June 9-15

 This week’s memory verses:

Genesis 50:20, Romans 8:28 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

This week’s Scripture Readings:

Genesis 37:1-36 – Sold Into Slavery
Genesis 39:1-49:57 – Prison and a Promotion
Genesis 42:1-38 – Ten Brothers Go to Egypt
Genesis 43:1-44:34 – The Brothers Return
Genesis 45:1-46:7 – Joseph Reveals His Identity

Day 1

Sold into Slavery – Genesis 37

More family drama in the first family of faith! Joseph is favored by Jacob, to the point of getting a multi-colored coat signifying his beloved status as the oldest son of Jacob’s wife Rachel. Due to this favoritism, Joseph’s other siblings dislike him. The fact that he is having dreams, which show him exalted over the rest of his family, isn’t exactly helping. Thus, when the opportunity arises, Joseph’s siblings seek to slay him. Reuben, the eldest, weakly intervenes and ensures that Joseph won’t be killed. Instead, the siblings throw him in a well. Judah, upon seeing slavers, states that throwing Joseph in a well isn’t benefiting any of the other siblings. There is money to be made by selling Joseph into slavery. This is done. Joseph’s coat is torn and covered in blood in order to make it look like he was killed. Joseph ends up in the house of Potiphar. What a series of events!

But don’t fret for Joseph. God is sovereign even over those circumstances that look detrimental. As we will see, if none of this occurred, he would have never been put in a position in Egypt to help his family. If he doesn’t help his family during the famine, they will die. If the family dies, that means Judah dies. No Judah, no Messiah. God is sovereign over these circumstances because he has a promise to keep. Even when life isn’t fair, God is good!

Day 2

Prison and a Promotion – Genesis 39, 40, and 41 

In these chapters, we return to Joseph and his story. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, and by God’s sovereignty, ended up in Potiphar’s house. Potiphar, a very important man, was the captain of Pharaoh’s guard. Despite the circumstances, it is obvious that the Lord is with Joseph. Joseph needs the Lord. He is put into a tough situation. Potiphar’s wife propositions Joseph and he denies her. He can’t imagine hurting his master and sinning against God (vs. 8-9). This is crucial. Do we feel the same? Are we so focused on God and his greatness that we would never imagine sinning against our master. As Charles Spurgeon says, “When I regarded God as a tyrant, I thought sin a trifle; but when I knew him to be my father, then I mourned that I could ever have kicked against him.” Do we see God as the Father who provided his son as our hope and salvation? If we did, we would not take our sin so lightly. Thus, Joseph begins avoiding Potiphar’s wife. However, she traps Joseph and he has no other option but to run away, leaving his garment behind. Potiphar’s wife accuses Joseph of rape and he is thrown in jail. Joseph is so focused on obeying God that he is wrongfully accused. Yet, as we will see, God is sovereignly orchestrating events the will ultimately benefit Joseph and his family.

Next, the Egyptian royal butler and baker are put into prison. These two would have served Pharaoh his wine and his food, thus, it is safe to assume they are sent to prison for tampering with Pharaoh’s meals – perhaps as part of a treasonous plot. Whatever the circumstantial reason, we know these two were meant to meet Joseph. While in prison, the butler and the baker each have a dream. Joseph interprets both dreams. For the butler, the dream is interpreted to mean he will be restored. For the baker, it means he will be killed. Both will happen in three days. Everything comes to pass just as Joseph said it would – with God’s help of course! Yet, the butler did not remember Joseph as he said he would. Just when it looked like Joseph had a way out, he is wronged yet again. All those that God uses greatly; He first prepares greatly. Few are willing to endure the greatness of God’s preparation. Joseph has certainly gone through intense preparation. He wasn’t the only one. Jesus lived 30 years and did 3 years of miraculous ministry. In those 33 years, there was intense preparation. Yet, Jesus endured the preparation faithfully and was used by God in an amazing way. In whatever way God is preparing us, let us faithfully endure in order to be used in a mighty way.

Finally, we see the fruit of God’s preparation. Pharaoh has a dream that no one, not even his magicians, could interpret. It is at this moment that the butler remembers his failure. He confesses to Pharaoh that he knows a man who can interpret dreams and has forgotten him for over two years. With the help of God and his Spirit (Note that this is first time the Holy Spirit is seen upon/ empowering someone in scripture!), Joseph interprets the dream and offers advice. A famine is coming and measures should be taken now. Everything comes to pass as Joseph said, and Pharaoh raises Joseph up to 2nd in command. It may look like an overnight success, but Joseph has been waiting 13 years for this. Joseph knew God was in control. He knew there was a reason for his brothers betraying him, for jail, for the dreams, for everything. It’s hard for us to see these things in our own lives. During the times we think God isn’t doing anything, He is doing the work most important to Him: developing our character and transforming us into the image of Jesus Christ. We see that in Joseph’s story, and God willing, there will be a day we can see this in our stories!

Day 3

Ten Brothers Go To Egypt – Genesis 42

The famine that Joseph so wisely prepared for has now come across the land. Joseph’s father, Jacob, and his 11 brothers quickly find themselves in need of sustenance. Jacob tells his remaining sons that he has heard there is food to be had in Egypt. We wonder what Joseph’s brothers thought upon hearting the word, “Egypt”. Is it possible the brothers know that the most likely destination for someone sold into slavery would be Egypt? Do they, even now, feel guilty about what they did to Joseph? Guilt or not, the brothers make their way to Egypt. Well, almost all the brothers.

Jacob has held back Benjamin, his other son from his beloved wife Rachel because he can’t imagine losing another son. Upon arriving, the ten brothers meet Joseph. Joseph recognizes his brothers, but they do not recognize him. Joseph, seeing an opportunity to test his brothers, goes on to accuse the brothers of being spies, begins to interrogate them, and places them in prison. The ten brothers assure Joseph that they are not spies, just brothers from a family in need of food. Joseph tells the brothers that if they want to be released and able to buy more food, they must leave one brother with Joseph, go get their other brother Benjamin, and return to Egypt all together. The 10 brothers – now 9 – leave Simeon behind, take the first bit of grain they bought, and set off to discuss things with their father. Upon revealing everything to their father, Jacob is immediately distressed. He cries out that “all these things are against me.” Jacob, and his remaining sons, are even more distressed when they see the money they gave to buy grain had been returned to them. Why were they given the grain for free? Why was this Egyptian governor separating them from their brother, asking for another brother, and looking for them to return? What was going on?

As strange as Joseph’s actions may have been, God’s spirit was guiding him to do exactly what needed to be done in the hearts and lives of Jacob and his sons. We see their guilt, their growth, and their concern all at work to bring them to the end of themselves. While Jacob and these brothers could not understand what was happening, even to the point of thinking that “things were against them,” God was at work in a major way. How often do we act exactly like Jacob? We hold on to/ hold back what God has given us (our Benjamin) because we are too afraid to be hurt again. Here Jacob is with promises from God and he still says “things are against me.” Here Jacob is with enough money to send his family to buy food during a famine and he still says “things are against me.” Jacob can’t see the truth. Instead, he thinks things are against him when God is clear for him! Because of God’s gift of Jesus, we do not ever have to look at our situation and say “things are against me,” but instead should boldly declare that, “If God be for us nothing can be against us!”

Day 4

The Brothers Return – Genesis 43 and 44

Jospeh now meets his brothers for the second time (the first time was chapter 42 – hope you checked it out). Joseph had made a request that the brothers bring Benjamin, the youngest of the 11, back to Egypt with them. We see at the beginning of chapter 43 that Jacob consents to have all of his sons return to Egypt, only after Judah pledges to look after Benjamin. The famine has created hard times. So, Jacob sends the sons to Egypt bearing what gifts they can muster. The 11 brothers meet Joseph again, are welcomed, treated with kindness, and offered dinner. This probably came as a shock for the brothers. After the whole money ordeal, they probably thought Joseph was going to have them executed. Instead, he responds in love. We should be able to relate. There was probably a time when we, because of our sin, thought we would (and should) be punished by God. Yet, he showed lovingkindness to us even before we knew our need for him. He provided salvation through Jesus and we don’t deserve it. This is the type of love that Joseph extended to his brothers…food during a famine when their treatment of him should have gotten them nothing. Afterward, at dinner, Joseph arranged there places according to age of the brothers and he showed favoritism to the youngest. He is quite possibly trying to see how the older brothers will react when the younger is favored (the last time this happened, the youngest showed favoritism was Joseph and he was sold into slavery).

Then, Joseph gives his brothers all of the food they can carry. He evens put the money, the money the brothers were trying to use to pay for the grain, back in the sack. He was, yet again, providing for his family at no cost to them. However, he instructs his servant to put his silver goblet in Benjamin’s bag. He then instructs his servant to follow the brothers and confront them about the stolen cup. Some may think Joseph is using his power to be cruel. That isn’t the case. He is testing his brothers in order to bring them to repentance. Clearly, things have changed. They stick together when confronted with the “stolen” cup. They trusted one another, not blaming one or the other for stealing. Look at how Judah acts. He is even willing to be a substitute for his brother out of love for his father. Sound familiar? From the line of Judah comes the Messiah. The Messiah, Jesus Christ, dies a substitutionary death for his brothers and sisters out of love and obedience for the Father.

Day 5

Joseph Reveals his Identity – Genesis 45 and 46

Finally! After all this time, after all of this traveling back and forth, Joseph reveals himself to his brothers. Joseph’s emotions are obviously and clearly stated. Furthermore, his brothers are shocked and dismayed by this news. “The brother we sold into slavery is now over all of Pharaoh’s household?!” This shock and dismay remind us of another group, the first century Jews. Imagine their shock and dismay when they learned that the Jesus they mocked, beat, and crucified was the Messiah foretold. You can imagine them saying, “This savior you speak of Peter…he is the one we pierced and crucified?!” Yet, Joseph does not leave his brothers shocked and dismayed. He goes on to explain the situation. The famine will continue 5 more years. Their father, Jacob, and all of their family must be brought from Canaan to Egypt What the brothers intended for harm; God worked out for good (we will see this theme continue). It was God who brought Joseph to this place, not his brothers. In the same way, it was the Father who brought Jesus to the cross, not the people. What was intended to harm one man, provided salvation for humankind. A resounding reminder that God is in control and his plans cannot be thwarted. The great Puritan writer John Flavel once remarked that God’s providence, like the Hebrew language (read right to left) is best understood when read backwards. We can and will look back over our lives to see God’s unfailing goodness at work even when life was at its worst!

As Israel, or Jacob as we know him, begins to get ready to go down to Egypt, God speaks to him in a vision. He instructs Israel not to fear. He reminds Israel that he is going to turn this family into a great nation. We know that Abraham was told his descendants would be strangers in a land for over 400 years (Gen 15:13). All of this is coming to pass. It took over 200 years to grow this family from Abram to these 70 or so descendants of Israel that are listed in verses 5 through 27. In Egypt, in just over 400 years, the descendants would number nearly 2 million. Joseph goes on to instruct his family that they are to tell Pharaoh they are all shepherds in order to get the land of Goshen. Egypt was extremely racist/ stratified at this time and so the family of Jacob will be separated from the culture around them. The perfect place for God to grow a set apart people to “the number of the stars in the sky”. This is God’s plan coming to pass and his covenantal promise being fulfilled. He promised Abraham a great nation of descendants. It’s coming to pass. This won’t be the last time God’s plan and covenantal love are demonstrated for Israel. Jesus, the savior of the world and true Israel, will fulfill all of God’s promises. We can be sure, that in Jesus, God will fulfill all of His promises to us.