< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: March 2016

Sunday, March 20, 2016

A New Chapter? Or Our Divine Destiny?

When something “bad” happens in your life, make the decision to let go of the story you had planned on living out and get caught up in the one God wants to tell.

Because He knew it was going to happen before it did!


Saturday, March 12, 2016

Genesis 49:29 - 50:26

Genesis 49:29 - 50:26

29 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, 30 the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite. 31 There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah. 32 The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites.”

33 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.

Joseph threw himself on 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.

Jacob, as Joseph’s father, was also held in high esteem by the Egyptians whom he lived among for seventeen years. This is particularly seen in their prolonged mourning for him. It lasted 70 days. No other burial recorded in Scripture is given such honor or described with such wealth of detail. Whatever his failings were in his earlier days, in later years and particularly in old age, he attains a spiritual maturity and moral dignity which give him a unique place in Bible history.

Note where it says that Jacob breathed his last and was gathered to his people.
He was gathered to Noah, Enoch, Abraham, Isaac and all the others already living in the presence of God. This is clear recognition of the aliveness of those who died in faith.

Jesus said in Matthew 22:31-32 - 31 But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

And John 11:26 – Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me shall never die.” The believer never consciously experiences death, because when he closes his eyes on earth, they open in heaven.

That Jacob was embalmed was kind of interesting. Scripture only mentions two Israelites who were embalmed: Jacob and later Joseph.

Genesis 50: 4-6 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.
10 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. 11 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.

12 So Jacob’s sons did as he had commanded them: 13 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 along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite.

All of Pharoah’s officials went! This was quite a procession. And you know the Egyptians didn’t like the people of Canaan. Remember they wouldn’t eat at the same table as Joseph’s brothers. They did all this out of respect for Joseph and Jacob, but it’s probably the first time Egyptians went to Canaan for a funeral!

Genesis 50:14-21 14 After burying Jacob, Joseph returned to Egypt with his brothers and all who had accompanied him to his father’s burial. 15 But now that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers became fearful. “Now Joseph will show his anger and pay us back for all the wrong we did to him,” they said.

16 So they sent this message to Joseph: “Before your father died, he instructed us 17 to say to you: ‘Please forgive your brothers for the great wrong they did to you—for their sin in treating you so cruelly.’ So we, the servants of the God of your father, beg you to forgive our sin.” When Joseph received the message, he broke down and wept. 18 Then his brothers came and threw themselves down before Joseph. “Look, we are your slaves!” they said.

19 But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. 21 No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them.

They doubted his forgiveness. But Joseph said “Am I in place of God?” He was saying judgment for sin belonged to God, not to him. And “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” This is one of the most quoted verses in the Bible. Because God can use anything for good. Someone recently told me that a lot of Muslims are converting to Christianity because of Isis. That seeing how they act wasn’t their idea of what the Muslim religion was about, so they were leaving it.

A commentator wrote that evil is never allowed near God’s own child without His permission first. If it IS allowed, as in Joseph’s slavery and imprisonment, David’s exile by Saul and particularly Jesus’ death on the cross, it’s because God plans to use it for the good of His child and for the fulfillment of His purpose.
Joseph kept his eyes on God. If God allowed this, He would work it out for good.

What a lesson!

If we can continue to trust God through a suffering, when it’s over we emerge with an experience that proves God is sufficient in every need and with power to help those who need help.

Genesis 50:22 – 26 22 So Joseph and his brothers and their families continued to live in Egypt. Joseph lived to the age of 110. 23 He lived to see three generations of descendants of his son Ephraim, and he lived to see the birth of the children of Manasseh’s son Makir, whom he claimed as his own.

24 “Soon I will die,” Joseph told his brothers, “but God will surely come to help you and lead you out of this land of Egypt. He will bring you back to the land he solemnly promised to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”

25 Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath, and he said, “When God comes to help you and lead you back, you must take my bones with you.” 26 So Joseph died at the age of 110. The Egyptians embalmed him, and his body was placed in a coffin in Egypt.

Even after living all this time in Egypt, Joseph knew he belonged in Canaan because of God’s promise. His faith is shown here. He said, “WHEN God comes to lead you back.”

And one day, four hundred years later, over a million slaves marched out of Egypt, led by God who used a pillar of cloud in the daytime and a fiery pillar at night to direct them. And in their midst was Joseph’s coffin.

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Friday, March 11, 2016

Jacob Blesses His Sons

Genesis 49:1-2

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.

A commentator pointed out that “days to come” wasn’t just in their life time, but actually everything that had to happen to the nation of Israel up until end times when God’s plan would all come together.

Reuben - Genesis 49:3-4 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.

Reuben forfeited his birthright because of sin that he committed and didn’t repent from. (Reuben slept with his father’s concubine.) Jacob describes Reuben’s character as being like water, “unstable” or “turbulent” Reuben had one eye on God and one eye on pleasing himself at all costs.  And from Reuben’s tribe comes no king, no judge and no prophet. His tribe and Gad’s settled on the wilderness of the Jordan.

Simeon and Levi - Genesis 49:5-7 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 please Cursed be their anger, so fierce, and their fury, so cruel! I will scatter them in Jacob and disperse them in Israel.

These two are linked together because they were the leaders in organizing the massacre of the Shechemites back in Genesis 34. Jacob here places on record his own absolute separation from such a crime. And the result of their being together, united to commit such a crime, was that they would be “divided” and “scattered” in the nation of Israel. Therefore they couldn’t be ringleaders in causing others to sin again.

Simeon seems to have shown little change in disposition. It’s possible he was the one who led in the conspiracy to get rid of Joseph since he was the one Joseph threw in prison when the brothers came to Egypt looking for food. He did not receive a special territory in Canaan but instead inherited his portion within the allotment of Judah. Thus, the Simeonites were “scattered” among the cities of Judah.

Levi’s curse was later changed to become for him a means of blessing. But not til Deuteronomy. At a crisis in Israel’s later history Moses called, “Who is on the Lord’s side?” and all the sons of Levi gathered with him to put down the rebellion against God which endangered the whole nation. For this reason and also more loyalty to God displayed in the book of Numbers God gave Levi the privilege of leading the people to God through the Levitical priesthood. The original prophecy remained unchanged – they were still scattered in Israel, God can turn our punishments or consequences from sin to blessings if we turn to Him.

Judah - Genesis 49:8-12 “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, 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 to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his. 11 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. 12 His eyes will be darker than wine, his teeth whiter than milk.

There are four parts to this most important prophecy concerning Judah: praise, power, prince and prosperity.

Praise – this is a play on Judah’s name which means “praise”. Judah too sinned. In Genesis 38 – he slept with his daughter-in-law thinking she was a temple prostitute. But he repented and turned from his sin. He also tried to save Joseph’s life from the other brothers. And he brings up the fact that what the brothers did to Joseph was a sin later on. AND he offered his own life in order that Benjamin might go free and his father Jacob be spared more sorrow.

But the reason he will be praised is because Christ will come from his line.

Power – To Judah was given power over his enemies. And he had power over his brothers in leadership as he ruled through the kingly line from David to David’s greater Son. The “lion” figuratively represents the development of power and kingship in Judah’s tribe. In Revelation Christ is called “The Lion of the tribe of Judah.”

Prince – The scepter represents rulership. Judah would have rule of Israel until Christ returns. And at the end of time every knee will bow to Judah’s descendant, Jesus Christ.

Prosperity – “He will tether his donkey to the vine.” Judah’s portion of the Promised Land was the vine-growing district of the south. But God continually speaks of the whole nation of Israel as the vine which He planted. So it would seem that Judah and the nation of Israel were to be inseparably connected. Christ is referred to as a vine too. Today we call the Israelites Jews – taken from Judahites.

ZebulonGenesis 49:13 Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon.

His land lay near the Mediterranean Sea and the Sea of Galilee. It was a place to which caravans brought the riches of trade. His territory embraced the land where Christ performed so many of His miracles: Galilee.

IssacharGenesis 49:14-15Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens: 15 And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute.

His name means “hired workman” or “he will bring reward”. His territory was small, but it embraced some of the most fruitful land. This made his life very easy and he got lazy later on becoming a “servant under tribute” to many invaders who were attracted to his land.

DanGenesis 49:16-18  16 Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. 17 Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward. 18 I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord.

Dan was the first of the sons of the two servant maids. Rachel named him Dan which means “be judged” because she felt God had judged her cause. Later Samson, who judged Israel for twenty years was from the tribe of Dan. He was unstable and violent though which might explain the part of the prophecy - an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.

Later there is a strange total omission of Dan’s tribe in the genealogies of 1 Chronicles and Dan is the only tribe not mentioned in Revelation 7.

GadGenesis 49:19 “Gad will be attacked by a band of raiders, but he will attack them at their heels.

Gad chose to live where he did, on the east side of Jordan.  Together with Reuben he asked for the fertile territory outside the main portion of the Promised Land.  Because of how great the land was his tribe continually suffered from hostile people. In later years this land became the main theater of war in the long struggle between Israel and the Syrians.  Jacob talks about the warfare, but also the final victory in this prophecy

AsherGenesis 49:20 “Asher’s food will be rich; he will provide delicacies fit for a king.

Asher’s name means “happy”. Fatness in Scripture is often used to denote happiness or well-being. Like we say “fat and happy”.

God blessed Asher with prosperity. His fertile territory was the red land which sloped to the Phoenician seaboard in the north. Apparently though he never drove the Phoenicians out. Instead he became partner to their rich enterprises and shared the gains of the commerce. He never fought for Israel like some of the tribes did. However later when Solomon was building the temple he sent some of his material blessings – or “delicacies fit for a king.” Later Moses prophesized that Asher would “bathe his feet in oil” – and today the most important pipeline of oil emerges in Asher’s territory.

NaphtaliGenesis 49:21 “Naphtali is a doe set free that bears beautiful fawns.

Naphtali means “my struggle”. Jesus spent the greater part of His life teaching within the borders of Naphtali, the land of Gennesaret, Bethsaida, Capernaum and Chorazin. Moses in Deuteronomy calls Naphtali “abounding with the favor of the Lord and full of His blessing.”

JosephGenesis 49:22 – 26 “Joseph is a fruitful vine,
    a fruitful vine near a spring,
    whose branches climb over a wall.
23 With bitterness archers attacked him;
    they shot at him with hostility.
24 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,
25 because of your father’s God, who helps you,
    because of the Almighty, who blesses you
with blessings of the skies above,
    blessings of the deep springs below,
    blessings of the breast and womb.
26 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.

Jacob’s prophecy regarding Joseph is divided into two parts. The first is retrospective about Joseph’s fruitfulness. He means that Joseph had a fulfilled life both in regard to personality and accomplishment. His fruitfulness through God’s blessing went “over the wall” in blessings to his own family and other nations.
The archers mentioned were his brothers who threw him in a well and then sold him to slave traders and also Potiphor who threw him in jail. But Jacob describes his victory over suffering in that he was not bitter, discouraged or indulging in self-pity. And he says the secret to that is “God made him strong.” (Only he used other titles for God – Mighty one of Jacob, Shepherd, the Rock of Israel)

Verse 25 is the temporal blessing; rain, springs of water, marriage and children. And verse 26 eternal blessings. “Greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains, than the bounty of the age-old hills.” A commentator wrote that Joseph’s life foreshadowed Jesus.

BenjaminGenesis 49:27 “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he devours the prey, in the evening he divides the plunder.”

This seems strange for such a favorite son. Saul and Jonathan were Benjaminites and so was Paul – who actually was like a wolf when he was killing Christians! But who totally turned around. This could be an example like the Levites who started out with a bad prophecy that they turned around.

Genesis 49:28 28 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.

All of these sons made up the nation of Israel. With all their faults and failures God used them to be a blessing to the world. The church is made up of individuals too – with all of our faults and failures.

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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Genesis 47:27 – 48:22

Genesis 47:27-48:22
27 Now the Israelites settled in Egypt in the region of Goshen. They acquired property there and were fruitful and increased greatly in number.
28 Jacob lived in Egypt seventeen years, and the years of his life were a hundred and forty-seven. 29 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, 30 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.

31 “Swear to me,” he said. Then Joseph swore to him, and Israel worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.

48 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 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 Padda, 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.”

10 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.
11 Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your children too.”

12 Then Joseph removed them from Israel’s knees and bowed down with his face to the ground. 13 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. 14 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.

15 Then he blessed Joseph and said,
“May the God before whom my fathers
    Abraham and Isaac walked faithfully,
the God who has been my shepherd
    all my life to this day,
16 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
    on the earth.”

17 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. 18 Joseph said to him, “No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”

19 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.” 20 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.

21 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. 22 And to you I give one more ridge of land than to your brothers, the ridge I took from the Amorites with my sword and my bow.”

Jacob had absolute confidence not only that God would one day take back his descendants to Canaan but also give to them the land for an everlasting inheritance.  His instructions concerning his burial indicate his absolute confidence in God’s promise concerning Canaan. To the Eastern people, the place of one’s burial is all-important. Always, and at any cost, he must be buried in the midst of his own family at their permanent dwelling place. Therefore when Jacob exacted the promise from Joseph that he would bury him, not in Egypt where his descendants were to live for four hundred years more, but in Canaan, this was one of the most practical proofs which Jacob could have given of his faith that God would give them that land. He was to be buried in the very grave Abraham had bought in faith where already Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, and Jacob’s wife Leah were buried.

When Jacob blessed his favorite son, Joseph, you might have expected that he would follow his personal inclination and impart to Joseph the full, threefold right of the firstborn, which in that day involved the priesthood, the kingship in regard to the family and the double inheritance.

The fact that Jacob did not do so reflects Jacob’s self-renunciation of his own wisdom and his reception of spiritual illumination concerning God’s purpose and place for each member of the family. In Genesis 49 we’ll see that the headship, the kingship, was given to Judah (Leah’s fourth son) from whom Jesus came. And the priesthood was given to Levi.

However Jacob loved Joseph’s mother Rachel and he did in a way give Joseph a double inheritance usually reserved for the first-born. Instead of Joseph’s line being continued through one son, Jacob adopts both Manasseh and Ephraim as his own sons on an equal status with Reuben and Simeon. So instead of Ephraim and Manasseh being just two branches of one tribe, they become two fully recognized tribes in Israel, and Joseph’s own name was dropped. Thus, Rachel, became the mother of three tribes: Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin.

When Jacob gave precedence to Ephraim, it was in tune with one of the most striking features of the book of Genesis. The passing over the firstborn and giving place to the sovereign choice of God. Remember it was thru Seth not Cain that God’s seed is chosen. Isaac, not Ishmael. Jacob not Esau,

A commentator wrote, “Thus did God display His sovereignty and prevent anyone imagining that His blessings necessarily follow the line of natural privilege. God has again and again chosen the weak things of the earth, and even those that are despised, to set at naught those that are mighty. Grace is sovereign, and by no means follows, but sometimes opposes the course of nature.”

The tiny nation of Israel among the great nations of the world illustrates this principle of God’s sovereign choice, which is often the opposite to man’s wisdom and selection.

Jacob had come a long way. Remember he stole Esau’s birth rite? He was cunning, a schemer. But from the time God met him at Bethel, Jacob never wavered in his open profession of faith nor in his loyalty to the God he served. Angels conversed with him. He wrestled with God face to face until God broke something in Jacob and transformed those basic traits of caution and fear into the confident trust and patience developed during the further suffering of Jacob-Israel. Gradually he grew to recognize the protecting care of a loving Father over himself and his family. Even though he couldn’t escape the mortal consequences of his early sins, which saddened him, and even though he suffered during domestic upheavals, family treachery and filial disobedience in his middle years, he patiently endured these trials. He kept alive the basic tenets of faith in God and certain standards of righteousness within his family during a turbulent age when divine revelations were few and far between. God graciously enlightened Jacob’s old age.

This shows us that God takes us just as we are and loves us while we are yet sinners. Then He molds us according to His design. “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus’. (Philippians 1:6)

In chapter 49 Jacob blesses all of his sons. And you can really trace this back to Genesis 3:15 which says,And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

This is where God describes the course of two lines of humanity – two seeds within the world at enmity. One line was the seed of the woman ultimately producing Christ Himself. And this line unfolds in fuller and fuller detail in the Old Testament. Noah’s story, Abraham’s story, Isaac’s and Jacob’s. Jacob ended the patriarchal line. The purposes, promises and prophecy of God will now be continued through the combined twelve sons of Jacob who form the twelve tribes or nation of Israel.

When Jacob blesses his sons in this chapter he also sketches the outlines of their future history. Each prophecy is based on Jacob’s clear perception of the present character and individual traits of his sons. Joseph’s faithfulness. Reuben’s instability for example. Jacob was given this insight from the Holy Spirit and because of this we can see that the future of the twelve tribes was shaped from human character and choice as well as diving predestination.

AND – the pivotal center of the predictions is Christ! If the Holy Spirit hadn’t been involved Jacob would have probably made his blessing centered on his favorite son Joseph. But it’s on Judah. He sees the seed coming from Judah that will bless the nations.

Each prophecy is written in the form of highly symbolic poetry. A great deal of prophecy in the Bible is. Think of Revelation.

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Genesis 47:11-26

Genesis 47:11-26
11 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. 12 Joseph also provided his father and his brothers and all his father’s household with food, according to the number of their children.

13 There was no food, however, in the whole region because the famine was severe; both Egypt and Canaan wasted away because of the famine. 14 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. 15 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 all gone.”

16 “Then bring your livestock,” said Joseph. “I will sell you food in exchange for your livestock, since your money is gone.” 17 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.

18 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. 19 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.”
20 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, 21 and Joseph reduced the people to servitude, from one end of Egypt to the other. 22 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.

23 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. 24 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.”

25 “You have saved our lives,” they said. “May we find favor in the eyes of our lord; we will be in bondage to Pharaoh.”

26 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.

Things were getting desperate. First the people bought the grain with their money. When that was gone they exchanged their livestock for grain and finally their land and service. The result of this policy and government purchase of land introduced a feudal system of land tenure. In the future, Pharaoh possessed all the land of Egypt, and seed was given to the Egyptians with the understanding that 1/5th of all their produce would revert to Pharaoh.

We might criticize him today for taking advantage of adverse conditions to build up the power of Pharaoh’s throne. But remember – the Bible tells things the way they happened. When it relates history it isn’t necessarily saying if what happened was right or wrong, good or bad.

This did make for a strong central government which was needed at this time of severe famine. And a 1/5th tax was actually not that excessive according to the standards of that day.

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Saturday, March 05, 2016

Ready to enjoy the new adult coloring book craze?

Margaret Feinberg has just published an adult coloring book called
 Live Free.

And what a wonderful idea that is! I've been watching with interest the popularity of adult coloring books, but hadn't tried one yet. Too busy!

But who doesn't slow down when reading scripture?

So what better way to enjoy this new fad than to tie it into meditating on Bible verses!

I'm going to give it to my mom and suggest she pass it on to her granddaughter when she's got it all filled in. I think it will be a very special gift. Check it out at Amazon

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