. Shared his intentions of leaving, reviewed details of his long service to their father, dream, God’s instructions to leave. You can see the estranged relationship these sisters have w/father, no hope of inheritance, they were treated as slaves, felt no love for him, ready to go.
A. Preparations to leave are made, while Laban is away spring sheep shearing, pack up/
Rachel stole father’s idols, Genesis 31:19 easy to do with Laban gone, why? 1. Word “teraphim”=to inquire, w/o them, father couldn’t inquire where they had gone 2. She believed in them 3. Custom of the day=possession of family gods carried w/then inheritance rights, she wanted them for Jacob.
B. Laban heard, raced home, organized search party, that’s when he saw the gods gone. Jacob had children/flocks to slow him down, Laban traveled faster, caught up w/them. Swaggers into camp, Genesis 31:26-29a switch in his speech, perhaps he saw Jacob/his daughter standing staring at him, boasted of his strength, ability to harm Jacob, but God warned him in a dream, leave him alone, so you left, why did you take my idols?
C. must have hit a nerve Genesis 31:31 but we don’t have your idols go ahead and search us, tense scene, we know Rachel did it, but Jacob doesn’t it, when she heard “death penalty” really scared her, needed a plan, amazing kept her composure, at least long enough to hide them under her clothes, so Laban never found them. Now Jacob is really
D. Angry Genesis 31:36-42 accuses his father-in-law of treachery in all their business dealings for the last 20 years, gives all the credit to God for intervening on his behalf Genesis 31:42.
E. Laban is speechless, almost. Knew he was beaten, one last hurrah Genesis 31:43, what can I do? Offers to make a covenant Genesis 31:44-45, nonaggression pact-Laban’s main purpose= keep Jacob from any retaliation in the future, if Jacob would become so powerful, so rich that he would want to return and reclaim Laban’s estate. Jacob didn’t want to return, but he also didn’t want Laban to follow him. Gathered stones, made a pile, as a testimony to their pact. Laban used the Aramaic =Jegar; Jacob used Hebrew= Galeed. They swore by names of God. Laban Genesis 31:53 Jacob=Fear of father Isaac=his designation for Yahweh. Last we hear of Laban.
It’s been a hard knock life for Jacob for 20 years, living with Laban, learning life lessons, learning to depend and trust on the God of Abraham, Isaac. God was preparing him to return home, return and live as heir of the promise. Return and live following God. These 20 years were hard knocks- there was deception, dishonesty, fear, distrust, jealousy, through it all, God was with him, God kept his promises, God was bringing him home, a different man, a man who through adversity was learning to be a Covenant Keeper.
Application: God uses hard knocks in our lives too for similar purpose= Covenant Keeper
1 Allen P. Ross, Genesis (Grand Rapids, MI:Baker Books, 1988) p. 517.
Note: There is no message available for Lesson Four.
Have you been to the movies lately? So few worth seeing, many have the themes of
Seduction, rape, revenge, defenseless killing. Sounds like a R-rated movie doesn’t it? Surprise, it’s just Jacob’s dysfunctional family right here in the bible. Did you wonder? Why is this depressing story even in the bible? What purpose could God have for including it? Why all this tragedy? Life of Jacob certainly seems to have great swings of highs and lows. In Genesis 34 we’re definitely swinging low with injustice, rape and murder- but then in Genesis 35 we swing up, with new beginnings, we see that with God, His amazing grace, we can all start all over- when we’re repentant. Then we swing down again, in a totally different way, we see Jacob deal with 3 deaths of loved family members. Our lives are also like these swings, things that we experience seem to take us up and down. Throughout these swings: highs and lows; there is one constant: God’s love for us, His grace towards us, His commitment to keep His promises to us. This lesson wraps up our emphasis on Jacob-ending “Jacob stories” next week we’ll see that in the rest of Genesis our focus will be on the sons of Jacob, in particular, Joseph.
I. Jacob’s Family Scandal - Genesis 34:1-31
II. Jacob’s Family at Bethel - Genesis 35:1-15
III. Jacob’s Family Sorrows - Genesis 35:16-29
A. Seduction Genesis 34:1-4. READ. Why did this happen? Who was responsible?
1. Dinah? Most likely she was a teenager, curious, wanting to act grown up, go places, have fun, they lived close to the city of Shechem. We know she had 11 brothers, no mention of a sister, perhaps she just wanted to be w/other girls. We don’t know any details like: had she been told to stay out of the city? Had she been told not to go anywhere alone? Did she have any restrictions? We do know she ended up in the wrong place, wrong time, unsupervised.
2. Brothers? Oriental society, eldest son in the household was responsible for the younger ones. Remember the story of Abraham’s servant sent to find a bride for Isaac? He negotiated the Rebekah’s father Bethuel and with the eldest brother Laban. Dinah’s brothers shared some responsibility for her protection but Genesis 34:7 tells us they were out in the field working.
3. Shechem, son of Hamor, Hivite, people group related to the Hurrians of Northern Mesopotamia, pagans, as we’ll see they didn’t practice the rite of circumcision. The fact that he raped Dinah, a virgin girl, is shocking but the fact that there is an utter neglect of any wrong doing reveals the low moral standards of this community. There’s no confession, no apology, no asking to make restitution v4 Get me this girl sends his father
4. Jacob First question: why are you even living in Shechem? You made a vow to God 20 years earlier at Bethel, to return there, then God came to you in Paddam Aram (Genesis 31:3) and said “return to the land of your fathers, your relatives” you don’t have any relatives in Shechem. Why are you here? And you’re head of the family, what kind of advice and protection did you give Dinah? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had 3 teenagers, I know he could have been the very best parent and Dinah could have still slipped out and gotten raped. Genesis 34:5 bothers me. How could a loving, caring, protective parent keep silent? I have a hard time understanding his lack of action, his lack of outrage?
In a culture today that seems just as permissive as Shechem: what a call to us as parents, grandparents to protect our children, to chaperone them well, to question their activities, to know where they are.
Hamor, the father, meets with Jacob, the father and while they’re meeting. READ Genesis 34:7
B. Brothers’ reaction Genesis 34:7. Seething w/anger, righteously indignant over the wrong done to their sister, to their family “in Israel, such a thing that should not be done”. These very words are said later in Israel’s history by Tamar when her half brother Amon tries to rape her she begs him to ask their father for permission to marry her first “such a thing should not be done in Israel” (2 Samuel 13:12)
C. Hamor pleads with the sons, he loves her, we can become one big happy family, intermarry, do business together, form a power alliance, this can be a win-win. Shechem adds (Genesis 34:11,12) I’ll pay whatever price you ask.
D. Before Jacob can respond the sons take over the negotiations. We wonder who demonstrates the greater evil in this chapter? Shechem or the sons of Jacob? Shechem did wrong, he raped Dinah, but seemed to truly love her and offered a proper dowry, and father Hamor held out a hand of friendship suggesting their peoples join together. It’s this openness and generosity that is the basis for the brother’s plan of revenge and what’s worse they use the Covenant to deceive. READ Genesis 34:13 , “deceitfully” this is the same word used in Genesis 27:35 Jacob deceived his father Isaac. READ Genesis 34:14-17 Hamor, Shechem agree, it seems a cheap price to pay for the advantages to be gained. Unaware of the brother’s hidden agenda, they focused persuading their people to accept the arrangement and don’t you know that would take some convincing. Ultimately it was a business deal, sold the community on the benefits of becoming assimilated with Jacob’s family, so they were circumcised Genesis 34:24.
E. Three days later while all the men were still in pain, Simeon and Levi massacred the city. Perhaps we could understand if Dinah’s brothers plotted to kill Shechem, but the whole city? All the men? Truly barbaric. Other brothers didn’t seem to participate in the killing but they were ready to sack the city READ Genesis 34:27-29, looted, took captives, violence of the sword, violence of the scavengers, these are the people of God?
F. Jacob stood in horror over their behavior and when they got home he gave them a scolding (use that word because the rebuke he gives his sons seems to be so lacking in comparison to what they have done) READ Genesis 34:30. They massacred and plundered an entire city and Jacob says “you’ve embarrassed me, ruined my reputation, put our family in danger- what about their sin, horrible act of murdering innocent people? Why is there no confrontation about that?
G. Self-defense Genesis 34:31 Their reply shows no regret for what they had done, instead of repenting, they just wanted to justify themselves, they saw sin in the rape but none if themselves. Their sense of justice was right but their methods to avenge were cruel and excessive.
NET© I Thessalonians 5:15 See that no one pays back evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all.
NET© Hebrews 10:30 For we know the one who said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.”
NET Romans12:17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil; consider what is good before all people. 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people. 12:19 Do not avenge yourselves, dear friends, but give place to God’s wrath, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord (Deutoronomy 32:35)
Application: Is there someone who has wronged you, or you have a second hand offense, someone has hurt your husband, your child, your parents? Are you planning to get back in some way? So many ways to get revenge: maybe your method =covertly undercover, quiet, nurse the hurt inwardly, build a wall, close down a relationship, shut them out, OR maybe overtly aggressive = try to harm them in some way, their reputation, their job, their relationships. You can see the damage revenge does in this story, do you see it in your life? Your relationships? Work, family, friends?
Can you imagine the tension in this family right now? Dinah is shamed, alone, seen the carnage. Her brothers Simeon, Levi still angry, defiant no matter what dad says. Leah, mother/wife, wonder what her reaction was to what her sons have done. Jacob, embarrassed, fearful, uncertain of their future, again right when things seem the darkest, God comes, reminds Jacob of his unfulfilled vow to return to his father’s house.
A. READ Genesis 35:1. Go up to Bethel, map it’s 20 miles south, but higher in elevation 1,000ft. Remember Bethel? Place where God had come personally to Jacob in a dream, Bethel was a holy place. Genesis 12:8 Abraham built an altar when he arrived in land; after his trip to Egypt he returned to Bethel (Genesis 13:3). Bible seems to infer that “Bethel” is a type of a place we go to dedicate, rededicate ourselves to the Lord. Application: for me, my daily Bethel, is my blue chair upstairs where I start the day, quietness, prayer, reading the bible. Weekly, my Bethel is here, church, with you, I worship, confess my sins, reaffirm my faith, strengthen by you, your presence, your faith. Jacob/family needed Bethel.
B. READ Genesis 35:2-4. Preparation Jacob calls his family together, prepares them for the trip.
Even if you’ve wasted many good years, even if you’ve messed up terribly, even if you feel like a failure, it’s never too late with God. Jacob has some instructions:
1. Put away foreign gods Does this surprise you? Does he now know about Rachel’s stolen gods? Did any of the sons bring along some gods from Shechem? Jacob knew all had to go because if you truly want spiritual revival, renewal in your life, really want to start over, you have to get rid of anything that competes with God being first, God has no rivals, as we see in the first of the 10 commandments “You shall have no other gods before me”, God demands single loyalty. We talk about getting rid of the idols in our lives, they are so often like Jacob’s family hidden, secret. We don’t carry around wooden statutes, we don’t worship relics, but we do have our own idols, at times they’re so hard at times to see, to identify. Wonder do you know what you’re idol is right now?
2. Purify yourselves –pure heart, pure bodies, our bodies today are temple of God
MSG© II Corinthians 6:16 Who would think of setting up pagan idols in God’s holy Temple? But that is exactly what we are, each of us a temple in whom God lives. God himself put it this way: “I’ll live in them, move into them; I’ll be their God and they’ll be my people.
3. Change your clothes –throughout scripture garments/cloths often symbolize character
“put on the Lord Jesus Christ” Here they are told to change the clothes that had been polluted in Shechem, put on new clothes associated w/holiness.
These gods could not be carried to Bethel, this family had to prepare to meet God. Jacob buries all their foreign gods, charms, pagan jewelry, and they set out.
C. God’s Protection READ Genesis 35:5 Fulfillment of His promise READ Genesis 28:15 I am with you, gets there, builds an altar, this is Bethel=house of God, renames EL Bethel= God of Bethel, the emphasis is not on the place but the God who he met there, reflects a change of heart in Jacob, come to Bethel to worship God.
D. God appears again Genesis 35:9 confirms the name change, Jacob to Israel, meaning God fights or fights with God. God repeats the Abrahamic Covenant this time adding that kings, rulers will come from this lineage. God’s blessings on humanity would come through Jacob and his descendants. Jacob responds to this Word from God by worshipping.
He is in sweet communion with God. Remember: it’s never too late to start over w/God, that’s so good, Jacob is in a good place, but circumstances are going to change, life is going to change as he experiences some deep family losses.
A. Loss of Deborah Genesis 35:8 along the journey. Deborah left Paddam Aram over 130 yrs earlier w/Jacob’s mother Rebekah, she was Jacob/Esau’s nanny. How did she get in Jacob’s household? Not sure, but this is probably our greatest single indication that Rebekah has died, she was sent to be w/him. Jacob probably loved her like a mother, she helped raise him. Deborah is one of the countless “ordinary people” in the Bible who help others become successful, wonderful servant. There is great sorrow when she dies, place where she is buried was named “oak of weeping” imagine great weeping at this time.
B. Loss of Rachel Genesis 35:16 READ Why did they travel now, 8/9 months pregnant? Travel was rough at best, she was in a cart or on a camel for long hours at a stretch, as they near Bethlehem, she went into labor READ Genesis 35:17-20 Rachel lived long enough to know she had a baby boy- but she knows she’s dying, baby will grow up w/o her, imagine that sorrow, sadness she feels as she names him “Ben-oni” son of my sorrow. Jacob full of grief himself cannot bear such a mark on this baby, though the one true love of his life is dying, he renames him “Benjamin”= son of my right hand, honored position. We’ll see how true this becomes, as Jacob keeps him close to him, as both father and mother to him. When you go to the Holy Land, hopefully you can see the area where she is buried
C. Lust of Reuben
Just when it seems like Jacob has more than enough to bear, we READ Genesis 35:21,22. Bilhad was Rachel’s, who had just died, maid. Rachel’s maid that she gave to Jacob to have children by her and Reuben was a half-brother to Dan, Naphtali- he slept with their mother, also Jacob’s concubine, this is incest. How could he defile one of his father’s wives, his brothers’ mother? It lacked all common decency. Seems that Jacob was stunned, numbed he failed to do anything, but he never forgot. Genesis 49 = Reuben lost the birthright of the eldest son because of this lack of self-control.
D. Last days with father Isaac - Genesis 35:27-29 map
There are about 10 years between this reunion of father/son and Isaac’s death. Most commentators believe Isaac was still alive to console Jacob when Joseph is reported missing, but his death is inserted here to mark the transition from his family leadership to Jacob. Interesting to note that both Esau and Jacob are there together to bury him, it must have been comforting to Isaac to know his sons, on some level, had reconciled.
So why are these dramatic, tragic stories included in our bible? What purpose?
In the ups and downs of our lives, when God gives and takes away in our lives like Jacob’s there r lessons to learn so that we can become the women of faith God intends:
Parents, grandparents, families, protect the children, provide emotional, physical, spiritual protection they need.
Allow God to right wrongs, don’t plan revenge. Jesus said instead repay evil with good= that will define your life as a Christian, that’s different than the way our human nature is wired, repaying evil with good looks like Jesus to others
Clean house= spiritual house-cleaning, getting rid of bad habits, wrong attitudes, refusing addictions, rededicating ourselves to Christ, choosing Him, His ways.
In the ups and downs:
God is present with you… always
Are you a MAC or are you a PC? Both computers, both can take you to the internet but there are differences, and loyal owners can tell you every detailed one of them. Interesting that in advertising MAC has boldly represented a MAC owner compared to a PC and just let that visible comparison of the two men sell the product. When you look at the two which one do you want to be?
Scripture writers use that technique too, they position a chapter, a story right next to another story or they sandwich in a story between bookends that they want the reader notice, to compare and contrast and see the difference.
We see that comparison in our lesson today with Genesis 37 and Genesis 38, really includes Genesis 39 which we’ll study next week. Two sons of Jacob, two different stories of separation.
We’re introduced to young man Joseph in Genesis 37 and it’s interesting that God gives more details about his life than any other biblical character. Barnhouse says “in Joseph’s life we find one of the few characters in the Bible about whom nothing bad is reported. He had an Adamic nature, but there is no record of it. In the life of Joseph we find incidents that remind us of Christ, of whom he is a type.” 1 Joseph faces separation from his family/temptation. In contrast, in Chapter 38 we meet Judah, 3rd son of Leah. He too becomes separated from his family and after a time he faces temptation, but his responses are radically different from his brother. God is at work in both their lives:
I. Joseph is hated by his brothers - Genesis 37:1-11
II. Joseph is sold into slavery - Genesis 37:12-36
III. Judah is married to a Canaanite - Genesis 38:1-11
IV. Tamar gives birth to twins - Genesis 38:12-30
A. Hebron. Genesis 37:14. Family is now settled in Hebron. MAP. Where his father Isaac had lived, where Abraham had lived with Sarah, where the family cemetery is. Settled in Hebron, but “settled” is hardly the right word to describe this family. There is confusion, disorder, sibling rivalry, hatred and amazingly Jacob seems unaware of the tension brewing. 10 against one. Why did the brothers have so much hatred for Joseph?
1. Bad reports. READ Genesis 37:2. Phrase “bad report” =when out in fields w/brothers he brought back to his dad reports that revealed their evil deeds, wrong doings. Not sure what they were, perhaps the brothers had mistreated the animals, or they disobeyed their father’s instructions, whatever he reported reflected poorly on his brothers. No doubt they were true but this had to add to their negative feelings toward him.
2. Favorite son. READ Genesis 37:3a. First born to the favored wife. He was younger than most of the brothers, Jacob loved him most, everyone knew it. Favortism is a reoccurring theme in this family. We’ve seen its devastating effects between Isaac and Rebekah, Esau and Jacob, here its repeated again, evidenced by READ Genesis 37:3b.
3. Richly ornamented robe we don’t know exactly what it looked like, Hebrew= kethoneth=tunic followed by passim=ankles or wrists Jewish Study Bible translates it as “ornamental robe” or “a coat of many colors” I personally like the idea of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”
Whatever it was it looked like a sign of nobility and it spoke volumes to the other brothers. Perhaps the kind of coat worn by those who don’t do physical labor, a coat worn by the heir, the one who was marked as inheriting the birthright, the power. When the brothers saw the coat it screamed to them Joseph was loved more, valued more and hated him. Ie. TIME magazine Oct 3, 2011 READ
We wonder why did Jacob do this? Didn’t he remember what favoritism had cost him in his childhood relationship with his brother? Or in the tension between his wives?
Why was Joseph hated? Not only did he bring his father bad reports, wear a gorgeous robe, he also had a couple of dreams that were clearly understood by everyone.
4. Symbolic dreams =predictions of his destiny
1. First dream. READ Genesis 37:6-8. No doubt Joseph cemented the brothers feelings toward him by sharing this dream. In this dream Joseph saw the harvest field and all the bundles of grain, suddenly his bundle stood up, erect, and all the brothers’ bundles bowed down to his. Meaning is obvious. This was a dream of Joseph’s power, position, dominance over them.
2. Second dream. READ Genesis 37:9, 10. This time not only the brothers but his mother (probably speaking of stepmother Leah) and father would bow down, Joseph would rule over the whole family of Israel. Little did they know how literally these dreams would come true, but the predictable results of sharing these dreams were: Genesis 37:8 they hated him even more Genesis 37:11 jealous of him. Ask: Should he have told them? Should he have shared these dreams with him? There’s no evidence that he bragged or boasted, he just told them, perhaps he was naïve in sharing with brothers who already hated him but these dreams reveal a destiny of greatness ahead for Joe. Already the scriptures present him as a very unusual young man, with strong moral character and faithfulness to his father
When we see him bring back a “bad report” it’s because he sees evil and tells, he’s honest. Whistleblower. The only people who hate whistleblowers are those who are guilty, the rest of us are really glad when someone blows the whistle on people/companies like Enron’s and Bernie Madoff’s. When someone stands up and reports wrong. We live in a society where we are trying hard to teach the children that truth-telling is not being a snitch or a tattletale, but truth-telling is about stopping the wrong. There’s no evidence that Joseph’s motivation for the bad reports was revenge or any kind of payback, he told because he saw wrong and couldn’t keep silent.
Ie At the beach, kids hitting birds, told the parents. There were no retaliatory consequences for me but for Joseph, his truth-telling resulted in his brother’s hatred.
Application: is there a truth you need to tell but you’re holding back because you’re afraid of the consequences? Is there a situation you need to confront because it’s wrong?
A. Sent by father. READ Genesis 37:12-17. Probably the sons had traveled back north toward Shechem for better grazing lands (do you remember Genesis 35 what happened in this city) this was familiar land to them, lived in this area, Jacob owned land in this area. But they were gone so long Jacob became concerned for them, so he sent Joseph to check on their safety. Jacob should have known the emotional temperature of this family, should have known that if he sent out the boy to his brothers they might try to harm him, teach him a lesson. Joseph is instructed to go and he obeys. Not only does he go to Shechem he goes 20 miles north to Dothan in search of them MAP He is faithful to his father’s desires, this is an obedient son, does what his father has asked him to do.
B. Seen by his brothers. READ Genesis 37:18-23. At a distance the brothers see him, perhaps long before they see his face they see his coat “Guess who’s coming? Daddy’s favorite little boy, the dreamer, I just can’t stand him” full of envy and hatred toward him, plan to kill him. No surprise, we’ve seen these brothers kill and plunder now it’s directed toward their own brother. At this point Reuben steps up and suggests let’s not kill him but let’s sell him. We want to admire him for this, but he’s the eldest he knew the whole plan was wrong (Genesis 37:22) planning to rescue Joseph. Why didn’t he stand up to the rest of them, forget it, it’s our brother, why did he try instead to compromise? They go along with him; strip Joseph of his coat and throw him into a pit and…
C. Sit down to eat. READ Genesis 37:25. Can you believe their callous attitude? Eating when their brother is crying out to them (Genesis 42:21) for his life, save me, get me out of here, please help me. The cistern was empty of water, but it was deep, dark, impossible to climb out without help. Perhaps Joseph had visions of a slow, tortuous death, keeps crying. While they’re eating lunch, caravan in the distance. Judah now takes charge tries to save his life
D. Sell him as a slave. READ Genesis 37:26-27. In Dothan they were on one of the main trade routes to Egypt. The terms Ishamelites and Midianites refer to the members of the caravan, two people groups who were both sons of Abraham. Judah says look really we only want this boy out of our lives, if we sell him we can make some money, they receive 20 shekels of silver, price of a young boy. We see how envy and jealousy can lead to selling a brother, selling their own flesh and blood.
F. Reuben returns Genesis 37:29 and looks in the pit and is surprised/ horrified to find Joseph gone “rent, tore his clothes” literal tearing is a way of showing grief or sadness, what am I supposed to do now? Likely they said something like “shut up Reuben, you wanted him gone just like the rest of us, here take this money, your share, we sold him, that’s better than killing him right? He’s on his way to Egypt and we’ll never see him again, so let’s think up a plan to tell dad”
G. Showed the coat to Jacob READ Genesis 37:31-35
They deceived him with the blood of a goat, ironic that Jacob years before had deceived his father Isaac with the skins of a goat. Repeated family sin of deception cycles again Can you imagine the guilt they must have felt when they heard Jacob crying, totally given over to grief and sadness, sobbing days on end and no one could comfort him. This guilt would be suppressed and carried for the next 20 years, covered up the truth
H. Meanwhile Genesis 37:36 Joseph arrives in Egypt and is sold to a prominent Egyptian official named Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officers. Interesting how he is placed in a prominent household, he is not out in the fields, but he is no longer the favored son, he is a slave in a foreign land. At this point Joseph has to make a choice. He’s at the crossroads where most of us have been or will be someday. Crossroads of response to unfair treatment. One road leads to bitterness, anger, frustration with God and with whoever has hurt you. The other road looks beyond your suffering to God’s purposes, says I don’t understand but God you have allowed it for my good, I trust you God, show me how can I grow through this pain? How can I learn to trust you more? We know this is the road Joseph took when we read the rest of the story. Again, as we look at Joseph, his character, his choices, if we want to handle injustice like Joseph we need to learn that..
Application: Has something happened to you that has broken your heart? Have you been unjustly picked on? What’s your attitude? What are you doing about it? In times of suffering it’s hard to hear God loves you because what you’re going through doesn’t feel like love, feels hard, difficult. God is Sovereign, He has allowed it for your good, wonder in times like this would you be willing to pray: God use this in my life for good, show me Your presence, help me to find my strength, my sufficiency in You alone
A. Purposes for including this account. We’ve just begun the Joseph stories and we’re interrupted by a story in the life of Judah. Why is it here? Already said this story will be in Contrast to Joseph’s story in Genesis 37,39 but are perhaps other reasons.
1. It accounts for the three families of the tribe of Judah (Numbers 26:20; Shelah, Perez, Zereh)
2. It contributes to our knowledge of the ancestry of David and ultimately Jesus Christ who came through Perez. Judah’s prophesied messianic lineage continues through this relationship w/Tamar (Matthew 1:3)
3. It reveals the established practice of the levirate marriage (Deuteronomy 25:5-10)
A man was to marry a deceased brother’s widow to preserve his line.
4. It shows the likelihood of future Hebrew marriages with Canaanite women, other pagan people groups, possibility of assimilation of the Hebrews into other cultures, other faiths if they remained in Palestine. Ultimately the Abrahamic covenant was threatened by his intermarriage. God knew this might happen and prophesied in Gen 15:13-16 a temporary 400 year move from Canaan to Egypt, where we’ll see the Hebrews live very separate lives in Goshen with very little intermarriage, there the tribes stay intact. So perhaps we see in this story the need to go to Egypt.
B. Marriage READ Genesis 38:1. Remember Joseph sold into slavery, father is miserable, perhaps Judah just thought he had to get away. He “left” his brothers and went to stay in Addullum pagan city 13 SW of Bethlehem.He married a local girl:three sons, Er/ Onan Shelah.
C. Sons grow up and Judah finds a wife, Tamar, for the eldest. Bible is not clear here, but Er is evil and God kills him. Second son Onan refused to father a child by Tamar knowing the child would become his brother’s heir, killed by God, not so much for the sexual act of spilling his seed on the ground, but the evil in his heart. This left Shelah, last boy. Judah feared somehow Tamar was jinxed and if she married Shelah, he would die too, leave Judah w/o an heir. Sends her back to her father, until he says Shelah grows up. Perhaps hoping she’ll get tired of waiting and want to marry someone else,
A. Years roll by, Shelah is older, he is not given to Tamar, Judah does not keep his promise. Judah’s wife dies, after a period of mourning, old friend shows up and says what you need is to get out of the house, let’s go sheep shearing, word gets out that Judah is going to Timnah, Tamar finds out. She knows her father in law has no intention of keeping his promise to her, so she dresses up as a prostitute to deceive Judah sleep with him so that she could conceive his child. She positions herself to be right in his path, I still don’t get it, why didn’t he recognize her, maybe the veil, all the clothes, drinking champagne at the sheep shearing party. Sex, to pay her, isn’t it interesting he promises her a goat, goats are involved in all the deceptive scenes, gives her his seal and staff as a pledge. When he finds out she’s pregnant and he orders her to be burned to death she proves he’s the father by producing the pledge. To his credit he doesn’t try to cover up his sin, he admits it and says READ Genesis 38:26 she’s more righteous than I. I have a hard time calling her righteous but one commentator said Judah is at least saying Tamar was more in the right than he because he did not fulfill his responsibilities to her.2 Babies were born, Perez and Zerah, Don’t condone his sin, do admire his response.
It would seem that because Judah humbled himself, God blessed him and raised him to be the head of the house of Israel and blessed his children. God loves a repentant heart. ENDING: 2stories 2 brothers, one God working His plan, His purposes in their lives.
1 Donald Grey Barnhouse, “Genesis” (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1970) 155.
2 Allen P. Ross, “Creation and Blessing” (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1996) 618.
Have you read any good books lately? If you’re looking, read Bonhoeffer biography of
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) is known for writings on theology and ethics, his leadership role in the Confessing Church, efforts on behalf of peace and justice, opposition to antisemitism, and to Hitler. He was hanged by the Nazis on April 6, 1945 in the Flossenburg concentration camp weeks before the end of WWII. Those last few years, when he choose to stay in Germany rather than leave, when he spoke out when others were silent, all that he taught, believed about being a Christ follower was tested and proven authentic. He wrote from prison=
You have granted me many blessings; let me also accept what is hard from your hand.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer - Prayers from Prison
These are words Joseph could also have written. We’ve seen him in his father’s house as a young man of integrity and honesty but the Question is “will he stay virtuous outside his father’s protection, when he’s a long way from home? What will he do when he can sin and perhaps get away with it? How will he handle continued injustices and discouragement? Because we don’t really know who we until we’re tested, God allows Joseph to be tempted, mistreated and forgotten for the next 13 years, refining and developing him into the godly man and leader needed for such a time as this in history.
I. Joseph in Potiphar’s house is unjustly accused - Genesis 39
II. Joseph in prison interprets two dreams - Genesis 40
III. Joseph in the palace interprets Pharaoh’s dreams - Genesis 41
A. Joseph’s success. READ Genesis 39:1-4. This phrase “the LORD was with Joseph” is repeated 4x (Genesis 39:2,3,21,23) and seems to explain why Joseph prospers, this is no ordinary prospering: unexpected, surprising, even Potiphar is impressed and gives the credit to Joseph’s God, Yahweh. Potiphar is not only impressed, he trusts Joseph, makes him his assistant delegating to him everything except probably his personal affairs. And then we read this little phrase READ Genesis 39:6c “well built and handsome” same Hebrew expression used to describe his mother Rachel, (Genesis 29) he got her good looks, he’s gorgeous, that sets up the central plot of our story:
B. Joseph’s temptation and resistance. READ Genesis 39:7-10
One commentator said he’s in a “no win” situation, he is a slave supposed to obey her, but he’s a loyal, moral servant to her husband. Tough situation repeatedly refuses her, his explanation = to sleep with her would be a sin against God
People cannot defiantly sin against what they know to be God’s righteous will when they are on the verge of becoming what God wants them to be. One cannot willfully sin against God and continue to enjoy his presence and his blessing.
Allen P Ross1
Even at his young age, Joseph knows this truth, you can’t sin and expect God to bless you, so he tries his best to avoid her.
C. Joseph accused. READ Genesis 39:11-12. One day she cornered him alone, and when she grabbed his clothes he took off. His response is exactly what the scriptures tell us to do when faced with any sexual temptation: I Corithians 6:18
NIV© 6:18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.
NLT© 6:18 Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.
Ie story: friend had an affair with another church member, respective spouses got together and they all agreed to forgive and put it behind and decided to stay in the church, live out their redemption. When she told me this, I said that’s a nice thought, sounds spiritual, not realistic, the scriptures are wise “flee immorality”- get away from temptation, can’t play around with it. Another friend who caught her husband having an emotional affair with someone at work, came to me for advice, somebody has to leave that workplace, that’s where you start, we have to run away from sexual sin.
Application: Do you hold your own personal purity with the same high esteem that Joseph did? Are you tempted to compromise or indulge in some sexual sin in thought or action? Are you flirting w/temptation or are you fleeing? You can’t be holy and be involved w/some sexual sin.
No doubt Potiphar’s wife is humiliated, embarrassed, and furious over the rejection “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” She first screams to the servants that he raped her and then when Potiphar came home she showed his clothes and repeated the false accusation. READ Genesis 39:19,20. Some have suggested that since his punishment was not the usual death sentence and he was put in the king’s prison perhaps Potiphar didn’t fully believe his wife’s story. What we do know is God protected him and God was allowing him to go through these trials, God is molding his character: this is the second time Joseph suffers for being faithful to his authority. Another lesson:
Application: Joseph suffered for doing the right thing and we may too, there may be a cost to our choosing righteousness. That’s the cost of discipleship, following God. Tertullian, early church father, story illustrates this. A man came to him and was struggling because his business interests were conflicting w/his faith in Christ, tempted to compromise, didn’t see a way out and keep his job, he said “What can I do, I must live” Tertullian replied “must you, must you live?” For Tertullian if it came to choice between righteousness and resisting temptation and making a living, Tertullian expected a believer to choose righteousness.2
Discipleship is not an offer that man makes to Christ.” Bonhoeffer it’s what Christ requires of us..
D. Joseph in prison. READ Genesis 39:20b-23
Again we see the LORD was with Joseph giving him success, promoted, over all the other inmates, but he’s still in prison. The next chapter tells the story of the cupbearer and the baker; their dreams and what happens to them. Sets the stage for Joseph to ultimately see the fulfillment of his dreams but for the immediate next few years Genesis 40 is all about being forgotten.
A. Cup bearer and baker jailed. READ Genesis 40:1-4. After Joseph had been in prison for some time and had earned the trust of the warden, two new prisoners were assigned to him-the king’s cupbearer and baker. Cupbearers were usually trusted confidants of the king, their responsibility was to check the wine to see if it was poisoned before the king drank it. Chief baker would be responsible for the king’s food. We’re told king is angry not sure why throws them in prison and one night they each have a dream, each think it’s an important dream but they’re sad because they can’t find anyone to interpret the dreams.
Joseph says READ Genesis 40:8b what he’s saying is that God will use me (Joseph) to interpret for you. Cupbearer goes first and Joseph says it meant that in 3 days Pharaoh would restore him to his former job and he adds when that happens remember me READ Genesis 40:14.
The baker hearing the good news says tell me what my dream means too but his news was not good, in 3 days he would leave the prison but instead of going back to the kitchen, he would be impaled and hung on a tree. Sure enough 3 days later both dreams were fulfilled just as Joseph had predicted. It was certainly sad for the baker, but the fact that the predictions had come true must have encouraged Joseph’s faith, affirmed his God-given ability to interpret dreams, reminded him of his own dreams yet to be fulfilled. But then we read
C. Forgotten. READ Genesis 40:23. Probably in his relief at being restored to his job and his family he just forgot all about Joseph back in prison. Surely Joseph’s high hopes of getting out soon were dashed, he was forgotten. From a human perspective it seems so unfair to let Joseph just sit in prison, such a waste, but from a divine perspective we can be confident that God is working in his life for good, God has not forgotten him, God is continuing to develop him into this man, the leader that He needs for such time as this.
NIV© 24:10 If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength. Proverbs 24:10
MSG© 24:10 If you fall to pieces in a crisis, there wasn't much to you in the first place.
Application: Are the circumstances of your life destroying your faith? Destroying is a harsh word, but is your faith weakening or growing right now? Are you looking at your life from a human perspective or can you see with spiritual eyes God wanting to do something good? Is it your health, job, finances, family? We look with admiration at Joseph not because he was this supernatural saint, but because he was convinced that there was a God in heaven who loved him, had good plans for his life, so he believed and trusted despite his on-going difficult circumstances. TWO YEARS GO BY…
A. Pharaoh’s dreams Genesis 41:1-14
Joseph is still in prison forgotten by all but God. One night Pharaoh has two dreams. The first: Pharaoh is standing by the Nile watching the cows as he often must have done. Cows in Egypt were not out in fields, Egypt doesn’t have meadows like we do, the cows were grazing among the reeds along the water bank. Dream had a twist-he saw 7 fat, healthy cows and then 7 malnourished cows come up out of the Nile and devour the healthy ones. Startled he woke up, then went back to sleep. Second dream had a similar twist. This time the dream was about 7 heads of grain on a single stalk that were plump and good, they were devoured by 7 thin ears, withered and scorched by the desert wind. How strange, what could it mean? He called in his wise men, they couldn’t help. At that crucial moment- Genesis 41:9 chief cupbearer remembered his own dream, nice-looking Hebrew slave – what was his name?
God has been timing the circumstances of Pharoah’s need for a dream interpreter and the cupbearer’s remembrance of Joseph. If the cupbearer had remembered Joseph two years earlier perhaps the king would have ignored him, but the king now needs him.
Word gets to Joseph, quick, get out of those clothes, get cleaned up, Pharaoh wants to see you. READ Genesis 41:14. John Phillips commentary= Pharaoh was essentially a priest-king proposed to be a god, functioning as both the political and religious ruler of the nation. He wore long, fluted skirt made of Egyptian linen, gold sandals, on his head he wore a double crown that for 1000 years symbolized the union of Upper and Lower Egypt. In one hand he carried a crook symbolizing Upper and in the other a flail for Lower. Imagine how awesome he looked to Joseph, this powerful world leader, then he spoke.
B. Joseph gives God the glory. READ Genesis 41:15,16. This is remarkable, standing before this powerful man, Joseph corrects him and gives God the glory for interpreting dreams.
He uses the word “God”: Joseph began, “God may give Pharaoh a favorable answer,” not I. He goes from the prison to the throne of the king, and this is his first word. This speech is as pious as it is frank. He who is aware of God, is humble and fearless at the same time. Even a king is nothing compared to God…Joseph begins his interpretations with God (verse 25) and ends with God (verse 28) he emphasizes this once more by twice using “God” in verse 32. Benno Jacob3
C. Joseph interprets dream. Genesis 41:25-36
Pharaoh repeats his dreams to Joseph who then interprets: there will be 7 years of plenty and then 7 years of great famine, worldwide, and then Joseph gives Pharaoh a business plan on how to handle this upcoming disaster, put a wise man in charge, delegate some responsibility to overseers, collect and save 20% of food supply during good years to take care of the people during the famine years.
D. Joseph promoted. Genesis 41:37-57
Plan pleased the king, proceeded to install Joseph as the Prime Minister, second in command, heads up FEMA whatever their National Disaster Relief Program. Promoted because of 2 rare qualities Pharaoh saw 1) His character Genesis 41:39. 2) His countenance Genesis 41:38.
Genesis 41:40-57 describe Joseph’s new life as a ruler in Egypt. Think for 13 years he was a slave, all during those tough times he looked to God and found the strength to overcome and trust= now he’s exalted, but even now=he continues to look to God for strength for a new beginning where God has placed him. We see this in the naming of his sons, note: these are Hebrew names, not Egyptian: READ Genesis 41:51,52. Because God continues to be his strength and focus he handles well the challenge of success. Sudden reversals are difficult for the most of us- the reason is perhaps we’re not as focused on God’s sovereignty, involvement in our lives, as Joseph was. If our sudden reversal is for the worse- get depressed, sad, angry, say God has abandoned us. Or if it’s for the better- get proud, arrogant, taking credit for how smart we are. Promotions often ruin people. You may have known people that have gotten promoted w/more job responsibility, more perks, but have less time for God, less time for being with God’s people. Joseph was different, he was able to give God the glory with his life because his relationship w/God was his priority no matter circumstance. Paul would learn this too. READ Philippians 4:11-13.
Application: How have you handled the reversals of your life? Financial, career, relationships, moves, additions or subtractions of our lives? God gives and takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord, learning contentment no matter what the circumstances of our lives help us to live with inner peace, calm no matter what or where our path leads.
So, in reality, none of us really know who we are until we’re tested. We don’t know how strong our faith is until we go through trials. What an example Joseph is for us. We met a young man who was given a dream, glimpse of what God planned for his life, then we’ve seen him repeatedly mistreated, suffering greatly for doing what’s right, all the while he was learning long-term trusting and long-term believing, and finally being rewarded for his faithfulness, finally ready to lead others, finally ready to fulfill his destiny. I’m convinced the trials of our lives are only potentially preparing us for the next place God wants to take us. Are we willing to stay faithful?
1 Allen P. Ross, “Creation and Blessing” (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1996) 626.
2 James Montgomery Boice, “Genesis” (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1987) 78.
3 Benno Jacob, “First Book of the Bible” (New York:Ktav,1974) 280-81.
How do you usually do on POP QUIZS? Student-hated them, always felt unprepared as a Teacher-liked them, tell me really where the class was in learning the material. I have a pop quiz for you today, let’s see if done lesson, also like working as a team, you can take this quiz together. 2 questions. Pretend you are one of the brothers:
When confronted with the pain I have brought others, I:
a. Am embarrassed
b. Pretend it didn’t happen
c. Seek their forgiveness
d. Fear I will be punished
Now, pretend you are Joseph:
When I have the opportunity to forgive others, I:
a. Avoid the issue
b. Make sure they knew how badly I was hurt
c. Feel relieved to get it off my chest
d. Enjoy getting back together
Our lesson is about Testings and Changes. In a certain sense the story of Joseph shifts here to become largely the story of the 10 brothers as God works to awaken their nearly dead consciences and bring them to repentance and ultimately to family reconciliation. God uses Joseph to test them. Tests for guilty conscience; tests for jealousy; tests for family loyalty; tests for family love. 20 years have past. Are they the same men or are they different? We need to know. Thru these tests, we’re also going to learn about Joseph’s heart, how does he feel now about these brothers who sold him into slavery? To help us work through this story, point out seven ways God uses to touch their hearts, to bring them to repentance: Question is: Through these tests would they in any way demonstrate that they had changed?
I. Joseph is reunited with Brothers - Genesis 42-45
A. Testing brings repentance - Genesis 42-44
B. Forgiveness brings reconciliation - Genesis 45
II. Jacob travels to Egypt - Genesis 46:1-47:12
A. Meeting God at Beersheba - Genesis 46:1-27
B. Meeting Joseph in Goshen - Genesis 46:28-30
C. Meeting Pharaoh - Genesis 46:31-47:12
1. Need - Famine. READ Genesis 41:57. Jacob heard there was food in Egypt, boys you need to go down to Egypt, very strange sentence. READ Genesis 42:1 “keep staring”, we the reader, have an idea why. Read Genesis 42:2 “Egypt” – may have been a buzz word among them, they couldn’t have forgotten, last time they saw Joseph was on his way to Egypt, their family secret, kept quiet 20 yrs. But there was nowhere else to go, only food was is in Egypt, they had a great need for food. 10 brothers went, Benjamin stayed home. Arrived in Egypt presented before Joseph, bowed down before him (Genesis 42:6) - we see the beginning of the fulfillment of Joseph’s dreams.
2. Injustice - (Genesis 42:7-14) Joseph speaking harshly accuses them of being spies, words were used to shock the brothers, these were hard men, remember their history, they murdered innocent people at Shechem, Judah had an incestuous affair with Tamar, they had so much hatred, jealousy they sold their brother for money. When Joseph said “you are spies” perhaps that’s what they had said to Joseph, “You’re just a spy for dad, telling him bad reports about us” Words Joseph used were carefully calculated for them to feel what it’s like to suffer injustice, to be wrongly accused, to be punished when there was no wrong done.
3. Solitude READ Genesis 42:17 They were put in prison, loss of freedom, forced time to think, reflect back on their lives, gave them time for their consciences to be awaken. Then on 3rd day Joseph has them released and says he would let them go home, but one had to stay behind as a guarantee they would return w/their youngest brother who would verify their story. FIRST CHANGE: admission of personal guilt READ Genesis 42:21,22. Now they would talk about it, now they would admit what they had done, they are beginning to see what was happening to them was a consequence of their own sin. They remembered the pain, distress they had caused Joseph. When they said this, Joseph turned and wept. It would seem his tears were not for his own pain, but because the testing of his brothers was beginning to fulfill its purpose. Simeon is taken, rest prepare to depart.
4. Unexplained Circumstances Genesis 42:25-28
Left Joseph likely the capital was Memphis (10 miles south of Cairo)-250 miles to Hebron. 3 week journey. On way home, probably discussing what are we going to tell dad about Simeon? Come to the first resting stop, one opens his sack, heart dropped, there was all his money. How did it get there, they had paid for the grain? Response READ Genesis 42:28. “God is remembering our sin, God has seen it, God is doing something in our lives” Take notice, this is the first time the brothers mention God. Go home, we see the SECOND CHANGE: beginning honesty w/their father, tell him what happened in Egypt, omit the truth about selling Joseph, but they’re honest about their experience in Egypt. Jacob is overwhelmed when hears that Benjamin must return to release Simeon. READ Genesis 42:36. THIRD CHANGE: Heart attitude change in Reuben who somewhat foolishly offers his own sons if he goes to Egypt and doesn’t return with Simeon and Benjamin. This is the man who humiliated his father when he slept w/his concubine; he now puts himself and his own family on the line for the sake of Benjamin. Jacob refuses the offer, no way is Benjamin going, if he were to die it would kill me, stays.
5. Continuing Need READ Genesis 43:1 The food that had been brought up from Egypt ran out, Jacob ordered the brothers to go get more. Judah steps up “But dad we can’t go back w/o Benjamin, remember what we told you- he said, don’t come back w/o him” FOURTH CHANGE: Guarantee of Judah. Genesis 43:8-10. Similar to Reuben’s offer, Judah =carry the blame if anything happens, this too shows a change of heart in Judah who was basically saying- dad your happiness is more important than my own, I will be responsible, count on me dad. This change and continuing need cause the FIFTH CHANGE: change in Jacob’s attitude. READ Genesis 43:11-13. Maybe he’d been thinking, I’m old, if all the boys leave, something happens to them, I’ll be totally alone, how could I live without Benjamin, he’s all I have left. This Continuing need for food was also a test for him too- would he trust the God who had promised him the blessings of Abraham and Isaac? Would he trust God to give him descendants like the dust of the earth? What if all his descendants die? Would he trust God to take care of all of his sons? Would he trust God to keep His promises? Ends us saying “yes” “May El Shaddai” v14 grant you mercy, may my God take care of you, and whatever happens, happens. They pack up gifts, $ and all leave, including Benjamin., sometime later, they arrive in Egypt, and are presented to Joseph and we see God now works through the..
6. Power of true love- Genesis 43:16. Through an invitation to lunch that God shows amazing grace to these brothers. When they understand they’re invited to eat w/Joseph, they’re really afraid, go to the steward, tell him their story of finding the money, offer to pay it back, but he reassures them not to worry. READ Genesis 43:23. Simeon joins them, everything seems to be going nicely, water to wash their feet, food for animals, look in dining room, prepared meal for them, treated like friends, not spies. Genesis 43:26 Joseph comes in the room, touching moment when he sees his little brother Benjamin, son of his mother-breaks down, has to leave the room. Comes back and has another test for them: seated according birth order, Benjamin is given 5 times more of everything than the rest- 5 steaks, 5 baked potatoes, 5 pieces chocolate cake. SIXTH CHANGE: No resentment Joseph was testing them for jealousy, were they as envious of Benjamin as they had been of him, did they treat him harshly? Lunch proved No, they weren’t resentful, they just “feasted, shared, drank freely” (Genesis 43:34). There’s One more test, would they abandon the favored son?
Time to go home, they left Joseph in great spirits, probably congratulating themselves on how well they’d done, gotten a great meal, grain, all 11 were going home, when God suddenly struck like lightning and completely, literally turned the course of their lives, used a hidden cup in one of sacks to
7. Stripping their self-confidence READ Genesis 43:4,5
Even though they had lived with a lie for 20 years they told Joseph Genesis 42:11 “we are honest men” Here when the steward accused them of stealing Joseph’s cup, they say “no way, not us, we’d never do that, in fact if anyone here is found with it, let them die, we’ll all be your slaves” (Genesis 44:7-9) Then to everyone’s surprise they find the cup in Benjamin’s sack, return to Joseph, he asks what have you done? SEVENTH CHANGE: open admission of guilt/family loyalty. READ Genesis 44:16. These men are broken, ready to become slaves, one more test. READ Genesis 44:17 only Benjamin stays, rest of you go home, Judah steps up to the plate, hits grand slam of brotherly love
READ Genesis 44:18-30 Judah’s plea
The room that had been so quiet you could hear a pin drop, now is filled with shouts “Out, out, everybody out” and crying, so loudly that you could hear it 2 blocks away. READ Genesis 45:3.
I am Joseph, brothers are speechless, terrified, they knew they had done a horrific wrong to one who now had absolute power. Where the average person would have done some kind of payback, tried to humiliate his brothers in some way, Joseph offered pardon, forgiveness and love because Joseph has a “God perspective on life”. READ Genesis 45:5-8
He understood that a Sovereign God saw the future, saw the needs of the world, chose him to help solve the famine problem. God had a great purpose for his life even though they had meant it for evil.
Offers them Complete forgiveness READ Genesis 45:14,15. Being reconciled with Joseph meant that the brothers could be fully reconciled with Jacob, the long family secret could be revealed and forgiven. Joseph says “Go get dad” Genesis 45:9 Pharaoh gives his help Genesis 45:16-20. They set off donkeys and with wagons full of food, clothes, money, this family will be reunited again.
Application: As you have worked through this lesson, listened to the story I wonder has God been speaking to you personally? Is there an old sin, perhaps it too is linked w/your family, parents, siblings, children, or not w/them but w/others; neighbors, past co-workers; maybe it’s a sin against God, pushed it as far away as you can, this week you’ve had a hard time not thinking about it. Has God given you a need, on-going need, a famine to bring you back into fellowship w/them and Him? Maybe you’ve recently experienced an injustice God is allowing you to experience what it’s like to be on the receiving end of suffering to see your own sin. Are you facing solitude prison of sorts, loneliness, illness, God wants you to grow closer to Him, escape the slavery to things, people, places, depend only on Him. Maybe you’ve gone through something recently that has really shaken you self-confidence, you feel weak, discouraged, God wants you in the depth of your being to find confidence in Him, His ways alone. Tough times are not always proof of past sin, wrong theology. But if tough times have come into your life, God has allowed it- He has a purpose. Maybe it’s to cause you to look back, examine your heart, is there some hidden sin you’re guilty of- maybe you have been like Judah, Reuben, brothers- God is awakening your conscience- Confess it, repent, don’t carry it any longer. Or Perhaps you’ve been wronged like Joseph, ask have you fully forgiven? Not enough to say “I forgive you” saw the 4 promises in your lesson: (list them). What acts of kindness have you shown to that person who wronged you?
God’s aim for our families, us is the same-reconciliation, restoration, devotion, love. Bible is realistic:
NIV© Romans 12:18 - If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
The brothers return home, tell Jacob about Joseph, he is convinced and packs up to go see his son, regardless of cost
Jacob stops in Beersheba to worship God, this is as far south as you can go within the Promised Land, boundary line, also family history here, Abraham, Isaac lived here, worshiped here. In the night God comes to Jacob READ Genesis 46:3,4 For anyone on the verge of a major decision, it’s good to go to Beersheba, seek God’s will, His direction, remember God will be w/you not only in your Egypt but wherever He send
You don’t have to be afraid either, because
I love airport meetings, I love to watch people reunite, embrace, weepy too, especially seeing our service men/women come home, this is the best airport meeting ever, Jacob and his son Joseph after 20 years READ Genesis 46:29,30. For Jacob this reunion was the impossible dream he had, the dream of seeing Joseph alive again. For Joseph this is was the one person who had always loved him unconditionally one person always count on. This was more than a family reunion, it was proof that God’s revealed plans and purposes would come true in the family of the covenant. This story reminds us of a family reunion awaiting us. We don’t know exactly when it will happen but Paul tells us there is coming a day when all believers who have ever lived throughout time will be reunited w/Christ when he comes for us. READ I Thessalonians 4:13-18.
Just as there is a list of 70 names of family members who are reunited in Egypt, there is a list of names of all God’s family who will be at the heavenly reunion, Book of Life = Rev 20:12-15. Are you sure your name is written on that list? If not, talk, call me, Peggy.
Before they could get settled in Goshen, Joseph’s relatives had to be formally presented to Pharaoh. Picture the scene, relatively uncultured nomadic shepherds being introduced at the White House. Joseph prepares them the best he can, Pharaoh is so gracious to them receives Jacob’s blessing.
READ Genesis 47:11,12…just as God had planned…
Ending: Whether God gives you a little pop quiz or a long end of the year final exam I pray that you will trust His good plans for you, believe His love for you, allow Him to change your life too.
Last words, last words that people say before they die are usually remembered because they are so precious, so special. My mother’s last words to us as she went into triple by-pass surgery was “no stroke”. Her greatest fear, especially as a nurse, was to be paralyzed, we’re grateful God granted that request, no stroke but she died 6 days later, always remember her last words.
This last week, we’re looking at LAST WORDS…Jacob’s and Joseph’s. Encouraging to read that their last words were filled with HOPE and Faith in the Covenant=covenant keepers
I. Jacob blesses Joseph’s sons - Genesis 48
II. Jacob blesses his twelve sons - Genesis 49:1-28
III. Jacob dies and is buried in Canaan - Genesis 49:29-50:14
IV. Joseph forgives brothers - Genesis 50:15-21
V. Joseph dies with faith in Covenant - Genesis 50:22-26
A. Jacob sick. Genesis 48:1,2. One day news came to Joseph “your dad is sick”. READ Genesis 48:1,2. Dad don’t sit up, you’re too weak, I’ll help you lie back down, Jacob is determined to sit up, he’s in the process of dying but while he was alive he would act as head of the family, God’s covenantal blessings needed to be passed to the next generation. This is the scene recorded in Hebrew 11:21.
B. Jacob reviews covenant. Genesis 48:3,4. His body is wearing out, but there is no problem with his memory, he reviews the past “sovereign, in control of all things, God appeared to me at Bethel, and the God of Abraham, Isaac became my God too and He gave me the Covenantal blessing”
C. Jacob no doubt at the end of his life is looking forward to the time when his sons would be multiplied, into tribes, proceeded to adopt Joseph’s two sons as his own, READ Genesis 48:5,6 on par with Reuben, Simeon and the rest. Reuben’s birthright, which was normally given to the eldest son, is now given to the two sons of Joseph= Joseph becomes a collective noun in Genesis 48:15,21. The two tribes, Ephraim/Manasseh would reflect that double portion, this explains why Joseph did not become head of a tribe, but his sons did.
D. Rachel. READ Genesis 48:7
Genesis 48:7 has long puzzled biblical interpreters. Why the mention of Rachel at this point in the narrative, and why the mention of her burial site? If we relate the verse to what precedes, then the mention of Rachel could be prompted by the fact that just as she had borne Jacob “two sons” at a time when he was about to enter the land, so also Joseph gave Jacob “two sons” just at the time when he was about to enter Egypt” 1
Or it’s possible that something in Joseph’s face, his mannerisms, reminded him of her, and his mind wandered to think about her, the love of his life, remembered that sorrowful time of her death, never forgot that moment.
E. Jacob turned his head, saw shadow of Joseph’s sons. READ Genesis 48:8,9. His old eyes were failing, cataracts, macular degeneration? Arms wrapped around them, kissed them, turned to Joseph remembered the long painful years when he thought he was dead READ Genesis 48:11. Boys were brought close for the blessing, Joseph positioned them by birth order but with prophetic insight Jacob crossed his hands, so that his right hand was on the head of the younger, and the left hand on the elder. READ Genesis 48:15,16 the blessing. This is the first of many biblical accounts of “laying on of hands” to bless or dedicate someone. This is the fourth consecutive generation of Abraham’s descendants to reverse the birth order in the blessing. How often God reverses our order, our plans of doing things. God is many things but one He is not= predictable. God and His ways will not be put in a box, He will not be described by a formula, His ways are not our ways.
Why was this blessing so important that the book of Hebrews included it? These boys belonged to Jacob, yes they were born in Egypt, educated there, but they were to be Hebrews, God’s chosen people, they needed their grandfather’s testimony, to know their grandfather’s God. Same today w/our children, our grandchildren must be taught the truths of our faith, so that one day the baton can be passed on to them and then on to their children…responsibility of all who are part of the community of faith. Application: what are you doing to pass on the faith?
F. Request. READ Genesis 48:21,22. Speaking to Joseph directly he gives the “ridge of land” mountain slope, area of Shechem that he had won in a battle from the Amorites that’s not recorded in Scripture. We’ll see some 400 years later, that’s where Joseph’s bones are buried.
A. READ Genesis 49:1,2. Likely that this scene was immediately following Jacob’s blessing the grandsons. When Joseph saw how sick his father was, word was sent to all the brothers to come quickly, as they arrived, Jacob was sitting up in bed waiting for them. As Jacob looked around the room at his sons he knew them well, he had observed their strengths, weaknesses, their character. Now with the enabling of the Holy Spirit he would predict their futures as Tribes of the nation Israel. It seems each son’s life is reviewed then rebuked or rewarded. NOTE: Jacob’s style of speech is not the normative narration, and the sons were probably shocked to hear their father speak in poetic form. Sons are grouped according to their mothers, Leah, concubines, then Rachel.
1. Reuben: KEY word= instability Genesis 49:3,4 there were great hopes as the first born but he became unstable and uncontrollable and forfeited his position and birthright.
2,3. Simeon and Levi: Disgrace of Treachery Genesis 49:5,6 instead of standing together for GOOD they stood for wickedness, seemingly encouraging a violent streak in each other. Like Reuben they forfeited their family position because of sin, massacre at Shechem. I will scatter them=Simeon’s land was actually inside Judah’s territory. Levi’s scattering was very different, example of the mercy of God. God turned this curse into a blessing after the Levites opposed idolatry, stood w/Moses, they became the priests and were scattered through 48 cities in Israel.
4. Judah: Blessing of Sovereignty Genesis 49:8-12 He was the 4th son of Leah, already heard his father’s stern rebuke of his 3 older brothers, tremble when he heard his name for he had sinned too, slept w/his daughter-in law, suggested selling Joseph, amazingly instead of judgment he heard praise, pre-eminence, power, prosperity in his descendants’ future
His very name means Praise, Judah would be the family leader and his would be the royal tribe as the Lion was the king of the beasts, the Lion of the tribe of Judah would be King of Israel. Both Jews and Christians look at these verses as being messianic, referring to the Jewish Messiah. But Jacob could not have known himself that one day Jesus Christ would be called in Revelation 5:5 “lion of the Tribe of Judah”
Genesis 49:11,12 are Hebrew idioms describing a time of abundance, When Judah’s lion comes to reign the land would be so productive, so fruitful, vines would grow abundantly, wines presses would be full, a land of milk and honey. This prosperity is God’s doing, not based on merit but the sovereignty of God, His plan. If I were choosing the son through whom Messiah would come, I’d vote on Joseph. God chose Judah.
5. Zebulun: Position of Opportunity. Genesis 49:13. Positioned well for trade, merchant tribe.
6. Issachar: Weakness of Contentment. Genesis 49:14,15. Image of a strong donkey, useful, capable of hard work, yet docile, lazy, complacent. Later we see that while other tribes are fighting for possession of their land, Issachar is not mentioned.
Now Jacob comes to the sons of the concubines. The culture allowed them to be sons but would Jacob count them in the inheritance? Would they be included? Even though their prophecies are short, Jacob does include them, there is no distinction made between the children of the wives and the sons of the concubines.
7. Dan: Poison of Criticism. Genesis 49:16,17. Dan was evidently very shrewd, analytical and intellectually gifted. A family of Judges comes from Dan, most famous = Samson. But like a serpent, Dan could be sharp and critical, biting rather than helping.
8. Gad: Victory. Genesis 49:19. His name means to overcome, he chose his inheritance of the far side of the Jordan, but also fought with his brothers for their land. Gad stood with David during his time of rejection (I Chronicles 12). Captains in David’s army came from Gad.
9. Asher: Privilege of Prosperity. Genesis 49:20. They inherited a fertile strip of land along the Mediterranean coast, the breadbasket area, out of Asher, food for the kings were supplied. His lot was the good life, prosperity, abundance, affluence.
10. Naphtali: Gifts. Genesis 49:21. Picture a beautiful female deer, swift, graceful, sensitive, artistic that speaks beautiful words, reproducing herself in others.
11. Joseph: Joy of Fruitfulness. Genesis 49:22-26. Through his 2 sons Joseph would receive a double inheritance, although he was attacked and persecuted he remained strong in his faith because he relied on His God “The Mighty One of Jacob, the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, the God of his father” that’s who strengthened him. Joseph would be blessed by God with material blessings and spiritual blessings. Deborah, Joshua, Samuel, Gideon were all his descendants.
12. Benjamin: Possibility of Change. Genesis 49:27. After Joseph’s blessing this blessing seems insignificant, seems strange to give a beloved son this prophecy. He calls him a wolf, largest of all canines, powerful predator, fierce, ready to fight, whose strength could turn to cruelty and it did (Judges 20) in the Benjamite wars. His land was small, rugged but strategically close to Jerusalem. When the 10 tribes rebelled and split, Benjamin remained with Judah. Through Benjamin God gives the encouragement that w/ Him there is always the possibility of change. Saul, a Benjamite, became Paul the apostle.
A. Dying request. READ Genesis 49:29-32. Jacob’s final words are filled with hope and faith in the Covenant that had been passed to him from his father Isaac. He wanted to be back in the Promised Land.
B. Death. READ Genesis 49:33. For Jacob death was not the end, it was a going home to be with his family, His God. It has always been true for Covenant Keepers, believers.
II Corinthians 5:8 NLT© 5:8 Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. Absent from the body and present with the Lord.
For the believer, for Jacob, there is no sting of death, only the sorrow of temporary separation for those left behind.
Jacob, this man who names mean trickster, supplanter, deceived his father for the blessing, walked life in his own strength in his own ability until he met God personally at Bethel, learned to worship, learned to trust, then 20 years later, as he faced another crisis in his life he met the Lord face to face, wrestled to the point of being broken, learned then to cling to God, Jacob became Israel, prince of God. His warnings and prophecies were all intended to bring these 12 sons to a new individual commitment to God so that he could pass the baton of faith to the NATION of Israel. Convinced that he had finished his race, done his part, gets back in bed, puts down his staff, lies back and gives up his spirit to be gathered to his people, not death, but a homecoming celebration. Application: will that be true for you?
C. Burial READ Genesis 50:1-3 Hebrews did not embalm bodies, normally buried the deceased the same day but Egyptians did embalm, at least the upper-class. Embalming would be necessary to transport Jacob’s body on the long trip back to Canaan. To honor his father’s request, Jacob gets permission from Pharaoh to travel. READ Genesis 50:7 it would seem over 100 people: family, brothers, wives, servants, soldiers left children, flocks and herds and traveled to Hebron. What an impact on the Egyptians this must have had. If Joseph had not grieved- he didn’t care. If all he did was grieve-his religion was no different than theirs. The trip back to Canaan was a sermon in itself, an opportunity to tell others of the true God and His promises made to His people. They grieved, but they grieved with hope of an eternity with God, with the Covenantal promises that were made forever.
A. Fear. Their father is dead, they’ve had elaborate funeral arrangements, buried the body in Canaan now they’ve come home, back to their routines, brothers start whispering to each other “Now that dad’s gone, what’s to prevent Joseph from getting revenge, he could have us arrested, even killed, or make us slaves like we did to him” They have reason to fear, they had committed a horrendous crime, but their fears were unnecessary, why? READ Genesis 50:17b
B. Forgiveness. Joseph wept because they were confessing a sin that was already forgiven, forgotten. What an arrow of hurt their suspicions must have been to him. Think of all the kindnesses he had shown them, how could they have doubted his love?
C. Foresight of God. Joseph again told them READ Genesis 50:19-21. What gave Joseph the ability to speak these powerful words? He knew God, He knew God’s ways, He knew God’s purposes. Two things specifically he trusted in 1. God is Sovereign- nothing happens by accident, God is in control. 2. God is good- He desires what is best for us always. On the surface it looked bad for Joseph, sold into slavery, forgotten, abandoned but God was preparing him, setting the stage for him to be ready to be God’s spokesman, God administrator “to preserve many people alive” both in Egypt and the world.
Between Genesis 50:21 and 22 more than 50 years pass.
Joseph spends the rest of his life being involved with his family, his children, 3rd generation, means he saw his great-great grandchildren. What a wonderful “Papa” he must have been, exciting stories, little surprises in his pockets, telling them about God’s creation, Adam, Eve, the Flood, Noah, how their great-great…grandfather Abraham had visited Egypt, offering of Isaac on Mt Moriah, how God provided, Jacob, lots of stories about him, of a ladder reaching up to heaven, and all the other stories that Moses would write in the book we call Genesis. I think that’s why God created grandparents, to form a living link not just with the past but with the eternal future.
We don’t know how many of the eleven other brothers were still alive, but they gathered around him READ Genesis 50:24-26. He had been Prime Minister, he could have been buried in a pyramid but his last desire was that his bones return to the Promised Land because he believed in the Covenant. He believed in the Promises of God made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Desire was fulfilled Moses (Exodus 13:19) “took the bones of Joseph with him” when they left Egypt, Moses carried them across the sands of Sinai (Joshua 24:32) Joshua buried Joseph’s bones in Shechem.
God is Sovereign, He will accomplish His plans for us.
God’s plans are not our plans, He is in control and nothing takes Him by surprise.
God blesses His children each uniquely and individually.
ENDING: Wonder what will my/your last words be? Pray they will be filled with hope /faith.