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1 Chronicles 2: Remembering the Past

1 Chronicles 2 is a tough one to write about. We have the family tree of Jacob for a very long time here, and you probably noticed that there are some very big names on the list.

Israel had a great heritage. You have men like Jacob himself, but you also see some of his prominent descendants like David.

However, as we have seen in so many of the chapters we just read in 2 Kings, for every good person on this list, there were several bad ones. Israel and Judah were constantly wandering away from God. I have to admit that I got a little bit frustrated by them. It quite simply doesn’t make sense. After all, they were able to witness what happened when one of their rulers followed God. Shouldn’t that have been a good enough reason to follow God?

For a recent example that I wrote about a little while ago, think about Josiah. He was a great king who the Bible said is unparalleled in history. However, immediately after he died, the next king in line was evil and turned away from God.

You would think that they would have learned from the good ones, but it was incredibly rare for either Israel or Judah to find two good kings in a row.

For me, that is the power of these types of family trees that are in the Bible every once in a while. They allow you to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. You get to remember people who you read about before, and you can remember what was going well or not in each situation.

I think that is why God gives us history. We can learn a lot from the past, and I think it is good for us to remember the good and the bad. From the good, we can learn what we ought to do, and from the bad we can learn about what to avoid.

Numbers 24: A Christmas Story

Well, who would have ever thought that we would find Christmas in Numbers chapter 24?

Actually, when I was in church yesterday, the sermon was obviously Christmas-themed, and this verse was used as an Old Testament reference for the star that the Magi followed.

Num 24:17  I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.

Obviously, we see a reference to a star rising out of Jacob. I don’t know how much more explanation that point needs. Also, the scepter is a another symbol of the Messiah who will reign as the King forever. Pretty amazing, right?

These are not the only star references though.

In my first ever post on this blog, I wrote about how we can find the evidence of God using a star all the way back in Genesis chapter 1.

Gen 1:14  And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

Even in the beginning, God had planned on using the stars as a beacon. He knew that He would call people to the birth of His Son using a star.

Beyond that, we can see more evidence of the fulfillment of prophecy from Isaiah.

Isa 60:1  Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.

Isa 60:2  For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.

Isa 60:3  And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.

Isa 60:4  Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side.

Isa 60:5  Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.

Isa 60:6  The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the LORD.

I think that this is remarkable. Maybe this can help you get into the Christmas spirit a little bit more today.

Genesis 50: God Is Beyond All of Us

We have finally made it to the end of Genesis! Thank you for hanging around with me this long.

In this final chapter of Genesis, we see the entire funeral process for Jacob, and we also witness the eventual death of Joseph himself.

However, what stood out particularly strongly to me is what has always impressed me about Joseph. He was very quick to give God all of the credit He deserves for being the ultimate ruler of the universe.

When Jacob died, his other sons were worried about what Joseph would do to them now. I guess that they were worried that perhaps Joseph had been merciful to them for their father’s sake, but now that he was gone, that hedge of protection might be gone.

Gen 50:15  And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him.

Gen 50:16  And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying,

Gen 50:17  So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him.

Gen 50:18  And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants.

Gen 50:19  And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?

Gen 50:20  But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

Gen 50:21  Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.

As you can tell from that passage, Joseph was upset when he heard that his brothers were afraid of him. Perhaps this is because he has already forgiven them in chapter 45. Perhaps he was upset because he loved them and didn’t want them to be upset.

Then, this is what really stood out to me, his brothers were bowing to him and saying that they were his servants, and Joseph essentially asked them if they thought he was God.

When we get into positions of power, it is easy to have people praising what we do and thinking that we are all that. Joseph certainly had that as he was the second most powerful man in all of Egypt.

However, he quickly pointed out to them that he was not God. Since we will be leaving Joseph today, I thought it was appropriate to point this out one more time. He always turned all of the credit back to God and said that God made all this happen because of His will.

Now we reached the end of Genesis, I have to admit that I do have a newfound respect for the character of Joseph. He was always quick to acknowledge that there was a power beyond himself, and God deserved all the praise rather than Joseph himself.

See you all tomorrow in the exciting land of Exodus.

Genesis 49: Another Early Reference to Jesus

In Genesis chapter 49, Jacob knew that he was about to die, so he called all of his sons together to essentially tell them what will happen to them and their families in the future.

While there is a lot to say about each and every one, I think that Judah particularly stands out because of all of ties to Jesus that we can find throughout the passage.

Gen 49:8  Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee.

Gen 49:9  Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?

Gen 49:10  The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

Gen 49:11  Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes:

Gen 49:12  His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.

Obviously, the Jesus reference comes through the strongest in verse 10. According to the Hebrew translator in my computer Bible produced by e-Sword, Shiloh is an epithet for the Messiah. Also, the fact that there would be no lawgiver out of Judah until the Messiah came also implies to me that the Messiah would come from Judah.

Maybe I am jumping a little bit too far on that alone, but the Messiah would obviously be a lawgiver, and if Judah would have one until the Messiah came, it isn’t that hard to think that the Messiah might come from Judah as well.

When you add that to the fact that the sceptre would not depart from Judah, if the Messiah came from anywhere else, that might be symbolic of the sceptre moving somewhere else.

All of the wine references make me think of the Last Supper and the fact that the wine was symbolic of the New Covenant between God and man that came into being through the blood of Jesus.

Obviously, the physical life of Jesus is chronicled in the New Testament, but you can already see prophecy concerning Him all the way back in Genesis. That is one of the most remarkable parts about the Bible. This document was written far before Jesus ever walked on the earth as a human being, but through divine inspiration, we can already see connections being made to the life of Jesus. No other book in history can compare to it.

Genesis 48: God Completes What He Sets in Motion

In Genesis 48, something very interesting happened that didn’t normally happen in ancient cultures. Jacob/Israel was about to pass away, and before he did, Joseph wanted to go visit him with his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh.

Gen 48:3  And Jacob said unto Joseph, God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me,

Gen 48:4  And said unto me, Behold, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a multitude of people; and will give this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession.

Gen 48:5  And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine.

Gen 48:6  And thy issue, which thou begettest after them, shall be thine, and shall be called after the name of their brethren in their inheritance.

Israel essentially said that he was going to include Joseph’s two sons in his inheritance. I can’t imagine that this type of thing happened a lot in ancient cultures. Being included in the inheritance was a huge deal back then although I guess it still is today.

As we can see the future, these two rounded out the twelve tribes of Israel because Joseph and Levi did not receive land. However, Ephraim and Manasseh were both considered half tribes because Levi was still technically a tribe.

Regardless, these two half tribes made up the tribe that Joseph would have been. This wasn’t a punishment for Joseph, but it was more of a privilege for his children.

Israel was doing something that must not have been very common for the benefit of all two of his grandchildren.

While I have written before about the dangers of playing favorites, I think that this situation is a little bit different. He wasn’t playing favorites, but he was completing what should have been in place originally. Joseph should have received an inheritance just like his brothers did, and by giving an inheritance to his two sons instead, the puzzle was still complete so to speak.

I think that this shows something about the character of who God is. Even if things don’t seem to be adding up, God is a God of completeness. He doesn’t leave loose ends, and everything will always end up working out like He intended it to.

For example, when Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, God didn’t just say that He was going to have to alter his entire plan for the history of Israel. He doesn’t need to react to humans. He knows what humans will do before they do it. Since He is in control of both history and the future, He knew that He would complete everything that He had put in place from the beginning.

While it may seem strange that grandchildren were put on the same level as immediate children, the story does illustrate the concept of completion.

Genesis 46: Trusting Enough to Follow God

In Genesis chapter 46, Israel very well might have been a little bit confused. Earlier in chapter 28 during the episode with Jacob’s ladder, God promised Jacob/Israel the land that he was standing on would be essentially an inheritance.

Now, Israel was being called to go down to Egypt, and God reassures him that that previous promise is still valid and that this is just a season.

Gen 46:2  And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I.

Gen 46:3  And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation:

Gen 46:4  I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes.

Gen 46:5  And Jacob rose up from Beersheba: and the sons of Israel carried Jacob their father, and their little ones, and their wives, in the wagons which Pharaoh had sent to carry him.

Israel had to accept the fact that for the time being, God had a is slightly different plan for his life. Yes, his family would essentially end up on the land that they were promised, but they needed to go to Egypt right now.

I have heard that this is what happens to people sometimes when they are called to enter the mission field. According to the world’s definition, everything might be going perfectly. They might have a nice house, a well-paying job, a growing family and even a blossoming and flourishing Christian walk, but God might call on them for a radical change.

These people realize that they really need to go when God calls them. This feels like when Jesus called His disciples. Many of them left their jobs and presumably families to follow this teacher who was pretty much an unknown at the time. They did it because they had faith.

Israel didn’t have to go to Egypt, and he easily could have rebelled. He could have told God that he wanted to stay where he was because the land was promised to him and his family.

However, he didn’t do that whatsoever. He trusted God with everything he had and went down to Egypt.

This is yet another extension of the general theme that has been running through many of the stories we have been looking at in Genesis. When God calls you to do something, it is in your best interest to follow through. God will be in control of that and every situation, so we just need to follow through faith.

Jer 29:11  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Genesis 44: People Change (and Sometimes for the Better)

In Genesis chapter 44, I have to admit I kind of wonder what type of mind game Joseph was playing. Essentially, he forced his brothers to bring their youngest brother Benjamin with them if they wanted to buy more food.

However, it seems as if he only ordered Benjamin to come with them to cause controversy.

Gen 44:1  And he commanded the steward of his house, saying, Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put every man’s money in his sack’s mouth.

Gen 44:2  And put my cup, the silver cup, in the sack’s mouth of the youngest, and his corn money. And he did according to the word that Joseph had spoken.

Again, he returned all of their money. That isn’t necessarily the problem here. He had his own personal goblet hidden in Benjamin’s bag to frame him in a way.

Why would he do that?

I think that he was testing all of his brothers to see if their attitudes and actions. After all, these were the guys who sold Joseph himself into slavery but seriously considered killing him first.

They were upset because he was the favorite son and had a vision that all of his family would bow down to him someday. Their resentment caused an awful lot of problems for Joseph.

Interestingly enough, Joseph and Benjamin were full brothers, and they were both the favorite children of their father Israel.

Gen 37:3  Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours.

Gen 42:4  But Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said, Lest peradventure mischief befall him.

Notice that both Joseph and Benjamin received special treatment. Perhaps Joseph was trying to find out if his brothers had any resentment towards Benjamin.

Perhaps he was trying to find out what his brothers would do. They were quick to try to get rid of him when he received special treatment, and maybe he was wondering if they would sell Benjamin out in a similar way.

He must have been relieved when he heard Judah speak from verse 18 through the end of this chapter. I won’t post all of the words here, but he essentially laid out the fact that they promised to keep Benjamin safe, and their father would be devastated if anything happened to him. Judah even offered to remain as a servant if Joseph would let Benjamin return home to their father.

First of all, Judah’s honesty and bravery are admirable. It must have been difficult for him to swallow his pride and essentially beg for his brother’s life. Nobody likes to be in a position where they are entirely at the mercy of someone else.

In a way though, that is our entire relationship with God. We need to swallow our pride and honestly recognize that we are sinful people who have no hope in and of ourselves. Then, we need to appeal to God and depend on his mercy to escape from this sin that we have been ensnared in. Of course, God’s mercy never fails.

Eph 2:3  Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

Eph 2:4  But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,

Eph 2:5  Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

I know that the themes embedded in the salvation story are entirely woven throughout Scripture, and here is an interesting place where you can find an application of those lessons. Of course, it is not the entire story, but you can see some traits and connections here.

Genesis 35: Put Away the False Idols

God commanded Jacob, who was about to be renamed Israel, to go build an altar in Bethel in Genesis chapter 35. However, Jacob knew that his house had to be in order before he could proceed with this command.

Gen 35:1  And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother.

Gen 35:2  Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments:

Gen 35:3  And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went.

Gen 35:4  And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem.

He knew that he needed to make sure that there were no false idols in his house. Even though the 10 Commandments hadn’t been handed to Moses yet, there was obviously some part of Jacob that knew that he needed to make sure that God was the only thing that was receiving his and his family’s worship.

There are numerous passages in the Bible that warn us to be careful about idolatry, but let’s focus on the passage from the 10 Commandments.

Exo 20:4  Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

Exo 20:5  Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

The key to this passage is the fact that God is a jealous God. He doesn’t want to share our worship with anyone or anything.

There are many things that compete for our attention, and there are many things that we can put above our relationship with God. Some of them are great things like our education, our careers or even our families, but in reality, God really needs to be our top priority.

After all, Jesus himself explained that when He was asked what the most important commandment was.

Mat 22:36  Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

Mat 22:37  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

Mat 22:38  This is the first and great commandment.

There’s really no reason that we should not put God and His will first in our lives, but we keep trying to run our own way. Personally, I am an ambitious person, and it is definitely tempting to try to do whatever I can to hit whatever goals I want to achieve.

However, that is definitely the wrong perspective. I should be more worried about the goals that God has set for my life. Even though I don’t necessarily know what they are, they are much better than whatever I could achieve by my own power.

My goals don’t deserve my worship, God does.

Genesis 34: Don’t Fight Fire with Fire

Genesis chapter 34 shows what can happen when people take vengeance too far into their own hands.

All of the sons of Jacob were upset that their sister, Dinah, had been “defiled” (I love using my KJV vocabulary) by Shechem. Obviously, Shechem should not have done that, but when he came to the family to ask if he could marry Dinah, he was basically handed an ultimatum.

Gen 34:15  But in this will we consent unto you: If ye will be as we be, that every male of you be circumcised;

Gen 34:16  Then will we give our daughters unto you, and we will take your daughters to us, and we will dwell with you, and we will become one people.

Gen 34:17  But if ye will not hearken unto us, to be circumcised; then will we take our daughter, and we will be gone.

Even though this whole procedure is definitely unpleasant, Shechem really wanted to marry Dinah, so he consented. However, as we find out later, this was really a plot that led to his own demise.

Gen 34:24  And unto Hamor and unto Shechem his son hearkened all that went out of the gate of his city; and every male was circumcised, all that went out of the gate of his city.

Gen 34:25  And it came to pass on the third day, when they were sore, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brethren, took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males.

Gen 34:26  And they slew Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house, and went out.

Simeon and Levi were incredibly upset about this entire process, so they decided that they were going to catch all of the men of the land at a weak moment and kill all of them.

The rest of their brothers came along and ruined the rest of the city. They also brought back all of their possessions as almost spoils of war.

Jacob wasn’t especially thrilled with this situation.

Gen 34:30  And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house.

Jacob was thinking that the other people around would like to avenge Hamor and Shechem. In fact, he realized that he didn’t have enough soldiers to fight off this type of hypothetical attack.

Simeon and Levi really didn’t have a lot to say in response.

Gen 34:31  And they said, Should he deal with our sister as with an harlot?

They started from an accurate premise. Obviously, Shechem should have done the right thing. He was obviously wrong in the first place, and it is not all right to excuse sin.

However, we are also not supposed to take vengeance into our own hands.

Rom 12:19  Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

It is not wrong for Simeon and Levi to want to defend their sister’s honor. However, coming up with a devious plot that eventually leads to murder is not how we should deal with this type of situation.

The next two verses in Romans tell us how we are supposed to react when people do things to us that we really don’t like.

Rom 12:20  Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.

Rom 12:21  Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

The end of verse 21 virtually sums it up. We are not supposed to use evil to fight evil. Rather, we are supposed to do good to those that harm us and let God take care of the rest. I know, that is easier said than done, but it is not impossible.

Php 4:13  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Genesis 33: Isn’t It Better to Forgive?

We just learned in the previous chapter that Jacob was incredibly nervous about seeing his brother Esau again. After all, Jacob had definitely pulled some major shenanigans when they were younger, and he was worried that he thought would never forgive him.

Jacob wasn’t necessarily being paranoid for no reason. After all, Esau had thought about killing him in the past.

However, when the brothers finally came together, Jacob must have been shocked.

Gen 33:4  And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.

Gen 33:5  And he lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and the children; and said, Who are those with thee? And he said, The children which God hath graciously given thy servant.

Gen 33:6  Then the handmaidens came near, they and their children, and they bowed themselves.

Gen 33:7  And Leah also with her children came near, and bowed themselves: and after came Joseph near and Rachel, and they bowed themselves.

Gen 33:8  And he said, What meanest thou by all this drove which I met? And he said, These are to find grace in the sight of my lord.

Gen 33:9  And Esau said, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself.

Gen 33:10  And Jacob said, Nay, I pray thee, if now I have found grace in thy sight, then receive my present at my hand: for therefore I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou wast pleased with me.

Gen 33:11  Take, I pray thee, my blessing that is brought to thee; because God hath dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough. And he urged him, and he took it.

Forgiveness is a powerful force. Over the years, it appears that Esau finally forgave Jacob for all that had passed between them.

I have to admit that reading this story always makes me smile because it is rare to see such bitter enemies reconcile. However, it kind of makes me a little bit sad that I am surprised to begin with.

I shouldn’t be surprised by forgiveness because I should see it every day. However, how often do you hear of stories on the news or wherever about division? I bet you hear about them a lot more than you hear about people coming together and forgiving each other.

Eph 4:31  Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

Eph 4:32  And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

We should all forgive each other rather than hold in bitterness and wrath. Forgiveness is much harder to accomplish, and it isn’t half as natural, but that is what we are commanded to do.

Therefore, I probably shouldn’t be surprised when I see a story about forgiveness in the Bible. I shouldn’t be surprised because that should be common at our point in history as well. Sadly, many people today feel like it is better to hold grudges than it is to forgive.