January 15, 2015

Genesis 37 - 39 - Meanwhile, Jacob settled down in the land where his father had lived, the land of Canaan.  This is the story of Jacob.  The story continues with Joseph, 17 years old at the time helping out his brothers in herding the flocks...And Joseph brought his father bad reports about them.  Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons because he was the child of his old age.  And he made him an elaborately embroidered coat...His brothers grew to hate him--they couldn’t even speak to him.  

Joseph had a dream.  When he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more since it suggested that he was going to rule over them.  He had another dream in which they would bow down to him...When he told his father and brothers, his father reprimanded him, “What’s with all this dreaming?”  Now his brothers were really jealous but his father brooded over the whole business.  

Joseph’s brothers had gone off to tend their flocks when Israel told Joseph to go to them then return with a report on how they are doing...The brothers spotted him off in the distance.  By the time he got to them they had cooked up a plan to kill him...

Reuben heard the brothers talking and intervened to save him by suggesting that they throw him in a cistern out there in the wild...Reuben planned to go back later and get him out and bring him back to his father.  

When Joseph arrived, they ripped his fancy coat and threw him into the cistern which was dry without any water...Looking up, the brothers spotted a caravan of Ishmaelites that was heading to Egypt and they agreed to sell Joseph into slavery.  Later, Reuben came back and went to the cistern--no Joseph!  He ripped his clothes in despair.  Beside himself, he went to his brothers where they determined to take Joseph’s fancy coat back to their father after smearing it with blood and suggest Joseph was attacked by a wild animal...

Jacob tore his clothes in grief, dressed in rough burlap and mourned his son a long, long time.  His sons and daughters tried to comfort him but he refused their comfort....In Egypt, the Ismaelites sold Joseph to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, manager of his household affairs.

About that time, Judah separated from his brothers and hooked up with a man named Hirah.  While there, Judah met the daughter of a Canaanite named Shua.  He married her and they had a son named Er followed by Onan adn Shelah.  Judah got a wife for Er named Tamar.  But Er grievously offended God and God took his life.  So Judah said to Onan to sleep with Tamar in order to keep his brother’s line alive.  But Onan knew that the child wouldn’t be his so he spilled his semen on the ground when he slept with Tamar...God was much offended by what he did so he also took his life.  So Judah stopped in and told Tamar to live as a widow at her father’s house until Shelah grows up.  

Time passed.  Judah’s wife died.  When the time for mourning was over, Judah and Hirah went to Timnah for the sheep shearing.  Tamar was told about this so she took off her widow’s clothes, put on a veil to disguise herself and sat at the entrance to a town on the road to Timnah.  She realized by now that even though Shelah was grown up, she wasn’t going to marry him.  

Judah saw her and assumed she was a prostitute since she had veiled her face.  He left the road and went over to her.  He said, “let me sleep with you.”  He had no idea that she was his daughter-in-law.  She said, “What will you pay me?”  He offered a kid from his flock.  She negotiated some more by asking for a pledge that contained his personal seal and cord, as well as the staff he was carrying.  Judah handed them over and slept with her.  She got pregnant.  She then left and went home.  She removed her veil and put her widow’s clothes back on.  Judah sent the kid goat to recover his pledge from the woman but he couldn’t find her...

Three months or so later, Judah was told that Tamar was playing a whore and was now pregnant...Judah yelled, “Get her out of here!  Burn her up!”  As they brought her out, she sent a message to Judah, “I’m pregnant by the man who owns these things.  Identify them, please.  Who’s the owner of the seal and cord, as well as the staff?”  

Judah saw they were his.  He said, “She’s in the right: I’m in the wrong--I wouldn’t let her marry my son, Shelah.”  He never slept with her again.  When her time came to give birth, it turned out that there were twins in her womb.  As she was giving birth, the maid tied a red thread on the hand of the first child, but then he pulled it back and his brother came out.  She said, “Oh! A breakout!  So she named him Perez (breakout).  Then his brother with the red thread come out and she named him Zerah (Bright).

Back in Egypt, as it turned out, God was with Joseph and things went very well with him.  He ended up living in the home of Potiphar who recognized that God was with him, was that God was working for good in everything he did.  Potiphar became very fond of Joseph and made him his personal aide...From that moment on, God blessed the home of the Egyptian...The blessing of God spread over everything he owned, at his home and in the fields, and all Potiphar had to concern himself with was eating three meals a day.  

Joseph was a strikingly handsome man.  As time went on, Potiphar’s wife became infatuated with him and one day told him to sleep with her.  Joseph wouldn’t do it...”how could I violate his trust and sin against God?”  She pestered him day after day after day, but he stood his ground.  He refused to go to bed with her.  On one of these days he came to the house to do his work and none of the other servants happened to be there.  She grabbed him by his cloak and ordered him to sleep with her.  He left his coat in her hand and ran out of the house.  She then informed her servants that Joseph had come on to her but she yelled and he ran out, leaving his coat.  She told Potiphar the same story when he arrived at which time he was furious and threw Joseph in jail where the king’s prisoners were locked up.  

But there in jail God was still with Joseph.  He reached out in kindness to him: put him on good terms with the head jailer.  Joseph ended up managing the whole operation.  The head jailer gave Joseph free reign, never even checked on him because God was with him;  whatever he did God made sure it worked out for the best. 

John 9 - Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth.  His disciples asked him what sin his parents had committed that led to this man being blind.  Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question.  You’re looking for someone to blame.  There is no such cause-effect here.  Look instead for what God can do.  We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines...For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light.  I am the world’s light.  

He said this and then spit in the dust, made a clay paste with the saliva, rubbed the paste on the blind man’s eyes, and said, “Go, wash at the Pool of Siloam”.  The man went and washed -- and saw.  

Soon the town was buzzing...They marched the man to the Pharisees...Some of the Pharisees said, “Obviously, this man can’t be from God.  He doesn’t keep the Sabbath.”  Others countered, “How can a bad man do miraculous, God-revealing things like this?”  There was a split in their ranks... They called the man back a second time---and told him, “Give credit to God.  We know this man is an impostor.”  The man replied, “I know nothing about that one way or the other.  But I know one thing for sure, I was blind...I now see.”...The man later replied.  “This is amazing!  You claim to know nothing about him, but the fact is, he opened my eyes!  It’s well known that God isn’t t the beck and call of sinners, but listens carefully to anyone who lives in reverence and does his will...If this man didn’t come from God, he wouldn’t be able to do anything.  They said, “You’re nothing but dirt!  How dare you take that tone with us!”  Then they threw him out in the streets.  

Jesus heard that they had thrown him out and went and found him.  He asked him, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”  The man said, “point him out to me, sir, so I can believe in him.”  Jesus said, “You’re looking right at him.  Don’t you recognize my voice?”  “Master, I believe,” the man said, and worshipped him.  Jesus then said, “I came into the world to bring everything into the clear light of day, making all the distinctions clear so that those who have never seen will see and those who have made a great pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind.”

Some Pharisees overheard him and said, “Does that mean that you’re calling us blind?”  Jesus said “If you were really blind, you would be blameless, but since you claim to see everything so well, you’re accountable for every fault and failure.”