Food for the Soul
Food for the Soul
27 Now the Israelites settled in Egypt in the region of Goshen. They acquired property there and were fruitful and increased greatly in number. 28 Jacob lived in Egypt seventeen years, and the years of his life were a hundred and forty-seven. 29 When the time drew near for Israel to die, he called for his son Joseph and said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, put your hand under my thigh and promise that you will show me kindness and faithfulness. Do not bury me in Egypt, 30 but when I rest with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me where they are buried.” “I will do as you say,” he said. 31 “Swear to me,” he said. Then Joseph swore to him, and Israel worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.
Jacob lived a life of faithfulness. As he came to the end of his life he was still worshipping God. Despite his obvious frailty, Jacob was demonstrating his great love of God and thankfulness of all that God had done through leaning on his staff and worshipping God. He continued to trust in God’s promises and blessings for the future generations.
He remained faithful in worship and trusted in God’s promises to the end of his days – this reminds me of the Psalm 23:6 “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me to the end of my days and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
When I come to the end of my life, I pray that my trust in and my love for God will so overwhelm me that there is nothing left for me to do but to worship my God.
Lord we thank you for Jacob’s faithfulness. I pray that we always will walk in goodness and mercy. We worship you Lord and lift your name on high for all generations to see. Help us to worship you daily. Thank you that you are a faithful God and we put our trust in you. Amen
Written by Meredith O’Neill
13 There was no food, however, in the whole region because the famine was severe; both Egypt and Canaan wasted away because of the famine. 14 Joseph collected all the money that was to be found in Egypt and Canaan in payment for the grain they were buying, and he brought it to Pharaoh’s palace. 15 When the money of the people of Egypt and Canaan was gone, all Egypt came to Joseph and said, “Give us food. Why should we die before your eyes? Our money is all gone.” 16 “Then bring your livestock,” said Joseph. “I will sell you food in exchange for your livestock, since your money is gone.” 17 So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and he gave them food in exchange for their horses, their sheep and goats, their cattle and donkeys. And he brought them through that year with food in exchange for all their livestock. 18 When that year was over, they came to him the following year and said, “We cannot hide from our lord the fact that since our money is gone and our livestock belongs to you, there is nothing left for our lord except our bodies and our land. 19 Why should we perish before your eyes—we and our land as well? Buy us and our land in exchange for food, and we with our land will be in bondage to Pharaoh. Give us seed so that we may live and not die, and that the land may not become desolate.” 20 So Joseph bought all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh. The Egyptians, one and all, sold their fields, because the famine was too severe for them. The land became Pharaoh’s, 21 and Joseph reduced the people to servitude,[a] from one end of Egypt to the other. 22 However, he did not buy the land of the priests, because they received a regular allotment from Pharaoh and had food enough from the allotment Pharaoh gave them. That is why they did not sell their land. 23 Joseph said to the people, “Now that I have bought you and your land today for Pharaoh, here is seed for you so you can plant the ground. 24 But when the crop comes in, give a fifth of it to Pharaoh. The other four-fifths you may keep as seed for the fields and as food for yourselves and your households and your children.” 25 “You have saved our lives,” they said. “May we find favor in the eyes of our lord; we will be in bondage to Pharaoh.” 26 So Joseph established it as a law concerning land in Egypt—still in force today—that a fifth of the produce belongs to Pharaoh. It was only the land of the priests that did not become Pharaoh’s.
It’s funny how the tide turns. We all know how the Hebrews were slaves in Egypt but here we read it’s the Egyptians who were sold into slavery to save their lives – at the hand of a Hebrew no less – and they were grateful to him for saving them.
Why didn’t the Egyptians remember this time in history? I wonder if their treatment of the Hebrews in Exodus would have been better had they remembered they were once in the same boat. Or even if they remembered it was a Hebrew that saved their lives.
What have I failed to remember? Am I treating my Heavenly Father badly because I’ve forgotten His past provisions and miraculous answers to prayer? Am I responding to crisis situations with greater faith? Are the facts of Gods amazing stories in my life constantly in my mind so that when things go wrong it’s hardly a blip on my radar? Do we treasure these stories and think about them often like Mary did? (See Luke 2:19) Do I use them to say without a hint of doubt “because God came through for me then He will come through for me now!”?
Oh Lord my God. Jesus, forgive me for treating you badly and forgetting what you have done for me in the past. Make me like your earthly Mother – to treasure what you’ve done for me, think about it often, and let the stories fill my heart with faith. You are awesome and I praise you. Amen
Written by Boudy Van Noppen
47 Joseph went and told Pharaoh, “My father and brothers, with their flocks and herds and everything they own, have come from the land of Canaan and are now in Goshen.” 2 He chose five of his brothers and presented them before Pharaoh. 3 Pharaoh asked the brothers, “What is your occupation?” “Your servants are shepherds,” they replied to Pharaoh, “just as our fathers were.” 4 They also said to him, “We have come to live here for a while, because the famine is severe in Canaan and your servants’ flocks have no pasture. So now, please let your servants settle in Goshen.” 5 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you, 6 and the land of Egypt is before you; settle your father and your brothers in the best part of the land. Let them live in Goshen. And if you know of any among them with special ability, put them in charge of my own livestock.” 7 Then Joseph brought his father Jacob in and presented him before Pharaoh. After Jacob blessed Pharaoh, 8 Pharaoh asked him, “How old are you?” 9 And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. My years have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers.” 10 Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from his presence. 11 So Joseph settled his father and his brothers in Egypt and gave them property in the best part of the land, the district of Rameses, as Pharaoh directed. 12 Joseph also provided his father and his brothers and all his father’s household with food, according to the number of their children.
The Israelites exodus from Egypt is one of the most celebrated stories in the Old Testament. Although the Israelites initial experience living in Egypt was acceptable ultimately, they suffered under the Egyptians rule. In the New Testament Egypt is considered a metaphor for worldly wanton and excess and to be avoided by Christians.
This passage is interesting as it describes the circumstances of the family of Israel, believing they had no options because of a severe drought became slaves to the Egyptians. From that time onwards until the exodus all Israelites were born into slavery and harsh treatment.
This has left me wondering how often we engage in worldly excesses only to find out we have enslaved ourselves to bad habits. Instead of being a ‘light on a hill’ we compromise our valves only to find out later we have made a ‘rod for our own back’.
The good news is, like the Israelites escape from Egypt, God can make a way of escape for us.
So, take the opportunity today to consider ways you may have engaged in behaviours that conflict with your Christian values.
Lord, free us from the things we have become enslaved to. Help us to live a life which is worthy of your calling.
Written by David Newton
28 Now Jacob sent Judah ahead of him to Joseph to get directions to Goshen. When they arrived in the region of Goshen, 29 Joseph had his chariot made ready and went to Goshen to meet his father Israel. As soon as Joseph appeared before him, he threw his arms around his father[a] and wept for a long time. 30 Israel said to Joseph, “Now I am ready to die, since I have seen for myself that you are still alive.” 31 Then Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I will go up and speak to Pharaoh and will say to him, ‘My brothers and my father’s household, who were living in the land of Canaan, have come to me. 32 The men are shepherds; they tend livestock, and they have brought along their flocks and herds and everything they own.’ 33 When Pharaoh calls you in and asks, ‘What is your occupation?’ 34 you should answer, ‘Your servants have tended livestock from our boyhood on, just as our fathers did.’ Then you will be allowed to settle in the region of Goshen, for all shepherds are detestable to the Egyptians.”
I am moved by the poignancy of the reunion between Joseph and his father. I imagine there were many times over the years when either one would have thought there was no hope of ever seeing one another again. We all face circumstances that seem hopeless, impossible and seemingly without solutions. Yet I am very challenged to think of whether I put ‘use by dates’ on things that I pray for or am believing God for. How long am I happy to pray for things until I put them aside? Even if these men had laid aside hope of being reunited, it seems that God had not abandoned either of them, and brought them together again.
The whole story of Joseph is soap opera material, and yet in God ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE. So I am challenged to keep praying, keep trusting God and never give up hope, no matter what the circumstances. I want to rest my faith in God and let Him take care of me and my circumstances.
Heavenly Father thank you for watching over me every day. Help me to trust you with all I am, all I have and all that I love. In Jesus Name Amen
Written by Christine Knight
8 These are the names of the sons of Israel (Jacob and his descendants) who went to Egypt: Reuben the firstborn of Jacob. 9 The sons of Reuben: Hanok, Pallu, Hezron and Karmi. 10 The sons of Simeon: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jakin, Zohar and Shaul the son of a Canaanite woman. 11 The sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath and Merari. 12 The sons of Judah: Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez and Zerah (but Er and Onan had died in the land of Canaan). The sons of Perez: Hezron and Hamul. 13 The sons of Issachar: Tola, Puah, Jashub and Shimron. 14 The sons of Zebulun: Sered, Elon and Jahleel. 15 These were the sons Leah bore to Jacob in Paddan Aram, besides his daughter Dinah. These sons and daughters of his were thirty-three in all. 16 The sons of Gad: Zephon, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi and Areli. 17 The sons of Asher: Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi and Beriah. Their sister was Serah. The sons of Beriah: Heber and Malkiel. 18 These were the children born to Jacob by Zilpah, whom Laban had given to his daughter Leah—sixteen in all. 19 The sons of Jacob’s wife Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. 20 In Egypt, Manasseh and Ephraim were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. 21 The sons of Benjamin: Bela, Beker, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim and Ard. 22 These were the sons of Rachel who were born to Jacob—fourteen in all. 23 The son of Dan: Hushim. 24 The sons of Naphtali: Jahziel, Guni, Jezer and Shillem. 25 These were the sons born to Jacob by Bilhah, whom Laban had given to his daughter Rachel—seven in all. 26 All those who went to Egypt with Jacob—those who were his direct descendants, not counting his sons’ wives—numbered sixty-six persons. 27 With the two sons who had been born to Joseph in Egypt, the members of Jacob’s family, which went to Egypt, were seventy in all.
A modern reader probably skips over the genealogies pretty quickly, but these were important markers to the first readers of Genesis. To them it says, “this is a significant point”. It pairs up with a similar list of Jacob’s sons at the very beginning of Exodus. (In Hebrew Exodus begins with “and” – it was written to continue straight on from Genesis.)
It’s as though God is counting everyone into Egypt and he’s counting everyone out at the other end. Nobody is lost on the way. It emphasises his promise in verse 4: “I will go with you down to Egypt, and I will bring you back again.”
He took Jacob and his family to Egypt as a safe place in a devastating famine, as a place for them to grow from a family into a nation; but it was not the place he had prepared for his people. He would need to rescue them from what became a place holding them in bondage rather than God’s blessing.
It reminds me that the journey of my life isn’t always in a place that looks like God’s blessing. But God can and will still achieve his purposes for me in that place and won’t forget to bring me through it to the place he has prepared for me.
Oh God, you are so faithful. You don’t forget any of your people. You don’t leave any of us behind. Even when I’m in a hard place, I will look to you to bring me through to the place you have prepared for me.
Written by David Cornell
46 So Israel set out with all that was his, and when he reached Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. 2 And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, “Jacob! Jacob!” “Here I am,” he replied. 3 “I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. 4 I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.” 5 Then Jacob left Beersheba, and Israel’s sons took their father Jacob and their children and their wives in the carts that Pharaoh had sent to transport him. 6 So Jacob and all his offspring went to Egypt, taking with them their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in Canaan. 7 Jacob brought with him to Egypt his sons and grandsons and his daughters and granddaughters—all his offspring.
The next season in Jacobs life begins. He & all he has accumulated in his life; family, servants, flocks, herds, & goods are heading to Egypt & to Joseph. Amidst the wonderful expectation of seeing his most favoured son again, he stops to worship God.
I am struck by Jacob, in the middle of his going, he made time stop and worship and honour God. This then allowed the space for God to speak to him, reassure him and impart peace into his fear of going to Egypt. A new land, culture, food, people … all the unknowns.
We’re not told that Jacob feared going, however, it’s revealing that this is what God speaks to him about. Only God can know our very hearts. God’s reassurance would have given him such comfort, knowing that the God of his present was going with him to his future.
We have that same comfort. Jesus is always with us and he knows our very hearts. Our future maybe uncertain, or perhaps we know details of what lies ahead, it’s exciting but scary all at the same time. This passage has been a great reminder and a comfort to me right now, trusting that Jesus will be with me into my future. It’s also been a great reminder to stop, to worship and honour God allowing space and time for Him to speak to me/us.
Lord thank you for all the times you walked with me into my future, especially the times when I too have been fearful in moving countries. You have provided for me and blessed me throughout the years I’ve worshipped you. Thank you that your peace and presence are going before me into my future now, leading me into my best life. Amen
Written by Suzie Hodgson
16 When the news reached Pharaoh’s palace that Joseph’s brothers had come, Pharaoh and all his officials were pleased. 17 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Tell your brothers, ‘Do this: Load your animals and return to the land of Canaan, 18 and bring your father and your families back to me. I will give you the best of the land of Egypt and you can enjoy the fat of the land.’ 19 “You are also directed to tell them, ‘Do this: Take some carts from Egypt for your children and your wives, and get your father and come. 20 Never mind about your belongings, because the best of all Egypt will be yours.’” 21 So the sons of Israel did this. Joseph gave them carts, as Pharaoh had commanded, and he also gave them provisions for their journey. 22 To each of them he gave new clothing, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred shekels[a] of silver and five sets of clothes. 23 And this is what he sent to his father: ten donkeys loaded with the best things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and other provisions for his journey. 24 Then he sent his brothers away, and as they were leaving he said to them, “Don’t quarrel on the way!” 25 So they went up out of Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan. 26 They told him, “Joseph is still alive! In fact, he is ruler of all Egypt.” Jacob was stunned; he did not believe them. 27 But when they told him everything Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the carts Joseph had sent to carry him back, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. 28 And Israel said, “I’m convinced! My son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.”
I love that Pharaoh and his leaders were pleased to hear that Joseph’s brothers were alive. This shows what enormous respect Joseph had within Egypt. Good leaders command respect and Joseph clearly was a good leader. Pharaoh acts quickly on Joseph’s behalf and this speaks volumes about Joseph. We have read over the past chapters about the incredible character of this man, a character that carried him in the best and worst of life. Now Pharaoh has the opportunity to honour Joseph. Leaders don’t have to honour those who serve them, in fact it takes a different type of leader to do so – one who is confident in themselves, but we see here something of Pharaoh as well.
I pray that we all become leaders of the calibre of Joseph and Pharaoh!
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
45 Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!” So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. 2 And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it. 3 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence. 4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 5 And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. 7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.[a] 8 “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. 9 Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay. 10 You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. 11 I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.’ 12 “You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it is really I who am speaking to you. 13 Tell my father about all the honor accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen. And bring my father down here quickly.” 14 Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. 15 And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him.
The human story was Joseph, sold into slavery by jealous brothers to Egypt. The God story was Joseph sent by God to save many lives, including his own brothers and whole family.
Interestingly, the brothers up until this moment were only aware of one story, the human story. The news Joseph brings them here would have been a revelation to them. How do we get from the purely human view of life to the God story of our lives?
Joseph must have learnt to pay attention to God and what He was doing in His life. He says God sent him to Egypt three times in this passage. And a fourth reference to God being involved, God making him lord of Egypt. God was not silent, nor absent, from Joseph’s life. Neither is He in mine. But am I paying attention to what He is saying, what He is doing? Such that I can see and testify with confidence and clear resolve, like Joseph here – “I’m not just living a human story. I’m living a God story.”
Help me pray attention to the story You are telling in & through my life Lord. What You are saying and doing, help me hear and observe, and testify to. Amen
Written by Ps. Rob Waugh
18 Then Judah went up to him and said: “Pardon your servant, my lord, let me speak a word to my lord. Do not be angry with your servant, though you are equal to Pharaoh himself. 19 My lord asked his servants, ‘Do you have a father or a brother?’ 20 And we answered, ‘We have an aged father, and there is a young son born to him in his old age. His brother is dead, and he is the only one of his mother’s sons left, and his father loves him.’ 21 “Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me so I can see him for myself.’ 22 And we said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father; if he leaves him, his father will die.’ 23 But you told your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you will not see my face again.’ 24 When we went back to your servant my father, we told him what my lord had said. 25 “Then our father said, ‘Go back and buy a little more food.’ 26 But we said, ‘We cannot go down. Only if our youngest brother is with us will we go. We cannot see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’ 27 “Your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons. 28 One of them went away from me, and I said, “He has surely been torn to pieces.” And I have not seen him since. 29 If you take this one from me too and harm comes to him, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in misery.’ 30 “So now, if the boy is not with us when I go back to your servant my father, and if my father, whose life is closely bound up with the boy’s life, 31 sees that the boy isn’t there, he will die. Your servants will bring the gray head of our father down to the grave in sorrow. 32 Your servant guaranteed the boy’s safety to my father. I said, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, I will bear the blame before you, my father, all my life!’ 33 “Now then, please let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. 34 How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? No! Do not let me see the misery that would come on my father.”
What captures me in this passage is at the beginning where Judah states “God has uncovered your servant’s guilt”. The “guilt” is not to do with the cup being found in Benjamin’s sack, for Judah was unaware of this being planted, and so would not have had the guilt! This “guilt’ was a long term condition.
Judah was the fourth son to Jacob through Leah.
If we go back to Gen 37 when Joseph was 17, and was thrown into the well by his brothers, Judah was one of the main perpetrators of “removing” their brother by having him sold off.
Gen 37:26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed.
The brothers, including Judah, then presented the blood stained coat to Jacob, deceiving him in thinking that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal. This whole act demonstrated not only great disrespect and hate toward Joseph, but also to their father, Jacob.
I believe it was at this point in today’s reading, that Judah is again expressing his guilt and anguish from this terrible act some 13 years prior. There is a sense of remorse.
“Guilt” can be a stronghold that can block us from moving forward in our relationship with God, until it is confessed and dealt with as needed.
Father, help me to confess to You any actions that have caused guilt within me, and reveal to me any sins of the past that may cause an unrevealed guilt. Thank you for your grace and mercy. Amen
Written by Steve Fell
44 Now Joseph gave these instructions to the steward of his house: “Fill the men’s sacks with as much food as they can carry, and put each man’s silver in the mouth of his sack. 2 Then put my cup, the silver one, in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack, along with the silver for his grain.” And he did as Joseph said. 3 As morning dawned, the men were sent on their way with their donkeys. 4 They had not gone far from the city when Joseph said to his steward, “Go after those men at once, and when you catch up with them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid good with evil? 5 Isn’t this the cup my master drinks from and also uses for divination? This is a wicked thing you have done.’” 6 When he caught up with them, he repeated these words to them. 7 But they said to him, “Why does my lord say such things? Far be it from your servants to do anything like that! 8 We even brought back to you from the land of Canaan the silver we found inside the mouths of our sacks. So why would we steal silver or gold from your master’s house? 9 If any of your servants is found to have it, he will die; and the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves.” 10 “Very well, then,” he said, “let it be as you say. Whoever is found to have it will become my slave; the rest of you will be free from blame.” 11 Each of them quickly lowered his sack to the ground and opened it. 12 Then the steward proceeded to search, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest. And the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. 13 At this, they tore their clothes. Then they all loaded their donkeys and returned to the city. 14 Joseph was still in the house when Judah and his brothers came in, and they threw themselves to the ground before him. 15 Joseph said to them, “What is this you have done? Don’t you know that a man like me can find things out by divination?” 16 “What can we say to my lord?” Judah replied. “What can we say? How can we prove our innocence? God has uncovered your servants guilt. We are now my lord’s slaves—we ourselves and the one who was found to have the cup.” 17 But Joseph said, “Far be it from me to do such a thing! Only the man who was found to have the cup will become my slave. The rest of you, go back to your father in peace.”
“God has uncovered your servants’ guilt” v16. This passage presents people at the crossroads. Will Joseph’s brothers face up to their secret history?
This statement by Judah struck me – God has uncovered your servants’ guilt. There is such a contrast to verse 8 where they protest their innocence, quite rightly. However Joseph’s test of them has brought to the surface their feelings of guilt. Judah speaks for them all. He is not speaking of any guilt over the silver cup, rather of something deeper and darker, only known to God – how they sold their brother Joseph. The weight of guilt has been heavy on their hearts, and here at last God has broken through. That Joseph himself was the instrument God used to bring about the transformation is poignant and no accident. Here is the start of their redemption, the hope of freedom. What a gracious God we have.
Sometimes I live with guilt. It can paralyse and feed negative thoughts. Guilt robs me of a freedom of spirit. At its heart, guilt denies grace. Jesus died to take my guilt, to set me free. Why would I want to remain condemned when I can be restored and free?
Dear Jesus. Your death in my place has taken away my guilt. I ask that you will guard me from slipping back into feelings about guilt. I love the hope of freedom.
Written by Claire Moore
15 So the men took the gifts and double the amount of silver, and Benjamin also. They hurried down to Egypt and presented themselves to Joseph. 16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the steward of his house, “Take these men to my house, slaughter an animal and prepare a meal; they are to eat with me at noon.” 17 The man did as Joseph told him and took the men to Joseph’s house. 18 Now the men were frightened when they were taken to his house. They thought, “We were brought here because of the silver that was put back into our sacks the first time. He wants to attack us and overpower us and seize us as slaves and take our donkeys.” 19 So they went up to Joseph’s steward and spoke to him at the entrance to the house. 20 “We beg your pardon, our lord,” they said, “we came down here the first time to buy food. 21 But at the place where we stopped for the night we opened our sacks and each of us found his silver—the exact weight—in the mouth of his sack. So we have brought it back with us. 22 We have also brought additional silver with us to buy food. We don’t know who put our silver in our sacks.” 23 “It’s all right,” he said. “Don’t be afraid. Your God, the God of your father, has given you treasure in your sacks; I received your silver.” Then he brought Simeon out to them. 24 The steward took the men into Joseph’s house, gave them water to wash their feet and provided fodder for their donkeys. 25 They prepared their gifts for Joseph’s arrival at noon, because they had heard that they were to eat there. 26 When Joseph came home, they presented to him the gifts they had brought into the house, and they bowed down before him to the ground. 27 He asked them how they were, and then he said, “How is your aged father you told me about? Is he still living?” 28 They replied, “Your servant our father is still alive and well.” And they bowed down, prostrating themselves before him. 29 As he looked about and saw his brother Benjamin, his own mother’s son, he asked, “Is this your youngest brother, the one you told me about?” And he said, “God be gracious to you, my son.” 30 Deeply moved at the sight of his brother, Joseph hurried out and looked for a place to weep. He went into his private room and wept there. 31 After he had washed his face, he came out and, controlling himself, said, “Serve the food.” 32 They served him by himself, the brothers by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because Egyptians could not eat with Hebrews, for that is detestable to Egyptians. 33 The men had been seated before him in the order of their ages, from the firstborn to the youngest; and they looked at each other in astonishment. 34 When portions were served to them from Joseph’s table, Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as anyone else’s. So they feasted and drank freely with him.
In this passage, Joseph showed incredible grace and love towards his brothers. The brothers came before him filled with fears, expecting to made into slaves for their wrongdoings. Instead, Joseph showed nothing but love and grace. Despite the betrayal they showed him in selling him a slave years ago (Genesis 37), Joseph desired to shower his brothers with blessings, by feasting and drinking with them (vs 34).
This prompts me to reflect on the incredible love and grace that God showers upon me every day. As I come before Him day after day with the awareness and guilt of my failures, God meets me with undeserved mercy and blessings. I am reminded of His sovereignty and desire to walk forward with me, not holding onto my past.
Lord God, I thank You for the unmerited love and forgiveness You offer me. Please forgive me for my mistakes, and help me to walk in freedom with You today. In Jesus’ Name.
Written by Ps. Laura Samperi
43 Now the famine was still severe in the land. 2 So when they had eaten all the grain they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go back and buy us a little more food.” 3 But Judah said to him, “The man warned us solemnly, ‘You will not see my face again unless your brother is with you.’ 4 If you will send our brother along with us, we will go down and buy food for you. 5 But if you will not send him, we will not go down, because the man said to us, ‘You will not see my face again unless your brother is with you.’” 6 Israel asked, “Why did you bring this trouble on me by telling the man you had another brother?” 7 They replied, “The man questioned us closely about ourselves and our family. ‘Is your father still living?’ he asked us. ‘Do you have another brother?’ We simply answered his questions. How were we to know he would say, ‘Bring your brother down here’?” 8 Then Judah said to Israel his father, “Send the boy along with me and we will go at once, so that we and you and our children may live and not die. 9 I myself will guarantee his safety; you can hold me personally responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him here before you, I will bear the blame before you all my life. 10 As it is, if we had not delayed, we could have gone and returned twice.” 11 Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be, then do this: Put some of the best products of the land in your bags and take them down to the man as a gift—a little balm and a little honey, some spices and myrrh, some pistachio nuts and almonds. 12 Take double the amount of silver with you, for you must return the silver that was put back into the mouths of your sacks. Perhaps it was a mistake. 13 Take your brother also and go back to the man at once. 14 And may God Almighty[a] grant you mercy before the man so that he will let your other brother and Benjamin come back with you. As for me, if I am bereaved, I am bereaved.”
As I read this passage, I can’t help but think that things are not going very well for Jacob. Not only are they running out of food, but one of his sons is being held prisoner in Egypt. And if they go back for more food, they have to take the youngest son with them, the brother of Joseph who “died” all those years ago. It seems that things are out of his control, and he can only see them getting worse.
But he has this hope, that God Almighty would have mercy on them so that their brother and Benjamin would be allowed to return.
No matter how bad things look, or that we have no control over what happens, our hope is in a merciful God. Little did Jacob know that soon there was going to be a whole family reunion. Indeed, God was and is merciful to us.
We don’t know what is around the corner, but God does. I am reminded that no matter how much worse I think things could get, to focus instead on God who is merciful and kind. To trust him completely as he works things out for me according to his plans.
Thank you, Father, that you are a merciful God. That you are looking to show your mercy towards us. Help me to keep my eyes on you and trust you, no matter how desperate things may look to me.
Written by Andrew Martin
27 At the place where they stopped for the night one of them opened his sack to get feed for his donkey, and he saw his silver in the mouth of his sack. 28 “My silver has been returned,” he said to his brothers. “Here it is in my sack.” Their hearts sank and they turned to each other trembling and said, “What is this that God has done to us?” 29 When they came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them. They said, 30 “The man who is lord over the land spoke harshly to us and treated us as though we were spying on the land. 31 But we said to him, ‘We are honest men; we are not spies. 32 We were twelve brothers, sons of one father. One is no more, and the youngest is now with our father in Canaan.’ 33 “Then the man who is lord over the land said to us, ‘This is how I will know whether you are honest men: Leave one of your brothers here with me, and take food for your starving households and go. 34 But bring your youngest brother to me so I will know that you are not spies but honest men. Then I will give your brother back to you, and you can trade[a] in the land.’” 35 As they were emptying their sacks, there in each man’s sack was his pouch of silver! When they and their father saw the money pouches, they were frightened. 36 Their father Jacob said to them, “You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!” 37 Then Reuben said to his father, “You may put both of my sons to death if I do not bring him back to you. Entrust him to my care, and I will bring him back.” 38 But Jacob said, “My son will not go down there with you; his brother is dead and he is the only one left. If harm comes to him on the journey you are taking, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in sorrow.”
Joseph’s brothers had sold him into slavery all those years ago, and it had seemed that they got away with it. Yes, their father was deeply distressed, but it appears that there were no real negative consequences for them, perhaps apart from their own guilt.
Now, years later, do they begin to feel the consequences. They experience confusion and yet again must bring bad news to their father. I find it interesting that they say, ‘What is this that God has done to us?’ – they interpret their misfortune as coming from God. It makes sense in that earlier in the chapter (42:21-22) they say that they are being punished for what they did to Joseph.
What seeds am I sowing for the future? Am I living in such a way that I look forward with dread or expectation? How are my decisions now shaping what I may experience in 5, 10 or 20 years? Am I taking time to listen to God and let Him shape my thinking, feeling and acting? Am I walking in obedience to Him?
God, I can be so fixated on the moment and what is shouting loudly at me right now. Please help me to live present to the moment, but with my eyes on the horizon. Help me this week to take time to listen to you and follow your leading, that I would live well now and sow good seeds for the future. Amen.
Written by Ps. Bethany Waugh
18 On the third day, Joseph said to them, “Do this and you will live, for I fear God: 19 If you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay here in prison, while the rest of you go and take grain back for your starving households. 20 But you must bring your youngest brother to me, so that your words may be verified and that you may not die.” This they proceeded to do. 21 They said to one another, “Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that’s why this distress has come on us.” 22 Reuben replied, “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn’t listen! Now we must give an accounting for his blood.” 23 They did not realize that Joseph could understand them, since he was using an interpreter. 24 He turned away from them and began to weep, but then came back and spoke to them again. He had Simeon taken from them and bound before their eyes. 25 Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, to put each man’s silver back in his sack, and to give them provisions for their journey. After this was done for them, 26 they loaded their grain on their donkeys and left.
Interesting reaction by these brothers. They had lived their lives for many years not thinking about their brother Joseph or at least not thinking about him much. Yet when they are in a tricky position, it all comes rushing back. They then realise they haven’t gotten off scott free. Now was the time for them to get what they deserved for selling their brother.
However, that was not Joseph’s plan. Even though it sounded like they were going to get what they deserved, Joseph was planning to bless them. The blessing started with the grain and money they received here in these verses. With further to follow.
That is how God treats us too. We also have done what we wanted to do even when it wasn’t what God wanted because we were annoyed with someone or just wanted to have a bit of fun, but God’s plan is to bless us. He sent Jesus to stand in our place so we could come back into His family – a bit like the brothers and Joseph became family again. And once we are part of His family, His plans for us are good – not what we deserve.
Thank you, Lord, for loving us so much that you made a way for us to be part of your family again. And thank you that you have shown us what being part of your family actually means through your word. Help us to remember. Amen
Written by Therese Manning
42 When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you just keep looking at each other?” 2 He continued, “I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, so that we may live and not die.” 3 Then ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt. 4 But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with the others, because he was afraid that harm might come to him. 5 So Israel’s sons were among those who went to buy grain, for there was famine in the land of Canaan also. 6 Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the person who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. 7 As soon as Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. “Where do you come from?” he asked. “From the land of Canaan,” they replied, “to buy food.” 8 Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. 9 Then he remembered his dreams about them and said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see where our land is unprotected.” 10 “No, my lord,” they answered. “Your servants have come to buy food. 11 We are all the sons of one man. Your servants are honest men, not spies.” 12 “No!” he said to them. “You have come to see where our land is unprotected.” 13 But they replied, “Your servants were twelve brothers, the sons of one man, who lives in the land of Canaan. The youngest is now with our father, and one is no more.” 14 Joseph said to them, “It is just as I told you: You are spies! 15 And this is how you will be tested: As surely as Pharaoh lives, you will not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here. 16 Send one of your number to get your brother; the rest of you will be kept in prison, so that your words may be tested to see if you are telling the truth. If you are not, then as surely as Pharaoh lives, you are spies!” 17 And he put them all in custody for three days.
In verse 6 we see the fulfilment of Joseph’s dreams, which he received when he was a young man, living in a different country and when he was “just a shepherd, a son and a brother”. Here he is years later as 2nd in charge of Egypt, the greatest nation at that time in history and because of his wisdom, his ears listening to God, as well as his patience, faith and endurance; he was able to not only save his family, but his and other nations.
Joseph must have felt so hurt when here before him are his brothers who rejected and disowned him. As they bow before him, he must have wanted to say “I told you so!” But he actually sets up arrangements that bring about the reuniting of his family.
In his journey he has learnt forgiveness and wrestled his pride. It certainly must have taken him a lot of strength not to react, but we see him responding and planning a future restoration.
Each of us on our journeys have opportunity to react to people, situations, etc; however if we pause and ask for God’s perspective on the situation, maybe there is a much bigger picture at work than we can see.
Dear Lord, I pray that you would help us to see your purpose in the situations we find ourselves in. Give us wisdom and understanding to make the right decisions and the way forward as find ourselves in challenging situations.
Written by Ps. Sue Botta
46 Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from Pharaoh’s presence and traveled throughout Egypt. 47 During the seven years of abundance the land produced plentifully. 48 Joseph collected all the food produced in those seven years of abundance in Egypt and stored it in the cities. In each city he put the food grown in the fields surrounding it. 49 Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea; it was so much that he stopped keeping records because it was beyond measure. 50 Before the years of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. 51 Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh[a] and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” 52 The second son he named Ephraim[b] and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.” 53 The seven years of abundance in Egypt came to an end, 54 and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in all the other lands, but in the whole land of Egypt there was food. 55 When all Egypt began to feel the famine, the people cried to Pharaoh for food. Then Pharaoh told all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph and do what he tells you.” 56 When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt. 57 And all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere.
Just as Joseph foretold, there was seven years of plenty followed by seven years of severe famine. During the seven years of plenty the amount stockpiled became too difficult to record and during the time of famine people came from not only Egypt but all around the known world to buy grain. In the time of plenty Joseph had two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.
The last verse of this passage explains how God uses Joseph to not only provide for Egypt but other nations as well. How good is it when God’s people have solutions to problems! Out of God’s favour and abundance Joseph was able to provide grain to feed many. God’s purposes to alleviate lack and suffering being worked through an amazing man of God.
I am encouraged and reminded that God wants to work his purposes in each of his children. We too can be a blessing to others in need if we allow God to positon us. Perhaps not on the same scale as a Joseph but a blessing nonetheless!
Dear Lord, please guide and position me so that I may be a blessing to those around me who are suffering or in need. I also pray that they would see your hand at work in the process. Amen
Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods
41 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” 42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. 43 He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and people shouted before him, “Make way!” Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt. 44 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt.” 45 Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah and gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, to be his wife. And Joseph went throughout the land of Egypt.
You often hear that people who win the lottery end up worse off than before, because they didn’t have the skill or ability to handle finances in the first place. In this passage, you can hear about Joseph being put in charge of all Egypt and think “lucky him!”, but I also feel anxious for him. Just think of the stress and burden that his new role holds!
Fortunately, Joseph had broad shoulders and could handle the burden of responsibility. Thus this promotion wasn’t an opportunity for him to feel high and mighty, or to take anything for granted, but to realise the sense of purpose that God had placed in him.
Likewise for us, when God promotes us, blesses us or otherwise moves us up in life, like Joseph we must recognise the responsibility that becomes ours. We cannot afford to blindly enter the blessing without accepting what’s required of us to sustain it.
Lord, You are incredibly kind and generous, always looking for ways to bless us. I pray that You would help us to not take our life’s blessings for granted, but to recognise the responsibility with which you expect us to treat them. Amen!
Written by Ps. Matt Samperi
14 So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh. 15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” 16 “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.” 17 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile, 18 when out of the river there came up seven cows, fat and sleek, and they grazed among the reeds. 19 After them, seven other cows came up—scrawny and very ugly and lean. I had never seen such ugly cows in all the land of Egypt. 20 The lean, ugly cows ate up the seven fat cows that came up first. 21 But even after they ate them, no one could tell that they had done so; they looked just as ugly as before. Then I woke up. 22 “In my dream I saw seven heads of grain, full and good, growing on a single stalk. 23 After them, seven other heads sprouted—withered and thin and scorched by the east wind. 24 The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven good heads. I told this to the magicians, but none of them could explain it to me.” 25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26 The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads of grain are seven years; it is one and the same dream. 27 The seven lean, ugly cows that came up afterward are seven years, and so are the seven worthless heads of grain scorched by the east wind: They are seven years of famine. 28 “It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29 Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt, 30 but seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land. 31 The abundance in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe. 32 The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon. 33 “And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. 34 Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. 35 They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food. 36 This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine.” 37 The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his officials. 38 So Pharaoh asked them, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God[a]?” 39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. 40 You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.”
From a young age, Joseph knew he was destined for greatness and yet he consistently drew reproach and ill will from people around him. Joseph’s life resembled a rollercoaster: he would seem to be on an upward trajectory of increasing responsibility, greatness and importance, only to then tumble downwards into a pit of punishment, loneliness and reproach. These downward crashes were almost entirely not his fault; yet through each unjust and evil circumstance, he knows God as still present with him, and he begins to rebuild his life.
We pick up Joseph’s story at the very moment he is brought forth from prison. He had rebuilt his life even behind cell doors; he had grown in responsibility and honour within these awful confines. In this moment of greatness before Pharaoh, Joseph not only delivers with excellence but gives all the glory to God. This performance was not the culmination of a steady ascent to power. This performance came off the back of long marches through dark valleys, free falls of cliff’s edges and arduous climbs up mountain faces. Through it all, Joseph knew God was his only constant. Now in this moment of greatness, all the glory goes to God.
Joseph was ready to take on great power and not to be corrupted by it. God had refined and prepared him.
Great and mighty God, only you see what is around the corner, only you know what I need to be prepared for it, to bring you glory. Teach me to live with eyes on you in the present, while you keep your eyes on what is up ahead.
Written by Andrew Mellor
41 When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile, 2 when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds. 3 After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank. 4 And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up. 5 He fell asleep again and had a second dream: Seven heads of grain, healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk. 6 After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted—thin and scorched by the east wind. 7 The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up; it had been a dream. 8 In the morning his mind was troubled, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him. 9 Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I am reminded of my shortcomings. 10 Pharaoh was once angry with his servants, and he imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the captain of the guard. 11 Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own. 12 Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream. 13 And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was impaled.”
What I love most about this passage is the way God works to orchestrate His purpose to come about, as only He can. Pharaoh, a man of infinite power, was untouchable in Egypt at the time. He was at the top of the country, answerable to no one…. Yet God was able to give him dreams and bring him to a point where he was in need of assistance from Joseph, a man who was a lowly prisoner. For Joseph, wallowing in prison year after year, it probably would have felt like there was no hope, with no indication of when or if he would be released – especially after he had been promised by the cupbearer that he would not be forgotten. Yet God was already at work, in ways that Joseph wasn’t aware of, to bring Joseph to a place of freedom and hope.
I am encouraged by this because it reminds me that even when things are not going well, or as I feel they should, God is already at work – even if I can’t perceive what He is doing. My prayer is that I would have faith to hang in there and believe that my God is mighty, powerful & at work for my benefit, regardless of what my circumstances look like.
God, thank you that you are all powerful. There is nothing that can stop your plans from coming about. Thank you that my future and hope are safe when I place them in your hands. Help me to cling on to you! Amen.
Written by Ps. Madelaine Tarasenko
40 Some time later, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their master, the king of Egypt. 2 Pharaoh was angry with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, 3 and put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same prison where Joseph was confined. 4 The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them. After they had been in custody for some time, 5 each of the two men—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison—had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own. 6 When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. 7 So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, “Why do you look so sad today?” 8 “We both had dreams,” they answered, “but there is no one to interpret them.” Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.” 9 So the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream. He said to him, “In my dream I saw a vine in front of me, 10 and on the vine were three branches. As soon as it budded, it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes. 11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup and put the cup in his hand.” 12 “This is what it means,” Joseph said to him. “The three branches are three days. 13 Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer. 14 But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. 15 I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon.” 16 When the chief baker saw that Joseph had given a favorable interpretation, he said to Joseph, “I too had a dream: On my head were three baskets of bread. 17 In the top basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.” 18 “This is what it means,” Joseph said. “The three baskets are three days. 19 Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and impale your body on a pole. And the birds will eat away your flesh.” 20 Now the third day was Pharaoh’s birthday, and he gave a feast for all his officials. He lifted up the heads of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker in the presence of his officials: 21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, so that he once again put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand— 22 but he impaled the chief baker, just as Joseph had said to them in his interpretation. 23 The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.
Back in chapter 37 Joseph was given dreams from God that he would one day become a great ruler. Yet here we find him in jail after a false accusation, which occurred after being sold into slavery by his own family. It seems like he could not be further from becoming this great ruler.
Yet when two of the men in his prison have dreams, Joseph does not appear to doubt God for a moment. Despite his own dream being seemingly unfulfilled he still trusts His God; Joseph still trusts that God speaks to His people and His words are true. So Joseph listens to and interprets these men’s dreams, and sure enough his interpretations come true within 3 days.
When I think about the dreams themselves I wonder about the purpose of them. For the cupbearer the dream gave him hope of freedom in 3 days. In the next chapter this cupbearer opens the way for Joseph to interpret Pharaoh’s dream and save nations from starvation. For the baker however the dream likely produced 3 days of torment, 3 days to prepare for his own death. But for Joseph in that moment I wonder if the dreams were a small encouragement from God that He does speak, that His words are true and that even though Joseph was about to be forgotten again for 2 whole years, that original dream from God would also come to pass.
God please help me to trust you in the middle of the journey, when I can’t necessarily see the big picture of where we’re going and what you are doing. Thank you that you have a plan and it’s a plan I can trust whole-heartedly.
Written by Rhiannon Mellor
Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, 7 and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!” 8 But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. 9 No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” 10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her. 11 One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 12 She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house. 13 When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, 14 she called her household servants. “Look,” she said to them, “this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. 15 When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.” 16 She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. 17 Then she told him this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. 18 But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.” 19 When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. 20 Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined. But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. 22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.
There are many things that can be taken from this passage – Joseph is “strikingly handsome” (Msge), Potiphers’ wife lustful – there is justice and injustice. The main thing that has struck me is the 2 men – Potipher & the chief jailer – they have both seen in Joseph things that are more than skin deep. They have seen in this young man the qualities of integrity, diligence, honesty, trust, faithfulness & God’s favour on him, so much so that neither had to worry about anything that they put into his care. The contrast is Potiphers’ wife, she only saw the outward appearance of Joseph as he became the object of her lust.
I think this is the only place where we are told that Joseph was “handsome and good looking” (NRSV) yet that is not what Joseph is remembered for, at least 12 chapters in Genesis are devoted to him, yet only half of 1 verse to his looks! This has made me reflect on what qualities others will see in me, how will my actions, speech, attitudes be reflected? Oh that even some of the qualities that were seen in Joseph will be seen in me, and yet, the qualities of Jesus are our aim.
Lord, help me to be able to look at others with your eyes, the qualities you have placed in them and not just the visual appearance. Lord, continue to mold me to be more like Jesus that His qualities would be what I am remembered for, that His fragrance would be what others remember of me.
Written by Suzie Hodgson
39 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there. 2 The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, 4 Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. 5 From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. 6 So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate. Now Joseph was well-built and handsome,
These verses paint a pretty impressive picture of Joseph. They tell us that after being bought as a slave he prospered, was successful in everything he did, and then after promotion continued to run his master’s household successfully. And to top it all off, were told he’s well built and handsome!
It would have been easy for Potiphar to attribute Joseph’s successes to Joseph himself…his intellect, his charm and his stature. But he doesn’t. Potiphar “…saw that the Lord was with him (Joseph) and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did…” Gen 39:3. Potiphar recognised that God was with Joseph and he saw what God’s blessings were achieving in Joseph’s life. He could see the difference that it made to have God on his side, working for him. He trusted in God’s blessings, through Joseph, so completely that he only thought about his next meal!
I wonder if I trust in God’s blessings as much as Potiphar did? Do I expect to walk in God’s goodness every day? Am I deliberately looking for God’s blessings? And if I am trusting that God will bless me then am I “not concerning myself with anything”? ie. not worrying.
Dear God, thank you for all of the ways you have blessed me this week and open my eyes to see your blessings today especially Lord. Remind me in a tangible way that you are trustworthy and faithful and therefore I don’t need to worry or be concerned. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life. Amen
Written by Jocelyn Petschack
38 At that time, Judah left his brothers and went down to stay with a man of Adullam named Hirah. 2 There Judah met the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua. He married her and made love to her; 3 she became pregnant and gave birth to a son, who was named Er. 4 She conceived again and gave birth to a son and named him Onan. 5 She gave birth to still another son and named him Shelah. It was at Kezib that she gave birth to him. 6 Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. 7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so the Lord put him to death. 8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Sleep with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to raise up offspring for your brother.” 9 But Onan knew that the child would not be his; so whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from providing offspring for his brother. 10 What he did was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so the Lord put him to death also. 11 Judah then said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Live as a widow in your father’s household until my son Shelah grows up.” For he thought, “He may die too, just like his brothers.” So Tamar went to live in her father’s household. 12 After a long time Judah’s wife, the daughter of Shua, died. When Judah had recovered from his grief, he went up to Timnah, to the men who were shearing his sheep, and his friend Hirah the Adullamite went with him. 13 When Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is on his way to Timnah to shear his sheep,” 14 she took off her widow’s clothes, covered herself with a veil to disguise herself, and then sat down at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that, though Shelah had now grown up, she had not been given to him as his wife. 15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. 16 Not realizing that she was his daughter-in-law, he went over to her by the roadside and said, “Come now, let me sleep with you.” “And what will you give me to sleep with you?” she asked. 17 “I’ll send you a young goat from my flock,” he said. “Will you give me something as a pledge until you send it?” she asked. 18 He said, “What pledge should I give you?” “Your seal and its cord, and the staff in your hand,” she answered. So he gave them to her and slept with her, and she became pregnant by him. 19 After she left, she took off her veil and put on her widow’s clothes again. 20 Meanwhile Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite in order to get his pledge back from the woman, but he did not find her. 21 He asked the men who lived there, “Where is the shrine prostitute who was beside the road at Enaim?” “There hasn’t been any shrine prostitute here,” they said. 22 So he went back to Judah and said, “I didn’t find her. Besides, the men who lived there said, ‘There hasn’t been any shrine prostitute here.’” 23 Then Judah said, “Let her keep what she has, or we will become a laughingstock. After all, I did send her this young goat, but you didn’t find her.” 24 About three months later Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar is guilty of prostitution, and as a result she is now pregnant.” Judah said, “Bring her out and have her burned to death!” 25 As she was being brought out, she sent a message to her father-in-law. “I am pregnant by the man who owns these,” she said. And she added, “See if you recognize whose seal and cord and staff these are.” 26 Judah recognized them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not sleep with her again. 27 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 28 As she was giving birth, one of them put out his hand; so the midwife took a scarlet thread and tied it on his wrist and said, “This one came out first.” 29 But when he drew back his hand, his brother came out, and she said, “So this is how you have broken out!” And he was named Perez. 30 Then his brother, who had the scarlet thread on his wrist, came out. And he was named Zerah.
Sometimes it’s easy to think about the past with a hint of nostalgia. “Back in the good old days, people didn’t face the problems of today” is something I’ve caught myself thinking more than once.
But today’s passage is a reminder that the good old days of recent and ancient history are filled with pain and evil as well as good.
This is Judah, son of Israel and ancestor to King David. The father of the tribe of Judah to which Christ himself would be born.
But this passage shows that Judah is just a man. A man who makes mistakes.
Lord, I love the way you have made the Bible: it is a Holy book, but the people in it are not deified, but instead they are portrayed in the true grit that they carried.
Lord, may I always be honest about my shortcomings as I seek to be like your Son Jesus.
Written by Ps Justin Ware
29 When Reuben returned to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not there, he tore his clothes. 30 He went back to his brothers and said, “The boy isn’t there! Where can I turn now?” 31 Then they got Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. 32 They took the ornate robe back to their father and said, “We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son’s robe.” 33 He recognized it and said, “It is my son’s robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces.” 34 Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. 35 All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave.” So his father wept for him. 36 Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.
The brothers of Joseph have got themselves into a big mess here by attacking Joseph out of jealousy and spite, resulting in disastrous consequences for Joseph.
Now to make matters even worse, here comes the cover up. Instead of confessing to their father that they had done something awful to Joseph by selling him into slavery, the brothers add to the problem by concocting this dreadful fabricated story of Joseph’s death by mauling.
It’s easy to point the finger of blame at Joseph’s brothers here, but I need to recognise in myself this deeply ingrained human tendency to want to cover up my mistakes and failings. This is a problem as old as the Garden of Eden, so we are fooling ourselves if we think that we are immune from the urge to hide our faults.
Each and every day I need to be reminded that I have a Father God who accepts and loves me, in spite of my failings. He is always ready to forgive whenever I bring my stuff-ups out into the light instead of trying to hide them.
Written by Shelley Witt
12 Now his brothers had gone to graze their father’s flocks near Shechem, 13 and Israel said to Joseph, “As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I am going to send you to them.” “Very well,” he replied. 14 So he said to him, “Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring word back to me.” Then he sent him off from the Valley of Hebron. When Joseph arrived at Shechem, 15 a man found him wandering around in the fields and asked him, “What are you looking for?” 16 He replied, “I’m looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they are grazing their flocks?” 17 “They have moved on from here,” the man answered. “I heard them say, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.’” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. 18 But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him. 19 “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. 20 “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.” 21 When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. “Let’s not take his life,” he said. 22 “Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him.” Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father. 23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the ornate robe he was wearing— 24 and they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it. 25 As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt. 26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed. 28 So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels[a] of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.
God has revealed His plan to Joseph through two dreams, and in turn, Joseph tells his brothers how great he will be. He may be insignificant to them now, but he more-or-less tells them that his time is coming – that he will be greater than all of them! Maybe Joseph was tired of being teased for being Dad’s favourite? Maybe he was just trying to get them off his back? Who knows? Whatever the case, now they hate him even more. They mock him and speak against him. They devise a plan to kill him but end up putting him in a cistern/pit instead. In the end they sell him off. They think they have dealt with him and put an end to this ridiculous idea.
But oddly enough, it all fits into God’s plan.
As I reflect on this, I can’t help but think of all these different parts: the brothers who don’t believe Joseph and plot against him; Rueben who could’ve and should’ve done something but didn’t; the pit where it could’ve ended before it even started.
But as Joseph lived his life, he chose not to focus on the naysayers, the weak or the pit. Instead, he lives by God’s revelation in his heart.
As I read this and live my life, I have to ask myself, what part am I choosing to focus on? The odd bits or the God bit?
Father God, I thank you that Your plans for me are good. Help me to live by Your word and not to focus on the odd bits.
Written by Gab Martin
37 Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan. 2 This is the account of Jacob’s family line. Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them. 3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate[a] robe for him. 4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him. 5 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.” 8 His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said. 9 Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” 10 When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” 11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.
Joseph had just dobbed on his brothers to his Dad and THEN told them all about his “I’m going to be your boss one day” dreams. Not so smart!
I love that everything is redeemable for our God. Everything! Even when Joseph was shooting off his mouth, God was revealing His plan of salvation for His people.
And God didn’t need to give Joseph those dreams. What purpose did it serve at the time? Not much. Except it relieved the love and generosity of a Heavenly Father that knew this kid had a long road ahead of him. A kid who would need a memory so strong that it would get him through years of waiting, false accusations and alienation. A story that, at the very end, even though Joseph stuffed it up a little, would show how very, very good God is!
God, you are so good. Thanks for redeeming everything – even my mistakes. Thanks for “causing all things to work for good for those that love you and are called according to your purpose.” Romans 8:28.
Written by Boudy Van Noppen
36 This is the account of the family line of Esau (that is, Edom). 2 Esau took his wives from the women of Canaan: Adah daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Oholibamah daughter of Anah and granddaughter of Zibeon the Hivite— 3 also Basemath daughter of Ishmael and sister of Nebaioth. 4 Adah bore Eliphaz to Esau, Basemath bore Reuel, 5 and Oholibamah bore Jeush, Jalam and Korah. These were the sons of Esau, who were born to him in Canaan. 6 Esau took his wives and sons and daughters and all the members of his household, as well as his livestock and all his other animals and all the goods he had acquired in Canaan, and moved to a land some distance from his brother Jacob. 7 Their possessions were too great for them to remain together; the land where they were staying could not support them both because of their livestock. 8 So Esau (that is, Edom) settled in the hill country of Seir. 9 This is the account of the family line of Esau the father of the Edomites in the hill country of Seir. 10 These are the names of Esau’s sons: Eliphaz, the son of Esau’s wife Adah, and Reuel, the son of Esau’s wife Basemath. 11 The sons of Eliphaz: Teman, Omar, Zepho, Gatam and Kenaz. 12 Esau’s son Eliphaz also had a concubine named Timna, who bore him Amalek. These were grandsons of Esau’s wife Adah. 13 The sons of Reuel: Nahath, Zerah, Shammah and Mizzah. These were grandsons of Esau’s wife Basemath. 14 The sons of Esau’s wife Oholibamah daughter of Anah and granddaughter of Zibeon, whom she bore to Esau: Jeush, Jalam and Korah. 15 These were the chiefs among Esau’s descendants: The sons of Eliphaz the firstborn of Esau: Chiefs Teman, Omar, Zepho, Kenaz, 16 Korah, Gatam and Amalek. These were the chiefs descended from Eliphaz in Edom; they were grandsons of Adah. 17 The sons of Esau’s son Reuel: Chiefs Nahath, Zerah, Shammah and Mizzah. These were the chiefs descended from Reuel in Edom; they were grandsons of Esau’s wife Basemath. 18 The sons of Esau’s wife Oholibamah: Chiefs Jeush, Jalam and Korah. These were the chiefs descended from Esau’s wife Oholibamah daughter of Anah. 19 These were the sons of Esau (that is, Edom), and these were their chiefs. 20 These were the sons of Seir the Horite, who were living in the region: Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, 21 Dishon, Ezer and Dishan. These sons of Seir in Edom were Horite chiefs. 22 The sons of Lotan: Hori and Homam. Timna was Lotan’s sister. 23 The sons of Shobal: Alvan, Manahath, Ebal, Shepho and Onam. 24 The sons of Zibeon: Aiah and Anah. This is the Anah who discovered the hot springs in the desert while he was grazing the donkeys of his father Zibeon. 25 The children of Anah: Dishon and Oholibamah daughter of Anah. 26 The sons of Dishon: Hemdan, Eshban, Ithran and Keran. 27 The sons of Ezer: Bilhan, Zaavan and Akan. 28 The sons of Dishan: Uz and Aran. 29 These were the Horite chiefs: Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, 30 Dishon, Ezer and Dishan. These were the Horite chiefs, according to their divisions, in the land of Seir. 31 These were the kings who reigned in Edom before any Israelite king reigned: 32 Bela son of Beor became king of Edom. His city was named Dinhabah. 33 When Bela died, Jobab son of Zerah from Bozrah succeeded him as king. 34 When Jobab died, Husham from the land of the Temanites succeeded him as king. 35 When Husham died, Hadad son of Bedad, who defeated Midian in the country of Moab, succeeded him as king. His city was named Avith. 36 When Hadad died, Samlah from Masrekah succeeded him as king. 37 When Samlah died, Shaul from Rehoboth on the river succeeded him as king. 38 When Shaul died, Baal-Hanan son of Akbor succeeded him as king. 39 When Baal-Hanan son of Akbor died, Hadad succeeded him as king. His city was named Pau, and his wife’s name was Mehetabel daughter of Matred, the daughter of Me-Zahab. 40 These were the chiefs descended from Esau, by name, according to their clans and regions: Timna, Alvah, Jetheth, 41 Oholibamah, Elah, Pinon, 42 Kenaz, Teman, Mibzar, 43 Magdiel and Iram. These were the chiefs of Edom, according to their settlements in the land they occupied. This is the family line of Esau, the father of the Edomites.
Whatever we would like to believe about the ‘the past’, one thing is certain – the past is not just in the past! Events from the past weave a narrative that can continue into the future unless there is intentionality and cooperation in writing a ‘plot twist’.
I see this example here. Jacob (Israel) and Esau (Edom) had a great rift between them. While they appear to have patched things up to some degree they again go their separate ways. Clearly the narrative of division was passed down the generations and Israel and Edom continue to be enemies as nations for hundreds of years, as recorded in the Old Testament scriptures.
Only Jesus can provide the kind of plot twists that can bridge these rifts and reconcile us with God and with each other. We see the need for this in tribes and nations across the globe, even locally we see it between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.
Lord, wherever we see a need for reconciliation and healing from years of conflict and division, we know you are our only hope. Be lifted up as the name and only name that can unite us! Amen
Written by Andrew Mellor
27 Jacob came home to his father Isaac in Mamre, near Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had stayed. 28 Isaac lived a hundred and eighty years. 29 Then he breathed his last and died and was gathered to his people, old and full of years. And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.
This is the conclusion to the story of Isaac.
What interested me about this passage was despite a relationship breakdown Isaac’s sons Jacob and Esau reconciled their differences in time to bury their father. I went back and read the entire story of Jacob and Esau. What a relationship train wreck. Jacob scammed Esau out of his rightful inheritance and Esau held a murderous grudge against Jacob causing him to flee the land for more than twenty years.
Despite all this dysfunctionality Jacob eventually found the courage to approach his brother for forgiveness and Esau demonstrated a desire to unconditionally reconcile with Jacob.
Family relationship breakdowns are difficult. Only recently I experienced my own sibling dispute and was surprised how powerful the temptation to either strikeout in anger or run away from the issues can be. Christians are not immune to these problems, but they do have a responsibility to reconcile disputes. It takes courage to face the issues, forgiveness to overcome transgressions and practice to maintain healthy relationships.
So, take the time today to consider any unresolved family disputes you might have.
Lord, help us to have courage, forgiveness, and wisdom to reconcile family disputes before it is too late. Amen!
Written by David Newton
Phone: +61 2 9875 0300
PO Box 2744,
Carlingford NSW 2118
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547 North Rocks Rd, Carlingford
NSW, Australia 2118
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Carlingford High School Hall,
547 North Rocks Rd, Carlingford
NSW, Australia 2118