Jacob and his descendants settled in Goshen, the most fertile land in Egypt. In the midst of a famine and surrounded by Egyptians desperate for food, the nation of Israel stands in stark contrast. There God prospered them and made them fruitful and multiplied them greatly. God's covenant with Abraham continues to be fulfilled and unfold. Jacob, believing this, makes his son, Joseph swear to return his bones to Canaan, to be buried with his fathers.
Jacob at his sons journey down to Egypt at the invitation of Joseph and in order to survive the severe famine in the land. Before he departs the promise land, Jacob goes to Beersheeba to offer a sacrifice and worship the Lord. The Lord meets him there and confirms his promises. God has orchestrated the means by which Israel will go to Egypt and God will go with him and bless him there. Although Jacob is leaving the promise land, God's presence goes with him to bless and to guide. This descent to Egypt will preserve the people and soon to be nation of Israel and preserve God's plan of salvation.
At the peak of the famine, Jacob sends his sons to Egypt to buy grain. And finally after two decades, the dreams God gave Joseph are fulfilled. Before revealing his identity, Joseph tests his brothers and it is clear their consciences are still pained by what they did to him many years before. Fortunately, God's mercy is with Jacob's sons and they receive mercy rather than judgment.
This Sunday is Sanctity of Life Sunday. Today we join thousands of other churches in recognizing the God-given worth and dignity of human life. And we consider how we as a church might be mobilized to stand up for and defend the unborn. In Psalm 8 we learn about God's majesty and what it means to be a human being made in his image. This knowledge makes all the difference in the world about how we think and act concerning abortion.
This chapter is integral as it tells us how Joseph came to power in Egypt. Previously his brothers scoffed at the notion of Joseph ruling over them much less anyone else, let alone an entire nation. But God exalts Joseph far beyond anyone could have imagined. God exalts his suffering servant in order to save the world.
God’s providence is clearly evident in all aspects of Joseph’s life. Sadly, Joseph endured one difficult trial after another. Yet, the Lord was with him through it all. Whereas he was forgotten by man, he was not forgotten by God. God had specific purposes in all his trials and we see that the trials prepared Joseph for his future leadership role.
Our eternal salvation is in God’s hands. Yet God appoints means by which He uses to keep us in the love of God, one of which is prayer. We build up our faith, we persevere in our faith by cultivating a life of praying by the Holy Spirit as we await Jesus’ return.
The prophet Isaiah proclaimed that God would lead his people from spiritual darkness to light by sending His Messiah. On them a light will shine and this light will bring a surprising joy that will break upon sinners through grace of Christ. He will be their Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
The consolation that all our hearts are searching for is only found in Jesus. In vain we seek to find satisfaction for the longings in our souls- for awe and worship, for lasting joy and peace, for meaning and dignity- in the world. Jesus alone fulfills the universal longings in our hearts. Consolation can only be found in Him, a perfect Savior, because all we want is found in Him.
Genesis chapter 38 is scandalous. The actions by both Judah and Tamar are shocking and horrifically sinful. Once again we are disappointed in the behavior of Abraham’s descendants and their reference for the covenant promises of God. We are reminded that in the Old Testament, there is only one hero, only one who is faithful and righteous and that is the Lord God. In spite of all the wickedness of his chosen people, God still faithfully establishes his plan of salvation.