Genesis – Conclusion

Posted by on March 9, 1989 under Ladies Bible Class

Our next study will be the Book of Ruth. I want to briefly review Genesis and some of the applications we’ve made in our study. Then we’ll take a quick look at the events occurring after Genesis up to the time of Ruth.

We’ve spent 24 weeks studying the 50 chapters of the book of Genesis. It is a long book, but considering it covers over a 2500-year time period, I suppose it really is not all that long. Genesis means “Beginning.” We have seen many beginnings, starting with the beginning of the universe–the Creation. We studied Genesis 1 and 2 as a literal and accurate account of the beginning of our world. Those first few chapters were written as a classic, to fit in and be accurate for whatever level of understanding the reader is at that time.

We briefly looked at some of the problems the evolutionists have with their theory of the beginning.

  1. They can’t prove the earth is as old as their theory demands it must be. 
  2. They have no reasonable explanation as to how life began. Their best guess is spontaneous generation–life simply appeared out of non-living material.
  3. The fossil records have not produced any missing links between the species.

It takes a lot of faith to believe in a theory that can’t explain how, why, when, where, and can’t be proven by scientific methods.

We’ve seen that Genesis does not contradict any known scientific fact. It is historically, topographically, geographically and anthropologically correct. It is an inspired, accurate foundation for the rest of the Bible, as every New Testament writer refers back to Genesis. It is full of explanations for such questions as how and when was the origin of man, why are there geophysical imperfections in the world, and why are there imperfections at all. –Sin and Satan. Bible-believing people must not be intimidated into compromising this most excellent book.

It is not written as a history book, but as a History of Redemption. We’ve seen the effects of not seeking God. Satan told Eve the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil would make her wise. She got a kind of wisdom all right, but not the kind she was looking for. Now the knowledge of sin and evil entered the world and all its consequences–guilt, shame, unworthiness, hopelessness, etc.–separation from God. It’s this knowledge of guilt that gives us a problem with the past, meaninglessness in the present and hopelessness for the future.

Not only does Genesis give us a look at the past, it looks forward to the future. Prophecies abound throughout the book. A study of the prophecies and their fulfillments would be rewarding. We’ve noted several references to a coming of Someone through whom all nations of the earth would be blessed – the Messiah, Christ. Adam and Eve are given the first hint of His coming in Genesis 3:15. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Judah are all told of the Blessed One who would come through their lineage. The whole theme through out all the Old Testament is “Someone’s Coming.” That Someone will fulfill all of man’s needs. He will provide redemption to all who seek to be redeemed to God. With that redemption comes a freeing of guilt from the past, meaning for the present and hope for the future.

We’ve seen the effects of seeking God. From the story of Noah (written to adults, too) we saw that

  1. God is in Control.
  2. Following God’s commands takes precedence over anything else. We are not to change God’s commands to make them more acceptable to man.
  3. We saw that sin brings on grave consequences, and that
  4. Righteousness will have it’s reward.

Our goal, as Noah’s was, is to serve God. Our reward will be a home in heaven with God. I suppose these four truths can be found in most any Bible story.

From chapter 12 on, Genesis becomes biographical as the life stories of the leading characters are told. No effort is made to gloss over the sins and the shortcomings of the major characters, so that the biographies include stories of trickery, deception, false witness, incest, fornication and murder. When the other ancient nations wrote about their leaders, they are seen as flawless leaders and their armies never seem to lose a battle. The leaders of Israel are portrayed realistically as flesh and blood men, combining greatness with moral weakness. This makes the Israelite national literature, the Old Testament, unique among the ethnic writings of ancient civilizations.

Some 4000 years ago God told Abraham to migrate from Mesopotamia to Canaan. “I will bless you, I will make of you a great nation,” God said, “and through you all nations of the earth will be blessed.” God’s covenant makes Abraham the founder of the Hebrew nation. That covenant is passed on to his son Isaac and on to his son Jacob. God was already laying the groundwork for His Son to come to be the perfect priest and final blood sacrifice.

Then we have an instance in which man’s evil is turned to good in the drama of Abraham’s great-grandson, Joseph. Joseph’s envious brothers sell him into slavery and traders take him to Egypt. Eventually, after he interprets Pharaoh’s dreams to mean famine and urges him to store food, Joseph becomes governor there and offers a haven to his family when the famine comes also in Canaan. In this way God arranges for the children of Israel to move to Egypt in favorable circumstances.

We’ve spent a lot of time looking at what Genesis has to say to us today in 1989. Let’s quickly review some of those applications:

  1. God created man in His image means not only do we have a spirit like God, but we also were created with knowledge, holy and righteous. Satan has robbed man of these qualities, but Christ can still present us as wise, holy and righteous if we allow Him to be our priest and sacrifice.
  2. We’ve noted that we are tempted today in the same manner Eve was – lust of the flesh, lust of the eye and the pride of life. All temptations fall into one of these three categories. We saw how Eve doubted God; Satan helped her to raise questions. She pitted herself against God’s will and willfully defied God – just as we do. Later we looked and found scriptures to help us through temptations and how we could emerge victorious over temptation.
  3. We talked about how one’s occupation influences one’s lifestyle, helps determine his associates and where one chooses to live and how that can have either a positive or adverse effect on us.
  4. We observed Abraham’s hospitality and looked at scriptures telling us to be hospitable. We looked at things that we allow to get in the way – commitments, lack of time, pride, telephone, etc.
  5. When we studied Abraham bargaining with God over Sodom, we talked about our conversations with God – our Prayer life – and how important prayer is in a Christian’s life.
  6. We looked at our responsibility as parents, how we are to teach, discipline, and train them to follow God. Sadly, sometimes our children get sacrificed to worldly things. We discussed to what extent are we to be involved in our children’s choosing of a marriage partner. We must teach them to make good decisions from early on, the right things to look for in a marriage partner, and marriage is a life-long commitment.
  7. We saw Isaac’s peacemaking ability and how God views peacemakers. Mrs. Needham told us the enemies of peace are Fear, Envy, and Jealously. She introduced us to the “Tater Family” – spectator, agitator, sweet tater, etc. One rotten tater can ruin the whole bunch. She summed it all up by saying, “Peace comes when one surrenders oneself to God.”
  8. One of the most comforting things we studied is that God is with us just as God was with Jacob and the other Patriarchs. We are given a Counselor to dwell with us. We found scriptures to comfort us in fearful circumstances. Remember how leery Jacob was to return to Esau… Christ left us His peace. He will never fail us.
  9. We spoke about our actions having a sweet smell or a foul stench to our neighbors when we studied how the sons of Jacob took revenge on a whole village full of men. And how we tend to justify our actions – shifting the blame onto others. Our actions are to have a sweet smell, the Aroma of Christ.
  10. As Jacob prepared to journey to Bethel, we looked at our preparations for a journey to Heaven – put other gods out of our way, focus on God, allow ourselved to be cleansed with Christ’s blood, change our way of thinking from worldly to godly, and dress in the whole Armor of God.
  11. We looked at the attitude we are to have toward our possessions. We are to focus on our spiritual beauty – not our outward beauty and trinkets.
  12. In studying Joseph, we’ve talked about having a forgiving spirit. If we need help in forgiving, we should–
    1. Determine we are going to forgive, 
    2. Repeat the Lord’s Prayer inserting the offender’s name,
    3. Study the factors that created this situation to avoid similar mistakes in the future,
    4. Ask God to change us to have a forgiving spirit –Pray.
  13. We looked at where our time says our priorities lie when we put down in black and white where our time goes in an average week. 
  14. As we looked at the puzzle of Jacob and his sons lives, we saw how futile it can be to try to make some sense out of some of the events in our lives. We just have to trust that God is in Control and He cares for us.

At the end of Genesis, Joseph dies. His and all his brothers’ descendants remain in Egypt as Abraham was told they would in chapter 15.

Now let me quickly attempt to get us from Genesis to Ruth. Centuries after Genesis ends, the Pharaohs had reduced the Israelites to slavery, setting the stage for the book of EXODUS which we will study next fall. God’s help for the enslaved Israelites came in the person of Moses, the nation’s greatest leader. After bringing plagues, pestilence and disaster to Egypt through God’s help, Moses finally persuades the Pharaoh to let the Israelite people leave for their homeland of Canaan and back to freedom.

After leaving Egypt, the Israelite people wander in the wilderness for 40 years. During this journey, God meets Moses on Mt. Sinai, giving him the 10 commandments and His laws in detail. The laws continue through the book of LEVITICUS.

The book of NUMBERS tells us the errant Israelites continue to fall into sin at times and even into rebellion against God’s chosen leader, Moses.

At the end of his life, Moses addresses the people in the book of Deuteronomy, summarizing the history and laws of the Exodus from Egypt. He emphasizes love toward God and toward one’s neighbor. DEUTERONOMY completes the first five books of the Old Testament called the Pentateuch – all written by Moses.

After Moses’ death, the honor and responsibility for leading the Israelites into Canaan fell to Joshua. The book of JOSHUA tells how God delivers the land of Canaan to the armies of Israel.

Israelites will be Israelites. They had trouble finding peace in their newly returned homeland. The book of JUDGES tells how the new settlers survived during the next two centuries in a loose confederation of tribes. They are often tempted to forsake the true God in favor of the Canaanite gods. Whenever they committed this sin, God would allow enemy armies to defeat the Israelites until they repented of their disobedience. Judges includes such stories of Deborah and Gideon and Samson.

After all the blood and fury of these war stories, the love story of RUTH comes as a pleasant interlude. We’ll start our study of Ruth next week and we’ll see how this Moabite woman becomes the great-grandmother of King David.

Genesis 48 – 50

Posted by on March 8, 1989 under Ladies Bible Class

Have you ever thought about the Generosity of God? Jacob said to Joseph in chapter 48, “I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your children, too.” It would have been enough for Jacob just to see his favorite son one more time. But, God gave him above all he could ever have hoped for. Isn’t that just like God?!

Remember how unworthy Jacob had expressed he was at times. He may have felt like a failure thinking God had taken his favorite son away from him. Now, looking at his favorite son – exalted son – with children of his own – he realizes God has been graciously at work all along and that God was better to him than he had ever dared hope.

In the New Testament, Zaccheus just wanted to get a glimpse of Jesus. What did he get? Christ’s attention, friendship and Salvation! All we ask for is a gentle glance and we get – His arm around us! We would be happy being Christ’s servant – He makes us His friend. We come staggering home from the pig-pen with a broken heart and a well-rehearsed confession, and He gives us a robe, a ring, shoes and a royal welcome. God loves us beyond our comprehension.

We’ve seen poor people begging for money from the rich. How often do you see the rich following after the poor trying to stuff money into the poor’s pocket? That’s what God has done throughout the ages. Doesn’t He amaze you?

Did you notice how the blessings pronounced on the sons of Jacob in chapter 49 bear a close relationship to their character? The blessing on Reuben acknowledges his being firstborn and that he had power and excelled in honor, and then it points out the incest he committed in his uncontrolled emotion. That one act of turbulence would prevent his further excelling. Customarily, firstborn Reuben should have received a three-fold blessing of birthright, priesthood and kingdom. Instead, the birthright was given to Joseph, the priesthood to Levi and the kingdom to Judah.

The blessings in chapter 49 don’t always look like blessings, but that’s what they’re declared to be. In the course of blessing Simeon and Levi, Jacob curses their cruel anger and slaughtering of a village full of men, but he’s speaking in a BLESSING to them.

In saying that they are brothers, Jacob is saying more than they have the same parents. He is saying they are like each other. If you have had any experience in raising children, you know the value of separating children who “egg each other on.” Simeon and Levi bolstered one another’s evil and so, because they NEEDED to be separated, for their good and the nation’s, they are to be separated. In Exodus when the Israelites finally leave Egypt and return to claim their promised land, the tribe of Levi, the newly appointed priests, had no property given to them, but lived in towns scattered throughout Canaan. This means that Simeon was left without an “ally in crime.” Later, the tribe of Simeon was virtually swallowed up in Judah (Joshua 19:1, 9). This was indeed an appropriate blessing for Simeon and Levi.

You call that a blessing? Only God knows what a real BLESSING is. Most of us know what it feels like to have a child pleading, begging, sobbing for some object they want or to get out of some unpleasant, but necessary discipline, but in spite of all their tears and the pain they are feeling, you gave them what you knew would be best for them. If Levi and Simeon had hearts like brother Joseph, they would understand that they were being BLESSED as Jacob spoke. In the final analysis, something is a Blessing if it enables its possessor to better serve God and IN THIS WAY find a richer, fuller life. A CURSE is anything that hinders our service to God and in this way narrows or hurts our life with God.

In the blessing of Joseph we’re reminded that BLESSING is of God. The power to bless resides only with God. Although character is involved, it is not Joseph’s brilliance or wisdom that brings about the blessing. In verses 24 and 25 it is stressed it is because of “the hand of the Mighty One,” “because of the Shepherd,” “Rock of Israel,” “because of the Almighty,” etc. It’s God that made it all possible.

Did you see the jigsaw puzzle up here as you came in? When we’re working on a big puzzle, at times we have real difficulty getting it to fall into place. If we persist, persevere, and piece together something we recognize, like a tree or ——-, we’re more relaxed at least for a little while. What we have figured out tells us, “There is a pattern.” This must be a landscape, seascape or building, or whatever… Maybe we can’t say what the whole of the picture will be, but we can’t deny what we’ve already seen and that is enough to give us a clue to go on.

After Jacob dies, the brothers are still concerned that Joseph might seek revenge for their having sold him into captivity. But Joseph reassures them saying, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.”

It’s comforting because it is broad enough to cover any event that may come our way. It’s the Old Testament Romans 8:28. When we can’t fit events into a loving pattern or a useful purpose, because we can’t reason it out, we tremble, our weak hearts falter and we spend our energy wrestling doubts, instead of living.

When working a jigsaw puzzle or the puzzle of life, little people may throw up their hands in despair, but maturer people plug away despite the difficulties, persuaded beyond debate that there is a total picture. In life, God calls us to behave in the same way. Don’t worry that the completed picture is unknown, that all the pieces aren’t yet in place, only insist that you know what you know, and trust God for the rest.

After Joseph had been thrown into the pit by his brothers, and they are standing there looking down on him, do you suppose Joseph wondered, “What’s this got to do with me being exalted and the brothers looking up to Me?”

Have you ever found yourself saying, “What’s this event got to do with me being . . .” –whatever you have envisioned you should be.

The brothers meant death for Joseph and God used it for life.

They meant shame for Joseph and God used it for glory.

They meant slavery for him and God used it for power.

Not only to benefit Joseph! Joseph makes that very clear in chapters 45 and 50. God used their sin to bless many nations AND THEM. And the blessing of the brothers had a universal and timeless thrust as God promised Abraham it would in Genesis 26:4. That’s when he repeated His three-fold promise to Abraham, including that all nations would be blessed through him. That promise was passed on to Isaac, on to Jacob and then to Judah as more and more of the puzzle pieces come together. We have Jacob, Joseph and Judah’s whole puzzle right here in our Bibles. Joseph had Jacob move to Egypt around the year 1976 B.C.! They lived as far away from the time of Christ as we do.

++[Add center missing pieces of jigsaw puzzle–showing Eiffel Tower, in this case.]++ Yet, it was not even known what the picture on their puzzle was all about until Christ was resurrected and the Church was established, providing hope for you and me. There is real comfort here because it says that no enemy has power over the called of God.

The whole point is this, just as Jacob, Joseph and Judah didn’t get to see the puzzle of their lives completed – or even see all the pieces – we don’t get to see our full puzzles either. Our puzzles may not be completed for generations. There are many things, pieces, about tomorrow that we don’t understand. But we must trust in the generosity and love of God and know that He holds the future in His hands. He is in control.

[play tape – I Know Who Holds Tomorrow, by Ira F. Stanphill, 1950]

“I don’t know about tomorrow . . .
But I know Who holds tomorrow,
And I know Who holds my hand.”

Genesis 47

Posted by on March 7, 1989 under Ladies Bible Class

As I was doing the last 3 questions of today’s lesson, I wondered what made Joseph so different. In a devastated world, he was the one capable of providing the leadership necessary for the survival of the greatest number of people. His story is one of the most beautiful on forgiveness. How could he truly forgive those brothers? One of the things that made him such a great leader also made him a great forgiver. I think he could lead and forgive because he knew how to keep MAJOR things MAJOR and MINOR things MINOR. Have you ever been told you were majoring in minors? Joseph was able to keep a minor thing–like hateful, vengeful brothers–a MINOR thing, because he knew there was a MAJOR event that he was responsible for–saving the Israelite family, Egypt, and the known world from perishing in a devastating, 7-year famine. And, truly, 10 brothers’ attitude problems were minor in comparison to this famine. He kept the major thing utmost in his mind. He kept his PRIORITIES straight. Maybe that’s the key to it all – PRIORITIES – knowing what needs major attention and what deserves just a little of our time. Time is an important indicator of where our priorities are. So is money, but we’ll not not talk abou that today.

Today, I want us to put things into perspective in our own lives. Let’s see in black and white where we spend our time. There are 168 hours in a week. Do you have any idea how you spend the majority of those hours? Let’s see if we can get a rough estimate.

Your sheet of paper has been divided into 3 sections. At the top of the first section, label it “SELF.” I’m going to name some activities. Write each down, and beside it – the number of hours you spend doing that activity in an average week.

Be honest with yourself. This is not for others to see. Don’t worry about precision and accuracy. We just need a quick estimate today.



  • Sleep – 8 hrs. a day = 56 hours
  • Physical Appearance – Include here exercise, beauty shop, make-up on and off, shower, manicures, etc. Anything you do to enhance your physical appearance.
  • Television – News, movies, soaps, series, talk shows, etc.
  • Hobbies – sewing, cooking, crafts, piano, painting, computer, etc.
  • Quiet time – reading magazines, novels, daydreaming, worrying, etc.

Skip a space for these next 3 or 4. It’s hard to say where they belong.

  • Shopping – groceries, clothes, Wal-mart, wallpaper place, etc.
  • Cooking and cleaning up
  • Housekeeping
  • Part time job – if you get paid

Total up this section. Call out some of your answers.

Are we going too fast/slow?



There will be two divisions in this section–family and friends. With family we only want to count QUALITY TIME. I am defining quality time as where both you and the other family member come away with a good positive feeling for each other.

  • Family – Quality Time – Rarely TV time.
    • Children – one-on-one or collectively. Count bath time for little ones only if it is usually a happy, good quality time. If you eat breakfast with your children count it only if it is good quality time. I can’t count that time at my house, because I don’t talk–carry on a conversation–unless I have to, until about 9:00 a.m. Rushing them off to school, I can’t count even though it is spending time with them, because it is rarely quality time. Count things like games played individually with them, talks, shopping–only if you are shopping to please the child. Phone calls to those away from home – if quality time.
    • Husbands – Quality time – dates, after kids are in bed, etc. Don’t count just being in the house at the same time.
    • Family unit – Quality time – dining out, cultural events, mealtime if it is quality time. No ill feelings afterwards. What went on in your world today, etc.? Park, Games, TV only if you all feel good because of each other and not because of the show.

    Skip a space.

  • Friends – All of this is quality time – all on our best behavior.
    • Socializing – club activities, parties, coffee breaks with neighbors, drop-ins, chance meetings at grocery store or school where you stop and chat awhile; How much time you spend with friends; Groups – PTA, singing groups, Volunteer work, quilting group, etc.

    Total this section

    Have some of you done this kind of thing before? I presented this in a ladies’ class before. For one lady it was such an eye opener – she took it home and taped it to the inside of her kitchen cabinet door so she would see it often and remind herself of where her time was being spent. She discovered she was spending more that twice as much time with friends than with her family and extremely little time with our last section, which is Jesus.



    • Worship Services – if attend every service here – 4 hours
    • Extra Bible Studies – ours 1½ hours – Wednesday ladies’ class ?
    • Study – prayer, reading Bible, preparation for Bible classes, reading Upreach, Gospel Advocate, etc., religious books, home devotionals, etc.

    Total this section




  • Self – Others – Jesus
    Anything major we have left out?

    Look at the proportions in time. Do most of you have the most time under SELF? Subtract your sleep time. Is it still the most? Is your next highest total in the OTHERS category? What’s last?

    In college I belonged to a women’s club called “JOY.” It stood for Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself last. I’m not trying to suggest that these numbers should be reversed. I honestly don’t know what a healthy ratio would be. You judge. Jesus spent some time to Himself, but usually He had at least a few of His disciples with Him.

    The purpose of this is to look honestly at your average week. You decide if you are majoring in minors or if you have your priorities straight. Draw your own individual conclusions.

    Genesis 38 – 39

    Posted by on March 4, 1989 under Ladies Bible Class

    We interrupt our story of Joseph to bring you this episode of Judah and Tamar. This account has historical significance in that it furnishes the genealogical background for the Davidic and Messianic line. This story is written in only one chapter, but please be aware that it takes place over a number of years. Judah is more than 20 years older than Joseph. His sons, Er and Onan, are more Joseph’s age than he is. The chapter is placed here because Tamar and Judah’s twins, Perez and Zerah, were born shortly after Joseph is sold away into slavery.

    Reuben has lost the privileges of firstborn because he committed incest with one of Jacob’s concubines. Simeon and Levi were demoted because of their spiteful and vengeful reaction to Dinah’s rape–murdering a village full of men. Next in line is Judah who is chosen as the one through whom the royal line would come. It was this Judah who married a Canaanite, BathShua (1 Chronicles 2:3). BathShua gave him 3 sons, Er, Onan, and later, Shelah. The eldest, Er, marries Tamar and soon after dies because of his evil. We’ve seen the Lord destroy the whole wicked population except for 8 people in the Great Flood, and destroy the two cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for their wickedness. I believe this is the first recorded incidence of God slaying an individual because of his evil. [?] Our word “ERR” is derived from the Latin verb ERRARE. One of the books I was researching thought perhaps the Latin origin for this verb may have come from this man’s name. One of the dictionary definitions for the verb ERR is “to violate an accepted standard of conduct.” That certainly fits this man.

    Judah asked his second son, Onan, to raise an heir for Er. This was done in accordance with the Levirate Law. The Israelites thought it important for a man to have an heir to perpetuate every male’s name and to keep any property inheritance in the family. The Levirate marriage was an established custom among the tribes of that time and the Hebrews adopted this custom. This marriage custom is mentioned in the Nuzi Tablets that we have referred to from time to time. [Example of Sarah giving Hagar to Abraham.] Nuzi was a city north of Babylonia that has been excavated recently. There they found these tablets with a written record of customs/laws from before the 14th century B.C. Later this particular custom of levirate marriage becomes a part of the Mosaic Law to provide an heir and an inheritor of a dead brother’s property and to provide a sort of welfare system for the widow.

    The levirate marriage custom says that when an Israelite dies without leaving male issue, his nearest relative SHOULD marry the widow and continue the family of his deceased brother through the firstborn male child of their union. (Deuteronomy 25:6.) All the other children would be considered his own, but the first male child was considered the dead brother’s son and his inheritor. If the nearest relative, e.g., a brother, chooses not to marry the widow, she subjected him to gross insult by telling the city elders, who would then call the brother on the carpet and try to persuade him to do his duty. If he persists, the widow is to go up to him in the presence of the elders, not in some council room, but in the open public, and pull his sandal off of his foot and spit in his face and she shall answer and say, “So shall it be done to the man who does not build up his brother’s house.” And the name of his house shall be “the house of him that had his sandal pulled off.” (Deuteronomy 25:5-10.)

    Onan, the second son of Judah, did not refuse to marry Tamar, but he wasn’t compelled to fulfill his role. He didn’t want Er to have the firstborn. Rather than saying, “No,” to his father and Tamar, Onan uses Tamar, and God slays him for this.

    Now there is a third son, Shelah, but Judah is getting rather leery and is afraid his third son might die if he marries Tamar. Being the head of the household, Judah sends Tamar away to her father’s house, insisting she live as a widow until Shelah is older. It was sheer evasion, and Tamar is being used for the second time. Later, Judah’s wife, BathShua, dies. And one day he meets a “prostitute” whom Judah, a widower, would like to use. He would pay her later. Ugaritic and Mesopotamian sources tell us that three articles had to be used to signify personal identification. Judah leaves his signet, belt and staff as collateral. The signet was a well-to-do man’s “signature,” since it was used to leave an impression in hot wax.

    From the Hebrew words in verses 21 and 22, we know Tamar was not being a common everyday harlot–having sex for money. She was dressed as a religious prostitute whom Judah thought to be associated with some temple to a Canaanite god. These temple prostitutes combined a worship of the miracle and joy of procreation with a sense of awe and mystery concerning the process. This would have been an acceptable thing for widowed Judah to do in the eyes of the local inhabitants. This is a good example to illustrate that actions condoned by our society are not always acceptable to God. I’m sure we can all think of examples that our society today says is acceptable, but we know God would not accept them. Temple prostitution was not in God’s plan when he said populate the earth. He meant marriage.

    Three months later, Tamar is discovered to be pregnant. The word is brought to “righteous” Judah who orders her to be burned to death because he is told she was playing the harlot – sex for money. Since Tamar had been forced to live in widowhood under the pretense she was betrothed to Shelah, and since Judah was more than willing to fornicate, it’s easy to see Judah had no grounds for his self-righteous reaction. Jesus tells us to first take the log out of our own eye before we attempt to take the speck out of our brother’s eye. When we point out others’ shortcomings and sins, our own will surely be pointed out as Judah’s was.

    Hittite law allowed a father as nearest of kin to fulfill levirate obligations by marrying a widowed daughter-in-law. So Tamar was not subjected to punishment under local law for her deception. Judah had been ignoring her marriage rights. However, Tamar’s religious prostitution and deception of Judah, in spite of hard times, were not pleasing to God. So why did these two end up in the lineage of David and Jesus? Because God’s GRACE is magnanimous enough to cover a multitude of sins. If God can pick up a harlot and a fornicator, dust off their dirtiness and use them for His cause, I suppose He can use the likes of you and me.

    When we compare Judah with Joseph, we know how far Judah had fallen. No wonder God sent Jacob’s family away to Egypt and out of the land of Canaan. By being so readily accepted by the Canaanites, the clan of Israel was being corrupted by the Canaanite customs and morals. In Egypt they would not be as acceptable. They looked different from the Egyptians. They were shepherds, and that occupation was detestable to Egyptians. Being shepherds made them smell different. So when the Israelites go down into Egypt to escape the famine and join Joseph, they are given the land of Goshen – away from the urban Egyptians. Egyptians would not even eat with an Israelite. We’ll see later that even Joseph as a ruler was served food separately.

    But that’s getting ahead of our story in Genesis. Let’s get back to Joseph in chapter 39. Joseph is framed by his master’s wife and thrown into prison. Don’t be misled by the text in chapter 39. Joseph was not thrown into prison one day and the next day put in charge of the other prisoners. It took time to earn the jail keeper’s trust. Prison is not fun, even for the righteous. In chapter 41 when Joseph names his firstborn Manasseh, he says, “it is because God has made me forget all my hardship.” He knew hard times in prison. Let me read to you from a letter from a friend of ours, a Christian in prison, wrongfully accused. Listen to his hardship. . . .

    He was an innocent Christian in a maximum security prison, though he was not a maximum security prisoner. He was made to work on prison grounds doing outdoor, manual labor. He probably had never even mowed a yard before. He was more of a mental giant than a physical one. He was working on his dissertation for his Ph.D. when he was falsely accused.

    Why did Joseph have to be in prison in the first place? He had done nothing wrong. What was he doing in Egypt? Why wasn’t he at home enjoying the love of his father, Jacob? If God loved him, why did he have to go through 13 years of pain and deprivation? Israel and the church must learn from this that to be the elect means pain.

    He endured all this because God had redemptive work to do. The nations were to be preserved in the face of the awful famine. God cared very much for Joseph, but he cared for the nations, too. God’s redemptive work included Israel which he rescued through Joseph. Israel’s salvation resulted in the appearance of the world’s Savior.

    To know that God has a loving purpose to fulfill in and through us, as well as to us, gives us power. It has been said that a man who knew WHY could live with any burden. If God came to our room each morning and said, “Now here is what is going to happen today and let me tell you how that fits into my purpose . . .” that would be enough; we’d grin and bear it. He doesn’t do that, and that makes it hard.

    But when you see Him in Christ, you know then that even if He stands silently watching your pain, He has a loving purpose. In a world of pain He won’t exempt His children. In a world of sin, where to be a loving person means suffering, He won’t exempt His children. It’s knowing He loves us, beyond our ability to grasp, that helps us to allow Him to love others through us even when it means pain for us. Joseph later knew his pain had meaning, his suffering had purpose.

    That means while you can’t know the future’s concrete details, you can know God who guides the future. And if He chooses to use you in such a way as to cause or allow pain, it’s a loving choice. And should you say, “Why Me?”, God might respond, “Why NOT you?” He used Joseph to the world’s benefit and Jesus for world redemption, why not you or me?

    Brenda and I have both read to you from the book On the Anvil, by Max Lucado, and his reference to the three kinds of tools–

    • the broken, rusted ones covered with cobwebs of no use to the master,
    • the tools on the anvil, being melted down and beaten into a usable shape again,
    • and then the third group of sharpened, shiny tools lying in the blacksmith’s toolbox, available to their master, ready to fulfill their calling.

    This Joseph in despair, in prison, is not Joseph the broken tool or Joseph the tool being re-fired and reshaped; but this is Joseph the useful tool – being used by the Master. Sometimes it is painful being a tool for the Master. I imagine it would hurt to be a hammer. Yet we don’t see Joseph getting mad and upset at the Blacksmith, the Master, God, for using him and bringing him pain and despair. Instead, Joseph is focusing his attention on the project at hand and is performing at his maximum for the Master. And the project will be successful. 

    We’ve seen the characters of two different kinds of people that God used. The unrighteous in Chapter 38 (Judah and Tamar) and the righteous (Joseph) in Chapter 39. What do we need to apply to our lives out of these two chapters? First, we can’t remove specks out of someone else’s eye when we have a log in our eye. When the logs are removed from our eyes, then the person with the speck may come to us asking for help with his speck. Second, sometimes it is painful to be the Master’s tool, but like Paul says in Romans 8:28, “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to His purpose.”

    Genesis 36 – 37

    Posted by on March 3, 1989 under Ladies Bible Class

    Why is chapter 36 included in Genesis? It doesn’t add much to the plot of the saga of the Patriarchs. It was just as necessary to register Esau’s descendants as it was those of Jacob. The Messiah was to be a descendant of Abraham. Since Esau is a descendant of Abraham, it is necessary to show that the promised Savior would not be through this line. It saved potential troubles from arising. These genealogies are proof of the truths of the prophecies. The Messiah was to come from a particular family. We know those prophecies were fulfilled by Christ. They show that the promised Messiah is found in the person of Jesus of Nazareth who sprang from the last and only remaining branch of the family of David. Incidentally, did you know that now no Jew can positively trace himself back to the family of David? It seems the genealogy records were destroyed in the destruction of Jerusalem. All that remains are the ones recorded in the Bible.

    I am glad to get to the study of Joseph after all the deceit and rape and murders. Joseph, from early on, lets God take control. Joseph – the Dreamer. Genesis is full of dreams. A great number of them are divinely sent as revelations from God. Abraham, Jacob and Joseph all had this type of dream. It gave them vision – a radiant hope for the future and a healthy discontent with the status quo. It’s those kind of people who change the world. The ones who’ve heard the voice of God and were never the same, and because they were never the same, the world would never be the same.

    This story of Joseph reads like a great novel or unfolds like a good mini-series. As I got to the end of the lesson I felt rather up in the air. I know what happens next and the end result, but I just couldn’t leave him sold into slavery. Did anyone else finish reading his story to the end of Genesis? Let’s review the characters in this story.

    The first one is Patriarch Jacob. Jacob spent most of his life deceiving and being deceived and is about to be deceived again. He had a knowledge of God’s will and what God expected out of him, but, instead of letting God do things God’s way, he wanted to use that knowledge to his advantage. He’s older and wiser now and is willing to let God take control.

    The second character is 17-year-old Joseph. Joseph is a dreamer with righteousness inside out. He feels compelled to report on his brothers –Dan, Naphtali, Gad and Asher– when they do wrong. He is the son of the favored wife, Rachel, and is himself the favored son. He is given a princely coat by his father, a coat of distinction. He’s “blessed” with these dreams of being a lord and ruler over his family. I don’t know why he is compelled to share these dreams. It just brings him trouble. But his father remembers them. After all, Jacob has had revelations from God in the form of dreams, too. God didn’t have to send these dreams in order for God to use Joseph, but I imagine they were a source of comfort to Joseph while he was a slave and in prison.

    The character of Joseph reminds me of the man in Psalm 1:1-3.

    1. Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, not sits in the seat of scoffers;
    2. but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night.
    3. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

    Joseph is going to need those deep roots of faith to get him through the harsh winds of strife that lie ahead.

    The next characters are the 10 older brothers. From their point of view, Joseph was a goodie-two shoes, tattletale, dreamer who needed to be brought down to size. And who better to do it than these brothers? Aren’t these the brothers who killed and pillaged a whole village not long ago? Aren’t they a source of terror to the neighboring peoples? How dare this young, pompous half-brother think we would ever bow down to him! Ha!

    S. I. McMillon, in his book None of These Diseases, says, “The moment I start hating a man, I become his slave.” The brothers are filled with hate toward Joseph.

    The brothers are out caring for their father’s flocks near Shecham, where they did all their murdering, and Joseph is sent to see how they are doing. As they see him coming they start plotting. Murder is seriously considered, but the oldest brother, Reuben, talks them out of that. They end up stripping him of his princely coat, dipping it in blood to be taken back to deceive their father, and Joseph is sold to a band of Ishmaelites traveling to Egypt. And there we have to leave Joseph who is sold as a slave to an officer of Pharaoh.

    In my Clarke commentary I ran across a comparison of Joseph with Christ. Neither the Old nor New Testament say anything about Joseph being a “type” of Christ or Christ being a type of Joseph to my knowledge. So I think we’d better be careful in carrying this too far, but listen to the similarities.

    • Joseph was sent to visit his brothers by his father. Jesus states he was sent by His Father. He was sent to visit his brothers.
    • Joseph was an innocent person sold for a few pieces of silver. Jesus was innocent and sold for a few pieces of silver.
    • This bargain for Joseph was proposed by brother Judah. The Greek name for Judah is Judas, a “brother” of Christ.
    • By means of this bargain Joseph became his brother’s lord and savior and savior for strangers throughout the known world. Judas’ bargain brought on Jesus’ reign as Lord and Savior of the Jews and the entire world.
    • This would not have happened but for this plot of destroying Joseph, the act of rejecting and exposing him to sale. Jesus knew the plot to destroy Him was necessary and that He was to be rejected and exposed to sale.
    • Both had the same fortune that appeared on the surface as misfortune.
      Same innocence. Nothing wrong was done by either Joseph or Jesus. Jealousy and hatred were the motivating factors.
    • Joseph in prison between 2 prisoners. Jesus on the cross between 2 thieves. Joseph foretells the deliverance of one of his fellow prisoners, the death of the other. Christ tells one of the thieves, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” The other reviles him.

    I don’t know how inspiring that is to you or if there is a lesson for us in this comparison. I just found it fascinating. Brenda is lecturing next week so you might ought to be ready for a test on it.I don’t know a whole lot of Egyptian history except what I’ve learned in Sunday school classes and a little I picked up while living in Italy. When we were studying Abraham I wondered what Abraham saw when he went down into Egypt. I didn’t know if the pyramids were built yet or not. My knowledge of histories of different cultures didn’t seem to be blending well. As I was trying to figure out what Jacob saw as he got there, I was taking all these notes out of a couple different books. They weren’t making much sense until I started putting them down in chart form. Then I got several things straightened out in my mind. You may have had it all straight all along, or maybe you don’t even care if you have it straight. But, anyway, in the hopes that it may be beneficial to a few people, here is the chart I made out for myself. The Hebrew and Egyptian cultures cross paths so many times throughout the Old Testament. Perhaps you can get something out of it.

    Genesis 34 – 35

    Posted by on March 2, 1989 under Ladies Bible Class

    [See if someone can identify objects in box – blindfolded]

    How did she identify these things? Smell. Things can be identified by their smell.

    Of all our senses, smell is the least understood. How is it measured? Scientists have calibrated sound and light waves so that a piano tuner can make sure that your Bb keys play Bb. Your ophthalmologist can measure the sensitivity of your retina to the color purple. But what happens when an odor molecule lands on the nerve receptors in our nose and the brain says, “Ah, pizza!”? Science knows practically nothing.

    Odors reach into all our emotional lives, drawing from the deepest caves in our minds. Odors suggest, stimulate associations, evoke, frighten, arouse us, but they seem to be just below conscious thought. Smells arouse us. Fear, sadness, disgust, longing, love, passion – the whole gamut of emotions – are all buried deep in our subconscious, waiting to come rushing to the surface with a single sniff. When you look at a pencil, touch a book, you probably don’t get an emotional response. But there is nothing quite like an odor to drive your emotions. Our sense of smell is tied directly and intimately to the part of our brain most involved with memory and emotion.

    As we studied the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, Brenda tried to give us an emotional response of disgust by lighting some sulfur. Why? Because once you smell something, it’s pretty well locked into your memory and your emotions.

    Many people arriving in a foreign country often experience a phenomenon known as culture shock. A large part of this is due to the new odors they experience and from the lack of familiar odors. The visitor isn’t even aware that a missing smell is what is making him feel uncomfortable.

    Our reactions to odor largely depend on our experience with it and what our brain remembers. The smell of a varnished hall may bring the memory of high school back to many people. To one it may be a pleasant odor because of a memory of a puppy love with a boy whose locker was nearby. To another it may be an unpleasant odor bringing up feelings of dread and insecurity because near his locker was the school bully’s locker.

    Smell is a memory response. Smells will bring up memories, pleasant or unpleasant and with them the emotions of those memories. The sense of smell is at the heart of remembering and emotion. It’s a matter of anatomy.

    Jacob said to Levi and Simeon in Genesis 34:30, “You have brought trouble on me by making me a STENCH to the Canaanites and the Perizzites.” Other versions say, “You have made me ODIOUS” or “You have made me STINK!” The action of Jacob’s family made them stink and it threatened their very existence as the elect of God.

    What was their excuse for doing such a malodorous thing? REVENGE. “Let’s get even! Let’s fix their wagon! Let’s make sure they don’t do this kind of thing again!” King Arthur says in the play Camelot, “Revenge is the most worthless of causes.” God says, “Vengeance is Mine” (Hebrews 10:30).

    As I was working through this lesson, I started jotting down ideas as they popped into my head – such as, These guys certainly weren’t soul-winning oriented. They certainly weren’t setting a good “Christian example.” But, then, they had the misfortune of never knowing or never hearing the good news of Christ.

    Jacob makes it very clear that the sons’ action of revenge made him STINK to his neighbors. If bad behavior makes one stink, what does good behavior do? It makes one smell GOOD. Last year I was sick with the flu. Lynn brought a couple of containers of stew by for me and my family. What a SWEET thing to do! Her actions make her smell sweet or good. And that’s locked into my memory.

    Let’s open our Bibles and read II Corinthians 2:14-15. But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumph, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. (RSV)

    What does that mean? Put simply, it means our good, sweet smelling deeds are meant to draw or lure others to Christ. (Reminded of Sylvester the Cat being drawn toward food by the smell.) When we walk past a bakery or pizzeria, etc., we tend to slow down and savor the aroma – we tend to gravitate toward the pleasing odors. Yet we go out of our way to avoid malodorous things – diaper pails, garbage cans, etc. We shun them – push them away.

    Remember that Levi and Simeon had the misfortune of never knowing or never hearing the good news of Christ. The fragrance of the knowledge of Christ was not around. Therefore they could not be the aroma of Christ to God among others.

    But Christ’s fragrance is in the world today. II Corinthians tells us WE are to be the AROMA of CHRIST. Just as we can identify these objects [in the box] by the way they smell, our neighbors can identify us by the way our actions smell. They can tell if we belong to Christ by our deeds.

    Where you spend your time also influences the way you smell. If you’ve been to the gas station this morning, you possibly smell like gasoline. If you’ve been in an office where others have been smoking, you smell like cigarette smoke. If you’ve been spending time with the devil, your actions are going to reflect that and you’ll end up smelling like the devil. If we spend time with Christ, we’ll have the Aroma of Christ we need to lure others to Him.

    We need to remember that smell is a memory response. Things can be identified by their smell. Our actions have a smell, too. People are not likely to forget what they smell in you. Next time you catch yourself checking out your physical smell so you won’t offend your neighbor, check out the smell of your actions — for they will be remembered, too.

    Genesis 32 – 33

    Posted by on March 1, 1989 under Ladies Bible Class


    Genesis 1-2. We studied the six literal days of creation and the first man and woman in their sinless state living in the garden paradise of Eden. In chapter 3 they are faced with their first encounter with Satan. They fall for Satan’s deception, bringing the knowledge of sin and guilt and all the consequences into the world. They are forced to leave their home of paradise. Chapter 4, Cain kills Abel. Genealogy of Cain and Seth through chapter 5. Then in chapters 6-11 we see two judgements of God on a sinful world: 1) the universal flood from which only Noah and his family were saved by God’s grace by means of an ark, and 2) the halting of the building of the tower of Babel by means of confusing the languages of the people. The nations spread.

    At the end of chapter 11 we find an introduction to the first great patriarch–Abraham. Chapters 12-20 tell the story of Abram’s call to leave his homeland and the faith he had to believe the 3-fold promise of land, many heirs and God’s blessing. Next we studied Isaac, his near sacrifice by his father Abraham, Isaac’s marriage to Rebekah and further tests of faith.

    Isaac and Rebekah have twins, Esau and Jacob. Jacob, the younger of the twins, slyly gains the birthright and his father’s blessing, then has to leave his country to preserve his life after he hears of Esau’s threats. Jacob spends the next 20 years in Haran with Laban, a near kinsman. Laban deals just as slyly with Jacob as Jacob did with Esau. Jacob gains two wives, Leah and Rachel, 11 sons, 1 daughter and 2 concubines. In our last study together, Jacob slyly leaves Laban to return to his homeland.

    What does the name “Jacob” mean? Cunning, supplanter– to supercede by force or treachery– CHEAT – CHEATER! Can you imagine giving a child a name that means Cheater?

    It turns out to be a fitting name for him. Jacob has spent his life deceiving and being deceived and reaping the consequences. Listen to these events in his life.

    1. Even while in mother’s womb he wrestled with Esau 
    2. Cons Esau out of his birthright  
    3. Deceives Isaac to receive Esau’s blessing  
    4. Plots with Rebekah to leave the country with a hidden motive  
    5. Deceived by Laban over daughters — Ends up married to Leah and Rachel  
    6. Thinks he is outsmarting Laban by affecting the markings on the birth of the animals to his advantage  
    7. Slyly steals away from Laban  
    8. He is deceived by Rachel who has taken Laban’s household gods

    Do you remember the graph of Spiritual Ups and Downs that Brenda drew on Abraham’s life? It looked like this: ^^^^     If we were to draw a graph of Jacob’s spiritual ups and downs, it would look just the opposite: vvvv     The high points are few and the valleys are many. Yet God loved him and still saw his worth.

    Today we are looking at chapters 32 and 33. — Jacob coming back to his homeland to face Esau who at last report was wanting to kill Jacob for stealing his rightful birthright and blessing. Jacob is understandably nervous.

    The most touching story in these two chapters is Esau’s forgiveness of Jacob. Jacob comes back to the land of Seir, the country of Edom, fully expecting to “meet the devil face to face.” And whose face does he see in Esau’s face? God’s. Esau runs to embrace him and weeps with joy at seeing Jacob again. What a lovely thing for Esau to do. Doesn’t this remind you of the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15 when the prodigal son, after leaving home and squandering his inheritance, returns home with that deep sense of shame and uncertainty about his fate? We’re so thrilled to read that he finds in his father what Jesus wants us to know we’ll find in our heavenly Father — Forgiveness. And that’s what Jacob finds in Esau. Esau wasn’t all bad any more than Jacob was all good.

    This forgiveness is covered in our questions today and we know how great it is to forgive and be forgiven. So I’d like to spend the remaining time talking about what occurred the night before, after Jacob sent his family across the stream. Jacob finds himself in a wrestling match for the duration of the night. The text refers to his opponent as a man. Hosea refers to him as an angel. We don’t know what started this wrestling match. Perhaps Jacob thought this might be an assassin sent by Esau. A life of deceit does tend to make one paranoid. I don’t know all the answers about this event. I can’t even determine if the limp he received was permanent or disappeared later that morning.

    But I do know this was a turning point in Jacob’s life. This several hours of wrestling was apparently just what Jacob needed. Is this representative of Jacob’s inward struggle of knowing what was right, but knowing he had not been “right” with his brother? It seems to be both a physical and spiritual exercise. They wrestle till the break of day. The “man” decides he’s had enough and touches the hollow of Jacob’s thigh putting it out of joint. Then Jacob knows, “this man could prevail over me if it were his wish.” Jacob realizes his vulnerability.

    With any other man or on any other day, Jacob could have talked himself out of this struggle. He was quick witted, good with words and deceiving – even to himself. Cheat Esau? Not at all. He bought that birthright from him. Sure, he was taking advantage of a worldly-minded brother in dire conditions – but he’s the one that agreed to sell it. And yes, he did deceive his father, Isaac, but he was just helping God out – for God had already determined that he should get the blessing. He was only collecting what was his. Jacob could have made such a case for himself with this “man” as he probably had numerous other times trying to justify his actions to himself. But Jacob could not tell it that way now – after wrestling all night. Truth-telling time had come.

    The angel urges Jacob to turn him loose. But Jacob won’t do that until the man blesses him. But first, the angel wants to hear from Jacob. “What is your name?”, he asked. Then – Jacob has to admit it – that his treatment of Esau was despicable. – “My name is Cheater. I’m a con man, a supplanter,” he confesses. With confession came blessing! His name is changed to Israel which means “involvement with God.” This tells us that the blessing didn’t come through deceit, cunning and cheating, but through struggle and involvement with God. Confession is not “talking about sin,” or saying, “we all have sinned,” or an explanation of our sins. Confession says, “My sin exists. I alone am responsible. God is grieved and offended.” We renounce it, choose the will of God and cast ourselves on the grace of God.

    Now, the blessing which God intended for Jacob to have in the beginning and which he thought he had gained by deceit is now GIVEN to the confessing sinner. Jacob learns the blessing cannot be won or seized by cunning. It can only be received as a GIFT or not at all.

    After this night of wrestling and confession, we see a change in name, character and habit. “Jacob” becomes “Israel.” Gone are the traits of deceitfulness and cunning. From now on it is “Up-front Israel.” The valleys will now become few and the spiritual highs most prevalent.

    Recall a while back, Brenda read to us the introduction to this book, On the Anvil, by Max Lucado. When the wrestling match began, Jacob was a broken, rusted, useless tool lying in the corner – of no use to his master. At confession time, Jacob, as the tool, is up in the Master’s hand begging to be plunged back into the fire to be remelted – as painful as fire and confession can be. He’s saying, “OK, Lord, I’m broken and rusted; reshape me into what You need me to be – make me a useful tool.”

    Now God can use Jacob. Now he can have what God wanted to give him as a gift – the blessings given to Abraham and Isaac. Now he is ready to do God’s will – God’s way. He has known God’s will all along and how it was supposed to affect his life, but Jacob had been saying to God, “I’ll do it MY way.” Now he’s ready to say, “Your way.”

    Being on the anvil didn’t take Jacob’s fear away. He still didn’t know Esau was capable of forgiveness. He knew God was with him and that he had promised him good, but that didn’t necessarily mean that he could waltz right in and expect forgiveness from Esau. Jacob is aware that God does move in mysterious ways sometimes. Didn’t the Lord ask his own grandfather to sacrifice his father, Isaac? But the changed man, Israel, doesn’t run away. Upon seeing his brother coming, he quickly, but still cautiously, arranges his entourage and then goes ahead of them all, humbling himself seven times to his elder brother.

    Wrestling with God. The nerve of this man. Who would attempt such a thing. But, as I finished reading this account, I thought, I know a man who is wrestling with God right this minute. I pray that he comes out of it realizing he needs reshaping and asking for the fire and the beating on the anvil. Then, I wondered, have I ever wrestled with God?

    Read chapter 15, “Anvil Time,” in On the Anvil.

    “On God’s anvil. Perhaps you’ve been there.

    Melted down. Formless. Undone. Placed on the anvil for . . .”