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Passage: Genesis 46-47

On Saturday, January 25, 2014 (Last Updated on 1/24/2015), Yujin wrote,

God spoke to Israel in visions of the night (Genesis 46:2).

I remember when I first came to faith, I felt God's Word speaking to me, drawing me to a saving knowledge of Him. My whole life was changed in an instant. Then, in some quiet and unexpected moments for the next decades of my life, I've felt His Word speak to me, encouraging me at times, convicting me at other times, and always challenging me to persevere. Today, I feel a tugging at my heart, and I long to see Jesus face-to-face. 

A few days ago, during our Bible study time, I asked my 4-year-old daughter, since God is all powerful and can do and give anything we imagine, if she could ask for one thing, what would she ask for. I was kind of afraid of what she might say. I thought that she might ask him for a pony or a toy or some other materialistic thing. But she said, "I want God to give me a big hug." I almost cried. Did my daughter simply know what her daddy wanted to hear? I don't remember planting this particular thought in her head, even though I've been teaching her about the Lord every day from the Bible since her fourth birthday in April of 2013. Needless to say, I was moved.

Friends, today I want to encourage you to persevere. Persevere in your daily meditation on God's Word. Persevere in your utterly dependent prayers to Him. Persevere in your stuttering trust in Him and stumbling obedience to Him. I am reminded of the encouragement of Paul:

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthans 15:58).

One of the songs that I often sang to my child when she was a baby and now sing with her sometimes during our Bible studies is called "Still". I found this very inspiring YouTube video of the song. It kind of captures the sentiment of my sharing today: Click here.

Passage: Genesis 46-47

On Wednesday, April 24, 2013, Fernando wrote,

I have always had the impression that Israel became slaves during the time of Joseph – that Joseph brought the Israelites into slavery - but I don't think this is so. The people sold themselves to pharaoh because they were in need; but the house of Israel was not in need and so were not brought under slavery like the rest of Egypt, they remained independent:

Genesis 47
12 And Joseph provided his father, his brothers, and all his father's household with food, according to the number of their dependents.

As I mentioned earlier with the dining, the Egyptians separated themselves from the Hebrews. So no identity should be mixed when we read that Joseph sold the “Egyptians” to the Egyptian king.

13 Now there was no food in all the land, for the famine was very severe, so that the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished by reason of the famine.

15 And when the money was all spent in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came to Joseph and said, "Give us food. Why should we die before your eyes? For our money is gone."

18 And when that year was ended, they came to him the following year and said to him, "We will not hide from my lord that our money is all spent. The herds of livestock are my lord's. There is nothing left in the sight of my lord but our bodies and our land.

And again, all the Egyptians were sold:

20 So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh, for all the Egyptians sold their fields, because the famine was severe on them. The land became Pharaoh's. 21 As for the people, he made servants of them from one end of Egypt to the other. 22 Only the land of the priests he did not buy, for the priests had a fixed allowance from Pharaoh and lived on the allowance that Pharaoh gave them; therefore they did not sell their land.

Only the priests and their land was not sold; Goshen was given to the house of Israel but to sojourn not to own. They had nothing to sell, they had no need to sell.

26 So Joseph made it a statute concerning the land of Egypt, and it stands to this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth; the land of the priests alone did not become Pharaoh's.

We even get word that all the lands, except the priests became Pharaoh's. Israel establishes their settlements:

27 Thus Israel settled in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen. And they gained possessions in it, and were fruitful and multiplied greatly.

Furthermore Genesis 50
8 as well as all the household of Joseph, his brothers, and his father's household. Only their children, their flocks, and their herds were left in the land of Goshen.

They had flocks, everyone else sold, livestock, land, and their very bodies.

They settled in the land as sojourns. And they gained possessions, not lost possessions!!! How amazing this is! Not only has God spared his chosen people time and again, but here we have everyone being slaves to Egypt, but his chosen people living free among them! How reflective is that for this era of the church, free among the slaves of Egypt!

It is not until we enter exodus that a new king comes and BEGINS to oppress them. And the word slavery is first mentioned.

In fact we are given some insight.
Exodus 1
7 But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.

The Israelites were strong, which is part of the reason for the oppression.

8 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9 And he said to his people, "Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. 10 Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land." 11 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict

Like Abraham, a prepared man, so were his children, by the mercies and grace of God. And now these weapon wielding, numerous and strong become a strategic liability for Egypt. And so it is at the point of the new king that they decide to act shrewdly and set taskmasters over them.

Passage: Genesis 46-47

On Friday, January 25, 2013 (Last Updated on 1/25/2014), Yujin wrote,

The years of my sojourning are one hundred and thirty; few and unpleasant have been the years of my life, nor have they attained the years that my fathers lived during the days of their sojourning.” (Genesis 47:9).

"Few and unpleasant have been the years of my life," Jacob tells Pharoah. When I reflect on the saints in the Old Testament and the New, this seems to be the common testimony of God's chosen and faithful people. Jesus gave His disciples this sobering counsel:

In this world you will have trouble (John 16:33).

Near the end of Paul's life he gave a similar word to Timothy:

In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12).

Since this is the overriding testimony of Scripture in both testaments, it surprises me that most Christians today live quite a different reality - not unpleasant, not filled with trouble, and hardly persecuted. This has also been my experience to this day.

Could God have built the nation of Israel without trouble? Certainly! Could God have kept Christians from experiencing any trouble in this life? Certainly! But God chose to use hardship and suffering to be the vehicle to mature His people into a nation in the Old Testament and the same to mature believers to Christ-likeness in the New Testament.

But I really have little trouble in my life. I have insurance to cover just about every possible calamity. What persecution could I speak of - 90% of my time is spent with Christians, and particularly Christians who like me. I know at least a few Christians who wonder, "Why do I have so much trouble in my life?" But, as I again consider the overriding testimony of Scripture, perhaps the more appropriate question is one that the majority of Christians should be asking, namely, "Why don't I have more trouble in my life?!"

My fellow believers, are we really being light to a dark world? Are we still "salty," presenting a moral contrast not only to moral depravity but also to worldly values and to self-centered priorities? Does God's Word direct our lives or are we more concerned about keeping up with the Joneses? Is our conversation governed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ or by the latest headlines, fashion, technology, and sports? If all that we have is passing away, why are we holding on to things with such tenacity, virtually ignoring the millions of people that are suffering and dying every minute because they were born on the wrong side of the tracks?

Friends, I'm not trying to put you through a guilt trip, although I hope you're conscience is at least a bit tinged. I'm not immune to my own criticism. But I felt someone's got to raise the question. Pastors hardly do so. I never heard this in seminary. Such thoughts occasionally get said in a sobering moment by a rogue, probably "naive", Christian, while sharing in a small group. But nothing comes of it, so they pass without any incident. And I know I've shared in this way from time to time over the past few years, but again, without incident. I am reminded of God's word to Ezekiel in the days before God poured out His wrath on His people:

I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one (Ezekiel 22:30).

I am also reminded of the words of Jesus, who had this sobering prophecy of the last days:

And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:7-8).

Passage: Genesis 46-47

On Wednesday, January 25, 2012 (Last Updated on 1/25/2014), Yujin wrote,

If I might add a personal note today. As I read about how Joseph was reunited with Jacob after some twenty-two years (Joseph was 17 when sold into slavery by his brothers, Genesis 37:2; Joseph was made overseer in Egypt at 30 yrs old, Genesis 41:46; It was the 2nd year of the famine when Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, so Joseph was about 39, Genesis 45:6). I remember my first trip back to Korea after twenty-five years.

Except for a brief visit by my grandmother in my early teens, I had not seen any of my relatives in Korea. It was not until my late twenties/early thirties, when I lived alone in Chicago, working various jobs, that my heart was moved to reconnect with my family. It was then that I determined to visit my parents in Dallas more frequently. It was then that I determined I would manage all their financial and other burdens when they turned 65, so that they could better enjoy their retirement years. It was then that I invited my mom, with whom I was not as close as my dad, to go on a three-week trip to Korea with me. That was September 2001. Although that time period was significant for the attack on America, I mostly remember it as a wonderful time with my mom, a wonderful reacquaintance with my home country, and a great moment with my grandmother. 

When she saw me, the first thing she did was to grasp my hands, look into my eyes, and say, "Now I can die, since I have seen your face." I can't help but recall this moment as I read Genesis 46:30, where Jacob says to Joseph,

Now I am ready to die, since I have seen your face again and know you are still alive.

Thank God that my grandmother did not think that I was dead as Jacob did of his son, but my heart was warmed that she did not want to leave this life without seeing me again. I told her that she must not die yet, because I would return. And, sure to my promise, I came back the next year. And I came alone. At that time, she invited me to dinner with other family, passed me a glass of soju, and said the exact same thing as in the previous year, "Now I can die, since I have seen your face." 

But now I was thinking that there was nothing special in these words, and she would say the same if I came again the following year. Maybe she was just being polite. Even so, I appreciated her words. And lo and behold, she died a couple of years after, having lived some ninety-six years. 

I'm not in the habit of sharing personal stories like this, but I thought perhaps some of you may gain some value from what I shared. It was only because at some point I made a determination to reconnect with my family that I can share these things. I am still estranged from one side of my extended family because of matters outside of my involvement and control; however, my family ties have multiplied through my wife. And whatever my determination was to reconnect with my family, this determination now extends to them. And through my wife and her family I understand even better the wonder and joy in a well-connected family. 

We say that the family, as ordained by God, is the basic building-block of all societies, such that strong families make strong societies. Strong families make strong churches. Strong families create the best environment for the generations to come. Therefore, let us not forsake our families, both immediate and extended, but make every effort to build them up. 

Passage: Genesis 46-47

On Wednesday, February 23, 2011, Unmi wrote,
Whenever I previously thought of Egpyt, I always had toughts about God destroying an ungodly nation.  The only image I had of Egpyt was the plagues that God brought upon the Egyptians as the Isrealites left. But I forgot that it was God that brought this nation to its height as well. The Lord made Pharoah prosper through the revelation that God himself gave Pharoah. At the end of this section, Pharoah owned EVERYTHING in the entire land. And so it is... the rise and fall of all nations, whether godly or ungodly, is under the Sovereign direction of the Lord. 
As President Obama gives his State of the Union address tonight, we have to be mindful that he is NOT the one in control of the course of this nation. He as well as every leader of this nation answers to God whether they like it or not.  Because we know that the Lord is in control, we do need to pray for our nation and its leaders.   
This does NOT mean that we stay out of the political process, the Lord has been gracious to us in allowing us to live in a country where its citizens can help shape the course this nation.  When I think about the many who live without any political rights in oppressive countries, it seems sinful for Americans not to vote...
Let's shake off this apathy and actively take part in the political process through voting, but always keeping in mind that our true "citizenship is in the heaven" (Philippians 3:20)