MENU

Where the world comes to study the Bible

7. Pursuing Reconciliation (Genesis 44:33-45:28)

Related Media

“Now then, please let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? No! Do not let me see the misery that would come on my father. Joseph was no longer able to control himself before all his attendants, so he cried out, “Make everyone go out from my presence!” No one remained with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. He wept loudly; the Egyptians heard it and Pharaoh’s household heard about it. Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” His brothers could not answer him because they were dumbfounded before him. Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me,” so they came near. Then he said, “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. Now, do not be upset and do not be angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me ahead of you to preserve life! For these past two years there has been famine in the land and for five more years there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God sent me ahead of you to preserve you on the earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now, it is not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me an adviser to Pharaoh, lord over all his household, and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Now go up to my father quickly and tell him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: “God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; do not delay! You will live in the land of Goshen, and you will be near me—you, your children, your grandchildren, your flocks, your herds, and everything you have. I will provide you with food there because there will be five more years of famine. Otherwise you would become poor—you, your household, and everyone who belongs to you.”‘ You and my brother Benjamin can certainly see with your own eyes that I really am the one who speaks to you. So tell my father about all my honor in Egypt and about everything you have seen. But bring my father down here quickly!” Then he threw himself on the neck of his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck. He kissed all his brothers and wept over them. After this his brothers talked with him. … So they went up from Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan. They told him, “Joseph is still alive and he is ruler over all the land of Egypt!” Jacob was stunned, for he did not believe them. But when they related to him everything Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to transport him, their father Jacob’s spirit revived. Then Israel said, “Enough! My son Joseph is still alive! I will go and see him before I die.”

Genesis 44:33-45:28 (NET)

How should we pursue reconciliation with others?

Unfortunately, since the fall, humanity has been prone to discord. When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, one of the major consequences was discord. The woman would desire to control the husband, and the husband would try to dominate her (Gen 3:16). From this dysfunction came every relational dysfunction: brother would fight against brother, sister against sister, neighbor against neighbor, ethnic group against ethnic group, and nation and against nation. Clearly, we still struggle with discord today. It’s in our families, friendships, workplaces, churches, and nations.

How should we pursue reconciliation—the renewing of relationships with one another? One of the reasons that Christ came and died for our sins was not only to reconcile our relationship with God, but also to reconcile us with others (Eph 2)—no more racism, ethnocentrism, elitism, or caste systems. As Christians, as much as it depends on us, we must seek to live at peace with others (Rom 12:18). Sometimes, reconciliation is not possible if the other side refuses to restore a relationship, but as for us, we must do our best to pursue it.

In this text, Joseph, who was originally sold into slavery by his brothers (Gen 37), had been exalted to governor of Egypt (Gen 41). God had been using him to provide for the world during a world-wide famine. In Genesis 42, this famine caused his own family to come to Egypt for resources. Since Joseph’s brothers didn’t recognize him, he tested their character to see if they had changed. He provided resources for them but kept the second oldest—Simeon—as prisoner, while they went home and brought back Joseph’s youngest brother, Benjamin. Joseph wanted to know if they mistreated him as well. When the brothers returned with Benjamin, he prepared an elaborate feast for them and sent them home with great provisions (Gen 43). However, in Genesis 44, he tested the brothers one more time to see if they had truly changed. Joseph planted a silver cup in Benjamin’s luggage, accused him of stealing it, and was going to enslave him. Would the brothers take the resources and leave Benjamin, like they did twenty-two years previously, when they sold Joseph into slavery? No, they didn’t; they had changed. They offered to be slaves along with Benjamin, and Judah, specifically, offered to take his place while the others went back. Joseph now knew he could trust his brothers, and in Genesis 45, he revealed his true identity to them and began the process of reconciliation—renewing their relationship.

As we study this reunion, we can learn principles about renewing our broken relationships as well—relationships with family members, friends, co-workers, and church members.

Big Question: What principles about pursuing reconciliation can be discerned from Joseph’s reconciliation with his brothers?

To Pursue Reconciliation, We Must Pursue Change in Ourselves and Others

“Now then, please let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? No! Do not let me see the misery that would come on my father.

Genesis 44:33-34

Often, we confuse forgiveness with reconciliation. Forgiveness is actually only a part of the reconciliation process. A wife can forgive an abusive husband, but there is no reconciliation if there is still abuse. In order for their relationship to be renewed, there must be a change in the husband’s character.

Joseph understood this reality. He had forgiven his brothers many years ago—maybe right after they sold him into slavery. His forgiveness is clearly seen in the naming of his firstborn, Manasseh, which means “to forget” (Gen 41:51). God had caused him to forget the pain in his household. However, though he had forgiven the brothers, reconciliation wasn’t possible if they had not changed their abusive and selfish character. That’s why Joseph tested them. Throughout the tests, he showed them great love—he gave them abundant resources without charging them—but he still tested their character, nonetheless.

Many actually hinder their relationships from ever experiencing true reconciliation by not properly recognizing the evil committed. Sometimes, they brush off gossip, lies, cheating, or even theft, by saying things like, “It’s not a big deal!”, “Kids will be kids!”, “Guys will be guys!” or “Girls will be girls!” However, sin is a big deal—it drives a wedge between relationships and hinders true fellowship. Certainly, we should forgive and return good for evil, but without recognizing evil and asking people to turn from it, there is no true reconciliation. It just becomes pacification of sin or a treaty at best.

Let’s consider the difference between Joseph’s reaction to his brothers’ sins and David’s reaction to his own children’s sins (2 Sam 13-19). When David’s son, Amnon, raped David’s daughter, David did nothing. This caused David’s other son, Absalom, to kill Amnon and then flee from the family. Eventually, Absalom was restored to the kingdom, but David never disciplined him or communicated with him—he just left him alone. Then, eventually, Absalom tried to kill David and take over the kingdom. By never dealing with any of the sons’ sins, there never was any reconciliation in his family, only pacification. Possibly, David never disciplined his children because he remembered his own sins—he had previously committed adultery and murder, and perhaps he believed it was impossible for him to be a righteous judge. Whatever the reasons, eventually the unresolved conflicts blew up in David’s face.

As seen with David, because of flaws in our own character, we tend to tolerate various sins and unhealthy relationships. This happens in dating relationships, marriages, parent-child relationships, workplaces, and friendships. When sin or wrong views about ourselves persist (for example, believing that we’re not worth anything because of past failures, or that nobody will ever love us), we tend to tolerate things that should not be tolerated. Therefore, in order for there to be reconciliation, we may need to develop our character first.

Pursuing a character change in others means pointing out sin in an appropriate manner, being patient when they fail, and ultimately trusting God to bring the change. When trying to help others turn away from sin in order to have reconciliation, the process often isn’t easy. Conquering sin is a difficult task—some sins reappear for years, even when a person has right intentions. We don’t change people; God does. However, we do have a role in the process. In talking about how people change, Paul said that he and Apollos planted and watered, but God made the seed grow (1 Cor 3:6). Therefore, like farmers, we patiently plant and water, and trust God to bring the increase in his time.

True reconciliation begins when both parties have repented of their sins. It begins when the gossip stops gossiping, the wife stops criticizing, the husband stops using harsh words, and the offended party stops holding a grudge. In order for there to be true reconciliation, righteous character is needed on both sides—the innocent party and guilty one. Here in this narrative, the brothers had changed, and therefore, true reconciliation could be pursued. Character change in us and others is necessary for true reconciliation.

Application Question: Why is pursuing a change in character needed to have reconciliation between people? What happens when one side is not willing to change? How should that affect our pursuit of reconciliation?

To Pursue Reconciliation, We Must Focus on God’s Sovereignty instead of Others’ Failures

Joseph was no longer able to control himself before all his attendants, so he cried out, “Make everyone go out from my presence!” No one remained with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. He wept loudly; the Egyptians heard it and Pharaoh’s household heard about it. Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” His brothers could not answer him because they were dumbfounded before him. Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me,” so they came near. Then he said, “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. Now, do not be upset and do not be angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me ahead of you to preserve life! For these past two years there has been famine in the land and for five more years there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God sent me ahead of you to preserve you on the earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now, it is not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me an adviser to Pharaoh, lord over all his household, and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Now go up to my father quickly and tell him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: “God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; do not delay!

Genesis 45:1-9

After Judah pleaded to take Benjamin’s place (Gen 44:33-34), Joseph breaks down (45:1-2). He couldn’t hide his identity any longer. He screamed at his servants to leave the room, and then began to weep. You can imagine what was going through the brothers’ minds. They had been accused of stealing by the governor of Egypt, and now the governor had screamed at his servants to leave and was crying. Surely, they must have been afraid of what was about to happen. Then, out of nowhere, the Egyptian governor spoke to them in Hebrew. Up to this time, the governor had always used an interpreter to speak to them, but now it was revealed that not only did he speak in Hebrew, he said, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” Initially, they probably could not believe what they were hearing; they must have questioned: “What is going on? How does he know Hebrew and our dead brother’s name?” Then Joseph motioned for them to come closer, so they could look at him and consider his face, eyes, and other features. Then Joseph gave them more convincing evidence when he revealed further information that he could not have known if he were not who he said he was. He declared, “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt” (45:4). Although shocked, afraid, and ashamed, they began to believe his story. Joseph quickly comforted them by saying, “Now, do not be upset and do not be angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me ahead of you to preserve life!” (45:5). Joseph aimed to comfort them with God’s ultimate purpose through their evil act—to preserve lives.

Interpretation Question: In what ways does Scripture teach God’s sovereignty over every event, including evil works, such as the brothers selling Joseph into slavery?

From verse 5 to 9, Joseph mentions God’s name four times. This was classic Joseph: When he met with the baker and the cupbearer, he said, “Doesn’t the interpretation of dreams belong to God?” (Gen 40:8 paraphrase). When he met with Pharaoh, he said, “I cannot interpret your dreams, but God can” (Gen 41:16 paraphrase). Even when Joseph sent the brothers back home the first time, he said to them, “I fear God” (Gen 42:18). Joseph was a man who saw God in everything. It was who he was. He couldn’t hide it—not even in a pagan world that worshiped different gods, not even when confronting his brothers who sold him into slavery twenty-two years before.

However, this is the part that we must understand if we are going to seek reconciliation with others. Like Joseph, we must have a strong theology of God’s sovereignty. Scripture doesn’t teach that God is a clock maker who simply winds up the earth, and lets it run on its own. Scripture teaches that God is intimately involved with everything that happens on earth. Colossians 1:17 says this about Christ, “He himself is before all things and all things are held together in him.” God holds all things together. Scripture further describes God’s sovereign control over all things:

  • God is in control of random events like the rolling of the dice. Proverbs 16:33 says, “The dice are thrown into the lap, but their every decision is from the Lord.”
  • God is in control of disasters. Amos 3:6 says, “If an alarm sounds in a city, do people not fear? If disaster overtakes a city, is the Lord not responsible?”
  • God is in control of kings. Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord like channels of water; he turns it wherever he wants.” He hardens Pharaoh’s heart and softens it, as he wills.
  • God is in control of evil and temptation. First Corinthians 10:13 says:

No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it.

Trial can be translated “temptation.” God will not allow believers to be tempted beyond what they can bear. That means he is in control. Satan is not running free; he is on a leash, as God sets his boundaries. As with Job’s trials and temptations, Satan can only do what God gives him permission to do (Job 1, 2).

  • God is in control of the number of every person’s days. In Psalm 139:16, David said, “…All the days ordained for me were recorded in your scroll before one of them came into existence.”

In fact, Ephesians 1:11 says, God “accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will.” Nothing happens on this earth apart from God’s counsel. This is a marvelous fact. Certainly, it creates mental difficulties for us. How can this be, especially when we consider evil? Scripture teaches that though we as creatures make “free decisions,” including evil ones, God is in control of them in such a way that he can rightly be called the first cause behind all events. Pharaoh hardened his heart, but God ultimately was the sovereign who did it (Ex 4:21, 8:32, Prov 21:1). Birds feed themselves, but as Christ said, God feeds them (Matt 6:26). Disasters happen because of many causes, but Amos says God is the ultimate cause (Amos 3:6). God can be called the first cause of everything. However, the paradox in Scripture is that God can rightly be called the first cause of all events, including evil ones like hardening Pharaoh’s heart, but God cannot be blamed for the evil actions creatures commit. James 1:13-14 says: “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each one is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desires.”

Evil is the fault of creatures; however, God is still in control. Again, this is a paradox—two seemingly contradicting statements. Nevertheless, Scripture teaches this because we need to accept both realities. (1) It would be an error to think of God as being evil or delighting in it. Scripture does not teach this. Thinking this way would only lead us to discouragement and hopelessness. (2) Likewise, the alternative is just as bad. If God is not in control, then many dire circumstances in life are hopeless, as well. Why pray if God is not in control? Scripture teaches that God is not evil, that he doesn’t directly commit evil, nor does he delight in it, but he is in control of it. This is important for our hearts to accept: Dictators and wicked presidents are not in control! Terrorist are not in control! Our boss is not in control! Our family is not in control! God is!

The sovereignty of God over evil is always taught in Scripture to give comfort to believers. God is in control of evil and, therefore, can use it for good (Rom 8:28). For Job, it was this reality that allowed him to navigate the loss of riches, children, and health. He said, “The Lord gives, and he takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21 paraphrase). It’s not that Job didn’t recognize the accountability of evil men or Satan who hurt him; he just saw God in control of them. And since God was using those evil works for his good, he could bless the name of the Lord for them. It gave him a tremendous comfort. And this was true of Joseph: he said that the brothers sold him into Egypt (45:4) but also said God sent him so he could eventually save them (45:5). At the end of Genesis, he reaffirms this truth to the brothers when they thought that Joseph would enslave them after Jacob’s death. He said:

As for you, you meant to harm me, but God intended it for a good purpose, so he could preserve the lives of many people, as you can see this day. So now, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your little children.” Then he consoled them and spoke kindly to them.

Genesis 50:20-21

In this, we learn the reason why many believers are constantly in discord with others and unwilling to seek reconciliation: Instead of accepting that God is in control, they focus all their thoughts and energies on secondary causes—family, friends, co-workers, or the government, for example. They forget that God holds the temperature gauge on any trials and that people or chance circumstances are not in control of their future—God is. The brothers tried to hurt Joseph, but that was all part of God’s eternal plan. God even gave Joseph a vision to help him have hope while experiencing the evil. Before the brothers enslaved him, Joseph saw the eleven brothers eventually bowing down before him (Gen 37:5-8). God was in control of their evil act. Certainly, the greatest way we see this reality is in the cross—predestined even before time, carried out by wicked men, but intended for our eternal good. Acts 2:38 says this about Christ, “this man, who was handed over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you executed by nailing him to a cross at the hands of Gentiles.” Therefore, if we are going to seek reconciliation, we must focus on God’s control of evil acts and people, instead of the evil acts and people themselves. This doesn’t remove people’s guilt or the real pain we experience, but it should give us hope, regardless.

God Uses Evil to Enable Us to Help Others

Our God is using evil acts and failures, our own and others, for our eternal good (Rom 8:28)—maybe to teach us patience, to trust God more, to love the unlovable as he does, to help us read our Bibles and pray more, or any other host of reasons. However, just as with Joseph and Jesus, we too can trust that God ultimately uses our worst circumstances to help us to better help others. This is what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 1:3-6:

Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we may be able to comfort those experiencing any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow toward us, so also our comfort through Christ overflows to you. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort that you experience in your patient endurance of the same sufferings that we also suffer.

God uses trials and difficulties in our lives for the purpose of changing us and enabling us to help others in a greater capacity. In the trial, we learn empathy—to hurt with others who are suffering. We learn comfort and hope that we can offer the hurting. Without these lessons, which are formed in the fire, we won’t be able to be like our Savior. God uses ‘bad’ to enable us minister to others—to comfort, strengthen, and equip them. Therefore, like Joseph, if we are going to seek reconciliation, we must focus on surrendering to the sovereignty of God over any trial we are in, be it a conflict at work, church, or at home.

On whom or what is your focus: the secondary causes or the first cause—our sovereign God who works all things for our good? Your focus will affect how you go through trials, and it will affect your ability to forgive others, even as it did with Joseph. The one who focuses on the evil of others will find it hard to forgive and seek reconciliation. Their unforgiveness might actually keep them from God’s purpose—to use that evil to bring about something great in their lives.

Application Question: How do you reconcile God’s sovereignty over all events, including the evil of people and demons? How can Scripture say God is the first cause of evil things like disasters or the hardening of people’s heart and yet not be blamed for evil (cf. Ex 9:12, Prov 21:1, Amos 3:6, Jam 1:13)? Why should God’s sovereignty comfort believers and also help them reconcile with others?

To Pursue Reconciliation, We Must Overcome Evil with Good

Now go up to my father quickly and tell him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: “God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; do not delay! You will live in the land of Goshen, and you will be near me—you, your children, your grandchildren, your flocks, your herds, and everything you have. I will provide you with food there because there will be five more years of famine. Otherwise you would become poor—you, your household, and everyone who belongs to you.”‘ You and my brother Benjamin can certainly see with your own eyes that I really am the one who speaks to you. So tell my father about all my honor in Egypt and about everything you have seen. But bring my father down here quickly!” Then he threw himself on the neck of his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck. He kissed all his brothers and wept over them. After this his brothers talked with him…So the sons of Israel did as he said. Joseph gave them wagons as Pharaoh had instructed, and he gave them provisions for the journey. He gave sets of clothes to each one of them, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver and five sets of clothes. To his father he sent the following: ten donkeys loaded with the best products of Egypt and ten female donkeys loaded with grain, food, and provisions for his father’s journey.

Genesis 45:9-15, 21-23

After Joseph revealed his identity, he commanded the brothers to tell their father that Joseph was alive, was lord over Egypt, and to come to Egypt quickly. He told them the famine would last for five more years, which would lead them into poverty without Joseph’s help (45:11); therefore, they should move everyone to Egypt. They would be given the fertile land in Goshen. After saying this, Joseph threw himself on Benjamin and they wept together. Then he kissed all the brothers and wept on their necks (45:14-15). Eventually, Pharaoh heard that Joseph’s family was in Egypt, and he also commanded them to move to Egypt (45:17-20). The brothers were given wagons, donkeys, new clothes, and great provisions for the journey.

Now, Joseph showed all this generosity and affection to his family because he loved them, but it also was a way to comfort them and help build their trust. Though they had sold him into slavery twenty-two years ago, Joseph wasn’t going to hold that wicked act against them. He only wanted to bless them.

Similarly, this is one of the ways that we must pursue reconciliation with others, especially those who have hurt us. Romans 12:19-21 says,

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. Rather, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing this you will be heaping burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

In general, we should overcome the evil of others by doing good to them. When they are hungry, we should feed them. When they are thirsty, we should give them drink. By doing this, it will prick their hearts and help change them.

When somebody hurts us, our natural reaction is retaliation. However, Scripture says we should leave vengeance to the Lord and instead serve them. With that said, this does not mean we never pursue justice. According to Romans 13:1-7, God has given us authorities for this very reason. Authorities are meant to represent God by rewarding the righteous and punishing wrong-doers. Essentially, Joseph, as the Egyptian governor, had taken that role by testing his brothers.

More important than changing others’ heart attitudes, blessing those who hurt us will change us. Often times it is hard to forgive those who have hurt us, especially emotionally. When painful emotions surface, we must forgive in faith and begin to bless our attackers. Christ said to love our enemies and pray for them (Matt 5:44). In the midst of praying for these people, and at times serving them, God often gives us new hearts. We will often find ourselves experiencing a supernatural love for them, coupled with a passion for their restoration to God. By serving those who hurt us, we not only might be used to overcome the evil in their hearts but also the unlove in our own hearts.

In this passage, Joseph pursued reconciliation by blessing those who hurt him. For the brothers, who were afraid for their lives because of their past evil act, Joseph’s loving actions heaped burning coals on their heads. It further convicted them of their wrong and opened the door for true reconciliation.

Application Question: How does holding grudges and unforgiveness often have more negative effects on us than others (cf. Matt 18:23-35)? In what ways have you experienced overcoming evil with good, specifically when it came to relational discord? How does blessing those who’ve hurt us often change their hearts and our own?

To Pursue Reconciliation, We Must Forgive Failures and Not Continually Bring Them Up

Then he sent his brothers on their way and they left. He said to them, “As you travel don’t be overcome with fear.” So they went up from Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan. They told him, “Joseph is still alive and he is ruler over all the land of Egypt!” Jacob was stunned, for he did not believe them. But when they related to him everything Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to transport him, their father Jacob’s spirit revived. Then Israel said, “Enough! My son Joseph is still alive! I will go and see him before I die.”

Genesis 45:24-28

Before Joseph sent the brothers on their way, he said to them, “don’t be overcome with fear” (45:24). However, most versions translate this, “do not quarrel” (NIV, ESV) or “do no argue” (HCSB, CEV). Previously, in Genesis 42:21-22, when Joseph tested the brothers by imprisoning them for three days, they discerned that they were being punished by God for enslaving Joseph. Then Reuben declared how he originally warned them to not hurt the boy. Essentially, he said, “I told you so!” Joseph knew, on the way home, the brothers might start to blame one another again, which would only interfere with the family’s full reconciliation.

A significant hinderance to reconciliation is a tendency to continually bring up past failures. Now, there is a place for that if there has never been any true confession and repentance from the erring party. However, when there has been genuine confession and repentance, and even though a person may fail again, the past should not be continually brought up. This constrains many relationships from ever truly reconciling. The party in error begins to feel as if it’s impossible to reconcile for his or her past mistakes—eventually succumbing to despair, giving up, or reverting back to old ways.

When describing agape love—God’s love—in 1 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV), Paul said love “keeps no record of wrongs.” Unfortunately, many people are astute historians in this area. They continually bring up past failures, recalling every detail, and throwing them into the face of the other party. Often both sides do this—effectively sabotaging true reconciliation. If we are going to love someone as God calls us to, and experience reconciliation with that person, we must learn to forgive and let go of past failures, especially when there has been confession and repentance.

When there is confession and a genuine commitment to change, we must let go of the past and not continually bring it up. This creates an environment where true change and reconciliation can happen, instead of nurturing on-going quarrels. Sin takes time to root out. We all have had habitual sins that we continually fell back into, which took time to get over. It wasn’t that we were insincere in our fight to conquer those sins; we were just weak in our flesh. Paul had the same struggles: In Romans 7, he declared “the things I would do, I don’t do, and the things I wouldn’t do, I do. Who can save me from this body of sin?” (paraphrase). If we remember our own weaknesses, although they may be different from the weaknesses of those who hurt us, it will help us be more patient with them. Joseph wisely warned his brothers against the temptation to continually bring up the past and fight amongst themselves on their way to Canaan. We must be wise and commit to do the same in our relationships.

When Jacob heard that his son, Joseph, was alive, he was “stunned” (45:26). It can also be translated that Jacob’s heart became “numb” or “faint.” He possibly almost experienced a minor heart attack. However, when he saw the Egyptian clothes the brothers were wearing, the great caravan outside the house, including the Egyptian wagons, he believed. It says Jacob’s “spirit revived” (45:27). Then Jacob said, “Enough! My son Joseph is still alive! I will go and see him before I die” (45:28). Jacob was 130 years old when he went down to Egypt (47:9), and he was 147 when he died (47:28). Therefore, Jacob was able to enjoy all his children and grandchildren together for seventeen years. His family had been reconciled. May the Lord reconcile all of our families and friendships as well. Amen!

Application Question: Why is it important to refrain from bringing up the past when seeking reconciliation? When is bringing up the past appropriate? Share a story of how God reconciled a broken relationship of yours. What relationships are you still praying for God to reconcile?

Conclusion

How should we pursue reconciliation? We learn a great deal from Joseph’s reconciliation with his brothers after twenty-two years of being estranged.

  1. To Pursue Reconciliation, We Must Pursue Change in Ourselves and Others
  2. To Pursue Reconciliation, We Must Focus on God’s Sovereignty instead of Others’ Failures
  3. To Pursue Reconciliation, We Must Overcome Evil with Good
  4. To Pursue Reconciliation, We Must Forgive Failures and Not Continually Bring Them Up

Copyright © 2020 Gregory Brown

Unless otherwise noted, the primary Scriptures used are taken from the NET Bible ® copyright © 1996-2016 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.

Holy Bible, New International Version ®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, Copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NASB) are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, and 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Scripture quotations marked (KJV) are from the King James Version of the Bible.

All emphases in Scripture quotations have been added.

BTG Publishing all rights reserved.

Related Topics: Christian Life, Relationships

8. Discerning God’s Guidance (Genesis 45:25-46:30)

Related Media

So they went up from Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan. They told him, “Joseph is still alive and he is ruler over all the land of Egypt!” Jacob was stunned, for he did not believe them. But when they related to him everything Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to transport him, their father Jacob’s spirit revived. Then Israel said, “Enough! My son Joseph is still alive! I will go and see him before I die.” So Israel began his journey, taking with him all that he had. When he came to Beer Sheba he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. God spoke to Israel in a vision during the night and said, “Jacob, Jacob!” He replied, “Here I am!” He said, “I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down with you to Egypt and I myself will certainly bring you back from there. Joseph will close your eyes.” Then Jacob started out from Beer Sheba, and the sons of Israel carried their father Jacob, their little children, and their wives in the wagons that Pharaoh had sent along to transport him. Jacob and all his descendants took their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in the land of Canaan, and they went to Egypt. He brought with him to Egypt his sons and grandsons, his daughters and granddaughters—all his descendants … All the direct descendants of Jacob who went to Egypt with him were sixty-six in number. (This number does not include the wives of Jacob’s sons.) Counting the two sons of Joseph who were born to him in Egypt, all the people of the household of Jacob who were in Egypt numbered seventy. Jacob sent Judah before him to Joseph to accompany him to Goshen. So they came to the land of Goshen. Joseph harnessed his chariot and went up to meet his father Israel in Goshen. When he met him, he hugged his neck and wept on his neck for quite some time. Israel said to Joseph, “Now let me die since I have seen your face and know that you are still alive.”

Genesis 45:25-46:30 (NET)

How should we discern God’s guidance? In this narrative, Jacob moves his family from Canaan to Egypt. There had been two years of famine, and there would be five more (Gen 45:11). By the end of the famine, if precautions weren’t taken, Jacob’s family would become impoverished. Through God’s sovereignty, God used the evil works of Jacob’s sons to provide for the family’s future. In Genesis 37, because the brothers were jealous of Joseph, they sold him into slavery. After thirteen years of serving as a slave and prisoner in Egypt, Joseph was exalted to governor of Egypt (Gen 41). God used him to collect great resources during seven years of plenty to provide for Egypt and other nations during seven years of a world-wide famine. In Genesis 45, after subjecting his brothers to two tests, Joseph revealed his identity to them. Joseph then called for his father, Jacob, and the rest of the family to move to Egypt, so they could be well provided for.

Jacob’s family moving to Egypt seemed like a no-brainer—they needed food and Joseph could provide it; however, it wasn’t that easy. God had called for Jacob’s family to become a great nation and to inherit the land of Canaan. If they moved to Egypt, how would God fulfill that promise, which was originally given to Abraham, Isaac, and then Jacob? It seems that these realities were troubling Jacob. Though he initially left his home with his family, he stopped in Beer Sheba and offered sacrifices to God. God spoke to Jacob and told him to not be afraid of going down to Egypt (46:3).

Surely, God doesn’t waste words. God told Jacob to not be afraid because he was afraid and for good reasons. (1) Certainly, there were natural factors to consider, such as his advanced age. Moving when one is old and established is a lot harder than moving when one is young. For young people, moving is often an adventure; when older, it’s more of a burden. (2) But more importantly, as mentioned, Jacob must have questioned: “How would God fulfill his promise to Abraham, Isaac, and himself about giving them Canaan as an inheritance?” (3) Furthermore, Jacob’s descendants did not have a good history with Egypt. When Abraham first moved to Canaan, there was a famine. Instead of staying in the promised land, Abraham left for Egypt, which demonstrated a lack of faith in God. In Egypt, Pharaoh took Abraham’s wife, although God eventually delivered her after cursing Pharaoh and his family (Gen 12). In addition, Jacob knew that God appeared to Isaac at a time of great famine and warned him to not go down to Egypt, but to stay in Canaan (Gen 26:1-3). Jacob didn’t want to make the same mistake by going down to Egypt. If God had called for his family to stay in Canaan, God would provide for their welfare, even in a famine. Indeed, in Genesis 26:12, Isaac reaped 100 times what he sowed during that famine. Surely, God could provide for Jacob’s family in the same way. (4) Finally, another possible problem that might have caused Jacob to be afraid was an early prophecy Abraham received. In Genesis 15:13-16, God promised Abraham that his descendants would be strangers in a foreign country, be enslaved there for 400 years, God would judge that country, and then Israel would return to Canaan with great wealth. Was Egypt the “foreign country” where Jacob’s descendants would be enslaved? There were significant reasons for Jacob to be afraid.

Jacob was in a quandary: There were logical reasons to go down to Egypt and yet there were logical reasons to stay put. Similarly, for us, many decisions are not clear cut. How can we accurately discern God’s guidance? As we watch Jacob navigate this quandary and discern God’s guidance, we learn principles about discerning God’s guidance for our lives as well—where to go to school, what major to pursue, where to live, who to marry, or what job to take.

Big Question: What principles can we learn about discerning God’s guidance from Jacob’s leaving Canaan and going to Egypt in Genesis 45:25-46:30?

To Discern God’s Guidance, We Must Consider Providential Circumstances

So they went up from Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan. They told him, “Joseph is still alive and he is ruler over all the land of Egypt!” Jacob was stunned, for he did not believe them. But when they related to him everything Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to transport him, their father Jacob’s spirit revived. Then Israel said, “Enough! My son Joseph is still alive! I will go and see him before I die.”

Genesis 45:25-28

Observation Question: Which providential circumstances would seem to indicate God was calling Jacob’s family to move to Egypt?

Jacob’s process of discerning God’s guidance began when he was confronted with the reality that Joseph was still alive and currently the governor of Egypt. Joseph was Jacob’s favorite son, whom he thought was dead for twenty-two years. As Jacob considered his circumstances, there were several facts that seemed to confirm God’s desire for Jacob to relocate his family to Egypt:

  1. The famine would last for five more years. Without God’s miraculous provision, Jacob’s family would become poor, as most of their livestock would die.
  2. Egypt had abundant provisions.
  3. Joseph, Jacob’s son, was the governor of Egypt and he would provide for them.

By looking at God’s providential workings, it would seem clear that God was guiding Jacob into Egypt.

We, too, must consider God’s providential workings when discerning his guidance for our lives. Many times, God’s providential workings are as clear as open and closed doors. Has God opened the door for a specific job or ministry for you? Has God provided finances or some scholarship to meet your needs? If God is calling us somewhere, we should expect him to open and close doors. Closed doors will often be him saying “no” or “not yet,” and open doors will often be his affirmation. (Sometimes God opens many doors, which makes the discernment process a little more challenging.)

God’s providential working is only one factor we must consider when discerning God’s guidance. For Jacob, it seemed as if God was leading them to Egypt because Egypt had provisions during the famine, the famine would last for five more years, and Joseph, as governor over Egypt, would provide for them. How is God guiding you through providential circumstances?

Application Question: In what ways have you experienced God’s guidance through providential circumstances? Does God’s providence mean that we should be inactive in pursuing open doors? Why or why not? In what ways might God be guiding you now through his providence?

To Discern God’s Guidance, We Must Consider the Counsel of Others

So they went up from Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan. They told him, “Joseph is still alive and he is ruler over all the land of Egypt!” Jacob was stunned, for he did not believe them. But when they related to him everything Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to transport him, their father Jacob’s spirit revived.

Genesis 45:25-27

After the sons told Jacob that Joseph was still alive, they shared all that “Joseph had said” (45:27). Earlier, in Genesis 45:9-11, Joseph said that the family should move to Egypt and live in Goshen, as the famine would last for five more years, which would surely impoverish them. Certainly, Jacob wanted to see Joseph, but moving the family to Egypt was something he had never considered. However, Joseph’s advice was part of how God guided Jacob, and God often does the same with us.

Scripture says that we are the body of Christ, and as the body, one person may function as the eyes, another the feet, and another the hand. The hand can’t say to the eyes, “I don’t need you” (1 Cor 12). As believers, we are not independent from one another but intricately connected. For that reason, God often gives us grace through other members of the body, including his guidance. We must realize that somebody in the body will often function as eyes for us—for example, giving us direction. Sometimes it will be one person, maybe a mentor or good friend, and at other times, it will be random believers. Proverbs 11:14 says, “When there is no guidance a nation falls, but there is success in the abundance of counselors.” Seeking counsel often leads to victory and success; not seeking counsel can often lead to failure. Who are your abundance of counselors? Who are the people you seek advice from vocationally, relationally, and/or spiritually? Who are you speaking to in order to help guide them in the Lord’s path?             

This a common way in which God guides his people. God called David to be king of Israel through Samuel (1 Sam 16). God called Paul and Barnabas to missions through a group of elders who fasted and listened to God (Acts 13:1-3). For Jacob, God spoke through Joseph’s call for him to move the family to Egypt, and no doubt God confirmed it through his other sons as well.

Application Question: Who are some of the people from whom you seek counsel? Who are the people God wants you to consult—maybe for a specific situation? How can we discern God’s guidance among our many counselors?

To Discern God’s Guidance, We Must Consider Our Desires and Abilities

Then Israel said, “Enough! My son Joseph is still alive! I will go and see him before I die.” So Israel began his journey, taking with him all that he had.

Genesis 45:28, 46:1

Jacob had mourned the loss of Joseph for twenty-two years. However, when he found out that Joseph was alive and that he could see him, Jacob immediately declared, “Enough! My son Joseph is still alive! I will go and see him before I die!” Here we see the meeting of desire and ability. The son whom Jacob had grieved over for twenty-two years was alive, and he could go see him. Also, Jacob desired to provide for his family, and that would only happen in Egypt.

In our own lives, God often guides us by giving us both the desire for something and the ability to achieve it. For example, Philippians 2:12-13 says, “…continue working out your salvation with awe and reverence, for the one bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort—for the sake of his good pleasure—is God.” When God is guiding us, he often leads through our “desire” and “effort.” This means God gives us desires for his purposes and the ability to complete them.

Therefore, when one is trying to discern God’s guidance, he must ask, “What is in my heart? What do I want?” But he also must ask, “Has God given me the ability to achieve these things or the potential to do so? Obviously, many people love and enjoy things for which they have no competency, which will often be how they discern God has something else for them. Others have competency and no desire. That may be the method God uses to direct them to other paths.

Again, desire and ability are only part of the way that God guides his people. There will be times he leads us into things, by circumstances and other indicators, wherein we lack a desire and strong ability to accomplish. However, in those cases, we should expect that God’s grace will be made perfect in our weakness (2 Cor 12:7-8). God delights to lead us into these areas. Moses didn’t feel comfortable speaking in public. God listened to him and provided Aaron to speak on his behalf, but also said to him, “Who made the mouth?” God was going to make his power manifest in Moses’ weakness (Ex 3). We must recognize this as well: our desires and abilities should not limit us. Where God chooses to lead us is ultimately about God and his glory and helping others. It’s not just about what we like and what we are able to do. If these are the only things we consider, we will miss God’s guidance.

Another thing we must consider is that Scripture teaches that our hearts are deceitful above all else (Jer 17:9). Because of our fallen nature, “listening” to our hearts can be confusing and can lead us into great sin. For this reason, we must continually guard and test our hearts by asking ourselves questions like, “Are these desires selfish or God-honoring?” “Do my desires match my competency?” More importantly, we must continually abide in God through prayer and studying Scripture, so that God can guide our hearts and protect us from being led by our sin nature, the devil, or the world. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” (paraphrase). As we delight in God, our desires will conform to his.

Certainly, God guided Jacob by giving him the desire of his heart—to see Joseph and provide for his family. Often God guides us in the same manner: How is God working in your heart? What are some of the abilities and gifts that God has given you?

Application Question: Are there any special ways God is currently working in your heart to help guide your steps? If so, in what ways? What are some of the unique ways that God has gifted you (which will, no doubt, be part of how he leads you)? What are some practical ways that we can discern our desires and abilities?

To Discern God’s Guidance, We Must Consider God’s Peace (or Our Lack of It)

When he came to Beer Sheba he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. God spoke to Israel in a vision during the night and said, “Jacob, Jacob!” He replied, “Here I am!” He said, “I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there.

Genesis 46:1-3

Jacob had circumstances guiding him: wise counsel, his own personal desires, and the ability to fulfill those desires. With the limited knowledge Jacob had, he moved his family to the most southern part of Canaan—Beer Sheba—on his way to Egypt. Jacob’s family had a rich history there. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had previously lived there. Up to this point, it seems that Jacob was making a wise decision. Many times, God may not make his guidance absolutely clear. We must look at circumstances, seek counsel, discern God’s work in our heart, and then make the best decision we can, all the while trusting that he is guiding us (Rom 8:14). We should not feel immobilized because God hasn’t “spoken”; however, we must, with right hearts, diligently seek God’s guidance. Then we move cautiously—trusting God to confirm our steps, slow us down, or redirect us. It could be said that we cautiously move forward while looking for red lights, green lights, and yellow lights.

In this process, it appears that Jacob perceived something was wrong, as he lacked peace about his decision to transport his entire family to Egypt. How can we discern this? When God appeared to him, God commanded him to not be afraid to go down to Egypt (46:3). God knew that Jacob was hesitant to relocate to Egypt. Though everything seemed perfect, Jacob still lacked peace. It was because of this that Jacob paused their journey to Egypt to offer sacrifices to God at Beer Sheba and seek God’s reassurance.

Often times that will be how God guides us as well. He guides us through his peace or lack of it. We see this truth throughout Scripture. Colossians 3:15 says, “Let the peace of Christ be in control in your heart (for you were in fact called as one body to this peace), and be thankful.” The word “control” can also be translated “rule” or “decide.” It was an athletic word used of an umpire. The umpire says, “Winner!” or “Disqualified!” In 2 Corinthians 2:12-13, we get a good picture of how God guided Paul through a lack of peace. It says:

Now when I arrived in Troas to proclaim the gospel of Christ, even though the Lord had opened a door of opportunity for me, I had no relief in my spirit, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said good-bye to them and set out for Macedonia.

While Paul was at Troas, he had an open door to proclaim the gospel. Paul lived for open doors! However, he couldn’t find his co-worker, Titus, and therefore had “no relief” in his spirit. Since he lacked peace, he left Troas for Macedonia. Often Christians are led and controlled by fear instead of peace. “No one will ever marry me, so I’m going to settle for ‘Mr. Here Now’ instead of ‘Mr. Right!’” “If I choose this major, though I feel God guiding that way, I will never make enough money!” Fear rules instead of God’s peace.

Experiencing God’s peace is an important guide in our life. Satan wants to rule us by fear; God wants to rule us by peace. That’s why Paul says, “Let the peace of Christ rule [or have control] in our hearts” (Col 3:15 paraphrase). Also, we’re commanded in Philippians 4:6-7 to “Be anxious for nothing but in everything, through prayer, thanksgiving, with supplication, to make our requests known to God, so his peace can guard our hearts” (paraphrase). God wants us to have peace. Christ said, “My peace I give to you and not the peace that the world gives” (John 14:27 paraphrase). Are you being guided by peace or by fear and anxiety?

Now with that said, peace (or lack of peace) is subjective. Again, it is just one of the factors that we should consider. For Jacob, everything seemed to line up, circumstances, counsel, his heart and ability, yet he was struggling with fear instead of peace, so he stopped to seek God in a deeper manner by offering sacrifices. Jacob’s actions at Beer Sheba introduce our next principle.

Application Question: In what ways has God guided you through peace or a lack of it? Why is only considering our peace (or lack of it) for guidance unreliable? How should we test our peace?

To Discern God’s Guidance, We Must Pray and Wait

When he came to Beer Sheba he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.

Genesis 46:1

Jacob’s fear about leaving Canaan led him to seek the Lord’s presence by offering sacrifices at Beer Sheba. Certainly, when he offered sacrifices, he was giving God thanks that Joseph was alive and that they would be provided for during the famine. However, just as important as giving thanks, Joseph needed God’s guidance. Therefore, he sought the Lord’s guidance through prayer. This shows tremendous spiritual growth in Jacob’s life. At other crucial junctures in Jacob’s life, prayer seemed to be absent. When in his father’s home, instead of praying and trusting God to provide him with the inheritance, Jacob deceived his father. When deceived into marrying the wrong sister by his uncle Laban, Jacob didn’t pray or seek the Lord. He just decided to marry both sisters—bringing great conflict into his home. At many crucial junctures, prayer was absent.

At times God appeared to Jacob; however, those appearances came from God’s initiative, not Jacob’s. When Jacob ran for his life from his father’s home, God appeared to him in a dream and said that he would be with him and bring him back to his father’s home (Gen 28). When the sons of Laban were cross with Jacob, God told Jacob to leave Laban’s home (Gen 31). When Jacob was afraid that Esau might kill him after leaving Haran, God appeared as an angel and wrestled with Jacob (Gen 32). Previously at crucial points, Jacob habitually neglected God or God took the initiative; however, this time, when Jacob was afraid, he sought the Lord and God appeared to him.

We must do the same by seeking God through prayer. Unfortunately, we often act based on our circumstances, counsel, and/or heart desires alone without stopping to seek the Lord. With major decisions we should spend even greater time in prayer. Before Christ began his ministry, he spent forty days fasting (Matt 4). When Christ chose his twelve apostles, he spent the night in prayer before that decision (Lk 6:12-13). James 1:5 says, “But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him.” James 4:2 says, “You do not have because you do not ask.” Matthew 7:7 says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you.” Literally, this can be translated “Ask and keep asking… seek and keep seeking…, knock and keep knocking…” We must ask the Lord and wait for his guidance, especially at critical junctures in our life.

Now, again, we don’t want to become paralyzed in the process of making decisions. Most times, God will not reveal himself in a vision, dream, or speak with audible words. But in situations like Jacob’s, where we lack peace, it’s often wise to stop, lay down our altar (as Jacob did), and seek the Lord until he gives us peace and further guidance.

Application Question: Why is prayer so important in seeking God’s guidance? In what ways have you experienced clear answers to prayers for guidance? How important is waiting in prayer and why is it so difficult?

To Discern God’s Guidance, We Must Consider God’s Word

God spoke to Israel in a vision during the night and said, “Jacob, Jacob!” He replied, “Here I am!” He said, “I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down with you to Egypt and I myself will certainly bring you back from there. Joseph will close your eyes.”

Genesis 46:2-4

After Jacob sought the Lord through offering sacrifices, God appeared to him in a vision. God spoke to Jacob and called him by name, “Jacob, Jacob!” God knew his name, as he had a personal relationship with him. Certainly, the same is true for us. Christ calls himself the good shepherd and describes how good shepherds know each lamb by name (John 10:3, 14). God knows us as well—our worries, fears, passions, and the way he made us. After calling Jacob, God relayed promises which would calm Jacob’s fears about moving to Egypt:

  1. God was going to make Jacob into a great nation there (v. 3). When Jacob moved to Egypt with his family, there were only sixty-nine men, as it appears Dinah was included in the list of seventy (Gen 46:8-26).1 It took this family 215 years to grow from one man (Abraham) to 69, but in another 430 years they grew to 600,000 men (Ex 12:37)—around two million people, when estimating for their families.2 Egypt was going to be the incubator where Israel would grow into a great nation. They would become so numerous that the Egyptians would become afraid of them and enslave them.
  2. God would go with Jacob to Egypt and bring him back to Canaan (v. 4). That was the same promise that God had given Jacob when he left Canaan for Haran in search of a wife (Gen 28). God would be with him and bring him back. The return was partially fulfilled when his bones were brought back to Canaan, where he was buried in the cave with the other patriarchs (Gen 50); however, it would be ultimately fulfilled in the nation of Israel after more than 400 years in Egypt, as God promised Abraham (Gen 15:13-16).
  3. God would give him a proper burial, as Joseph would “shut his eyes” (v. 4). The son for whom he had grieved for twenty-two years would be with him when he died.

When Jacob was fearful about going down to Egypt, God guided and comforted him through promises. God may at times choose to speak audibly, but that is not the prevailing way God guides us today. Instead, God has provided us with his completed Word, something Jacob didn’t have. There were no portions of Scripture during that time, so God primarily communicated in supernatural ways. Today, God’s primary method of speaking to us and guiding us is through his written Word.

In Scripture, God either tells us what to do or gives us principles to guide us. As we consider circumstances, the counsel of others, the desires of our heart, and God’s peace or lack of it, we can be sure that God will never lead us in contradiction to his Word. This is how we test all the other factors. God’s Word will guide us clearly on moral issues. We shouldn’t do anything that would be immoral. On other issues, we have principles to help guide us into what’s best, even as we are considering in this study—circumstances, the counsel of others, God’s work in our hearts, and God’s peace.

With that said, we must understand that if we are weak in God’s Word, it will be hard to discern God’s guidance. In Psalm 119:105, David said, “Your word is a lamp to walk by, and a light to illumine my path.” When we are not faithfully abiding in God’s Word, it’s as if we are walking in the dark. We should expect to go the wrong direction, which inevitably leads to hurting ourselves and others.

Are you abiding in God’s Word? It guides us into what is moral and what is best. As we read and meditate on it, we commune with God and can then better discern his guidance. Psalm 25:14 (NIV) says, “The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.”

Application Question: In what ways does God guide us through his Word? How have you experienced a lack of intimacy with God and therefore direction when not faithfully being in God’s Word—communing with him? What are your favorite promises in the Bible and why?

To Discern God’s Guidance, We Must Consider Others

Then Jacob started out from Beer Sheba, and the sons of Israel carried their father Jacob, their little children, and their wives in the wagons that Pharaoh had sent along to transport him. Jacob and all his descendants took their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in the land of Canaan, and they went to Egypt. He brought with him to Egypt his sons and grandsons, his daughters and granddaughters—all his descendants … All the direct descendants of Jacob who went to Egypt with him were sixty-six in number. (This number does not include the wives of Jacob’s sons.) Counting the two sons of Joseph who were born to him in Egypt, all the people of the household of Jacob who were in Egypt numbered seventy. Jacob sent Judah before him to Joseph to accompany him to Goshen. So they came to the land of Goshen. Joseph harnessed his chariot and went up to meet his father Israel in Goshen. When he met him, he hugged his neck and wept on his neck for quite some time. Israel said to Joseph, “Now let me die since I have seen your face and know that you are still alive.”

Genesis 46:5-30

In Genesis 46:7, it says that Jacob carried with him “all his descendants” (v. 7). Then we find a list of primarily his sons. Like most Hebrew genealogies, women were not included, with the exception of Jacob’s daughter, Dinah (46:15). The narrator also mentions other “daughters” of Jacob (v. 7). It’s possible that Jacob had daughters other than Dinah; however, many commentators believe the mentioning of daughters is referring to daughters-in-laws—the wives of his sons. The list includes seventy names—only sixty-six of these came down to Egypt, as Joseph and his sons were already there.

Why is this list included in the narrative? For many, genealogies can be boring to read. However, genealogies were very important to the Jews: they represented their family members. Ancestry affected one’s land rights, and it affected one’s occupation (such as, only sons of Aaron could be priests). Ultimately, the lists showed the ancestry of Christ. This genealogy traces Christ’s lineage from Judah, down through Perez, and then to Hezron (46:12, cf. Lk 3:33-34).

However, the list also shows that Jacob’s decision to move to Egypt was not just about him; it affected the infant nation of Israel—probably a couple hundred people. As mentioned, to the Jews, family was very important and therefore any decisions always took into consideration the entire family. In western nations, the primary concern is often one’s own desires—how it affects him or her individually. But, when God spoke to Jacob, he called himself the “God of your father”—representing his family line (46:3). In Revelation 2 and 3, Christ spoke to local churches—either commending them or calling them to repent. And in Luke 10:13, he called the nations of Chorazin and Bethsaida to repent.

God knows us as individuals, but he also knows us as part of a corporate reality. God sees us individually and corporately, as part of a family, a church, and a nation. Therefore, we too should consider this corporate reality when making decisions. We must ask ourselves how our decisions will affect our family, friends, church, and nation.

Paul demonstrates this principle in Romans 14:21, as he said: It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything that causes your brother to stumble.” Though eating meat and drinking wine were not sin—as they passed the biblical test—in some situations, it would not be loving to eat and drink them. Therefore, Paul taught his listeners to be considerate of others when making decisions. In 1 Corinthians 8:13, Paul said: “For this reason, if food causes my brother or sister to sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I may not cause one of them to sin.” God’s guidance often becomes clear when we consider the effects of our decisions on others: “Will making this decision help more people grow in Christ?” “Will choosing to take this freedom potentially cause a weaker brother or sister to stumble?”

Certainly, this should apply to our families. Many people accept jobs based on the fact that they will make more money but commonly give no thought to how the new job will impact their family life. If they take that job or pursue that career, will it mean less time with one’s spouse or children? There are many children growing up without parental presence and guidance because of their parents’ vocational decisions.

We should, additionally, consider our spiritual family. God has made the church to be a body, which, though having individual parts, depends upon one another. This means we must evaluate how our decisions affect our local church. It is not uncommon for people to leave a healthy church where they are growing and serving, in order to take a better job elsewhere and, then upon arriving, experience years of spiritual dryness. It is challenging to find a good church and often hard to get connected after finding it. If the church is a body, as Scripture teaches, then we must give great thought to how our decisions affect her (and us, as part of her). This will often be how God guides. He will guide us by teaching us to love others more than ourselves, including our family, church, and nation. When Jacob considered leaving Canaan, no doubt, a significant part of his consideration was its effect on his large family, including Joseph.

After gaining confirmation from God, Jacob journeyed to Egypt. When he met Joseph he declared, “Now let me die since I have seen your face and know that you are still alive” (46:30). Essentially, seeing Joseph filled Jacob with joy; when it was time for him to die, he could die in peace. Family was a major factor in Jacob’s move to Egypt, and God will often use relational considerations to direct us as well.

Application Question: How has God led you by considering others’ needs before your own? How do we discern the balance of caring for others and ourselves?

Conclusion

How should we discern God’s guidance? We can learn a great deal from how God guided Jacob’s move to Egypt. Again, none of these principles alone should be our guide; we must use each of them, if possible, in discerning God’s guidance.

  1. To Discern God’s Guidance, We Must Consider Providential Circumstances
  2. To Discern God’s Guidance, We Must Consider the Counsel of Others
  3. To Discern God’s Guidance, We Must Consider Our Desires and Abilities
  4. To Discern God’s Guidance, We Must Consider God’s Peace (or Our Lack of It)
  5. To Discern God’s Guidance, We Must Pray and Wait
  6. To Discern God’s Guidance, We Must Consider God’s Word
  7. To Discern God’s Guidance, We Must Consider Others

Copyright © 2020 Gregory Brown

Unless otherwise noted, the primary Scriptures used are taken from the NET Bible ® copyright © 1996-2016 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.

Holy Bible, New International Version ®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, Copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NASB) are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, and 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Scripture quotations marked (KJV) are from the King James Version of the Bible.

All emphases in Scripture quotations have been added.

BTG Publishing all rights reserved.


1 Hughes, R. K. (2004). Genesis: beginning and blessing (p. 528). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

2 Guzik, D. (2013). Genesis (Ge 46:5–27). Santa Barbara, CA: David Guzik.

Related Topics: Christian Life

9. Living as Heaven-Bound Pilgrims on Earth (Genesis 46:31-47:31)

Related Media

…Joseph went and told Pharaoh, “My father and brothers, with their flocks and herds and everything they own, have come from the land of Canaan and are now in Goshen.” He chose five of his brothers and presented them before Pharaoh. Pharaoh asked the brothers, “What is your occupation?” “Your servants are shepherds,” they replied to Pharaoh, “just as our fathers were.” They also said to him, “We have come to live here for a while, because the famine is severe in Canaan and your servants’ flocks have no pasture. So now, please let your servants settle in Goshen.” Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you, and the land of Egypt is before you; settle your father and your brothers in the best part of the land. Let them live in Goshen. And if you know of any among them with special ability, put them in charge of my own livestock.” Then Joseph brought his father Jacob in and presented him before Pharaoh. After Jacob blessed Pharaoh, Pharaoh asked him, “How old are you?” And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. My years have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers.” Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from his presence. So Joseph settled his father and his brothers in Egypt and gave them property in the best part of the land, the district of Rameses, as Pharaoh directed. Joseph also provided his father and his brothers and all his father’s household with food, according to the number of their children. There was no food, however, in the whole region because the famine was severe; both Egypt and Canaan wasted away because of the famine. Joseph collected all the money that was to be found in Egypt and Canaan in payment for the grain they were buying, and he brought it to Pharaoh’s palace… So Joseph bought all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh. The Egyptians, one and all, sold their fields, because the famine was too severe for them. The land became Pharaoh’s, and Joseph reduced the people to servitude, o from one end of Egypt to the other… Now the Israelites settled in Egypt in the region of Goshen. They acquired property there and were fruitful and increased greatly in number. Jacob lived in Egypt seventeen years, and the years of his life were a hundred and forty-seven. When the time drew near for Israel to die, he called for his son Joseph and said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, put your hand under my thigh and promise that you will show me kindness and faithfulness. Do not bury me in Egypt, but when I rest with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me where they are buried.” “I will do as you say,” he said. ”Swear to me,” he said. Then Joseph swore to him, and Israel worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.

Genesis 46:31-47:31 (NET)

How can we live as heaven-bound pilgrims on earth?             

In Genesis 46-47, Jacob relocated his family to Egypt so they could survive the world-wide famine. The region they moved to was Goshen, a fertile area located on the eastern delta of the Nile.1 In Goshen, Joseph, the governor of Egypt, prepped his family to meet Pharaoh (Genesis 46:31-34). Though Joseph was second-in-command over Egypt, he could not give Jacob’s family the land of Goshen without Pharaoh’s permission. Joseph told his family to mention that their occupation was shepherding. Since Egyptians despised shepherds, they would not want shepherds to live in or near their communities. Sending them to live in Goshen would solve this situation, and Pharaoh confirmed and approved Joseph’s request.

Joseph was not only a godly man and wise administrator, but he was also a savvy politician. He understood people and how to use the right words to get things done. He not only understood that Egyptians despised shepherds, but that they also looked down on other nations. Egyptians believed they originated from the gods and other peoples from lesser origins. These two realities (their occupation and ethnicity) would allow Joseph’s family to live separately in Goshen, prosper, and yet keep their identity as Hebrews. If they lived among the Egyptians, they would have assimilated into the culture—taking on many of the bad practices of the Egyptians, such as polytheism. If the Israelites couldn’t keep their identity in Canaan, where they began to practice the sins of the Canaanites, they wouldn’t be able to do it in Egypt, either.

Joseph put together a delegation of five brothers—probably, the most impressive of the eleven—and had them meet Pharaoh. After Pharaoh heard about their occupation, he agreed that they should live in Goshen. He also encouraged Joseph to allow his brothers to oversee the royal flocks if any of them had special ability (47:6).

After the brothers met Pharaoh, Joseph’s father was brought in to meet him. Immediately, Jacob blessed Pharaoh. Then Pharaoh asked Jacob’s age. Jacob replied, “The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. My years have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers” (47:9 NIV). Isaac lived to 180 and Abraham lived to 175. Ancient Egyptian literature says that the ideal age was 110.2 Possibly, Pharaoh had never met a man as old as Jacob. After their conversation, Jacob blessed Pharaoh again.

Later we find out that Israel prospered in Egypt—gaining property and bearing many children—while the Egyptians suffered (47:11-27). In return for food, the Egyptians first gave all their money to Pharaoh. Then, in an inevitable domino effect, they sold their animals, property, and finally themselves. In contrast, during the Israelites’ sojourn in Egypt, as pilgrims waiting their future land, God blessed them in the midst of the famine.

As we study this narrative, we learn something about our pilgrimage on earth. Like the Israelites in Egypt, we are temporary residents on earth—awaiting our heavenly homeland. In fact, when speaking to Pharaoh, Jacob summarized his life as a pilgrimage (Gen 47:9 NIV), one which seemed to refer to more than Jacob and his family’s earthly nomadic lifestyle. The writer of Hebrews used the same language to describe Abraham and the other patriarchs living in Canaan and yet looking forward to heaven while on earth. Hebrews 11:8-10, 16 says,

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place he would later receive as an inheritance, and he went out without understanding where he was going. By faith he lived as a foreigner in the promised land as though it were a foreign country, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, who were fellow heirs of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with firm foundations, whose architect and builder is God… But as it is, they aspire to a better land, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

The fact that Jacob was ultimately looking forward to heaven is clearly implied at his death. Genesis 49:29 and 33 says,

Then he [Jacob] instructed them, “I am about to go to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite…When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people.”

When Jacob referred to going to his people, it meant something other than being buried. ‘Going to his people’ referred to Jacob’s heavenly hope. In heaven, Abraham, Isaac, Rachel, and Leah were all still “alive” and, at death, Jacob knew he would be reunited with them.

Though not having the revelation of Scripture, God made it known to the patriarchs that they were called to a heavenly country. They had a heavenly hope. In fact, Canaan has always symbolized heavenly hope for the Jews. When God gave Moses the description of the tabernacle, it was based on the heavenly tabernacle. Hebrews 8:5 says,

The place where they serve is a sketch and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary, just as Moses was warned by God as he was about to complete the tabernacle. For he says, “See that you make everything according to the design shown to you on the mountain.”

Also, Jerusalem was meant to help the Jews think about ‘heavenly Jerusalem,’ as Hebrews 12:22 calls it, which was their eventual eternal home.

Like the patriarchs, David understood this heavenly reality, as he also referred to himself as a pilgrim on earth:

For we are resident foreigners and nomads in your presence, like all our ancestors; our days are like a shadow on the earth, without security.

1 Chronicles 29:15

Hear my prayer, O Lord! Listen to my cry for help! Do not ignore my sobbing! For I am dependent on you, like one residing outside his native land; I am at your mercy, just as all my ancestors were.

Psalm 39:12

Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David were all pilgrims, even while they lived in the promised land. This was because they were waiting for their eternal abode.

Scripture teaches the same reality about believers: Philippians 3:20 says, “But our citizenship is in heaven—and we also await a savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” First Peter 2:11 says, “Dear friends, I urge you as foreigners and exiles to keep away from fleshly desires that do battle against the soul.”

Therefore, as we look at Jacob and his family’s pilgrimage in Egypt, we learn principles about being pilgrims in this world. Our citizenship is in heaven and our sojourn on earth is temporary; therefore, these realities should significantly affect our daily lives and how we prepare for the future.

Big Question: What principles about being faithful, heaven-bound pilgrims on earth can we discern from Israel’s pilgrimage in Egypt?

To Live as Pilgrims, We Must Practice Holiness—Separation from the World

Then Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I will go up and speak to Pharaoh and will say to him, ‘My brothers and my father’s household, who were living in the land of Canaan, have come to me. The men are shepherds; they tend livestock, and they have brought along their flocks and herds and everything they own.’ When Pharaoh calls you in and asks, ‘What is your occupation?’ you should answer, ‘Your servants have tended livestock from our boyhood on, just as our fathers did.’ Then you will be allowed to settle in the region of Goshen, for all shepherds are detestable to the Egyptians.” Joseph went and told Pharaoh, “My father and brothers, with their flocks and herds and everything they own, have come from the land of Canaan and are now in Goshen.” He chose five of his brothers and presented them before Pharaoh. Pharaoh asked the brothers, “What is your occupation?” “Your servants are shepherds,” they replied to Pharaoh, “just as our fathers were.” They also said to him, “We have come to live here for a while, because the famine is severe in Canaan and your servants’ flocks have no pasture. So now, please let your servants settle in Goshen.” Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you, and the land of Egypt is before you; settle your father and your brothers in the best part of the land. Let them live in Goshen. And if you know of any among them with special ability, put them in charge of my own livestock.”

Genesis 46:31-47:6

As mentioned, God’s placement of Israel in Egypt, and specifically Goshen, was strategic. While in Canaan, infant Israel was beginning to conform to the ways of that nation. Jacob’s sons had murdered a village of men. Reuben, the firstborn, had slept with one of Jacob’s wives. Judah impregnated his daughter-in-law. Ten of Jacob’s sons had enslaved Joseph. Two of the sons married Canaanite women (Judah and Simeon; 38:2, 46:10). Such intermarriages would not have happened in Egypt due to the Egyptians’ extreme prejudice towards other nations and particularly towards shepherds. For these reasons, the Israelites were segregated from the Egyptians and allowed to dwell in Goshen. There they would grow into a great nation (Gen 46:3) and cultivate their religious distinctiveness. Egyptian society was built around a plethora of gods, one of whom was Pharaoh himself, but Israel would be built around the one God. Living in Goshen would allow them to be separate—set apart for God.

This is also true about our pilgrimage on earth as Christians. If we are going to live as pilgrims on earth, we must maintain our distinctiveness. We must be “in the world but not of the world” (John 17:15-16 paraphrase). We must never adopt the world’s sinful practices or ideals. We must develop and maintain the ideals and character which accords with our heavenly citizenship.

James 1:27 says, “Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their misfortune and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” Religion that God accepts is not only merciful but holy—it keeps itself unspotted from the world. That was God’s plan for Israel while they lived in Goshen, and that is God’s plan for us while we are in the world.

Interpretation Question: What does the process of a believer being conformed to this world look like?

According to Scripture, it’s very easy for Christians to lose their distinctiveness and begin to assimilate into the world culture. The process is gradual but has distinct stages: First, they befriend the world—becoming “comfortable” with its relationships, ideals, and practices. James says friendship with the world is enmity with God (Jam 4:4). Because of their friendship with the world, they become stained by the world (Jam 1:27), as they adopt various aspects of the world’s customs that are ungodly—language, clothing, sexual ethics, worldviews. As they immerse themselves more and more into the world, they begin to fall in love with it—enjoying its culture and wealth. First John 2:15 says, “Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the father is not in them” (paraphrase). Loving the world and the things of the world continually draws believers away from God and the things of God. Also, it is harder to give things up that we love. Finally, Christians become conformed to the world, where they look just like the world and it’s hard to distinguish whether they are Christians or not. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (paraphrase). For example, Paul called the Corinthian Christians “worldly” and “infants in Christ” (1 Cor 3:1 NIV). It was hard to distinguish them from the world, as they had totally assimilated to the culture: They worshipped their pastors as if they were rock stars (1 Cor 1). They were suing one another (1 Cor 6). They practiced gross sexual immorality including incest and visiting temple prostitutes (1 Cor 5 and 6), and they even started to doubt the resurrection (1 Cor 15). They were very much like some liberal, worldly churches today.

As Christians conform to the world, they not only open the door to the devil but lose God’s blessing in the process. Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV) says,

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. He is like a tree planted by flowing streams; it yields its fruit at the proper time, and its leaves never fall off. He succeeds in everything he attempts.

God blesses those who separate from the world and continually draw near God and the things of God. He blesses them—in fact, prospering everything they do.

Like any good parent, God can’t bless his children as he would like to when they are living in sin. To bless them in that state would just harden them further into sin. Instead, he disciplines them so they can become holy. Hebrews 12:6 says, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son he accepts.” He disciplines believers so we can share in his holiness. Since God had a great plan for Israel—they would be the stewards of God’s Word, God’s temple, and the messiah would come through them—they had to be separate and holy. They had to be vessels fit for him to use.

Certainly, this is also true for believers today. We are God’s workmanship created in Christ for good works, which he prepared beforehand (Eph 2:10). Like Israel, God desires to bless us and draw the world to himself through us. Therefore, as pilgrims on this earth, we must be holy—set apart from the world and sin and separated to righteousness.

Are you practicing holiness—separating from the world, its practices and worldviews? Are you drawing near God through his Word, prayer, and growing in righteousness so God can use you greatly?

Application Question: How do we see many Christians (including churches and denominations) adopting the world—its ideals and practices? Why is this so common? How can Christians be in the world and not of it?

To Live as Pilgrims, We Must Practice Blessing Others

Then Joseph brought in his father Jacob and presented him before Pharaoh. Jacob blessed Pharaoh. Pharaoh said to Jacob, “How long have you lived?” Jacob said to Pharaoh, “All the years of my travels are 130. All the years of my life have been few and painful; the years of my travels are not as long as those of my ancestors.” Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from his presence.

Genesis 47:7-10

After Joseph’s brothers met with Pharaoh and asked to live in the land of Goshen, Jacob was introduced to Pharaoh. It appears that Jacob walked into the room with hands raised and immediately began to pray over Pharaoh. No doubt, he was thankful for how God used Pharaoh to save them from the famine, but he also wanted Pharaoh to know the blessing of the true God. As Jacob blessed him, he was operating in God’s promise to his family. Through Abraham and his descendants, all nations of the earth would be blessed.

What’s interesting about this is that Pharaoh was the most powerful man in the world at that time. He was considered the incarnation of Ra, the sun god.3 However, Pharaoh’s worldly preeminence didn’t stop Jacob from blessing him. After a short conversation, Jacob prayed again for Pharaoh. The man whom God chose to bless the world prayed for the most powerful man in the world. Jacob was not shocked or humbled by the greatness of Pharaoh, for Jacob knew whom he represented.

Steve Cole tells a story about Pastor Peter Cartwright’s comments when he found out the U.S. President, Andrew Jackson, was attending his service.

On one occasion a man named Peter Cartwright was about to preach when his deacons informed him that President Andrew Jackson had unexpectedly showed up. They asked him to be careful what he said. He stood up to preach and began, “I understand that Andrew Jackson is with us today, and I have been asked to be guarded in my remarks. Andrew Jackson will go to hell as quickly as any other man if he does not repent!” The congregation was shocked, wondering how the President would react. At the close of the meeting, President Jackson shook Cartwright’s hand and said, “Sir, if I had a regiment of men like you, I could whip the world.”4

Perhaps, Pastor Cartwright went a little overboard; however, the basis of his comments were correct. As a preacher, he spoke for God, and he knew that all people needed God’s blessing, including the U.S. President.

God has called all believers to be agents of his blessing on the earth. Christ called believers the salt and light of the world (Matt 5:13-14). As salt, we keep society from moral decay and ultimate judgment by living godly lives and challenging immoral practices. As light, we are maintainers of the truth. As society becomes darker, moral principles are lost, even such principles as the marriage between a man and a woman or the value of life (including infants, those with disabilities, or the elderly). God has called us to positively influence the world. The greatest way that we bless the world is obviously by sharing the gospel with them. Christ died for our sins and rose again. If we believe in him and follow him as Lord and Savior, God will save us from eternal damnation and give us eternal life. This is the blessing we should share with great and small. We are pilgrims with great blessings to offer the world.

Obviously, our Christian influence in the world will not be without cost. Since people prefer to continue in sin, they will become angry with us, perhaps even leading to our persecution. This is what happened to Christ—culminating in his crucifixion—and persecution will eventually happen to us in various ways. John 3:19-20 says:

the light has come into the world and people loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil deeds hates the light and does not come to the light, so that their deeds will not be exposed.

Likewise, Peter wrote this to Christians who were being persecuted for their faith throughout the Roman empire: “and maintain good conduct among the non-Christians, so that though they now malign you as wrongdoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God when he appears” (1 Pet 2:12). Though these unbelievers persecuted Christians, many of them will ultimately glorify God on the day Christ appears, because at some point they became believers through the Christian witness. We don’t know if Pharaoh ever became a believer, but God blessed him through Joseph and Jacob for that purpose. When Nebuchadnezzar was ruling the world from Babylon, God used Daniel to help bring about his conversion (Dan 4). That is God’s plan for us as pilgrims on this earth as well. We are called to show people the love of God and consistently point them to the land we’re waiting for—a heavenly land.

Application Question: What are some ways that Christians can be a blessing to unbelievers? In what ways is God calling you to be salt and light to those around you that don’t know Christ? In what ways is persecution towards Christians growing around the world?

To Live as Pilgrims, We Must Recognize the Brevity of Life

Pharaoh said to Jacob, “How long have you lived?” Jacob said to Pharaoh, “All the years of my travels are 130. All the years of my life have been few and painful; the years of my travels are not as long as those of my ancestors.”

Genesis 47:8-9

As mentioned, after Pharaoh was initially blessed by Jacob, he asked for Jacob’s age. Pharaoh could tell Jacob was old. After Jacob replied that he was 130, he described his years as “few” and “painful” (v. 9). They were few in comparison to his fathers’ years, Isaac and Abraham, who lived to 180 and 175. However, Jacob probably also was considering his life in comparison to eternity. It’s clear that Jacob believed he would die soon. He mentioned it in Genesis 45, 46, and at the end of 47, as he prepared for his burial (47:28-31).

Recognizing the brevity of life is crucial for pilgrims. God has given us all a limited time on the earth, and how we live our lives will affect our lives in eternity. As believers, how we live is not about going to heaven or hell, as we are saved by faith in Christ’s work for us (Eph 2:8-9). However, the manner in which we live affects our lives in eternity and, specifically, our rewards in eternity. Second Corinthians 5:10 says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” First Corinthians 3:12-15 says,

If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

Believers will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ to be evaluated for rewards; unbelievers will go before the Great White Throne of Judgment, where their works will reveal that they never accepted Christ and determine the quality of their eternal judgment (Rev 20). At the Judgment Seat of Christ, believers will receive rewards for faithfulness and lose rewards for unfaithfulness. Christ said those who practice his commands and teach others to do so will be called great in the kingdom of heaven, and those who break his commands and teach others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven (Matt 5:19).

How we use our time on earth matters! Life is like a vapor—it is here briefly and then gone (Jam 4:14). Psalm 90:10 and 12 (NIV) says:

Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away... Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

The Psalmist essentially says that if we don’t realize how short our time on earth is, we risk living unwisely. Christ intimated something similar in a parable about a master who left his servant at home in Luke 12:45-46. He said,

But if that slave should say to himself, ‘My master is delayed in returning,’ and he begins to beat the other slaves, both men and women, and to eat, drink, and get drunk then the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not foresee, and will cut him in two, and assign him a place with the unfaithful.

Since the servant thought his master was delaying his return (or wasn’t coming at all), he ceased to be a good steward. He lived in discord, waste, and drunkenness—he didn’t live a wise life because he wrongly evaluated his time. We probably would live wiser lives if we knew that Christ was returning soon or that we would die soon. Understanding the brevity of life is important to living as pilgrims. It helps us live wisely—in a way that honors God.

In Genesis 45:28, after Jacob’s sons told him that Joseph was still alive, he said, “I’m convinced! My son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.” Then in Genesis 46:30, when he met Joseph he said, “Now I am ready to die, since I have seen for myself that you are still alive.” As mentioned previously, Jacob thought he was about to die soon; however, he lived for seventeen more years (Gen 47:28). This is important to consider because we don’t know the time of our deaths. For those who think they will live many more years, death may come quite quickly. For others, God might grant them many years of life. For others still, Christ may return in their lifetime, and they may never taste death. Whatever our futures hold, as servants of our heavenly King, he will hold us accountable for the instructions, talents, and time he gave us (cf. Matt 25:14-30).

Are we using our time wisely? Are we living as pilgrims, realizing that our time on earth may be short? God has prepared a heavenly city for us, and how we live here affects our eternal life there. In the Parable of the Talents, the person with one talent who didn’t use his gift or time well received God’s discipline instead of God’s commendation and reward (cf. Matt 25:24-30).

How are you using your time? Ephesians 5:15-16 (ESV) says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” To live faithfully as pilgrims, we must recognize the brevity of life in order to use our time well.

Application Question: Why is recognizing the brevity of life so important to being a faithful pilgrim? What are some helpful principles or disciplines that can help us use our time better for the Lord? How can we recognize the brevity of life and yet not become fatalistic?

To Live as Pilgrims, We Must Expect Difficulties in Life

Pharaoh said to Jacob, “How long have you lived?” Jacob said to Pharaoh, “All the years of my travels are 130. All the years of my life have been few and painful; the years of my travels are not as long as those of my ancestors.”

Genesis 47:8-9

Jacob not only mentioned the brevity of life but also the difficulty of it. Jacob had experienced a challenging life: He ran from his father’s home out of fear for his life, as his brother, Esau, wanted to kill him. He was deceived by his father-in-law, Laban, into marrying the wrong sister, leading him to marry both sisters. Because of that polygamist marriage, there was constant friction in his family between the wives and sons. Soon after Jacob left his uncle Laban’s house, Jacob’s sons murdered all the men in a village. His oldest son, Reuben, slept with Jacob’s wife in a power grab. His sons sold Joseph into slavery, whom he believed was dead for twenty-two years. He indeed had a difficult life. Much of the difficulty was not only a direct result of his own sins, but also stemmed from the sins of others and living in a world under God’s curse.

The difficulty of life is also important for us to recognize if we are going to live as faithful pilgrims on earth. For many, they are under the illusion that life becomes easier once we become Christians. Some might even believe the error of the prosperity gospel—that believers are promised health and wealth here on earth. However, that is not the true gospel message, and believing so can often cause great discouragement when people do not experience the “promised” prosperity. Job said: “people are born to trouble, as surely as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7).

We are always negatively affected by our sin, the sin of others, and the consequences of sin to the earth. These realities are true for everybody; however, Christians will often experience more difficulties because of their faith. In 1 Peter 4:12, Peter said this to Christians who were being persecuted for the faith, “Dear friends, do not be astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange were happening to you.” Following Christ often will cause more difficulties in our lives, including our fight against sin in our flesh and the world, spiritual warfare, and persecution from those antagonistic towards Christ. Nonetheless, in the midst of those difficulties, there is certainly grace and, most importantly, God’s presence to carry us through them.

Christ indirectly described the importance of understanding the difficulties that come from following him in the Parable of the Sowers. In Matthew 13:20-21, he described the shallow ground which received the seed of God’s Word:

The seed sown on rocky ground is the person who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. But he has no root in himself and does not endure; when trouble or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he falls away.

When trouble or persecution happened, the person with shallow faith turned away from God. Maybe he was disappointed with God because he expected God to protect, heal, or prosper him. Or, he simply didn’t understand the costs that came with following Christ (sometimes loss of family, friends, or career). The parable implies that such a person fell away from God and apparently never returned.

The life of a Christian includes difficulties, some of which are common to all people, others experienced only by believers. As Christians, we are uniquely subjected to temptations from the flesh, Satan, and the world. We experience a mourning over sin that the world doesn’t (Matt 5:4) and a groaning for our heavenly home (Rom 8:23). This is the pilgrim’s life as we await our true home.

For Jacob, his years of pilgrimage were both few and difficult, and we should expect the same. But even more importantly than those difficulties, we should understand the greater glory that trials bring in our life. In 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, Paul said:

Therefore we do not despair, but even if our physical body is wearing away, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary, light suffering is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison because we are not looking at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen. For what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.

Though we experience many difficulties in this pilgrim life, God uses all difficulties to help renew our spiritual life—creating perseverance in us, character, and hope in God (Rom 5:3-4). Difficulties are necessary, as they help remind us that earth and these bodies are not our permanent home—we were made for something else. Difficulties help us not hold the temporary things of life so tightly and help us cling more to eternity. Difficulties also prepare us for a greater glory in heaven as we persevere in faith. James 1:12 says, “Happy is the one who endures testing, because when he has proven to be genuine, he will receive the crown of life that God promised to those who love him.”

How are you responding to your difficulties? Do you realize that they are par the course for pilgrims in a world that is not ours? Our home is in heaven, and one day we will be with Jesus there. When Christ returns to the earth, he will renew the heaven and the earth, and they will be our eternal home (Rev 21).

Application Question: Why is it important for believers to recognize and expect difficulties (cf. Jam 1:2)? In what ways have you experienced how difficulties help us cling less to the temporary and cling more to the eternal? What specific difficulties is God currently using in your life to help change your character and help you cling more to him and your ultimate home?

To Live as Pilgrims, We Must Live by Faith, Both in Good and Bad Times

So Joseph settled his father and his brothers. He gave them territory in the land of Egypt, in the best region of the land, the land of Rameses, just as Pharaoh had commanded. Joseph also provided food for his father, his brothers, and all his father’s household, according to the number of their little children. But there was no food in all the land because the famine was very severe; the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan wasted away because of the famine. Joseph collected all the money that could be found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan as payment for the grain they were buying. Then Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s palace. When the money from the lands of Egypt and Canaan was used up, all the Egyptians came to Joseph and said, “Give us food! Why should we die before your very eyes because our money has run out?” Then Joseph said, “If your money is gone, bring your livestock, and I will give you food in exchange for your livestock.” So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them food in exchange for their horses, the livestock of their flocks and herds, and their donkeys. He got them through that year by giving them food in exchange for livestock. When that year was over, they came to him the next year and said to him, “We cannot hide from our lord that the money is used up and the livestock and the animals belong to our lord. Nothing remains before our lord except our bodies and our land. Why should we die before your very eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land in exchange for food, and we, with our land, will become Pharaoh’s slaves. Give us seed that we may live and not die. Then the land will not become desolate.” So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh. Each of the Egyptians sold his field, for the famine was severe. So the land became Pharaoh’s. Joseph made all the people slaves from one end of Egypt’s border to the other end of it. But he did not purchase the land of the priests because the priests had an allotment from Pharaoh and they ate from their allotment that Pharaoh gave them. That is why they did not sell their land. Joseph said to the people, “Since I have bought you and your land today for Pharaoh, here is seed for you. Cultivate the land. When you gather in the crop, give one-fifth of it to Pharaoh, and the rest will be yours for seed for the fields and for you to eat, including those in your households and your little children.” They replied, “You have saved our lives! You are showing us favor, and we will be Pharaoh’s slaves.” So Joseph made it a statute, which is in effect to this day throughout the land of Egypt: One-fifth belongs to Pharaoh. Only the land of the priests did not become Pharaoh’s. Israel settled in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen, and they owned land there. They were fruitful and increased rapidly in number.

Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years; the years of Jacob’s life were 147 in all. The time for Israel to die approached, so he called for his son Joseph and said to him, “If now I have found favor in your sight, put your hand under my thigh and show me kindness and faithfulness. Do not bury me in Egypt, but when I rest with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burial place.” Joseph said, “I will do as you say.” Jacob said, “Swear to me that you will do so.” So Joseph gave him his word. Then Israel bowed down at the head of his bed.

Genesis 47:11-31

The narrator, Moses, contrasts the blessing and favor over the Israelites with the hardship that the Egyptians endured. Statements of God’s provision for Israel bracket the impoverishment of the Egyptians in Genesis 47:11-12, 27-29. Joseph gave his family property and food (47:11-12), and eventually the Israelites increased greatly in number and acquired even more property (47:27-29). However, the Egyptians were so impoverished in the final five years of famine, they first gave all their money to Pharaoh, then sold their animals, and finally themselves and their land (47:13-26). Some struggle with understanding Joseph’s enslavement of the Egyptians. However, it is important when studying the Bible to take off our cultural lenses and read it according to the lens of that particular ancient culture. In Genesis 47:19, because the people did not want to perish, they asked Pharaoh to take their lands and enslave them. That was how they would survive. This was not uncommon in the ancient world, where people often struggled with extreme poverty. For many, slavery was a preferred institution. Compare slavery to the day worker: the day worker got paid at end of a day’s work, and it was usually only enough to buy food for that day—it did not pay for housing, medical, clothing, or other expenses. For slaves, their costs for housing, food, clothing, and medical needs were all covered by their master. Often slaves and masters had good relationships. For instance, Abraham’s chief servant would have received Abraham’s inheritance if Abraham never had a child (Gen 15:2-3). Instead of looking at their slavery as a negative experience, the Egyptians praised Joseph for saving their lives and giving them a reasonable deal (Gen 47:25). They only had to pay twenty percent of their harvest to Pharaoh, which was cheap for a tenant farmer in those days. Forty percent was not uncommon in Mesopotamia and some ancient documents show people paying as much as sixty percent.5 Again, this compelled the people to praise Joseph for saving them.

In contrast, the Israelites had a very different experience: They received property while the Egyptians sold theirs. They were fruitful and increased greatly in number (47:27). God blessed them even during a famine. Certainly, this was common throughout the patriarchs’ narrative: While Abraham visited Egypt, even though he lied about his wife and almost lost her to Pharaoh, he left Egypt with great wealth (Gen 12). When he went to war with just a few hundred men against four armies, he conquered them (Gen 14). When his wife was barren, God gave her a miracle child named Isaac in their old age (Gen 21). When Isaac experienced a famine, instead of going to Egypt, he sowed seed and God gave him a 100-fold harvest (Gen 26). While Laban kept mistreating Jacob, God prospered Jacob and made him wealthier than Laban (Gen 30). When Joseph was sold into slavery and then put in prison, he prospered in both institutions (Gen 39-40) and then was promoted to governor of Egypt (Gen 41). In bad situations, God continually used evil and difficulties to bless his people. In Genesis 50:20, Joseph said this to his brothers, “What you meant for bad, God meant for good” (paraphrase). The same thing was happening to Israel while they dwelt in Egypt. During the famine, God prospered them while others suffered. Therefore, God’s favor over his people while in Egypt and throughout the patriarchs’ story reminds us to have faith in God, both in hard times and good times.

We see the need for faith clearly demonstrated with Jacob when he was about to die: He approached Joseph and asked that his body be buried back in his parents’ cave in Canaan (47:29-31). Jacob’s seventeen years in Egypt were probably his most peaceful and prosperous years. He had his entire family together; they were growing, living in peace, and prospering. It would have been easy for Jacob to settle down in Egypt, accept his lot there, and forget about Canaan. However, Jacob remembered God’s promise: Jacob’s family would possess Canaan. Therefore, being moved there after his death was a step of faith—one that his family would remember. Jacob and the Israelites were not polytheistic Egyptians! They were worshipers of the true God, who were temporarily residing in Egypt. Their home was past the border of Egypt, in Canaan. They were only pilgrims in Egypt.

Similarly, as pilgrims on this earth, we must live by faith both in bad times and good times. With trials come a temptation to doubt God’s goodness. In those times, we must remember God works all things to the good of those who love the Lord (Rom 8:28). Just as God provided for Israel in the famine and ultimately prospered them, God will do the same with us, in various ways. However, in times of prosperity, there is the temptation to forget God and live for this world. Many believers have done so. With Demas, a former apostolic associate, Paul said this about him, “For Demas deserted me, since he loved the present age, and he went to Thessalonica” (2 Tim 4:10). Unfortunately, many, instead of living by faith, fall in love with ‘Egypt,’ making their home there and becoming ‘Egyptianized.’ Instead of storing their riches and ultimate dreams in heaven, they store them on earth, which makes their hearts worldly (Matt 6:19-21).

If we are going to be faithful pilgrims on earth, we must live by faith. We must set our minds on things above instead of earthly things (Col 3:2). We must live by faith, as only those who live by faith on this earth will be rewarded by God. Hebrews 11:6 says, “Now without faith it is impossible to please him, for the one who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

Are you living by faith in God’s promises or by sight—focusing all your hopes and dreams on this earth? We are saved by faith and we live by faith (Rom 1:17). This is the life of a pilgrim—a life of faith in God.

Application Question: Why is it so hard to keep our eyes on the promises of God including heaven, eternal reward, and ultimately seeing and knowing God eternally? How is God calling you to trust him more either in a time of hardship or prosperity?

Conclusion

How can we faithfully live as pilgrims on the earth—citizens of heaven?

  1. To Live as Pilgrims, We Must Practice Holiness—Separation from the World
  2. To Live as Pilgrims, We Must Practice Blessing Others
  3. To Live as Pilgrims, We Must Recognize the Brevity of Life
  4. To Live as Pilgrims, We Must Expect Difficulties in Life
  5. To Live as Pilgrims, We Must Live by Faith, Both in Good and Bad Times

Copyright © 2020 Gregory Brown

Unless otherwise noted, the primary Scriptures used are taken from the NET Bible ® copyright © 1996-2016 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.

Holy Bible, New International Version ®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, Copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NASB) are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, and 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Scripture quotations marked (KJV) are from the King James Version of the Bible.

All emphases in Scripture quotations have been added.

BTG Publishing all rights reserved.


1 Wiersbe, W. W. (1997). Be authentic (p. 136). Colorado Springs, CO: Chariot Victor Pub.

2 Hughes, R. K. (2004). Genesis: beginning and blessing (pp. 532–533). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

3 Guzik, D. (2013). Genesis (Ge 47:7–10). Santa Barbara, CA: David Guzik.

4 Accessed May 10, 2019 from https://bible.org/seriespage/lesson-78-prosperity-counts-genesis-4631-4731

5 Hughes, R. K. (2004). Genesis: beginning and blessing (p. 535). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

Related Topics: Christian Life

10. Helping Our Children Walk in God’s Blessing (Genesis 48-49)

Related Media

After these things Joseph was told, “Your father is weakening.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim with him. When Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has just come to you,” Israel regained strength and sat up on his bed. Jacob said to Joseph, “The sovereign God appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me. He said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and will multiply you. I will make you into a group of nations, and I will give this land to your descendants as an everlasting possession.’ “Now, as for your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, they will be mine. Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine just as Reuben and Simeon are. Any children that you father after them will be yours; they will be listed under the names of their brothers in their inheritance. But as for me, when I was returning from Paddan, Rachel died—to my sorrow—in the land of Canaan. It happened along the way, some distance from Ephrath. So I buried her there on the way to Ephrath” (that is, Bethlehem). When Israel saw Joseph’s sons, he asked, “Who are these?” Joseph said to his father, “They are the sons God has given me in this place.” His father said, “Bring them to me so I may bless them.” Now Israel’s eyes were failing because of his age; he was not able to see well. So Joseph brought his sons near to him, and his father kissed them and embraced them. Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see you again, but now God has allowed me to see your children too.” So Joseph moved them from Israel’s knees and bowed down with his face to the ground. Joseph positioned them; he put Ephraim on his right hand across from Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh on his left hand across from Israel’s right hand. Then Joseph brought them closer to his father. Israel stretched out his right hand and placed it on Ephraim’s head, although he was the younger. Crossing his hands, he put his left hand on Manasseh’s head, for Manasseh was the firstborn. Then he blessed Joseph and said, “May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked— the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day, the Angel who has protected me from all harm— bless these boys. May my name be named in them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac. May they grow into a multitude on the earth.” When Joseph saw that his father placed his right hand on Ephraim’s head, it displeased him. So he took his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this is the firstborn. Put your right hand on his head.” But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He too will become a nation and he too will become great. In spite of this, his younger brother will be even greater and his descendants will become a multitude of nations.” So he blessed them that day, saying, “By you will Israel bless, saying, ‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’” So he put Ephraim before Manasseh. Then Israel said to Joseph, “I am about to die, but God will be with you and will bring you back to the land of your fathers. As one who is above your brothers, I give to you the mountain slope, which I took from the Amorites with my sword and my bow.” Jacob called for his sons and said, “Gather together so I can tell you what will happen to you in the future. “Assemble and listen, you sons of Jacob; listen to Israel, your father. Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might and the beginning of my strength, outstanding in dignity, outstanding in power. You are destructive like water and will not excel, for you got on your father’s bed, then you defiled it—he got on my couch! Simeon and Levi are brothers, weapons of violence are their knives! O my soul, do not come into their council, do not be united to their assembly, my heart, for in their anger they have killed men, and for pleasure they have hamstrung oxen. Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce, and their fury, for it was cruel. I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel! Judah, your brothers will praise you. Your hand will be on the neck of your enemies, your father’s sons will bow down before you. You are a lion’s cub, Judah, from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He crouches and lies down like a lion; like a lioness—who will rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs; the nations will obey him…

Genesis 48-49 (NET)

How can we help our children walk in God’s blessing?

In Genesis 48-49, Jacob is sick, bed-ridden, and about to die. When Joseph heard about this, he and his sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, who were probably in their early twenties, immediately went to Jacob’s bedside. Jacob blessed Joseph as the firstborn by passing special privileges to his two sons. First Chronicles 5:1 confirms this:

The sons of Reuben, Israel’s firstborn— (Now he was the firstborn, but when he defiled his father’s bed, his rights as firstborn were given to the sons of Joseph, Israel’s son. So Reuben is not listed as firstborn in the genealogical records.

As firstborn, Joseph would receive a double-portion of the inheritance. The way Jacob enacted the double-portion was by officially adopting Joseph’s sons—Manasseh and Ephraim. They would receive the same rights as Jacob’s other children. This is why whenever you see a listing of the twelve tribes of Israel, Joseph is never included, because Manasseh and Ephraim took his place. The reason there are twelve tribes instead of thirteen is because Levi is typically not listed, since they did not receive a land inheritance (cf. Num 1:6-15, 47-48).

When Jacob blessed Joseph’s children, he was acting in faith. He is placed in Hebrews 11—The Heroes of the Faith chapter—because of this act. Hebrews 11:21 says, “By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph and worshiped as he leaned on his staff.”

After adopting and blessing Joseph’s sons, Jacob blessed the rest of his sons in Genesis 49. Without a doubt, Jacob was acting in faith as he blessed them. These blessings were more than prayers, they were prophecies, which were fulfilled in each individual and their future tribes. Since there is so much minutia in the prophecies, we will not work through the details. Instead, we will consider general principles on how we can help our children walk in God’s blessings, as was Jacob’s purpose in offering his patriarchal blessing.

Certainly, this message directly applies to parents but also indirectly to grandparents, future parents, and spiritual parents. For future parents, failure, as a general principle, often comes from lack of preparation. We would do much better in marriage, parenting, and any endeavor, if we gave great thought and labor to them before entering those institutions. Therefore, this message has applications for everybody, whether married or single.

Big Question: What principles can we learn about helping our children walk in God’s blessing from Jacob’s patriarchal blessing?

To Bless Our Children, We Must Encourage Their Interaction with Mature Believers

After these things Joseph was told, “Your father is weakening.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim with him. When Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has just come to you,” Israel regained strength and sat up on his bed … ”Now, as for your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, they will be mine. Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine just as Reuben and Simeon are. Any children that you father after them will be yours; they will be listed under the names of their brothers in their inheritance.

Genesis 48:1-3, 5-6

When Joseph heard that his father was weakening, he took his sons to Jacob. Certainly, the hope was for them to see their grandfather before his death, but Joseph also hoped that they would receive a blessing from Jacob. God had promised to bless the nations through Jacob—his blessing was valuable.

Similarly, as parents (or future parents), we must remember that we are not the only ones who will contribute to our children’s futures. As children grow older, often friends, teachers, coaches, or pastors have more influence than we do during certain stages and seasons of our children’s’ lives. Therefore, it’s important for parents to be strategic in raising them. It has often been said that “it takes a village to raise a child,” and it is true. Parents must put their children in strategic places where they can be blessed by others. Certainly, this includes relationships with godly family members like grandparents, uncles, and aunts, but it should also include relationships with faithful church members. Since God made the church to be his body, we receive much of God’s grace and blessing through other believers. Those who neglect the church or who are marginally connected to her, miss out on much of God’s blessing. Married couples need the advice and prayers of older married couples. Young mothers need the encouragement of older mothers. Children need not only their parents’ blessing, but also that of other mature saints.

Parents should pray about strategic partners (and communities) and seek them out. Like Joseph, we should take our children to them for prayer, counsel, and discipleship.

Application Question: Outside of your parents, who made the most impact on your spiritual life? In what ways should parents plan for these strategic partnerships?

To Bless Our Children, We Must Give Them a Vision of God’s Kingdom

Jacob said to Joseph, “The sovereign God appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me. He said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and will multiply you. I will make you into a group of nations, and I will give this land to your descendants as an everlasting possession.’ … “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs; the nations will obey him”

Genesis 48:3-4, 49:10

When Joseph and his children came to see Jacob, Jacob mustered his strength, sat up in the bed, and then recounted the blessings that God decreed over his life and his descendants: God was going to make him fruitful, make him a group of nations (referring to tribes), and give his descendants the land of Canaan (48:4). This blessing represented many things: It wasn’t just God’s personal promise to Jacob; it was God’s redemptive plan to bless the nations. God initially gave this promise to Jacob’s grandfather and father—Abraham and Isaac. When the world was largely polytheistic and had rebelled against God (at the Tower of Babel), God planned to bless Abraham’s family so they could be a blessing to the nations (Gen 12:1-3). In fact, God told Abraham in Genesis 22:18 (NIV), that the nations would specifically be blessed through one of his seeds—the messiah (cf. Gal 3:16). Later, Jacob elaborates on this promise when blessing Judah; he said, “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs; the nations will obey him” (49:10). This seed, originally promised in Genesis 3:15 who would crush the head of Satan, would be a world-wide ruler who would come through Judah, and all the nations would obey him. Jacob reiterated God’s promise to his children—something he, no doubt, shared many times before, but adding new details about the messiah. Their lives were bigger than themselves and their success. God had called them to participate in the world’s redemption. In the same way, parents bless their children by giving them a kingdom vision instead of a primarily secular vision.

When Jacob adopted his grandchildren, he was giving them the opportunity to participate in that kingdom vision. These two grandsons, who were half-Egyptian and being raised as Egyptian royalty, would have to forfeit their Egyptian heritage. By faith, they would have to associate with despised shepherds and give up the prosperity of Egypt. It’s clear that the grandsons and their children did forfeit their royal Egyptian heritage, as the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim eventually became slaves along with the rest of Israel (cf. Exodus). In being willing to associate with Jacob’s family, the sons displayed the character traits of Israel’s future deliverer, Moses. Hebrews 11:24-26 says,

By faith, when he grew up, Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be ill-treated with the people of God than to enjoy sin’s fleeting pleasure. He regarded abuse suffered for Christ to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for his eyes were fixed on the reward.

Similarly, parents bless their children by both giving them a kingdom vision, as well as opportunities to participate in it. God is completing his kingdom plan now through worldwide missions. All nations will be reached with the gospel, and Christ is going to return to rule on this earth. The question is whether we and our children will participate. Jacob gave his grandsons a chance to participate; Joseph didn’t hinder it, and the sons accepted. They became two of the greatest tribes in Israel.

Application Question: How can we give our children a kingdom vision?

  1. We do this by teaching them to pray for God’s kingdom daily (Matt 6:10), praying for God to use his church to reach unbelievers and impact the world, and praying for Christ’s return.
  2. Also, we offer them opportunities to participate by serving the church, using their gifts on the mission field, and other service activities. The earlier their kingdom vision is encouraged and nurtured, the more likely they are to be faithful to it in the future, even as Joseph’s children did.

Application Question: Why is it so important to give children a kingdom vision and opportunities to participate in it? How did God develop a vision for his kingdom in your life? How should we seek to do that with our children?

To Bless Our Children, We Must Share Our Faith Stories with Them

Jacob said to Joseph, “The sovereign God appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me. He said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and will multiply you. I will make you into a group of nations, and I will give this land to your descendants as an everlasting possession.’… But as for me, when I was returning from Paddan, Rachel died—to my sorrow—in the land of Canaan. It happened along the way, some distance from Ephrath. So I buried her there on the way to Ephrath” (that is, Bethlehem) … Then he blessed Joseph and said, “May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked—the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day, the Angel who has protected me from all harm—bless these boys…

Genesis 48:3-4, 7, 15-16

Not only was Jacob sharing God’s redemptive plan with his children as he talked about God’s promises and the messiah, but he also shared about his personal relationship with God and his experiences while following him. God appeared to Jacob twice at Luz (also named Bethel, Gen 48:3): God appeared to him when he left his father’s home, going to Haran to look for a wife (Gen 28). God appeared to him a second time after he left Shechem with his family, where his sons murdered all the men in that village. When Jacob got to Bethel, he led his family in revival. He built an altar, had his family get rid of their idols and worship God there (Gen 35). Later, after returning from burying his mother’s nurse, Deborah, outside of Bethel, God revealed himself to Jacob and gave the promises mentioned in this passage (35:9-14, 48:3-4). Also, Jacob shared the most difficult time of his life, when Joseph’s mother, Rachel, died (48:7). When Jacob prayed for Joseph, he spoke in faith about his experiences. He called God ‘the shepherd who guided him all the days of his life’ (48:15) and ‘the Angel who protected him from harm’ (48:16)—probably referring to the time when Jacob wrestled with God before meeting his brother, Esau.

Jacob shared the mountain top experiences and the valley experiences with his children, and he spoke of them in faith. God had led him like a shepherd both to the mountain tops and through the valleys of life and always miraculously protected him. As he shared these realities, no doubt, it encouraged Joseph, Manasseh, and Ephraim to be faithful in their own lives. God would bless them, guide them, and protect them if they were faithful to him.

Likewise, we must also share our faith walks with our children. They must not only hear God’s Word, but they must hear it incarnated in our testimonies of God’s faithfulness. If Jacob was bitter about God and doubting God, it would only have created the same in his children. However, though Jacob complained plenty throughout his life (especially after losing Joseph), he now looked at his trials and blessings through a God-lens. The Lord used all of it for good and for his ultimate blessing.

Sharing our faith walks with our children implies that we are attempting to faithfully walk with God, both on the hilltops and in the valleys. One of the main reasons children often continue to follow God throughout their adult lives is because of the faithful walk and example of their parents. Conversely, many children turn away, despite attending church and hearing the Word preached, because they didn’t see it lived out in their parents’ lives. Parents must both share their faith and live it out in front of their children.

As we consider this, it is good to remember the story of the demoniac, whom Christ healed. After his healing, he asked to follow Christ, but instead, Christ called him to stay where he was and share with others what God had done (Lk 8:39). There is power in our testimonies, and therefore we should tell them often. Psalm 107:2 (NIV) says, “Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story…” Revelation 12:11 describes how believers in the end times defeat the devil “by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony.” Are you sharing your testimony with others? They need to hear it to defeat the devil and find encouragement in their own spiritual lives. Also, we need to make it a habit to recount God’s faithfulness for our own spiritual good because it is so easy for us to forget his faithfulness.

The importance of sharing our testimonies should encourage us to practice disciplines like journaling and collecting keepsakes to help us remember God’s faithfulness. Israel remembered God’s faithfulness by putting leftover manna in the ark (Ex 16:33), by collecting rocks from the Jordan river after God parted it (Josh 4), and also by writing songs (like the Song of Moses—written after Israel crossed the Red Sea in Exodus 15). These disciplines helped them remember God’s faithfulness and pass their faith on to their children.

Application Question: In what ways have you been blessed by the testimonies of others? Why is it so important to share our testimonies? Have you ever benefited from disciplines like journaling, collecting keepsakes, writing poetry, to help you remember God’s blessings? Share a quick story of how God redeemed you—set you free and used bad for good in your life.

To Bless Our Children, We Must Pray for Them and Their Children

When Israel saw Joseph’s sons, he asked, “Who are these?” Joseph said to his father, “They are the sons God has given me in this place.” His father said, “Bring them to me so I may bless them.” Now Israel’s eyes were failing because of his age; he was not able to see well. So Joseph brought his sons near to him, and his father kissed them and embraced them. Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see you again, but now God has allowed me to see your children too.” So Joseph moved them from Israel’s knees and bowed down with his face to the ground. Joseph positioned them; he put Ephraim on his right hand across from Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh on his left hand across from Israel’s right hand. Then Joseph brought them closer to his father. Israel stretched out his right hand and placed it on Ephraim’s head, although he was the younger. Crossing his hands, he put his left hand on Manasseh’s head, for Manasseh was the firstborn. Then he blessed Joseph and said, “May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked— the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day, the Angel who has protected me from all harm— bless these boys. May my name be named in them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac. May they grow into a multitude on the earth.”

Genesis 48:8-16

In Genesis 48:15, it says Jacob “blessed Joseph”; however, Jacob’s prayer was primarily about Joseph’s children. Likewise, one of the greatest ways we can bless our children is by blessing their children. Certainly, this is true when grandparents partner with the parents in discipling and raising the children. But it’s also true when grandparents (or future grandparents) pray for their future children’s children. When Jacob prayed for his two grandsons and his twelve sons, he ultimately prayed for their lineage—children that were, as yet, unborn.

Parents should regularly pray for their children—asking God to save them, train them, and use them for the kingdom. They should pray for God to prepare godly spouses for them, for God to raise up godly mentors and friends who will impact them positively. But also, parents should pray for their children’s children (even before they are conceived). God is not bound by time and, therefore, can answer prayers for decades and centuries into the future. Before Christ went to the cross, he prayed for his disciples and those who would believe through them (John 17). He was praying for us over 2000 years ago. Similarly, we should pray for our children and the generations who will come through them, including spiritual children. God delights to bless family lines. Exodus 20:6 says, he shows “covenant faithfulness to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

Application Question: Why is it important for parents to pray for their children and their children’s children? If you are a parent (or future parent), how do you pray for your children (or future children)? How should the fact that God covenants with a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments affect us (Ex 20:6)?

To Bless Our Children, We Must Accept God’s Unique Path for Them and Encourage Them in It

When Joseph saw that his father placed his right hand on Ephraim’s head, it displeased him. So he took his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this is the firstborn. Put your right hand on his head.” But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He too will become a nation and he too will become great. In spite of this, his younger brother will be even greater and his descendants will become a multitude of nations.” So he blessed them that day, saying, “By you will Israel bless, saying, ‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’” So he put Ephraim before Manasseh.

Genesis 48:17-20

When Joseph brought his children to Jacob, whose eyesight apparently was very bad (like his father, Isaac, before him), he positioned the oldest, Manasseh, towards Jacob’s right hand—the hand representing his strength—and the youngest, Ephraim, towards Jacob’s left hand. Then as Jacob prayed, he switched his hands—representing special favor over the youngest. When Joseph noticed this, he was bothered and tried to switch Jacob’s hands—saying, “Not so, my father, for this [Manasseh] is the firstborn. Put your right hand on his head” (48:18). Joseph had been preparing Manasseh for the right of first-born. He was to be the son of privilege, who would one day receive the double-portion. However, Jacob said that the youngest, Ephraim, would become greater than Manasseh. In fact, the tribe of Ephraim eventually became so large, the name was used synonymously for the Northern Kingdom—the ten northern tribes of Israel. Throughout the patriarchs’ story, we have seen several reversals: Isaac was chosen over Ishmael, Jacob was chosen over Esau, Joseph was chosen over the older brothers, and now Ephraim was chosen over Manasseh. This shows God’s sovereign right to choose for his own purposes, apart from man’s effort or choice. In Romans 9:11-13, Paul makes an argument for election based on God choosing Jacob over Esau.

But there is another lesson here, which applies more directly to our parenting: Like Joseph, often parents have their own plans for their children, which sometimes conflict with God’s plan. Parents must realize that their children are not ultimately theirs. They are God’s. Therefore, as parents, we must help our children discern God’s purpose and plan for their lives and not what the world says or what we prefer.

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it.” “In the way that he should go” can also be translated as “his way” or “his bend.” The word “way” comes from a Hebrew verb used of a bow launching an arrow. When a person shoots an arrow, the tension must align with the natural bend in the bow or it will break. This is also true in raising children.

Some parents damage their children by forcing them into a way God didn’t wire them for. They may do this by pushing their children into specific career fields, such as the medical field, engineering, athletics, or music, even though the children show no aptitude or passion in those areas. God gives us children who are already uploaded with a unique and specific program, just like a computer. We can’t use software uniquely made for an Apple with a PC. It’s the same with children. Some will be wired towards arts, technology, or serving ministries. It is the job of parents to get to know the way God wired their children so they can encourage them in those areas.

As we get to know their unique wirings and giftings, we must affirm them. With Judah, Jacob calls him a “lion,” which was fitting (49:9). As the lion is considered the king of the jungle, Judah was a leader. He used his leadership gifting for evil, as he encouraged the brothers to sell Joseph into slavery, but after he had matured, he used his leadership gifting for good, to get Jacob to allow Benjamin to go to Egypt with them so they wouldn’t die during the famine. While in Egypt, Judah offered his life for Benjamin’s, when Benjamin faced potential enslavement. He was truly like a lion—a gifted leader. With Naphtali, he spoke “delightful words” (49:21). Perhaps Naphtali was gifted at singing or writing poetry, and his descendants would be as well. With Joseph, he called him a “fruitful bough” (49:22)—everything he did prospered. Jacob not only affirmed the favor on Joseph’s life but rewarded him for his godly character and faithful stewardship of his gifts—including giving him the right of firstborn and a mountain slope in Canaan (48:22). As we discern our children’s gifts and interests, we must affirm those gifts, help guide them to paths where they can develop and use them for God’s glory, and at times, reward them for their faithfulness as encouragement.

With Manasseh and Ephraim, God had a different plan for them than he did for Joseph. As Joseph discerned God’s plan, he had to accept it and help his sons walk in it. We must do the same with our children, lest we discourage them and hinder God’s purposes for their lives.

Application Question: How can parents help their children discern their unique gifts and paths? Why is it so common for parents to actually fight against God’s unique path for their children?

To Bless Our Children, We Must Discipline Them and Help Them Become Disciplined

Jacob called for his sons and said, “Gather together so I can tell you what will happen to you in the future. “Assemble and listen, you sons of Jacob; listen to Israel, your father. Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might and the beginning of my strength, outstanding in dignity, outstanding in power. You are destructive like water and will not excel, for you got on your father’s bed, then you defiled it—he got on my couch! Simeon and Levi are brothers, weapons of violence are their knives! O my soul, do not come into their council, do not be united to their assembly, my heart, for in their anger they have killed men, and for pleasure they have hamstrung oxen. Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce, and their fury, for it was cruel. I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel!

Genesis 49:1-7

When Jacob spoke of Reuben, Simeon, and Levi, they didn’t receive any blessings. They essentially received curses. Reuben slept with Jacob’s wife and therefore didn’t receive the right of first-born (49:4). Simeon and Levi, though the next oldest didn’t receive it either. They murdered a whole village of men. Jacob said that they would be scattered throughout Israel (49:7). When Israel received their land allotments, Simeon was so small, he received his portion as part of Judah’s (Josh 19:9). Levi received no land allotments at all—only cities within the other tribes’ lands (Josh 14:4).

These three sons lost their blessings because they succumbed to undisciplined urges. Reuben struggled with lust, and Simeon and Levi struggled with anger. The descendants of Levi also struggled with anger, as seen in the example of Moses. Why was Moses initially kept from leading Israel? He became angry and killed an Egyptian. Why was he kept out of the promised land? He became angry at Israel and smote a rock, in disobedience to God. Often, whatever we struggle with is passed on to our children and their children.

As parents, our job is to discipline our children so they can learn to discipline themselves. Proverbs 13:24 says, “The one who spares his rod hates his child, but the one who loves his child is diligent in disciplining him.” When parents don’t discipline their children—promptly, without anger, and fairly—it leads them to lack self-discipline. They may struggle with anger, lust, lying, laziness, or other vices. These sins may ultimately keep them from God’s blessing.

Therefore, like Jacob, we must train up our children so they can become disciplined and walk in God’s blessing. With the tribe of Levi, because of their repentance, they turned their curse into a blessing. During Israel’s wilderness journeys, individuals in the tribe were noted for their zeal for God. Moses, Aaron, and Phinehas came out of Levi. When Phinehas disciplined a man for rebelling against God, God promised that his children would have a permanent priesthood (cf. Num 25:10-13). In fact, God called the entire tribe of Levi to oversee the temple, the sacrifices, and the instruction of Israel. Because they were scattered throughout the tribes, God used them to bless the entire nation, as they ministered to all the tribes. If we are going to bless our children, we must discipline them, teaching them to repent of sins so they can faithfully serve the kingdom.

Since parents ultimately represent the heavenly Father (cf. Rom 13:1), we must use his discipline as our model. Hebrews 12:5-6 (NIV) says: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” The passage describes two aspects of God’s discipline—rebuke and chastening. Through his Word, God rebukes us by telling us what’s wrong (often spoken by others). He also chastens us, which basically means whips or scourges. God chastens us through trials—sometimes these trials are needed to specifically help us obey the commands God already taught us. Parents should use both means as well. Our primary discipline is communication: teaching, instructing, and correcting. When children don’t listen to our correction, we use stronger methods like corporal punishment. In Proverbs, this is often symbolized by “the rod” (Prov 13:24, 22:15, 23:13-14, 29:15). The book of Proverbs is really about parents instructing their children and helping them become wise. Proverbs 22:15 says, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.” Proverbs 23:13-14 says, “Do not withhold discipline from a child; even if you strike him with the rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will deliver him from death.” If we don’t appropriately train our children, it hurts them and potentially generations after them.

Application Question: Why is it so important to discipline our children? What types of discipline did your parents use on you? What are some principles that parents can employ to help them discipline their children appropriately instead of excessively/abusively?

Conclusion

How can we help our children walk in God’s blessing?

  1. To Bless Our Children, We Must Encourage Their Interaction with Mature Believers
  2. To Bless Our Children, We Must Give Them a Vision of God’s Kingdom
  3. To Bless Our Children, We Must Share Our Faith Stories with Them
  4. To Bless Our Children, We Must Pray for Them and Their Children
  5. To Bless Our Children, We Must Accept God’s Unique Path for Them and Encourage Them in It
  6. To Bless Our Children, We Must Discipline Them and Help Them Become Disciplined

Copyright © 2020 Gregory Brown

Unless otherwise noted, the primary Scriptures used are taken from the NET Bible ® copyright © 1996-2016 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.

Holy Bible, New International Version ®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, Copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NASB) are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, and 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Scripture quotations marked (KJV) are from the King James Version of the Bible.

All emphases in Scripture quotations have been added.

BTG Publishing all rights reserved.

Related Topics: Christian Life

11. Facing Death Properly (Gen 49:28-50:26 )

Related Media

These are the twelve tribes of Israel. This is what their father said to them when he blessed them. He gave each of them an appropriate blessing. Then he instructed them, “I am about to go to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite. It is the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought for a burial plot from Ephron the Hittite. There they buried Abraham and his wife Sarah; there they buried Isaac and his wife Rebekah; and there I buried Leah. The field and the cave in it were acquired from the sons of Heth.” When Jacob finished giving these instructions to his sons, he pulled his feet up onto the bed, breathed his last breath, and went to his people. Then Joseph hugged his father’s face. He wept over him and kissed him. Joseph instructed the physicians in his service to embalm his father, so the physicians embalmed Israel. They took forty days, for that is the full time needed for embalming. The Egyptians mourned for him seventy days. When the days of mourning had passed, Joseph said to Pharaoh’s royal court, “If I have found favor in your sight, please say to Pharaoh, ‘My father made me swear an oath. He said, “I am about to die. Bury me in my tomb that I dug for myself there in the land of Canaan.” Now let me go and bury my father; then I will return.’ “So Pharaoh said, “Go and bury your father, just as he made you swear to do.” So Joseph went up to bury his father; all Pharaoh’s officials went with him—the senior courtiers of his household, all the senior officials of the land of Egypt, all Joseph’s household, his brothers, and his father’s household. But they left their little children and their flocks and herds in the land of Goshen. Chariots and horsemen also went up with him, so it was a very large entourage. When they came to the threshing floor of Atad on the other side of the Jordan, they mourned there with very great and bitter sorrow. There Joseph observed a seven day period of mourning for his father. When the Canaanites who lived in the land saw them mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “This is a very sad occasion for the Egyptians.” That is why its name was called Abel Mizraim, which is beyond the Jordan. So the sons of Jacob did for him just as he had instructed them. His sons carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, near Mamre. This is the field Abraham purchased as a burial plot from Ephron the Hittite. After he buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, along with his brothers and all who had accompanied him to bury his father. When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph bears a grudge and wants to repay us in full for all the harm we did to him?” So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave these instructions before he died: ‘Tell Joseph this: Please forgive the sin of your brothers and the wrong they did when they treated you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sin of the servants of the God of your father.” When this message was reported to him, Joseph wept. Then his brothers also came and threw themselves down before him; they said, “Here we are; we are your slaves.” But Joseph answered them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant to harm me, but God intended it for a good purpose, so he could preserve the lives of many people, as you can see this day. So now, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your little children.” Then he consoled them and spoke kindly to them. Joseph lived in Egypt, along with his father’s family. Joseph lived 110 years. Joseph saw the descendants of Ephraim to the third generation. He also saw the children of Makir the son of Manasseh; they were given special inheritance rights by Joseph. Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to you and lead you up from this land to the land he swore on oath to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath. He said, “God will surely come to you. Then you must carry my bones up from this place.” So Joseph died at the age of 110. After they embalmed him, his body was placed in a coffin in Egypt.

Gen 49:28-50:26 (NET)

How should we face death properly—in faith?

As much as people would like to dodge the reality of death, death is unavoidable. God promised Adam and Eve that if they ate of the forbidden tree, they would surely die (Gen 2:17). And from the moment they disobeyed God, death has continued from generation to generation. Often the hardest chapters to read in the Bible are genealogies. Not only do they commonly detail the lineage of Christ, but they also confirm God’s words to Adam and Eve (Gen 3:19). So and so lived, and then he died. So and so lived, and then he died. Hebrews 9:27 says, “people are appointed to die once, and then to face judgment.”

As much as people would like to avoid death and not think about it, everyone dies, and we must face this reality if we are going to respond to death well. Ecclesiastes 7:2 says, “It is better to go to a funeral than a feast. For death is the destiny of every person, and the living should take this to heart.” It’s healthy for us to soberly reflect on death, as it will help us live better lives.

We get to do this in Genesis 49 and 50, as there are two deaths—Jacob’s and Joseph’s. Hebrews 11:21-22 mentions both of these deaths saying:

By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph and worshiped as he leaned on his staff. By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, mentioned the exodus of the sons of Israel and gave instructions about his burial.

Both Jacob and Joseph responded to their deaths in faith. As we consider these deaths, we learn something about facing death in a proper way. As Christians, we should be more prepared for death than the rest of the world, as our Lord conquered death, set us free from the fear of death, and one day we’ll be resurrected (cf. 2 Tim 1:10, Heb 2:15, 1 Thess 4:16-17). Therefore, for a believer, the sting of death has been removed, and death can even be considered gain (1 Cor 15:55, Phil 1:21).

Big Question: What principles can we discern about facing death properly from Jacob’s and Joseph’s deaths in Genesis 49:28-50:26?

To Face Death Properly, We Must Trust God’s Promises and Help Others Do the Same

Then he instructed them, “I am about to go to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite… When Jacob finished giving these instructions to his sons, he pulled his feet up onto the bed, breathed his last breath, and went to his people… Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to you and lead you up from this land to the land he swore on oath to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath. He said, “God will surely come to you. Then you must carry my bones up from this place.”

Genesis 49:29, 33, 50:24-25

When Jacob died, he spoke of eternity, as he believed that death was not the end of life. In Genesis 49:29, he said, “I am about to go to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite.” Going to his people was different than being buried. Jacob was going to be with Abraham, Isaac, Rachel, and Leah in heaven. In verse 33, it says he “breathed his last breath, and went to his people.” Hebrews 11:9-10, 16 says that the patriarchs, though not having Scripture, believed in heaven:

By faith he lived as a foreigner in the promised land as though it were a foreign country, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, who were fellow heirs of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with firm foundations, whose architect and builder is God… But as it is, they aspire to a better land, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

The patriarchs were men of faith—awaiting their heavenly home. As Jacob spoke about eternity with his sons, he reminded them that this life is not it—there was a heavenly home awaiting them. No doubt, these words of faith at the end of Jacob’s life greatly inspired his sons. Therefore, not only did Jacob believe God’s Word, but he also inspired his sons to. They also needed to have faith in God.

Jacob not only inspired their faith in God’s promises through his belief in eternity but also through his belief that God would eventually give Israel the land of Canaan. By requesting to be buried in Canaan, Jacob demonstrated his faith in God’s promise and also challenged his sons to believe and therefore not settle in Egypt. God would eventually bring them back to Canaan.

Like Jacob, Joseph also challenged his family to faith in God by his death. When he died at 110 years old, he called for his brothers (and their future children) to carry his bones to Canaan because God would one day restore them to the land (Gen 50:25). Joseph’s body was placed in an Egyptian casket and that casket would always be a reminder to Israel of God’s promise—one day they would return to Canaan. Eventually, they did return under Moses, and Moses carried Joseph’s bones to Canaan and buried them there (Ex 13:19, Josh 24:32).

Therefore, to face death properly even as Jacob and Joseph, we must trust in God’s promises and remind others to trust in them. Romans 10:13 says, “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (paraphrase). Christ died for our sins and rose again 2000 years ago. In Scripture, God promises that whoever puts their faith in Christ and follows him shall be saved. As we face death, we must speak about God’s promise of eternal life to others, even as Jacob did. Jacob and the patriarchs were saved by faith, just as we are (cf. Gen 15:6). To face death properly, we must help others know and believe God’s promises including that Christ is coming again, he is a just judge who will make all things right on this earth and reward the faithful, and one day we will rule with him.

Also, in the same way that Joseph’s bones were a perpetual reminder for generations of God’s promises, Christians should use their funerals in the same way. Funerals should clearly proclaim the gospel, the future resurrection, and that our Savior is coming again. This helps Christians grow in faith and nonbelievers come to faith. If we are to face death properly, we must trust God’s promises and help others do the same.

Application Question: How have you seen Christian funerals proclaim the gospel and hope in God? Why is having a gospel-oriented funeral so important?

To Face Death Properly, We Must Mourn the Deceased

Then Joseph hugged his father’s face. He wept over him and kissed him. Joseph instructed the physicians in his service to embalm his father, so the physicians embalmed Israel. They took forty days, for that is the full time needed for embalming. The Egyptians mourned for him seventy days.

Genesis 50:1-3

After Jacob died, Joseph hugged, kissed, and wept over him. He then mourned with the Egyptians for seventy days, which was only two days shorter than the mourning required for a Pharaoh.1 After carrying Jacob’s body to Canaan, which probably took around three weeks, they mourned another seven days (50:10). Joseph and others mourned over three months for Jacob. Since Jacob believed he would die seventeen years earlier (cf. Gen 45:28, 46:30), the brothers probably had a long time to emotionally prepare for his death. However, often people don’t have that much time to prepare for the death of a loved one. When a child, parent, sibling, or friend dies suddenly, the mourning often lasts much longer—sometimes for years.

As we consider mourning, we must recognize how important it is for us. It is the way that we heal. Jesus mourned when Lazarus died, even though Jesus was about to raise him again (John 11:35). He mourned at the effects of sin on the earth and how it hurt people. He mourned at the loss of Lazarus and the suffering of his friends and family. Mourning is healthy and biblical. In Ecclesiastes 7:4, Solomon said, “The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of merrymaking.” While the wise mourn, the fool tries to escape pain and drown it out with pleasure. If we do not mourn properly, we will handle that pain in unhealthy ways (such as developing addictions, anxieties, long-term depression, etc.), which will affect us and others negatively. If Jesus mourned death, then so should we.

Application Question: What are the normal stages of grief?

The normal stages of grief include:

  • Denial and isolation
  • Anger
  • Bargaining (When we have lost control, we naturally want to try to regain it. We may say, “If I did this” or “If I did that…,” or we may try to bargain with God)
  • Depression
  • Acceptance of the loss

Now with that said, believers should not mourn in the same way the world does. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13, Paul said, “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.” We grieve, but it is not the grief of hopelessness. We have tremendous hope, even when facing death. We hope because, if our deceased loved ones were believers, we will see them again. Even when the deceased were unbelievers, we hope because we know that our God is not only sovereign, but also good and all-wise, even though we don’t fully understand his ways or reasoning. Yes, we mourn, but we mourn in hope because of God’s faithfulness.

Application Question: What does healthy and unhealthy mourning look like? How should we empathize with and encourage those who are mourning?

To Face Death Properly, We Must Take Care of Practical Matters Related to Death

Joseph instructed the physicians in his service to embalm his father, so the physicians embalmed Israel. They took forty days, for that is the full time needed for embalming. The Egyptians mourned for him seventy days. When the days of mourning had passed, Joseph said to Pharaoh’s royal court, “If I have found favor in your sight, please say to Pharaoh, ‘My father made me swear an oath. He said, “I am about to die. Bury me in my tomb that I dug for myself there in the land of Canaan.” Now let me go and bury my father; then I will return.’” So Pharaoh said, “Go and bury your father, just as he made you swear to do.” … His sons carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, near Mamre. This is the field Abraham purchased as a burial plot from Ephron the Hittite.

Genesis 50:2-6, 13

After kissing and weeping over his father, Joseph embalmed him, in order to preserve the body for the long trip to Canaan (50:2-3). The seventy-day mourning period probably included the forty days of embalming. After the mourning, Joseph arranged the trip by getting permission from Pharaoh. Then he made the trip and buried his father in his family’s grave site, as Jacob requested.

Similarly, when a person dies, there are a host of things that need to be completed, such as funeral arrangements and taking care of the deceased’s estate, including bills and the will. Some when encountering death bottle up and go into a corner—leaving the practical issues of death to others. But, pragmatic issues like burial, finances, and wills, must be addressed. Some have wondered if God, by his grace, allows us to deal with these matters as a way to not be overwhelmed with death. Attending to practical matters often helps with grieving and continuing to live after loss.

With that said, since we all know we won’t live forever and our family members will be left to care for our estate, it is wise to prepare for death beforehand. When God told Hezekiah that he was going to die, he told him to put his house in order (Is 38:1 NIV). For us, this might include establishing a will and insurance to make it easier for our relatives to take care of practical matters. It also might include down-sizing. People tend to accumulate a lot of things during life, which those who are left behind need to take care of after they die. We should not make it hard on our relatives. Like Jacob and Joseph making plans for who will inherit their wealth and also planning for the burial (Gen 49:29, 50:23-24), believers should do the same.

Application Question: How have you experienced or witnessed the taking care of practical matters for those who have passed away? What were some of the difficulties of that process? How has God calling you to prepare or consider preparing for the practical matters of death?

To Face Death Properly, We Must Support and Encourage the Living

So Joseph went up to bury his father; all Pharaoh’s officials went with him—the senior courtiers of his household, all the senior officials of the land of Egypt, all Joseph’s household, his brothers, and his father’s household. But they left their little children and their flocks and herds in the land of Goshen. Chariots and horsemen also went up with him, so it was a very large entourage. When they came to the threshing floor of Atad on the other side of the Jordan, they mourned there with very great and bitter sorrow. There Joseph observed a seven day period of mourning for his father. When the Canaanites who lived in the land saw them mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “This is a very sad occasion for the Egyptians.” That is why its name was called Abel Mizraim, which is beyond the Jordan.

Genesis 50:7-11

As mentioned, after Jacob’s death, Joseph and the Egyptians mourned for seventy days, and then a great procession of Egyptians and Jews traveled to Canaan for the burial. The procession included Pharaoh’s officials, Joseph’s family, and Egyptian military (possibly for protection). Some of the Egyptians probably didn’t know Jacob; however, they knew Joseph. As they mourned and traveled to Canaan, they were supporting Joseph and his family.

Similarly, one of the ways we face death properly is by supporting the living, including family members, friends, and those hurt by the death. Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” In the same way the Egyptians supported and assisted Joseph, we must support and assist those who are grieving the death of loved ones. We may not know what to say, and often times, it’s wise to not say much. It may be best to just be present with them and empathize with them, even as Job’s friends initially did when Job mourned (Job 2:11-13). It was then that the friends did well. Often times, those mourning will want to share their feelings and memories of the deceased. During those times, we love and comfort them by listening.

In addition, supporting the living also includes attending funerals. It’s good to remember that funerals are not for the deceased, they are for the living. By being present and mourning with them, even as the Egyptians did with Joseph, we demonstrate visible support during their time of grieving. Along with these, we should support the grieving in practical ways such as: providing meals, helping with the details of the funeral, financial support, and most importantly, with prayer. Pharaoh not only gave Joseph permission to bury his father but also sent the military to protect him on his way. We must seek to practically help the grieving as well.

Application Question: What are some practical ways to support those affected by the death of a loved one?

To Face Death Properly, We Must Seek to Maintain (or Restore) Unity with Family Members

When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph bears a grudge and wants to repay us in full for all the harm we did to him?” So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave these instructions before he died: ‘Tell Joseph this: Please forgive the sin of your brothers and the wrong they did when they treated you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sin of the servants of the God of your father.” When this message was reported to him, Joseph wept. Then his brothers also came and threw themselves down before him; they said, “Here we are; we are your slaves.” But Joseph answered them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant to harm me, but God intended it for a good purpose, so he could preserve the lives of many people, as you can see this day. So now, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your little children.” Then he consoled them and spoke kindly to them.

Genesis 50:15-21

After the burial, Joseph’s brothers realized that Joseph might seek vengeance for their previous enslavement of him. For that reason, they sent a messenger to him, possibly Benjamin or Judah, saying that one of Jacob’s dying requests was for Joseph to forgive the brothers. This caused Joseph to weep (50:17). This is the seventh and final time Joseph’s tears are recorded. No doubt, he was crying because the brothers still doubted his love for them, even after he had provided for them and their families for seventeen years. Then the brothers came and offered themselves as slaves before Joseph.

Did Jacob really request that Joseph forgive the brothers? It’s impossible to know for sure. Most likely, he would have told Joseph personally instead of going through the brothers. Either way, we can be sure, as with any father, he desired complete reconciliation in his family.

Similarly, though one might think that death in a family might bring greater unity among the members, it often doesn’t. Families are messy. As seen with Jacob’s family, there is often discord between husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, children and parents. Death not only means these people will often be brought together, but they’ll also often have to work together. If the deceased didn’t prepare clear wills, including instructions for burial and the estate, it can lead to misinterpretation and in-fighting amongst relatives, which often exasperates old wounds.

Application Question: How should families seek to maintain unity when a family death occurs?

1. To pursue family unity, we must be willing to confess past failures and offer restitution.

This is exactly what Joseph’s brothers did. They recognized their sins and offered restitution. Since they had made Joseph a slave, they offered to be his slaves. Asking for forgiveness is often not enough for reconciliation. If we stole something, we should ask for forgiveness and restore the stolen object. The brothers did this with Joseph.

2. To pursue family unity, often, we must be willing to be an intermediary.

If Jacob did actually ask Joseph to forgive them, then that was what he was doing. Often when there is family discord, someone has to get involved and help bring reconciliation between the sides. Christ did that for us with God. He paid the penalty for our sins by dying in order to reconcile humanity with God. As Christ’s followers, we not only have accepted this reconciliation but also invite others to do so as well.

3. To pursue family unity, we must overcome evil with good.

In Romans 12:19-21, Paul said:

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. Rather, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing this you will be heaping burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

This is exactly what Joseph did. He declared to his brothers, “Do not be afraid. Am I in the place of God?” (50:19). Joseph would not seek vengeance but would instead bless his family. Vengeance was left to God’s discretion. We must do the same. Instead of seeking vengeance, we should find ways to serve those who have hurt us and trust God with justice. Certainly, there is a place for pursuing justice by going to our authorities—that’s why God instituted them (Rom 13:1-7). However, often times, God simply calls us to give up our “perceived” rights. First Peter 4:8 says, “Love covers a multitude of sins,” and Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek when others slap us (Matt 5:39). Often God calls us to humble ourselves and trust him to bring justice. Certainly, this is a wisdom issue that we should seek God’s and others’ counsel about, especially when grievous injustices were committed.

4. To pursue family unity, we must focus on God’s sovereignty over evil and not the evil actions of others.

Joseph declared, “As for you, you meant to harm me, but God intended it for a good purpose, so he could preserve the lives of many people, as you can see this day” (Gen 50:20). Instead of focusing on the brothers’ evil act of enslaving him, Joseph focused on God’s purpose through the evil act—God used it to save Joseph’s family and many others during the world-wide famine. Similarly, we must focus on God’s sovereignty over evil and his purpose in using it for our good. When people instead focus on the evil or evil person, they often struggle with forgiveness and bitterness, sometimes for years. God our Father is always working things for our good (Rom 8:28); we must focus on that to have peace in our hearts and peace with others.

Unfortunately, the death of a family member can often stir up past conflicts (or create new ones). That’s what Joseph’s brothers feared, and therefore, they sought to maintain family unity. We must do the same.

Application Question: How have you seen families experience conflict after the death of a relative? Why are families so prone to conflict and discord? How is God calling you to pursue unity in your family?

To Face Death Properly, We Must Eventually, in Faith, Move On

After he buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, along with his brothers and all who had accompanied him to bury his father. … Joseph lived in Egypt, along with his father’s family. Joseph lived 110 years. Joseph saw the descendants of Ephraim to the third generation. He also saw the children of Makir the son of Manasseh; they were given special inheritance rights by Joseph.

Genesis 50:14, 22-23

In Genesis 50:14, it says, “After he buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, along with his brothers and all who had accompanied him to bury his father.” Again, Joseph had mourned and taken care of practical matters related to Jacob’s death for over three months, including embalming his father, obtaining permission from Pharaoh to bury in Canaan, traveling, observing another week of mourning, and then burying Jacob. It was a long process; yet, when it was over, Joseph went home and continued living. Joseph was fifty-six when Jacob died. He lived to be 110 years old. He saw Ephraim’s descendants to the third generation—probably meaning he was a great-great-grandfather. He seemingly adopted Makir’s children, who was the son of Manasseh—giving them some type of special inheritance (50:23). Joseph continued to live after the death of Jacob, as God had more things for him to accomplish.

Similarly, we must continue to live after the death of a loved one. We will never forget them. Our lives will always be richer because of them, and they will always remain in our memory. However, according to Ecclesiastes 3:4, there is “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” We must not continue to focus on life’s pains when it is time to focus on life’s joys.

Unfortunately, many struggle with moving on after the death of a loved one. It’s important to remember that, if they knew Christ, the deceased are more alive in eternity than they ever were on earth. And if they didn’t know Christ, we must trust that God is still good and that his plans are perfect. We must take comfort in God’s perfect character. Either way, we must walk with our Shepherd on the “green pastures” and “through” the dark valleys (cf. Psalm 23:2, 4). He will see us through.

In response to death, we must keep on living and encourage others to do the same. As believers, we must remember that we mourn, but not like the world. We mourn in hope because of God’s promise of eternity and the goodness and wisdom of God.

Application Question: Why is it so hard to move on after the death of a loved one? How should we encourage those who are in extended, potentially unhealthy, mourning?

Conclusion

As Jacob and Joseph approached death, Hebrews 11:21-22 says they did it in faith. We must as well.

  1. To Face Death Properly, We Must Trust God’s Promises and Help Others Do the Same
  2. To Face Death Properly, We Must Mourn the Deceased
  3. To Face Death Properly, We Must Take Care of Practical Matters Related to Death
  4. To Face Death Properly, We Must Support and Encourage the Living
  5. To Face Death Properly, We Must Seek to Maintain (or Restore) Unity with Family Members
  6. To Face Death Properly, We Must Eventually, in Faith, Move On

Copyright © 2020 Gregory Brown

Unless otherwise noted, the primary Scriptures used are taken from the NET Bible ® copyright © 1996-2016 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.

Holy Bible, New International Version ®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, Copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NASB) are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, and 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Scripture quotations marked (KJV) are from the King James Version of the Bible.

All emphases in Scripture quotations have been added.

BTG Publishing all rights reserved.


1 Hughes, R. K. (2004). Genesis: beginning and blessing (p. 566). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

Related Topics: Christian Life

Appendix 1: Study Group Tips

Related Media

Leading a small group using the Bible Teacher’s Guide can be done in various ways. One format is the “study group” model, where each member prepares and shares in the teaching. This appendix will cover tips for facilitating a weekly study group.

  1. Each week the members of the study group read through a selected chapter of the guide, answer the reflection questions (see Appendix 2), and come prepared to share in the group.
  2. Prior to each meeting, a different member is selected to lead the group and share his answer to Question 1 of the reflection questions, which is a short summary of the chapter read. This section of the gathering could last from five to fifteen minutes. This way, each member can develop his ability to teach and will be motivated to study harder during the week. Or, each week the same person could share the summary.
  3. After the summary has been given, the leader for that week facilitates discussion of the remaining reflection questions and selected questions from the chapter.
  4. After discussion, the group shares prayer requests and members pray for one another.

The strength of the study group is that the members are required to prepare their responses before the meeting, allowing for easier discussion. Another is that each member has the opportunity to further develop his ministry skills through teaching. These are distinct advantages.

Copyright © 2020 Gregory Brown

BTG Publishing all rights reserved.

Appendix 2: Reflection Questions

Related Media

Writing is one of the best ways to learn. In class, we take notes and write papers, and all these methods are used to help us learn and retain the material. The same is true with the Word of God. Obviously, all of the authors of Scripture were writers. This helped them better learn the Scriptures and also enabled them to more effectively teach it. In studying God’s Word with the Bible Teacher’s Guide, take time to write so you can similarly grow both in your learning and teaching.

  1. How would you summarize the main points of the text/chapter? Write a brief summary.
  2. What stood out to you most in the reading? Did any of the contents trigger any memories or experiences? If so, please share them.
  3. What follow–up questions do you have about the reading? Are there parts you do not fully agree with?
  4. What applications did you take from the reading, and how do you plan to implement them in your life?
  5. Write several goals: As a result of my time studying God’s Word, I aspire to . . .
  6. What are some practical ways to pray as a result of studying the text? Spend some time in prayer.

Copyright © 2020 Gregory Brown

BTG Publishing all rights reserved.

Appendix 3: Walking the Romans Road

Related Media

How can a person be saved? From what is he saved? How can someone have eternal life? Scripture teaches that after death each person will spend eternity either in heaven or hell. How can a person go to heaven?

Paul said this to Timothy:

You, however, must continue in the things you have learned and are confident about. You know who taught you and how from infancy you have known the holy writings, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 3:14-15

One of the reasons God gave us Scripture is to make us wise for salvation. This means that without it nobody can know how to be saved.

Well then, how can a people be saved and what are they being saved from? A common method of sharing the good news of salvation is through the Romans Road. One of the great themes, not only of the Bible, but specifically of the book of Romans is salvation. In Romans, the author, Paul, clearly details the steps we must take in order to be saved.

How can we be saved? What steps must we take?

Step One: We Must Accept that We Are Sinners

Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” What does it mean to sin? The word sin means “to miss the mark.” The mark we missed is looking like God. When God created mankind in the Genesis narrative, he created man in the “image of God” (1:27). The “image of God” means many things, but probably, most importantly it means we were made to be holy just as he is holy. Man was made moral. We were meant to reflect God’s holiness in every way: the way we think, the way we talk, and the way we act. And any time we miss the mark in these areas, we commit sin.

Furthermore, we do not only sin when we commit a sinful act such as: lying, stealing, or cheating. Again, we sin anytime we have a wrong heart motive. The greatest commandments in Scripture are to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt 22:36-40, paraphrase). Whenever we don’t love God supremely and love others as ourselves, we sin and fall short of the glory of God. For this reason, man is always in a state of sinning. Sadly, even if our actions are good, our heart is bad. I have never loved God with my whole heart, mind, and soul and neither has anybody else. Therefore, we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). We have all missed the mark of God’s holiness and we must accept this.

What’s the next step?

Step Two: We Must Understand We Are Under the Judgment of God

Why are we under the judgment of God? It is because of our sins. Scripture teaches God is not only a loving God, but he is a just God. And his justice requires judgment for each of our sins. Romans 6:23 says, “For the payoff of sin is death.”

A wage is something we earn. Every time we sin, we earn the wage of death. What is death? Death really means separation. In physical death, the body is separated from the spirit, but in spiritual death, man is separated from God. Man currently lives in a state of spiritual death (cf. Eph 2:1-3). We do not love God, obey him, or know him as we should. Therefore, man is in a state of death.

Moreover, one day at our physical death, if we have not been saved, we will spend eternity separated from God in a very real hell. In hell, we will pay the wage for each of our sins. Therefore, in hell people will experience various degrees of punishment (cf. Lk 12:47-48). This places man in a very dangerous predicament—unholy and therefore under the judgment of God.

How should we respond to this? This leads us to our third step.

Step Three: We Must Recognize God Has Invited All to Accept His Free Gift of Salvation

Romans 6:23 does not stop at the wages of sin being death. It says, “For the payoff of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Because God loved everybody on the earth, he offered the free gift of eternal life, which anyone can receive through Jesus Christ.

Because it is a gift, it cannot be earned. We cannot work for it. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast.”

Going to church, being baptized, giving to the poor, or doing any other righteous work does not save. Salvation is a gift that must be received from God. It is a gift that has been prepared by his effort alone.

How do we receive this free gift?

Step Four: We Must Believe Jesus Christ Died for Our Sins and Rose from the Dead

If we are going to receive this free gift, we must believe in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Because God loved us, cared for us, and didn’t want us to be separated from him eternally, he sent his Son to die for our sins. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Similarly, John 3:16 says, “For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” God so loved us that he gave his only Son for our sins.

Jesus Christ was a real, historical person who lived 2,000 years ago. He was born of a virgin. He lived a perfect life. He was put to death by the Romans and the Jews. And he rose again on the third day. In his death, he took our sins and God’s wrath for them and gave us his perfect righteousness so we could be accepted by God. Second Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God.” God did all this so we could be saved from his wrath.

Christ’s death satisfied the just anger of God over our sins. When God saw Jesus on the cross, he saw us and our sins and therefore judged Jesus. And now, when God sees those who are saved, he sees his righteous Son and accepts us. In salvation, we have become the righteousness of God.

If we are going to be saved, if we are going to receive this free gift of salvation, we must believe in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection for our sins (cf. 1 Cor 15:3-5, Rom 10:9-10). Do you believe?

Step Five: We Must Confess Christ as Lord of Our Lives

Romans 10:9-10 says,

Because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and thus has righteousness and with the mouth one confesses and thus has salvation.

Not only must we believe, but we must confess Christ as Lord of our lives. It is one thing to believe in Christ but another to follow Christ. Simple belief does not save. Christ must be our Lord. James said this: “…Even the demons believe that – and tremble with fear” (James 2:19), but the demons are not saved—Christ is not their Lord.

Another aspect of making Christ Lord is repentance. Repentance really means a change of mind that leads to a change of direction. Before we met Christ, we were living our own life and following our own sinful desires. But when we get saved, our mind and direction change. We start to follow Christ as Lord.

How do we make this commitment to the lordship of Christ so we can be saved? Paul said we must confess with our mouth “Jesus is Lord” as we believe in him. Romans 10:13 says, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

If you admit that you are a sinner and understand you are under God’s wrath because of them; if you believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that he died on the cross for your sins, and rose from the dead for your salvation; if you are ready to turn from your sin and cling to Christ as Lord, you can be saved.

If this is your heart, then you can pray this prayer and commit to following Christ as your Lord.

Dear heavenly Father, I confess I am a sinner and have fallen short of your glory, what you made me for. I believe Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins and rose from the dead so I can have eternal life. I am turning away from my sin and accepting you as my Lord and Savior. Come into my life and change me. Thank you for your gift of salvation.

Scripture teaches that if you truly accepted Christ as your Lord, then you are a new creation. Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away – look, what is new has come!” God has forgiven your sins (1 John 1:9), he has given you his Holy Spirit (Rom 8:15), and he is going to disciple you and make you into the image of his Son (cf. Rom 8:29). He will never leave you nor forsake you (Heb 13:5), and he will complete the work he has begun in your life (Phil 1:6). In heaven, angels and saints are rejoicing because of your commitment to Christ (Lk 15:7).

Praise God for his great salvation! May God keep you in his hand, empower you through the Holy Spirit, train you through mature believers, and use you to build his kingdom! “He who calls you is trustworthy, and he will in fact do this” (1 Thess 5:24). God bless you!

Copyright © 2020 Gregory Brown

Unless otherwise noted, the primary Scriptures used are taken from the NET Bible ® copyright © 1996-2016 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.

Holy Bible, New International Version ®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, Copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NASB) are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, and 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Scripture quotations marked (KJV) are from the King James Version of the Bible.

All emphases in Scripture quotations have been added.

BTG Publishing all rights reserved.

Pingo Jo Muye Kricito Limo Can

Related Media

Acakki me ginacoya man

Pingo an? Pingo kombedi? Man kono Lubanga tye ka timo ngo? Can obedo yo acel ma Lubanga tiyo kede me gamo tamwa dok bene me tyeko yub pe ikwowa. Can kono ki yubo me medo genwa i kom Lubanga matwero ducu, ento can miteni wabed ki lagam ma tye atir wek yub ducu pa Lubanga otum maber ikwowa. Can kwanyo tetek genwa ma watye kede i kom jami ma tye botwa dong weko wakwo ki gen i kom jami pa Lubanga.

Can pire kene pe obedo yo matye atir, dok bene pe tye yo me nyutu ni wan waleng bot Lubanga. En bene pe tye yo me nongo gin mo ki bot Lubanga, onyo yo me bwoyo miti me komwa (kwero miti me kom weng). Ento ka larre, can myero dano pe olim. Kricito pe obedo ka limo can atata nio ka weko en pe lubo miti pa wonne.

“Ikare me berbedo bed ki yom cwiny, Ento ikare ma piny rac ber ipo ni—Lubanga aye ma omiyo dano gibedo maber onyo marac wek dano pe onge gin ma bitimme lacen ma nongo dong guto woko” (Latit-lok. 7:14)

Lapeny magi tye maki yubo wek okonywa “wapo pire” ikare ma piny rac:

(1) Atye ka tero ne ningning?

(2) Myero ater ningning?

(3) Atye mono ka pwonye ki i iye?

(4) Dok yo ma atye ka terone kede mono nyutu niye, mar i kom Lubanga ki jo mukene, kit atir calo pa Kricito, ber kit, keto cwiny, miti ma atir, ki mapol ata.?

(5) Lubanga twero tic kede ningning ikwona?

Gonyo Te Lok Man Me Can

Gin ango ma Lubanga keto i yo me kwowa ma miyo ber ni wapo pire? Gonye i yo mayot ni, can tye gin ma timo jami malit ikomwa onyo miyo arem. Iyub pa Lubanga, en bene tye gin ma weko wan watamo matut. Obedo yo ma Lubanga tiyo kede me gamo tamwa dok bene tiyo kede me tyeko yub ma en tye kede pi kwowa i yo ma no pe lare labongo can onyo arem meno.

Lanyut Me Can

“En romo bedo two me kancer onyo dwon malit. En romo bedo arem me kom onyo too pa dano ma cok kwedwa. En romo bedo tic matum marac idok okoriwa onyo poto peny i gang kwan. En romo bedo lok anii ma oywek i gang tic onyo gang lega, ma balo nying matek, makelo tam ki lit cwiny.”1 En bene romo bedo gin matidimo calo ayella pa obe onyo rwatte ki labwor i borone calo ma otime bot Daniel (Dan. 6).

Jami Makelo Can

(1) Wa limo can pien watye ka kwo i lobo ma opoto kama bal keken opong icwiny dano.

(2) Wa limo can pi mingowa. Gin ma dano ocoyo en aye bene en bikayo (Jo Gal. 6:7-9).

(3)Ikare mukene wa limo can pien ni Lubanga tye ka pwonyo wa. “Pien Rwot pwonyo jo ma en maro, pwodo latin acelacel ma en gamo” (Jo Ibru. 12:6).

(4) Wa romo limo can me ayelayela pi niyewa—makato ki wan wacung i kom lok atir me baibul ma tyene tye ni walimo can pi ada (2 Tem. 3:12).

Iya ada, jami magi ducu pe time ikare acel cutcut. Can ducu pe tye, calo pi labol, adwogi me mingowa, can amita ,onyo bal.En tye lok ada, bene, ni can pol kare nyutu kama jami orem , kama goro tye i iye, ki tam ma ogom mamite ni  ki kwany woko calo cetta jabu ma giliyo ki i kom jabu wek odong jabu maleng    (cf. 1 Pet. 1:6-7).

Pi man wubed ki yom cwiny, kadi bed kombedi pi kare manoknok, gwok nyo,komwu ryange pi aoma cwiny mapatpat, wek ada pa niyewu, ma pire dit kato jabu ma pe rii nakanaka, kadi bed gitemo ki mac, myero okel pak ki deyo ki woro ikare ma Yecu Kricito binen iye; (1 Petero 1:6-7)

Kit Can Mapatpat

(1) Can Lit. Can obedo gin ma tek adada; en pe yot matwal. Kadi bed ni wan wangeyo can doki bene waketo ki tek ngec man itic, en pud kelo arem (cf. 1 Pet. 1:6—“ryange kom” = lupeo, “me kelo arem, kumu, cwer cwiny”).

(2) Can Weko Tamwa Cung Woko. Can obedo gin ma kite pat tutwal. Wa romo ngeyo tyen lok me ada i kom can ma tye i ginacoya maleng, ento pud ka can opoto, wuur moni pud bedo tye. Pingo kombedi? Ngo mono ma Lubanga tye ka timo ne? Can ki yubo me medo genwa i kom Lubanga matwero ducu.

(3) Can Tye Ki Tyene. Can pe obedo gin matime labongo tyen lok mo kadi bed ni en tye gin me wuur. En tye ki yub madit me weko wan wanywako kit pa Kricito (Jo Roma. 8:28-29).

Doki wangeyo ni Lubanga weko gin ducu tiyo pi ber pa jo ma gimaro Lubanga, jo ma en olwongogi kit macalo en oyubo. 29 Jo ma yam en ongeyogi con, omoko bene ni myero gunywak cal pa wode wek omi wode obed latin kayo i kin utmego mapol; (Jo Roma 8:28-29)

(4) Can Nyutu Ada (temo) Wa. “Atematema” i Yakobo 1:2 ileb Grik peirasmos ma gonye ni gin ma ngiyo, temo, ki nyutu ada kit onyo atir pa gin moni. “Temo” ma tye i wang kwan acellu tye dokimion ma tye ki tyen lok acel bene. Gonye ni gitemo ma ki yubo me nyutu ada onyo moko. Can obedo gin ma nyutu ada pa kit ngat moni ki atir ki bene kacel ki niyegi waki pekke weng. Po 1 Petero 1:6-7 kama leb Grik acellu ki tiyo kede kacel ki lok ma tye  dokimazo ma gonye ni, “keto wek ki tem,” “kit ma ki temo ki jabu ni.”

(5) Can Obedo Gin Ma Woto Korekikore. Macalo gin ma woto korekikore, en cwalo karre. Adwogine ma Lubanga miti ocobbe ki i yo me can me kwo mite karre ki bene, diyo cwiny.

Jo Roma 5:3-4 3 Doki makato meno, ento wabedo bene ki yom cwiny i can ma opoto i komwa, kun wangeyo ni bedo ki can kelo diyo cwiny me ciro can; doki diyo cwiny me ciro can, kit ma gipwoyo; doki kit ma gipwoyo, gen;

Yakobo 1:3-4 3 Pien wangeyo ni temo niyewu kelo diyo cwiny. Doki wek diyo cwiny okel adwogi ma atir, wek onyo wubed jo ma atir ki jo muteggi, mano gin mo pe orem botwu.

(6) Can Obedo Gin Ma Lonyo Wa. Pi kit tyen lok mo keken, kadi pe bed pwony pa Lubanga pi tic me kom, en tye lalony wa pien pe tye ngat mo ma bibedo atir labongo roc mo i kwo man.

Jo Pilipi 3:12-14 12 Pe atye ka waco ni dong anongo, onyo ni dong adwogo ngat matir, ento pud amedde anyim wek amak gin ma Kricito Yecu omaka pire. 13 Utmegina, pe atamo ni dong atyeko makone; ento tye gin acel ma atimo: wiya bedo ka wil i gin mukato angec doki alaro gin ma tye anyim, 14 Aringo akemo wang golo wek anong mot me lwong ma malu pa Lubanga i Kricito Yecu.

(7) Can Miyo Kare. Can miyo kare bot deyo pa Lubanga me nyute, alokaloka ikwowa, caden, ki tiyo tic pa Lubanga, ki madwong ata. (Nen pingo can poto ma gicoyo piny kany.)

(8) Can Mitte Ni Wabeddu Luwiny. Can mitte lagam matye atir wek yub pa Lubanga ocobbe iye. “Wan weng wamito adwogi maber, kit matir; ento pe wamito gin makelo, limo can.”2 Pien calo kit ma gicweyo wa kede, pe waromo bedo ki acel manongo mukene ni pe.

(9) Can Tye Mok Ma Yam Onyo Kiyer Ma Yam.

1 Petero 1:6 Pi man wubed ki yom cwiny, kadi bed kombedi pi kare manoknok, gwok nyo, komwu ryange pi aoma cwiny mapatpat,

1 Petero 4:12 Luwota ma amaro, pe wuur can ma rom ki mac matye i kinwu, ma bino i komwu pi temo wu, calo gin mo mapat tutwal tye ka time i komwu;

(10) Can Obedo Gin Ma Pe Genge. Lapeny ma myero wan weng wagam pe obedo, ‘kace wabibedo ki aoma i kwo man, ento kit ma wabi tero gi kede?

1 Jo Tecalonika 3:3 wek dano mo pe kome oryange ki can magi; wun kikomwu wungeyo ni kiyerowu pi gin man.

1 Petero 4:19 Pi meno, wek jo ma bene limo can i yo ma Lubanga mito gumi tipo gi i cing Lacwec ma genne i tiyo gin ma atir.

(11) Can Obedo Tutte. En bibedo lweny nio i agikki ne. En omiyo gilwongo ki ni “aoma” ki “atema.” Kadi bed ni waniang tyene ki kit can, doki wangeyo cikke pa Lubanga me mar ki paro piwa matye i Lok pa Lubanga i kit me tero can, tic ki aoma me kwo pe yot pien can lit. Aoma miniwa tek me lubo kit ma jami tye ka wot kede (Yakobo. 1:4). Giye ki jami me tic doki yee botwa me nongo kuc me cwiny ki yom cwiny i akina aoma cwiny man.

Wek water can ki yom cwiny me ada ki yweyo muromo, myero wabed ki keru me neno anyim i kom yub pa Lubanga doki niang pingo can man tye ka time. Man mitte niye i kom ada pa Lubanga ma rii nakanaka.

Poro lwak gum me can calo ma nen i caden pa lawer i Jabuli. 119:

Ma nongo can pud pe

Rwenyo ata ki kwanyo tamwa woko ki i kom lok atir (wange. 67a)

Ikare me can

Pwonye ki lokke cwiny (wange. 71, cf. wange. 59)

Ikare ma watye ite can myero watimo gin magi:

(1) Ngino ki niang gin ma okelo can man kace watwero (En tye mono pi gin mo an atimo?)

(2) Ngino ki niang gin ango ma can miti ocobbe (Gin ango ma Lubanga mito timone i kwona onyo i kwo pa jo mukene?)

(3) Ngino ki niang lacang ango (Lubanga mono miti ater can man ningning?)

Inge Can

(1) Ngeno ki lokke cwiny (wange. 67b, 97-102)

(2) Yweyo ki lwodo ber (wange. 65, 72)

en bene omoko con i tamme me tic ki can pi kelo teggi i cwinywa. Kace inen wan wabi ciro can ki aoma me kwo, ento bene, myero waniang ki wayeyo i kom yub ki tyen lok pingo wa limo can mukene kit ma gi tiyo kacel ki yub maditti.

Yub Ki Tyen Lok Pingo Wa limo Can

(1) Wa limo macalo caden, macalo gituco (2 Tem 2:8-10; 2 Jo Korint. 4:12-13; 1 Pet. 3:13-17). Kace jo muye tero can ki yom cwiny doki ki labongo yenge, en doko caden madit me moko teko ki kwo pa Kricito ma wan wa moko doki wa waco. Can miyo kare madit me nyutu kamaleng ki ilo malu teko pa Lubanga nio ki i luticce wek ki niang maber doki ki mok atir pa lakwena ki kwena ne weng. En miyo kare me nyutu atir wa macalo luwang Kricito (1 Luker. 17:17-24; Jon 11:1-45). Man kwako jami magi:

a. Me miyo deyo bot Lubanga i nyim lumalaika (Yubu 1-2; 1 Pet. 4:16).

b. Me nyutu kamaleng teko pa Lubanga bot jo mukene (2 Jo Kor. 12:9, 10; Jon 9:3).

c. Me nyutu kamaleng kit pa Kricito i akina can macalo caden me lono dano mukene bot Kricito (2 Jo Kor. 4:8-12; 1 Pet. 3:14-17).

(2) Wa limo can me medo kerowa ki nyutu cwiny me kica i kweyo cwiny jo mukene (2 Jo Kor. 1:3-5).

(3) Wa limo can me dwogo awakkawa piny (2 Jo Kor. 12:7). Lakwena Paulo oneno okuto ma tye i komeni calo gin ma Lubanga oye me konyo en me bedo ki cwiny mamwol doki me jenge i kom Rwot pi niyabo ma en oneno calo ngat ma tamme gimako woko i polo.

(4) Wa limo can pien tye gin ma pwonyo wa. Lubanga i mar ki gen tiyo ki can me ilo leng cwiny wa, teggo wa, ki i wot wa kede (Jo Ibru. 12:5f; 1 Pet. 1:6; Yakobo. 1:2-4). Kit man, can ki yubo me:

a. Calo lapwony pi bal me dwogo wa cen me ribbe iyo me tito bal me ada (Jab. 32:3-5; 119:67).

b. Calo lalwer jangwa me kwanyo yen muto woko ki i kwowa (goro, bal me kwiya piny, tam ki yo me tino, ki mapol ata.) Adwogi ma mite tye me medo nyako nyigwa (Jon 15:1-7). Aoma cwiny romo bedo kiyo me lajuk me nyutu kamaleng ka bal ki goro mukane woko (Jab. 16:7; 119:67, 71).

c. Calo gin me dongo wa ki yubo me weko wa jenge i kom Rwot ki lokke. Aoma temo niyewa doki weko wa keto itic cikke ki ada pa lok pa Lubanga (Jab. 119:71, 92; 1 Pet. 1:6; Yak. 1:2-4; Jab. 4:1 [Ileb Ibru ginacoya man Gonye ni, “Imiya niang matut, iweko adongo madit nio ki i can ma alimo”]). Can onyo aoma pwonyo wa ada me Jabuli 62:1-8, ada me pwonye me “kuro i kom Rwot keken.”

d. Calo yo me pwonye i kom ngo ma bedo lawiny obedo. En doko calo gitemo i kom ada wa (Jo Ibru. 5:8). Macalo: Ki won latin mo owaco ki wode me timo gin ma en maro timone (calo., camo pii ma omakke ma lim calo cukari) ki en bene timo, latin meno obedo lawiny, ento en pud pe yaa oniang gin mo i kom bedo lawiny. Kace wone, ento, openye me gero piny, eno ni doko latem doki pwonyo gin mo i kom lok man me bedo lawiny. Kom lok madit tye ni, winyo lok pol kare weko wajalo jami mogo doki timo bene tek. En romo mito mine kenwa, tek cwiny, woro, ki niye i yeyu ni Lubanga ber doki tye i cwinye pi ber bedowa kadi bed ni jami pe ka nen maber tutwal. Kadi bed ni Lubanga yee ki can me donyo i kwowa pi tyen lok mapol ata, pol kare en nyutu kamaleng kama jami orem, goro, tam ma ogom, ki mapol ata., calo kit ma otime i Yubu.

Can pire kene pe obedo gin ma kelo niye onyo teggi i cwiny wa. En tye gin ma Lubanga tiyo kede me kelo wa bote wek walokke bote ki wawiny lokke. En telo wa tetek weko walokke ki i keto gen i jami ma watye kede nio i kwo ki niye i jami pa Lubanga. En weko wa keto jami ma okwongo namba acel. Adada, lok ki cwiny pa Lubanga aye kelo niye ki teggi ikit calo pa Kricito (Jab. 119:67, 71).

Yakobo 1:2-4; 1 Pet. 1:6-7: Lok madit tye “moko ada pa niyewa.” “Moko” tye  dokimion ma neno tyen lok me temo ma lonyo wa, ki adwogi, mok ada ma tye odong inge atema man. Rwot tiyo ki aoma me temo niyewa i yo me lonyo ne, me kelo ne iwii cere, wek otel wa me keto niyewa itic.

(5) Wa limo can me kelo jenge i kom kica ki teko pa Lubanga. Can ki yubo me weko wa woto ki twero pa Lubanga, teko, ki konye ento pe i yo wa (2 Jo Kor. 11:24-32; 12:7-10; Jo Epec. 6:10f; Nia. 17:8f). En weko walokke ki i kom jami wa nio jami mamege.

(6) Wa limo cam me nyutu kwo ki kit pa Kricito (Nyig ma nyak pi Cwiny Maleng) (2 Jo Kor. 4:8-11; Jo Pil. 1:19f). Man romaroma ki tyen lok me angwen (4) ma gicoyo maluni kun en keto tek i kom yo ki nyutu pingo ne, ki kelo kit pa Kricito.En tye ki lakwany wa ki lamed bene:

a. Lakwany: Can konyo me kwanyo cilo ki i kwowa calo bedo ki cwiny ma pe ki tam mo i kom Lubanga, gene kenwa, miti ma pe atir, paro pi komwa keken, kit ki miti ma pe kakare, ki kero pa dano me gwoke ki yo ma wa yubo me bwot ki i kom can ma wayenyo me cobbo pekowa (yo me cobbo peko ma dano aye oyubo). Can pire kene pe kwanyo cilo, ento obedo gin ma Lubanga tiyo kede wek wa ket niyewa itic i kica pa Lubanga. En tye kica pa Lubanga i Kricito (kit wa manyen i Kricito, lok pa Lubanga ki cwiny maleng) ma loko wa. Yo man me kwanyo cobbe i yo aryo: (1) Ikare ma wa pe i ribbe ki rwot: Can doko calo lapwony ki bot wonwa ma tye i polo (Jo Ibru. 5:5-11; 1 Jo Kor. 11:28-32; 5:1-5). Man kwako bal ma wangeyo, jemo ki tamwa ma pe tammo gin mo i kom Lubanga. (2) Ikare ma wa tye i ribbe kede: Can bedo calo tic cing me mara ki kwiri pa lagwok poto olok miyo wa nyako nyigwa mapol. En kwako bal mokane woko ki botwa, kama pe wa romo bedo ki ngec iye, ento kun bal meno juko woko dongowa ki nyako nyigwa bene. Iyo man, can pol kare tye kiyo me juk botwa (Jon 15:1-7).

b. Lamed: kace inen jo muye kwo ite can ki yom cwiny (meno waco ni., gi ciro doki ki bedo ka tic ki cikke ki ada pa niye), Kwo onyo Kit pa Kricito obibedo ka medeameda ki nyute ka gin dongo nio ki can man (2 Jo Kor. 4:9-10; 3:18). En tye gen, kuc, yom cwiny, cung matek, kit me baibul, ada, ki winy mekaka tam me col piny, kelo koko i kom jo mukene, ringo woko, koko, ki pyem ki Lubanga ki dano.

(7) Wa limo cam me nyutu kamaleng kit me col piny pa jo maraco ki atir pa Lubanga i ngolo kop ka poto i ngolo koppe (1 Jo Tec. 2:14-16). Limo can icing dano (aun, tim gero) Lubanga tiyo kede me “medo pek pa bal ki.” En nyutu kit maraco pa jo ma giuno jo mukene ki ngol pa Lubanga ma tye atir ka poto i kom gi.

(8) Wa limo can me nyayo tic pa Lubanga ma wa tiyo pire (cf.  Jo Pilipi 1:12-14 ki 4:5-9). I yo me kelo kit pa jopa Kricito ki medo caden wa bot jo mukene, can pol kare yabo doggola me tiyo tic pa Lubanga mano pe watwero tammone. Tweyo Paulo i mabuc (gitweyo en ki nyor nino ducu bot lumwony pa jo Roma i ode) omiyo lok me jiri onya ikin askari lukur piny me gang ker madit me praetoria. Lakwena Paulo omeddeameda ki bedo ki yom cwiny i rwot, ento kace inen en obed kakoko, lingalinga ki cwer cwiny, ki kec cwiny cadenne ono konye bedo lam.

1 1 Ron Lee Davis, Gold in the Making, Thomas Nelson, Nashville, 1983p. 17-18.

2 2 Davis, p. 19. See also p. 32.

Related Topics: Suffering, Trials, Persecution

Job, Suffering, and the Covid-19 Pandemic

Is it too much of a stretch to try and link the message of the Book of Job to our current pandemic? I think not. The current pandemic gives us a bit of a handle, a connection if you would, with Job and this book. After all, Job was likely written early in Old Testament history. It was a different time, a different place, something long ago and far away. Living in the 21st century we may have difficulty fixing our minds on the setting and the message of such an ancient text.

The Covid-19 pandemic can serve as a kind of lens, through which we can view the Book of Job. I believe we will see that Job’s circumstances way back in time and our experience with the Corona Virus have a number of similarities, which will help us identify with Job and with his suffering. Because of the current pandemic many people have lost their jobs, and find themselves economically devastated. Job unexpectedly lost all of his wealth in a very short period of time. He, too, was broke. This Corona Virus has taken the lives of friends, neighbors, and relatives, and so there is much grieving going on, around the world. Job lost all of his children in a moment of time. He, too, had much to grieve over. And finally, many of those who are currently infected with the Corona virus are suffering greatly. So, too, with Job, whose suffering took him to the very edge of death. I don’t believe many today could claim that they are suffering as much as Job did, centuries ago, but many are suffering the physical effects of this virus.

The long and the short of all of this is that the adversity Job experienced on an individual level is similar to that which we are now experiencing globally.

I do not intend to conduct an in-depth, verse-by-verse exposition of this book. Rather than to dwell on the “gnats” (the minute details) of this book, I intend to focus on the “camels” – the main points of emphasis – of Job (see Matthew 23:23-24). I will seek to summarize the message of Job in three lessons. This first lesson will deal with the first two chapters of Job. The second lesson will be much more challenging, because we will deal with chapters 3-37. And the third lesson will conclude this study by concentrating on chapters 38-42. I believe that this study will be helpful for those who are dealing with suffering. It will also lay a foundation for a more extensive study of this great book.

Related Topics: Christian Life, Suffering, Trials, Persecution

Pages