WEEK FOUR, 2018, Reading God’s Word

DAY ONE – Genesis 44-46

We all love stories with happy endings. But getting to the ending isn’t always pretty or happy. Although Joseph was aching to reveal himself to his brothers, he put them through one more grueling situation in order to reveal their true character. In so doing, he forced them to come clean before God and everyone concerning their heinous crime against Joseph. It’s true we make messes at times; we sometimes try to sweep our mess ‘under the rug’ and move on; but the mess still has to be cleaned up, and we have to take responsibility for our own mess! By the time Joseph’s brothers had their backs up against the wall, they made a clean breast of everything, admitting to God, themselves and Joseph their guilt and sorrow. Twenty years… that’s how long ago they had sold their brother as a slave, and now he was about to save them, their families and all their living. Joseph’s dreams had come true, and Yahweh God had engineered the whole thing–over twenty years in the making! If God can do that, back then, what can He do now… with you… with your mess? What has He been planning for any of us, in order that our story will have a happy ending? And how do we know what that ‘happy’ ending should look like, until the moment of revealing? The brothers didn’t ‘get away’ with anything; neither do we. But what they found, to their amazement, is that God never gave up, their brother didn’t get lost in the mess, and he, Joseph, had forgiven them and gone on to greatness in God’s wonderful plan. Joseph is the example of saving grace–a grace that not only forgives, but actually saves and restores, as we see in the last scenes of our reading. The brothers are sent back to get their father, their children, grandchildren, and everything they own, in order to go to their new home where they will grow from a family of about seventy persons into a great nation of millions.

And what did Jacob do? On the way to Egypt he stopped at Beersheba and built an altar to Yahweh God–the Lord. After worshipping with his sacrifices, he heard the Lord once again repeat the promises and expand them to include what was yet to come. God can ALWAYS be trusted to work tirelessly and without impediment to implement His plans and fulfill His purposes in our lives. Jeremiah 29:11-13  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,” says Yahweh, “thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope and a future. 12  You shall call on me, and you shall go and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13  You shall seek me, and find me, when you search for me with all your heart. 

DAY TWO – Genesis 47-50

This completes the story of Joseph–how he was treated by his brothers, by Potiphar’s wife and Potiphar; by the chief cupbearer, and others. Yet in all this, Joseph did not sin or accuse God. He remained faithful and became a great deliverer of all Egypt and his own family. And yet once again I am deeply moved by the story of how Yahweh caused His words to be fulfilled, blessing those He chose and eliminating those He found to be wicked. Even Pharaoh was used by God to bless the Lord’s people and nurture them through a deadly famine. In the unfolding, Jacob raised an altar to Yahweh on his way to Egypt, then lived seventeen more years, dying at one hundred forty seven. Before his eyes closed for the last time, he blessed his sons and prophesied things to come for each of them. He was buried by his family and an entourage of Egyptians in the family burial plot in Canaan.

Epilogue:  Genesis 43:8 -10 Judah said to Israel, his father, “Send the boy with me, and we’ll get up and go, so that we may live, and not die, both we, and you, and also our little ones.  Psalm 118:17  I will not die, but live, and declare Yah’s works.  Ezekiel 18:21, 28  “But if the wicked turns from all his sins that he has committed, and keeps all my statutes, and does that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live. He shall not die… 28  Because he considers, and turns away from all his transgressions that he has committed, he shall surely live. He shall not die. 

DAY THREE – Job 1-5

In the beginning only God knew of the evil that had entered His universe, His dominion. With deadly prejudice did the devil, Satan, begin to foment rebellion toward God in order to frustrate and bring to an end God’s handiwork of creation, both earth and mankind.  So the Lord instructed Adam concerning his future, promising that in the day he rebelled against the word of God he would die. It was never God’s plan that mankind would know evil. Yet it happened, the day the ‘serpent’ tempted Eve; and she and Adam ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. No, it was not God’s plan, but it happened anyway, and mankind began to die, slowly but surely. Once evil was out of the bag, and the couple were out of the Garden of Eden, it was now necessary for God to reveal the extent of the evil rebellion against Him so that mankind could find real salvation.  Job became God’s example to teach us all about good and evil.

The Book of Job opens with the story of a righteous man who fears God and carefully serves Him. The man’s knowledge of evil is extremely limited because the Lord has blessed him abundantly, and life is just good. Enter the devil in the Presence of God, filled with accusation against Job and determined to defeat God’s goodness. With permission the devil sends untold suffering and depletion against the unaware and unarmed man. We must remember mankind witnessed evil but knew little about it, so it was easy to blame God for both good and evil. The first five chapters of Job dispel this myth.

FACTS REVEALED:

  1. All of God’s actions toward Job were good. Job was blessed every which way by God–this is the Lord’s essential nature: goodness.
  2. From the beginning the devil’s intent was evil; he hated Job because he hated God.
  3. God protected Job from the evil.
  4. God temporarily lifted His protection so that mankind could learn how extensive evil is apart from God.
  5. Bereft of everything as the devil persecuted him, Job maintained his integrity toward God.
  6. Job’s friends were aghast at his calamity, then pressed for a rational explanation of Job’s suffering.
  7. Their obvious first response is that Job must have sinned, and God must then be punishing him. The nature of evil was totally misunderstood, and God was blamed for both good and evil!

DAY FOUR – Job 6-9

Job was both suicidal and defensive, so great was his suffering. Yet he knew that there was nothing in his humanity that could successfully argue a case with the Almighty. So he instead shrank into hopeless despair, knowing all the while that God could do something if he chose to. The ‘why’ remained intact–“What have I done to You, O Watcher of men? Why have you set me as your target?” (7:20)

(Bildad the Shuhite) God doesn’t subvert judgment or pervert justice, so you need only repent and get right with him if you want to recover! This is the logical approach, but logic works only when the suppositions are correct.

Job has already asked why, now he wants to know ‘how’ a man can be righteous before God. He is at least asking the right questions! After I have done all I can do, it will not be enough. Nor can I answer Him properly, seeing He is not a man as I am. Where is my mediator?  All great questions; we MUST find the answers!

DAY FIVE – Job 10-13

Sparring between Job and his ‘comforters’ seems endless. Nothing new emerges, just the same, tired philosophies such as we hear today between people of different persuasions. Job is innocent of great transgression in his own eyes; no, say his friends, he is guilty as sin, otherwise God would not have stricken and punished him. Job wants to die, wonders why he was born, wishes the grave would overtake him quickly, wonders why God has singled him out for persecution. Job wants an audience with God but realizes that those things just don’t happen within the world of mortals. But it’s the loss of control, the dark night of trial, the horror of pain and grief, and the overwhelming hopelessness that is consuming Job. His friends on the other hand, desperately want him to admit his guilt so they can say, “See, we told you so! Why couldn’t you just admit it?” So it is a standoff. Where will it go?

As I read Job, I want to shout out, “Wait, you’re missing the most vital truth–the Creative goodness of God!  He is good and stands beyond all reproach. God didn’t do this to you, Job; the devil did. Why can’t you see that there is a personification of evil in our world? God is good; He isn’t evil…ever. But we cannot help Job, for the truth that he seeks has not yet been added to the arsenal of man’s wisdom, and Job has no idea that this truth will soon burst into the human consciousness through, of all people, him. Yes, God has singled him out…but for his righteousness, not his sin! The Lord has allowed him to become conspicuous in his suffering in order to bring a greater revelation to all of humankind–that there is a greater evil, and it is NOT in God. A cosmic rebel appeared in antiquity to fight against the Almighty God and His Creation–the devil himself; no, he is not God, but he is the god of this created world, the imposter god, the usurper god, exalting himself and seeking to turn good and righteous people away from the Lord.

God Himself identified Job as the most righteous man of his generation, and then the devil prophesied, falsely, that Job would curse God and die when all his blessings were removed and his health was stolen from him. He was a liar then, and he is a liar now. There is no truth in him, for he lives and moves in darkness, outside the light. We MUST, no matter the circumstance, worship the Creator in His goodness and love, resisting the lies and accusations of the enemy. We are wise to the devil’s schemes; we stand our ground, as Paul declares, armored up and ready to fight in any manner necessary, with all the spiritual equipment and gifts the Lord has endowed us.

Congratulations! We are well into our plan to read the whole Bible in the following months for the sole purpose of getting to know the God whose loving heart wants to save the world! One day at a time… that’s how we gain success.

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