DAY ONE – Genesis 27-29
With his mother’s help, Jacob continued his deceptive ways, getting for himself all he could from his father. By cunning he stole the birthright from Esau, then managed through a deceitful plot concocted by his mother to get the patriarchal blessing as well. Of course at this point Esau hated him, having pleaded in vain, with tears, for a blessing from his father. So he schemed in his heart to kill Jacob as soon as Isaac had died. Intervention came once again from Rebekeh as she counseled Jacob to flee to Padan Aram and her brother’s house for a season. Jacob went out still virtually a boy and had an encounter with Yahweh at a rock which he named Bethel. After a very realistic dream in which angels were coming and going from heaven, Jacob promised God that if the Lord would keep him, protect him, and bring him back safely to his father’s house that he would serve God and give him a tenth of all he had. He had no premonition of the trouble he was about to encounter. Interesting, isn’t it, how Yahweh God can continue His plans even through a ‘dysfunctional’ family! Surrounding the world’s mess is a loving, patient, merciful God sending forth blessings, causing a light to shine, and helping us pick up the pieces of our own broken dreams as we continue to move forward with Him.
NOTE: Isaac blessed Jacob again before he left home–“…and give you the blessing of Abraham.” (28:4) By the time Jacob will arrive back (20 years later), he will be fully aware of all that Yahweh God has done for him. Time and experience frequently grant us a new perspective on things we thought we already knew! How is God revealing His mercy and grace to you as we enter this new year?
DAY TWO – Genesis 30-33
At his Uncle Laban’s house Jacob met his match. Falling in love with Rachel in the first month he was there, he agreed to work seven years in Laban’s employ to earn her as his wife. At the appointed time Laban substituted Leah for Rachel under the ruse of local custom. So Jacob agreed to work another seven years for Rachel and was married to her a week later. Since our customs approve of only one wife for a man, we don’t really have a sense of what it must have been like for Jacob’s two wives–sisters, no less! One felt unloved, the other was childless. Each had a heavy burden to carry in life. Yet somehow God turned the ‘impossible’–so it seemed to each of them–into circumstances that made life bearable. Shouldn’t we remember that the sun actually does rise each morning and go to its place each evening, though clouds may obscure its light and warmth? So we must remember that the Lord Yahweh has said, “I will never leave you; no, not by any means will I ever forsake you.”
After fourteen years God appeared again to Jacob to instruct him to return home; but since he had no wealth to support his growing family, he received instructions in a dream from God as to how to amass large flocks and herds of goats, sheep and camels. At the end of twenty years it was time to go, and the man Jacob–for he had by now become a stronger man and a leader–picked up and left by night to return to Isaac with a large entourage. Laban, now angry and afraid of his future with Jacob gone, pursued him for seven days, insisting that he owned all that Jacob had. But God intervened in a dream to Laban, warning him not to do anything stupid! The encounter resulted in a feast covenant of peace between the two men. With that dread behind him, Jacob faced another when he learned that his brother Esau had heard of his coming and would soon arrive with four hundred men! Fearful once again for his life, Jacob spent a night alone in which he wrestled with an angel of God until morning, then asked for a blessing. The man certainly never lost his nerve! His name was changed by God to Israel–no longer the deceiver but now a prince. The meeting between the twin brothers was emotional and powerful and peaceful. Jacob was a worrier! But God was always one step ahead of him, as He is with us as well.
What is to be learned? 1) God initiates covenant, as He did with Abraham, Isaac and now Jacob. 2) God blesses those who are faithful and obedient in the relationship. 3) God turns bad situations around so that they become blessings. 4) God always acts in accord with future plans to accomplish what is best for mankind. And he is still doing it!
DAY THREE – Genesis 34-37
In fairness to Esau, and to demonstrate the sovereignty of God among all peoples, Esau’s genealogy is included in this section, naming his generations and indicating their locations, as Luke speaks in Acts 17:26–God determines the times and places for all peoples. Nations come and go, but the Lord’s sovereignty remains intact.
A tragic incident in Jacob’s family involved Dinah and her two brothers Simeon and Levi. Shechem, son of Hamor, raped the girl but then sought to marry her, offering whatever price to Jacob’s family. By subterfuge the two brothers, attempting to avenge Dinah’s honor, persuaded all the males in the city to be circumcised, then came upon them while they were sore and killed all of them! God chose this critical moment to appear to Jacob once more and instructed him to build an altar at Bethel. So he went up with all his family and worshipped there. God renewed his promises to Jacob. On the way back Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin and was buried.
Enter Joseph, 17 years old. A drama now begins to unfold with two dreams God gave him, which he related to his brothers and father, suggesting delusions of grandeur. Hated by his brothers over his father’s favoritism, Joseph was kidnapped by his brothers and thrown into a pit, while they cavalierly sat down to a meal. Some passing traders bought Joseph and went on to Egypt, where they sold him to Potiphar, an officer in Pharaoh’s household. So the incredible story commences.
Throughout the generations that have appeared from Adam to the time of Jacob, it is imperative that we keep in view not the God of mystery, but the God of revelation. True, Yahweh God was virtually unknown to the ancients, but a faithful man was always found by the Lord who believed God’s word and remained faithful. Through these individuals God continued to work His inimitable plans and prepared the world for saving grace.
DAY 4 – Genesis 38-40
“The Lord was with Joseph”–spoken three times in chapter 39–in Potiphar’s house into which he was unjustly sold; in the prison to which he was unjustly confined; and generally in all that he did. Romans 8:28-29 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. 29 For God knew His people in advance, and He chose them to become like His Son, so that His Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. This readily explains Joseph’s success and rapid advancement to Prime Minister over all Egypt. Joseph’s own testimony as we read on will confirm that he believed that God was in control of his circumstances; and that the Lord was surely WITH him in his many pursuits. As a matter of fact, Joseph is often referred to as a TYPE of Christ, raised up by Yahweh God to bring salvation to his father’s house and posterity. While we are not a type of Christ, we are still his brothers and sisters who indeed are intended to become like Him by the work of the Holy Spirit and God’s word. This is all happening as we are fulfilling our ‘created purpose’ ordained in God’s infinite wisdom. How were you made? Why were you made? Those are discoveries we enjoy along the way in our relationship with and service to God. Hold fast, dear Ones, to your faith in Jesus; don’t be quickly upset by the incredible turning and speed of events happening around us. There is no solid foundation left in and of this world. As we used to sing, “On Christ the solid Rock I stand.” See Ephesians 6:10-18 as a powerful reminder of how we get on in these days. We can do this… together.
DAY FIVE – Genesis 41-43
When God writes a story, it is a zinger! I can hardly stop reading long enough to share the joy in my heart as I realize how wonderful the Lord is in this story of Joseph. God’s mercy is epitomized in the words of Joseph’s servant to Joseph’s brothers after they finished explaining the money in their sacks on their second trip to buy grain: Genesis 43:22-23 We have brought down other money in our hand to buy food. We don’t know who put our money in our sacks.” 23 He said, “Peace be to you. Don’t be afraid. Your God, and the God of your father, has given you treasure in your sacks. I received your money.” He brought Simeon out to them. They got their money back; they got their brother back (he was kept in prison, remember); now they are at Joseph’s house and are about to have lunch with him. Are these guys dense, or what? They still can’t put it together. But it will get better; they will sit open-mouthed as they are seated for lunch, beginning with the oldest to youngest; and Benjamin’s food portion is five times as much as the others! Joseph is doing all he can to restrain himself from self-disclosure; he is dying for them to share the joy of who he is and WHAT GOD HAS DONE!
Do we have any idea how much joy and pleasure our Father God receives in blessing us and helping us along our way? Do we realize how He plans ahead, sometimes years, to make our circumstances favorable? Do we harbor an inkling of the life with Jesus He is preparing us for… and preparing for us? Surely life in this world can be tough; it may become unbearable at times. But this is a broken and fallen world–look how tough it was on Jesus, our Savior. Look how tough it was on Joseph, who was totally defrauded by his brothers. Yet when the time came, God had prepared Joseph to be the savior of his family and provide a safe and plentiful place for them. Yep, when God writes a story, it IS GOOD! What part of ‘hang in there’ don’t we get? Get up and get moving– Psalm 23:6 Surely goodness and loving kindness shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in Yahweh’s house forever.