The story of Joseph, revealed in our passages for this week, is one of my favorite in all of God’s word! Here’s a man who goes through incredible turmoil and yet remains faithful to God throughout! Certainly, Joseph wasn’t without fault…..it doesn’t take a genius to expect that the announcement of your lordship over your family might bring a harsh response! However, Joseph is a testimony of faithful obedience in difficult circumstances and is therefore a great encouragement to me as I seek to live for Christ, today!
The message delivered strongly to me through these passages is one of God’s sovereign control over the world. As you read, notice how God is at work in both Jacob’s family and those who don’t worship him, like the Egyptians. Notice how God is at work in those who desire to be obedient like Jacob and Joseph as well as those who rebel, like Joseph’s brothers. Notice how God is in control, even of the weather as he uses a famine to accomplish his purposes! Joseph’s summary of his own life in Genesis 45:7 is a great testimony to the sovereign purposes of God, “God sent me ahead of you to preserve for a you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.” Consider these questions as you read this week.
In what ways do you see the sovereignty of God demonstrated in these passages? In what ways do you experience the sovereignty of God in our own world? What struggles do you have with the sovereignty of God?
Something else that came to my attention as I read was Joseph’s obedient leadership demonstrated in these passages. For example, can you imagine what people must of been thinking and saying as Joseph hoarded food during the seven years of abundance!
What risks do we take when we try to obey God in ways that defy the logic and understanding of some? What can we learn from Joseph’s life that can help us remain faithful even when others come against us?
One of my great joys as I engage in this Bible reading journey with you, is the privilege I have of reading these passages with my oldest son, Isaac. When I announced a couple of Sundays ago that this would be a reading plan for the whole church he presumed I meant him as well….after all, he is part of the church, right?! Foolish me! When I was making plans, I didn’t presume that a nine year old would actually consider himself part of the congregation and desire to read the Bible in an intentional, methodical, devotional fashion! God continues to bless me in embarrassing ways!
It is in reading with my son that this week’s passages have taken on a new emphasis. Many of the passages are built on family relationships. Not only will you read about the great faith of Abram (soon to be renamed Abraham) the man, but you will also read about the failure of Abram, the husband. You will read heart wrenching accounts of parents, Abram and Hagar, who are asked to trust God with the well-being of their beloved children in ways that defy our sense of logic and decency. You will read about the blessing of a father over his two sons and the competitive, manipulative relationship shared by these brothers.
These are some difficult passages to swallow and I welcome specific questions you may want to offer about any of the individual readings!
Here’s the bottom-line for me this afternoon as I think and write about what I’ve read: We serve a God who is able and willing to work through the mess that defines our life to accomplish His great purposes! Sometimes it’s impossible for us to understand what God is doing, especially when it comes to people we love like our family. However, I believe the entirety of our study in God’s word will demonstrate that, indeed, He can be trusted in the midst of the chaos! This encourages me when I think about the chaos of my own life!
Some questions for you to consider and respond to:
1. What do you think was going through Abram’s mind as God commanded Abram to sacrifice his son, Isaac….the son that God had previously promised would be the seed of nations and generations that would number the stars in the heavens?
2. How do you reconcile God’s use of Jacob’s deceit to accomplish his purpose of founding and blessing the nation of Israel? Does this mean that God condones deceit?
I just finished reading the five passages in the first category, “In the Beginning.” At the beginning of the week, I’m hoping to make it a practice to read all five in one sitting in order to get a broad view of the category. After doing this I plan to return to each one on following days, slowing down to journal about what I’ve read as I meditate and listen to God’s Word. I noticed something in my heart and mind as I read this morning; something that affirms one of the primary points of these passages, I believe.
These passages establish the foundational understandings about God’s relationship with people; understandings that will inform the rest of Scripture. In short, here’s my synopsis of what I read: God created everything and people are the pinnacle of that creation. God blessed people in every way, even inviting them into a relationship with him to “rule” the earth. People were not satisfied with their role as subservient rulers, instead “wanting to be like God, knowing good and evil.” After rebelling against God and his rule in their life, people truly did know “evil” where at one time they only knew “good.” The fall (chapter 3) reveals the consequences of sin (rebellion) having entered into the world, the flood (chapter 6) expands on this same theme….“every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” (v.5) The tower (chapter 11) continues to illustrate the people’s evil desire from chapter 3 as they give physical expression to that desire by seeking to “build a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves.” (v.4)
So, here’s what I noticed in myself as I read. Instead of lamenting rebellion and a heart bent towards evil in the lives of the people I read about, I found myself questioning; even judging, God himself! (Why did God allow the serpent in the garden? How could a loving God wipe out humanity in a flood? Is God so insecure that he could not allow a people with one language to rival him?) While I believe these are legitimate questions, shouldn’t I first be asking questions like “Why did my ancestors forsake the blessing of God?” “Why does God persist in being gracious to people even though they persist in evil and rebellion towards him?”
I believe that the nature of my questions reveals the orientation of my heart and mind. That is, I reflexively question, judge and even compete with God before examining myself, being thankful for the grace of God in my life. But isn’t this what I should expect if I’ve properly understood theses passages and the condition of people that it presents? Still, it surprised me to notice this about myself!
What do you think? Am I off base here? What things are you noticing or what questions are arising as you read?
Welcome!!! I’m thrilled you’ve found this blog! My hope is that this becomes a platform that will expand our hearts and minds as we encourage one another while reading God’s Word together. Each week I will post questions and comments that are relevant to the passages of Scripture we are reading for the E-100 Bible reading program. When helpful, I may also link to pictures, video, music, etc. that may expand our thinking and help as we engage God’s Word together. Of course, this blog is not meant to be a one-way street. Please ask your own questions and make your own comments as we begin this adventure together!
The introductory pages of the E-100 Journal remind us that this challenge is “not just to make it through the world’s greatest book, or to gain more Bible knowledge…..but to get to know the Bible’s Author, God himself!”
How do you plan to engage this Bible reading challenge in a way that will help you get to know God better? What are some helpful devotional practices that you have learned that might benefit others?