Genesis 45-46 B

“God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors.” 45:7

Joseph has such beautiful, gospel-perspective on this situation! (Before the gospel even played out!)

My sister started a children’s home in Kenya about 15 years ago. I remember when it was just a concept, no land had been purchased and no official name had been registered. In the last year, the finishing touches were put on a second home, waiting to be filled with ten more formally-orphaned kids.

Here is what absolutely tears my heart into two pieces: the ten kids who live there now weren’t even born yet when Visible Grace was started. God already had a plan in motion to give them hope and rescue them. 

When have you seen God go before you and prepare a rescue plan? Stop and thank him now for the ways he enters in to our situations before we get there.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

-Carly

 

 

Genesis 43-44 B

“Is not this the one from which my lord drinks and which he indeed uses for divination? You have done wrong in doing this.” (44:5)

“Joseph said to them, ‘What is this deed that you have done? Do you not know that such a man as I can indeed practice divination?’” (44:15)

Here are a couple other verses I’ve always breezed over, because… what?! The perfect Jospeh of my youth didn’t practice divination! Why would he? It’s super against the rules!

“’You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor practice divination or soothsaying.” (Leviticus‬ ‭19:26‬)

I first had this pointed out to me in a Worldview class. The teacher asked, “Where did you think Jospeh learned divination?” To which many of us responded, “Certainly from those polytheistic Egyptians!” She suggested another place:

“Laban said to [Jacob], ‘If now it pleases you, stay with me; I have divined that the Lord has blessed me on your account.'” (Genesis 30:27)

Jospeh more likely learned it from his mom, because she stole from her father, who practiced divination too. Which reminds me… Suddenly, this hiding-spiritual-stuff-in-people’s-bags sounds familiar.

“The one with whom you find your gods shall not live; in the presence of our kinsmen point out what is yours among my belongings and take it for yourself.” For Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen them. So Laban went into Jacob’s tent and into Leah’s tent and into the tent of the two maids, but he did not find them. Then he went out of Leah’s tent and entered Rachel’s tent. Now Rachel had taken the household idols and put them in the camel’s saddle, and she sat on them. And Laban felt through all the tent but did not find them.” (Genesis‬ ‭31:32-34‬)

So many parallels! A secret, stowed in a saddle bag, a promise that the one it’s found with shall pay, Rachel, and now her son!

Since he and his brothers would have been alive for that, I wonder if Jospeh was making the parallels on purpose to jog his brothers memories. I wonder if all this time it was supposed to jog our memories too, but we were made uncomfortable by all the divination, and ignored it.

This time through Genesis, I’ve really had to slow myself down and stop viewing Jacob’s family through the lens of the Mosaic Law. That was not a thing when they were around. All of this friendship with God that Abraham experienced was brand new, and no one–by any stretch of the imagination–was blameless in the way we imagine blamelessness.

Also, it’s funny to me how long they leave Simeon in prison. Dude had it coming.

What stood out to you today?

-Bethany

Genesis 41-42 B

“Speaking among themselves, they said, ‘Clearly we are being punished because of what we did to Joseph long ago. We saw his anguish when he pleaded for his life, but we wouldn’t listen. That’s why we’re in this trouble.’ ” 42:21

I find this interesting. Clearly his brothers are haunted by their actions. Sometimes the stories I read over and over in the Bible lose their pizazz, but when I step back, I can hardly believe this happened. They beat up and sold their brother into slavery, living with the lie of his disappearance to their father every day for years. Did they ever try to track Joseph down? Did any of them got close to confessing to Jacob in a deep moment of guilt?

I can’t blame Joseph for weirdly testing their character and flexing his power a little bit (I mean, I can’t believe he only threw them in jail for three days). Jospeh is good man who understands that God writes our stories and takes care of us, no matter what happens.

Are you haunted by the guilt of an unconfessed sin?

How would you respond if you stood face to face with the someone who greatly wronged you in the past?

 

-Carly

 

Genesis 39-40 B

The story of Joseph is used as an object lesson for a lot of things. Today, I just want to enjoy it as a story. Or maybe not enjoy it. We like to filter all of this garbage that happens to him through the knowledge of how the story ends, but I want to wait here for a second.

“Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.” (40:23‬)

A peek into the beginning of 41 tells us that it was TWO FULL YEARS before anything changed for Jospeh.

Think back to where you were two years ago. That’s a LONG TIME! For me, at this time in 2016, I had just arrived in Greece, and was starting to meet the refugees in a camp in Thessaloniki. Most of them had left home two years prior and were living in a very prison-like camp. Nothing was certain. No promise was worth anything and hopelessness was everywhere. Now, in 2018, some of them are finally getting on with their lives as they struggle to learn the language of their asylum country, but others are still feeling very hopeless.

Just as Jospeh makes his plea to be remembered and says, “I have done nothing that they should have put me into the dungeon.” (40:15) these friends haven’t done anything to merit their captivity.

‭‭This also makes me think of the massive amounts of incarcerated people in the US. A lot of those people don’t deserve to live there either. It’s not always for us to judge.

The LORD saw Jospeh there, and He took care of him. Jesus exhorts us to do the same, as His people, His hands and feet.

“For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me…Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” (Matthew 25:35-36; 40)

If I could travel back in time, I would have wanted to visit Jospeh in prison and tell him to not lose hope. To be a friend, to listen. And maybe try to get in to tell Pharaoh about him!

We may not know who is a Joseph or a Jesus, but we can do something to show care and compassion to someone.

Spend some time praying with the LORD to brainstorm an idea today.

-Bethany

Genesis 37-38 B

Who did you relate to the most out of today’s text? Here’s who caught my attention:

Joseph. Well-meaning, but prideful. He either isn’t aware of how he’s coming across, or he’s shamelessly flaunting the favor he receives. He was born into this position of privilege, but does that mean he gets to brag about it? It does not. What a reminder to be a good steward of whatever position God gives you.

Reuben. Great intentions, no follow-through. I wonder how many sleepless nights he laid awake regretting not stepping in quicker to rescue his brother. Don’t make a plan to come back and do the right thing later, just intervene before it’s too late.

Onan. Excuse the crass example, but I find it relatable. There is a lot of temptation in avoiding God-given responsibility and just participating in the things that are fun for us.

Murder, sex and incest. God’s story is messy, can you believe Jesus directly comes from these people, let alone for these people? Don’t let shame say you are too far out of God’s reach. Shame is a liar. What is intended for evil, God uses for good.

 

-Carly

 

Genesis 35-36 B

“Then God said to Jacob, ‘Arise, go up to Bethel and live there, and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.’ So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, ‘Put away the foreign gods which are among you, and purify yourselves and change your garments.’” (35:1-2‬)

Not a lot about Jacob’s life impresses me. God speaks to him again and it seems like Jacob does a sort of, “Oh yeah, HIM! Everyone! Quick! Bury our other gods!” Then, after he spends two seconds in Bethel, he moves on from there (35:16). In any case, he ends up in the general vicinity.

I managed to write out the family trees of Esau and Seir (why not? I’ve got the time, plus I need visuals), and all you need to know is that there is some intermixing going on. Not a lot, but some. Oholibamah is a wife of Esau (36:14,18), but also the daughter of Anah, the son of Seir. Esau’s concubine, Timna (36:12), is the sister of Lotan (36:22), the son of Seir. Bada-bing, bada-boom. There you go.

Now here’s where it gets confusing:

“When Esau was forty years old he married Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite;” (26:34‬)

“So Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan displeased his father Isaac; and Esau went to Ishmael, and married, besides the wives that he had, Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebaioth.” (28:8-9‬)

“Esau took his wives from the daughters of Canaan: Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Oholibamah the daughter of Anah and the granddaughter of Zibeon the Hivite; also Basemath, Ishmael’s daughter, the sister of Nebaioth.” (36:2-3‬)

Get your story straight! Is Basemath Elon the Hittite’s daughter or is she Ishmeal’s?Did you mean Adah back in 26:34? Who are all these extra ladies? Judith? Mahalath? Nebaioth? Did they not have kids? Who knows. Anyway… this is what I get for inspecting passages I usually gloss over.

Is the point that Esau married local, while Jacob married his cousins? Because, at this point, both are rife with the worship of other gods.

Anyway, Genesis was written as an identity document for Israel, so maybe they don’t 100% care what Ishmael and Esau did at this point in the story. These people don’t actually flutter off into obscurity, they just aren’t the main characters in this telling of history.

That’s what I always need to remind myself of. I always want to compare to see if God chose the best of the best. But see what Paul, a Jew who had studied these stories his whole life observed:

“God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong,” (1 Corinthians‬ ‭1:27‬)

Although Esau didn’t receive “the blessing”, he had more kids than Jacob. They were both wealthy (36:7). But this story isn’t about Esau, it’s about Jacob, even though he’s not that great and his kids are even worse.

It’s always important to remember what the purpose and occasion of a book is. It helps us understand when things seem thousands of years out of our context.

What parts of this story seem strange to you?

-Bethany

Genesis 33-34 B

“Meanwhile, the rest of Jacob’s sons arrived. Finding the men slaughtered, they plundered the town because their sister had been defiled there. They seized all the flocks and herds and donkeys—everything they could lay their hands on, both inside the town and outside in the fields. They looted all their wealth and plundered their houses. They also took all their little children and wives and led them away as captives.” 34:27-29

I’m not sure what to make of this story. It’s brokenness on top of brokenness, on top of brokenness. It starts and ends with women being deeply mistreated at the hands of men with power. Narratives like this in the Bible can be hard to stomach. What does God think of this? What happened afterwards? What should have happened? I can’t say I disagree with the question at the end of chapter 34, but why should we let them do this?

Looting, plundering and kidnapping is not how God wants us to respond to sin. He knows we are sinful even in our justified anger. Which is why the Word says:

“Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’ says the Lord.” Romans 12:19

Seeking revenge is not godly behavior. Instead, we are called to meekness, letting God defend us! God’s anger is righteous and he is the perfect judge. Of course, throughout the Bible, God lays out natural consequences and crowd-management for rightful living. Revenge and consequences are not the same thing. 
Have you been profoundly hurt in your life?
What does it look like to trust in God to right those wrongs?

 

-Carly