Tag Archives: Moses

Exodus 21 and abortion

Pro-abortion “Christian” Leftists and other abortion advocates often refer to a passage in Exodus 21 to support their views.  Don’t let them get away with such terrible and deadly reasoning.

When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. (Exodus 21:22–25, ESV)

The short version is that the key word of the passage is, in rare circumstances, not translated well and says “miscarriage” instead of “children come out.”  They conclude that if it is “just” a miscarriage and the perpetrator only got a fine, then what’s the big deal about abortion?

It you study the original Hebrew it becomes very clear that Moses did not mean that if the child is killed that the penalty is less severe.  But the pro-aborts (rotten) cherry-pick a translation they can twist to justify murder to the child’s first breath.

But that is just one of many problems with their use of this passage.  Here is a full list:

1. They get the text wrong.  This is a pro-life passage, not a pro-legalized abortion passage.  If Moses wanted to say “miscarriage” he could have used a much more specific word for that.

2. They ignore or rationalize away other Biblical texts that they don’t like, such as Leviticus 18:22 (ESV – You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.)  So why do they find Exodus 21 so authoritative?

They ignore passages like Romans 1 where Paul explicitly declares homosexual behavior to be sinful because they think Paul didn’t know enough about biology and psychology (and they unwittingly tip their hand that they don’t believe any scripture is truly inspired by God).  But if Paul is so ignorant and scripture is un-inspired, why trust Moses to know key scientific facts?  They should dismiss the “miscarriage” term even if it had been in the original text because he didn’t have access to the scientific fact that a new human life begins at conception.

3. They don’t even agree with the other teachings of Exodus 21, such as verses 23-25.

But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

They are almost exclusively anti-capital punishment.  So why do they rationalize away the destruction of over a million innocent human beings per year in the U.S. based on a poor translation of a single word and then ignore the rest of the passage which is much more clear?

4. They ignore the endless pro-life passages in the Bible.

In summary, Christians (the uninformed kind) and “Christians” (the fake kind) who use Exodus 21 as support for abortion on demand fail on many levels.  If it weren’t for people like them Roe v Wade and the destruction that followed would not have happened.

More here:  The Misuse of Exodus 21:22-25 by Pro-Choice Advocates by John Piper.

Whose idea was that?!

Apparently the Book of Numbers should really be called “In the Wilderness” (the meaning of Ba’midmar (במדבר), the Hebrew title). At least that’s what various sites on the Interwebs tell me.

So why the change? I’m not sure, but it is too bad they didn’t go with the more interesting sounding Hebrew version. For people who don’t read the Bible the current title makes it sound like it is all genealogies and such. Yes, it starts with a census, But consider these great passages that you miss out on if you don’t read it:

  • A test for adultery
  • The Nazirite vow
  • Elders appointed to aid Moses
  • The quail. Lots of quail.
  • Miriam and Aaron oppose Moses
  • Spies going into Canaan
  • The people’s rebellion
  • Korah’s rebellion (referred to in Jude)
  • Moses strikes the rock
  • The bronze serpent
  • Balaam and his donkey
  • Driving out the inhabitants
  • Cities of refuge
  • Much, much more!

Seriously, don’t miss the Book of Numbers — or anything else in the Bible. Like I’ve said, if/when you get to Heaven it will be awkward if you haven’t read every author’s books (“Oh, uh, hi Amos . . . look over there!” [Runs away again]).

Better yet, think about how you’ll tell Jesus all the excuses you had for not reading it regularly, and at some point reading it all. (Yeah, I’m fine using the carrot or the stick to get you to read more!)

Just read it. Every day.

Time management

alarm-clock.jpgI am a mixed bag on time management.  Some things I do really well, which creates plenty of time to do a variety of things.  But then I’ll waste some of it because I’m not prioritizing well.  And by “waste” I don’t mean that it is bad to just do nothing sometimes and rest.  I mean that I end up doing things that aren’t that important, like TV or Internet surfing.

How is your time management?  Remember that if you aren’t doing what you say you want to do (Bible study, prayer, family time, reading, exercise, volunteering, etc.) it is because you consider that the least important thing you actually do is more important than the things you say you want to do.  You may not have those conscious thoughts, but it is an accurate assessment.

In other words, if you are not reading your Bible and praying daily it is because you have decided not to.

A couple of tactical things help me: The O-H-I-O (Only Handle It Once) approach to emails and tasks works well when I use it.  Instead of going over a message multiple times when I’m not sure how I want to handle it, I try to deal with it the first time (respond, file, etc.).

On the flip side, knowing when to carefully analyze a situation to anticipate consequences saves a lot of time at work.  As I like to say, I don’t like to overkill things but I do like to kill them.  By that I mean that I want to get it done right the first time and not have to waste time later because a “shortcut” left someone out of a communication loop.  Sometimes you have to “brake to go faster.”  The discernment to know when to do it is the key.

I also take a Zero-Based Budgeting approach and analyze all that I do.  I realized a while ago that watching sports took a lot of time and didn’t bring that much enjoyment anyway, so I’ve cut it out almost completely.  The Steelers won the game?  Release mild amount of endorphins.  The Steelers lost?  Great, I just wasted 3+ hours of my life.  That isn’t an indictment of sports watching.  If you aren’t consumed by the process and have a net enjoyment, or perhaps it is a family activity, then good for you.  But if watching your college team lose spoils your weekend then you have a problem.  (Friendly reminder: Those “student athletes” and pros some people worship probably don’t care about you at all and are likely to have vastly different worldviews.)

Consider these words then try this exercise by Randy Alcorn.

“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff which life is made of.”

Over three thousand years before Benjamin Franklin said those words, Moses said these:

Teach us to number our days aright,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)

The New Testament speaks the same message: “Redeem the time,” or “Make the most of every opportunity” (Colossians 4:5b).

Something simple that every Christian should know about the Quran

Please read this short but extremely important article: The Qu’ran says the Bible is not corrupt.  This is a great message to share with Muslims who have been told that the Bible has been corrupted.  Using their own “holy book” we can point them back to what should be a common source: The Bible.

The short version: The Quran itself claims that the Torah, the Psalms, and the Gospel are from Allah and that Allah’s words cannot be changed.

Here’s a sample:

The Muslims repeatedly claim that the Bible has been corrupted and that the Qu’ran is the only trustworthy scripture in existence. This is why Muslims often attack the Bible. But this cannot be acording to the Quran. The Quran says that the books of Moses, the Psalms, and the gospel were all given by God.

Torah – “We gave Moses the Book and followed him up with a succession of messengers,” (Sura 2:87).1

Psalms – “We have sent thee inspiration, as We sent it to Noah and the Messengers after him: we sent inspiration to Abraham, Isma’il, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes, to Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and solomon, and to David We gave the Psalms,” (4:163).

Gospel – “It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (of judgment between right and wrong),” (3:3).

. . .

We see that the Qu’ran states that the Torah, the Psalms, and the Gospel were all given by God. With this we Christians heartily agree. But, the Muslims claim that the Bible is corrupted and full of contradictions. If that is so, then it would seem they do not believe the Qu’ran since the Qu’ran says that the Word of God cannot be altered:

“Rejected were the messengers before thee: with patience and constancy they bore their rejection and their wrongs, until Our aid did reach them: there is none that can alter the words (and decrees) of Allah. Already hast thou received some account of those messengers,” (6:34).

. . .

This means that at that time the Bible, which was in existence, could not have been corrupted because the Qu’ran states that God’s word cannot be corrupted. The question I have for the Muslims is “When and where was the Bible corrupted, since the Qu’ran says that the Torah, the Psalms, and the Gospel are from Allah and Allah’s words cannot be changed?”

Update: I should have just linked to this: According to the Qur’an, the Qur’an is false.

–The Old Testament (the Book) and the Gospels (the Injil) were written chronologically prior to the Qur’an.
–The Qur’an claims that the Book and the Injil are the Word of Allah.
–The Word of Allah cannot be changed.
–The manuscripts of the Book and the Injil prior to and in the time of Muhammad and at the time the Qur’an was compiled bear the same message as the Bible we have today.
–The Bible makes theological claims in direct opposition to the theological claims of the Qur’an.
–The Qur’an insists we can and should trust the Bible (which is God’s Word and cannot be changed or corrupted).
–Since the Bible came before the Qur’an, and the Bible is the incorruptible word of God, then anything coming after the Bible which claims to be the Word of God but is different from the Bible, it is therefore false and not of God.
–Therefore, if the Bible is accurate (from 2, 3, and 5) then the Qur’an is false (from 2, 3, 6, and 7).
–Put more briefly: If the Qur’an is true, then the Bible is true, which means the Qur’an is false — and by extension, so is the religion of Islam.

And here’s another great set of resources for sharing the truth with Muslims.

—–

Bonus: Another simple but crucial thing to know about the Quran is that it makes a clear historical error about the death of Jesus. This passage explicitly denies that Jesus died on the cross:

And for claiming that they killed the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the messenger of GOD. In fact, they never killed him, they never crucified him – they were made to think that they did. All factions who are disputing in this matter are full of doubt concerning this issue. They possess no knowledge; they only conjecture. For certain, they never killed him. Instead, GOD raised him to Him; GOD is Almighty, Most Wise.

Quran, Sura 4:157-158

That is a very clear claim that Jesus did not die on the cross, whereas we know from the Bible and even secular history that Jesus did die on the cross. Then one guy came along over 500 years later with a radical new story about how Jesus didn’t die on the cross, though he had zero evidence behind it.  Zero.

When I speak with Muslims I always bring this example up matter-of-factly.  First I clarify with them that this is what the Quran teaches.   They always agree, except one guy who wasn’t familiar with it (I showed him the reference and I think it helped plant some seeds of doubt).

Then I just explain why I hold the view that Jesus died on the cross: Lots of testimonies written close to the event and plenty of secular historians backing it up vs. one guy over 500 years later with an alleged vision from God.  No serious historian would consider the Islamic version to be more credible.

Is it possible that Mohammad was right about Jesus not dying on the cross?  In a hyper-technical sense, I suppose so.  But you’d have to throw every historical event ever up for grabs using that approach.

This isn’t some small issue, either.  It is an essential claim for Christianity and a key error in the Quran.

Roundup

Study Suggests That Wimpier Men Hold Liberal Views — Of course they do!

Don’t Make it About Barack Obama — He isn’t running for office again and is very unlikely to be impeached.  Use his scandal-fest to attack big government and Liberalism, not Obama.  That will help in many elections.  One of their excuses (read: lies) is that government is too big for Obama to know enough about it.  So just agree with them and point out how we need to make it smaller and less intrusive in our lives.

From the “What could possibly go wrong?” category: IRS official in charge during Tea Party targeting now runs agency’s Obamacare office

BABY DIES AFTER MAN ALLEGEDLY TRICKS GIRLFRIEND INTO TAKING AN ABORTION PILL — Of course this is ghastly, but so are all abortions.  I wish the people quoted would have also noted whether they are anti-abortion if the mom wants to have the unwanted child killed.

Friendly reminder: If someone uses the “tea bagger” pejorative against you, just ask them what it means. Then point out that they must be homophobic if they are using the slang for a gay sex act to demonize their ideological foes. Shouldn’t the gays be as offended as if they called you the “f” word?  Haters!!  Hate speech!!

Note that this is also an effective question to ask when someone is punished for using other slurs against homosexuals.  I’m not advocating the use of the slurs, of course, but it is worthwhile to point out their hypocrisy.  The people reflexively using “tea bagger” are the same ones who go into full pants-wetting mode if someone uses other slurs.  For some reason those are worthy of major fines and even the termination of employment, while the Liberals get a pass.  Also feel free to ask if those using the term “Santorum” in a derogatory way are “homophobes.”

Socialism Leads to D.I.Y. Dentistry in Britain — Ouch.  The government can force you to  use their insurance plan, but they haven’t figured out how to force people to be dentists. This is the predictable and inevitable results of socialized medicine.

Wow, Sojourners finally posted on the Gosnell case! I’m glad to see that. Until now, searching for his name returned zero hits. It is harder to imagine a case more opposed to the “common good.” Killing babies, storing their body parts in jars, unsanitary conditions, pure racism (white women got better treatment than blacks and the clinic mainly targeted blacks), government officials deliberately not enforcing laws, Planned Parenthood knowing of the conditions there yet saying nothing — and then pretending to be aghast at Gosnell, and more.

We should never stop reminding people that Gosnell’s main crimes were killing these babies 30 seconds too late. He did a bad job of killing them before they were completely delivered, so he just finished the job outside the womb. But all abortions are just as immoral.

And he isn’t the “rogue” that this article makes him out to be. People who kill unwanted human beings for a living don’t seem to mind breaking the rules regarding how to legally kill unwanted human beings for a living.

Remember that Obama and Planned Parenthood are on record opposing the obligations of abortionists to save the lives of babies who survive abortion. And Planned Parenthood has been caught countless times hiding statutory rape and sex trafficking, yet they continue to get hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer funding and “social justice” groups not only give them a pass but they support the Democrats’ platform of taxpayer-funded abortions. The right to life should be the foundational principle of “social justice,” not an afterthought — or worse yet, something completely ignored or even opposed.

Deuteronomy 18 and Moses/Jesus parallels (and why they don’t apply to Mohammad)

  1. Born during the reign of an oppressive king (Moses with Pharoah in Exodus 1:8-14; Jesus with King Herod in Matthew 2:1)
  2. The evil ruler decree the killing of children that threaten the newborn’s life (Exodus 1:15-16; Matthew 2:16-18)
  3. The witnesses of the birth of the child obeyed God and therefore disobeyed the ruler (Midwives in Exodus 1:17-22; Magi in Matthew 2:12, 16)
  4. God protects the witnesses (Midwives in Exodus 1:17-22; Magi in Matthew 2:12)
  5. The newborn survived by hiding in Egypt (Exodus 2; Matthew 2:13-15)
  6. When the child grew older, God leads them to depart from Egypt (Exodus 13-14; Matthew 2:19-23)
  7. After leaving Egypt, water around them symbolizes a new era (the parting of the sea Exodus 14:13-31; Baptism, Matthew 3:13-17)
  8. Both enter the Wilderness for a considerable time of testing (Forty years, Exodus 16:35; Forty days, Matthew 4:1-11)
  9. Both expounds on God’s law to God’s people in a mountain (Mount Sinai, Exodus 19-20ff; Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7)

Links to Barack Obama’s votes on Illinois’ Born Alive Infant Protection Act — Obama, Planned Parenthood and Kermit Gosnell all agree.

Court upholds Obama Admin denial of asylum for German homeschool family — Millions of people can cross our border illegal and get lifetime welfare, but because this family probably wouldn’t vote for Democrats we won’t help them.  If only they’d claim to be gay they’d get a free pass.

House of Horrors 2: graphic photos show Texas abortionist killed living babies, say nurses — Kermit Gosnell was not the lone exception.  People who kill babies for a living don’t mind breaking the rules regarding how to kill babies for a living.

Canadian Supreme Court Rules Biblical Speech Opposing Homosexual Behavior is a ‘Hate Crime’ — This is inevitable with bogus “hate speech” laws.

Flight: The Genius of Birds – Official Trailer — great examples of Intelligently Designed beings.

His behavior is getting borderline comical.  He dramatically releases Benghazi emails in an attempt to appear cooperative, but the earliest is dates 9/14 when the incident happened on 9/11.  Uh, so, either no one sent any emails for 3 days (unbelievable, but very bad if true) or he has good reasons to hide those emails (believable, and a tacit admission of guilt).  And then he “fires” the IRS guy who was leaving next month anyway.  Great leadership, champ.

A simple but important point about theological Liberals

From Mark on Facebook:

What does Jesus say about those who don’t believe Scripture?

“But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’” (Luke 16:31.)

That applies to all those Leopard Theologians who think the Bible is only inspired in spots and that they are inspired to spot the spots.

Casting stones

As nearly every Bible translation points out in the footnotes, the passage in John 8 about the woman caught in adultery isn’t found in the earliest manuscripts.  Therefore, it may not have been in the original writings of the Bible.*

It is a memorable passage and doesn’t contradict other doctrines, but neither does it add anything that isn’t taught elsewhere.  The problems start when people twist the passage to say things that aren’t there.  Here’s the text:

The Woman Caught in Adultery — John 8:2 – 11

Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them.  The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst  they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery.  Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?”  This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.  And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.  But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.  Jesus stood up and said to her,”Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”  She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

If someone drew the conclusion that Jesus was once again clever and outwitted the Pharisees who were trying to trap him, that would be fine. Or that He upheld the law on capital punishment (you must have two witnesses). Or that He outed their hypocrisy in not bringing the man. Those would all be good.

The main misuse of the passage is by those who exclaim, “He who is without sin can cast the first stone!,” when trying to shut up anyone making a judgment they disagree with.  But as you may have noticed, that objection is self-refuting and ironically hypocritical: They imply that all judging is wrong, but they are judging you for judging.  But there is more.

Jesus was referring to real stones that would kill the person. Real stones thrown at a real person until he or she was really dead.  Criticizing someone else hardly rises to the level of killing him by stoning. Flippantly equating death by stoning with mere criticism is beyond hyperbole.

And even if Jesus said the part about not casting the first stone, it wouldn’t have meant, “Never say adultery is wrong!”  Note that the passage also says, “Go and sin no more.”

Those advocating the “judging = casting stones” view typically make all sorts of judgments, including advocating hate speech / hate crime laws.  But shouldn’t they be consistent and not judge anyone for anything, ever?

The passage is also misused to oppose capital punishment in principle.  But again, Jesus upheld the law: If there had been two witnesses present, stoning would have been appropriate at that time.

Keep in mind that any criticisms of this post will be considered stone-casting on your part.  And you know how wrong that is!

* Skeptics like Bart Ehrman like to say that this passage and the “long ending” of the Gospel of Mark reduce our confidence that the original writings were the word of God, but they are really proof that the system works.  Based on the work of textual critics on literally thousands of ancient manuscripts, we can be very confident about what the original writings said.

Two of my favorite role models

Last week I wrote about the importance of retirement plans — not the financial part, but the activity part.  We should never retire from Christian activities, though they may change over time.  We should finish strong, just like Moses, Joshua, Paul and so many others.  Don’t succumb to temptations.  Don’t destroy what you’ve worked so hard for.  Don’t sit back in self-indulgence.

Then on Saturday I was reminded of two of my favorite ministry role models.  I was doing a monthly visit as part of Kairos Prison Ministry and got to see Mike and Vic (pictures below).

You might think that white guys in their 80’s wouldn’t be able to connect with much younger guys (roughly 50% black, 25% Hispanic, 25% white), but you’d be wrong.  The prisoners seem to instantly bond with them and develop meaningful relationships over the course of the weekend and the follow-up sessions.  They have an authenticity and a genuine love that you just can’t miss.

They are as humble as can be, even though they are the most popular volunteers in the unit.  The prisoners go nuts whenever either one is introduced.

Neither are in perfect health, so they could just stay home on Saturday morning.  But month after month they get up early to come out and serve.  And when they work the Kairos weekends they work very long days, often getting to the prison at 6:30 a.m. and not leaving until 8:30 p.m.  But they do it with a smile and never complain.

They are both quick-witted and fun to listen to, having lived full and exciting lives.  Mike has been married for over 60 years (to the same woman, as he likes to add!), and I think Vic has been as well. I’ve seen Vic’s wife working on the outside teams during the weekends, and I’ve seen Mike’s wife come to the closing ceremonies.

These men never fail to encourage me.  If they can keep marriages intact for 60+ years and still love and serve in the name of Christ into their 80’s, so can I (God willing!).   This is how it is supposed to work.

Mike & Vic, I pray that God blesses you with the strength to serve many more years!


Exodus 21 and abortion

Pro-choice advocates often refer to a passage in Exodus 21 to support their views. 

When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. (Exodus 21:22–25, ESV)

The short version is that the key word of the passage is often not translated well and says “miscarriage” instead of “children come out.”  It you study the original Hebrew it becomes very clear that Moses did not mean that if the child is killed that the penalty is less severe.  I highly recommend the following resources as thorough and accurate rebuttals to the pro-choice claims: What Exodus 21 says about abortion by Greg Koukl and The Misuse of Exodus 21:22-25 by Pro-Choice Advocates by John Piper.

But that is just one of many problems with their use of this passage.  Here is a full list:

1. They get the text wrong.  This is a pro-life passage, not a pro-legalized abortion passage.  If Moses wanted to say “miscarriage” he could have used a much more specific word for that.

2. They ignore or rationalize away other Biblical texts that they don’t like, such as Leviticus 18:22 (ESV – You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.)  So why do they find Exodus 21 so authoritative? 

They ignore passages like Romans 1 where Paul explicitly declares homosexual behavior to be sinful because they think Paul didn’t know enough about biology and psychology (and they unwittingly tip their hand that they don’t believe any scripture is truly inspired by God).  But if Paul is so ignorant and scripture is un-inspired, why trust Moses to know key scientific facts?  They should dismiss the “miscarriage” term even if it had been in the original text because he didn’t have access to the scientific fact that a new human life begins at conception.

3. They don’t even agree with the other teachings of Exodus 21, such as verses 23-25. 

But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

They are almost exclusively anti-capital punishment.  So why do they rationalize away the destruction of over a million innocent human beings per year in the U.S. based on a poor translation of a single word and then ignore the rest of the passage which is much more clear?

4. They ignore the endless pro-life passages in the Bible.

In summary, Christians (the uninformed kind) and “Christians” (the fake kind) who use Exodus 21 as support for abortion on demand serve up a quadruple dose of FAIL.  If it weren’t for people like them Roe v Wade and the destruction that followed would not have happened.

Exodus 31-32

ex31.jpgGreetings!

Bezalel and Oholiab

31     Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts— 4 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 5 to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship. 6 Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given skill to all the craftsmen to make everything I have commanded you: 7 the Tent of Meeting, the ark of the Testimony with the atonement cover on it, and all the other furnishings of the tent— 8 the table and its articles, the pure gold lampstand and all its accessories, the altar of incense, 9 the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, the basin with its stand— 10 and also the woven garments, both the sacred garments for Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons when they serve as priests, 11 and the anointing oil and fragrant incense for the Holy Place. They are to make them just as I commanded you.”

God chose the workers and gave them the skills.  As mentioned in a previous post on Exodus, He gave you talents as well.  Are you using them for the Kingdom?

The Sabbath

12 Then the Lord said to Moses, 13 “Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy.

14 “‘Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; whoever does any work on that day must be cut off from his people. 15 For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death. 16 The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. 17 It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested.’”

18 When the Lord finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the Testimony, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God.

While this was happening, the Israelites were rebelling . . . 

The Golden Calf

32     When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”

2 Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.” 6 So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.

7 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. 8 They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’

9 “I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. 10 Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”

“Stiff-necked” means stubborn or rebellious.  God was righly angry at them for turning away from him once again.  It is hard to believe that Aaron got involved with this and made the golden calf.

11 But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God. “O Lord,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. 13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’” 14 Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.

15 Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands. They were inscribed on both sides, front and back. 16 The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.

I have read this passage many times and never noticed until now that they were inscribed on both sides!  (v. 15)  The commandments were all from God – the tablets and the writing.  I also didn’t remember that Joshua was with Moses on the mountain.

17 When Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting, he said to Moses, “There is the sound of war in the camp.”

18 Moses replied: “It is not the sound of victory, it is not the sound of defeat; it is the sound of singing that I hear.”

19 When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain. 20 And he took the calf they had made and burned it in the fire; then he ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it.

21 He said to Aaron, “What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?”

22 “Do not be angry, my lord,” Aaron answered. “You know how prone these people are to evil. 23 They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’ 24 So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”

25 Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies. 26 So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me.” And all the Levites rallied to him.

27 Then he said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.’” 28 The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died. 29 Then Moses said, “You have been set apart to the Lord today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day.”

30 The next day Moses said to the people, “You have committed a great sin. But now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.”

31 So Moses went back to the Lord and said, “Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. 32 But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.”

33 The Lord replied to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book. 34 Now go, lead the people to the place I spoke of, and my angel will go before you. However, when the time comes for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin.”

35 And the Lord struck the people with a plague because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Making images to worship other than God is still a serious sin.  As the saying goes, we make idols of all sorts of things in our lives: appearance, money, fame, comfort, reputation.  Living for God is a daily challenge.

One sobering thought is, “What would I have done during these points in history?”  Unless the grace of God intervened, I probably would have been making the calf, shouting, “Crucify him!” when Jesus was on trial, etc.

The more important question is, “What am I doing now with the grace God has given me?”

Genesis 50

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Greetings!

This is the last chapter of Genesis.  We’ll do a few Psalms 15-18, then Proverbs 8 and then the Gospel of Matthew.

Joseph wept and mourned over his father’s death a long time.  Sometimes it feels like our funeral and grieving processes are so rushed. 

Genesis 50 Joseph threw himself upon his father and wept over him and kissed him. Then Joseph directed the physicians in his service to embalm his father Israel. So the physicians embalmed him, taking a full forty days, for that was the time required for embalming. And the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days.

When the days of mourning had passed, Joseph said to Pharaoh’s court, “If I have found favor in your eyes, speak to Pharaoh for me. Tell him, ‘My father made me swear an oath and said, “I am about to die; bury me in the tomb I dug for myself in the land of Canaan.” Now let me go up and bury my father; then I will return.’”  

Pharaoh said, “Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear to do.” So Joseph went up to bury his father. All Pharaoh’s officials accompanied him—the dignitaries of his court and all the dignitaries of Egypt— besides all the members of Joseph’s household and his brothers and those belonging to his father’s household. Only their children and their flocks and herds were left in Goshen. Chariots and horsemen also went up with him. It was a very large company. When they reached the threshing floor of Atad, near the Jordan, they lamented loudly and bitterly; and there Joseph observed a seven-day period of mourning for his father. When the Canaanites who lived there saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “The Egyptians are holding a solemn ceremony of mourning.” That is why that place near the Jordan is called Abel Mizraim.

So Jacob’s sons did as he had commanded them: They carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre, which Abraham had bought as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite, along with the field. After burying his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, together with his brothers and all the others who had gone with him to bury his father.

Joseph’s brothers fear that he was only kind to them because of Jacob.  The verse in bold is one of my all-time favorites.

When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.”

When their message came to him, Joseph wept. His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. Joseph stayed in Egypt, along with all his father’s family.

He lived a hundred and ten years and saw the third generation of Ephraim’s children. Also the children of Makir son of Manasseh were placed at birth on Joseph’s knees. Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” And Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath and said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.” So Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. And after they embalmed him, he was placed in a coffin in Egypt.

It took 400 years, but just as God promised He delivered the Israelites from Egypt. 

Genesis 48-49

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Greetings,

Jacob is about to die.  He has led a very challenging yet exciting life, filled with tragedy but ultimately redeemed when reunited with his family in Egypt. 

Jacob gave his blessings to his sons and two of his grandsons.  For some reason he gave a greater blessing to Joseph’s son Ephraim, the second born, even though in that culture it typically went to the first born.  This happens other times in the Bible as well, such as with Jacob being blessed over Esau. 

Genesis 48-49 Some time later Joseph was told, “Your father is ill.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim along with him. When Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel rallied his strength and sat up on the bed. Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and there he blessed me and said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and will increase your numbers. I will make you a community of peoples, and I will give this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you.’

“Now then, your two sons born to you in Egypt before I came to you here will be reckoned as mine; Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine. Any children born to you after them will be yours; in the territory they inherit they will be reckoned under the names of their brothers. As I was returning from Paddan, to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan while we were still on the way, a little distance from Ephrath. So I buried her there beside the road to Ephrath” (that is, Bethlehem).

When Israel saw the sons of Joseph, he asked, “Who are these?” “They are the sons God has given me here,” Joseph said to his father. Then Israel said, “Bring them to me so I may bless them.” Now Israel’s eyes were failing because of old age, and he could hardly see. So Joseph brought his sons close to him, and his father kissed them and embraced them. Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your children too.”

Then Joseph removed them from Israel’s knees and bowed down with his face to the ground. And Joseph took both of them, Ephraim on his right toward Israel’s left hand and Manasseh on his left toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them close to him. But Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim’s head, though he was the younger, and crossing his arms, he put his left hand on Manasseh’s head, even though Manasseh was the firstborn. Then he blessed Joseph and said, “May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, the Angel who has delivered me from all harm —may he bless these boys. May they be called by my name and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and may they increase greatly upon the earth.”

When Joseph saw his father placing his right hand on Ephraim’s head he was displeased; so he took hold of his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. Joseph said to him, “No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.” But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He too will become a people, and he too will become great. Nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will become a group of nations.” He blessed them that day and said, “In your name will Israel pronounce this blessing: ‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’” So he put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh.

Then Israel said to Joseph, “I am about to die, but God will be with you and take you back to the land of your fathers. And to you, as one who is over your brothers, I give the ridge of land I took from the Amorites with my sword and my bow.” Then Jacob called for his sons and said: “Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come. “Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob; listen to your father Israel.  

 Reuben would have had the blessing as the firstborn, but he dishonored Jacob by sleeping with one of his concubines.

“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 are weapons of violence. Let me not enter their council, let me not join their assembly, for they have killed men in their anger and hamstrung oxen as they pleased. Cursed be their anger, so fierce, and their fury, so cruel! I will scatter them in Jacob and disperse them in Israel.

Judah had done many dishonorable things, such as selling Joseph into slavery.  He did redeem himself in Genesis 44 by offering to take Benjamin’s place when it appeared he would have to be a prisoner of Joseph.  More importantly, God ordained that the king of Israel and Jesus would come from the line of Judah. 

“Judah, your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you. You are a lion’s cub, O Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness—who dares to rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his. He will tether his donkey to a vine, his colt to the choicest branch; he will wash his garments in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes. His eyes will be darker than wine, his teeth whiter than milk.

“Zebulun will live by the seashore and become a haven for ships; his border will extend toward Sidon. “Issachar is a rawboned donkey lying down between two saddlebags. 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.

“Dan will provide justice for his people as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan will be a serpent by the roadside, a viper along the path, that bites the horse’s heels so that its rider tumbles backward. “I look for your deliverance, O Lord.

“Gad will be attacked by a band of raiders, but he will attack them at their heels. “Asher’s food will be rich; he will provide delicacies fit for a king. “Naphtali is a doe set free that bears beautiful fawns.

Joseph’s great faith helped him endure and thrive throughout the worst of circumstances – being sold into slavery by his brothers and being unfairly jailed by the Pharaoh.   

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

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

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. Then he gave them these instructions: “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite, the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite, along with the field. There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah. The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites.” When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people.

Genesis 46-47

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Greetings!  This passage has one of the most dramatic reunions in the Bible.  Jacob thought Joseph was dead, and now he’ll get to see him again and live out his last seventeen years with him.

God speaks directly to Jacob to reassure him. 

Genesis 46-47 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. They also took with them their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in Canaan, and Jacob and all his offspring went to Egypt. He took with him to Egypt his sons and grandsons and his daughters and granddaughters—all his offspring.

These are the names of the sons of Israel (Jacob and his descendants) who went to Egypt: Reuben the firstborn of Jacob. The sons of Reuben: Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron and Carmi. The sons of Simeon: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jakin, Zohar and Shaul the son of a Canaanite woman. The sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath and Merari. The sons of Judah: Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez and Zerah (but Er and Onan had died in the land of Canaan). The sons of Perez: Hezron and Hamul. The sons of Issachar: Tola, Puah, Jashub and Shimron. The sons of Zebulun: Sered, Elon and Jahleel. These were the sons Leah bore to Jacob in Paddan Aram, besides his daughter Dinah. These sons and daughters of his were thirty-three in all. The sons of Gad: Zephon, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi and Areli. The sons of Asher: Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi and Beriah. Their sister was Serah. The sons of Beriah: Heber and Malkiel. These were the children born to Jacob by Zilpah, whom Laban had given to his daughter Leah—sixteen in all. The sons of Jacob’s wife Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. In Egypt, Manasseh and Ephraim were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. The sons of Benjamin: Bela, Beker, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim and Ard. These were the sons of Rachel who were born to Jacob—fourteen in all. The son of Dan: Hushim. The sons of Naphtali: Jahziel, Guni, Jezer and Shillem. These were the sons born to Jacob by Bilhah, whom Laban had given to his daughter Rachel—seven in all.

All those who went to Egypt with Jacob—those who were his direct descendants, not counting his sons’ wives—numbered sixty-six persons. With the two sons who had been born to Joseph in Egypt, the members of Jacob’s family, which went to Egypt, were seventy in all.

Now Jacob sent Judah ahead of him to Joseph to get directions to Goshen. When they arrived in the region of Goshen, 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 and wept for a long time.

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

Then Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I will go up and speak to Pharaoh and will say to him, ‘My brothers and my father’s household, who were living in the land of Canaan, have come to me. The men are shepherds; they tend livestock, and they have brought along their flocks and herds and everything they own.’ When Pharaoh calls you in and asks, ‘What is your occupation?’ you should answer, ‘Your servants have tended livestock from our boyhood on, just as our fathers did.’ Then you will be allowed to settle in the region of Goshen, for all shepherds are detestable to the Egyptians.”

Joseph went and told Pharaoh, “My father and brothers, with their flocks and herds and everything they own, have come from the land of Canaan and are now in Goshen.” He chose five of his brothers and presented them before Pharaoh. Pharaoh asked the brothers, “What is your occupation?” “Your servants are shepherds,” they replied to Pharaoh, “just as our fathers were.” They also said to him, “We have come to live here awhile, because the famine is severe in Canaan and your servants’ flocks have no pasture. So now, please let your servants settle in Goshen.”

Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you, and the land of Egypt is before you; settle your father and your brothers in the best part of the land. Let them live in Goshen. And if you know of any among them with special ability, put them in charge of my own livestock.”

Then Joseph brought his father Jacob in and presented him before Pharaoh. After Jacob blessed Pharaoh, Pharaoh asked him, “How old are you?” And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. My years have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers.” Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from his presence.

So Joseph settled his father and his brothers in Egypt and gave them property in the best part of the land, the district of Rameses, as Pharaoh directed. Joseph also provided his father and his brothers and all his father’s household with food, according to the number of their children.

There was no food, however, in the whole region because the famine was severe; both Egypt and Canaan wasted away because of the famine. Joseph collected all the money that was to be found in Egypt and Canaan in payment for the grain they were buying, and he brought it to Pharaoh’s palace. When the money of the people of Egypt and Canaan was gone, all Egypt came to Joseph and said, “Give us food. Why should we die before your eyes? Our money is used up.”

“Then bring your livestock,” said Joseph. “I will sell you food in exchange for your livestock, since your money is gone.” So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and he gave them food in exchange for their horses, their sheep and goats, their cattle and donkeys. And he brought them through that year with food in exchange for all their livestock. When that year was over, they came to him the following year and said, “We cannot hide from our lord the fact that since our money is gone and our livestock belongs to you, there is nothing left for our lord except our bodies and our land. Why should we perish before your eyes—we and our land as well? Buy us and our land in exchange for food, and we with our land will be in bondage to Pharaoh. Give us seed so that we may live and not die, and that the land may not become desolate.”

So Joseph bought all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh. The Egyptians, one and all, sold their fields, because the famine was too severe for them. The land became Pharaoh’s, and Joseph reduced the people to servitude, from one end of Egypt to the other. However, he did not buy the land of the priests, because they received a regular allotment from Pharaoh and had food enough from the allotment Pharaoh gave them. That is why they did not sell their land.

Joseph said to the people, “Now that I have bought you and your land today for Pharaoh, here is seed for you so you can plant the ground. But when the crop comes in, give a fifth of it to Pharaoh. The other four-fifths you may keep as seed for the fields and as food for yourselves and your households and your children.” “You have saved our lives,” they said. “May we find favor in the eyes of our lord; we will be in bondage to Pharaoh.”

So Joseph established it as a law concerning land in Egypt—still in force today—that a fifth of the produce belongs to Pharaoh. It was only the land of the priests that did not become Pharaoh’s. Now the Israelites settled in Egypt in the region of Goshen. They acquired property there and were fruitful and increased greatly in number.

Jacob lived in Egypt seventeen years, and the years of his life were a hundred and forty-seven. When the time drew near for Israel to die, he called for his son Joseph and said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, put your hand under my thigh and promise that you will show me kindness and faithfulness. Do not bury me in Egypt, but when I rest with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me where they are buried.” “I will do as you say,” he said. “Swear to me,” he said. Then Joseph swore to him, and Israel worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.

Genesis 44-45

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Greetings!

This is one of the most dramatic stories of redemption and reconciliation in the Bible.  Joseph has been testing his brothers to see if they have changed.  Judah’s stand-up response and offer to take Benjamin’s place as a prisoner is one of my favorite passages.  This was true repentance, the kind God wants from us. 

Genesis 44-45 Now Joseph gave these instructions to the steward of his house: “Fill the men’s sacks with as much food as they can carry, and put each man’s silver in the mouth of his sack. Then put my cup, the silver one, in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack, along with the silver for his grain.” And he did as Joseph said.

As morning dawned, the men were sent on their way with their donkeys. They had not gone far from the city when Joseph said to his steward, “Go after those men at once, and when you catch up with them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid good with evil? Isn’t this the cup my master drinks from and also uses for divination? This is a wicked thing you have done.’”

When he caught up with them, he repeated these words to them. But they said to him, “Why does my lord say such things? Far be it from your servants to do anything like that! We even brought back to you from the land of Canaan the silver we found inside the mouths of our sacks. So why would we steal silver or gold from your master’s house? If any of your servants is found to have it, he will die; and the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves.”

“Very well, then,” he said, “let it be as you say. Whoever is found to have it will become my slave; the rest of you will be free from blame.” Each of them quickly lowered his sack to the ground and opened it. Then the steward proceeded to search, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest. And the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack.

At this, they tore their clothes. Then they all loaded their donkeys and returned to the city. Joseph was still in the house when Judah and his brothers came in, and they threw themselves to the ground before him.

Joseph said to them, “What is this you have done? Don’t you know that a man like me can find things out by divination?”

“What can we say to my lord?” Judah replied. “What can we say? How can we prove our innocence? God has uncovered your servants’ guilt. We are now my lord’s slaves—we ourselves and the one who was found to have the cup.”

But Joseph said, “Far be it from me to do such a thing! Only the man who was found to have the cup will become my slave. The rest of you, go back to your father in peace.”  

Then Judah went up to him and said: “Please, my lord, let your servant speak a word to my lord. Do not be angry with your servant, though you are equal to Pharaoh himself. My lord asked his servants, ‘Do you have a father or a brother?’ And we answered, ‘We have an aged father, and there is a young son born to him in his old age. His brother is dead, and he is the only one of his mother’s sons left, and his father loves him.’

“Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me so I can see him for myself.’ And we said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father; if he leaves him, his father will die.’ But you told your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you will not see my face again.’ When we went back to your servant my father, we told him what my lord had said. “Then our father said, ‘Go back and buy a little more food.’ But we said, ‘We cannot go down. Only if our youngest brother is with us will we go. We cannot see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’

“Your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons. One of them went away from me, and I said, “He has surely been torn to pieces.” And I have not seen him since. If you take this one from me too and harm comes to him, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in misery.’

“So now, if the boy is not with us when I go back to your servant my father and if my father, whose life is closely bound up with the boy’s life, sees that the boy isn’t there, he will die. Your servants will bring the gray head of our father down to the grave in sorrow. Your servant guaranteed the boy’s safety to my father. I said, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, I will bear the blame before you, my father, all my life!’ “Now then, please let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? No! Do not let me see the misery that would come upon my father.”

Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!” So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it.

Joseph finally reveals himself to his brothers and they are naturally afraid.  In the same way, we might think that exposing ourself before God will bring his wrath.  As Joseph shows here (and the rest of the Bible as well), we can trust that God will extend his mercy and grace to us. 

Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence. Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

“So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay. You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.’ “You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it is really I who am speaking to you. Tell my father about all the honor accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen. And bring my father down here quickly.”

Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him. When the news reached Pharaoh’s palace that Joseph’s brothers had come, Pharaoh and all his officials were pleased. Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Tell your brothers, ‘Do this: Load your animals and return to the land of Canaan, and bring your father and your families back to me. I will give you the best of the land of Egypt and you can enjoy the fat of the land.’ “You are also directed to tell them, ‘Do this: Take some carts from Egypt for your children and your wives, and get your father and come. Never mind about your belongings, because the best of all Egypt will be yours.’”

So the sons of Israel did this. Joseph gave them carts, as Pharaoh had commanded, and he also gave them provisions for their journey. To each of them he gave new clothing, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred shekels of silver and five sets of clothes. 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.  Then he sent his brothers away, and as they were leaving he said to them, “Don’t quarrel on the way!”

It seems odd that after all the major league drama Joseph tells them not to quarrel on the way.

So they went up out of Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan. They told him, “Joseph is still alive! In fact, he is ruler of all Egypt.” Jacob was stunned; he did not believe them. 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. And Israel said, “I’m convinced! My son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.”

Genesis 42-43

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Greetings!

Genesis 42-43 When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you just keep looking at each other?” He continued, “I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, so that we may live and not die.” Then ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt. But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with the others, because he was afraid that harm might come to him.

Grain was very valuable because it could be preserved.

Note that Jacob kept his favorite son (after Joseph) home with him.  Once again, he was playing favorites. 

Joseph’s brothers, who committed the despicable act of selling him into slavery, are about to face him! 

So Israel’s sons were among those who went to buy grain, for the famine was in the land of Canaan also. Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the one who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. As soon as Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. “Where do you come from?” he asked. “From the land of Canaan,” they replied, “to buy food.” Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him.

Earlier in Genesis we read of Joseph’s dreams of his brothers bowing down to him.  Now it is coming true.

Then he remembered his dreams about them and said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see where our land is unprotected.” “No, my lord,” they answered. “Your servants have come to buy food. We are all the sons of one man. Your servants are honest men, not spies.” “No!” he said to them. “You have come to see where our land is unprotected.” But they replied, “Your servants were twelve brothers, the sons of one man, who lives in the land of Canaan. The youngest is now with our father, and one is no more.” Joseph said to them, “It is just as I told you: You are spies! And this is how you will be tested: As surely as Pharaoh lives, you will not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here. Send one of your number to get your brother; the rest of you will be kept in prison, so that your words may be tested to see if you are telling the truth. If you are not, then as surely as Pharaoh lives, you are spies!” And he put them all in custody for three days.

Can you imagine how Joseph felt towards them?  Most of us would have been vengeful.  We would be in a position of power to put our would-be destroyers in their rightful place.

On the third day, Joseph said to them, “Do this and you will live, for I fear God: If you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay here in prison, while the rest of you go and take grain back for your starving households. But you must bring your youngest brother to me, so that your words may be verified and that you may not die.” This they proceeded to do. They said to one another, “Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that’s why this distress has come upon us.” Reuben replied, “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn’t listen! Now we must give an accounting for his blood.” They did not realize that Joseph could understand them, since he was using an interpreter. He turned away from them and began to weep, but then turned back and spoke to them again.

He had Simeon taken from them and bound before their eyes. Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, to put each man’s silver back in his sack, and to give them provisions for their journey. After this was done for them, they loaded their grain on their donkeys and left. At the place where they stopped for the night one of them opened his sack to get feed for his donkey, and he saw his silver in the mouth of his sack. “My silver has been returned,” he said to his brothers. “Here it is in my sack.” Their hearts sank and they turned to each other trembling and said, “What is this that God has done to us?”

When they came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them. They said, “The man who is lord over the land spoke harshly to us and treated us as though we were spying on the land. But we said to him, ‘We are honest men; we are not spies. We were twelve brothers, sons of one father. One is no more, and the youngest is now with our father in Canaan.’ “Then the man who is lord over the land said to us, ‘This is how I will know whether you are honest men: Leave one of your brothers here with me, and take food for your starving households and go. But bring your youngest brother to me so I will know that you are not spies but honest men. Then I will give your brother back to you, and you can trade in the land.’”

As they were emptying their sacks, there in each man’s sack was his pouch of silver! When they and their father saw the money pouches, they were frightened. Their father Jacob said to them, “You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!” Then Reuben said to his father, “You may put both of my sons to death if I do not bring him back to you. Entrust him to my care, and I will bring him back.”

But Jacob said, “My son will not go down there with you; his brother is dead and he is the only one left. If harm comes to him on the journey you are taking, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in sorrow.”

Now the famine was still severe in the land. So when they had eaten all the grain they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go back and buy us a little more food.” But Judah said to him, “The man warned us solemnly, ‘You will not see my face again unless your brother is with you.’ If you will send our brother along with us, we will go down and buy food for you. But if you will not send him, we will not go down, because the man said to us, ‘You will not see my face again unless your brother is with you.’”

Israel asked, “Why did you bring this trouble on me by telling the man you had another brother?” They replied, “The man questioned us closely about ourselves and our family. ‘Is your father still living?’ he asked us. ‘Do you have another brother?’ We simply answered his questions. How were we to know he would say, ‘Bring your brother down here’?”

Then Judah said to Israel his father, “Send the boy along with me and we will go at once, so that we and you and our children may live and not die. I myself will guarantee his safety; you can hold me personally responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him here before you, I will bear the blame before you all my life. As it is, if we had not delayed, we could have gone and returned twice.”

Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be, then do this: Put some of the best products of the land in your bags and take them down to the man as a gift—a little balm and a little honey, some spices and myrrh, some pistachio nuts and almonds. Take double the amount of silver with you, for you must return the silver that was put back into the mouths of your sacks. Perhaps it was a mistake. Take your brother also and go back to the man at once. And may God Almighty grant you mercy before the man so that he will let your other brother and Benjamin come back with you. As for me, if I am bereaved, I am bereaved.”

So the men took the gifts and double the amount of silver, and Benjamin also. They hurried down to Egypt and presented themselves to Joseph. When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the steward of his house, “Take these men to my house, slaughter an animal and prepare dinner; they are to eat with me at noon.” The man did as Joseph told him and took the men to Joseph’s house. Now the men were frightened when they were taken to his house. They thought, “We were brought here because of the silver that was put back into our sacks the first time. He wants to attack us and overpower us and seize us as slaves and take our donkeys.”

So they went up to Joseph’s steward and spoke to him at the entrance to the house. “Please, sir,” they said, “we came down here the first time to buy food. But at the place where we stopped for the night we opened our sacks and each of us found his silver—the exact weight—in the mouth of his sack. So we have brought it back with us. We have also brought additional silver with us to buy food. We don’t know who put our silver in our sacks.”

“It’s all right,” he said. “Don’t be afraid. Your God, the God of your father, has given you treasure in your sacks; I received your silver.” Then he brought Simeon out to them. The steward took the men into Joseph’s house, gave them water to wash their feet and provided fodder for their donkeys. They prepared their gifts for Joseph’s arrival at noon, because they had heard that they were to eat there.

When Joseph came home, they presented to him the gifts they had brought into the house, and they bowed down before him to the ground. He asked them how they were, and then he said, “How is your aged father you told me about? Is he still living?” They replied, “Your servant our father is still alive and well.” And they bowed low to pay him honor. As he looked about and saw his brother Benjamin, his own mother’s son, he asked, “Is this your youngest brother, the one you told me about?” And he said, “God be gracious to you, my son.”

Deeply moved at the sight of his brother, Joseph hurried out and looked for a place to weep. He went into his private room and wept there. After he had washed his face, he came out and, controlling himself, said, “Serve the food.” They served him by himself, the brothers by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because Egyptians could not eat with Hebrews, for that is detestable to Egyptians. The men had been seated before him in the order of their ages, from the firstborn to the youngest; and they looked at each other in astonishment. When portions were served to them from Joseph’s table, Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as anyone else’s. So they feasted and drank freely with him.

Joseph patiently tested his brothers, and they appear to be passing the test. 

Please leave any questions or comments you have.