Genesis Day Thirty Six

by Rev Joel Yong

Genesis 46:1-4
So Israel took his journey with all that he had and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. And God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, “Jacob, Jacob.” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again, and Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes.”

At Joseph’s invitation, Israel moved with all he had.
There was nothing left behind, no “Just in case Egypt does not work out, let us leave a place here for us as reserved accommodation – just in case.”

Sometimes we don’t go, to a place we are called to, or sent to, with all our heart.

We long for the people we leave behind, the workplace we leave behind, the security and familiarity it affords …

Its natural but it also impedes our progress in wholeheartedly doing what God intends for us to achieve in the new place He is leading us to …

God assures Jacob/Israel that –

“Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again, and Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes.”

The place may seem strange and unfamiliar.
But what matters most, is that God is there with us.
That trumps everything else …

Advertisements

Genesis Day Thirty Five

by Rev Joel Yong

Genesis 45:16-20
When the report was heard in Pharaoh’s house, “Joseph’s brothers have come,” it pleased Pharaoh and his servants. And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Say to your brothers, ‘Do this: load your beasts and go back to the land of Canaan, and take your father and your households, and come to me, and I will give you the best of the land of Egypt, and you shall eat the fat of the land.’ And you, Joseph, are commanded to say, ‘Do this: take wagons from the land of Egypt for your little ones and for your wives, and bring your father, and come. Have no concern for your goods, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.’””

Pharaoh was happy to welcome Joseph’s family.
He was pleased to generously give them the best that Egypt had to offer.

Why was it so?

Certainly, it was due to how pleased he was with what Joseph had done.
Joseph had rescued Egypt from an impending global famine!

As a result, his brothers could enter Egypt as welcomed guests, and eat or drink of the best of the land!

Romans 3:24 (AMP)
[All] are justified and made upright and in right standing with God, freely and gratuitously by His grace (His unmerited favor and mercy), through the redemption which is [provided] in Christ Jesus

We too, enter Heaven, not because of what we have done, but because of Jesus Christ whose deeds have given us the blessing of citizenship in Heaven that we did not deserve.

Start the week by giving thanks to God for all He has done and the grace He showed you!

Genesis Day Thirty Three

by Rev Joel Yong

Genesis 44:17-34
But he (Joseph) said, “Far be it from me that I should do so! Only the man in whose hand the cup was found shall be my servant. But as for you, go up in peace to your father.” Then Judah went up to him and said, “Oh, my lord, please let your servant speak a word in my lord’s ears, and let not your anger burn against your servant, for you are like Pharaoh himself. My lord asked his servants, saying, ‘Have you a father, or a brother?’ And we said to my lord, ‘We have a father, an old man, and a young brother, the child of his old age. His brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother’s children, and his father loves him.’ Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me, that I may set my eyes on him.’ We said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father, for if he should leave his father, his father would die.’ Then you said to your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you shall not see my face again.’ “When we went back to your servant my father, we told him the words of my lord. And when our father said, ‘Go again, buy us a little food,’ we said, ‘We cannot go down. If our youngest brother goes with us, then we will go down. For we cannot see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’ Then your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons. One left me, and I said, “Surely he has been torn to pieces,” and I have never seen him since. If you take this one also from me, and harm happens to him, you will bring down my gray hairs in evil to Sheol.’ “Now therefore, as soon as I come to your servant my father, and the boy is not with us, then, as his life is bound up in the boy’s life, as soon as he sees that the boy is not with us, he will die, and your servants will bring down the gray hairs of your servant our father with sorrow to Sheol. For your servant became a pledge of safety for the boy to my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, then I shall bear the blame before my father all my life.’ Now therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the boy as a servant to my lord, and let the boy go back with his brothers. For how can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? I fear to see the evil that would find my father.”

Joseph did not know if his brothers had changed.
They were jealous and sold him into slavery.

He created a situation to test them.
Judah rose to the challenge.

Remember, years ago, it was Judah who suggested- that they sell Joseph into slavery.

Genesis 37:25-27
Then they sat down to eat. And looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing gum, balm, and myrrh, on their way to carry it down to Egypt. Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers listened to him.

Now years later, this same Judah, offers to sacrifice himself for his youngest brother.

No wonder his offer, moved Joseph to the point of tears.

Genesis 45:1-2
Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him. He cried, “Make everyone go out from me.” So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept aloud, so that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it.

I find this heartwarming.
By God’s hand, people do change.

Even people who betrayed you, like Judah did.
It may take years, but let God do His work, while you move on and live your life- as Joseph did, climbing through the many betrayals he experienced in his life.

On a closing note, I wonder what Joseph did to Potiphar after becoming Pharaoh’s right hand man?

Genesis Day Thirty Two

by Rev Joel Yong

Genesis 43:34
Portions were taken to them from Joseph’s table, but Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as any of theirs. And they drank and were merry with him.

In the Hebrew perspective, firstborn sons got the double portion of any sons born thereafter.

Deuteronomy 21:15-17
If a man has two wives, the one loved and the other unloved, and both the loved and the unloved have borne him children, and if the firstborn son belongs to the unloved, then on the day when he assigns his possessions as an inheritance to his sons, he may not treat the son of the loved as the firstborn in preference to the son of the unloved, who is the firstborn, but he shall acknowledge the firstborn, the son of the unloved, by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the firstfruits of his strength. The right of the firstborn is his.

That is why Esau wailed when Jacob was blessed as if he were the firstborn.
But here, Joseph, despite being a Hebrew, gives Benjamin – the youngest son of Israel, 5 times what his older brothers received!

This probably surprised the brothers who may have subsequently written it off as the ignorance of an Egyptian unfamiliar with Hebrew customs.

But Joseph did so deliberately.
Inspired, I would think.

He was showing us, how God would not let earthly rank, determine how He shows His favor or showers His blessings.

Jesus would reiterate the same truth much later on when he would teach:

Matthew 19:30
However, many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

Jesus was teaching about how the disciples’ sacrifice, in terms of leaving their livelihoods to follow Him, in comparison with the rich young ruler’s reluctance to give up his possessions- will be duly rewarded in the kingdom of God.

There are other biblical examples of this truth.
Judas Iscariot was an early follower of Jesus but wound up betraying Him.
Paul was one of the last apostles but wound up writing many of the epistles and working so very hard for the kingdom of God.

The Israelites were the first whom Jesus made Himself known to, but the Gentiles made up many of those who began following Jesus first.

Being a last born child, I fully appreciate and understand this good news.

Thank You God, that earthly rank is no determiner or bias that influences how You operate and how Heaven’s blessings are poured forth.

Genesis Day Thirty One

by Rev Joel Yong

Genesis 42:1-5
When Jacob learned that there was grain for sale in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you look at one another?” And he said, “Behold, I have heard that there is grain for sale in Egypt. Go down and buy grain for us there, that we may live and not die.” So ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt. But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with his brothers, for he feared that harm might happen to him. Thus the sons of Israel came to buy among the others who came, for the famine was in the land of Canaan.

He was desperate for food amidst this famine so he sends his sons to Egypt to buy grain.
But he is traumatized by the loss of Joseph, who disappeared years ago and he was allegedly killed by wild animals, according to the account told.

I do not know if he believed those accounts, and blamed himself.
After all, Jacob was the one who sent Joseph out to look for his brothers.

Genesis 37:12-14
Now his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock near Shechem. And Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers pasturing the flock at Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.” And he said to him, “Here I am.” So he said to him, “Go now, see if it is well with your brothers and with the flock, and bring me word.” So he sent him from the Valley of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.

Or perhaps he found something fishy, and did not trust his sons, thinking something else may have happened to Joseph.

Whatever the case, because of his loss, he now clings tightly to his precious youngest, Benjamin. A son even younger than Joseph was.

But watch what happens next.
Joseph now unrecognizable in Egyptian garb, meets his brothers, plots to make them bring Benjamin down to Egypt for he longs to see him. He does so, by pretending to remand Simeon as prisoner until they return with Benjamin.

Jacob’s response to this, is telling.

Genesis 42:38
But he said, “My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he is the only one left. If harm should happen to him on the journey that you are to make, you would bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to Sheol.”

He chose to keep Benjamin by his side and let Simeon languish in prison.

Sometimes when losses are inflicted upon our lives, we react by doing whatever we can to cling onto what is left and prevent a similar outcome from ever happening …

Our colleague backstabs us and we become suspicious of what other colleagues now mean when they say something to us …
Our heart gets broken when our lover leaves, and we become jealously protective of our next boyfriend or girlfriend, even stifling them …
Our tendency seems to deviate towards that of a scarcity mindset …
Instead of one that trusts God for what is ahead …

It even blinds us, like it did Jacob.
Such that he devalued one son for another by effectively letting Simeon remain in captivity, out of his fear of losing Benjamin.

We wind up hurting those around us, with our responses created by our fear of further losses …

Eyes to see and ears to hear

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: Jeremiah 4:19-6:15; Proverbs 27:4-6

READ (verses chosen for meditation)
Jeremiah 5:21 “Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but see not, who have ears, but hear not.”

REFLECT
Jeremiah 5:21 speaks of God’s rebuke upon the people of Judah. The rebuke was that the people of Judah was foolish and senseless. They were foolish because they have eyes that did not see and ears that did not hear. Yet, what were they supposed to see and hear?

According to the surrounding passages, Judah was supposed to see and hear about the truth of God. Here, the act of seeing and hearing are not merely passive observations; but calls for understanding and action. Hence, they were supposed to fear God and walk in His ways in the truth.

Instead they were described as a people who: “lurk like fowlers lying in wait. They set a trap; they catch men. Like a cage full of birds, their houses are full of deceit; therefore they have become great and rich; they have grown fat and sleek. They know no bounds in deeds of evil; they judge not with justice the cause of the fatherless, to make it prosper, and they do not defend the rights of the needy.” (Jeremiah 5:26-28). So to the Lord, Judah was as good as blind and deaf; for their eyes and ears were tuned to things that were not of the Lord’s. They were an abomination.

RELATE
Do I have eyes and yet not see? Do I have ears and yet not hear? Are my eyes and ears tuned to what they were originally intended to see and hear?

No. Not always. There will be times when I would love to dwell in the word of God for a longer period of time but gave in to the temptation of attending to another less important matter. There will be times when I should tune out unhealthy gossips during conversations but I allow my curiosity to mar my discernment. Even if I know the truth and understood it; I might not always carry out the intended purpose of the truth. For example, I know that God requires me to defend the rights of the needy; yet there were occasions when I failed to do so in the excuse of a more “urgent” matter.

REST
Lord, help me to see and hear more of what you intended and so allow me to act upon these for the furtherance of Your kingdom. Otherwise, my eyes and ears would only be so tuned to the ways of the world; that I would fail to carry out Your purposes for my life. Amen.