Israel’s Final Blessing–Genesis 49

The blessing of Jacob to his sons is an amazing prophecy of what was to become of the nation of Israel.  As one takes the time to read the text and then look at the nation’s development, the words of Israel are spot on.  His words also speak to the idea that the choices and behaviors of a person can become the culture of a family.  

As one looks at each of the brothers, you cannot help but notice their personalities affected and shaped their clan.  It was their temperaments and behaviors that either blessed or cursed their nations in years to come.  It had to be alarming to Rueben, Simeon, Levi and Benjamin to hear the prophecy of their future–and yet, their lives and temperaments had already set a culture that would follow for hundreds of years.

So what about us?  Should we fall prey to the natural tendencies within our  family history? If we are like Joseph, Judah or Dan–probably so.   But, the awesome news is, that in Christ, we are new creations.  We can change our culture and become exactly what Christ has called us to be–His ambassadors.  People with an eternal mindset and a heart to serve others.  If we will, then our family histories will resemble a life like Christ and He will be glorified in our journey and in our families–no greater gift exists. 

God Bless You


Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob;
    listen to your father Israel.

“Reuben, you are my firstborn,
    my might, the first sign of my strength,
    excelling in honor, excelling in power.
Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel,
    for you went up onto your father’s bed,
    onto my couch and defiled it.

“Simeon and Levi are brothers—
    their swords[a] are weapons of violence.

I will scatter them in Jacob
    and disperse them in Israel.

“Judah,[b] your brothers will praise you;…
10 The scepter will not depart from Judah,
    nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,[c]
until he to whom it belongs[d] shall come
    and the obedience of the nations shall be his.

13 “Zebulun will live by the seashore
    and become a haven for ships;
    his border will extend toward Sidon.

14 “Issachar is a rawboned[f] donkey
    lying down among the sheep pens.[g]
15 When he sees how good is his resting place
    and how pleasant is his land,
he will bend his shoulder to the burden
    and submit to forced labor.

16 “Dan[h] will provide justice for his people
    as one of the tribes of Israel.
17 Dan will be a snake by the roadside,
    a viper along the path,
that bites the horse’s heels
    so that its rider tumbles backward.

18 “I look for your deliverance, Lord.

19 “Gad[i] will be attacked by a band of raiders,
    but he will attack them at their heels.

20 “Asher’s food will be rich;
    he will provide delicacies fit for a king.

21 “Naphtali is a doe set free
    that bears beautiful fawns.[j]

22 “Joseph is a fruitful vine,
    a fruitful vine near a spring,
    whose branches climb over a wall.[k]
23 With bitterness archers attacked him;
    they shot at him with hostility.
24 But his bow remained steady,
    his strong arms stayed[l] limber,
because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob,
    because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,
25 because of your father’s God, who helps you,
    because of the Almighty,[m] who blesses you
with blessings of the skies above,
    blessings of the deep springs below,
    blessings of the breast and womb.
26 Your father’s blessings are greater
    than the blessings of the ancient mountains,
    than[n] the bounty of the age-old hills.
Let all these rest on the head of Joseph,
    on the brow of the prince among[o] his brothers.

27 “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;
    in the morning he devours the prey,
    in the evening he divides the plunder.”

28 All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, giving each the blessing appropriate to him.

Isreal Reunites With God and Joseph–Genesis 46 Part 1

It was finally happening.  Israel and all his family were going to Egypt.  Israel would see Joseph for the 1st time in 20 years.  As the pain was fading, Israel’s recognition and dependence upon God returned and at Beersheba–he did something he had not done in a long time–he offered sacrifices to God.  It was no small thing, and God met him there.  God personally took Israel aside to reassure him that this plan was moving forward as he intended.  

In those moments, Israel had to feel completely content.  He knew that God had done all that he promised to do; and was preserving his family for generations to come.  Then, the moment when father and son reunited–the greatest moment in this man’s life.  The two men hugged and wept for what must have seemed hours.  Together again after all that they had endured.

It is in those moments, we have to continue to stake our faith in God–the author and creator of our story.  We  realize that life is tough, but, we carry on–knowing that God does work his plan to the end.  When we grasp that concept, we can then trust His leadership and continue to focus upon His grace and plan.  Then, at moments when we least expect, God reveals himself.  He shows us that He will care for us and will never forsake us.  That is why we must trust him–now and forever!

God Bless You

 

So Israel set out with all that was his, and when he reached Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, “Jacob! Jacob!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

“I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.”

Then Jacob left Beersheba, and Israel’s sons took their father Jacob and their children and their wives in the carts that Pharaoh had sent to transport him. So Jacob and all his offspring went to Egypt, taking with them their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in Canaan. Jacob brought with him to Egypt his sons and grandsons and his daughters and granddaughters—all his offspring…All those who went to Egypt with Jacob—those who were his direct descendants, not counting his sons’ wives—numbered sixty-six persons. 27 With the two sons[f] who had been born to Joseph in Egypt, the members of Jacob’s family, which went to Egypt, were seventy[g] in all.

28 Now Jacob sent Judah ahead of him to Joseph to get directions to Goshen. When they arrived in the region of Goshen, 29 Joseph had his chariot made ready and went to Goshen to meet his father Israel. As soon as Joseph appeared before him, he threw his arms around his father[h] and wept for a long time.

30 Israel said to Joseph, “Now I am ready to die, since I have seen for myself that you are still alive.”

Heartbreak Erased–Genesis 45 Part 3

Imagine, what it would be like if you could erase your biggest heartbreak. If the thing that haunted you everyday would suddenly no longer exist–That is what happened to Israel.  Since Joseph had been taken from him some twenty years before, he had not had the will to live, much less the will to lead.  Sure, he did life–put one foot in front of the other; but, when his son died, in a way so did he.
 
Then, as he looked at his dwindling fortune, famine in the land,  all of his sons in Egypt, and Benjamin gone with no promise of return–his life seemed unbearable. In the midst of his grief, up rolls the boys– with grain, carts, treasure and with Benjamin.  Such relief and joy–then the bombshell.
Joseph was alive…His greatest heartbreak erased in a second.  Jacob was stunned, wary, confused and overjoyed all at once.  His son was alive and ruler of Egypt.  
 
In our lives, like Jacob’s, God continues to execute his plan.  As difficult as the journey may seem, if we remain faithful–God will bring us through this part and into the blessings he has prepared for us.  He will wipe away our tears as we stand before him.  He will erase our greatest heartbreak.  In the meanwhile, we can never give up on God; nor, can we ever give in to the enemies lies and temptations. We must cling to the promise he gave to Jeremiah, “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.  Plans to prosper you–not to harm you.  Plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11.  Stay faithful, stay focused and he will set your path straight.
 
God Bless You
 
So the sons of Israel did this. Joseph gave them carts, as Pharaoh had commanded, and he also gave them provisions for their journey. 22 To each of them he gave new clothing, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred shekels[b] of silver and five sets of clothes. 23 And this is what he sent to his father: ten donkeys loaded with the best things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and other provisions for his journey. 24 Then he sent his brothers away, and as they were leaving he said to them, “Don’t quarrel on the way!”25 So they went up out of Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan. 26 They told him, “Joseph is still alive! In fact, he is ruler of all Egypt.” Jacob was stunned; he did not believe them. 27 But when they told him everything Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the carts Joseph had sent to carry him back, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. 28 And Israel said, “I’m convinced! My son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.”

This Is A Test–Genesis 42 Final

When we are going through testing from the Lord, we do not often realize that we are being tested.  Joseph sent his brothers home with plenty of grain, their money and supplies for the journey.  When they stopped for the night, they realized what happened and became exceedingly scared.  What was going on…had their ruthless behavior finally caught up with them–ABSOLUTELY!!!

What the brothers did not know was that God was testing them on their faith, their love for their father and their ability to tell the truth.  More importantly, God was testing dear old Israel on his ability to trust God one more time–he had seemingly lost his trust when Joseph was taken. God was simply executing the plan formed long before.  He needed his chosen people to realize they were a part of that plan and despite the reason–God was working all things together for good.

In our lives, unspeakable evil happens. death, sickness, violence, poverty and all kinds of drama and meanness that separates us from each other and tests the very fabric of our faith.

God uses that chaos in our lives to train us, to build our faith and to draw us to him.  It is not that God smites his kids–NO, he simply takes the mess that is our lives and uses it to test and prepare us for His kingdom work.

We cannot walk away after tragedy…that is when we have to huddle close and seek him intently.  He will NEVER leave us or forsake us.  God Loves us and wants to shape and mold us into an eternal thinking people that trust him and follow closely to benefit from his well designed and perfectly executed plan.

God Bless You

Joseph then ordered his servants to fill the men’s sacks with grain, but he also gave secret instructions to return each brother’s payment at the top of his sack. He also gave them supplies for their journey home. 26 So the brothers loaded their donkeys with the grain and headed for home.27 But when they stopped for the night and one of them opened his sack to get grain for his donkey, he found his money in the top of his sack. 28 “Look!” he exclaimed to his brothers. “My money has been returned; it’s here in my sack!” Then their hearts sank. Trembling, they said to each other, “What has God done to us?”

29 When the brothers came to their father, Jacob, in the land of Canaan, they told him everything that had happened to them. 30 “The man who is governor of the land spoke very harshly to us,” they told him. “He accused us of being spies scouting the land. 31 But we said, ‘We are honest men, not spies. 32 We are twelve brothers, sons of one father. One brother is no longer with us, and the youngest is at home with our father in the land of Canaan.’

33 “Then the man who is governor of the land told us, ‘This is how I will find out if you are honest men. Leave one of your brothers here with me, and take grain for your starving families and go on home. 34 But you must bring your youngest brother back to me. Then I will know you are honest men and not spies. Then I will give you back your brother, and you may trade freely in the land.’”

35 As they emptied out their sacks, there in each man’s sack was the bag of money he had paid for the grain! The brothers and their father were terrified when they saw the bags of money. 36 Jacob exclaimed, “You are robbing me of my children! Joseph is gone! Simeon is gone! And now you want to take Benjamin, too. Everything is going against me!”

37 Then Reuben said to his father, “You may kill my two sons if I don’t bring Benjamin back to you. I’ll be responsible for him, and I promise to bring him back.”

38 But Jacob replied, “My son will not go down with you. His brother Joseph is dead, and he is all I have left. If anything should happen to him on your journey, you would send this grieving, white-haired man to his grave

Wrestling With God–Genesis 32 Part 2

It seems that when all is going well, people tend to accept the status-quo.  However, when life turns upside down and the wheels fall off–then we start planning, praying and wrestling with God.  Such was the case with Jacob.  He had been in the employ of his uncle/Father-in-Law for the last 20 years.  He had 2 wives, 2 maidservant wives and 11 kids.  God blessed him with tremendous wealth in livestock and supplies and he literally had the world by the tail.  Then, things turned dark at Uncle Laban’s and it was time to go home.  As he approached the land of his youth, his brother–from whom he stole the birthright and blessing–heard of his approach, and sent 400 men to meet him, there stood Jacob, upside-down and wheeless!!
 
Jacob did what we do, he wrestled with God, his promises and his plans.  Jacob and God wrestled through the night, then at daybreak, God blessed Jacob–he changed the man he was–“The Deceiver”, to the “Chosen man of God”–Israel! From that time until now, Israel has been distinguished from all other peoples; just as Jacob had been set apart from all other dads.  Israel was now the patriarch of a nation–not simply a father of a rag-tag family.
 
Like Jacob, we also find that, in the times when we are most dependent upon God for our very survival–we tend to have our greatest impact.  It is when we can focus on God–not on ourselves and/or what we possess, that we can see him bless us in ways the world could never imagine.  It is not that we should pray to be turned upside down, it is simply learning to look to him first and always when those times come.  Then as we seek him and his blessing, understand, that is what he wanted to do all along.  In Psalms 37:4 it says, “Delight yourself in the Lord–and he will give you the desires of your heart!”  Israel would soon see, no truer verse had ever been written!
 
God Bless You
 

That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”

“Jacob,” he answered.

28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel,[f] because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”

29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”

But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.

30 So Jacob called the place Peniel,[g] saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel,[h] and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.

Our Circumstances-in the Hands of God–Genesis 29–Final

Clearly, as cheated as Jacob must have felt when he was given Leah for a wife, instead of Rachel; Leah was probably feeling so much more cheated.  She had not signed on for this duty, but as the days wore on, Jacob clearly forsook any feelings for her and instead loved only Rachel.  Still, in the midst of the pain, God blessed the marriage with 4 sons.  Rachel had not been able to bear kids, and so, Jacob continued to have his lineage started through Leah. 
 
While not the fairy tale story one would like to hear, God was building a nation through this family.  Each son would ultimately represent a people group that were as diverse as the named patriarch they represented.  Interestingly, it was the diversity of the peoples, that allowed them to become a great nation.  But, at the beginning, Leah simply felt sad, lonely, but vindicated by God.
 
So much happens in our lives that we do not understand.  Twists and turns that seem at best unusual and at worst completely unfair. As we press forward to somehow make sense of our lives, we have to learn from history and realize three important things:
 
1) It is not about us, as much as we are the hero in our own stories, much of the circumstance in our lives; are the results of many lives and events of which we are only a tangential part. 
 
2) If we will focus on our walk with God and allow him to lead, he will use us in a major way.  Leah–while sad,continued to point back to God as the vindicator of her life.  She would have loved to have Jacob worship her, but, despite his lack of love, she continued to trust her God!
 
3) What we are building in our lives–will impact generations of our families for years to come. If we focus on him and his lead, families will have a better chance of continuing that lineage over time. If we abandon the truth, we can almost guarantee a spiral away from the principles of grace and love, that only God can give us. 
 
It always comes back to trusting God daily and following him humbly. As we do, though life may not make sense–it will have meaning and purpose.  In addition, who knows–you may a part of the family that somehow leads the world back to God, just like Leah’s.
 
God Bless You
When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless. 32 Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben,[b] for she said, “It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.”33 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.” So she named him Simeon.[c]

34 Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” So he was named Levi.[d]

35 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah.[e] Then she stopped having children.

 

The Life and Legacy of Abraham–Genesis 25 Part 1

One cannot put a value on a life without including the legacy left behind.  In review, Abraham lived a century after he was called by God to leave home and go to Canaan. In that time, he built a family and a fortune that was not only amazing, but he did it owning no more land than the land used to bury the family dead.  He waited until 100 to see the heir of his legacy, but, in the years to come had numerous sons that ultimately spread out over the Middle East.
 
Abraham listened to God; and, while he blessed all his children–there could only be one heir, Isaac.  Isaac was set apart and was blessed by God and Abraham. In that, Abraham completed his part of his covenant with God. Abraham’s legacy not only included his Son, but, it included mostly–a life of faith and faithful living.
 
It is great that our lives are not determined by one event. Instead, our story is a combination of several small choices and great experiences.  All of our lives include amazing joys and horrific tragedies. Our greatest legacy, however, is the same legacy as Abraham’s–faith and faithfulness.  As we walk forward, we will impact our families, our friends and all lives we touch.  Our devotion to God, will color our view and the view of our children in the age to come.  We have to live lives that display trust, humility and grateful heart toward the Lord God. Then, we too will be like Abraham and will leave an amazing legacy.
 
God Bless You
Abraham had taken another wife, whose name was Keturah. She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah. Jokshan was the father of Sheba and Dedan; the descendants of Dedan were the Ashurites, the Letushites and the Leummites. The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanok, Abida and Eldaah. All these were descendants of Keturah.Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac. But while he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east.

Abraham lived a hundred and seventy-five years. Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people. His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, 10 the field Abraham had bought from the Hittites.[a] There Abraham was buried with his wife Sarah. 11 After Abraham’s death, God blessed his son Isaac, who then lived near Beer Lahai Roi.