Through the Bible in one year 2018; January 23rd

A lot of time has passed during the course of the previous few chapters in Genesis.  

It was noted in chapter 37 that Joseph was 17 years old and as the record of him being betrayed by his brothers and going to Egypt immediately follows this we assume that he must have been still around this age when he went to Egypt.  

In chapter 41 v 46 we are told that he was now 30.  This means that he has spent up to 12 years or so as a servant and in prison before he is elevated to his position in charge of Egypt.

There then follows the 7 good years of harvest and we get into the years of famine.  This means that by the time Joseph’s brothers travel down to Egypt more than 20 years have passed.

We saw in chapter 38 that Judah had left his brothers but in chapter 43 he is back and appears to be very much the leader among them and takes the responsibility for them,  yet he is actually the fourth of his brothers.

The order of seniority in their culture would usually expect the firstborn to take charge, so why do we see it being Judah.

Well it seems that the actions of his elder brothers had somehow eliminated them.  Reuben we read in chapter 35 slept with one of his father’s other wives and in chapter 34 we read about Simeon and Levi going out to avenge the violation of their sister.  Their actions put the family at great risk which seems to be why they were “demoted”.  So at some stage over the intervening 20 years Judah had stepped up taken on the responsibility for his family.  Perhaps the incident with Tamar in chapter 38 made him realise this need as well as perhaps guilt over Joseph.

It is also worth noting that while Benjamin is referred to as a boy, he must have been in his early 20s by this time.

As always there is so much to think about when reading these passages and a brief look on the net revealed that there are a lot of other stories about Judah in some of the Rabbinical writings, all very fascinating and far too much to cover in one go.

The readings for Tuesday are;

Genesis 45 & 46

Psalm 23

Matthew 23

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Through the Bible in one year 2018: January 22nd

Those of you who have read this blog before will know that I have said that if you regularly read the Bible, God will often highlight something to you, or you realise that something else connects with what you read.

Well today for me was another one of those days.

To recap Sunday’s reading; in Genesis 41 Joseph had been in prison for over two years even after interpreting the dreams of the cupbearer and the baker.

When Pharaoh had dreams which no one could understand, the cupbearer finally remembered Joseph and suggested that he may be able to help (after all Joseph had been known as a bit of a dreamer as a young man).

When asked however, Joseph was humble enough to quickly point out that he did not have the ability to interpret dreams but that it was God in whom he trusted that knew the meaning.

Well today we had a visiting speaker at church who asked me to read their chosen passage of scripture before they spoke.

This passage was Acts 3 verses 1 to 16; the healing of the crippled man at the temple gate with Peter and John.  In verse 6 we see a quote which is familiar to many of us

“Silver and gold have I none, but what I do have I give you; In the name of Jesus of Nazareth get up and walk”

So; what is the connection with Joseph’s interpretation of the dreams?

Well as we continued the reading in Acts, we saw that Peter asked the crowds in verse 12 why they thought that it was Him and John who healed the crippled man. He goes on to remind them what they had done to Jesus and that it was the risen power of Jesus who had healed the crippled man.  In verse 16 Peter further explained that it was faith in Jesus that had brought the man’s healing not them.  Similarly it was Joseph’s faith in God that brought the interpretation of the dream not his own abilities.  He stated quite clearly in Genesis  41 verse 16 that he could not do it but that it was God.

Even when Joseph was giving the interpretation to the dreams he was careful to remind Pharaoh that “God has shown you what he is going to do” repeating this several times.

So there are two things to remember from today:

First; it is God who’s power we depend on for healing, guidance and life itself, not our own and we must remember that and remain humble in acknowledging that.  Our human nature loves to puff itself up and say “I did that” but that is where the danger lays and we must be careful not to lose sight of the fact that we are simply vessels that God chooses to use for His glory

Second; Keep reading Gods word.  Even if you struggle to keep up with a plan such as this (I know I often have to “catch up”) and have to read a shorter plan God will speak to you through His word and His word is always at the right time even when you fall behind God still uses it.  If you don’t have one, try and get a study Bible or commentary/concordance so that when something catches your interest or you have a question on something you can look it up.  (There is also lots of information and comments online to look up too.)

Remember too that we need to study the word carefully ourselves and not just listen to a preacher: check it out for yourself as the Bereans did.(Acts 17)

The Readings for Monday 22nd are;

Genesis chapters 43 & 44

Psalm 22

Matthew 22

Through the Bible In one year 2018; January 21st

In Saturday’s readings we see the record of Joseph’s arrival in Egypt and how he became respected and successful.

Its interesting to think about how this (possibly obnoxious) young man that we read about previously, became respected and trusted by Potiphar and that God was with him and made him successful in all he did.

I guess he must have done some serious thinking on his journey down to Egypt wondering where it all went wrong and what his life was to become.  Did he think it had all gone wrong or did he have that confidence in God that it would somehow all work out.  Maybe he thought his brothers or his father would come and rescue him.

Did you notice that it was the Ishmaelites that sold him to Potiphar? I wonder if they realised who he was or did Joseph realise who they were: his fathers cousins.  I think they must have taken great delight in selling him if they did know, and getting some revenge on Isaacs family.

Perhaps they didn’t; maybe if they had known who he was they might have taken him back as he was still a part of their family.

Whatever happened in the interim, somehow Joseph learnt how important it is to trust and honour God and live a life pleasing to him.  When Potiphars wife makes advances towards him he rebukes her and flees saying in verse 9 of Genesis 39 that it would be a sin against God.  He could so easily have consented on the basis that he was their slave and therefore expected to do whatever she wanted, or followed the example of other members of his family and disregard any moral duty towards his employer.

He then suffers further injustice as a consequence but still continues to work hard and give honour to God in his conduct.  I’m sure most of us would have become pretty bitter and complained about how unfair it was.

Jesus speaks in Matthew 20 verse 26 about whoever wants to be great must first be a servant or to be first must be a slave.  Joseph certainly experienced this, he humbly served and did his work without complaint and in that gained great respect.

We are told to work diligently as unto God and he rewards us accordingly.

What a challenge!

The readings for Sunday 21st are:

Genesis chapters 41 & 42

Psalm 21

Matthew 21

Through the Bible in one year 2018; 20th January

Does anyone else feel a sense of despair when reading the story of Joseph and his brothers in Genesis 37?

Perhaps Joseph was a bit annoying with his dreams and wearing the special coat that his father gave him probably emphasised more how unfairly treated they were in comparison.  Being a teenager and much younger than his brothers he probably flaunted it and thought he was better than them and bragged about the dreams he had.  The favoritism Jacob displayed to their mothers obviously continued through to their children and perhaps they were also influenced by the sparring we read about between them.

What really stunned me again reading this though is their treatment of their elderly father.  Not only did they treat their brother badly by plotting to kill him and selling him as a slave; they fabricated a story and lied to their father about it.

You would think that anyone with any sense of love or compassion would break on seeing their fathers reaction and confess what they had done.   Most of us would not even think of causing our elderly father this sort of distress.  Perhaps they thought it was kinder to continue the lies than to cause even more upset by confessing what they had done.  Maybe that is why Judah moved away, so that he didn’t give in and tell his father what had really happened.  It was his suggestion after all and it seems that Reuben possibly didn’t know what had really happened either.

As we read on about Judah, we see that he does not keep to his word and is subsequently caught out by his actions.  They do not seem to have learnt anything from their history.

Yet returning to the Psalms we see that David in Psalm 19 declares that the law of the Lord is perfect and gives great wisdom.  He asks to be kept from sinning and that the words of his mouth and the meditation of his heart be acceptable in God’s sight.  He recognises that sin comes from an impure heart and he desires to have a pure heart before God.  He must have had some similar experiences to Joseph in that he was the youngest son and anointed above them to be king, (remember Joseph’s dreams), yet he seems to have remained grounded and humble in it all.

The readings for Saturday are;

Genesis 39 & 40

Psalm 20

Matthew 20

Through the Bible in one year 2018; 19th January

In Thursdays readings there is quite a long section about Esau and his sons and descendants.  Sometimes these sections are difficult and perhaps tedious to read but they are still worth paying attention to as there is often something of note hidden amongst all the genealogies.

One of the first things I noticed in Genesis 35 was the instruction to get rid of the foreign Gods that they had.  It’s becomes apparent that Jacob (or Israel as he becomes) is still not following God wholeheartedly.  There still seems to be incidents of deceit, disobedience to God or at least carelessness about what is going on within his family (Remember Rachel had stolen the household Gods from her father’s house)

We then read about Reuben sleeping with one of his fathers other wives.  This was an attempt to usurp his father’s authority and yet it seems that Israel did nothing about it.  There is no record of any discipline or punishment until many years later when he mentions it on his death bed in chapter 47.
Moving on to Matthew 18 we see Jesus speaking about dealing with sin in the church.  It must be dealt with as without some discipline and order we cannot as a whole grow closer to God and become the holy people that he wants us to be.  We see that if sin is allowed to fester it will grow and the church of today is suffering through compromise in the name of tolerance and forgiveness and failure to adhere to God’s law.  Yes we must be tolerant and forgive, but forgiveness needs repentance first. Just as Jacob (Israel) had repeatedly been deceptive his family followed on from his lack of example and discipline.

David In Psalm 18 speaks of his efforts to remain blameless before his God.  He is able to call upon God and declares that the Lord rewards him for his righteousness.  Many of us know already know the stories where David does sin and fails, but the critical difference is that David is quick to repent when challenged and pleads with God for forgiveness and he is willing to accept the discipline or punishment.

Oh to be counted along side David as a man or woman after God’s heart.

The readings for Friday are;

Genesis 37 & 38

Psalm 19

Matthew 19

Through the Bible in one year 2018; 18th January

I sometimes vary the order in which I read the selected texts for the day and again as often happens I notice a connection between them.

Towards the end of Matthew 17 we read about the temple tax collectors asking Peter about the Temple Tax and whether Jesus paid it.  Now this could have been a perfectly innocent enquiry as surely there would have been people in the city who did not follow the Jewish law and therefore would not have paid the annual contributions towards the upkeep of the temple which this tax covers.  However most people are of the view that they were looking for ways to discredit Jesus and He knew this as he brought up the subject with Peter.  (I wonder if Peter was getting used to Jesus knowing what he had been doing beforehand or whether it still surprised him “how did he know?”

Anyway Jesus gives Peter instructions on what to do and points out that they needed to be obedient to the law and to be seen to be doing the right thing even though technically they were exempt.  We are not told if Peter followed these instructions but the assumption is that he would have acted accordingly and the tax collectors silenced.

I then went on to read Psalm 17 and thought; this could well be Jesus speaking although we know it was David.

“The wicked are out to destroy me” (v9). 

Jesus must surely have felt this at times like this where He knew they were looking for ways to discredit him and accuse him.  David mostly tried to be obedient to the law although of course we know he sometimes made mistakes and would repent when he realised what he had done.

Contrast this with the continued deceitfulness of Jacob and his sons in the last few days readings.  Yes some of it may appear to be justified but we don’t see anything deceitful in Jesus.  Even when he is falsely accused or persecuted He is gracious and deals with the situation calmly and proves his righteousness and gives a wonderful example of a holy life.

The readings for Thursday are;

Genesis 35 & 36

Psalm 18

Matthew 18

Through the Bible in one year 2018; 17th January

In Tuesdays readings we come across another one of those strange words in the introduction to Psalm 16; a Miktam.

What is a Miktam?

Again I have struggled to find any clear definition with various suggestions of it referring to a wind instrument or possibly some form of percussion instrument like a cymbal.

Others seem to think that a more modern use of the word has come to mean something like an inscription, introduction or statement.

I think when you actually read the Psalm this seems to be more accurate as David is making quite a clear statement of faith.

He firstly declares to God “You are my Lord” and that nothing else is good.

All the way through this psalm he is confirming his faith and trust in God.  His commitment to worship and obey God.  He has complete trust in Him while those around run after other gods and possessions.  David recognizes where his blessings come from and again declares his faith and trust in Him.

We sometimes need to “put a stake in the ground” to mark our boundaries as David did and confirm our trust and obedience to God.  This is not easy when life events challenge us and people around us are going in another direction.

I am reminded of Paul’s words to Timothy in 2 Timothy chapter one

“I know who I have believed and am pursuaded that He is able to keep me”

Do you know what you believe? It can be so easy to be mislead by other people who put their own interpretation on God’s word but you need to study it for yourself, make sure you know Gods word as we saw a couple of weeks ago Jesus knew who he was and knew Gods word for Him.

Keep on reading and share your discoveries

Wednesday’s readings are;

Genesis 33 & 34

Psalm 17

Matthew 17