Free Bible Commentary

Free Bible Commentary

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Matthew 8:28-34

Friday, May 29, 2020

“When He came to the other side into the country of the Gadarenes, two men who were demon-possessed met Him as they were coming out of the tombs. They were so extremely violent that no one could pass by that way. And they cried out, saying, ‘What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?’ Now there was a herd of many swine feeding at a distance from them. The demons began to entreat Him, saying, ‘If You are going to cast us out, send us into the herd of swine.’ And He said to them, ‘Go!’ And they came out and went into the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the waters. The herdsmen ran away, and went to the city and reported everything, including what had happened to the demoniacs. And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw Him, they implored Him to leave their region.”

---End of Scripture Verses---

Please read Mark 5:1-17 in conjunction with today’s passage. Mark adds many details that Matthew leaves out.

In Matthew’s account two men are mentioned but in Mark’s only one. Mark focuses on the strongest, most violent of the two men. Mark also emphasizes the supernatural strength of this tormented fellow. He ripped his chains apart and tore his shackles in pieces and no one was strong enough to subdue him (Mark 5:4). This guy was completely uncontrollable and he didn’t even have the ability to control himself. Friends, when your wheels are coming off the tracks and your life is just a total train wreck, there’s really only one Being strong enough give you the kind of help you really need: Jesus.

Let’s look at the before and after picture of this man that Satan had victimized for so long. Before Jesus came into his life he was crazed and out of control. He was a danger to himself and to others. He beat and cut himself with stones. He was naked, miserable, isolated. He had one other person in his life, but that wretched soul was no better off than he was. That was more of a case of “misery loves company” than anything else. This pitiful guy was so tormented that when the demons were cast out and went into the pigs (2 thousand of them according to Mark 5:13!) they all ran off a steep cliff and killed themselves. It’s amazing that, at some point, this poor fellow hadn’t done the same thing. I think Jesus allowed this “Legion” of demons to enter the swine to show us just how violently tormented this unfortunate man was.

Let’s look to Mark’s and Luke’s account to help us see the picture of the man after Jesus had come into his life. He was sitting down calmly, instead of running through tombs and cliffs screaming and crying (Mark 5:5, 15). He was wearing clothes after having been naked for many days (Luke 26:27). He was no longer a crazed lunatic, but sitting there in his right mind (Mark 5:15). The change being described here is the difference between night & day. He had been out of control, out of his mind, unclean, unhealthy, unfit for society. What one thing accounted for the complete and total transformation made in this man’s life? JESUS!

Are you battling something that’s way too big for you to deal with right now? Please don’t try to battle it without Jesus.

Please read Matthew 8:22-25 for tomorrow – Jesus calms a storm.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Luke 7:11-17

Thursday, May 28, 2020

“Soon afterwards He went to a city called Nain; and His disciples were going along with Him, accompanied by a large crowd. Now as He approached the gate of the city, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a sizeable crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’ And He came up and touched the coffin; and the bearers came to a halt. And He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, arise!’ The dead man sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother. Fear gripped them all, and they began glorifying God, saying, ‘A great prophet has arisen among us!’ and, ‘God has visited His people!’ This report concerning Him went out all over Judea and in all the surrounding district.”

---End of Scripture Verses---

Jesus and His followers stopped for a funeral procession (verse 12). Unfortunately that isn’t as common a practice as it used to be. It frustrates me when I see vehicles darting past the cars in a funeral procession with no respect for the deceased or for those who are mourning the loss of a dear loved one. We all need to slow down a little and realize that life is really one long funeral procession, and all of our fussing and rushing about won’t make the journey any more enjoyable or meaningful.

Jesus didn’t merely stop out of respect for the dead and the grieving. Jesus saw the weeping mother of the dearly departed and He felt compassion for her (verse 13). Jesus sees. Even if you think that no one else in the whole world knows what you are going through, and that no one could possibly understand even if they did; Jesus knows and Jesus understands. And more importantly, Jesus cares. Greater still, Jesus can do something about it. If Jesus has the power to speak the life back into a dead man’s body and give him back to His grieving mother, He certainly has the ability to lift you up in your darkest hours of need (verses 14-15).

Jesus wants to raise you up to eternal life. This miracle was not only an act of mercy; it was also a demonstration of the supreme power that the Savior has over life and death. Although Jesus has compassion for our infirmities and heartaches, His ultimate concern is for the salvation of our souls. The primary reason that Jesus did this miracle was to produce faith in the hearts of those who witnessed it and those who heard about it (verses 16-17). The same is true with all the miracles that Jesus performed (John 20:30-31). These wonders are not recorded in the Bible to lead us to believe that Jesus will perform miracles in our daily lives. They are documented so that we will believe in Jesus, and to promote within us the kind of faith that leads to everlasting life.

Please read Matthew 8:28-34 for tomorrow – Jesus casts out demons.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Matthew 8:1-17

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

“When Jesus came down from the mountain, large crowds followed Him. And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, ‘Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.’ Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.’ And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, ‘See that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest and present the offering that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.’ And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him, and saying, ‘Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented.’ Jesus said to him, ‘I will come and heal him.’ But the centurion said, ‘Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, “Go!” and he goes, and to another, “Come!” and he comes, and to my slave, “Do this!” and he does it.’ Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, ‘Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ And Jesus said to the centurion, ‘Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed.’ And the servant was healed that very moment. When Jesus came into Peter’s home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she got up and waited on Him. When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: ‘He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases.’”

---End of Scripture Verses---

When I read the first four verses I am touched by the mercy and tenderness of our Lord when dealing with this poor pitiable person. Leprosy was a slowly debilitating, painful and heart-breaking disease. He came to Jesus, no doubt out of desperation, but with the complete confidence that Jesus was fully able to heal him: if only He was willing. Jesus reached out and touched this unfortunate fellow. I can’t help but wonder just how long it had been since he had felt the touch of another human being. Jesus compassionately said, “I am willing.” Jesus really cares about the people He created. Jesus loves us and wants to help us with our problems and heartaches. He proved this by not only healing people of their infirmities, but also by taking His love for us all the way to the cross of Calvary. After feeling the human touch, the leprous man felt the hand of divinity upon him and, “immediately his leprosy was cleansed” (verse 3).

The centurion who came to Jesus in Capernaum had a much better grasp of who the Master was than did the majority of God’s own chosen people (verses 6-13). He understood that Jesus possessed the absolute authority of heaven, and he knew that he was unworthy to even stand in the presence of the Holy One of God. He knew that all Jesus needed to do was “say the word” and his servant would be healed (verse 8). Jesus marveled at this Gentile’s faith (verse 10). Once again Jesus, willing to help out a troubled and tormented soul said, “It shall be done for you as you have believed” (verse 13). Let’s make certain that when we ask the Lord for help with any of our problems that we do so with reverence and with the confident faith that He is able to help (Mark 11:24).

“He himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases” (verse 17).

Please read Luke 7:11-17 for tomorrow – Jesus raises the dead.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Matthew 7:13-29

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall. When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.”

---End of Scripture Verses---

The conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount is no less surprising than the introduction (the Beatitudes) and the body of this remarkable sermon. Throughout this discourse Jesus says things that go against the grain of worldly, conventional thinking. He shows us clearly that the views of God and man often stand in opposition to one another, and that the kingdom of heaven is vastly different than any earthly kingdom to ever exist. In this last section Jesus tells us some startling facts about the narrow way that leads to eternal life (verses 13-14).

1. “There are few who find it” (verse 14). In a national poll taken recently, two thirds of the Americans surveyed said they believe they are going to heaven. Since a quarter of the people polled don’t even believe in heaven, that means that nearly all who do believe think they are going there. The poll also stated that less than one half of one percent of Americans believe they are going to hell. “They say” nearly everyone is saved and practically no one is lost. Jesus says many are going to eternal destruction and few will find eternal life.

2. “I never knew you” (verse 23). Jesus tells us in verses 21-23 that a lot of people are going to be surprised on Judgment Day. In these verses Jesus said He would say “depart from Me” to people who believed in Him and who did a lot of good deeds. Most people use belief and good deeds as the benchmark for faithful discipleship. But Jesus said that believers who “practice lawlessness” cannot dwell with Him in eternity. “They say” being a good person is good enough. Jesus says we need to follow His laws as well.

3. Wise and foolish people (verses 24-27). Jesus expands on the idea of “lawlessness” in the illustration of the wise and foolish builders. The lawless person is the foolish one who, “hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them” (verse 26). The wise person learns God's commandments and obeys them and is able to stand before the Lord on Judgment Day with his “house” intact. But the foolish person will fall flat on that day because he ignores all or part of God’s law, and great will be that fall (verse 27). “They say” I am saved by what I believe not by what I do. Jesus says hear His commandments and obey them for eternal life.

4. “The people were astonished at His teaching” (verse 28). Does this sermon and particularly this passage astonish you? If they do, mission accomplished. Jesus is urgently trying to get your attention. Please do not take my word or any person’s word for truth when it comes to your salvation. Life is too short and eternity is too long to take anything for granted. Please study your Bible daily and closely examine the Scriptures as if your life depends upon it. Please learn God’s will for you and comply in humble, obedient faith. Then you will be one of the few, the wise, the saved.

Please read Matthew 8:1-17 for tomorrow – Jesus heals infirmities.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Matthew 7:1-12

Monday, May 25, 2020

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

---End of Scripture Verses---

Judging others (verses 1-6) – This has to be the world’s favorite, most misunderstood, most misapplied Bible passage of all time. Is Jesus teaching us that it is never appropriate to judge another human being? Yes and no. In verse 6 He warns us to use extreme caution when dealing with the “dogs” and “swine” of the world. In extreme instances we obviously need to judge the character and actions of other people before interacting with them on a spiritual level. And even in non-extreme cases, sometimes the exercise of good judgment must be used when trying to help our fellow man. Just the same, God is the only Judge that human beings will ever have to answer to. So in that respect we really should never and can never judge others. But we need to try to help make people aware of their sins so they can be prepared to face the Lord on the final Day of Judgment.

What Jesus is actually condemning here is having a judgmental disposition. God doesn’t want us to be fault finders who are always taking issue with the things that other people say and do. If we are always hypercritical, we won’t be able to avoid being hypocritical. If we continually “judge” others, we will eventually be guilty of doing the same things that we condemn them for, and even worse things. Let’s not be self-righteous pretenders. Let’s not be the kind of people that pick at other people’s minor flaws, especially when we’ve got some major spiritual defects in our own lives (verses 3-5). We all need to take an honest look in the mirror and make the necessary changes before we can effectively help other people out with their spiritual problems.

The cure for a hypercritical, judgmental disposition of heart is to apply the Golden Rule in our interactions with other people: “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (verse 12). Do not retaliate when provoked. Do not give people what they deserve. Do not “go off” on others when they cross the line. Before you react, stop and think of how you would want to be treated if the roles were reversed, and then respond accordingly. That’s easy right?! Of course this will take a great deal of meekness, self-control and discipline. That is why Jesus began this sermon by teaching us to instill those underlying spiritual characteristics that are required for a citizen of the kingdom of heaven to possess with the blessed Beatitudes. Blessed are the gentle (meek), the merciful, the righteous, the peacemakers. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:44-45). Disciples of Christ have been summoned to a much higher calling.

Please read Matthew 7:13-29 for tomorrow – Sermon on the Mount – The narrow way.

Have a wonderful day!

-Louie Taylor

Matthew 6:25-34

Sunday, May 24, 2020

“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

---End of Scripture Verses---

Jesus taught us in verses 19-24 to not give our hearts to our worldly possessions. These are the things that “moth and rust destroy, and thieves break in and steal” (verse 19). These are the kinds of things we tend to worry about because they are so vulnerable and ephemeral. Jesus knows that it will derail our faith if we put too much stock in the fleeting things of the world, “for this reason” He gives us several explanations for why worrying is just senseless in today’s reading.

In verse 25 Jesus tells us not to worry about our lives and our bodies. He argues that if God is powerful enough to give us life, then He is fully capable of giving us food in order to sustain that life. And if He created our remarkable and complex bodies, surely we can trust Him to give us clothes to cover and warm them. When we worry about our life and our necessities, that really is an indication that we are focusing way too much on our own selves and our limited capacities, and not enough on God and His limitless capabilities.

In verses 26-30 Jesus uses examples from the natural world around us to teach us to not be anxious. He argues that if God provides for the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, doesn’t it just stand to reason that He will take care of us as well? By the way, Jesus isn’t teaching that we shouldn’t work to provide for our families in verse 26. Birds are certainly not idle creatures so we shouldn’t be either. The point is that God provides for their physical needs. And since He created us in His own image and loves us much more than them, we can count on Him to take care of us all the more.

In verse 27 Jesus tells us plainly that worrying about things is just useless. He states the obvious fact that being anxious for something can’t add one minute to your life. It can, on the other hand take life away from you: quality of life if not quantity of days. The simple truth is that worrying doesn’t help solve our problems, it only compounds them. I think we all know this but we need frequent reminders to help us refocus our faith, because this world is filled with trials and troubles.

In verse 33 Jesus tells us where we need to keep our focus aimed: on God’s kingdom and His righteousness. The spiritual pursuits are the most important ones because, unlike worldly interests, they have eternal implications. To seek God’s kingdom is to appeal to His supreme rule and obey His perfect will for us. God wants us to live godly lives and pursue the kind of righteousness that only He can impute to us. To “seek” means to try with all our might to possess, and the tense of the verb expresses a constant and continual seeking. If we give first priority to God and His will, He will make sure we get everything we need.

Please read Matthew 7:1-12 for tomorrow – Sermon on the Mount – The golden rule.

Have a blessed Lord’s Day!

-Louie Taylor

Matthew 6:19-24

Saturday, May 23, 2020

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

---End of Scripture Verses---

Italy and Greece are home to some of the most famous ruins in the world. It is estimated that 4 million tourists visit the Roman Coliseum and 1 million tourists visit the Acropolis in Athens each year. While these ancient sites are marvels to behold, the only real purpose they serve is to remind us of how things used to be. These megaliths are monuments to corruption. Every physical thing of value falls victim to time, elements, erosion, insects, vandals.

Jesus tells us in today’s passage that all of the things that we treasure here on earth will deteriorate. Our houses, furniture, cars, clothes, money will all succumb to the forces of physical nature and undergo corruption. Even if a thief breaks in and steals all our valuables, he will ultimately loose them as well. Jesus isn’t teaching us here that it is wrong to save money. He is telling us to not put our trust and love into things that will ultimately be ruined.

Jesus is warning us about the issues of “heart” trouble and “eye” trouble. We give our hearts to the things that we “treasure” or “value” the most (verses 20-21). The “heart” is really a metaphor for the “mind”. “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2). If we love God more than all our earthly relationships and possessions, we will put Him first by obeying and serving Him with all our heart. If we do that He will reward us with eternal treasure in heaven.

“If your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light” (verse 22). A “clear” eye is a “sound” or “healthy” eye. The King James Version of the Bible uses the word “single”. If we are spiritually sound and have single-minded focus on the Lord and His will for us, we will be filled with the light of His goodness. We can’t serve God and wealth at the same time. God will not accept divided attention from a double-minded person. He wants us to be dedicated to Him, and everything else to take second place.

Let’s keep our eyes and hearts fixed on the Lord and His word. The only way we can know His will for us is to open our Bibles and learn what He wants us to believe and love and say and do. Heaven and earth will pass away but the word of the Lord will last forever (Matthew 24:35). The only way to receive the eternal treasure is to obey God’s eternal word.

Please read Matthew 6:25-34 for tomorrow – Sermon on the Mount – Don’t worry!

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Matthew 6:1-18

Friday, May 22, 2020

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8 So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’ For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”

---End of Scripture Verses---

Jesus tell us that when we give, pray, and fast, we are not to do so like a hypocrite. A hypocrite is an actor. He is pretending to do something that he really isn’t doing, and it is his motivations that really make his actions dishonest. The religious hypocrite tries to put on a show for all to see when pretending to practice his piety. Jesus says that a person like that actually does receive a reward when he behaves that way. The payoff is the attention and approval of people, and that’s really all the hypocrite was seeking in the first place.

Giving, praying and fasting have great spiritual benefits when done for the right reasons and in the right ways. The right motivations for doing good works is simply because they are the right things to do and that God wants us to do them. The manner in which we should do them is “in secret”. That is to say, not to put our good works on public display merely for others to see. That’s not to say that it’s always wrong to do good works publicly, otherwise other people would never be able to see our light shine in such a way that we glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16). But the only attention we should be seeking to draw is attention to and from God.

Jesus says our Father sees in secret. That is to say that God sees everything that we do, whether publicly or privately. Even if no other single human being knows we have done a blessed deed, God always knows. And, Jesus shows us that God “rewards” good deeds, private prayer, and self-denial. The spiritual return for spending private time with God and doing His charitable works on earth is the kind of reward that you just can’t put a price tag on. Please read Ephesians 3:14-21. This is what Paul wrote in verses 20-21: “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”

God knows what we have need of before we ever ask Him (verse 8). But He wants us to pray anyway. When we live a prayerful life we express to God our utter dependence upon Him for all of the spiritual and physical needs that we have. We let Him know that we love Him, we need Him and we are willing to obey Him and accept His will for us. God rewards us when we humbly submit ourselves to His rule and His will.

Jesus gave us a pattern to model our prayers after in verses 9-13. Notice that a prayer doesn’t have to be lengthy in order to be affective and acceptable. But there is design and intention in this model prayer. Here are the parts of Jesus’ example prayer: praise to God (verse 9); acceptance of His will (verse 10), petition for daily needs (verse 11); request for His forgiveness (verse 12); appeal for protection (verse 13). That is not to say that every prayer must be structured this way, but this is a trustworthy pattern given by the Lord Himself. When His disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, the same pattern with a very minor difference in wording was given (Luke 11:1-4).

Final note: Sometimes our prayers can be said in vain. If we refuse to forgive people who have sinned against us, God will not forgive us when we ask Him to either (verses 14-15).

Please read Matthew 6:19-24 for tomorrow – Sermon on the Mount – Lasting treasure.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Matthew 5:21-48

Thursday, May 21, 2020

“You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent. You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell. It was said, ‘Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce’; but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil. You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

---End of Scripture Verses---

Jesus taught with great power and authority. Over and again He tells us that what people have to say is not nearly as important as what He says. Six times in today’s reading Jesus sets what He says, not against what the Law of Moses said, but against what some people had to say about the Law. Jesus didn’t come to destroy the Law, He came to fulfill it (verse 17). But He did have a lot to say about how the scribes and Pharisees abused the Law (verses 19-20). Sometimes they carried things too far, other times not far enough, and they were always looking for loopholes around keeping parts of the Law they didn’t like. Jesus said that we must do better than that. Our righteousness must exceed their superficial righteousness.

Verses 21-26 – THEY said don’t commit murder or you’ll be guilty before the court. JESUS said we will be liable before God for not only what we do, but also what we think. Jesus tells us to get our anger under control before our thoughts and emotions lead to slander, aggression and even murder. Jesus gets to the heart of the law, not just the punishment for an offender. God wants us to control our hateful thoughts and volatile emotions before something regrettable happens.

Verses 27-30 – THEY said don’t commit adultery, as if just not doing the act is good enough. JESUS said get control of your lust. Once again, the heart of the issue actually is the issue. People say there’s no harm in looking. Jesus says that’s where all the trouble begins. And while it is absolutely true that “it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell,” Jesus uses hyperbole in verses 29-30 to teach us to do whatever it takes to keep from looking and lusting in the first place.

Verses 31-32 – THEY said you can divorce your wife as long as you give her a certificate relinquishing all rights to her. JESUS said the only legitimate reason to divorce your spouse is if they have been sexually unfaithful. Divorce does not dissolve the bonds that God has created in marriage, unless infidelity occurs. And even then only the innocent party is free to remarry.

Verses 33-37 – THEY said you are required to keep the oaths you make “to the Lord”. JESUS said “make no oath at all.” They thought they had a good loophole for not following through with their vows. As long as they didn’t invoke the Lord’s name, they weren’t really swearing by Him or to Him. But Jesus said that anything you swear by is to God, since it was all made by God; whether it be something as big as the earth or as small as a hair on your head. Better still, Jesus said just be a person of your word and you won’t need to swear at all.

Verses 38-42 – THEY said “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” While the law of “equivalent retribution” served many useful purposes, it never gave the offended person the right to exact his own vengeance. It was still left up to judges to determine appropriate penalties (Exodus 21:22; Deuteronomy 19:18). But JESUS said that we are to treat people far better than they deserve. Don’t retaliate when offended. Give more than has been asked of you. Go the extra mile for others. That’s just exactly how Jesus lived His life.

Verses 43-48 – THEY said love your neighbor and hate your enemy. JESUS said love everybody. Jesus said carry your love for the people in the world farther than they would carry it for you. Jesus said pray for the people who treat you poorly. They need your help not your hatred.

Don’t you worry about what “THEY say”. You focus on what the Master says.

Please read Matthew 6:1-18 for tomorrow – Sermon on the Mount – Giving and prayer.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Matthew 5:1-20

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

“When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

---End of Scripture Verses---

Wow! The beatitudes! The greatest introduction to the greatest sermon ever preached! From the start of “the Sermon on the Mount” Jesus sets forth the core of Christian character and the qualities of the kind of heart that pleases God. The person who possesses these eight “beautiful attitudes” will find God’s favor and receive His richest spiritual blessings. The word “blessed” is often translated “happy”, but there is no one English word that captures the essence of this Greek word “markarios”. Maybe it’s a combination of happiness, joy, contentment; the richness of a life that is lived to the fullest spiritual measure.

As I read verses 3-12 I can’t help but notice the sharp contrast that should exist between the worldview of a Christian and that of a non-Christian. All the things that Jesus says will make His followers “blessed” or “happy” do not comprise the kind of mindset that the carnally minded people of the world will see as desirable. No model for worldly success is going to include poverty, sorrow, meekness, purity. But Jesus says that these qualities, taken in the right context, will make you truly happy. Notice as we examine these blessed traits that happiness doesn’t necessarily come from what we do but from who we “are”. Only the thoughts, words and actions that proceed from a heart refined by God’s graces will produce blessedness.

Verse 3 – “Blessed are the poor in spirit” – Spiritual poverty is the passport into “the kingdom of heaven”. God can do marvelous things with a person who recognizes that he is spiritually destitute and totally dependent upon Him for redemption, sanctification and salvation. David wrote in Psalm 51:17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” Please read the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14).

Verse 4 – “Blessed are those who mourn” – It is not by accident that this beatitude follows the first. The person who recognizes his own spiritual poverty will be grieved to the heart because of it. Only the person whose heart is broken from his own sinfulness can truly “be comforted” by God’s saving grace (Psalm 51:12). “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted” (2 Corinthians 7:10).

Verse 5 – “Blessed are the gentle” – Please do not confuse “meekness” with “weakness”. Jesus was “meek and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29), and yet He possessed all the power of God Almighty. Meek people exercise the power to control themselves in the face of provocation, and they leave place for the wrath of God (Romans 12:19).

Heaven’s happiness can be found when we crave righteousness, show mercy, procure purity and pursue peace (verses 6-9). Even when we are insulted and persecuted for the sake of righteousness, we can rejoice in the knowledge that our “reward is in heaven” (verses 10-12). When we sustain this spiritual transformation God can use us as His shining lights in the world (verse 16).

Please read Matthew 5:21-48 for tomorrow – Sermon on the Mount – Relationships.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Luke 6:12-16

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

“It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles: Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James and John; and Philip and Bartholomew; and Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.”

---End of Scripture Verses---

Jesus understood how important an effective prayer life is for keeping balanced during the daily stresses of life. We learn a lot about Jesus’ prayer life from what is said in Luke 5:15-16 – “But the news about Him was spreading even farther, and large crowds were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.” The Lord was continually thronged by people who bombarded Him with their worst problems and He always made time for them. Jesus never turned anyone away, but He did often steal away to private places to pray. It comes as no surprise that in today’s reading we see Jesus going off alone to a mountain to pray.

“Jesus spent the whole night in prayer to God” (verse 12). This statement is pure amazement to me. I often find it difficult to pull off a good ten minute prayer. Life’s daily activities are sometimes so tightly pressed together that squeezing in a few minutes of quiet prayer time seems to be a herculean task. When I do take a good chunk of time to pray, my mind often drifts and darts to the things I have done and the tasks I still need to do. And when I pray at night before bed, I’d better not try to do that while lying down. I will slip into slumber seconds after starting the prayer. And yet Jesus prayed all night long. If Jesus found time to pray in solitude, and if He prayed this much, it must be a vital part of spiritual life. I must do better. I must try harder. If Jesus could stay focused in prayer all night, I can and must learn to do that for stretches of a few minutes or more. I must schedule the time in advance if necessary. I must put myself in places and my body in positions that are favorable for staying alert and staying awake.

This particular night that Jesus spent in solitary prayer immediately preceded the day that He chose and appointed His twelve apostles. While prayer is always an important part of daily life, and we should seek God’s assistance with all the decisions we make, prayer is particularly important before life’s major decisions. Sometimes we stress over major life events because we want to be certain that we are making the best choices for ourselves and our family. Let’s remember to include the One who has all the power and who knows what’s best for us in the decision-making process. Philippians 4:6 tells us to not worry about anything, but pray about everything. The more we pray, the less we stress, the better the outcome.

“Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.” (Colossians 4:2)

Please read Matthew 5:1-20 for tomorrow – Sermon on the Mount – The Beatitudes.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Luke 4:14-30

Monday, May 18, 2020

“And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district. And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all. And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.’ And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, ;Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’ And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, ‘Is this not Joseph’s son?’ And He said to them, ‘No doubt you will quote this proverb to Me, “Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we heard was done at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.”’ And He said, ‘Truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his hometown. But I say to you in truth, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land; and yet Elijah was sent to none of them, but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.’ And all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things; and they got up and drove Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to throw Him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, He went His way.”

---End of Scripture Verses---

By the verses…

Verse 16 – It was Jesus’ custom to assemble with God’s people on the Sabbath when they worshiped the Lord. From a child, Jesus’ parents took Him to synagogue with regularity. When He became an adult He willingly continued this practice. When in the assembly He would not just sit by idly but actively participated in worship services. He relished opportunities to read the Holy Scriptures publicly. Where do you think Jesus wants to find His followers come Sunday morning and what do you think He wants them to be engaged in? Do you think He would willingly forsake church services?

Verse 21 – Jesus told His hometown family and friends that the prophecies quoted from Isaiah 61:1-2 were all about Him. It was well accepted among the Jewish rabbis that these words were written about the Messiah who was to come into the world and save God’s people. Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah but that may have escaped their immediate notice.

Verse 22 – Familiarity breeds contempt. Although they were impressed by the power and eloquence with which Jesus spoke, they knew that He was merely the son of a local carpenter and had received no formal education or training. They just knew Jesus too well to believe what they were seeing with their own eyes, and hearing with their own ears. Sometimes our past experiences can prejudice our minds and impede our future progress.

Verses 28-29 – Why were the people from Jesus’ own backyard filled with so much rage that they would try to push Him off a high cliff and kill Him? For one thing, Jesus called himself a prophet (verse 24), while mentioning himself in the same breath with Elijah and Elisha. That certainly didn’t sit well with them. He also reminded them that God favored the Gentiles over His own people by using two of their greatest prophets to bless some foreigners living in heathen lands (verses 25-27). They definitely didn’t like that. In doing so Jesus also implied that they weren’t any better than the Israelites that lived during the reign of the wicked king Ahab and his deplorable wife Jezebel. Sometimes when a preacher tells us the truth about ourselves, we prefer to blame the messenger rather than allow the inspired message to change us into the kind of people that God wants us to be.

Verse 30 – Jesus escaped their grasp and went on His way to preach the truth in other places. The Gospel message marches on (verse 43). God won’t force any of us to embrace His Son or the saving truth that He preaches. If we continually resist God’s will for us, He will let us have our own way and leave us to our own demise. The blessed Gospel is for all…but few there be that truly cherish it (Matthew 7:13-14, 21-23).

Please read Luke 6:12-16 for tomorrow – Jesus calls His Apostles.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

John 4:1-26

Sunday, May 17, 2020

“Therefore when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus Himself was not baptizing, but His disciples were), He left Judea and went away again into Galilee. And He had to pass through Samaria. So He came to a city of Samaria called Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph; and Jacob’s well was there. So Jesus, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘Give Me a drink.’ For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, ‘How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?’ (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered and said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, “Give Me a drink,” you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.’ She said to Him, ‘Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?’ Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.’ The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw.’ He said to her, ‘Go, call your husband and come here.’ The woman answered and said, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You have correctly said, “I have no husband”; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.’ The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.’ The woman said to Him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am He.’”

---End of Scripture Verses---

Some observations:

Jesus got tired and thirsty (verse 6-7). When Jesus left heaven’s glory and took on the form of a bondservant, He gave up many of the prerogatives of deity (Philippians 2:6-8). Jesus was a human being, and as such, He grew weary from His work and His travels. Some people are considered “tireless workers”. I don’t think that’s an accurate description of diligent and dedicated laborers. They get tired too, they just refuse to make excuses and they work through their fatigue.

Jesus provides refreshment (verses 10-14). Jesus asked for a drink, but the Samaritan woman was truly the needy one. She needed the “living water” that only the Savior offers, as we all do. Jesus calls this living water “the gift of God.” What is this gift? In John 7:37-39 Jesus spoke of “rivers of living waters," and John said this was in reference to the Holy Spirit. Jesus also said here that this water would "spring up to eternal life," and in Romans 6:23, the “free gift of God” is said to be “eternal life”. Since there is a connection between these two gifts (the Holy Spirit and eternal life) that cannot be broken, Jesus likely had both in mind. Peter said in Acts 2:38 that when a person repents and is baptized for the forgiveness of sins, he receives “the gift of the Holy Spirit”. When a person hears, believes and receives the Spirit inspired word of God, that prompts Him to obey His commandments and receive His gift of salvation. Until a person refreshes His soul through the gift of God’s Son (John 3:16), he will never truly find satisfaction.

Jesus knows everything about you (verse 17-19, 29). Even though Jesus was fully human, He was also fully God. “For in Him the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9). Jesus looked into this woman’s past and told her things about her life that no mere human could possibly know. Jesus loves you and He died to save you, but He also examines you and He will judge you (John 5:22).

It matters how you worship God (verse 24). Jesus taught this woman that the most significant thing is not where you worship but how you worship. You don’t have to go to Mount Gerizim or even Jerusalem in order to pay proper homage to the Father. True worshipers of God worship Him in spirit and in truth (verse 23). If there are true worshipers of God, that necessarily means that many worship Him falsely. Jesus says we “must” worship God in spirit and in truth. Acceptable worship must be spiritual, but it must also be offered in accordance with God’s revealed truth. The Lord has not left it up to our own imagination, but He has specified explicitly in the New Testament how He wants us to worship Him.

Please read Luke 4:14-30 for tomorrow – Jesus Teaches in synagogues.

Have a blessed Lord’s Day!

-Louie Taylor

John 2:1-11

Saturday, May 16, 2020

“On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; and both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Whatever He says to you, do it.’ Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each. Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the waterpots with water.’ So they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, ‘Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.’ So they took it to him. When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, and said to him, ‘Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.’ This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.”

---End of Scripture Verses---

This “beginning of His signs” (verse 11) has been the source of much consternation and analytical gymnastics. Did Jesus rebuke His mother? Why did He seem to say one thing and then do another? What did He mean by saying His hour had not yet come? Did Jesus make 150 gallons of intoxicating drink? Sometimes we can get so entangled in the details of an event that we miss the intended significance of it. Both the fine points and the big picture are, however, worthy of a close look.

FIRST THE DETAILS:

I do believe that Jesus mildly rebuked His mother. She was interfering in matters that she was not in charge of. The wine for the wedding was the concern of the “ruler of the feast,” and the use of miraculous powers was God’s business alone. But that didn’t mean that Jesus was unwilling to help. He just chose to do so in a very discreet way.

When Jesus said, “My hour has not yet come,” I think He meant that this was not a good time for Him to fully reveal His identity to the masses. If too many people knew too much about Jesus too quickly, it would have interfered with God’s perfect timing for the completion of His plan of redemption (consider Mark 1:43-45; John 11:47-50). So He performed this miracle in a private manner without drawing attention to himself. After the water had been turned to wine, only a few people were aware that anything out of the ordinary had taken place.

As for the kind of wine that Jesus made: the text doesn’t tell us. But I personally refuse to believe that Jesus would in any way participate in helping people get drunk. Drunkenness is repeatedly condemned in both the Old and New Testaments. The high quality of the wine existed in its taste, not its ability to intoxicate.

NOW THE MAJOR TAKEAWAYS:

“Whatever He says, do it” (verse 5). I can’t think of five more important words that anyone could ever speak. Whatever Jesus tells you to do, just humbly obey. There is no profit in doubting or questioning or arguing. Jesus would never tell us to do something that isn’t in our best interest, and when He utters a command it is spoken with the absolute authority of God Almighty. Lots of people claim to love Jesus and yet do and say things that He does not approve of. Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46).

“And His disciples believed in Him” (verse 11). Even though the timing wasn’t quite right for everyone to see Jesus “manifest His glory,” it was important for His followers to be further convicted in their faith. Jesus continually took opportunities to build trust and confidence in the hearts of His true believers. It’s also significant to note that Jesus wasn’t just helping out some friends in the wedding party who found themselves in a tight spot. All of Jesus' miracles were performed to produce or promote faith (John 20:30-31).

Please read John 4:1-26 for tomorrow – The Samaritan Woman.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Luke 4:1-13

Friday, May 15, 2020

“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry. And the devil said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, “Man shall not live on bread alone.”’ And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, ‘I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.”’ And he led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; for it is written, “He will command His angels concerning You to guard You,” and, “On their hands they will bear You up, so that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.”’ And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘It is said, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”’ When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time.”

---End of Scripture Verses---

No Bible study of Jesus is complete without learning about the adversary that He came to the earth to destroy. Let’s focus on some things we learn about Satan from this passage.

Satan is real. The devil is not nearly as powerful as Jesus, but he is just as real as Jesus is. Satan appeared to Jesus, he talked to Him and showed Him things in order to tempt Him to do wrong. The devil was not merely a hunger induced hallucination in the Lord’s mind. Satan is real and opportunistic and he strikes at the times we are most vulnerable.

Satan knows the truth. With the third temptation he hurled at Jesus, Satan quoted Psalms 91:11-12. Our adversary knows the Bible very well, but he uses his knowledge in an attempt to thwart the efforts of God, not to advance them. Please understand that just because someone has the ability to quote Scripture from memory, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can trust them to lead you in the way you need to go spiritually.

Satan perverts the truth. The devil quoted the Old Testament and twisted it out of context in order to try and trick the Lord into disobeying God’s will for Him. The word of God is very powerful (Hebrews 4:12), but that kind of power in the hands of the wrong people can cause considerable destruction. Please don’t take another person’s word for truth. Search the Scriptures for yourselves (Acts 17:11), and prove what the will of God is for you in your life (Romans 12:1-2). Satan will use the word as a weapon against you in an effort to upset your faith (Galatians 1:7). But...

Satan is no match for the truth. Jesus shows us that the greatest arsenal at our disposal to defeat the devil’s onslaught is a good working knowledge of God’s inspired word. Jesus responded to each of Satan’s three revealed temptations by accurately handling the Holy Scriptures. God has chosen to convey His will for us through the written word, so we need to spend considerable time immersed in the Bible or we will be no match for Satan. Our enemy desires to destroy us, but when we are empowered by the truth we can resist the devil and he will flee from us (James 4:7).

Jesus resisted Satan and he left in frustration…for a while (verse 13). He keeps returning so we must keep resisting.

Please read John 2:1-11 for tomorrow – Jesus’ first miracle.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Matthew 3:13-17

Thursday, May 14, 2020

“Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?’ 15 But Jesus answering said to him, ‘Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he permitted Him. After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.’”

---End of Scripture Verses---

People from all over the region were coming to John to confess their sins and to be baptized by him in the waters of the river Jordan (verses 5-6). When Jesus came to be baptized as well, John tried repeatedly to prevent Him from doing so (verse 14). Why would the perfect Lamb of God come to a sinner like John to be baptized? If a baptism were to take place here, John knew in his heart that Jesus should be baptizing him.

But Jesus wasn’t coming to John to partake in “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4). Jesus was being baptized “to fulfill all righteousness” (verse 15). I’m not exactly certain of the full implications of this phrase, but I do like what Leon Morris wrote about it: “Jesus might well have been up there in front standing with John and calling on sinners to repent. Instead he was down there with the sinners, affirming his solidarity with them, making himself one with them in the process of the salvation that he would in due course accomplish.”

John relented to Jesus’ request (command?) and he baptized Him. What ensued must have been just an incredible sight to behold! When Jesus came up out of the water, “The heavens were opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased” (verses 16-17).

When John introduced Jesus as the King that he had been paving the way for, the heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit emphatically and publicly expressed their approval for the Son of God as well, and the work He was entering into.

Please read Luke 4:1-13 for tomorrow.

Have a wonderful day!

-Louie Taylor

Matthew 3:1-12

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

“Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 3 For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said, ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness, “Make ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight!”’ Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the district around the Jordan; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, “We have Abraham for our father”; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.’”

---End of Scripture Verses---

I love the beautiful imagery of John preparing the way for Jesus to arrive. The fuller details are described in Isaiah chapter 40. “A voice is calling, ‘Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. Let every valley be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; and let the rough ground become a plain, and the rugged terrain a broad valley; then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken’” (Isaiah 40:3-5).

There is a sense of urgency and determination in these words. Level off the surface of the earth, fill in all the fissures of the ground, and clear the pathway of all rubble: The King is coming! John’s mission was to prepare the way for Jesus to come and fulfill His mission. John preached repentance of sins and his mission field was the obstinate hearts of God’s chosen people (Luke 1:17), the descendants of Abraham (verse 9).

John preached that the kingdom of heaven was at hand (verse 2). The kingdom was so near that the signs were visible and should have been obvious to anyone who had a good understanding of Old Testament prophecies. The kingdom was so close at hand that, indeed, the King was already walking among them (verse 13). The time had come for God’s chosen people to live like they were God’s chosen people. The time had come to turn from their sins and turn to their King.

The King had come to save His people. But just being physical descendants of Abraham did not qualify them as such (verse 9). Jesus was coming to save, but also to separate. A person’s reception or rejection of Jesus and His teaching would determine whether they were good grain or worthless debris (verse 12). From the way the story played out, it seems obvious that there was much more chaff than wheat. But then again, the pathway is very narrow, and the gate is small, and only relatively few find their way into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:13-14).

Please make sure you are one of the few.

Please read Matthew 3:13-17 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Matthew 1:18-25

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which translated means, ‘God with us.’ And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.”

---End of Scripture Verses---

It is often said that you don’t get to choose your parents. That wasn’t the case with Jesus. Mary and Joseph were hand-selected by God to raise Jesus when He was a child. Mary was chosen to be His birth mother and Joseph to be His step-father (Jesus had no earthly father). So, before “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14), He decided who His parents would be.

If you could choose the family you would be born in to, what would you look for in potential parents? People who could give you all the best things this world has to offer? Maybe a millionaire mother or a powerful government official for a father? Maybe any parents would do, as long as they lived in a tropical paradise? The choice of Joseph and Mary shows us what God values most in people. Joseph was a righteous man (verse 19). Mary was a morally pure (Luke 1:27) humble servant (Luke 1:38). If you were raised by godly parents will you please praise God for that?

Jesus was “God with us” (verse 23). God descended to the Earth in the form of a human being, and He had a specific mission in mind when He came. Jesus executed God’s eternal plan in order to “save His people from their sins” (verse 21). Friends, sin is the greatest affliction to ever plague this world, and it is the biggest problem that you have in your life personally. Sin will keep you separated from God and doomed for eternal destruction if you refuse to take corrective action (Isaiah 59:1-2). Let’s praise God that He sent Jesus into the world to do the part that we were helpless to do.

What is our part in God’s plan of salvation? Let’s hear the words of Jesus on this. The resurrected Jesus personally told His Apostles: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” When the Apostles preached the first Gospel sermon under inspiration of the Holy Spirit after Jesus ascended back to heaven, we see them carrying out this plan. When the people gathered around them asked “What shall we do?”; Peter answered, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:37-38).

“Repent”: change your mind about sin and purpose in your heart to turn away from it. “Be baptized”: fully immersed in water. “For the forgiveness of sins”: the very things that keep you separated from God. There’s more to the plan than that. We need to live lives of faithful obedience from that point onward. But that’s where it all starts. That’s where you make your life right with God. Then, it doesn’t matter who your parents were. Even if you were raised by a wicked mother or an abusive father, you will have a Father in heaven who will love you and bless you and never leave you. He gave you heaven’s best gift because He loves you so. Can you praise God for His love, grace and mercy?

Please read Matthew 3:1-12 for tomorrow – John prepares the way.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

 

Isaiah 53:1-12

Monday, May 11, 2020

“Who has believed our message? and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face. He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried: yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth. But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong; because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.”

---End of Scripture Verses---

Here is the new 50 day Bible reading schedule. The focus will be on the life, the mission, the teaching, the miracles, the death, the resurrection of Jesus the Christ. I pray as we spend more time with our Master that we will be drawn closer to Him and learn to love Him more and live more like He lived.

Today's reading is Isaiah 53:1-12. Isn't it amazing that the prophet Isaiah wrote this passage over 700 years before Jesus was born? And yet He captured the essence of the mission of our Lord and Savior perfectly. The Holy Spirit revealed to him that the whole purpose for Jesus coming into the world would be to sacrifice Himself in order to offer salvation to all people (verses 10-12).

Jesus came into this world to bear our griefs and carry our sorrows and be pierced through for our sins (verses 4-5). The death of Christ was no accidental thing. Jesus didn't die because the Jews rejected Him. Jesus died according to the "predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23). The sacrifice of Jesus has been God's plan to save mankind since before the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:18-20).

As you read this passage please take note of all the prophecies that were fulfilled in the life and death of Jesus. That is one of the main reasons why we know for certain that the Bible is the inspired revelation of God, and that we can completely place our trust in it. When predictions are made by an Old Testament writer and then fulfilled with detailed precision over 700 years later, we can rest assured that those prophecies were inspired by God. As we read our New Testaments we learn that over 300 Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled in the life and death and resurrection and ascension of Jesus.

Wow what an amazing book the Bible is! Nothing in the world comes close to comparing with it! Okay let's prepare to be amazed!

Please read Matthew 18:1-25 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

50 Days with Jesus Revised.pdf · version 1

PDF

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 50:22-26

Sunday, May 10, 2020

“Now Joseph stayed in Egypt, he and his father’s household, and Joseph lived one hundred and ten years. Joseph saw the third generation of Ephraim’s sons; also the sons of Machir, the son of Manasseh, were born on Joseph’s knees. Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am about to die, but God will surely take care of you and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob.’ Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, ‘God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones up from here.’ So Joseph died at the age of one hundred and ten years; and he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now Joseph stayed in Egypt, he and his father’s household, and Joseph lived one hundred and ten years.” (verse 22) Joseph lived “Comfortably, quietly, and in great prosperity, not only he, but his brethren and their families, as long as he lived, and Joseph lived one hundred and ten years and all but seventeen of them in Egypt, for at that age it was when he was brought thither: thirteen years he lived in Potiphar's house, and in prison, for he was thirty years of age when he was brought to Pharaoh, and stood before him, and fourscore years he lived in the greatest honour and prosperity that a man could well wish for.” (Pulpit Commentary)

“Joseph saw the third generation of Ephraim’s sons…” (verse 23) “It is not clear whether the great-grandchildren…are Ephraim’s or Joseph’s (‘through Ephraim’). If the former, Ephraim’s line would have begotten one more generation than Manasseh’s in the same period of time. This would be in fulfillment of the blessing of Genesis 48:19. If the later, then Joseph would have seen only the grandchildren of both his sons before dying. He would thus have lived to see at least the fourth generation. This is a sign of special favor, such as Job enjoys as a reward for his piety (Job 42:16).” (Nahum Sarna)

“Also the sons of Machir, the son of Manasseh, were born on Joseph’s knees.” (verse 23) “Machir was the most important of the clans of Manasseh and, at one time, was identified with the tribe as a whole. The Machirites captured and occupied the Trans-jordanian regions of Gilead and Bashan. Machir’s first-born is given as Gilead in 1 Chronicles 7:14, a name without doubt derived from the association of the clan in the area.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am about to die…’” (verse 24) Even though Joseph was younger than all but one of his brothers, some or all of them must have outlived him. Either that or the term “brothers” is used more loosely to represent the family or “tribe” of Israel that each of his brothers headed. Joseph sensed that his time on earth was rapidly drawing to a close, so he assured his brethren that, “God will surely take care of you and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob.” Although Joseph would no longer be around to provide for and protect his brethren, he assured them that the Lord always would. “Observe how the patriarchal narrative is closing with the promise of redemption, and with the renewal of the oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges)

“You shall carry my bones up from here.” (verse 25) “Why Joseph does not request immediate interment in the land of his father is not explained; no doubt, he knows that present conditions are unfavorable. The oath he extracts was indeed carried out at the time of the Exodus, as Exodus 13:19 reports. No request for any specific burial place is made, and he is finally laid to rest in a plot of land that Jacob had once bought in Shechem (Josh. 24:32; cf. Gen. 33:19).” (Nahum Sarna) Another possible reason for Joseph waiting to remove his skeletal remains is that his Egyptian peers and overlord would have viewed such a request made by him as ungrateful and unpatriotic, and, being so offended, they could have made life much more difficult for his entire family. This was obviously not cowardice on Joseph’s part but an act of great wisdom and faithfulness as declared by the Hebrews writer—“ By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones” (Hebrews 11:22).

“So Joseph died at the age of one hundred and ten years; and he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt.” (verse 26) And thus, the remarkable narrative of Joseph and the magnificent first biblical book of inspiration draws to an unlikely close with a coffin in Egypt. This is obviously not the end of the story of God’s chosen people or His scheme of redemption for the entirety of the human race, just as certainly as the stone rolled over the opening of the sepulcher was not the end of the story for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. But there is a lengthy cessation and period of divine silence of over three hundred years before the story picks up again with the Exodus of God’s people from the land of their enslavement. If you serve the Lord in all love and faithfulness and your life belongs to the Savior of the world, that life will not end in a coffin or a grave. Death is only a dark portal to a vivid and brilliant land of joy and bliss, and only the beginning of an everlasting life for all eternity in the heavenly mansion that Jesus went to prepare for his followers in His Father’s house.

Thanks for spending the last seven months with us studying the book of Genesis! At some point I would like to start a running commentary on the book of Exodus as well, but for now I need a break from writing new articles every day. Tomorrow we will be starting a 50 day study of the life of Jesus. This is a rerun of a reading program that we did in 2015 so it should be like new to us. Each of the 50 days will include a passage of Scripture, two questions included on the attached PDF of the reading schedule, and some brief commentary.

Please read the Isaiah 53:1-12 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed Lord’s Day!

50 Days with Jesus Revised.pdf · version 1

PDF

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 50:14-21

Saturday, May 09, 2020

“After he had buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, he and his brothers, and all who had gone up with him to bury his father. When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, ‘What if Joseph bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong which we did to him!’ So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, ‘Your father charged before he died, saying, “Thus you shall say to Joseph, “Please forgive, I beg you, the transgression of your brothers and their sin, for they did you wrong.’” And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.’ And Joseph wept when they spoke to him. Then his brothers also came and fell down before him and said, ‘Behold, we are your servants.’ But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“What if Joseph bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong which we did to him!” (verse 15) Jacob’s sons viewed their father as the only shield insulating them against Joseph’s anger and quest for vengeance. Even though he had assured them that he no longer held them accountable for their wicked crimes, and that God was using him to provide for and protect them and their families (Genesis 45:4-10), the inclination of their guilty consciences was to distrust and fear the worst because they knew they did not deserve Joseph’s best.

Sometimes some of us feel that way about God. We feel that our past sins are too atrocious for Him to be willing or able to fully forgive us, but that is only because we find it nearly impossible to forgive ourselves. Friends, God’s ways and thoughts are infinitely higher than our own (Isaiah 55:8-9), and His love and forgiveness are greater than the sum total of all the world’s sins (John 3:16). “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.” (Psalm 103:11-14) The only sins that God will refuse to forgive us for are those we refuse to turn loose of.

“So they sent a message to Joseph…” (verse 16) The brothers are so fearful, either of Joseph’s smoldering animosity toward them or of the anger the message would incite, that they delivered it through a third party and not directly to him. “Your father charged before he died, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph…” (verses 16-17). There is no scriptural reference to these words ascribed to Jacob and it appears to be a story the brothers invented to save their own hides. “If Jacob had wanted to give Joseph a message about forgiving his brothers, he, it seems to us, would have given such a message to Joseph himself, rather than leaving it for the brothers to tell it.” (James Burton Coffman) When Joseph had accused them of being spies upon their first arrival in Egypt in search of food, they responded: “We are all sons of one man; we are honest men, your servants are not spies” (Genesis 42:11). They were by no means spies but, then again, they were not entirely honest men either. Jacob’s sons had grown to be decent and godly men, but sadly we see yet another of the many biblical examples of fear propelling God’s people to employ pretense and prevarication.

“Joseph wept when they spoke to him.” (verse 17) These tears were undoubtedly driven by mixed emotions on Joseph’s part. He must have felt compassion for his brothers because they were suffering such tremendous emotional fear and turmoil, but it also must have broken his heart to know that they still did not trust him after all the love and compassion he had extended to them over the previous seventeen years. “Please forgive, I beg you, the transgression of your brothers and their sin.” Those transgressions had been forgiven, if not fully forgotten, many years before. This appeal written by the brothers and falsely ascribed to their father leads me to wonder if they had ever personally expressed remorse to Joseph for their wickedness and formally asked him to forgive them.

“Then his brothers also came and fell down before him and said, ‘Behold, we are your servants.’” (verse 18) “When the brothers learn of Joseph’s emotional reaction they feel free to go to him in person. There is here an echo of the opening scene of the Joseph narrative. The boyhood dreams of lordship over his kin (37:7-10) have long been fulfilled, but the reality is now distasteful to him for his character is being called into question…” (Nahum Sarna) But, instead of chastising his brothers for their distrust, he “comforted them and spoke kindly to them” (verse 21).

“Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place?” (verse 19) Vengeance was and is solely the Lord’s business, and Joseph being the true man of God that he was, fully appreciated and honored this truth (Leviticus 19:18; Romans 12:19). “Willis stated the meaning of this to be, ‘Is it my prerogative to judge men and to punish them for their injustice to others?’ Jacob asked the same question of Rachel who had complained about not having a child; and there, it meant, ‘Do I have the power to enable you to conceive and bear a child?’ As Willis said, ‘The answer, in both cases, of course, is no.’” (James Burton Coffman)

“Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:17-21) Friends, that is the only way to overcome evil. Evil cannot be defeated by additional evil.

Please read Genesis 50:22-26

Have a wonderful day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 50:7-13

Friday, May 08, 2020

“So Joseph went up to bury his father, and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his household and all the elders of the land of Egypt, and all the household of Joseph and his brothers and his father’s household; they left only their little ones and their flocks and their herds in the land of Goshen. There also went up with him both chariots and horsemen; and it was a very great company. When they came to the threshing floor of Atad, which is beyond the Jordan, they lamented there with a very great and sorrowful lamentation; and he observed seven days mourning for his father. Now when the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, ‘This is a grievous mourning for the Egyptians.’ Therefore it was named Abel-mizraim, which is beyond the Jordan. Thus his sons did for him as he had charged them; for his sons carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre, which Abraham had bought along with the field for a burial site from Ephron the Hittite. ”

---End of Scripture verses---

“So Joseph went up to bury his father…” (verse 7) Joseph’s entourage must have been quite an impressive sight to behold, and the spectacle of the enormous funeral procession of a caravan left an impression upon all who witnessed it. It consisted of “all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his household and all the elders of the land of Egypt,” along with “all the household of Joseph and his brothers and his father’s household” (verse 8). “There also went up with him both chariots and horsemen; and it was a very great company.” (verse 9) It is obvious that, although Joseph was required to make an indirect formal request of Pharaoh to carry the corpse of his father into the land of Canaan for burial (verses 4-5), the great king willingly and eagerly consented, and spared no expense to honor the fallen father of his most celebrated and successful dignitary.

“When they came to the threshing floor of Atad, which is beyond the Jordan, they lamented there with a very great and sorrowful lamentation; and he observed seven days mourning for his father.” (verse 10) “The funeral takes place in two stages. The entire cortege first proceeds to a place at which a great public mourning ceremony is held. Here formal Egyptian participation in the rites is completed. Then, after a week’s stay, the immediate family continues the journey to the cave of Machpelah, where the body is privately interred.” (Nahum Sarna)

The threshing floor of Atad, “Literally, ‘the threshing floor of the bramble’…is mentioned nowhere else and cannot be certainly identified. ‘Beyond the Jordan’ can mean either east or west of the river, depending on the standpoint of the speaker or writer. Here it refers to Canaan (v. 11), and the place most probably lies along the coastal road (the Via Maris), since it would be the shortest route for anyone traveling from Egypt to Canaan, as Exodus 13:17 notes. Another name for the site is Abel-mizraim (v.11).” (Nahum Sarna)

The name Abel-mizraim means “The mourning of Egypt” and it “consists of two elements. The first element Abel…comes from the root group אבל. This element occurs in multiple names, where it usually is translated with meadow or brook. But the word is also identical to the root meaning to mourn (as used in Genesis 50:11), and that seems to serve the context quite well… The second part of the name Abel-mizraim is Mizraim, which is the Hebrew word for Egypt.” (abrim-publications)

“Thus his sons did for him as he had charged them.” (verse 13) The sons of Jacob dutifully fulfilled their father’s final request and “buried him in the cave of the field of Macpelah…” (verse 14). As they were gathered somberly around Jacob’s deathbed, Jacob, “charged them and said to them, ‘I am about to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field from Ephron the Hittite for a burial site.’” (Genesis 49:29-30) We should always do our best to honor the most sacred wishes of our loved ones, whether they be present or departed, as long as they do not run contrary to the will of our heavenly father. “Honor your father and mother (which is the first command with a promise), so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:2-3)

Please read Genesis 50: 14-21 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 50:1-6

Thursday, May 07, 2020

“Then Joseph fell on his father’s face, and wept over him and kissed him. Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father. So the physicians embalmed Israel. Now forty days were required for it, for such is the period required for embalming. And the Egyptians wept for him seventy days. When the days of mourning for him were past, Joseph spoke to the household of Pharaoh, saying, ‘If now I have found favor in your sight, please speak to Pharaoh, saying, “My father made me swear, saying, ‘Behold, I am about to die; in my grave which I dug for myself in the land of Canaan, there you shall bury me.’ Now therefore, please let me go up and bury my father; then I will return.”’ Pharaoh said, ‘Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear.’”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Then Joseph fell on his father’s face, and wept over him and kissed him.” (verse 1) Joseph’s brothers, no doubt, mourned and wept alongside him when their father departed this earthly plain and set sail for eternal realms beyond, but it was Joseph’s exalted position and extraordinary bond with Jacob that gave him the spotlight in the inspired text. Joseph was the son who would provide for a royal embalming and burial for the great patriarch, and the Lord promised Jacob that his favorite son would personally see him off as he set out on his final voyage: “I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will close your eyes” (Genesis 46:4)

“Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father. So the physicians embalmed Israel.” (verse 2) The Egyptian embalming method was a complicated procedure that required “forty days” for completion (verse 3). This painstaking process was to make certain the bodies of Pharaohs were well preserved for the afterlife, but there were no religious rituals or superstitions involved in the mummification of Jacob or the subsequent embalming of Joseph (verse 26). “The reason for Jacob's being embalmed lay in the fact that a long period of mourning was scheduled, and also in the necessity to transport the body over a great distance to the land of Canaan… Egyptian mummies preserved for centuries bear silent witness to the remarkable efficiency of these embalmers.” (James Burton Coffman)

“The Egyptians wept for him seventy days.” (verse 3) “Thirty days, (according to the custom of the Hebrews, Numbers 20:29, Deuteronomy 34:8, to which doubtless the Egyptians in this case did accommodate themselves,) besides the forty days spent in embalming him, which also was a time of mourning.” (Matthew Poole’s Commentary) The extent of Jacob’s bereavement was strikingly similar to the official 72 day mourning period ascribed to Pharaohs by some historians.

“When the days of mourning for him were past, Joseph spoke to the household of Pharaoh…” (verse 4) It is interesting that Joseph sent his request to Pharaoh by means of messengers and did not approach the king himself. James Burton Coffman provides several possible suggested reasons: (1) “He approached Pharaoh through the priests who were principals in the house of Pharaoh, and since the burial of the dead was closely connected with their religious rites.” (2) “Joseph was a mourner, therefore unclean…and…he could not see Pharaoh personally (see Genesis 41:14).” 3) “Another Pharaoh, not so friendly to Joseph, had ascended the throne.” (4) There were “‘diplomatic considerations,’ which is not unreasonable since Joseph's leaving Egypt was involved.” I lean toward explanation number (2) or (4) or a combination of the two as the most likely explanations.

“My father made me swear, saying, ‘Behold, I am about to die; in my grave which I dug for myself in the land of Canaan, there you shall bury me.’” (verse 5) “This is another instance of additional information being supplied in subsequent references to an event already mentioned…. Abraham had indeed purchased Machpelah; but, probably, upon the occasion of Leah's burial there, Jacob also prepared for himself a grave within the cave.” (James Burton Coffman) “Pharaoh said, ‘Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear.’” (verse 6) The fact that Jacob had made Joseph “swear” to bury him in the land of Canaan demonstrated to Pharaoh that this was not a trivial matter to be taken lightly, therefore he granted Joseph official leave from his governmental post and duties to carry out his sacred oath. God’s governance and providence would not have permitted otherwise.

Please read Genesis 50:7-13 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 49:28-33

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

“All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them. He blessed them, every one with the blessing appropriate to him. Then he charged them and said to them, ‘I am about to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field from Ephron the Hittite for a burial site. There they buried Abraham and his wife Sarah, there they buried Isaac and his wife Rebekah, and there I buried Leah—the field and the cave that is in it, purchased from the sons of Heth.’ When Jacob finished charging his sons, he drew his feet into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them.” (verse 28) “This is the first mention of this prophecy as ‘a blessing’; and so it is. To be sure, some have pointed out that Jacob ‘cursed their anger,’ a far different thing. Jacob's bitter denunciation of the sins of Reuben, Simeon, and Levi was exactly the type of blessing they needed; yet for all that, they were not expelled or disinherited among the Twelve Sons, but received their inheritance like all the rest. So indeed the whole prophecy is a blessing.” (James Burton Coffman) Every statement Jacob spoke in regard to each son, whether positive or negative, was “appropriate to him.”

“I am about to be gathered to my people…” (verse 29) “This phrase…is to be distinguished from death itself because the action follows the demise. It is not the same as burial in an ancestral grave, because it is employed of Abraham, Aaron, and Moses, none of whom was buried with his fathers. It is also not identical of interment in general because the report of burial follows this phrase, and the difference between the two is especially blatant in the case of Jacob, who was interred quite a while after being ‘gathered to his kin.’” (Nahum Sarna) “His statement…suggests that some kind of conviction existed within him that the dead were nevertheless, in some sense, still his people. If it was merely an intuition on his part, it was true. God would later speak to Moses as the ‘God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob,’ the Saviour himself using this as a proof of immortality.” (James Burton Coffman) “Though death separate us from our children, and our people in this world, it gathers us to our fathers and to our people in the other world.” (Benson Commentary) As the Hebrews writer so succinctly put it, Jacob was gathered “to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect.” (Hebrews 12:23)

“Bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite.” (verse 29) “Here Jacob imposes upon all his sons the obligation to bury him in Canaan, but he does not make them swear to that effect, as he had Joseph (47:29-31), because it was not in their power to implement his wish. Only Joseph had the necessary ready access to the Egyptian authorities (50:4f.)… The precise description of the burial site follows that of 23:17-20.” (Nahum Sarna) “There they buried Abraham and his wife Sarah, there they buried Isaac and his wife Rebekah, and there I buried Leah.” (verse 31) “Abraham buried Sarah there himself, and his two sons, Isaac and Ishmael, buried him there… we have no other account of the death of Rebekah, and her burial, but here; it is probable she died before Isaac, and that Isaac buried her in this cave; and here Esau and Jacob buried him… and there I buried Leah; of whose death and burial we also read nowhere else but here.” (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)

“When Jacob finished charging his sons, he drew his feet into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.” (verse 32) “This expression indicates that after Jacob finished blessing his sons, he took his feet up from the floor where he had been sitting on the bed and folded himself up in bed, assuming, in all probability, the fetal position that is naturally characteristic of one in the process of dying. The knees are drawn under the chin, and the body takes on something of the position occupied within the womb of the mother. This is an indication that Jacob died shortly after speaking these words.” (James Burton Coffman) However, if the ancient patriarch was greatly enfeebled and very near the point of departure, the expression may merely be a figurative way of saying that he died.

Please read Genesis 50:1-6 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

 

Genesis 49:22-27

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

“Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a spring; its branches run over a wall. The archers bitterly attacked him, and shot at him and harassed him; but his bow remained firm, and his arms were agile, from the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob (From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel), From the God of your father who helps you, and by the Almighty who blesses you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb. The blessings of your father have surpassed the blessings of my ancestors up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills; may they be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of the one distinguished among his brothers. Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he devours the prey, and in the evening he divides the spoil.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a spring; its branches run over a wall.” (verse 22) “Jacob had doubtless been made acquainted with the history of his beloved son Joseph from the time of his disappearance until he met him on the borders of Egypt. It had been the meditation and the wonder of his last seventeen years. When he comes to Joseph, therefore, the mingled emotions of affection and gratitude burst forth from his heart in language that cannot be restrained by the ordinary rules of speech. The first thing connected with Joseph in the patriarch's mind is fruitfulness. The image is vivid and striking. ‘Son of a fruitful tree.’ A branch or rather a shoot transplanted from the parent stem. ‘By a well;’ from which it may draw the water of life. ‘Whose daughters’ - luxuriant branches. Run over a wall - transcend all the usual boundaries of a well-enclosed garden. This fruitfulness attaches to Joseph in two respects. First, he is the prudent gatherer and the inexhaustible dispenser of the produce of Egypt, by which the lives of his father and brethren were preserved. And then he is in prospect the twofold tribe, that bursts the bounds assigned to a twelfth of the chosen people, and overspreads the area of two tribes.” (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

“The archers bitterly attacked him, and shot at him and harassed him.” (verse 23) “Naturally Jacob next describes the sorrows of Joseph’s youth, but in poetical terms, so as not to wound the feelings of his brethren, or rouse up thoughts of vengeance in Joseph’s own mind.” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers) “The reference to ‘the archers’ would appear to prophesy a continuation of the jealous hatred and persecution which had marked the early life of Joseph in his relationship with his brothers. Triumph for Joseph is clearly foretold.” (James Burton Coffman) “It could allude to the Ishmaelites..., to the hostility of Joseph’s brothers, or to the slanderous accusations of Potiphar’s wife with their bitter aftereffects. The figure of slander as an arrow is well attested.” (Nahum Sarna) “But his bow remained firm, and his arms were agile…” (verse 24) “His faith did not fail; he kept his ground, and came off conqueror. The arms of his hands were made strong — That is, his other graces did their part, his wisdom, courage, patience, which are better than weapons of war.” (Benson Commentary)

“From the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob (From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel).” (verse 24) Joseph’s bow remained flexible and his arms powerful because of the “Mighty” arm of the “One” who gives strength and fortitude to His loyal followers such as the faithful Joseph and his father “Jacob”. As a trustworthy “Shepherd” the “Almighty” God fostered, fed and fortified Joseph through the rugged terrain of his life, and as a sturdy “Stone” He supplied him the solid footing of a firm foundation. “From the God of your father who helps you…” (verse 25) “This title stresses the continuity of the generations, the unbroken chain of religious tradition that alone makes the dying patriarch’s blessing meaningful and effective.” (Nahum Sarna) It was faith in the Almighty that Jacob had infused within the heart of his favorite son for the seventeen years they lived under the same roof that sustained Joseph through all of his ordeals and distresses.

“By the Almighty who blesses you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb.” (verse 25) The Lord would shower down manifold blessings upon the head of Joseph as he had provided for his father Jacob throughout his life. The rain from above the earth and the springs from beneath would cause the soil under his feet to burst forth with bounteous fruitfulness, and foster the fertility of scores of physical descendants and servants, and herds and flocks. “Jacob here blessed Joseph with all the blessings that he himself had received from God, but significantly the blessings promised did not partake of the nature of spiritual excellence, but tended rather to worldly glory and power. As often noted, Judah received the spiritual leadership of Israel, and Joseph the political and temporal leadership, blessings which reached their climax in the glory of the northern Israel, but which were destined to be swallowed up in the Assyrian invasion and destruction of the ten tribes. It was perhaps the introduction of pagan influence into the posterity of Joseph through their mother the daughter of Potiphera the pagan priest of On that constituted the seeds of the ultimate downfall of Joseph (Ephraim).” (James Burton Coffman)

“The blessings of your father have surpassed the blessings of my ancestors up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills; may they be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of the one distinguished among his brothers.” (verse 26) There on his death bed, with his favorite son by his side and at the height of his glory, Jacob was overwhelmed by the innumerable blessings that the Lord had amassed upon him. He prayed for greater blessings still for his most excellent and beloved son. Unfortunately, as timeless as the “hills” may seem to be, they are not “everlasting,” and all physical blessings eventually come to an end. “No spiritual blessings were foretold for this favorite son of Jacob; spiritually, his tribe never excelled; and it was by a member of the tribe of Ephraim (Jeroboam) that the calf-worship was institutionalized in Israel, thus `making Israel to sin'.” (James Burton Coffman quoting H. C. Leupold)

“Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he devours the prey, and in the evening he divides the spoil.” (verse 27) “It is plain Jacob was guided in what he said by a spirit of prophecy, and not by natural affection, else he would have spoken with more tenderness of his beloved son Benjamin, concerning whom he only foretells that his posterity should be a warlike tribe, strong and daring; and that they should enrich themselves with the spoil of their enemies...” (Benson Commentary) “The ferocious nature of this tribe is exemplified in such men as Ehud (Judges 3:15) and King Saul (1 Samuel 11:6-11ff). Whatever the failures of this tribe might have been during the history of the old Israel, the glory of it was enhanced forever by one of their sons, Saul of Tarsus, who became the most gifted apostle…” (James Burton Coffman)

Please read Genesis 49:28-33 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 49:13-21

Monday, May 04, 2020

“Zebulun will dwell at the seashore; and he shall be a haven for ships, and his flank shall be toward Sidon. Issachar is a strong donkey, lying down between the sheepfolds. When he saw that a resting place was good and that the land was pleasant, he bowed his shoulder to bear burdens, and became a slave at forced labor. Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan shall be a serpent in the way, a horned snake in the path, that bites the horse’s heels, so that his rider falls backward. For Your salvation I wait, O Lord. As for Gad, raiders shall raid him, but he will raid at their heels. As for Asher, his food shall be rich, and he will yield royal dainties. Naphtali is a doe let loose, he gives beautiful words.”

---End of Scripture verses---

Most of Jacob’s prophecies concerning his sons are a bit vague in nature and leave room for multiple reasonable explanations. What follows are interesting insights from various commentaries but, by no means, definitive resolutions or fulfillments. It is interesting to note that Jacob compares many of his sons to animals in his departing, prophetic poem: Judah to a, Issachar to a donkey, Dan to a serpent and Benjamin to a wolf.

“Zebulun will dwell at the seashore; and he shall be a haven for ships, and his flank shall be toward Sidon.” (verse 13) “The territory of the tribe lay upon the inland sea of Gennesaret, but did not extend to the shore of the Mediterranean. We do not know of any literal fulfilment of the prediction, but Moses also speaks of Zebulun and Issachar as tribes that would ‘suck of the abundance of the seas.’ It is very possible that, living in the neighbourhood of the Phœnicians, they took part in maritime pursuits; and thus the general meaning of the blessing may be that Zebulun would be a tribe, not of agriculturists, but of traders.” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

“Issachar is a strong donkey, lying down between the sheepfolds. When he saw that a resting place was good and that the land was pleasant, he bowed his shoulder to bear burdens, and became a slave at forced labor.” (verses 14-15) “The thing in view here is the character of Issachar whose tribe would be satisfied with physical comfort and plenty to eat, with a complacency that would make them prefer to accept oppression and taskwork rather than fight to maintain freedom and independence. It is possible that this attitude contributed to the enslavement of Israel in Egypt. Morris read this as a prophecy that Issachar would be, ‘Strong, but docile and lazy.’” (James Burton Coffman)

“Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel.” (verse 16) “Jacob alludes to the name Dan, which signifies to judge, or judging… Though he be the son of one of my concubines, yet he shall not be subject to any other, but shall be a tribe governed by judges of his own, as well as any of the other tribes.” (Benson Commentary) “Dan shall be a serpent in the way, a horned snake in the path, that bites the horse’s heels, so that his rider falls backward.” (verse 17) “The thought here is that Dan, although few in number and not strong militarily would nevertheless be able to overcome by cunning strategy. Willis identified the ‘serpent’ of this place as…an extremely poisonous and dangerous, horned snake which was the color of the ground and often inflicted fatal wounds upon travelers. ‘This character of Dan as a judge of Israel came out in the expedition of the Danites to Laish in northern Canaan (described in Judges 18), and in the romantic chivalry of the brave and gigantic Samson, who with the cunning of the serpent overthrew the mightiest of foes.’” (James Burton Coffman)

“For Your salvation I wait, O Lord.” (verse 18) “The patriarch, contemplating the power of the adversaries of his future people, breaks forth into the expression of his longing desire and hope of that salvation of the Almighty by which alone they can be delivered. That salvation is commensurate with the utmost extent and diversity of these adversaries.” (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible) “The thought of the serpent wounding his prey in the heel carried the mind of the patriarch back to the fall of man, and the promise made to Eve. And thus it is a profession of faith, naturally called out by this chain of ideas, in the advent in due time of the promised Deliverer, and of which the accomplishment had become united in thought with the name of Jehovah.” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

“As for Gad, raiders shall raid him, but he will raid at their heels.” (verse 19) “This tribe had its territory east of the Jordan. Its boundaries are defined in the Book of Joshua. However, for most of its history, Gad was engaged in a series of wars with its neighbors, Ammonites (Judg. 11), Moabites…and Arameans (1 Kings 22:3; 2 Kings 10:33). Its members acquired a reputation as fighting warriors (Deut. 33:20; 1 Chron. 5:18 and 12:8) and, doubtless, the Testament of Jacob reflects this.” (Nahum Sarna)

“As for Asher, his food shall be rich, and he will yield royal dainties.” (verse 20) “In 1 Kings 5:11, it is revealed that Asher lived in the lowlands along the Mediterranean between Carmel and Tyre, a fruitful and fertile region; and Solomon supplied the household of King Hiram from the wheat and oil products of this region.” (James Burton Coffman) “Naphtali is a doe let loose, he gives beautiful words.” (verse 21) “Gad had been described as moving slowly in war, and allowing himself to be surprised by hordes of plunderers, whom, nevertheless, as soon as he has collected his forces, he repels and pursues with vigour. Naphtali, on the contrary, is light and active, moving rapidly like ‘a hind let loose;’ or, literally, sent forth, like the scouts or van of an army. And thus he brings back ‘goodly words’—Heb., words of pleasure—that is, trustworthy intelligence to guide the army in its motions.” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

Please read Genesis 49:22-27 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 49:8-12

Sunday, May 03, 2020

“Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons shall bow down to you. Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He couches, he lies down as a lion, and as a lion, who dares rouse him up? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. He ties his foal to the vine, and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine; he washes his garments in wine, and his robes in the blood of grapes. His eyes are dull from wine, and his teeth white from milk.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Judah, your brothers shall praise you…” (verse 8) The name “Judah” means “praised” in the Hebrew, and it signifies the grateful adoration that Leah gave to God at the birth of her fourth son. “And she conceived again and bore a son and said, ‘This time I will praise the Lord.’ Therefore she named him Judah. Then she stopped bearing.” (Genesis 29:35). Jacob used more than the mere poetic technique of wordplay in his opening remarks about his most remarkable son, but exposed the prophetic quality of that chosen name.

“Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies…” (verse 8) “Putting his foes to flight, Judah should grasp them by the neck, a prediction remarkably accomplished in the victories of David and Solomon.” (Pulpit Commentary) “As Judah pursues the fleeing foe, he shall grasp them by the neck (cf. Job 16:12). The point of this clause lies in the geographical position of the tribe of Judah. Their territory was beset on the west and south-west by the Philistines, and on the south and south-east by the Edomites and the Amalekites. The Philistines and the Edomites were the bitterest and most persistent of Israel’s foes. But they were within reach; and in their flight and retreat they are overtaken and smitten down by the victorious tribes.” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges) As with all of Jacob’s prophetic words, a deeper and more far-reaching fulfillment was accomplished in the sacrifice, resurrection and coronation of Jesus the Messiah, King, Warrior, Judge (Luke 20:42-43; 24:44; John 5:46).

Your father’s sons shall bow down to you.” (verse 8) “This is a prophecy that the right of rulership shall pertain to the tribe of Judah; but this did not come to pass at once. Moses was from Levi, Joshua from Ephraim, Gideon from Manasseh, Samson from Dan, Samuel from Ephraim, and Saul from Benjamin. However, in the long sweep through history the prophecy was completely fulfilled only in Judah and the house of David, one of his descendants whose reign prefigured the everlasting kingdom of the Messiah. The mention of ‘thy father's sons’ indicates that not merely the children of Judah's natural brothers (the other sons of Leah) would be subject to him, but that all of Israel would likewise be.” (James Burton Coffman)

“Judah is a lion’s whelp…” (verse 9) “A metaphor of strength, daring, and unassailability… The lion is one of the most frequently mentioned animals in the Bible and is referred to by six different names. Under the influence of this verse, the ‘lion of Judah’ became a favorite motif in Jewish art and acquired messianic associations.” (Nahum Sarna) But much greater than mere “messianic associations,” the Holy Spirit proclaims Jesus Christ himself to be “the Lion that is from the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David” in Revelation 5:5, and the fulfillment of Judah’s messianic prophecy.

“From the prey, my son, you have gone up. He couches, he lies down as a lion, and as a lion, who dares rouse him up?” (verse 9) “The lion is the king of beasts, the terror of the forest when he roars; when he seizeth his prey, none can resist him; when he goes up from the prey, none dares pursue him to revenge it. By this it was foretold that the tribe of Judah should become very formidable, and should not only obtain great victories, but should peaceably enjoy what was gotten by those victories. Judah is compared, not to a lion rampant, always raging, but to a lion couching, enjoying the satisfaction of his success, without creating vexation to others.” (Benson Commentary)

“The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.” (verse 10) “We confidently hail this as one of the greatest Messianic prophecies in the entire Bible… The Revised Standard Version's ‘Till he come to whom it belongs’ is certainly acceptable, because the Messianic thrust of the passage is not blunted by that rendition… The point would then be that Judah was to hold the sovereignty until its true possessor, the Messiah comes… Also, the personal pronoun ‘him’…absolutely requires this passage to be understood as a reference to the Messiah, of whom alone, could it ever be said that, ‘Unto him shall the obedience of the peoples be.’” (James Burton Coffman)

“He ties his foal to the vine, and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine; he washes his garments in wine, and his robes in the blood of grapes.” (verse 11) “The safety, plenty, and peace of an abundant agricultural life are symbolized by these quaint figures of speech. It is not suggested here that Judah would ever actually wash his clothes in wine, but that the wine (and milk) would be so abundant that he could have done so!” (James Burton Coffman) Of course there could be, and likely is, deeper spiritual significance and fulfillment in the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior for our sins and salvation. “Behold your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey, even a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.” (Matthew 21:5) “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:14)

Please read Genesis 49:13-21 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed Lord’s Day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 49:1-7

Saturday, May 02, 2020

“Then Jacob summoned his sons and said, ‘Assemble yourselves that I may tell you what will befall you in the days to come. Gather together and hear, O sons of Jacob; And listen to Israel your father. Reuben, you are my firstborn; my might and the beginning of my strength, preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power. Uncontrolled as water, you shall not have preeminence, because you went up to your father’s bed; then you defiled it—he went up to my couch. Simeon and Levi are brothers; their swords are implements of violence. Let my soul not enter into their council; let not my glory be united with their assembly; because in their anger they slew men, and in their self-will they lamed oxen. Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; and their wrath, for it is cruel. I will disperse them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Then Jacob summoned his sons and said, ‘Assemble yourselves that I may tell you what will befall you in the days to come.” (verse 1) The story of Jacob’s journey began with God’s promise to make his “descendants” as numerous as “the dust of the earth” (Genesis 28:14). It appropriately ended with the large family through which God would fulfill this prophecy gathered around him at his bedside before he departed for fairer lands beyond the bright blue. Jacob loved all of his sons dearly and gave attention to each of them in his farewell address, but, being the honest man that he had grown to be, he pulled no punches and included unfavorable words to the sons who deserved them. It is not surprising that nearly half of Jacob’s final recorded words were dedicated to Joseph and Judah, the two most prominent characters in the Joseph narrative and critical components of God’s unfolding plan to bring His Messiah Savior into the world of fallen man. Included in Israel’s departing declaration are some of the most amazing and accurate prophecies in all the Bible.

“Before his death Jacob summons all his sons to his bedside to hear his farewell words, addressing each individually through a series of aphorisms in poetic form. This document (vv. 1-27) is the first sustained piece of Hebrew poetry in the Torah. It is a combination of three literary genres: the deathbed blessing…, the farewell address…, and the tribal poem… Genesis 49 is widely known as ‘The blessing of Jacob.” However… Blessings and curses, censure and praise, geographical and historical observations—all are included. For this reason, a title such as ‘The Last Words of Jacob’…better suits the context… The aphorisms spoken by Jacob are presented as prophetic pronouncements that will ultimately determine the character and destiny of the future tribes. Also, the actions and behavior of the ancestors leave an indelible imprint on their descendants, affecting the course of history.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Reuben, you are my firstborn; my might and the beginning of my strength, preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power.” (verse 3) Jacob affectionately recalled the love, hope and promise that the appearing of his firstborn had ushered into his swelling heart at his birth. “The natural love of Jacob for his firstborn appears in this. God had promised Jacob to make of him a great nation, and Reuben was the beginning of the fulfillment. But, alas, the firstborn, in this instance, was not destined to live up to all the high hopes that his father had in him. Nevertheless, those hopes are affectionately mentioned here.” (James Burton Coffman)

“Uncontrolled as water, you shall not have preeminence, because you went up to your father’s bed; then you defiled it…” (verse 4) “This…is probably better rendered…’turbulent as a flood.’ Recklessness, and wantonness, lust, frivolity and insolent pride are all said to be included in the meaning. The reference, of course, is to the incest which Reuben committed with Bilhah, one of his father's wives… It should be noted that Jacob's pronouncement here was fulfilled exactly in all the subsequent life of Reuben. He never furnished a leader of any kind to the nation. His was the first tribe to ask for a place to settle, and that before they ever entered Canaan (Numbers 32). They erected an unauthorized place of worship (Joshua 22:10-34). In the days of Deborah and Barak, his tribe violated their pledge and refused to answer the call to arms (Judges 5:15,16).” (James Burton Coffman)

“Simeon and Levi are brothers; their swords are implements of violence.” (verse 5) The events recorded in Genesis 34 of the violent overthrow (murder) of the men of Shechem angered, shamed, hurt and haunted Jacob all the subsequent days of his life. Lustful revenge for the defilement of their beloved sister Dinah drove these two partners in crime past the brink of blood-thirsty madness. “Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; and their wrath, for it is cruel.” (verse 7) Simeon and Levi may have thought they had gotten away with murder, but they were “cursed” for their sinful crimes. “The curse is applied to the anger but actually refers to those who display it. The content of the curse is the loss of the independence and territorial integrity of these two tribes.” (Nahum Sarna) We must learn to control our anger before it pushes us past the point which we can control ourselves. God’s word does not reveal whether these two men ever felt the pangs of regret and remorse, but know for certain that their deeds did not go unpunished. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men…” (Romans 1:18)

“I will disperse them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.” (verse 7) “Since the cooperation of these brothers had produced some very shameful results, God would divide them. Jacob's prophecy was fulfilled in the most remarkable manner. At the time of the conquest of Canaan, Simeon had become the smallest of the tribes of Israel (Numbers 26:14). The tribe was passed over in the blessing of Moses (Deuteronomy 33). It received no separate assignment of territory, but merely a few cities within the limits of Judah (Joshua 19:1-9). Those were absorbed into Judah, and those who remained emigrated in two detachments, and sought out settlements for themselves outside the limits of Canaan (1 Chronicles 4:27-43).” (James Burton Coffman) Of course, the priesthood would arise from the tribe of Levi and they received no apportionment of land, but were scattered throughout the nation of Israel (Numbers 18:14; Deuteronomy 10:9).

Please read Genesis 49:8-12 for tomorrow.

Have a wonderful day!

-Louie Taylor

 

Genesis 48:17-22

Friday, May 01, 2020

“When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on Ephraim’s head, it displeased him; and he grasped his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. Joseph said to his father, ‘Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn. Place your right hand on his head.’ But his father refused and said, ‘I know, my son, I know; he also will become a people and he also will be great. However, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.’ He blessed them that day, saying, ‘By you Israel will pronounce blessing, saying, “May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh!’’ Thus he put Ephraim before Manasseh. Then Israel said to Joseph, ‘Behold, I am about to die, but God will be with you, and bring you back to the land of your fathers. I give you one portion more than your brothers, which I took from the hand of the Amorite with my sword and my bow.’”

---End of Scripture verses---

“When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on Ephraim’s head, it displeased him…” (verse 17) Throughout the pages of the Old and New Testaments, the right hand was excessively symbolic of strength and authority, and indicated greater power and ampler blessings. The right hand of God is expressive of His power (Exodus 15:6; Psalm 20:6; Matthew 26:64), honor (Psalm 110:1; Colossians 3:1) and salvation (Psalm 16:8; 18:35). On the great and final Day of Judgment, Jesus equates those who have done the will of God with His “sheep” that He will gather to His right hand of salvation, glory and honor (Matthew 25:33-34), and the disobedient with the goats separated on His left hand and destined for the “eternal fire” of everlasting shame and punishment (Matthew 25:41). “A wise man’s heart directs him toward the right, but the foolish man’s heart directs him toward the left” (Ecclesiastes 10:2)

When Joseph saw that his father intended to bestow the greater honor and blessing upon his younger son, it “displeased” him because societal convention and longstanding tradition dictated that such a privilege be reserved for the firstborn son. It is possible as well that Joseph’s heart harbored greater love and superior favor for Manasseh than for Ephraim. Joseph promptly “grasped his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head,” and exclaimed “Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn” (verse 18). He had intentionally placed Manasseh at Jacob’s right hand to avoid any confusion, and still Joseph feared his father’s blinded eyes would cause a terrible blunder. “He attributes the ‘error’ to his father’s failing eyesight (v.10), an ironic touch in view of the manner in which Jacob years before had exploited his own father’s failing vision (27:1-29).” (Nahum Sarna)

“But his father refused and said, ‘I know, my son, I know…’” (verse 19) Israel’s blinded eyes had not misdirect his feeble hands, and he was completely cognizant of what he was about to do. The great patriarch spoke words of comfort, sobering as they were, about the favorite son of his favorite son: “He also will become a people and he also will be great. However, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.” “Only the prophetic gift of God could have enabled Jacob to declare what was said here. Indeed it came to pass… It was not the gift of nature that determined the passing of God's blessing to one person or to another, but the sovereign purpose of Almighty God. Again and again, a similar thing had happened in the lives of the patriarchs. Isaac the younger had been chosen over Ishmael, Jacob the younger had been chosen over Esau, Joseph the younger had been chosen over Reuben; and now once more, Ephraim the younger had been chosen instead of Manasseh. It shall ever be thus in the kingdom of God, for Jesus said, ‘The first shall be last and the last shall be first’ (Matthew 19:30).” (James Burton Coffman)

“By you Israel will pronounce blessing, saying, ‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh!’” (verse 20) The names of Ephraim and Manasseh would be synonymous with splendor and prosperity in future eras of God’s chosen people. “There can be no greater blessing for the two lads than that their names be invoked by future generations of Israel as paradigms of a glorious destiny.” (Nahum Sarna) When the great patriarch uttered these prophetic words he “put Ephraim before Manasseh.”

“I give you one portion more than your brothers…” (verse 22) The word “portion” in this enigmatic phrase in the Hebrew is “Shechem”. “The allusion may no longer be clear; but it evidently refers to the city of Shechem, and has some bearing upon its subsequent position as a principal city in the tribe of Ephraim, and as the site of Joseph’s burial-place.” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and colleges)

“Which I took from the hand of the Amorite with my sword and my bow.” (verse 22) There is no Biblical reference to this event, and no allusion to Jacob ever being a man of violence or war. “All things considered, it seems best to regard this as a prophecy that children of Joseph would inherit the area around Shechem at a point in time centuries later when the inheritance would be divided among the sons of Jacob. ‘The words are a prophetic utterance pointing forward to the conquest of Canaan; and Jacob here ascribes to himself what would be done by his posterity in wresting the area from the Amorites.’ Many scholars have pointed out here that the prophetic tense is used in which the past is used for the future, indicating the CERTAINTY of what was prophesied.” (James Burton Coffman)

Please read Genesis 49:1-7 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 48:8-16

Thursday, April 30, 2020

“When Israel saw Joseph’s sons, he said, ‘Who are these?’ Joseph said to his father, ‘They are my sons, whom God has given me here.’ So he said, ‘Bring them to me, please, that I may bless them.’ Now the eyes of Israel were so dim from age that he could not see. Then Joseph brought them close to him, and he kissed them and embraced them. Israel said to Joseph, ‘I never expected to see your face, and behold, God has let me see your children as well.’ Then Joseph took them from his knees, and bowed with his face to the ground. Joseph took them both, Ephraim with his right hand toward Israel’s left, and Manasseh with his left hand toward Israel’s right, and brought them close to him. But Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, crossing his hands, although Manasseh was the firstborn. He blessed Joseph, and said, ‘The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, The angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and may my name live on in them, and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and may they grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“When Israel saw Joseph’s sons, he said, ‘Who are these?’” (verse 8) At first glance it appears that Jacob’s eyesight had grown “so dim from age” (verse 10) that he could not discern the identities of Ephraim and Manasseh. While this is a possibility, the more likely explanation is that this question was asked as a part of the official adoption procedure. Nahum Sarna suggested, “Actually, we have here the second stage of the legal adoptive process, namely, the establishment of the true identity of the candidates for adoption by formal interrogation of the natural father.”

“They are my sons, whom God has given me here.” (verse 9) Joseph clearly recognized that “children are a gift of the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them…” (Psalm 127:3-5) Far too often children are viewed as a burden and a hindrance to personal fulfillment and prosperity. In actuality they are just the opposite. Those wonderful little innocent souls are some of God’s richest blessings and the source of such pleasures and treasures the likes of which money cannot compare.

“Israel said to Joseph, ‘I never expected to see your face, and behold, God has let me see your children as well.’” (verse 11) The old patriarch’s mind flooded with sentimentality and he saw the previous seventeen years of his life flash before his darkened eyes as he embraced and kissed his two grandchildren from his most cherished child. Those precious eyes, faltering as they were, had witnessed many spectacular things in a lengthy lifetime, but none so gratifying as the exquisite countenance of the living, breathing son he once thought to be dead. Israel praised the Lord that He had allowed his eyes to behold the grandchildren he shared in common with his beloved Rachel. Joseph acknowledged that God had given him those children and Jacob blessed the Lord for the favor of being a part of their lives.

“But Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, crossing his hands, although Manasseh was the firstborn.” (verse 14) When Joseph presented his children to his father to receive the patriarchal blessing, he intentionally placed his older son at his right hand to eliminate any possibility of confusion. But although Israel’s eyes were dimmed his mind was still sharp, and with great awareness he deliberately stretched his dominant hand out to Ephraim standing at his left side to bless the younger son with “the right hand of power.” “The present episode provides an explanation for the reversal, with Ephraim becoming the more powerful and more influential of the two tribes, even to the extent that its name eventually became synonymous with the kingdom of Israel. This phenomenon is traced to Jacob’s blessing. Following his adoption of Joseph’s two sons, Jacob now exercises his prerogative to set aside chronological priority to grant Ephraim preferential status.” (Nahum Sarna)

“He blessed Joseph…” (verse 15) Either Israel bestowed an additional blessing upon his son or the implication is that Joseph was blessed indirectly through the consecration of his children. “God…has been my shepherd all my life to this day.” Israel prayed that the Great Shepherd who had been his Provider, Protector and Director all the days of his life would watch over and guard those precious sheep of his flock as well. “The angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads…” (verse 16) “Since angels are often simply extensions of the divine personality, the distinction between God and angel in the biblical texts is frequently blurred (cf. Gen. 31:3,11,13; Exod. 3:2,4). Nevertheless, this verse may reflect some tradition associated with Bethel, not preserved in Genesis, concerning the angelic guardian of Jacob (cf. 31:13; 35:3). An echo of this may be found in Hosea 12:5.” (Nahum Sarna)

“And may my name live on in them, and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and may they grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.” (verse 16) “Having adopted them, he foretells they would be called not only the sons of Joseph, but the children of Israel or Jacob, and would have a name among the tribes of Israel, and be heads of them, as well as would be called the seed of Abraham and of Isaac, and inherit their blessings: and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth; where they increased as fishes, as the word signifies, and more than any other of the tribes; even in the times of Moses the number of them were 85,200 men fit for war, Numbers 26:34; and their situation was in the middle of the land of Canaan.” (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)

James Burton Coffman quoted John T. Willis concerning the type of blessing Israel bestowed:

• It was a very formal, solemn, and serious affair.

• If the one conveying it was empowered by God to do so, it carried with it the power to achieve what was promised.

• When the blessing was uttered, it was irrevocable.

• The patriarch always asked the identity of the one who would receive the blessing.

• Those to be blessed were invited to come forward.

• The recipient(s) was(were) embraced and kissed.

• The right hand of the patriarch rested on the head of the one to receive the greater blessing.

Please read Genesis 48:17-22 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 48:1-7

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

“Now it came about after these things that Joseph was told, ‘Behold, your father is sick.’ So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim with him. When it was told to Jacob, ‘Behold, your son Joseph has come to you,’ Israel collected his strength and sat up in the bed. Then Jacob said to Joseph, ‘God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, and He said to me, “Behold, I will make you fruitful and numerous, and I will make you a company of peoples, and will give this land to your descendants after you for an everlasting possession.” Now your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, as Reuben and Simeon are. But your offspring that have been born after them shall be yours; they shall be called by the names of their brothers in their inheritance. Now as for me, when I came from Paddan, Rachel died, to my sorrow, in the land of Canaan on the journey, when there was still some distance to go to Ephrath; and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).’”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Joseph was told, ‘Behold, your father is sick.” (verse 1) Some unnamed person informed Joseph that his father was coming to the end of his earthly journey. This is a call that we all hate to get, but it is a bittersweet comfort when we can fly to the side of a cherished ailing loved one and be there with them as they draw life’s last fleeting breath. According to Nahum Sarna, “This is the first reference to illness in the Bible.” Unfortunately it is far from the last, and illnesses in our lifetime is a far too common theme that we all must deal with and suffer through for ourselves, and worse still, for the ones we love the most. Cling to the Good Shepherd’s hand and fear no evil as He directs your steps through the valley of the shadow of death. The bright and shining land of bliss awaits His faithful children on the other side of eternity.

“So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim with him.” (verse 1) Joseph must have sensed or known that this sickness was unto death, so he took his sons with him to see and honor their remarkable grandfather one last time before he departed for realms beyond. In all likelihood, Jacob had previously informed Joseph that he would be conferring special blessings upon Ephraim and Manasseh on his deathbed, so this was all probably planned in advanced and Joseph was just awaiting the word. “When it was told to Jacob, ‘Behold, your son Joseph has come to you,’ Israel collected his strength and sat up in the bed.” (verse 2) It took all of the old, ailing patriarch’s power to sit up straight in his bed, but he mustered all his strength in respect for Joseph’s position and for the solemn consecration he was about to impart upon him and his sons.

“Then Jacob said to Joseph, ‘God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, and He said to me, “Behold, I will make you fruitful and numerous, and I will make you a company of peoples, and will give this land to your descendants after you for an everlasting possession.”’” (verses 3-4) “The appearance of God to Jacob which is mentioned here is a reference either to Genesis 28:19 or Genesis 35:9-13, or possibly both. Luz was the original name of the place, but Jacob changed the name to Bethel. All of the patriarchs realized that the promise of the land of Canaan to their seed was to have its fulfillment in the far distant future. It is of that sacred promise which Jacob spoke in this final interview with Joseph.” (James Burton Coffman)

“Now your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, as Reuben and Simeon are.” (verse 5) Jacob had been deprived of his beloved Joseph for the majority of the young man’s life, so he formally adopted the two children born to him during the period of their estrangement. He gave them the official status of sonship on a level equal to that of his first and second born sons, Reuben and Simeon. “Now as for me, when I came from Paddan, Rachel died, to my sorrow, in the land of Canaan on the journey.” (verse 7) “It is quite natural that, on his deathbed, Jacob should recall his beloved wife who had died so young and for whom he had endured so much. Moreover, it was probably because she had been deprived of the opportunity to bear more children that her two grandchildren are adopted by Jacob as a substitute for those whom her death had robbed of the possibility of life.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Reuben and Simeon were the two firstborn sons of Jacob, and the proposal here is that Ephraim and Manasseh would be placed on a parity with them, and thus reckoned among the other sons of Jacob, ranking them among the patriarchs. But Jacob made it clear that any other sons of Joseph would not be accorded that distinction. There were doubtless many reasons why Jacob had decided to do this. The incest of Reuben and his irresponsibility had clearly disqualified him to receive the double portion according to the rules of primogeniture, and Simeon too, in the massacre of the Shechemites had showed a disposition that was incompatible with any thought of transferring the birthright to him. Jacob therefore decided to give Joseph the double portion, one of the principal benefits pertaining to the birthright, an honor that Jacob surely felt that Joseph was qualified to receive. Not only was Joseph the firstborn of Rachel, the only wife that Jacob ever decided to marry, but, additionally, he was the savior of the whole nation in being the instrument through whom God had preserved the covenant people through the famine.” (James Burton Coffman)

Please read Genesis 48:8-16 for tomorrow.

Have a wonderful day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 47:27-31

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

“Now Israel lived in the land of Egypt, in Goshen, and they acquired property in it and were fruitful and became very numerous. Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years; so the length of Jacob’s life was one hundred and forty-seven years. When the time for Israel to die drew near, he called his son Joseph and said to him, ‘Please, if I have found favor in your sight, place now your hand under my thigh and deal with me in kindness and faithfulness. Please do not bury me in Egypt, but when I lie down with my fathers, you shall carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burial place.’ And he said, ‘I will do as you have said.’ He said, ‘Swear to me.’ So he swore to him. Then Israel bowed in worship at the head of the bed.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now Israel lived in the land of Egypt, in Goshen, and they acquired property in it and were fruitful and became very numerous.” (verse 27) The narrative now returns to the account of Israel and his descendants. The Lord had promised Jacob that “Your descendants will also be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south…” (Genesis 28:14). We see in this verse this promise playing itself out both in the immediate timeframe and projecting into proceeding decades and centuries when His people “were fruitful and increased greatly, and multiplied, and became exceedingly mighty, so that the land was filled with them” (Exodus 1:7).

“Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years; so the length of Jacob’s life was one hundred and forty-seven years.” (verse 28) When Jacob was reunited with the son he adored after over twenty painful years of believing him to be dead, he felt his life was thus complete and he could be satisfied with death (Genesis 45:28). He did not know then that the Lord would grant him the satisfaction of celebrating seventeen more of his favorite son’s birthdays. “This is precisely as many years as Joseph had lived with his father in Canaan (37:2). There is a similar pattern for Abraham, who lived exactly as many years in his father’s home (12:4) as in the lifetime of his son Isaac (21:5; 25:7).” (Nahum Sarna)

“Place now your hand under my thigh and deal with me in kindness and faithfulness.” (verse 29) This calls to mind a time when Abraham was advanced in age like Jacob, and he made his servant swear an oath before sending him to his relatives to select a wife for Isaac: “Now Abraham was old, advanced in age; and the Lord had blessed Abraham in every way. Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he owned, ‘Please place your hand under my thigh, and I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I live, but you will go to my country and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son Isaac.’” (Genesis 24:1-4) This sacred oath involved holding the “thigh,” which was likely a euphemism for the “organs of generation,” possibly swearing upon the sacred covenant of circumcision. People have been known to make interesting gestures such as crossing hearts or touching pinky fingers together when they swear. This one gets a little more intimate and personal to say the least.

“Please do not bury me in Egypt.” (verse 29) As good as Egypt had been to Jacob and as thrilling as it had been to witness his beloved son rise to the pinnacle of power and prosperity in the land of his exile, there was still no place like home where his heart and the promises of God resided. Joseph would make a similar request of his own sons in Genesis 50:24-25 to bury him in the land of his fathers: “Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am about to die, but God will surely take care of you and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob.’ Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, ‘God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones up from here.’”

“Then Israel bowed in worship at the head of the bed.” (verse 31) When Joseph swore to his dying father that he would entomb him in the burial place of his fathers, Jacob worshiped the Lord in humble gratification and gratitude. As turbulent as his life had been and as flawed and sometimes foolish as he was, Jacob was a man of worship who always recognized and reverenced the Lord. He gave God the credit and glory for every good thing in his life, and he cherished His presence and prominence over his personal affairs. This is the picture of a godly man who remained faithful to the Lord unto death and was prepared to receive the eternal crown of life (Revelation 2:10). “The picture of the aged patriarch leaning back upon his bed, content and happy in his son’s promise, and giving thanks to God for the peace of his approaching end, is one full of pathos and dignity.” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

Please read Genesis 48:1-7 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 47:20-26

Monday, April 27, 2020

“So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh, for every Egyptian sold his field, because the famine was severe upon them. Thus the land became Pharaoh’s. As for the people, he removed them to the cities from one end of Egypt’s border to the other. Only the land of the priests he did not buy, for the priests had an allotment from Pharaoh, and they lived off the allotment which Pharaoh gave them. Therefore, they did not sell their land. Then Joseph said to the people, ‘Behold, I have today bought you and your land for Pharaoh; now, here is seed for you, and you may sow the land. At the harvest you shall give a fifth to Pharaoh, and four-fifths shall be your own for seed of the field and for your food and for those of your households and as food for your little ones.’ So they said, ‘You have saved our lives! Let us find favor in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s slaves.’ Joseph made it a statute concerning the land of Egypt valid to this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth; only the land of the priests did not become Pharaoh’s.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Thus the land became Pharaoh’s.” (verse 20) Even though it was “Joseph” who “bought all the land of Egypt” with his shrewd organization and administration skills, Pharaoh became the rightful owner. “Not only with respect to dominion and government, so it was before, but with respect to property; before, every man's field, and garden, and vineyard were his own, and he was in possession thereof for his own use, but now being sold, were Pharaoh's; and they held them of him, and paid a rent for them in a manner hereafter directed by a law.” (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)

“As for the people, he removed them to the cities from one end of Egypt’s border to the other.” (verse 21) This obviously does not indicate that 100 percent of the people were removed from all arable acreage because there were still those left with the responsibility to farm Pharaoh’s land and reap the “harvest” (verse 24). But the bulk of the population was removed from the farmlands and transported to the urbanized areas, thus greatly increasing the size and numbers of Egyptian municipalities. This, at least initially, was an act of mercy and compassion considering the fact that the continuing famine rendered the land barren and Joseph had the grain surpluses stored “in the cities; he placed in every city the food from its own surrounding fields” (Genesis 41:48).

“Only the land of the priests he did not buy, for the priests had an allotment from Pharaoh…” (verse 22) Since the temple priests received food rations from the king, it was not necessary for them to sell their land to Joseph in exchange for grain. “These lands were inalienable, being endowments by which the temples were supported. The priests for themselves received an annual allowance of provision from the state, and it would evidently have been the height of cruelty to withhold that allowance when their lands were incapable of being tilled.” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary)

“Now, here is seed for you, and you may sow the land.” (verse 23) Joseph notified the people who received the seed that he had “bought” them and their “land for Pharaoh,” so all the sowing and harvesting would be done as slaves living on state-owned property. They were permitted to keep four fifths of their harvest to feed themselves and their children, but they were required to “give a fifth to Pharaoh” (verse 24). “The state-controlled land is cultivated by the former landowners, who pay a tax of 20 percent of the harvest in return for the privilege and for the seed allotment. Such an interest rate was not considered excessive in the ancient Near East. During the reign of Hammurabi, for instance, the state’s share of the harvest from administered fields varied between two-thirds and one-half after the deduction of production expenses. An interest rate of 20 percent on money loans was quite common in Babylon, while the rate for loans of produce was usually 33.3 percent.” (Nahum Sarna)

“So they said, ‘You have saved our lives!” (verse 25) The vast majority of the Egyptians were thrilled with and thankful for the new arrangement. “Joseph’s actions cannot be measured by the moral standards that the Hebrew Bible, especially the prophetic tradition, has inculcated in Western civilization. Rather, they must be judged in the context of the ancient Near Eastern world, by whose norms Joseph emerges here as a highly admirable model of a shrewd and successful administrator. Nonetheless, a moral judgment on the situation is subtly introduced into the narrative by shifting the onus of responsibility for the fate of the peasants from Joseph to the Egyptians themselves. The peasants initiate the idea of their own enslavement (v. 19) and even express gratitude when it is implemented!” (Nahum Sarna)

Please read Genesis 47:27-31 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 47:13-19

Sunday, April 26, 2020

“Now there was no food in all the land, because the famine was very severe, so that the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished because of the famine. Joseph gathered all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan for the grain which they bought, and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house. When the money was all spent in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came to Joseph and said, ‘Give us food, for why should we die in your presence? For our money is gone.’ Then Joseph said, ‘Give up your livestock, and I will give you food for your livestock, since your money is gone.’ So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them food in exchange for the horses and the flocks and the herds and the donkeys; and he fed them with food in exchange for all their livestock that year. When that year was ended, they came to him the next year and said to him, ‘We will not hide from my lord that our money is all spent, and the cattle are my lord’s. There is nothing left for my lord except our bodies and our lands. Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for food, and we and our land will be slaves to Pharaoh. So give us seed, that we may live and not die, and that the land may not be desolate.’”

---End of Scripture verses---

“The severity of the remaining years of famine is such that the people become wholly dependent upon the state for their survival. Joseph rises to the occasion and averts disaster through a series of drastic measures that, in effect, nationalize the land and livestock and turn the populace into tenant farmers of the state. This section has no connection with the story of the Israelites; a continuation of the narrative of chapter 41 describing the measures taken by Joseph in preparation for the famine, it has been included here because it provides examples of Joseph’s wisdom and leadership capabilities. It also supplies an explanation for the extraordinary contrast between the Egyptian system, which concentrated land ownership in the hands of the state, and the Israelite ideal of private ownership of property. It is also likely that the Narrator wants to emphasize the great benefits that Joseph brought to the crown, thus accentuating the base ingratitude of a later Pharaoh ‘who did not know Joseph; (Exod. 1:8). In this sense, this digression provides a link with the Book of Exodus.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Egypt and the land of Canaan languished because of the famine.” (verse 13) The situation was dire for Egypt and all the surrounding area, including and especially the land of Canaan. If the Lord had not placed Joseph in his position of influence and leadership, Israel and his family would have perished in the famine along with all the wonderful promises God had made to Abraham and his descendants. The Lord chose to deliver His people and preserve His promises through the hands and the plans of a misunderstood, outcast-from-his-family, sold-into-slavery, wrongfully-imprisoned dreamer. No truer words were ever spoken than those of Joseph in Genesis 45:7—“God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance.” Never sell your influence short or underestimate your personal worth when God Almighty reigns supremely in your life and sits enthroned upon your heart. He is either currently using you as a lifeline for a few or a multitude, or He is preparing you to provide such deliverance sometime in the future. Follow Joseph’s good example by always keeping your mind humble, your heart tender and your eyes open.

“Give us food, for why should we die in your presence? For our money is gone.” (verse 15) The people of the land of Egypt and Canaan came before Joseph after all their money had been spent and all their food was consumed, and threw themselves upon the mercy and generosity of Joseph. “Then Joseph said, ‘Give up your livestock, and I will give you food for your livestock, since your money is gone.’” (verse 16) Joseph reminded the people that they still had valuables with which to do business. This was the wisest and most merciful course of action to take under those catastrophic circumstances since the people were incapable of supporting their own lives, let alone being burdened with the needs of struggling farm animals. “As the charge of so many cattle in time of dearth would be a very serious matter (1Kings 18:5-6), we now see the reason why Pharaoh wished the ablest of Joseph’s brethren to be employed in the task; and probably while there was no food for them in the Nile Valley, there would still be grass in the alluvial soil of the delta, which men used to move about with cattle would be able to find.” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

“Buy us and our land for food, and we and our land will be slaves to Pharaoh.” (verse 19) With their livestock the people were able to purchase a year’s worth of sustenance to survive the horrid famine. But their food supplies expired long before the drought did and they were soon forced to stand before Joseph again as beggars and bargainers. While we Americans view such an arrangement as indentured servitude with disgust, it is important to note that this proposal was not insisted up by Joseph but offered freely by the people themselves. Their motto was not “Give us liberty or give us death” but, ‘It is better to live than to die.” “So give us seed, that we may live and not die, and that the land may not be desolate.” Evidently this request was made sometime near the end of the seven year drought period because they were requesting seed with which to plant crops and reap harvests. All of life’s droughts, no matter how mild or severe, eventually come to an end. Keep your chin up, your hope alive and your faith vibrant. Better times are coming for you if you place your hope and trust in the Lord!

Please read Genesis 47:20-26 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed Lord’s Day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 47:7-12

Saturday, April 25, 2020

“Then Joseph brought his father Jacob and presented him to Pharaoh; and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. Pharaoh said to Jacob, ‘How many years have you lived?’ So Jacob said to Pharaoh, ‘The years of my sojourning are one hundred and thirty; few and unpleasant have been the years of my life, nor have they attained the years that my fathers lived during the days of their sojourning.’ And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from his presence. So Joseph settled his father and his brothers and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had ordered. Joseph provided his father and his brothers and all his father’s household with food, according to their little ones.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Then Joseph brought his father Jacob and presented him to Pharaoh; and Jacob blessed Pharaoh.” (verse 12) When the Hebrews writer characterized Melchizedek’s blessing of Abraham after the original patriarch victoriously returned with the spoils from the “War of the Kings,” he stated: “But without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater” (Hebrews 7:7). Pharaoh was the supreme monarch of the dominant world empire, and yet Israel was nobler and more notable due to his exalted status in the eyes of the Lord and his extraordinary position in God’s unfolding plan to establish His own great nation and ultimately save the world through His Only Begotten Son. As we read these words nearly 4,000 years later, the name of Jacob (Israel) is a household name and his story is well-known and familiar to people all over the globe, yet we are left to surmise the identity of this unnamed Pharaoh who has long since passed into the archives of obscurity.

“This episode is one of the grand scenes of the Bible. Pharaoh was the autocratic ruler of the mightiest nation on earth; Jacob was the patriarchal head of God's Chosen Race, through whom redemption would come to all mankind. That Jacob was fully conscious of his own status in that situation is evident in what he did. As long as Egypt sheltered and protected the covenant people, that long, God blessed and protected Egypt. But when another king arose who ‘knew not Joseph,’ and when Egypt turned viciously upon the Israel of God, the heavenly blessing was withdrawn, and one disaster after another overwhelmed them. One may wonder if Pharaoh appreciated this blessing. To him, Jacob might have seemed to be merely an old man seeking relief from the starvation that threatened to wipe out his family, but the hand of the Almighty was upholding Jacob, and the blessing of God was surely his to bestow.” (James Burton Coffman)

“Pharaoh said to Jacob, ‘How many years have you lived?’” (verse 8) The protracted years of a rugged life must have shown upon Israel’s weathered face. “So Jacob said to Pharaoh, ‘The years of my sojourning are one hundred and thirty…” (verse 9) “Here is a glimpse of the way Jacob viewed his life. Neither he nor his father ever owned any of the land of promise except the burial place at Machpelah and a few acres around Shechem. ‘They looked for the city that hath the foundations, whose builder and maker is God’ (Hebrews 11:10). Jacob's word here is a testimonial to his acceptance of the promise God made to Abraham, and of his absolute belief in the ultimate fulfillment of it. None of the patriarchs viewed the world as their permanent dwelling place, nor the earth as the true home of the soul. The mightiest king on earth had just given him a deed to Goshen, but Jacob was still a ‘pilgrim.’” (James Burton Coffman)

“Few and unpleasant have been the years of my life…” (verse 9) Most of us would view the span of 130 years to be an incredibly long life. Especially considering that, “the days of our life…contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years, yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; for soon it is gone and we fly away” (Psalm 90:10). But Israel had a keen awareness that the days of any human life are but a brief interlude in comparison to the endless expanse of eternity. If we make it our life’s ambition to please the One that will judge us all one day very soon, we can look forward in earnest anticipation to that moment we “fly away” to the arms of the loving Lord who is ready to receive and embrace us for all eternity. But if we squander our “few” years in selfish and useless pursuits that spurn the Lord’s will and desires for us, at our departure we “will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:9).

“Few and unpleasant have been the years of my life, nor have they attained the years that my fathers lived during the days of their sojourning.” (verse 9) Jacob’s grandfather Abraham lived to the age of 175 (Genesis 25:7) and his father Isaac was 180 years old when he died (Genesis 35:28), and he did not anticipate achieving their longevity. Considering the grief he suffered during the decades of animosity from his brother and father-in-law, and the foolish and sinful exploits of his sons, it seems that Israel longed for that final departing flight for the realms above, yet he would live an additional 17 years (verse 28).

“So Joseph settled his father and his brothers and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had ordered.” (verse 11) “Rameses is the name of one of the two store cities built by the children of Israel on the east of the Delta… The name given to it was probably that of the Pharaoh of the oppression, Rameses II. If so, the description of this region, where Joseph’s brethren are settled, by the name of ‘the land of Rameses,’ is, strictly speaking, an anachronism, i.e. a chronological anticipation of facts, the country being denoted by a name which it came to bear two centuries later. It is a very natural thing for the Israelite writer to do; and can hardly be regarded in the light of a literary error.” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges)

Please read Genesis 47:13-19 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 47:1-6

Friday, April 24, 2020

“Then Joseph went in and told Pharaoh, and said, ‘My father and my brothers and their flocks and their herds and all that they have, have come out of the land of Canaan; and behold, they are in the land of Goshen.’ He took five men from among his brothers and presented them to Pharaoh. Then Pharaoh said to his brothers, ‘What is your occupation?’ So they said to Pharaoh, ‘Your servants are shepherds, both we and our fathers.’ They said to Pharaoh, ‘We have come to sojourn in the land, for there is no pasture for your servants’ flocks, for the famine is severe in the land of Canaan. Now, therefore, please let your servants live in the land of Goshen.’ Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Your father and your brothers have come to you. The land of Egypt is at your disposal; settle your father and your brothers in the best of the land, let them live in the land of Goshen; and if you know any capable men among them, then put them in charge of my livestock.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Then Joseph went in and told Pharaoh…” (verse 1) It had been Pharaoh’s desire and his command to Joseph to fetch his family and bring them to live in Egypt and give them “the best of the land.” (Genesis 45:17-19). Now that they had safely arrived “out of the Land of Canaan”, Joseph reported to his superior of their whereabouts—that they had, at least temporarily, settled “in the land of Goshen.” “He makes mention of their flocks and herds, and other substance, partly to show that they were not a mean beggarly family that came to live upon him, and partly that a proper place of pasturage for their cattle might be appointed to them.” (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)

“He took five men from among his brothers and presented them to Pharaoh.” (verse 2) The text does not explain what method of selection that Joseph used or even the specific brothers that he chose to present to Pharaoh. The number “five” does seem to have at least some symbolic significance taken in consideration of its repeated use in the story of Joseph’s reunion with his brothers. “As the number ‘five’ appears again and again in this narrative (Genesis 43:34; Genesis 45:22), it may have had some special importance among the Egyptians, like the number seven among the Jews.” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

“They said to Pharaoh, ‘We have come to sojourn in the land…” (verse 34) It was the original intention of Jacob and his family to only abide in the land of Egypt temporarily, as “sojourners”. It was not their ambition to unduly infringe upon Pharaoh’s kindness and generosity, and besides, they no doubt desired to return to the land of Canaan that the Lord had pledged to them as their promised possession. But it was also God’s promised prophecy to Abraham: “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions.” (Genesis 15:13-14)

“The land of Egypt is at your disposal; settle your father and your brothers in the best of the land, let them live in the land of Goshen…” (verse 6) Pharaoh granted his permission and official sanction for Israel and his entire family to dwell in the land of his dominion, in the locality of their choosing, even up to the most choice and desirable location. “And if you know any capable men among them, then put them in charge of my livestock.” “Literally ‘officers of cattle,’ that is, superintendents of the royal cattle. This office is mentioned frequently in Egyptian inscriptions since the king possessed vast herds of cattle. Ramses III is said to have employed 3,264 men, mostly foreigners, to take care of his herds. The appointment of some of Joseph’s brothers to supervise the king’s cattle means that they are to be officers of the crown and thus will enjoy legal protection not usually accorded aliens.” (Nahum Sarna)

The Lord takes great care of and makes provision for his beloved people!

Please read Genesis 47:7-12 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 46:28-34

Thursday, April 23, 2020

“Now he sent Judah before him to Joseph, to point out the way before him to Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen. Joseph prepared his chariot and went up to Goshen to meet his father Israel; as soon as he appeared before him, he fell on his neck and wept on his neck a long time. Then Israel said to Joseph, “’let me die, since I have seen your face, that you are still alive.’ Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, ‘I will go up and tell Pharaoh, and will say to him, “My brothers and my father’s household, who were in the land of Canaan, have come to me; and the men are shepherds, for they have been keepers of livestock; and they have brought their flocks and their herds and all that they have.” When Pharaoh calls you and says, “What is your occupation?” you shall say, “Your servants have been keepers of livestock from our youth even until now, both we and our fathers,” that you may live in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is loathsome to the Egyptians.’”

---End of Scripture verses---

““Now he sent Judah before him to Joseph, to point out the way before him to Goshen…” (verse 28) As Judah had risen to the position of prominence in the family, he was the wisest and most logical choice to go ahead of the clan to meet Joseph and prepare the way for their father’s arrival in Egypt by informing him that Israel was in route. Judah had staked his own life on Benjamin’s security and his safe return increased his father’s trust in him. Since it was Judah’s moving testimonial and plea that softened Joseph’s heart and lead to his confession of his true identity to his brothers, he also had the best rapport with Joseph as well. Nahum Sarna also pointed out, “It is only fitting that Judah, who bore responsibility for separating Joseph from Jacob (37:26), should now be charged with arranging the reunion.” James Burton Coffman suggested that “Judah, in this ‘going before Israel’ is a type of Jesus Christ our ‘forerunner’ (Hebrews 6:20).”

“Joseph prepared his chariot and went up to Goshen to meet his father Israel…” (verse 29) Just as soon as Judah brought Joseph the good news of Israel’s imminent arrival, he hopped in his chariot and sped away to Goshen to see his father just as quickly as he possibly could. “As soon as he appeared before him, he fell on his neck and wept on his neck a long time.” It appears that Israel and his long lost son embraced in silent affection for a considerable time, just hugging and loving on one another. Sometimes words just cannot express the message that bursting hearts have to say, but an extended, intensely emotional hug declares the truest and deepest affections of the soul. It was Joseph’s aged father that finally broke the silence…

“Then Israel said to Joseph, ’let me die, since I have seen your face, that you are still alive.’” (verse 30) Maybe Israel was actually ready to depart from the earth at that point, but more likely, he was merely expressing that he could now go to his grave in peace and contentment since his greatest desire and most unlikely hope had finally been fulfilled. Either way, the gracious Lord granted Israel many more blessed years in the company of his most beloved son to see him prosper and flourish in an exalted position of leadership far beyond anything that he had hoped for.

“And the men are shepherds, for they have been keepers of livestock; and they have brought their flocks and their herds and all that they have.” (verse 32) Joseph rehearsed his speech to Pharaoh out loud and prepared his brothers for an answer to a possible interview with the king of Egypt themselves. “It was not accidental that Israel came to Goshen; from the very first, Joseph had foreseen that Goshen was the correct place for his father's people. It was primarily pasture land with scant, if any population. And it provided exactly the isolation that the Hebrews needed if conflict with the populations of Egypt was to be avoided. Joseph had already cleared this with Pharaoh, even before he had finished testing his brothers, and Pharaoh had already confirmed the place as the location of Israel, but Joseph apparently feared that after Pharaoh's meeting with Joseph, Pharaoh might, as a special favor to Joseph's father, locate his posterity in what the Egyptians might consider a more favorable location. Joseph knew that if the matter of the occupation of his kindred was clearly understood by Pharaoh, such a change in the plans would not occur.” (James Burton Coffman)

“For every shepherd is loathsome to the Egyptians.” (verse 34) Joseph didn’t want his brothers to hide the true nature of their occupation but to be completely up front and honest with Pharaoh, even though the Egyptians bore this tremendous prejudice against their profession. “The word ‘abomination,’ first of all, suggests a religious ground of difference; and not only did shepherds probably kill animals worshipped in different Egyptian districts, but their religion generally was diverse from that of the fixed population. But next, men who lead a settled life always dislike wandering clans, whose cattle are too likely to prey upon their enclosed land…and who, moving from place to place, are usually not very scrupulous as to the rights of property. Such nomades, too, are generally lower in civilisation, and more rude and rough, than men who have fixed homes.” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers) The separation between Israel’s family and the bulk of the population of the Egyptians also served, whether intentionally by Joseph or not, to keep the national bloodlines pure. The Lord’s hand appears to be greatly at work in this arrangement.

Please read Genesis 47:1-6 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 46:8-27

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

“Now these are the names of the sons of Israel, Jacob and his sons, who went to Egypt: Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn. The sons of Reuben: Hanoch and Pallu and Hezron and Carmi. The sons of Simeon: Jemuel and Jamin and Ohad and Jachin and Zohar and Shaul the son of a Canaanite woman. The sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. The sons of Judah: Er and Onan and Shelah and Perez and Zerah (but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan). And the sons of Perez were Hezron and Hamul. The sons of Issachar: Tola and Puvvah and Iob and Shimron. The sons of Zebulun: Sered and Elon and Jahleel. These are the sons of Leah, whom she bore to Jacob in Paddan-aram, with his daughter Dinah; all his sons and his daughters numbered thirty-three. The sons of Gad: Ziphion and Haggi, Shuni and Ezbon, Eri and Arodi and Areli. The sons of Asher: Imnah and Ishvah and Ishvi and Beriah and their sister Serah. And the sons of Beriah: Heber and Malchiel. These are the sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to his daughter Leah; and she bore to Jacob these sixteen persons. The sons of Jacob’s wife Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. Now to Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, whom Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, bore to him. The sons of Benjamin: Bela and Becher and Ashbel, Gera and Naaman, Ehi and Rosh, Muppim and Huppim and Ard. These are the sons of Rachel, who were born to Jacob; there were fourteen persons in all. The sons of Dan: Hushim. The sons of Naphtali: Jahzeel and Guni and Jezer and Shillem. These are the sons of Bilhah, whom Laban gave to his daughter Rachel, and she bore these to Jacob; there were seven persons in all. All the persons belonging to Jacob, who came to Egypt, his direct descendants, not including the wives of Jacob’s sons, were sixty-six persons in all, and the sons of Joseph, who were born to him in Egypt were two; all the persons of the house of Jacob, who came to Egypt, were seventy.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now these are the names of the sons of Israel, Jacob and his sons, who went to Egypt…” (verse 8) I will be quoting James Burton Coffman about the difficulties associated with the numbers of people in today’s passage and the significance of the number “seventy” (verse 27):

“Several things need to be said about this list. It does not include any of the daughters, except Dinah and Serah, despite the mention of Jacob's daughters, and his sons' daughters in Genesis 46:7. The whole list is therefore contrived by the sacred narrator as a round number. It is quite obvious also that some of the names in this list are of persons born AFTER the entry into Egypt, as we may not suppose that Benjamin, described repeatedly as a ‘lad’ at this time, was suddenly a patriarch with ten children before the move to Egypt could be effected. The same appears to be true of Pharez. Thus, this enumeration of ‘The Seventy’ serves the purposes of emphasizing that number considered to be a sacred number by the Jews, and apparently so honored by Jesus himself.

“The number seventy seems to have been associated in a peculiar way with the nation of Israel ever since the time when seventy apparently became the founders of the nation.

I. Seventy nations of the world are listed in Genesis 10.

II. Seventy elders are mentioned in Numbers 11:16.

III. Seventy years of captivity in Babylon were the punishment of Judah (2 Chronicles 36:21).

IV. Seventy weeks were determined for Israel in which to finish the transgression (Daniel 9:24).

V. Seventy translators produced the Septuagint.

VI. The Sanhedrin was composed of seventy members.

VII. Jesus Christ himself sent out the "seventy" witnesses of his kingdom.

VIII. ‘The days of our years are threescore and ten’ (Psalms 90:10).

The great intention, therefore, of this list is to show that there were seventy founders of the nation of Israel who went into Egypt.

“Perhaps we should also notice the quibble often raised regarding the statement of Stephen in Acts 7:14, that ‘Seventy-five souls went down into Egypt.’ As a matter of fact, the total number probably ran well over a hundred or so. Just how Stephen figured it, we do not know, but it is generally thought that he was merely quoting from the LXX, which gives five sons of Joseph not mentioned in our version. He might have been counting the wives, or the wives who consented to go to Egypt, or some of the unmentioned daughters. The quibble is inconsequential. What is intended by the use of the number ‘seventy’ in this passage is to show that, "God had done a complete divine work upon Israel, in taking them down into Egypt.”

Please read Genesis 46:28-34 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 46:1-7

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

“So Israel set out with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, ‘Jacob, Jacob.’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ He said, ‘I am God, the God of your father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you a great nation there. I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will close your eyes.’ Then Jacob arose from Beersheba; and the sons of Israel carried their father Jacob and their little ones and their wives in the wagons which Pharaoh had sent to carry him. They took their livestock and their property, which they had acquired in the land of Canaan, and came to Egypt, Jacob and all his descendants with him: his sons and his grandsons with him, his daughters and his granddaughters, and all his descendants he brought with him to Egypt.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“So Israel set out with all that he had, and came to Beersheba…” (verse 1) “With this narrative, the patriarchal period in the history of Israel comes to an end. Jacob’s descent to Egypt appears at first to be merely a family visit. Yet this visit is presented as being fraught with national significance. It is a summing up of the past as well as a new beginning. Famine drove Abraham to Egypt (12:10); now famine impels his grandson in the same direction. Jacob’s odyssey began at Beersheba (28:10); it fittingly concludes with a revelation at the same place. The divine Voice will not be heard again until the advent of Moses.” (Nahum Sarna) That is a period of divine silence covering between 300 and 400 years, paralleling a similar span that took place between the book of Malachi and the appearing of John the baptizer in the New Testament.

“And offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.” (verse 1) “In a sense, this outpost, was somewhat a ‘point of no return’ on the way to Egypt, lying at the southern extremity of the land of Canaan, being also the place where Isaac, the father of Jacob, had lived, and had erected an altar unto God, possibly the same altar upon which Jacob offered the sacrifices mentioned here. As for the reasons why Jacob should have paused here to offer sacrifices, there are many. He might have remembered the occasion when Abraham went into Egypt fleeing from famine, and the difficulties and disastrous consequences that came as a result. Jacob's father, Isaac, never dared to go into Egypt.” (James Burton Coffman) These sacrifices where, at least in part, an expression of Jacob’s gratitude to God that his son Joseph was alive and well.

“God spoke to Israel in visions of the night…” (verse 2) “As far as the record goes, this was the last appearance of God to Jacob, there being eight appearances in all: (1) Genesis 28:13; (2) Genesis 31:3; (3) Genesis 31:11; (4) Genesis 32:1; (5) Genesis 32:30; (6) Genesis 35:1; (7) Genesis 35:9; (8) Genesis 46:2.” (James Burton Coffman) “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you a great nation there.” (verse 3) The Lord comforted and reassured Israel that going down to Egypt was the right and best move to make, and that the relocation was according to His will and plan for the future nation that would emerge from his offspring. It is interesting to consider that the Lord had not previously appeared to Jacob to assure him that Joseph was still alive, but for whatever reason, He did not deem that to be necessary.

“I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again…” (verse 4) God had solemnly promised Jacob when he was fleeing to Haran from the wrath of his brother Esau: “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (28:15). The Lord had kept His word all the days of Jacob’s life by prospering him and delivering him out of all of his difficulties and dilemmas. Before he departed Haran with his large family and abundant possessions, Jacob assured his wives: “Let us arise and go up to Bethel, and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.” (35:3) Near the end of the way the Lord vowed to be with the aged patriarch on the final leg of his earthly journey, and to “bring him up again” for burial with is fathers in the land of Canaan (Genesis 49:29).

“Joseph will close your eyes.” (verse 4) The Lord made this very touching promise to Israel assuring him that his beloved Joseph would be by his side when he breathed his last breath, and affectionately assist in the closing of his eyes for life’s final physical slumber. “Both among the Jews and Greeks it was the duty of those nearest in blood to close the eyes of a deceased relative. The promise conveyed the assurance that Jacob would die peacefully, surrounded by his friends.” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

“They took their livestock and their property, which they had acquired in the land of Canaan, and came to Egypt, Jacob and all his descendants with him.” (verse 6) “It is to be noted that, despite the suggestion by Pharaoh that they would not need to bring their possessions with them, since plenty was available in Egypt, they nevertheless brought all that it was possible to carry. This was obviously for the purpose of not being any greater burden to the Egyptians than was unavoidable.” (James Burton Coffman)

Please read Genesis 46:8-27 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 45:24-28

Monday, April 20, 2020

“So he sent his brothers away, and as they departed, he said to them, ‘Do not quarrel on the journey.’ Then they went up from Egypt, and came to the land of Canaan to their father Jacob. They told him, saying, ‘Joseph is still alive, and indeed he is ruler over all the land of Egypt.’ But he was stunned, for he did not believe them. When they told him all the words of Joseph that he had spoken to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. Then Israel said, ‘It is enough; my son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.’”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Do not quarrel on the journey.” (verse 26) Joseph displayed tremendous wisdom in this admonition for peace among his brothers. He had previously overheard Reuben chastising the rest of them for their ill treatment of Joseph: “Reuben answered them, saying, ‘Did I not tell you, “Do not sin against the boy”; and you would not listen? Now comes the reckoning for his blood’” (Genesis 42:22). Joseph had every reason to suspect that this same type of finger pointing would occur on the ride home since they would most certainly be forced to finally tell their father the awful truth when they returned to get him. Condemning and reprimanding people for their past mistakes only serves to stir up unnecessary strife and bitterness, and besides, these brothers they each shouldered their own personal weight of guilt.

“Joseph is still alive, and indeed he is ruler over all the land of Egypt.” (verse 26) Put yourself in Jacob’s place and just imagine for a moment that you believed your favorite son had been dead for over two decades and then someone walks in and tells you he has been alive the whole time! Okay, and not only is he still alive, he rules over the dominant world government from the seat of power in the great capital city! Is it any wonder that he was shocked into a state of stunned disbelief?! Of course, Jacob wanted to believe that Joseph was alive more than anything in this whole world, no matter where he might be and what he might be doing. For Israel it was more than “enough” that his beloved son was “still alive” (verse 28). If only that could be true!

“When they told him all the words of Joseph that he had spoken to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of their father Jacob revived.” (verse 27) It wasn’t until his sons pointed Israel’s attention in the direction of the caravan of donkeys parked out in the “driveway” loaded down with “the best things of Egypt” (verse 23) that Israel snapped out of his stupor and his “spirit…revived.” With the news that his favorite son was still alive and doing well, and the evidence that verified the truth of that report, Jacob had not felt so alive in decades! When he originally received the news that Joseph had been torn to pieces by a wild animal, “Jacob tore his clothes, and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days” and “he refused to be comforted” (Genesis 37:34-35). With that report he had sunken into the deepest, darkest pit of his life, and with the wonderful news that Joseph lived, his spirits soared to the utmost heights of brightness of bliss.

“Right here, the die is cast. Jacob and all the children of Israel would go down into Egypt, where the long sojourn God had foretold to Abraham would begin. Note also, that Jacob is pointedly referred to here as ‘Israel.’ It is the covenant relationship of God to this whole people that dominates every word of the Book of Genesis. What a wonder is this record of HOW it happened! God over-ruled the hatreds, jealousies, and envious wickedness of men to place one of Jacob's sons on the throne of the land of Egypt, who, in time, brought the whole posterity of Israel to live there. The Egyptians detested foreigners, especially shepherds; and, thus there would be no easy possibility of Jacob's posterity forming marriages with pagans, as had already begun to happen in the case of Judah. Not only that, in Egypt, they would have the protective arm of a powerful central government which would secure them against hostile attack. The people would be pressured from outside by the culture where they were, by the prejudices of the people, absolutely rejected. Under those divinely appointed conditions, they would indeed grow into a mighty nation! How marvelous are the ways of God.” (James Burton Coffman)

Please read Genesis 46:1-7 for tomorrow

Have a wonderful day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 45:16-23

Sunday, April 19, 2020

“Now when the news was heard in Pharaoh’s house that Joseph’s brothers had come, it pleased Pharaoh and his servants. Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Say to your brothers, “Do this: load your beasts and go to the land of Canaan, and take your father and your households and come to me, and I will give you the best of the land of Egypt and you will eat the fat of the land.” Now you are ordered, “Do this: take wagons from the land of Egypt for your little ones and for your wives, and bring your father and come. Do not concern yourselves with your goods, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.”’ Then the sons of Israel did so; and Joseph gave them wagons according to the command of Pharaoh, and gave them provisions for the journey. To each of them he gave changes of garments, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver and five changes of garments. To his father he sent as follows: ten donkeys loaded with the best things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and sustenance for his father on the journey.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now when the news was heard in Pharaoh’s house that Joseph’s brothers had come, it pleased Pharaoh and his servants.” (verse 16) In verse 2 we read that Joseph “wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard of it.” When the Egyptians brought word back to Pharaoh about Joseph’s emotion-packed reunion with his brothers, it filled the king with great delight that his top man had a large family with which to share and enjoy his prosperity. Pharaoh felt such high regard and fondness toward Joseph that he bent over backwards accommodating the transport of the entirety of his kinfolk from Canaan to a permanent dwelling in “the best of the land of Egypt” (verse 18). Of course it was all a part of God’s foreordained plan that the people of Israel would locate elsewhere and not displace the natives of the Promised Land until “the iniquity of the Amorite” was “complete” (Genesis 15:16).

“Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Say to your brothers, “Do this…”’” (verse 17) Pharaoh officially endorsed Joseph’s plan to bring his father and his whole family to live in Goshen in the land of Egypt (verse 10). “And I will give you the best of the land of Egypt and you will eat the fat of the land” (verse 18). “The choicest products of the soil. The phrase may imply recognition that seminomads often engaged in agriculture (cf. 26:12).” (Nahum Sarna) “Now you are ordered…” (verse 19) “The order is given to Joseph to relay to his brothers. The previous instructions could be carried out with no outside assistance. This one, however, requires official authorization, the effect of which is to accord Jacob’s clan the special status of ward of the king.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Then the sons of Israel did so; and Joseph gave them wagons according to the command of Pharaoh, and gave them provisions for the journey.” (verse 21) “These were two-wheeled carts ‘suitable for a flat country like Egypt, and for traversing deserts and other areas where roads would not be available. Herodotus mentions a four-wheeled cart which was used for transporting a shrine or the image of a deity.’ ‘This is the first mention of `wagons' in the Bible.’” (James Burton Coffman) “To each of them he gave changes of garments, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver and five changes of garments.” (verse 22) Once again Joseph lavished his youngest brother with the most luxuriant gifts. “Since an article of apparel had featured prominently in the tale of hostility between Joseph and his brothers, it is only fitting that their reconciliation should be marked by a gift of apparel.” (Nahum Sarna)

“To his father he sent as follows: ten donkeys loaded with the best things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and sustenance for his father on the journey.” (verse 23) As a foretaste of “the best of all of the land” (verse 20) that was just waiting for him to come down and partake of, Pharaoh sent Joseph’s beloved father ten donkeys loaded with the finest delicacies and delights that the kingdom of Egypt had to offer. Israel was given the royal treatment as, unbeknownst to him until the moment that imperial caravan arrived to transport him to his new home, he was a member of royalty by right of his son’s illustrious position.

Please read Genesis 45:24-28 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed Lord’s Day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 45:9-15

Saturday, April 18, 2020

“‘Hurry and go up to my father, and say to him, “Thus says your son Joseph, ‘God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay. You shall live in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children and your flocks and your herds and all that you have. There I will also provide for you, for there are still five years of famine to come, and you and your household and all that you have would be impoverished.’” Behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see, that it is my mouth which is speaking to you. Now you must tell my father of all my splendor in Egypt, and all that you have seen; and you must hurry and bring my father down here.’ Then he fell on his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck. He kissed all his brothers and wept on them, and afterward his brothers talked with him.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Hurry and go up to my father…” (verse 9) Once the truth had finally been brought to the light of day, Joseph could not contain his excitement and his eagerness to see his father again. He couldn’t wait for Israel to hear the great news that the son he presumed to be dead was actually reigning as “lord of all Egypt”! There was a great sense of urgency to not squander another precious moment and to make up for all the lost time that had been wasted in resentment, doubt and regret. The best thing to do when soured relationships are fortuitously reconciled is to forgive and forge ahead because there is no future lingering in the misery of the past. “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32). “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Matthew 6:14-15)

“You shall live in the land of Goshen…” (verse 10) “Although no source defines the precise geographic location of Goshen, the cumulative effect of various pieces of evidence is to place it in the area of Wadi Tumeilat, which stretches from the eastern arm of the Nile to the Great Bitter Lake. Egyptian texts confirm the presence of Semites and other Asians in the northeastern part of the country both at the end of the sixth Dynasty (ca. 2250 B.C…) and about 1700 B.C…in the wake of the Hyksos invasion. Exodus12:38 refers to a ‘mixed multitude,’ that is, foreign tribes, dwelling in the area of Israelite settlement. Goshen is blessed with excellent grazing facilities (Gen. 46:32-34; 47:6,7), and it is known that the Nile Delta was the center of cattle breeding. The natural route from Asia to Egypt emerges from Wadi Tumeilat, and Joseph traveled to Goshen to greet his father, who arrived from Canaan (46:29).” (Nahum Sarna)

“Behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see, that it is my mouth which is speaking to you.” (verse 12) Their father would most certainly have a hard time believing the astonishing news that his beloved Joseph was still alive after all those years, but they were to assure him they had seen him with their own eyes and heard him with their own ears. As incredible as it all must have seemed, it was all true! There was no mistaking Joseph for someone else and this was not the trickery of an imposter. “Now you must tell my father of all my splendor in Egypt, and all that you have seen; and you must hurry and bring my father down here.” (verse 13) Joseph told them to give their father firsthand information of all Joseph’s grandeur, fame and fortune, and to do so with all haste! Hurry, hurry, hurry!

“Then he fell on his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck. He kissed all his brothers and wept on them, and afterward his brothers talked with him.” (verses 14-15) “Why all the weeping? Here is an example of weeping for joy, an emotion with which many are familiar.” (James Burton Coffman). These were not bitter tears, but a cleansing flow that helped alleviate all their former frustrations and wash all the bitterness and pain of the past away. After they wept together they talked a long while together. They partook in the lighthearted discourse and free-flowing dialogue that loved ones engage in when they have a lot of catching up to do.

Please read Genesis 45:16-23 for tomorrow.

Have a wonderful day!

-Louie Taylor

 

Genesis 45:1-8

Friday, April 17, 2020

“Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried, ‘Have everyone go out from me.’ So there was no man with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. He wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard of it. Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?’ But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence. Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Please come closer to me.’ And they came closer. And he said, ‘I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Then Joseph could not control himself…” (verse 1) Joseph had mostly kept his composure in the presence of his Egyptian attendants and his estranged brothers. He hid his face and wept when he heard Reuben chastising his brothers before he imprisoned Simeon (Genesis 42:24), and he needed to bolt from the banquet hall and weep privately in his room when Benjamin was brought before him (Genesis 43:30), still he had held it together pretty well all things considered. But after listening to Judah’s heart-rending pleas for mercy, Joseph could take it no more and he erupted in an outburst of emotions. He chased everybody but his brothers from the room, and still “he wept so loudly that the Egyptians” could hear him wailing through the walls (verse 2). The word spread quickly to Pharaoh’s household that his second in command had been reduced to a blubbering mess by a family of Hebrews!

“Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?’” (verse 3) “The statements follow in rapid succession with no pause between them. Judah could not have known it, but more than anything, it was the repeated mention of the aged father—no less than fourteen times—that shook Joseph and brought his self-restraint to an end. No wonder, then, that Joseph’s first thought is for the welfare of his father. True, he had already sought and obtained the information he wanted (43:27f.), yet the terrifying picture Judah has painted makes Joseph cry out in such a way that his words are more an exclamation than an inquiry. That is why there is no reply and Joseph does not press the point.” (Nahum Sarna)

“But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence.” (verse 3) Joseph’s brothers were rendered speechless. They could not believe their ears and could not properly process his words. Could this powerful man standing before them really be the brother they had so bitterly hated and treated and sold into slavery all those years ago?! Joseph urged them to “come closer” (verse 4) to get a better look and see that it was true! “Be not afraid of me, but come nearer to me with cheerfulness and confidence, that you may be assured that I am he, and that we may more freely and privately discourse together, so as none others may hear. It is probable that Joseph sat in state, and that they hitherto kept a due distance from him.” (Matthew Poole’s Commentary)

“And he said, ‘I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. “ (verse 4) “At once a reassurance and a rebuke: I shall behave as a brother should even though you were unbrotherly” (Nahum Sarna) “Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.” (verse 5) The Lord had taken an evil exploit and made good come from of it as only He can do. “The brothers had indeed acted with evil intent; yet behind it all had been the hidden, guiding hand of Divine Providence investing the base deeds of men with meaning and benign purpose. Joseph reiterates that conviction to his brothers after his father dies (50:20).” (Nahum Sarna)

“For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting.” (verse 6) Joseph informed his brothers that if they thought the going had been rough for them so far, they hadn’t seen the half of it yet. The famine still had five additional years to run its full course, and the Lord had placed him in his current position in order to preserve their lives (verse 7), and further his plan of salvation for the world. And he knew this to be true because God, of course, had revealed it to him through a dream! Not his own dream, but a dream none the less! More than two decades early they had sneered: “Now then, come and let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; and we will say, ‘A wild beast devoured him.’ Then let us see what will become of his dreams!” (Genesis 37:20). Joseph’s way with dreams had taken him all the way to the top!

“Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt.” (verse 8) For the third time Joseph attributed his presence in the land Egypt to the hand, the will and the power of the Lord. Joseph was in a sense “a father to Pharaoh,” “to advise him, and to provide for him, as fathers do for their children, and to have the authority, respect, and power of a father with him.” (Matthew Poole’s Commentary)

Please read Genesis 45:9-15 for tomorrow.

Have a wonderful day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 44:18-34

Thursday, April 16, 2020

“Then Judah approached him, and said, ‘Oh my lord, may your servant please speak a word in my lord’s ears, and do not be angry with your servant; for you are equal to Pharaoh. My lord asked his servants, saying, “Have you a father or a brother?” We said to my lord, “We have an old father and a little child of his old age. Now his brother is dead, so he alone is left of his mother, and his father loves him.” Then you said to your servants, “Bring him down to me that I may set my eyes on him.” But we said to my lord, “The lad cannot leave his father, for if he should leave his father, his father would die.” You said to your servants, however, “Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you will not see my face again.” Thus it came about when we went up to your servant my father, we told him the words of my lord. Our father said, “Go back, buy us a little food.” But we said, “We cannot go down. If our youngest brother is with us, then we will go down; for we cannot see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.” Your servant my father said to us, “You know that my wife bore me two sons; and the one went out from me, and I said, ‘Surely he is torn in pieces,’ and I have not seen him since. If you take this one also from me, and harm befalls him, you will bring my gray hair down to Sheol in sorrow.” Now, therefore, when I come to your servant my father, and the lad is not with us, since his life is bound up in the lad’s life, when he sees that the lad is not with us, he will die. Thus your servants will bring the gray hair of your servant our father down to Sheol in sorrow. For your servant became surety for the lad to my father, saying, “If I do not bring him back to you, then let me bear the blame before my father forever.” Now, therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the lad a slave to my lord, and let the lad go up with his brothers. For how shall I go up to my father if the lad is not with me—for fear that I see the evil that would overtake my father?’”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Then Judah approached him, and said, ‘Oh my lord, may your servant please speak a word in my lord’s ears…” (verse 18) “The encounter between Joseph and his brothers has now reached its climactic moment. A personal appeal to the great man is Judah’s last desperate resort. He pours out his heart in what is the longest speech in the Book of Genesis, although it could not have lasted more than five minutes. Divided into three parts, the address recapitulates recent events (vv. 18-29), stresses the adverse impact of Joseph’s act upon their father (vv. 30-32), and culminates in a personal offer to take Benjamin’s place as a slave (vv. 33-34). It makes no mention of the theft of the goblet or of the innocence or guilt of the accused. This shrewd but simple appeal to Joseph’s sense of fairness and mercy attempts to invoke his humanity through repeated references to the state of their aged father. It is also designed to impress Joseph with the speaker’s noble self-sacrifice. Judah’s eloquence is effective because it is deferential yet dignified, spirited but not provocative, full of pathos and passion, yet restrained and transparently sincere.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Do not be angry with your servant; for you are equal to Pharaoh.” (verse 18) From the outset of Judah’s plea, he admitted he had no right and was in no position to negotiate with a person of such elevated status. Joseph was the second most important and powerful man in the most dominant kingdom in the whole world. Judah knew that if he aroused the anger of such a lofty leader a fury of unmatched proportions could be unleashed upon him. But he also knew that a person with power “equal to Pharaoh” had the authority to grant his brother a full pardon if there was only a tender heart within him that could be touched by a persuasive emotional entreaty. The unbearable thought of breaking the devastating news to his father that Benjamin wouldn’t be coming back home expelled any fears of inciting the ruler’s wrath.

“We have an old father and a little child of his old age.” (verse 20) Benjamin was a “little child” in comparison to his brothers who were much older, and his young age also explained why he had been left at home with his “old father” who was well over 100 years of age. The term “child of his old age” was used to describe Joseph in Genesis 37:3 to explain why “Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons.” “Now his brother is dead, so he alone is left of his mother, and his father loves him.” The revelation that Judah believed Joseph to be dead may have provoked some momentary perverse satisfaction within Joseph’s mind, but the mention of his long-departed mother and his father’s special love for her children must have diminished Joseph’s indignation and unbolted the emotional floodgates. Then to hear that his father’s tormented mind had been tortured for two decades by images of Joseph being “torn to pieces” (verse 28) must have ripped his poor heart to shreds.

“When he sees that the lad is not with us, he will die. Thus your servants will bring the gray hair of your servant our father down to Sheol in sorrow.” (verse 30) Judah knew that his father would be beyond the point of recovery and consolation, and the loss of Benjamin would send him to his grave (Sheol). Of course, the implication here was that Joseph would share in the responsibility along with the brothers of killing their father with grief beyond compare. “For your servant became surety for the lad to my father…” (verse 32) This detail explained why Judah had assumed the position of spokesman for the family and maintained such a personal stake in the matter.

“Now, therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the lad a slave to my lord, and let the lad go up with his brothers.” (verse 33) “The one who had been responsible for the sale of Joseph into slavery (37:26f.) now unwittingly offers to become the slave of his own victim! The story has come full circle, and the stage is set of the dramatic denouement, brought on by Judah’s noble gesture of self-sacrifice and the moving image of his father’s misery.” (Nahum Sarna) “This is the pinnacle of the Joseph story. Here Judah stood forth as a willing sacrifice to spare the life of his brother, and at a time when he might have supposed that Benjamin could have been guilty. After all, the cup was in his sack. Right here was, ‘the turning point in the relations between Joseph and his brethren.’ In this magnanimous action, Judah earned the right to supplant his brother Reuben as the successor to the patriarchal birthright. It was this heart-breaking plea that opened the fountain of tears in the heart of the long-lost brother then upon the throne of Egypt.” (James Burton Coffman)

Please read Genesis 45:1-8 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 44:14-17

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

“When Judah and his brothers came to Joseph’s house, he was still there, and they fell to the ground before him. Joseph said to them, ‘What is this deed that you have done? Do you not know that such a man as I can indeed practice divination?’ So Judah said, ‘What can we say to my lord? What can we speak? And how can we justify ourselves? God has found out the iniquity of your servants; behold, we are my lord’s slaves, both we and the one in whose possession the cup has been found.’ But he said, ‘Far be it from me to do this. The man in whose possession the cup has been found, he shall be my slave; but as for you, go up in peace to your father.’”

---End of Scripture verses---

“When Judah and his brothers came to Joseph’s house, he was still there, and they fell to the ground before him.” (verse 14) Judah had clearly emerged as the leader of the family at this point, and he was also the chief spokesman in this instance since he had pledged his own life as “surety” for safety of his father’s favorite son (Genesis 43:8-9). When the brothers returned to Joseph’s residence they threw themselves to the ground “not only in a way of reverence, again fulfilling his dream, but as persons in the utmost distress and affliction, throwing themselves at his feet for mercy.” (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible) “Joseph was thoroughly testing his brothers. Here they had the opportunity to leave Benjamin and return to their father; but this they resolutely refused to do.” (James Burton Coffman)

“Joseph said to them, ‘What is this deed that you have done?” (verse 15) “Feigning anger, Joseph addresses them collectively, implying that they are all involved in the theft. His ‘leniency,’ soon to be displayed (v.17), thus appears to be all the more generous.” (Nahum Sarna) “Do you not know that such a man as I can indeed practice divination?” (verse 15) Joseph boasted of his ability to use the black art of “divination” to uncover the deception of their misdeed, even without his special and precious goblet that their youngest brother had supposedly stolen. It is possible they really believed that Benjamin had stolen the object and that Joseph was actually speaking truth, but they were all so devastated at that point that Joseph could have accused them of raiding Pharaoh’s tomb and he wouldn’t have gotten an argument out of them.

“So Judah said, ‘What can we say to my lord? What can we speak? And how can we justify ourselves? God has found out the iniquity of your servants…” (verse 16) “Judah by this could not have meant that they were in any manner guilty as charged with reference to the cup. The thing that had haunted the guilty brothers for twenty years was their sinful, unmerciful hatred of their brother Joseph; and time had in no manner healed their guilty hearts. Their wicked act still seared and burned in their souls, and, therefore, in the present disaster, Judah confessed their guilt (in principle) and accepted the horrible penalty threatening them even as the penitent thief on Calvary had done, ‘as the just reward of our deeds!’ This was a plateau of spiritual perception far above anything that Joseph could have expected of his brothers.” (James Burton Coffman)

“Behold, we are my lord’s slaves, both we and the one in whose possession the cup has been found.” (verse 16) Judah relinquished the freedom of the entire family to Joseph and surrendered himself and his brothers to Joseph as humble, obedient slaves. At least then they would not have to face their poor, miserable father again and witness the compounding of his grief and despair. But Joseph’s “generous” response was: “Far be it from me to do this. The man in whose possession the cup has been found, he shall be my slave; but as for you, go up in peace to your father.” (verse 17) Of course, they would never again experience “peace” in their lives if they returned to their father without Benjamin in their company, so Judah proceeded to offer himself as slave to Joseph in the place of his father’s favorite.

Please read Genesis 44:18-34 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 44:1-13

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

“Then he commanded his house steward, saying, ‘Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man’s money in the mouth of his sack. Put my cup, the silver cup, in the mouth of the sack of the youngest, and his money for the grain.’ And he did as Joseph had told him. As soon as it was light, the men were sent away, they with their donkeys. They had just gone out of the city, and were not far off, when Joseph said to his house steward, ‘Up, follow the men; and when you overtake them, say to them, “Why have you repaid evil for good? Is not this the one from which my lord drinks and which he indeed uses for divination? You have done wrong in doing this.”’ So he overtook them and spoke these words to them. They said to him, ‘Why does my lord speak such words as these? Far be it from your servants to do such a thing. Behold, the money which we found in the mouth of our sacks we have brought back to you from the land of Canaan. How then could we steal silver or gold from your lord’s house? With whomever of your servants it is found, let him die, and we also will be my lord’s slaves.’ So he said, ‘Now let it also be according to your words; he with whom it is found shall be my slave, and the rest of you shall be innocent.’ Then they hurried, each man lowered his sack to the ground, and each man opened his sack. He searched, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest, and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. Then they tore their clothes, and when each man loaded his donkey, they returned to the city.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man’s money in the mouth of his sack.” (verse 1) After the fulfilling night of food and festivities, Joseph’s brothers set out on the journey back home to Canaan with their bellies full, their grain sacks packed and their spirits high. Considering the surprise pulled on them on their previous trip home, you would think they would have at least been curious and cautious enough to open their grain sacks to see if anything unexpected might be found lying inside. But, after the warm reception and good will extended on the night before, they were completely unsuspicious of any further antics. Still, Joseph wasn’t quite ready to send them on their merry way and just forgive and forget the misdeeds of the past.

“Put my cup, the silver cup, in the mouth of the sack of the youngest, and his money for the grain.” (verse 2) “The goblet serves both as a drinking vessel and as a divining instrument (v.5). The fact that we are told it is made of silver is not meant solely to emphasize its preciousness; the offense would be grave enough no matter what the composition of the goblet might have been. The main point here is that Hebrew kesef, ‘silver, money,’ is a key word, reiterated twenty times in the accounts of Joseph and his brothers in Egypt (chaps 42045). The brothers had sold Joseph into slavery for twenty pieces of silver (Gen. 37:28); now he harasses and tests them with silver.” (Nahum Sarna)

“They had just gone out of the city, and were not far off, when Joseph said to his house steward, ‘Up, follow the men; and…overtake them…’” (verse 4) Eager to bring the food and the good news back to their father, the brothers had packed up and departed for home at dawn’s first light (verse 3). But, no sooner than they had escaped the city limits, they were overtaken by Joseph’s house steward and falsely accused of theft. “Why have you repaid evil for good?” After all the generosity the master had shown by throwing them a feast and filling their grain sacks for free, how could their ungrateful hearts find the audacity to steal from him?!

“Is not this the one from which my lord drinks and which he indeed uses for divination?” (verse 5) “It is not stated that Joseph actually believes in divination. He wants the brothers to think he does. The technique of divining by means of a goblet is well known from the ancient world. It took various forms: the use of water (hydromancy), oil (oleomancy), or wine (oenomancy). The practitioner professed to be able to interpret either the surface patterns formed when a few drops of one liquid were poured onto another or the movement of objects floating on or sinking in the fluid. The aim of the exercise was to determine the future, to locate the source of trouble, or to apportion blame or credits, as in 30:27. The legislation in Deuteronomy 18:10 outlawed divination in Israel.” (Nahum Sarna)

“They said to him, ‘Why does my lord speak such words as these? Far be it from your servants to do such a thing.” (verse 7) The brothers were mortified that such an accusation would be leveled against them. They maintained their integrity but had no clue they were being toyed with and tormented because of past transgressions. “Behold, the money which we found in the mouth of our sacks we have brought back to you from the land of Canaan. How then could we steal silver or gold from your lord’s house?” (verse 8) They made a lessor to the greater argument to substantiate their innocence. If they had been so honest as to return a trifling sum by comparison, it was unreasonable to accuse them of such substantial larceny.

“With whomever of your servants it is found, let him die, and we also will be my lord’s slaves.’” (verse 9) In their naiveté the brothers boldly professed their innocence by guaranteeing the death penalty for the guilty party and the forfeiture of their own freedom, but Joseph was only interested in detaining his full brother, Benjamin. The chief steward would enslave the guilty party and the rest would go free (verse 10), and began searching the men’s grain sacks, “beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest” (verse 12). “The steward adroitly manipulates the situation. One can easily imagine the rising self-confidence of the brothers after each successive search yielded nothing.” (Nahum Sarna) Until the last sack was opened by Benjamin and the silver goblet tumbled out and the brothers’ jaws collectively dropped to the ground!

“Then they tore their clothes, and when each man loaded his donkey, they returned to the city.” (verse 13) “The horror of their predicament leaves them speechless. They can only do what they caused their father to do years before (37:34).” (Nahum Sarna) No doubt they would have preferred the enslavement in Egypt that they had originally proposed to Joseph’s chief steward than to return to their father without his beloved Benjamin in their company!

Please read Genesis 44:14-17 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 43:26-34

Monday, April 13, 2020

“When Joseph came home, they brought into the house to him the present which was in their hand and bowed to the ground before him. Then he asked them about their welfare, and said, ‘Is your old father well, of whom you spoke? Is he still alive?’ They said, ‘Your servant our father is well; he is still alive.’ They bowed down in homage. As he lifted his eyes and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son, he said, ‘Is this your youngest brother, of whom you spoke to me?’ And he said, ‘May God be gracious to you, my son.’ Joseph hurried out for he was deeply stirred over his brother, and he sought a place to weep; and he entered his chamber and wept there. Then he washed his face and came out; and he controlled himself and said, ‘Serve the meal.’ So they served him by himself, and them by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because the Egyptians could not eat bread with the Hebrews, for that is loathsome to the Egyptians. Now they were seated before him, the firstborn according to his birthright and the youngest according to his youth, and the men looked at one another in astonishment. He took portions to them from his own table, but Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as any of theirs. So they feasted and drank freely with him.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“When Joseph came home, they brought into the house to him the present which was in their hand and bowed to the ground before him.” (verse 26) No mention is made of Joseph’s reaction to the gift of balm, honey, aromatic gum, myrrh, pistachio nuts and almonds (verse11), but the sight of the brothers bowed down before him in humble reverence must have rekindled the memories of the dreams that had inflamed them against him so many years before (Genesis 37:5-11). They “bowed themselves to him to the earth; in the most prostrate and humble manner, now again fulfilling his dream, and more completely than before, for now all his eleven brethren were together, signified by the eleven stars in the dream, that made obeisance to him, see Genesis 37:9.” (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)

“Then he asked them about their welfare, and said, ‘Is your old father well, of whom you spoke? Is he still alive?’” (verse 27) After Joseph received their gift, he asked his brothers about their “welfare”. This is the Hebrew word “shalom” or “peace”. He wanted to know how they were faring during the harsh famine and how they were feeling after their long journey from Canaan to Egypt. When he asked them how their (his) father was getting along, it must have struck him that he should first verify that a man so advanced in years was even still alive. To his relief his brothers verified that Israel was alive and well and they “bowed down” again to him in a token of appreciation for his concern or as a gesture of gratitude to God for their aged father’s health and prosperity (verse 28).

“As he lifted his eyes and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son, he said, ‘Is this your youngest brother, of whom you spoke to me?’” (verse 29) Joseph had earlier caught sight of Benjamin from a distance (verse 16), but now in close quarters with his mother’s son he was taken aback by how much his youngest brother’s appearance had changed over the course of time. “Joseph’s question was one of surprise. Can this young man, now nearly thirty, be the little Benjamin, who was but a child of eight or nine when last I saw him!” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers) “May God be gracious to you, my son.” From a heart overflowing with fondness, Joseph wished upon his beloved brother God’s goodness and graces in all aspects of a prosperous life.

“Joseph hurried out for he was deeply stirred over his brother, and he sought a place to weep; and he entered his chamber and wept there.” (verse 30) The sight of his little brother all grown up and sturdy was all that Joseph’s overloaded emotions could endure. “The Hebrew idiom nikhmeru rahamav (lit. ‘his mercies were heated up’) occurs only in 1 Kings 3:26, where it means ‘to have compassion for.’ Here, however, Benjamin is not an object of pity. The sight of him arouses overwhelming feelings of tenderness and affection in Joseph. He can find relief only through tears.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Then he washed his face and came out; and he controlled himself and said, ‘Serve the meal.’” (verse 31) What a strange sight it must have been to see this high Egyptian official suddenly bolt out the room in mid-conversation, and we are left only to wander what the brothers’ reaction must have been. They were likely left in a state of surprise, concern and confusion. But eventually Joseph composed himself and returned to the dining room and said it was time to eat!

“So they served him by himself, and them by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because the Egyptians could not eat bread with the Hebrews, for that is loathsome to the Egyptians.” (verse 32) “Joseph eats alone undoubtedly because of his exalted status; but the segregation of the Hebrews was due to the Egyptian feeling of racial and religious superiority that engendered contempt for foreigners, who were regarded as unclean… It is…likely that Egyptian particularism asserted itself here because the Hebrews were shepherds—an abhorrent profession (46:34)—and because they ate sheep—an abomination to Egyptians (Exod. 8:26).” (Nahum Sarna)

“Now they were seated before him, the firstborn according to his birthright and the youngest according to his youth, and the men looked at one another in astonishment.” (verse 33) Joseph had the brothers seated at the table in order of their birth, from Reuben the oldest to Benjamin the youngest. Their “astonishment” was produced by their assumption that Joseph accurately divined the sequence of their ages without any prior knowledge of their family history. In consideration of Egyptian prejudices, they were probably equally as astonished by the fact that Joseph “took portions to them from his own table” (verse 34). He gave Benjamin five times more than the others “partly, because of his nearer relation and dearer affection to him; and partly, to observe whether this would raise that envy in them towards him, which was the occasion of their malicious enterprise against himself, that he might accordingly provide for his security.” (Matthew Poole’s Commentary)

Please Read Genesis 44:1-13 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 43:16-25

Sunday, April 12, 2020

“When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to his house steward, ‘Bring the men into the house, and slay an animal and make ready; for the men are to dine with me at noon.’ So the man did as Joseph said, and brought the men to Joseph’s house. Now the men were afraid, because they were brought to Joseph’s house; and they said, ‘It is because of the money that was returned in our sacks the first time that we are being brought in, that he may seek occasion against us and fall upon us, and take us for slaves with our donkeys.’ So they came near to Joseph’s house steward, and spoke to him at the entrance of the house, and said, ‘Oh, my lord, we indeed came down the first time to buy food, and it came about when we came to the lodging place, that we opened our sacks, and behold, each man’s money was in the mouth of his sack, our money in full. So we have brought it back in our hand. We have also brought down other money in our hand to buy food; we do not know who put our money in our sacks.’ He said, ‘Be at ease, do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has given you treasure in your sacks; I had your money.’ Then he brought Simeon out to them. Then the man brought the men into Joseph’s house and gave them water, and they washed their feet; and he gave their donkeys fodder. So they prepared the present for Joseph’s coming at noon; for they had heard that they were to eat a meal there.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“When Joseph saw Benjamin with them…” (verse 16) Even though Benjamin was very young the last time Joseph had seen him over two decades earlier, he still recognized his only full brother when he laid eyes on him. He informed the servant who managed his house to make preparations for a feast large enough to feed a party of twelve, as all of Israel’s sons would be sitting down to a meal together for the first time in a very long time. Of course, Joseph’s brothers were unaware that they were being brought to his palace for a meal and they were filled with dread when the steward “brought the men to Joseph’s house” (verse 17).

“Now the men were afraid, because they were brought to Joseph’s house…” (verse 18) “Because they alone, of all the buyers of grain, are singled out for this treatment. The brothers are probably aware of the fact that high Egyptian officials maintained private dungeons in their homes…” (Nahum Sarna) “The fear of the brothers is understandable enough. Joseph, the Chief Deputy of the all-powerful Pharaoh was supreme in Egypt, no doubt living in a place befitting his rank and authority. That these travelers from the land of Canaan were invited into such a place was no doubt an occasion for the most dreadful apprehension and fear. Supposing that the money in their sacks after the first journey might be an occasion for their seizure, they sought to put that matter at rest in advance by returning the money to the steward. His answers must have confounded and confused them even more.” (James Burton Coffman)

“Each man’s money was in the mouth of his sack, our money in full. So we have brought it back in our hand.” (verse 21) The brothers immediately pled the case for their innocence to the chief steward in attempts to stave off any retribution that Joseph may have had in store for them. “We do not know who put our money in our sacks…” (verse 22) They chose their words carefully so as not to appear to be accusing any Egyptian official of any sort of shenanigans and thereby compounding their trouble. But Joseph’s steward tried to alleviate their fears by saying, “Be at ease, do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has given you treasure in your sacks; I had your money.” (verse 23) Joseph had made his most trusted steward privy to and participant in this whole affair, and he was wise enough to attribute any act of benevolence to the God of heaven. “It appears, from what he said, that by his good master he was brought to the knowledge of the true God, the God of the Hebrews. Religious servants should take all fit occasions to speak of God and his providence, with reverence and seriousness.” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)

“Then he brought Simeon out to them.” (verse 23) When they saw their brother freed from his fetters and looking fit as a fiddle, their fears must have been allayed further still. “Then the man brought the men into Joseph’s house and gave them water, and they washed their feet; and he gave their donkeys fodder.” (verse 24).” “He then conducted them into Joseph's house, and received them in Oriental fashion as the guests of his lord.” (Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament) All of this royal treatment must have seemed way too good to be true to the minds these guilt-laden brothers who had expected and feared the very worst. “So they prepared the present for Joseph’s coming at noon; for they had heard that they were to eat a meal there.” (verse 25) It appeared that everything was going to work out in their favor after all, but the intrigue was not quite over yet. Joseph was still emotionally torn about how best to deal with these beloved brothers who had mistreated and scarred him so terribly.

Please read Genesis 43:26-34 for tomorrow.

Have a wonderful Lord’s Day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 43:11-15

Saturday, April 11, 2020

“Then their father Israel said to them, ‘If it must be so, then do this: take some of the best products of the land in your bags, and carry down to the man as a present, a little balm and a little honey, aromatic gum and myrrh, pistachio nuts and almonds. Take double the money in your hand, and take back in your hand the money that was returned in the mouth of your sacks; perhaps it was a mistake. Take your brother also, and arise, return to the man; and may God Almighty grant you compassion in the sight of the man, so that he will release to you your other brother and Benjamin. And as for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.’ So the men took this present, and they took double the money in their hand, and Benjamin; then they arose and went down to Egypt and stood before Joseph.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Then their father Israel said to them, ‘If it must be so, then do this…” (verse 11) Realizing that to risk possibly losing another son would be better than for the whole family to definitely die of starvation, Israel gave in to the grim realities of the situation. Once resigned to the unescapable facts, Israel pulled himself from his despondency and formulated a plan of action to attempt to appease Simeon’s jailor and reclaim Benjamin once the ordeal was over. He determined that the best way to rectify the situation would be to greet Joseph what gifts in hand, and to return the money previously used to purchase the original load of grain.

“Take some of the best products of the land in your bags, and carry down to the man as a present, a little balm and a little honey, aromatic gum and myrrh, pistachio nuts and almonds.” (verse 11) This list of valuables greatly resembles the wares that the Ishmaelites where carrying to Egypt when the brothers originally disposed of Joseph. Recall the words of Genesis 37:25-27—“And as they raised their eyes and looked, behold, a caravan of Ishmaelites was coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing aromatic gum and balm and myrrh, on their way to bring them down to Egypt. Judah said to his brothers, ‘What profit is it for us to kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.’” “It is ironic that these same products, and more, constitute the tribute the brothers now pay to Joseph himself.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Take double the money in your hand, and take back in your hand the money that was returned in the mouth of your sacks; perhaps it was a mistake.” (verse 12) Israel hoped against hope that some sort of oversight accounted for the moneybags that contained the purchase price of the food returning with his sons from Egypt. He instructed them to pay that money back, and also to take “double the money” to purchase additional grain to sustain the family for the foreseeable future. Verse 22 reveals that the brothers “also brought down other money in” their “hand to buy food.” The money was “doubled” either because Israel anticipated the price of grain had risen sharply, or to purchase double portions to require less frequent trips to Egypt.

“And may God Almighty grant you compassion in the sight of the man…” (verse 14) Israel finally “let go and let God.” He turned loose of trying to control that which was beyond his ability to control, and gave it all over to powerful, capable, merciful hands of God Almighty (El Shaddai). He formulated a plan and put it into action and then prayerfully trusted that the Lord would work everything out in His time and according to His will. “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7) “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

“And as for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.” (verse 14) Israel had done all that he could do, and had given the matter over to the Lord. He would wait, patiently or otherwise, for the conclusion, and would accept whatever the outcome might be. He hoped and prayed for the best, but seemed to be preparing himself mentally and emotionally for the worst. Those must have been some long, lonely, listless days and weeks following his sons’ departure and preceding their return.

Please read Genesis 43:16-25 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Genesis 43:1-10

Friday, April 10, 2020

“Now the famine was severe in the land. So it came about when they had finished eating the grain which they had brought from Egypt, that their father said to them, ‘Go back, buy us a little food.’ Judah spoke to him, however, saying, ‘The man solemnly warned us, “You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.” If you send our brother with us, we will go down and buy you food. But if you do not send him, we will not go down; for the man said to us, “You will not see my face unless your brother is with you.”’ Then Israel said, ‘Why did you treat me so badly by telling the man whether you still had another brother?’ But they said, ‘The man questioned particularly about us and our relatives, saying, “Is your father still alive? Have you another brother?” So we answered his questions. Could we possibly know that he would say, “Bring your brother down”?’ Judah said to his father Israel, ‘Send the lad with me and we will arise and go, that we may live and not die, we as well as you and our little ones. I myself will be surety for him; you may hold me responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame before you forever. For if we had not delayed, surely by now we could have returned twice.’”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now the famine was severe in the land.” (verse 1) Jacob had flatly refused to allow Benjamin to leave his side, even at the adamant pleas, offers and insistence of his eldest son. But the prospect of starvation has a way of changing the convictions of even the most stubborn-minded of men, and Jacob’s sons bided their time until the second trip to Egypt became an absolute necessity. After “they had eaten up the grain which they had brought from Egypt” (verse 2), the time for any further delays had ended, along Jacob’s resistance to turning loose of Benjamin.

“Their father said to them, ‘Go back, buy us a little food.’” (verse 2) This was the moment the brothers were waiting for, and Judah seized upon the opportunity to step up to the forefront and take the lead in family matters. “But Judah spoke to him, saying, ‘The man solemnly warned us, “You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.”’” (verse 3) Judah…is the spokesman from now on; Reuben is not heard from again, even though he is the first-born. The incident described in 35:22 shows that he has long been discredited.” (Nahum Sarna)

“But if you do not send him, we will not go down…” (verse 5) The demands that Judah made of his father amounted to no less than an ultimatum, but in actuality it was the only satisfactory solution to their specific quandary. They could not eat if they were unwilling to travel back to Egypt, and they dare not return to Joseph for food if they didn’t have Benjamin with them. “The man said to us, ‘You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.’” No Benjamin, no Egypt, no food.

“And Israel said, ‘Why did you treat me so badly by telling the man whether you still had another brother?” (verse 6) Jacob’s life was so wrapped up in the life of his youngest son (Genesis 44:30) that he could not distinguish where his life ended and Benjamin’s life began. Just the mere mention of the young man’s existence to Joseph was taken by Jacob as a personal affront. It is remarkable how such a wonderful gift as love can foster such intense feelings of obsession, terror and calamity. It is obvious that Jacob’s love for his son at least bordered on the unhealthy, but then again, it is difficult to control such profound sensations of affection, and harder still to keep them from controlling us.

“But they said, ‘The man questioned particularly about us and our relatives, saying, “Is your father still alive? Have you another brother?” So we answered his questions.’” (verse 7) “The report now given by the brothers to their father does not correspond to the account of the interrogation in chapter 42, where the brothers appeared to offer unsolicited information about themselves quite freely (vv. 11,13). However, from 44:19 it is clear that Joseph had indeed asked the specific questions referred to here. Accordingly, it must be assumed that chapter 42 represents a very abbreviated account.” (Nahum Sarna)

“I myself will be surety for him; you may hold me responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame before you forever.” (verse 9) “To underline the seriousness with which he is willing to assume the guardianship of Benjamin, Judah employs two distinct legal idioms.” (Nahum Sarna) As “surety” Jacob put forth his own life as a guarantee for the return of Benjamin. To be held “responsible” meant that Jacob would be completely accountable for anything that might go wrong. “In Genesis 42:37 Reuben had been ready to pledge the lives of his two sons for Benjamin’s safety. Here Judah is ready to pledge his own life; see Genesis 44:32.” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges)

“For if we had not delayed, surely by now we could have returned twice.” (verse 10) This may have been hyperbole on Jacob’s part, but if his words are to be taken literally, Jacob had been forestalling for a full month in his unwillingness to allow his sons to return to Egypt with Benjamin. Whether exaggeration or not, Judah was telling his dad to get a move on and urging him to not waste another second of the precious time that was rapidly ticking away from them.

Please read Genesis 43:11-15 for tomorrow.

Have a wonderful day!

-Louie Taylor

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