Monday, 20 January 2014

(21) January 21: Genesis 49-50 & Matthew 15v1-20

If you are benefiting from these notes, could you commend them to some friends today by email, text or facebook? Tomorrow we start Exodus, so it would be a great time for them to start. They could then read Genesis at the end of the year. Send them a link to:

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

To discover:­­
As you read note the different things predicted.

To ponder:
Genesis began explaining humanity’s loss of paradise and blessing. It ends with us confident God will restore it.
Jacob’s gathering of his sons raises our interest. He speaks prophetically of what the later Old Testament confirms. Perhaps God revealed these things in another vision.
Reuben, Simeon and Levi all miss out because of the sin we saw them commit. Reuben’s example offers particular warning: He started well, yet fell into sexual sin. Simeon and Levi are denied a share in the land. So Simeon’s tribe is barely heard of after the land is taken; and Levi forfeit their share because of the priestly role they are given.
Contrast Judah: He will conquer like the lion enjoying his prey. He will always rule, and not just over the other tribes, but over the nations – when “the one comes to whom” his sceptre belongs (v8, 10)! Verses 11-12 are then filled with the language of prosperity, joy and health. We should not be surprised that Jesus, the lion of Judah (Rev 5v5), stemmed from Judah’s line. Nor that his kingdom is described with similar images (Rev 7v14-17). Jacob’s words are fulfilled in him.
Judah’s pre-eminence explains why the southern kingdom is often called Judah after Israel splits in the 8th century BC. Joseph’s pre-eminence explains why the northern kingdom from then is often called Ephraim, after his second son who Jacob blessed as first. God is honoured for Joseph’s strength. He is a “prince” among his brothers, and blessings are showered on him (v25-26).
The death of both Jacob and Joseph display their enduring faith in God’s promise. Jacob is determined that he is buried in the tomb Abraham bought in the land (49v29-33). In death he is said to have been “gathered to his people” – primarily those in v31. The sense is of them together awaiting the day when they will be brought to enjoy God’s promise.
Jacob’s significance is affirmed by the honour ascribed him: 70 and 7 days of mourning – where seven symbolising completion or fullness, and ten symbolises many. The Egyptians going to the land with the embryonic Israel may hint at God’s intention eventually to include Gentiles in his promise.
With Jacob dead the brothers did not need to worry about Joseph’s attitude to them. He weeps, shows kindness, and reaffirms what we’ve been learning: God was acting through their evil acts – a truth the Bible applies to evil more generally too (Eph 1v11). Yet God is not charged with evil because his intention is good (Rom 8v28-30).
            By faith Joseph is confident that God will come to his family’s aid and take them from Egypt to Canaan. He therefore asks that his bones go too so that he also is laid to rest in the inheritance (Heb 11v22). We finish then, ready for the book of Exodus.

Praying it home:
List the key things you’ve learnt about God in Genesis, and praise him for them. Pray that you would be able to rejoice in all we have in Christ.

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