Sunday, 19 January 2014

(20) January 20: Genesis 46-48 and Matthew 14v22-36

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

To discover:­­
As you read note how the fulfilment of God's promise to Abraham is affirmed.

To ponder:
Genesis begins its conclusion with the great theme of the book. It can’t be laboured enough: God is fulfilling his promise to Abraham. The great nation is nicely on its way.
            Previously, leaving the land has shown a lack of faith. So as Jacob (now Israel) offers sacrifices (perhaps to express thanks), God reassures him of his presence even in Egypt, and of the great nation he would form there (46v2-4). With Abraham’s dream (15v1-14), this vision makes clear Israel’s hardships in Egypt were a step towards the fulfilment of his promises. As the family set out, we see Judah taking the lead, hinting at his future role (46v28).
In counting seventy persons, we remember the seventy nations covering the earth in Genesis 10. This extended family is an embryo of a new nation – in some senses a new humanity. God is providing the best for them in Goshen. In Egypt, it is stressed the mighty Pharoah is blessed (see again, 12v3). There the Egyptians end up in bondage through Joseph. And there, with echoes of creation we read they are “fruitful and increase in number” (47v27, 1v26-28).
            By achieving this God reassures us. We live out of our promised land, having temporary residence in this world. Yet whilst here, Christ continues to form his great nation, the new Israel, ready for the world to come. Through us this world is blessed. But in the end, those who are not God’s people will find themselves humbled as the new Israel is exalted.
            Jacob’s death is important. He regards his life as relatively short, perhaps seeing this as the result of how he treated his father (Deut 5v16). Nevertheless, he shows faith in God’s promise by wanting to be buried in Canaan, still looking for the better country (Heb 11v16, 21). He may have assumed he would be raised to enjoy the land when all is fulfilled.
The blessing of Joseph’s sons explains why later Israel included tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh as well as the eleven other brothers. (This made thirteen. But it remained twelve because Levi were put in charge of worship and so given no land). Jacob is in no doubt who the angel he had engaged with was, and is confident his God will be with his offspring. His blessing affirms God’s choice again by placing the younger over the older. It also reiterates God’s purpose (48v16).

Praying it home:
Thank God that he continues to build his church, and that the gates of hell will not prevail against it. Pray for elderly Christians you know, that like Jacob, they would have strong faith in God’s promise of resurrection and new creation.

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