Wednesday, 15 January 2014

(16) January 16: Genesis 38-40 and Matthew 12v22-50

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read consider what words you would use to describe Judah and then Joseph.

To ponder:
One lesson is about the corruptibility of the world. After the threat of chapter 37 Judah marries a Canaanite after all. Mixed marriages make the raising of godly offspring harder. This may be implied in the wickedness of the two sons. Their deaths are matter of fact, suggesting the LORD may still end the life of the wicked early.
            Within Israel, where offspring were so central to God’s promise, it was accepted that the next brother should marry the widow to ensure his brother’s line continues (Ruth 4v5f). So Onan and Judah display a lack of concern for God’s purposes in failing to ensure this. Judah’s ungodliness is confirmed by his readiness to visit a prostitute, and his terrifying hypocrisy (38v24).
            Tamar’s actions are presented as at least more commendable. And through them the LORD ensures that Judah’s line continues so his promise will be fulfilled: The son that resulted was Jesus’ ancestor (Matt 1v3)!!
            Once more we see that human action can never really jeopardise God’s purposes. Rather, he “works out everything according to the purpose of his will” (Eph 1v11). As so evident in the cross, even evil acts, for which God holds us to account, are somehow mysteriously part of his plan - a big theme in the Joseph story.
            Again and again we read the LORD was with Joseph in Egypt. His commitment is to Abraham’s descendents even out of the land. And just as God promised the world would be blessed through them, so Potiphar is blessed through Joseph. Might our employers experience the same?
            Like Judah, Joseph is tempted to sleep with a non-Israelite. But what a contrast: He refuses. He does so out of concern for others, yet supremely for God (v9). He won’t even put himself near temptation (v10); and when it comes, he runs (v12). It’s a model for us to follow in all temptation, whether sexual or not.
            Yet as with Jesus, faithfulness to the LORD doesn’t always mean an easy life. God may have higher ends in mind. For Joseph as for many Christians today, it meant a loss of job and even prison. Nevertheless, even when all seemed lost, Joseph never failed to glorify God (40v8). And God remained with him - as always, working out his purposes.

Praying it home:
Thank God that even the bad decisions we’ve made do not hinder his purposes, but are somehow part of them. Pray for God’s help for you and your family to resist temptation as Joseph did, even if the consequences of doing so may be hard.

Thinking further:
Chapter 41 suggests Joseph interpreted the dreams with wisdom and discernment the Holy Spirit gave him (41v38-39). To read more on God governing all things by his ‘providence,’ read RC Sproul here; or more in depth, Jim Packer here.

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