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Genesis 49

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 22

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 49

If you have a Bible that has headings above the chapter breaks, the heading above this chapter probably reads something like “Jacob blesses his sons”.  Before I say anything else about this it is critically important to remember that just like the chapter and verse breaks in our Bibles, the chapter headings are not inspired.  They are not there by divine revelation or commandment.  Chapter and verse breaks enhance our corporate study of the Bible.  Chapter headings give us some notion of what we are about to encounter.  All of that is really good.  But none of that was ordained by God. 

So when we read the chapter heading “Jacob blesses his sons” and then we read the chapter, we encounter what feels like a pretty significant disconnect.  As we read it, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of blessing going on.  So, what is going on?

This chapter is as much prophecy as it is blessing.  Jacob walks through each of his twelve sons and speaks into them about their future, sometimes their near future and sometimes their distant future. 

As he does that, Jacob gives us insight into not only God’s purposes for these boys but also insight into the boys’ character.  At least three of the boys learned that their past conduct had would cost them dearly in the future.  The Biblical principle of reaping what we sow has always been and will always be in place.  The only exception to that comes from the fact Jesus reaped what we sowed when he died on the cross for our sins and provided for us a way to escape hell.

Even with that, Jacob seems to promise each of the boys/tribes a place in the Promised Land of Canaan.  I suspect that that promise was an encouragement to the people of Israel as they stayed in captivity in Egypt for the next four centuries.  Surely, some of them talked about these promises that were made to embolden the folks to stay the course.

There is a most interesting thing that I want to call to your attention in verse 18.  Jacob says he will wait for your “salvation” or “deliverance”.  In the Hebrew language the word used here is actually Yeshua.  Yehsua is the Hebrew word for Joshua and it actually means God saves.  More importantly than that Yeshua is how Jewish people would have said and still say the name of Jesus.  So, in effect, Jacob spoke about waiting for Jesus.  Jesus actually shows back up in verse 24 where the Scripture speaks of the “Shepherd” and the “Stone of Israel”.  Jesus is literally found throughout the entire Bible. 

I am quite convinced that if we slow down a bit in this chapter, there is a wealth of stuff for us here.  For example, I haven’t even mentioned the fact that many Bible commentators believe that the blessing/prophecy about Dan in verses 16-17 point to the distinct possibility that the anti-christ will come from that tribe. 

And with that little tidbit, I leave you until next time when we finally get to the end of this amazing Book of Beginnings, the Book of Genesis.

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Genesis 46

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 19

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 46

As the chapter opens, Jacob and his family, servants, and livestock had begun the move to Egypt.  We find them in Beersheba which is the southernmost town in Canaan.  There Jacob stopped the journey, built an altar, and offered sacrifices to God.

Beersheba has played an important role in the Biblical narrative since we first met Abraham.  He dug a well there.  Abraham lived there after offering Isaac on Mount Moriah.  Isaac lived there for awhile.  And it was from Beersheba that Jacob would leave to go to Laban’s home to find a wife.  At Beersheba, God appeared to Hagar, to Isaac, and now He would appear to Jacob.

We all need those places that are spiritual markers in our lives.  Those may actually be physical places.  For example, I can take you to the place in the pastor’s study at First Baptist Konawa where I asked Jesus to save me.  Those spiritual markers may actually be more memories of times that God did a most special thing.  I think Beersheba was one of those places.  It was a physical place but it held many incredible memories of God doing some very special things.

In verse 2, God spoke to Jacob.  He called His name twice.  There are a couple of important things here.  One, God knew Jacob’s name.  God is not some distant deity that is out of touch with His servants.  He is close.  He is personal.  He knows things about us that no one else knows.  And, yes, He knows our names.  It is more than a bit crazy to think about the fact that God knows our names.

The other important thing to notice here is that, as I have already said, God called Jacob’s name twice.  There is an interesting pattern of this throughout the Bible.  As God prepares to speak to an individual about something of great importance, He calls out that individual’s name twice.  Maybe that is just to get that person’s attention.  Maybe it is a reinforcement that God knows who that person is.  Maybe it is that God is about to do something significant.  

God’s first words to Jacob at this point were for Jacob not to be worried about going to Egypt.  God promised to go to Egypt with Jacob.  He promised to do a great work among Jacob’s family there.  And He promised to be with Jacob throughout the rest of his days on this earth.

We have a pretty good understanding of the omnipresence of God as well as His omnipotence.  In other words, we know that God exists everywhere simultaneously.  We may not understand that or truly comprehend it but we know it to be true.  We also know God is not limited.  He can do whatever He chooses to do wherever He chooses to do it.

From the ancient, eastern view this was a very different perspective.  Their gods or idols were always limited.  They could only “work” in certain areas and they could only “do” certain things.  So, God is showing Himself to be bigger, stronger, and different from any of the idols of that part of the world.  God stands alone in this universe as the one, true God.

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