Good morning. Continue to pray for the land situation as well as the coronavirus situation. Today I have a counseling opportunity with someone battling addictions. Please pray for wisdom to counsel. Josh, Gary and Ntsako are on a business trip trying to set up business contacts to rebuild their business, please pray for them. We’ll be doing food parcels today.
Genesis 47 is somewhat of a transition. It begins with the introduction of Joseph’s brothers and father to Pharaoh and ends with Jacob’s approaching death. We’ll do a character study this morning, looking at each of the individuals by order of their appearance.
- What do we learn about graciousness from Pharaoh?
- I have no idea what Pharaoh’s spiritual condition was, but he really comes across as a likable man. We’ve seen Moses’ emphasis upon the fact that Egyptians despise shepherds and yet when he’s introduced to Joseph’s brothers and father we don’t even get a hint of such an attitude. Rather than despising them, he actually sought to employ them for his own animals. And when he received Jacob he genuinely seemed interested to know about Jacob and was sincerely impressed by his age. Given the fact that age was an important thing to them as it is to us here in South Africa, he was showing genuine interest in these men.
- I think we can learn a lesson about dealing with people from Pharaoh. Sometimes we find ourselves working with people who are not in our comfort zone or people we might tend to look down upon such as LGBT individuals or taxi drivers. Pharaoh found a way to be gracious and if this man can do it, we should be able to as believers. Asking questions and showing interest in them as people is one way to do so. Looking for ways to be friends is another. We don’t have to approve of their lifestyles to be friendly and even friends. I know I find this awkward personally, but I think if we’re going to impact these groups (or other groups we naturally despise) we’re going to have to get past our own prejudices.
- What do we learn about witnessing from Jacob?
- I suppose I should have asked the question, what can we learn about how NOT to witness from Jacob? It saddens me that he had an opportunity to talk about anything he wanted to the most powerful man in the world at that time and yet instead of witnessing to the faithfulness of his God he spoke of the evil of his days. I don’t know if he was being humble by comparing himself unfavorably to his fathers or if he was somewhat star-struck in the presence of Pharaoh, but I really wish he’d done better than to resort to his pessimistic self of all these things are against me.
- I don’t want to be too hard on Jacob because there have been a number of times where I’ve done the same. I think one of the lessons is that we need to be sanctifying the Lord in our hearts so as to be ready to give a witness of the hope within us. While I don’t know what kept Jacob from being a witness, I know that my hindrances in such situations tends to be either a respecter of persons (I’m awed by the person I’m with) or I’m so busy with other things that I’m not ready when the opportunity arises. So the lesson to me is to better prepare myself by praying each morning to be ready to be a witness no matter what the situation.
- I suppose we’d do better studying the lives of the Lord and of Paul to see how to be a witness to men of nobility.
- What do we learn about wisdom from Joseph?
- One of the greatest dangers of a government run welfare system is that it too easily creates an entitlement mentality in the people. Joseph wisely sold the grain back to the people rather than just freely distributing it to them. I think this actually accomplished a couple of things. It kept them from the entitlement mentality and it also caused them to be more careful in their use of the grain. When something is given to us we take it more for granted (which is actually the entitlement mentality). We see that in young children who are blessed with many things, they tend to take those things for granted and act as if they deserve them. As a result they also tend to take the attitude that they can abuse the things because they’ll just be replaced when they need them. By Joseph’s doing as he did, he was able to prevent that.
- It’s interesting that we don’t see any evidence of rioting or demanding of government assistance by the people. Rather they were thankful—see v 25. The cure for the entitlement mentality is thankfulness which somehow Joseph was able to instill in these people by his actions. I’m sure living in a monarchy had something to do with the difference between their situation and ours (a democracy automatically makes us think of our “rights.” Instead of being thankful for what we have we tend to look at what we don’t have).
- I think it’s something for us to give thought to in our efforts to minister to people’s physical needs whether it be the food parcels or other opportunities we’ll have in the future. We’ve seen a good amount of thankfulness from people so far, but how do we maintain that in our efforts? Your ideas?
- What do we learn about faith from Jacob?
- While Jacob can be faulted for a lot of things, he ended well. At the end of the chapter he is seen dying by faith. We need to recognize that his request to be buried in Canaan is an act of faith not of sentimentality. It’s not just a desire to have his body next to his father’s but an act of faith in the promises of God concerning the land of Canaan. God had promised to give the land to Abraham and his seed and that promise had been passed down to Isaac and to Jacob. Jacob’s request was based upon that promise.
- We further see his faith by worshipping upon his bed (or staff) and Hebrews calls attention to this in chapter 11. I think we see humility and submission in this act on the part of Jacob. God’s been working for the past 100 years in Jacob’s life and Jacob at the end is more the Israel he was supposed to be.
- God’s working in our lives too, conforming us to the image of Christ. He places many things in our paths to develop our faith in Him. Let’s remember that the things in our way today are ways in which God is seeking to develop us in our discipleship. Let’s pray for the day, let’s praise Him at the end and let’s see how He’s seeking to make us more the person He wants us to be.
- What did you learn today?
- I think the main thing that I was impressed by is the working of God in our lives. I tend to be a lot like Jacob in that I fail to give God the glory in a situation like he had with Pharaoh, but God isn’t done working. He’s still developing us. Just as He worked with Jacob who stumbled so much but ended well, He’s working with me and I can be very thankful for His continued working in my life.
Your Thoughts or questions?