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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

GENESIS – An Expositional Overview of the Beginning of God’s Revelation: Chapter FORTYSEVEN


Contributing commentaries by pastors Sonny Islas, Albert Lopez and James Fire
Chuck Missler Bible Commentary – GENESIS Chapters 46-50

GENESIS 47 – by James Fire; for the Facebook video of this teaching, go here.

Introduction: Jacob has known a lot of struggles and hardships; all sorts of uncertainties, impulsive decisions that went bad; and trials, anxieties and stresses. He had a brother that wanted to kill him and an Uncle that would’ve been happy to help. All kinds of family strife from wrong choices in the mix, and the grief of burying his wife – only then to lose his most precious son Joseph.
Then to top it all off, a severe famine that covered the continent, and the potential loss of – who knows how many of his sons who could be lost because of this crises, and Benjamin no less!

Now in old age, the LORD in His mercies, looks with kindness on his circumstances; he discovers not only that Joseph is alive, but that he also has two more grandsons. He is removed from a dry, weary land of desperate famine and brought to Egypt where he is given Pharaoh’s assurance that he and all his kin will have “the fat of the land” to dwell in.
Though his life at times weighed heavily, to the point where he didn’t live as long as his father Isaac (180 years) or his grandfather Abraham (175 years), he is still a man of faith and the LORD always honors those who will place their faith in Him.
The LORD also has grace upon the people of Egypt, that while they have to sacrifice all that they have to live, they survive the famine with the opportunity to rebuild their lives, thanks to Joseph, and the wisdom and guidance he received from the LORD.
Whether Jew or Gentile, rich or poor, powerful, or powerless – those who will express faith and trust in GOD will never be disappointed, despite circumstances and surroundings – the LORD will abide faithfully to His Word of truth and promise.

GENESIS 47:1-2
1 Then Joseph came and told Pharaoh, and said, My father and my brethren, and their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have, are come out of the land of Canaan; and, behold, they are in the land of Goshen. 2 And he took some of his brethren, even five men, and presented them unto Pharaoh
.

Recall that in chapter 43, it was mentioned that “the Egyptians [do] not eat bread with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians” and in chapter 46 it states: “for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.” 

While the word used in this verse is ‘shepherd’ in the Hebrew it’s a more inclusive term that includes not just sheep or goats but any grazing type of animal, and that would also include cattle; so you could say ‘herdsmen’ rather than shepherds.

Egyptians held cattle as sacred animals and worthy of worship, much as Hindus reverence cows – hence the term ‘holy cow!’ This was why Egyptians didn’t eat with foreigners, especially those of Canaan who were known to eat plenty of beef:

This seems to be the first instance of a kind of Egyptian “puritanism” that assumes rather radical forms in the Persian era, when Herodotus visited Egypt (around 450 BCE). Herodotus reports in epic detail on the strict exclusiveness of Egyptian table customs, which allowed no sharing of meals with foreigners due to the foreigners’ presumed consumption of cows, sacred to the Egyptians (Histories 2:41).

GENESIS 47:3-4
And Pharaoh said unto his brethren, What is your occupation? And they said unto Pharaoh, Thy servants are shepherds, both we, and also our fathers. They said moreover unto Pharaoh, For to sojourn in the land are we come; for thy servants have no pasture for their flocks; for the famine is sore in the land of Canaan: now therefore, we pray thee, let thy servants dwell in the land of Goshen
.  

Goshen was in the upper delta region in Northern Egypt and was very lush, fertile land due to the Nile river mixing with the mineral content at its outlet into the Mediterranean. Perfect pasture for grazing! So Pharaoh was eager to see Joseph’s kin settle there, because for one, it would bless them and two, they would keep separate from Egyptians who would never eat beef!
They assure Pharaoh that they had no intentions of moving in to stay; they are sojourners, in other words, they’re ‘just passing through’. Their stay is a temporary one, just until the famine passes (which at this point is less than 5 years away). Jacob’s family had no idea that their children and children’s children – about four generations total, would be in Egypt for 430 years.

Saints of GOD are all sojourners, or as Peter puts it, “pilgrims” (1 PET 2:11); the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were according to the author of the book of Hebrews (I believe it was Paul) “strangers and foreigners on the Earth”:

HEBREWS 11:13
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth
.
We likewise have no idea how long our stay in this world will be, not as individuals or collectively as the body of Christ, the church. This is why we don’t put down roots in this world: it’s not our home. We aren’t invested in this world; yes, we occupy while we wait for the LORD, but we recognize we are citizens of the kingdom of GOD, NOT this fallen, sinful world! We have GOD’s promise of a glorious city the foundations of which are built by GOD; we seek the real ‘GOD’s country’ of which we are citizens (HEB 11:10,16).

For the Christian to make plans and investments and goals in this world, like the kind a worldly person makes, is like a young person who is the inheritor of a wealthy estate far across the country, and on the way, traveling to that place to receive it, they stay the night at a hotel and decides that they want to remodel their room! Who cares about a hotel room, for a single night?? You’ve got a lavish estate with mansions and wealth beyond reckoning waiting for you! Don’t waste your time working on something that you will enjoy for a few hours when you have the rest of your life waiting for you!

A life-time in this world compared to eternity is like a single night compared to an entire lifespan of 70, 80 years!

For the Christian, there can be no such comparison between the most luxurious, opulent, wealthy estate this world can offer, one like Bill Gates perhaps (net worth of almost 110 billion dollars) and the eternal and glorious riches that awaits us in our Father’s house.
Real riches that makes gold and precious stones good for nothing but pavement and fancy decorations for the city streets and walls of New Jerusalem! Riches such as an all-encompassing, all-consuming, eternal relationship with our Abba Father, the LORD Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit! WOW!!

GENESIS 47:5-6
And Pharaoh spake unto Joseph, saying, Thy father and thy brethren are come unto thee: The land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell; in the land of Goshen let them dwell: and if thou knowest any men of activity among them, then make them rulers over my cattle
.

It is because Joseph was such a faithful, able servant that Pharaoh trusted his judgment in selecting others who would care for his own cattle. There have been many times in my working career that I had my employer ask me if I know capable people to work for them, and trusted that if I recommended any, that they would be faithful, diligent employees as I, by the grace of GOD have been.

Of all people in this world, true Christians, who are children of GOD and committed to serving their employers “as unto the LORD” (COL 3:23). We should be in great demand in the work force, and if ever we are asked what the motivation of our work ethic is, we tell them about Christ. This can be a powerful evangelistic tool!
The LORD will bless the work of our hands – consider Pharaoh’s words: “The land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell”.

GENESIS 47:7-10
And Joseph brought in Jacob his father and set him before Pharaoh: and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How old art thou? And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage. 10 And Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from before Pharaoh
.

Scripture tells us in HEBREWS 7:4-7
Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham: But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better
. (See also GEN 14:18-19).
The greater blesses the lesser; and here we see that Jacob is blessing Pharaoh! Sure, Pharaoh blessed the family of Jacob with the best of the land, the land of Goshen in honor of Joseph, but that was a physical blessing. Here Jacob is bestowing a spiritual blessing on Pharaoh!

As Christians we are in a position to pray for others, to seek GOD’s blessing upon them, as no other people can. Because of the truth of GOD, we are authorized to conduct holy transactions in praying for those in authority. We are also seeking GOD’s intervention in unjust laws and actions perpetrated by wicked members of government. This is one of the means by which we are salt in this world, a preserving influence that staves off the corruption that Satan desires to pollute our society.

And there has never been a greater need in our nation for the saints of GOD to mourn, to fast and to pray – to seek GOD and repent of anything in our own lives before we can be heard of Him (2 CHRON 7:14 – is directed towards Israel, but there is a spiritual principle here that applies to the church as well; we saints who are also called by GOD’s Holy name, if we seek His face, and humble ourselves, and turn from our wicked ways – He will hear our prayer and forgive us of our sins as well).

Pharaoh asks Jacob how old he is; perhaps he was impressed that someone as old as he could make such a journey all the way from Canaan to Egypt. It’s likely that for all the stresses and cares Jacob dealt with, that he appeared older than he really was.
Abraham lived to the ripe old age of 180 years; Isaac of 175, and Jacob lived 147 years. Later on we see that Moses lived to around 120 years, Joshua lived 110 years. So we see a gradual decreasing of lifespans as we proceed throughout the Scriptures until we come to Psalms where it tells us our lifespans on average is about 70 or 80 years (PSALMS 90:10).
SIDE NOTE: This drastic reduction of lifespans began after the flood. Prior to the flood people lived hundreds of years, and even immediately afterwards – Noah lived 950 years, but his sons lived lives considerably less. Some attribute this fall off of lifespans to the collapse of “the firmament above the heavens” (when the Flood happened; the windows of heaven opened; GEN 7:11) – (GEN 1:20) which shielded us from the more harmful forms of radiation that the sun emits and allowed us to live several hundreds of years.
There is reason to believe that in the Millennium, when people will once again live several centuries, that this canopy around the Earth will be restored, providing protection from the sun’s harmful radiation, and creating a perfect Eden-like environment (ISAIAH 51:3; 65:20).
GENESIS 47:11-13
11 And Joseph placed his father and his brethren and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded. 12 And Joseph nourished his father, and his brethren, and all his father's household, with bread, according to their families. 13 And there was no bread in all the land; for the famine was very sore, so that the land of Egypt and all the land of Canaan fainted by reason of the famine
.

Jacob could see no solution for the extreme need of food for his family; but then while he heard that there is food available in Egypt, he had no idea that this would come by the hand of Joseph, who he hasn’t seen for over twenty years! 

We don’t see GOD and we don’t know what He is up to, but He is always behind the scenes, providing for us our needs: spiritual, physical, financial, etc. Our LORD Jesus is busily interceding for us, for all our needs (not wants necessarily!) and provisions!

HEBREWS 7:25
Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them
.
We don’t always see any solutions for the problems in our lives. Yet just as Joseph had prepared for the coming famine during the time of plentiful harvests while Jacob had no idea that a seven year famine was coming, we don’t know the trials and afflictions that will come upon us, but long before we encounter any needs, GOD our Father has prepared provisions, and only asks that we trust Him!
“the famine was very sore, so that the land of Egypt and all the land of Canaan fainted by reason of the famine.”

It is when we are beyond our means to provide for ourselves, when we are weak and helpless to help ourselves, we can be assured that the LORD will provide for us who “ do good… [and] delight in the LORD” – those whose hearts are tender and yielded to the LORD:

PSALM 37:3-4
Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart
.
GENESIS 47:14-16
14 And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, for the corn which they bought: and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh's house. 15 And when money failed in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came unto Joseph, and said, Give us bread: for why should we die in thy presence? for the money faileth. 16 And Joseph said, Give your cattle; and I will give you for your cattle, if money fail
.

We see here that this famine is so severe, so terrible, so devastating that the people of Egypt ran out of money – completely bankrupt. They have no more finances with which to buy grain in order to survive. So now the people of Egypt resort to bartering: they will trade up their livestock, giving it to Pharaoh in exchange for grain.

The LORD Jesus brings redemption to us all, and brings us to the Father, and we belong to Him, not ourselves, and we witness this same sort of thing here; the people of Egypt are becoming more and more the ‘property’ as it were, of Pharaoh, through Joseph.
It is Christ that brings us into the family of GOD, so that our Abba claims us for Himself. We see this even more so in the following:

GENESIS 47:17-18
17 And they brought their cattle unto Joseph: and Joseph gave them bread in exchange for horses, and for the flocks, and for the cattle of the herds, and for the asses: and he fed them with bread for all their cattle for that year. 18 When that year was ended, they came unto him the second year, and said unto him, We will not hide it from my lord, how that our money is spent; my lord also hath our herds of cattle; there is not ought left in the sight of my lord, but our bodies, and our lands
:

The world looks on our devotion to Jesus as bondage: “You Christians! – you can’t do this, and you can’t do that. I’m free to drink and smoke and fool around as much as I want, but not you! You’re a slave of GOD!
To that I say, AMEN! But what the world doesn’t realize is that being a slave of Jesus Christ makes us free from the law of sin and death!

ROMANS 8:1-3
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh
:
Being a slave of sin will bring death; it’s like being chained to a container of radioactive material, that would bombard the cells of your body with its destructive energy, slowly draining the life out of you. 

Being a slave of Christ is like being chained within the confines of a fruitful oasis in the midst of a dry, dead, barren and baneful desert, ensuring you of life!
We don’t want sin, because we know that it’s spiritual poison to our souls; rather we desire the LORD and His Word because He is the author of life! Be gladly surrender ourselves to the LORD, not claiming ourselves as our own, but HIS! All that we have: our souls, our lives, our families and homes, our bank accounts, our time – we surrender it all! That sort of ‘radical’ surrender is a joy and truly freeing!

ROMANS 6:12-14
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace
.
GENESIS 47:19-21
19 Wherefore shall we die before thine eyes, both we and our land? buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants unto Pharaoh: and give us seed, that we may live, and not die, that the land be not desolate. 20 And Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for the Egyptians sold every man his field, because the famine prevailed over them: so the land became Pharaoh's. 21 And as for the people, he removed them to cities from one end of the borders of Egypt even to the other end thereof
.

We are reading the story of redemption; to redeem is “to buy back” something that was sold to another, typically when one was sold as a slave (just as Joseph had been!) a kinsman would come and buy that person back from their slave owner. 

What we see in Joseph’s life is that GOD Himself delivered Joseph from his slavery, when He granted him the wisdom to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams and also the wisdom on how to manage the predicament of a seven year famine!

Here the people of Egypt have come down to selling their land to Pharaoh but also their very lives. In the spiritual wasteland, the famine – the terrible lack of spiritual life in this fallen world due to sin, we flee from its destruction and come to the LORD GOD and declare to Him, that we are not our own, that He has purchased us, redeemed us, with His own blood!

1 CORINTHIANS 6:19-20
19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
ACTS 20:28
28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood
.
GENESIS 47:22-24
22 Only the land of the priests bought he not; for the priests had a portion assigned them of Pharaoh and did eat their portion which Pharaoh gave them: wherefore they sold not their lands. 23 Then Joseph said unto the people, Behold, I have bought you this day and your land for Pharaoh: lo, here is seed for you, and ye shall sow the land. 24 And it shall come to pass in the increase, that ye shall give the fifth part unto Pharaoh, and four parts shall be your own, for seed of the field, and for your food, and for them of your households, and for food for your little ones
.

Now there is a ray of hope; the promise of restoration to the people of the life they knew before the famine because Joseph here gives them seed, but seed during a famine is useless. But in the giving of seed, it’s a harbinger, a sign of something coming, the coming of hope!
During times of spiritual dryness, even drought in our lives, the LORD offers us Himself as well as His Word which are the blessed living waters (JOHN 7:38; EPH 5:26), gloriously able to quench such dryness, and provides us seed to plant in our lives and bring life, and abundance of fruit!

ISAIAH 55:10-11
10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it
.
But drought will often bring fallowed ground – that is ground that is so dry and baked by the sun that its as hard as concrete; rain won’t even soak into ground like that. So what has to happen is the fallowed ground needs to be plowed, broken up so that the ground is able to receive the rain and become soft and yielded to the planting of seed.

We can sometimes due to our trials and our unwillingness to yield to what the LORD intends to do in our lives through those trials, or because of bitterness, or unforgiveness, resentment, envy – take your pick, any unconfessed sin will harden the heart, and if it isn’t dealt with, if we don’t become broken over that hardness, it will become fallow – so that not even the Word of GOD has any effect for good in our lives. This is why it’s especially important to “keep short accounts” with GOD, because delay in confession of sins will require a greater breaking later on (and breaking is never a pleasant experience!).

HOSEA 10:13-13
12 Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you. 13 Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men
.
GENESIS 47:25-26
25 And they said, Thou hast saved our lives: let us find grace in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh's servants. 26 And Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt unto this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth part, except the land of the priests only, which became not Pharaoh's
.

This is a kind of tithe of what we own; the people of Egypt don’t even own the very land in which they will sow this seed, all they are able to claim as their own are the crops that will be grown in Pharaoh’s property, and even here, they are told to offer 20% of their harvest to the LORD.
Question: What do you own, except that which has been given to you? Nothing, except for our sin: we can claim that for our own, sure! But we owe to GOD everything, because all that we have comes from Him. However, GOD only asks for 10% of His own properties to be returned to Him, and given to Him with a cheerful, generous heart (2 COR 9:7)! Now you might say, Wait a minute James, that 10% business, the tithe offering, that’s Old Testament, right (MAL 3:10)?

Well, we know Abraham, who lived hundreds of years before the Law was given, offered a tithe to Melchizedek, right? We talked about that in reference to GEN 14. We are not bound by 10% though; we are free to give 20% or 30% or 5%, but remember what the LORD said, when He called His disciples over and pointed out one poor widow when she brought her offering to the LORD:

MARK 12:41-44
41 And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. 42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. 43 And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: 44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living
.
We can NEVER out-give GOD; whatever you give to Him, He is honored by, when it’s given with a heart of love and devotion, seeking to bless His heart: whether it’s money, or time in the Word or prayer, or ministering to others. May all be done for the glory of GOD!

GENESIS 47:27-31
27 And Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and they had possessions therein, and grew, and multiplied exceedingly. 28 And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years: so the whole age of Jacob was a hundred forty and seven years. 29 And the time drew nigh that Israel must die: and he called his son Joseph, and said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me; bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt: 30 But I will lie with my fathers, and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their burying place. And he said, I will do as thou hast said. 31 And he said, Swear unto me. And he sware unto him. And Israel bowed himself upon the bed's head
.

1 comment:

Michael said...

Hi James, my name is Michael, how can I contact you?
I have a partnership proposal ;)

Looking forward to hearing from you
Blessings

Michael

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