Genesis 46-47 Commentary: Israel's Race, Jacob's Pace
+God is in the blessing business, regardless of the efforts made culturally to ignore this reality. Based on your relationship with God alone, you can reflect or deflect the kind of opportunity to relate God's hearts to others. The choice to become the kind of person who brightens up a room by entering or leaving is up to us. It all hinges however in who we choose to make our purpose for living and enjoying life. This is shown in both lights as we read about the end of the life of Jacob.
Recap from Chapter 45: What a difference a day can make in someone's life. After decades of extreme famine, having to gamble with the life of his last remaining son from his beloved wife Rachel, and living with the grief of losing his favorite son Joseph, now sees his sons again returned with the news that his son Joseph is alive and ruling with prominence in Egypt waiting to meet him again.
+Jacob's reaction to this news shows that he had become the kind of person to give credit where credit was due. After having taken more than a few steps towards getting to see his dream realized and every prayer answered, didn't make a single step towards enjoying it before stopping to voluntarily make an offering of thanksgiving to God for how good He has been to him. The fact that Beersheba is mentioned as the place of offering is also significant since both of Jacob's ancestors made their peace with the Philistine kings of their time who were given the title Abimelech. Since each time his forefathers Abraham and Isaac entered into Gentile territory it was an extremely stumbling time in their lives which shows a lot of spiritual maturity on Jacob's part. Just because he was given a blessing in his life, he didn't automatically assume it was from God until it had been prayerfully and thoughtfully considered. This is a good example for us in our lives to not look life's gifts horse in the mouth, but still check the receipt to see if the gift was from a trustworthy source. Not every opened door was opened by God, and Jacob was wise in taking the time to seek God even when it seemed like the greatest possible thing in life had been given to him.
“There is an answer in this world for every problem; neat, possible, and wrong.” - HL Mencken
-How do we follow Jacob's example in having a grateful but wise approach to life?
+G – Give your life to the Lord.
U – Understand related scriptures to the situation you're in.
I – Invest your life in God today.
D – Devote yourself to the Lord.
E – Everything will fall into place.
-This is a conditional promise, if God is put first as our treasure, our counselor, and final authority in the decisions we make in life; matters concerning relationships, finances, and even family matters in abundance or lack won't end up being bait for a bad turn in life if no matter what we take the time to consider God first before anything we do.
+Verse 13 mentions an individual named Job which many would assign to be the same Job in the book of Job. However, this isn't necessarily the case since the chronology of the book of Job suggests Job not only lived to be around 200 years old, which was not the norm during this time period, but many would credit Job historically to predate even Abraham rather than being a grandchild of Abraham's grandson.
+Goshen means “entering in” and Judah's name means “Praise.” Many consider this a direct symbol later noted to in the Psalms.
+It may be even more significant that at this point Judah is considered the leader of Israel's home, and leads the people of Israel into the land where God's promises would be provided for them. Jacob's prophecy over Judah's life and legacy would include being the one who would carry on God's promises for their family and bring the Messiah into the world. Judah was not always such an exemplary figure, with him being the one who suggested Joseph be sold into slavery in the first place along with the entire incident of Genesis 38 with Tamar and Shelah, knew himself as one in need of a savior. It was then that Judah became the man who offered his life in exchange for the life of his little brother.
“God can use no one greatly until He has hurt them deeply.” -A.W. Tozer
-It's the times when we finally realize how little we have to offer others that God truly makes us an individual with something to offer.
1 Peter 5:1-4:
+The people who demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ do so the most effectively with their lives, not their lips. Peter didn't consider himself anything more than a fellow elder that like Judah was simply put in the position he was as a leader because God had shown him grace too.
+It is so tragic when someone dies before they're dead. The person who looks at their life and asks God if they've done enough is missing out on all that God wants for them. Jacob would live another 17 years before God was finished using him and yet he wanted to cash in early before God was through blessing him and making him a blessing. The kind of Christian who looks for retirement before arriving in Heaven has missed the whole point of life itself. The best attitude a Christian can have isn't to wonder when they're finished, but to take every day as a new opportunity to enjoy and serve God and leave the rest up to Him.
-Why does Joseph go to such lengths to explain Egyptian culture to his family before meeting Pharaoh when they likely had understood enough about how their nation worked? To clarify honesty is a better policy than embellishment. When a man meets a woman and she asks him what he does for a living, details are embellished for the sake of putting your best foot forward in introducing yourself. Joseph's clarification to his father about their occupation and how Egyptians felt about it was for the sake of reminding him that Joseph had already made enough impressions on them to sell their case. Pharaoh wouldn't be interesting in their “bio-management” and “agricultural maintenance” achievements and expertise. Joseph just tells his family to be honest so they don't have to burden themselves with having to remember the same lie if the matter is brought up or tested again.
+Joseph was also aware of God's plan for his family, and if his people were kept at arm's length from Egyptian culture, it would be a great line of defense in allowing his people to be with the world but not becoming apart of the world. God would use their occupation as shepherds to not only provide for themselves materially but also keep them pure spiritually by making them unwelcome in their pagan ceremonies. The greatest impact we make on the world isn't just the doctrinal difference in our destinations, but also the visible difference in our journeys as well. Making our lives a living witness of God's heart to the world, even when that puts us at a sharp contrast concerning lifestyles, it not only keeps us out of trouble, but gives the greatest possible testimony.
+Notice that when Joseph introduces his brothers to Pharaoh, a man who deluded himself a living incarnation of a god, was still used by God to bless them based on Joseph's good word about them.
+Notice that in any other circumstance, Pharaoh would have likely executed Israel and his family on the spot for daring to show themselves in his presence. Yet because of the intersession of Joseph, Pharaoh welcomes them into his kingdom and allows them to use their talents effectively and in a way that allows them to prosper and provide for themselves in a place where they would otherwise be unwelcome. Yet another shadow of the nature of Jesus who intercedes for us in the presence of the Father allowing us to enter His kingdom where we would otherwise be unwelcome because of our filth.
+Interesting how the most powerful man on the planet, king of the current world superpower, revered as a god by his nation, is brought before an old shepherd and is given a blessing by him!
+Notice Pharaoh doesn't protest this idea that Jacob was greater than him simply because he saw the same God Joseph served in him.
+What is the most effective witnessing tool in sharing the gospel with the world? Understand that witnessing to non-believers isn't something you do, it's something you are. Being exhibit A to the world that the God we serve is able to offer them something greater than anything they could ever have otherwise is the key to performing the work of an evangelist.
+Jacob is referred to his birth name when he acts in the flesh, and referred to his new name Israel when acting in the spirit. Jacob's whining is yet another example that the Bible's goal isn't to glorify its saints but show how good a God we serve that he can use people just like us to accomplish the work He wants to do in this world.
-Jacob's life had a lot to complain about; starting from being the losing end of favoritism by his father and having to run for his life from his brother's death threats never to see his mother alive again. Going onto Bethel where he used a rock for a pillow after running a marathon and a half motivated by fear alone. Working 14 years for a father in law who proved himself the only phony on earth bigger than him. Losing both his favored children and watching his other sons become monsters after having one of his daughters raped by a pagan prince. Yet at the end of his life, the world ruler receives a blessing from him ceremoniously declaring there is no one greater on Earth than him, and he missed the entire blessing because his focus was on his grief and not on his God who saw him through his long and difficult pilgrimage.
1 Thessalonians 5:18:
-Notice it doesn't say give thanks for everything, but in everything give thanks. Perspective matters when you wonder where the joy God promised you in life has gone out of sight.
+Joseph through continually remaining a faithful manager over the house of Pharaoh, gained all the power of Egypt but didn't use it over them. Everything belonged to Pharaoh and at the way things were going, they could have lost everything for the sake of staying alive, and suddenly 20% taxes became 100% reasonable.
-What do we own that doesn't belong to God? Yet how much does He allow us to use for ourselves. Handling money makes you realize just how crummy a material it really is. Yet we have the opportunity to send something worthwhile ahead by investing this material in something eternal. Giving isn't a legal obligation, but an opportunity if you understand that God can bless you the more you practically learn to trust Him.
+Once again, Jacob gets his act together at the end of his life. He's no longer called Jacob, but finally realized what mattered in life and was called Israel.
+Our biographies may be stories of resisting or walking in and out of a relationship with God, but a race won isn't how you start, it's how you finish. Jacob finished his life as Israel, and it stayed that way.