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.


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.




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?


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?



Genesis 31-32 B

Today’s chapters show us how Jacob had to face the men he had run away from. First, Laban, his uncle, who had turned out to be a rascal, and felt like Jacob was stealing from him. Second, Esau his brother, whom Jacob really had stole from.

We see that God graciously protects Jacob in both circumstances (sorry to spoil tomorrow’s reading) and shows him favor at the hand of his family, even though it’s undeserved.

These stories of Jacob always remind me that God doesn’t go around choosing the best of the best and blessing good people. He is familiar with our faults and often blesses us anyway, because He is gracious and faithful. It’s His choice.

To me, this is another reason the Fear of the Lord is wisdom. We can live our lives to honor Him because He is under no obligation to care for us.

Side note: Jacob must have been Herculean to not only move the stone which opened the well (29:10), but now also be some sort of contender in a wrestling match with God (32:24-32). That story will forever baffle me.


Genesis 29-30 B

So Jacob worked seven years to pay for Rachel. But his love for her was so strong that it seemed to him but a few days.” 29:30

I’m torn about this sentence. On one hand, it’s deeply romantic and dreamy. Every woman wants a man to fight for her, doing whatever it takes for him to be with her. But we’re not told how Rachel felt about Jacob. It’s possible she quite disliked him, but had no say in the matter as she was used as currency in this exchange.

Chapter 30 is an exhausting tug of war of who’s fertile and who’s not. Jacob hustles back and forth between his wives and their servants as they scramble to earn their husband’s affection through their childbearing.

There was so much shame attached to women without children (especially sons), and I love reading that God was understanding of that, and what he did with this family line. Marriage and having kids is so much different for these people than it is for American culture. They don’t choose who they marry, and their lives hinge on their fertility. (Bethany wrote about the significance of all these children in her post last time around. It’s so good! God is the best story-writer.)

When has God tenderly taken care of you when you were hurt and unloved?



Genesis 27-28 B

It is what it is.

When I try to over-spiritualize what happened with Jacob usurping Esau, it hurts my head.

On one hand, it was prophesied that “the older shall serve the younger” (25:23) but was it by design that Jacob do this in such a weasily, manipulative way? I don’t know. I’d rather think of it as just a statement. A foretelling. It is what it is. Could Esau have ever been The One? Maybe that’s not for us to say.

Jacob is such a stinker. Even after seeing heaven, itself, open up, he makes a stipulated promise:

if God will be with me and will keep me on this journey that I take, and will give me food to eat and garments to wear, and I return to my father’s house in safety, then the Lord will be my God.” (28:20-21)

Wow. How big of you, Jacob. A round of applause for our glorious patriarch.

But right when I want to get super judgy, I think, “what does the LORD have to come through on for me in order that I stay committed to Him?”

All too often, people abandon God in times of personal crisis. Maybe we’ve been sold a prosperity gospel of sorts which encourages us to call in to question the goodness of God (and our allegiance to Him) whenever times get tough.

That’s what’s so profound about what Job says:

“Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.” (13:15)

However, don’t miss the second part of that thought:

“Nevertheless, I will argue my ways before Him.”

It’s okay to ask questions and engage in the conflict of it all, but I think that has a lot to do with seeking to exchange a prosperity gospel for the truth.

Anyway, I will ask this question of myself today, and you are free to join me, are there any conditions on my commitment to the LORD?


Genesis 25-26 B

Revisit 26:12-22. Poor guy! He’s just minding his own business, trying to keep his head down and he’s getting driven out of town, one well at a time.

Have you ever responded like the Philistines did about the water, jealous over the blatant favor of God someone else receives?

Or maybe you’re like Isaac, trying to sort out what it looks like to be a good steward of the wealth God has gifted you.

We can plainly see that the Lord is with you. (26:28) The Philistines are catching on that the recipients of God’s promises and those who associate with him freely receive his blessings.

In Genesis, God is still regularly spelling himself out for his people, and as someone reading this hundreds of years later, it can be harder to relate.

But I hope that no matter my circumstances or wealth, people can plainly see that God is with me.

Bethany’s reflection on chapter 25 was so great; I had nothing to add. But now hungry for soup and crusty bread.


Genesis 23-24 B

I appreciate Abraham’s rapport with his neighbors in 23. I think it’s lovely. Here, he’s chummy with Hittites, where as in 14 he was allies with Amorites. These two people groups become enemies of Israel later and it’s a bummer. Although we know, not all–there are always exceptions–since one of David’s mighty men was a Hittite: Uriah.

I love the story of Rebecca in 24. So much hospitality, rejoicing and celebration over immediate answers to prayer. Then it’s super cute (in my mind) how Isaac and Rebecca spot each other from afar and fall in love.

It says Isaac was on his way back from Beer-lahai-roi, which is Hager’s “the living one who sees me” well. This story is one beautiful example after another of the LORD being very involved in this family’s life. He sees them, He hears them, He answers their prayers. Celebrations ensue.

I want to celebrate things more. Let’s throw more parties when we meet new people and see prayers answered. Life is short, often dark and sad, so we should make the most of every opportunity to rejoice.

Who is a new friend you can celebrate? What prayers have you seen answer lately?


Genesis 21-22 B

I can almost hear Isaac’s nervous tone of voice as he breaks the pregnant silence on the long walk:

“Isaac turned to Abraham and said, ‘Father?’

‘Yes, my son?’ Abraham replied.

‘We have the fire and the wood’, the boy said, ‘but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?’

And I can practically feel Abraham’s heart drop as his son starts to catch on to what’s happening. I love his response to Isaac:

” ‘God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,’ Abraham answered. ” 22:8

I’m convinced he believes this as he reassures his son. Yet still, he bounds his boy’s limbs with rope and places him on the altar.

Are you able to give up the thing, no matter how difficult, God asks of you?

Abraham knows God’s character. He trusts him and even in the midst of a seemingly barbaric, evil request, he obeys. Because God is always the same, even when the circumstances don’t seem to be.

How do you respond in obedience to tests of faith?

Do you trust in God’s sovereignty and unconditional love even in the face of doubt?

Why or why not?