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Bible HIghlights from the Book of Genesis
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055
Introduction: The purpose of Bible Highlights: the Bible tends to be repetitious and not always chronological. Therefore, Bible Highlights can help you get a sense of the Big Picture by scanning for key sections that are needed at a particular point in your Bible study and teaching. However, the complete Bible should always be used in conjunction with Bible Highlights, and always takes priority over anything you may read in Bible Highlights.
Bible Highlights are underconstruction. If a book you want to visit is not complete, visit this resource later. Click for an index of books completed to date.
Scriptures used are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 1987 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. All scripture verses should be read within the context of the whole passage: who said it, to whom was it said, why was it said, what happened before and after. Therefore, verses should be studied within their context.
This website is built on the following givens:
Table of Contents for
Bible Highlights from the
Book of Genesis
Index of completed books of the Bible:
Book of Genesis
God's Pipeline. God is His omniscience knew what would happen but He had given humans a free, moral agency and He did not cancel it because of repeated failures. God built a pipeline to channel the truth concerning Himself and the coming ultimate sacrifice for sin, Jesus Christ. God designed this pipeline so it would endure until the Fullness of Time, when it would be appropriate for Christ to be born.
This Pipeline would have several components:
God's chosen people: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and his twelve sons.
God's law, as given to Moses.
Canaan, the land of promise.
The birth of the Jesus Christ, the Messiah, into God's chosen family.
The sacrificial death of the Messiah as the Lamb of God.
The resurrection from death of the Messiah.
The gift of His Holy Spirit to empower followers of Christ to spread the Gospel of salvation around the world.
The adoption of everyone who accepts Christ into the Family of God.
Book of Beginnings. The word Genesis means beginnings. So to understand what the Bible is all about, it is necessary to have a basic grasp of how everything began.
GE 1:1 In the beginning God created ... That's as far as we need to go in the Bible before we learn we must accept certain facts by faith, including the following:
Almighty God is the sole CEO of the entire universe.
There are many theories of how and when the earth, and even life, began. However, we need to know only one thing about the beginning of everything. God did it!
However long it took, God is the sole creative force of the entire cosmos so there are no other theories that need to be considered.
1:2 Now the earth was formless and empty,
was created in 3975 B.C.-- according to Frank Klassen in his book A Chronology
of the Bible. If you add in the 2,013 years since the birth of Christ,
you have a total of 5,988 years. Yet-- your child's science books probably
talk about the age of the earth in millions and even billions of years. One
way to resolve this kind of controversy is to say the science books and science
teachers are wrong. Of course, many educators and scientists respond by saying
that the Biblical account of creation is wrong.
Before going any further, we need to establish one important fact and that is this:
The Bible has never been in proven conflict with scientific fact. Of course there are many occasions when the Bible is in conflict with so-called scientific theories-- but never in proven conflict with scientific fact. Actually-- many archaeological discoveries and scientific accomplishments have reinforced what the Bible has said from day one.
Time seems to
be the major problem when we start to compare what the Bible teaches with what
the science books teach. Biblical history is pretty clear in tracing the record
of the human race on earth for not more than about six thousand years back in
time. However, 6,000 years does not provide enough time for the existence of
dinosaurs and the formation of such things as coal, diamonds, and oil. Carbon
dating is used in an effort to determine the approximate age of fossils but
many scientists are not sure that carbon dating is all that accurate. Still--
the history of life on the earth goes back much more than a mere 6,000 years.
The fossilized remains of prehistoric animals such as dinosaurs is one example
of this kind of evidence.
We need answers to this controversy and so do our children.
are beginning to come around to the position of a supernatural creative force
and the concept of spontaneous generation seems to be less popular then it was
twenty years ago. For one thing, there is just no way to explain the existence
of life, even in its lowest forms, except to give Almighty God the credit. Only
He can make something out of nothing.
The basic question we're exploring is this: if the Bible indicates that human life on earth is about 6,000 years old, and-- if scientific fact proves that the earth and prehistoric life on the earth go back millions of years, what should we believe?
The first answer is-- God did it.
answer is-- God is timeless and lives in the eternal present. God lives
in the eternal present where there is no past or future. In Exodus 3:14,
God describes Himself to Moses as the I AM! Not the I WAS-- or the I WILL
BE-- but the I AM! The millions and even billions of years we're talking
about here don't even exist for God.
The I AM God
Before we talk about new and old we need to understand that God exists in the eternal present. For God, there is no past or future, only the present. When Moses saw the burning bush, God identified Himself as the I AM. The I AM God only exists in the present. Not in the future or the past.
The Attributes of God
- Here are the primary attributes of God: [The prefix omni means all or totally]
- God is omnisciencent. He knows everything.
- God is omnipotent. He is all powerful.
God is omnipresnet. He is everywhere at the same time.
Is the Earth Old or New? Old and new are relative. Those who believe the earth is old are talking about millions or even billions of years old. Those who believe the earth is new are talking about something like 6,000 - 10,000 years old.
Now, the plot thickens! Not only is there a difference of opinion between your child's science teachers at school and your child's Sunday school teachers at church, there may be a difference of opinion between two born-again Sunday school teachers in the same church! Some evangelical Bible scholars, such as Dr. Hugh Ross, believe the earth is millions and even billions of years old and that the extra time is absorbed by long creation days and/or a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.
Other equally sincere evangelical Bible scholars, such as Dr. Walt Brown, believe the earth is relatively new at about 10,000 years and that the days of creation were 24 hour period of time. Dr. Brown believes that dinosaurs and man walked on the earth at the same time and their extinction was related to Noah's flood.
Creation Days and the Creation Gap Let's
talk about the length of God's days of creation. The Genesis account of creation
clearly talks about six creative days. To us, a day is 24 hours, the amount
of time it takes the earth to rotate once on its axis in relationship to the
sun. But-- God's days in Genesis may NOT have been 24 hours long. Let's look
at what the Bible says about the fourth day of creation, and this is recorded
in Genesis one, verse 14: "And God said, 'Let there
be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and
let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years." This
verse indicates that the sun and the moon, our means of measuring time, weren't
created until the fourth creative day. How long were the first three creative
days? They could have been a zillion years each, since God is timeless and we
humans weren't even created yet.
The next part
of the old earth theory deals with the point in the history of the earth where
humans first enter the picture. It's nice to be first and we naturally assume
that no one ever existed on the earth before us. But-- that may not be true.
The first verse in the Bible says, "In the beginning God created the heaven
and the earth." The second verse, though, is a shocker. This new creation
of God is described as being without form and totally empty of anything meaningful.
In the Living Bible, Kenneth Taylor describes the earth at this point
as a "shapeless, chaotic mass". The same description could be used
for scrambled eggs. What happened between verse one and verse two?
We do know that
God is willing to exercise His authority as the creator and destroy what He
has made. The story of the great flood in Genesis chapter 6 is proof of this.
Therefore, He may have wiped out certain life forms of an earlier creation and
started all over again in verse two of Genesis chapter one. One Biblical theory
about this kind of massive destruction relates to the war in heaven which is
described in Revelation chapter 12. Verses 7-10 are thought to describe a past
event rather than a future event. "And there was war
in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon
and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their
place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down-- that ancient serpent called
the devil or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth,
and his angels with him." The fall of Satan and his angels-- who
are what we know as demons today-- may have caused a cataclysmic catastrophe
which destroyed life on earth at that time.
Could Dinosaurs Have Been in the Ark? No Bible story picture book I have ever seen shows dinosaurs marching up the gangplank of the ark, side by side with elephants and bears. However, Dr. Brown claims it could have been and he has scriptural support
Dr. Brown says: Yes. God told Noah to put representatives of every kind of land animal on the Ark. (Some dinosaurs were semiaquatic and could have survived outside the Ark.) But why put adult dinosaurs on the Ark? Young dinosaurs would take up less room, eat less, and be easier to manage. The purpose for having animals on board was so they could reproduce after the flood and repopulate the earth. Young dinosaurs would have more potential for reproduction than old dinosaurs. Most, if not all, dinosaurs hatched from eggs. The largest dinosaur eggs ever found were a foot long. Hatchlings, even after a year of growth while on the Ark, would be quite easy to handle.
Dr. Brown goes on to say: The Book of Job is one of the oldest books ever written. In it, God tells Job of his greatness as Creator and describes an animal, called Behemoth, as follows: Behold now, Behemoth, which I made as well as you; He eats grass like an ox. Behold now, his strength in his loins, And his power in the muscles of his belly. He bends his tail like a cedar; The sinews of his thighs are knit together. His bones are tubes of bronze; His limbs are like bars of iron. (Job 40:15–18)
Marginal notes in most Bibles speculate that Behemoth was probably an elephant or a hippopotamus, but those animals have tails like ropes. Behemoth had a “tail like a cedar.” Any animal with a tail as huge and strong as a cedar tree is probably a dinosaur. Job 40:19–24 describes this giant, difficult-to-capture animal as not alarmed by a raging river. If the writer of Job knew of a dinosaur, then the evolution position is wrong, and man saw dinosaurs. The next chapter of Job describes another huge, fierce animal, a sea monster named Leviathan. It was not a whale or crocodile, because the Hebrew language had other words to describe such animals. Leviathan may be a plesiosaur (PLEE see uh sore), a large seagoing reptile that evolutionists [sic] say became extinct 60 million years before man evolved.
Happened to Dinosaurs? Dr.
Brown's theory is that they died of old age. The term dinosaur means terrible
lizard and reptiles keep on growing in size. If Methusaleh lived to be 969 years
old, perhaps dinosaurs lived extremely long lives, also. Since reptiles keep
on growing in size as they get older, their increasing size may have led to
their extinction. The key thing for parents, teachers, and students of all ages
to remember is that God has always had total control of the entire universe.
However it was done, and however long it took, God did it all. And, He still
has everything under total control!
Our First Ancestors GE 1:26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness,
The image and likeness of God mentioned here is spiritual and psychological, not physical. God literally wanted someone to talk to, so He created humans. This is why humans who reject Jesus Christ as the only means of rebuilding the bridge back across to God created by the alienation caused by sin will always have a feeling of utter meaninglessness. There is a "God-shaped void" within their inner being that can be filled in no other way than by accepting Jesus Christ as a Personal Savior.
Notice the plural pronouns us and our in this verse. All evangelical Christians claim they believe in the Holy Trinity. Did you know it existed even in the book of Genesis. That's because God lives in the eternal present, where there is no past nor future. Only the Present.
Chapter 2. GE 2:2
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
Within my lifetime, Sunday has become just another day for many people. Even those who go to church on Sunday for a few hours, have relatively few restrictions on what they do the rest of the day.
God set the seventh day apart for two reasons: First, let's note that this day is not called the Sabbath or Sunday, it is merely called the seventh day.
He rested from all his work: Why did he rest? God didn't need rest from His labor like humans would need rest. Saying God rested is an anthropomorphism so show us that we should work and rest at least on a ratio of six to one. When God created humans, He did so on the basis of the 6-1 ratio of work to rest. When we break that ratio, we are violating God's specifications in His operating manual for how we should function: the Holy Bible. After all, God is our manufacturer and He has total authority over our normal operating parameters.
Who knows what percentage of the human race's many physical and psychological ailments can be charged to our failure to set one day out of seven for the purposes of rest and worship?
GE 2:15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."
God had already created angels and the heavenly hosts, and they served Him because it was their nature to do so. The animals lacked the intellect to communicate with God and worship Him at any level.
So, when He created a human, we wanted an entity that would worship Him and fellowship with Him because that human wanted to do so, and not because it was his nature to do so. Therefore, humans were given the opportunity to sin. The first opportunity to sin was in the form of disobedience:
17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.
With this first opportunity to sin came the death penalty. Why was God so strong in His feelings about not eating of this particular tree?
It wasn't the tree that was sinful, it was breaking God's law that was sinful and would bring death. As soon as humans broke God's law, they would be forever alienated from God -- except through God's Plan of Salvation.
By the way, here is no mention of the apple being the fruit in question. More about this later on.
Satan and Sin.
GE 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, `You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" 2 The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, `You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' "
We traditionally assume that the serpent was in the form of a snake. If the serpent was in the form of a snake, it did not assume that form until later. In the beginning of this chapter, we only know that he was more crafty than any of the wild animals. There is no record that Eve was repulsed by the serpent or that she was surprised by the fact that he could communicate with her.
Their communication may not have been speech as we now know it. Or, since the serpent was noted as more crafty than the wild animals, he may have had the ability to communicate via speech or some Star Trek-style of communication not known in the current era.
GE 3:4 "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. 5 "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." In verse 4, the serpent challenges God's command with the word surely. The serpent is too smart to deny that death will be the result of disobedience. So he introduces Eve to a new form of death. Spiritual death. Since humans have never sinned before this point in time, Eve has no knowledge of the difference between physical death and spiritual death. She should have turned tail and ran as fast as her legs could carry her away from Satan and his temptation. Instead, she hung around for more discussion.
GE 3:6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
Let's review Eve's road to sin:
First, she entered into a conversation with Satan. Eve may have had no previous contact with Satan. However, as soon as he began to question the logic of God's prohibition against eating the fruit, she should have turned tail and ran as if her life depended on it. It did.
Second, she looked at the forbidden fruit. Looking took her one step closer to committing sin. In our era, looking may take the form of a book, magazine, video/DVD, TV program, or movie. Once we have looked or read, Satan has make a giant leap onto the threshold of our life.
Third, she assumed that the fruit was good to eat. This was a dangerous assumption based on appearance only and fueled by the doubt Satan had placed in her mind.
Fourth, she saw that it was pleasing to the eye, and a source of wisdom. The only evidence of this fruit being a source of wisdom was what Satan had told her: your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.
Fifth, she ate some herself. If Eve had stopped at the point that she ate of the fruit, it would have been bad enough. But ...
Sixth, she shared some with her husband. Peer pressure is still used by Satan to draw countless millions into sinful activity.
7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Sex in a Christian Marriage.
This verse [they realized they were naked] has led some born-again Christians to assume there is something inherently dirty about sex, even when enjoyed between a man and woman who are legally married to each other. To make a long story short, please be assured there never can be any sexual sin between a husband and wife except the sin of selfishness. This includes: Full orgasm for both wife and husband. Oral sex for either husband or wife. [Watch the sin of selfishness, here.] For more information on this topic,click: Bible Sex Facts.
The saddest part of the sin failure of Eve and Adam is not what it did to them but what it did to God. After all, God had created humans in the first place for the express purpose of having fellowship with Him. But as soon as sin entered the picture, we find humans hiding from God.
This is a classic anthropomorphism! Eve and Adam had no chance of hiding from the almighty God who has just created both the entire universe, as well as humans. This would be hilariously funny, if it wasn't so horribly sad. This is also the classic definition of sin. That which separates us from God.
GE 3:14 So the LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, "Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."
God's curse against the serpent/Satan took him all the way from being the most crafty of all the wild animals to crawling on his belly and eating dust.
Verse 15 is the first prophecy in the Bible. And, the enmity of verse 15 goes far beyond the revulsion most humans feel toward snakes. I believe this is the beginning of the eternal spiritual warfare that is talked about in Ephesians 6 and Revelation 12. The serpent's offspring are the demons, and those possessed by demons.
The offspring of the woman are the children of Abraham [Israelites] from whom came the ultimate solution to the universe's sin problem: Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.
You will strike his heel refers to the death of Christ on the cross. He will crush your head refers to the fact that God would accept Christ's sacrificial death as the ultimate payback for human sin.
The Curse of Adam.
GE 3:17 To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, `You must not eat of it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return."
God is addressing the words of this curse to Adam personally, but it applies to all Adam's ancestors as well. We have already talked about God's timelessness regarding the Creation. It's a mistake to assume that the events regarding the sin, and it's curses, took place in just a few days. It may well have been years until Adam felt the full brunt of God's curse on the land.
Farming the land will be hard work. From this portion of the curse, we learn that before sin, the work of farming was pretty much limited to the joys of the harvest. Before sin, there was no sweating behind the plow and harrow, no pulling weeds and other unwanted growths, no ridding the fields of rocks and stones.
God's original plan for humans probably was for us to have lived forever. Sin changed all that: for dust you are and to dust you will return means that here is a new plan for you, Adam. You will someday die and through putrefaction your body will go back to the earth from which you were originally created. God's original plan was for the animals to die and turn to dust, but now humans were penciled in to God's putrefaction plan.
The First Sacrifice.
GE 3:21 The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. 22 And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever."
This is the first documentation of animals dying for the sins of humans. Fig aprons were impractical so God made more durable garments for humans out of the skins of animals.
23 So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
There are two special trees named in the Book of Genesis. We have already met the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. That tree defined the difference between sin and obedience.
However, eating the fruit of the Tree of Life would have canceled the curses God had placed on Eve and Adam by giving them eternal life and the joys of the Garden of Eden forever. You and I now have eternal life but with a condition. If we accept God's Plan for Our Salvation, we will spend eternity in Heaven. But if we ignore the Plan of Salvation, we will spend eternity in Hell.
God felt so strongly about not wanting Eve and Adam to have access to the Tree of Life, He took two corrective actions: He banished them from the Garden of Eden. He posted a guard in the form of cherubim with a flaming sword.
The First Murder.
Gen. 4:2b Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. 4 But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
Eve and Adam had two sons: Cain and Abel. Abel was a rancher and Cain was a farmer. When it came time to pay their tithes, Abel brought the first born of his flock. Cain brought fruit and vegetables. God liked Abel's offering but didn't care for what Cain brought.
Already we see God's pattern of requiring animal sacrifice as payment for sin. Abel's offering could be slain on the altar of God, with blood flowing. However, Cain's offering of apples and watermelon could not be slain, with blood flowing.
However, Cain failed to see the logic of God's preference of blood over produce and got mad.
GE 4:6 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."
God advised Cain to do the right thing and you will be accepted, also. But, Satan is at the door; don't let him get you.
GE 4:8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's go out to the field." And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. 9 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" "I don't know," he replied. "Am I my brother's keeper?" 10 The LORD said, "What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground. 11 Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth."
Cain killed his brother Abel while no one was around and then foolishly told God he had no idea where Abel was.
GE 5:25 When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he became the father of Lamech. 26 And after he became the father of Lamech, Methuselah lived 782 years and had other sons and daughters. 27 Altogether, Methuselah lived 969 years, and then he died.
Methuselah is worthy of note because he is the oldest person in the Bible: 969 years. Many Bible scholars believe that the progressively decreasing life span of Bible characters from this point onward was caused by the toll Adam's curse took on the human organism. If Adam hadn't sinned and brought God's curse down on the human race, our physiological history might have been far different.
Instead of the human race making progress from this point onward, it began to regress in all ways:
Only Evil All the Time.
GE 6:5 The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. 6 The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. 7 So the LORD said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth--men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air--for I am grieved that I have made them." 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.
In the midst of all this wickedness, God was able to single out one person as an armature around which He could fashion a Plan of Salvation. God would not destroy everyone and everything, just those who failed to take advantage of the one and only Plan of Salvation available to them: getting into the big boat that would take them through the coming flood.
The ark became the first watercraft in the history of the world and it was built by Noah and his family to His exact specifications. Remember, it had never rained on the earth until this time. Morning and evening dew moistened the earth.
I'm sure Noah would have taken walk-on passengers when it was time to enter the ark but there is not record that any of the bystanders and onlookers who must have laughed hilariously at this huge floating barn being built to float on an ocean they had never seen must have been something like Howard Hughes and his "Spruce Goose".
God's First Plan of Salvation.
GE 7:11 In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, on the seventeenth day of the second month--on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.
The flood was more than 40 days and nights of rain. The Bible says the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. The Biblical description identifies three sources of water:  The Springs of the great deep,  the floodgates of the heavens, and  falling rain. Falling rain we can understand, but I venture that no human truly knows what it would be like to experience "springs of the great deep" and "floodgates of the heavens". How terrible for those who were not inside the ark when the water started coming from every direction and with all degrees of intensity. Noah and his sons didn't select a few to escape the flood. Verse 13 of chapter 7 says, Then the LORD shut him [Noah] in.
God's Plan of Salvation always has the same basic characteristics, as seen here and elsewhere in scripture:
God gives ample warning; there are no trick questions and no secret tests.
God's plan of salivation is always optional. You can take it or leave it; suit yourself.
Although God's plan is always optional, if you make the wrong choice, there is no other way.
If Noah's neighbors wanted to take a long boat ride, Noah's would have invited them willingly.
God shut the door because it had to be closed from the outside; it was beyong the physical reach of Noah and his family.
We will see this same style of salvation plan repeated in the Book of Exodus when the death angel passed over all the houses that had the blood of the lamb splashed around the door.
Of course we see it again in the New Testament when Jesus Christ died on the cross as the Ultimate Lamb of God.
GE 7:13 On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark. 14 They had with them every wild animal according to its kind, all livestock according to their kinds, every creature that moves along the ground according to its kind and every bird according to its kind, everything with wings. 15 Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark. 16 The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah. Then the LORD shut him in.
GE 7:17 For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. 18 The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. 19 They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. 20 The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than twenty feet. 21 Every living thing that moved on the earth perished--birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. 22 Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. 23 Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; men and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds of the air were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.
How lonely it must have been for the eight humans in the ark, alone in all the world. They had no means of communication, and no way of knowing how long the flood would last. The hay was decreasing and the manure was increasing.
GE 8:1 But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded. 2 Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky. 3 The water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down, 4 and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. 5 The waters continued to recede until the tenth month, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains became visible.
Now that the flood is over, Noah and his sons can get back to their regular routines of life; or can they? How will they know that God will not return to his anger at the behavior of the human race and destroy the earth again? In Gen. 9:8, we hear God answer this specific concern:
The Rainbow Covenant.
GE 9:8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: 9 "I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you--the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you--every living creature on earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth."
GE 9:12 And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth."
The astronauts tell us that when a rainbow is viewed from space, it completely encircles the Earth, it does not go from horizon to horizon.
GE 9:18 The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) 19 These were the three sons of Noah, and from them came the people who were scattered over the earth. GE 9:20 Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. 21 When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. 22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father's nakedness and told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father's nakedness. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father's nakedness.
Ham was crude and irresponsible in the face of his father's mistake. I'm calling Noah's drunkenness a mistake because we don't know but what this was the first time humans ever encountered fermentation and the ravages of alcohol. Perhaps something happened to the laws of nature as a result of the flood to bring about fermentation.
Here we are, in the ninth chapter of Genesis, and already beverage alcohol rears it's ugly head. Perhaps you'd rather call it social drinking. Come to think of it, there is no such thing as "social drinking." All drinking is antisocial.
Consider these facts: the chemical properties of the alcohol in the finest table wine is identical to the alcohol in rot gut whiskey. And alcohol in all types of beverages has the same characteristics:
1. It can cause a powerful chemical addiction.
2. It can make you a worse driver.
3. It can make you less productive and creative on the job, and
4. It can shorten your life.
How can we call drinking something like this "social drinking?"
Shem and Japheth, however, were responsible and respectful and protected their father's nudity.
GE 9:24 When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said, "Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers."
GE 9:26 He also said, "Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem. GE 9:27 May God extend the territory of Japheth; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be his slave."
Ham's behavior was rewarded with his father's curse. This kind of curse was not a string of profanity. It was a prediction of Ham's future for the rest of his life. On the other hand, Shem and Japheth received Noah's blessing!
Noah's descendants began to spread across the whole earth.
The Human Race, Headed for a Second Failure
GE 11:1 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. GE 11:3 They said to each other, "Come, let's make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth."
God's first attempt at populating the earth ended in failure because of humans continually sinned; he had to destroy the earth's inhabitants by a great flood. In chapter 11 of Genesis, God had to intervene in the affair of humans again and this time it was because of pride: let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves. Note that humans were building a tower to Heaven but not for a pious reason. They merely wanted to see and be seen
GE 11:5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. 6 The LORD said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other."
This time, God's intervention would not be as temporary as a flood. It would last from that day until this! This Divine Intervention is the cause of the need for such things as simultaneous translators in the General Assembly of the United Nations, subtitles in the foreign films we see, and the marketing of the Rosetta Stone instructional language software.
Instantly, no one could read the blueprints. The bricklayers couldn't talk to the carpenters. The plumbers and the electricians just stared dumbly at one another! This magnificent tower that was to reach to the sky came to a grinding halt. Liberal theologians look for natural explanations for God's miracles. No one has ever been able to come up with a logical explanation for the confusion of languages!
GE 12:1 The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. GE 12:2 "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.GE 12:3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."
Humans have failed twice to maintain a proper relationship with God: once in the Garden of Eden and once following the flood. Now God rolls out Plan C: He will set up a pipeline through the family of Abram, Isaac, and Jacob and the Law of Moses. Through this pipeline, the truth concerning Jesus Christ will be delivered to the world in the Roman era.
God's need for a pipeline can be illustrated by this parable
A very rich man needed to transport a million gallons of fresh drinking water every day across a wide desert to a community living on the other side. At first, he tried to transport the water by pouring it out on the desert floor and letting gravity pull it to the other side. However, this didn't work; the water spread out into a wide stream and was quickly absorbed by the sands of the desert. Then he decided to build a pipeline. The fresh water was poured into the near end and flowed straight to the other end, where it emptied into a wide lake, accessible to all who were thirsty.
GE 12:4 So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.
The land of Canaan was the geographic base for God's Pipeline for the transportation of His plan of Salvation. Abram and his ancestors were the personnel God chose to man and guard the Pipeline. These Pipeliners became known as Jews. They kept the knowledge of Almighty God secure until the fulness of time had come. This fullness of time consisted of two major components: the knowledge and learning of the Greeks, and the transportation provided by the Roman roads.
Sadly, the Jews would become so dedicated to the Law of Moses that they would be unable to recognize the true Messiah when he arrived. The Pipeline that delivered the knowledge of the Water of Life did not quench their spiritual thirst. They continued to suck on the bone-dry Pipeline even though it had already served the purpose for which God had created it. Instead of the Water of Life, they got nothing but the dust of antiquity. How unspeakably sad for them, then and now.
GE 12:6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land.
Canaan would become what we know as the country of Israel today. Although God granted Canaan to Abram and his ancestors, they wouldn't be able to occupy it without a fight. The Canaanites were the original occupants and they fought to keep what was theirs. Canaan was known as the land flowing with milk and honey. This meant that there were fruits and vegetables growing in abundance and plenty of cattle grazing on the hillsides.
7 The LORD appeared to Abram and said, "To your offspring I will give this land." So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him. GE 12:8 From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD. 9 Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.
God singled out Abram to head up the family that would become God's Pipeline. Since God had created humans for the express purpose of fellowship, it makes sense that He would choose Abram, a man who made a practice of building altars as a focal point for his worship of the one true God.
GE 12:10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. 11 As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, "I know what a beautiful woman you are. 12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, `This is his wife.' Then they will kill me but will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you."
GE 12:14 When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that she was a very beautiful woman. 15 And when Pharaoh's officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace. 16 He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, menservants and maidservants, and camels.
In this passage, Abram displays the fact that he is a work in progress and has not learned to fully trust God to take care of him. The people of Abram's day were largely dependent on what they could grow to sustain life for them and their family. Therefore, he shied away for the prospect of a famine and left the land to which God had called him and traveled down to Egypt. God's plan was to establish a pipeline with headquarters in Canaan, not in Egypt. Therefore, Abram's migration to Egypt was a detour from God's primary plan for his life.
Abram also displays an inordinate concern for his physical welfare. Later, we'll see that Abram certainly knew how to take care of himself in a fight. However, as he entered Egypt, he told his wife to pass as his sister so he could keep a low profile. Sure enough; the Egyptians took a shine to Sarai and she ended up in Pharaoh's harem. This arrangement worked out for Abram's immediate benefit.
GE 12:17 But the LORD inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram's wife Sarai. 18 So Pharaoh summoned Abram. "What have you done to me?" he said. "Why didn't you tell me she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, `She is my sister,' so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!" 20 Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had.
However, God was not pleased with Abram's deception and he took it out on Pharaoh and his family. Not only was God not planning to base the Pipeline in Egypt, He was not Planning to have Pharaoh or any other Egyptian be a part of it.
GE 13:1 So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him. 2 Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold.
By now, you may be wondering why God continued to have patience with Abram's deceitful ways. I think the answer is twofold.
First, God is his omniscience knew exactly how many men in the world had the spiritual qualifications for heading up the Pipeline. He didn't have to hire a headhunter to find the right person. He already had the resumes of all qualified persons and the list was short. Abram was the only one. Perhaps in a later time when the world was populated with many more people, God would have tossed Abram out with the discards and looked for someone else.
Second,God knew Abram had the potential to become the man he needed to head up the pipeline project. Therefore. God gave Abram another chance.
The bottom line is, Abram marched home from from Egypt to Caanan with his head high, a richer and wiser man than before the famine.
GE 13:3 From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and AI where his tent had been earlier 4 and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the LORD.
Abram made sure that he still had a right relationship with his God. He returned to his original campsite and to the first altar he had built. When we get off the beaten path of God's plan for our lives, the Altar is the shortest way back.
GE 13:5 Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. 6 But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. 7 And quarreling arose between Abram's herdsmen and the herdsmen of Lot. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time.
GE 13:8 So Abram said to Lot, "Let's not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Let's part company. If you go to the left, I'll go to the right; if you go to the right, I'll go to the left."
Lot Pitched His Tents Near Sodom.
Lot, Abram's nephew, had been traveling with the clan and their herds got too large to share the same grazing land. So Abram was the bigger man and gave Lot his choice of the land. Abram would take what was left over.
GE 13:10 Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered, like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, toward Zoar. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: 12 Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. 13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the LORD.
Abram lived in the land of Canaan, right in the midst of the land God was giving him as the Pipeline headquarters. However, Lot saw land with grazing rights and chose that for his land that would put him near Sodom, a people who sere scheduled for destruction because of their great sinning by homosexuality.
GE 13:14 The LORD said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, "Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. 17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you."
GE 13:18 So Abram moved his tents and went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he built an altar to the LORD.
God reconfirmed his covenant with Abram, who responded by building a altar to the Lord at his new home.
Meanwhile, Lot's proximity to Sodom quickly gets him into trouble. He and his household are kidnapped by a raiding party.
14 When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. 16 He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people.
Does this Abram sound like the same man who hid behind Sarah's skirts as they approached Egypt? The short story is, Abram and his militia rescued Lot, his household, and his possessions.
GE 14:18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram, saying, "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.
Paying Tithe to the Work of the Lord
GE 14:20 And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand." Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
This is the first recorded instance of a man paying his tithe [a tenth of everything] to God and His service.
Evangelical churches are financed through this process known as tithing. Tithing is giving ten percent of your income to the Lord. This custom was established by God in the Old Testament era as a means of maintaining the temple and the people who worked there. It is still the best system for supporting all that goes on in the church, from salaries to plant maintenance. The practice of tithing permits a relatively small congregation to maintain an attractive sanctuary and pay a pastor a living wage. Tithing is tax deductible, of course. Most churches maintain an accounting system and provide a receipt at the end of the calendar year for tax purposes.
GE 15:1 After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward. "
GE 15:2 But Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?" 3 And Abram said, "You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir."
Abram is raising a valid concern. God is promising to build a Pipeline around his ancestors down through the centuries but where is the heir? Eliezer is a valued and honest servant but God is not going to build His pipeline around a Syrian from Damascus.
GE 15:4 Then the word of the LORD came to him: "This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir." 5 He took him outside and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars--if indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be."
GE 15:6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. GE 15:7 He also said to him, "I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it."
God assures Abram that his heir will be his own flesh and blood and not a servant. He went on to say that his ancestors will be as numberless as the stars in the sky. Then Abram believed that God was telling him the truth. Each time that Abram knelt at an altar and worshipped God, he was putting a measure of righteousness into God's bank. Now God believes that Abram will be a suitable head of the Pipeline crew by drawing on the righteousness that Abram has been depositing all along.
An Egyptian Gets into Abraham's Bloodline
GE 16:1 Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; 2 so she said to Abram, "The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her." Abram agreed to what Sarai said. 3 So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian maidservant Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. 4 He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. 5 Then Sarai said to Abram, "You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my servant in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the LORD judge between you and me." GE 16:6 "Your servant is in your hands," Abram said. "Do with her whatever you think best." Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.
Sarai had been listening to God's plan to make Abram a Pipeline but she lacked his faith in God's ability to do what He had promised. Therefore she stepped outside God's Pipeline plan and encouraged Abram to have a son by Hagar, her Egyptian servant. Although Abram had the greater faith in the family, there is no Biblical record that he objected to the pleaseure of have a son via Hagar. His seed was fertile and Hagar became pregnant. When Hagar realized she was pregnant, she began to lord it over Sarai, who was barren. Sarai ran whining to Abram, blaming him for the whole mess. Abram quickly passed the buck back to Sarai and told her to take care of it. Sarai apparently sank to violence of some kind because Hagar ran away into the desert.
GE 16:7 The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. 8 And he said, "Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?" "I'm running away from my mistress Sarai," she answered. GE 16:9 Then the angel of the LORD told her, "Go back to your mistress and submit to her." 10 The angel added, "I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count." GE 16:11 The angel of the LORD also said to her: "You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery.
GE 16:12 He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers." GE 16:13 She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: "You are the God who sees me," for she said, "I have now seen the One who sees me." 14 That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.
Although Sarai had caused Abram to veer off course regarding God's plan for his life and the Pipeline, God had an interest in the child Hagar was carrying. He dispatched a Holy Angel to encourage Hagar to return to Sarai's household and have her baby, who would be named Ishmael. The angel delivered this strange prophecy regarding Ishmael: He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers. We believe this wild donkey of a man was the birth of the Arab nations and eventually the followers of Islam. If only Abram had stayed in his own bed and left Hagar alone, the world might have been spared the Jihad that now rages with radical Islam dedicated to killing as many Jews and Gentiles as possible.
GE 16:15 So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael. GE 17:1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, "I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless. 2 I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers."
GE 17:3 Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, 4 "As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. 5 No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. 6 I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. 7 I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. 8 The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God."
Once again, God confirms his covenant with with Abram and renames him Abraham. God's Pipeline will flow through Abraham and Isaac, and not through Abraham and Ishmael. Although Isaac and Ishmael have the same father, Abraham, they have different mothers: Sarah and Hagar. Isaac is the child of God's promise, a child of the Pipeline. Ishmael is the child of human error. However, God will honor both sons with a large family.
Out of Isaac will come Jacob [later renamed Israel] and his 12 sons. These people were known in the Old Testament as Israelites. Later they will be known as the Jews.
Out of Ishmael will come a large family known as Arabs.
Circumcision: the Hallmark of the Pipeline
GE 17:9 Then God said to Abraham, "As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. 10 This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner--those who are not your offspring. 13 Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant."
An Old Testament covenant is much like a modern-day IF/THEN contingency contract: if you will do thus and so, then I will do thus and so.
God has already declared the THEN clause of his contract with Abraham: Then I will make your seed into a mighty nation, as numberless as the stars in the sky. In chapter 17 of Genesis, God begins to lay out the IF clause of the contract: Every male among you shall be circumcised. With this command, the Pipeline begins to take shape and it will be constrictive. Not everyone in the world will be part of God's chosen people. Only the seed of Abraham.
Later, God will lay down strict laws about intermarriage with the Gentiles. Circumcision is a symbol of that prohibition. Before a man takes a wife, his circumcision will be a reminder that his wife's father must also be a child of Abraham.
GE 17:15 God also said to Abraham, "As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. 16 I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her."
GE 17:17 Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, "Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?" 18 And Abraham said to God, "If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!" GE 17:19 Then God said, "Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. 20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year." 22 When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him.
The whole world knows that Jesus was born of a virgin. God's Pipeline that will lead the world to Jesus begins with a miraculous birth, also. Abraham is 100 years old at this time and Sarah, his wife, is 90. Abraham is so astounded with this idea, he falls down laughing. However, he recovered in time to ask God to extend the covenant to Ishmael, his first-born son. God agrees to make the Ishmaelites into a great nation but He stops short of agreeing to extend the blessings of the Pipeline covenant to Ishmael and his ancestors.
GE 18:17 Then the LORD said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? 18 Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. 19 For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him."
The Purpose of God's Pipeline.
In verse 19 of Genesis 18, God spells out the purpose of creating a Pipeline via Abraham and his ancestors:
19 For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him."
GE 18:20 Then the LORD said, "The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21 that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know."
God has heard of the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah and makes plans to go on a recon mission and see for Himself if their sin will justify their total destruction. Abraham senses God's intent and begins to intercede for the lives of any righteous persons living in those sinful cities. Abraham's compassion may have been born of his concern for his nephew Lot's welfare or it may have been compassion in general. Nevertheless, Abraham begins to haggle with God concerning the lives of the righteous in the the doomed Sodom and Gomorrah. He starts pleading for 50 and gets God to extend His mercy to as few as 10.
GE 19:1 The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. 2 "My lords," he said, "please turn aside to your servant's house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning." "No," they answered, "we will spend the night in the square."
The Men of Sodom Try to Sexually Assault the Angels of God.
GE 19:3 But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. 4 Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom--both young and old--surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them."
GE 19:6 Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him 7 and said, "No, my friends. Don't do this wicked thing. 8 Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don't do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof."
GE 19:9 "Get out of our way," they replied. And they said, "This fellow came here as an alien, and now he wants to play the judge! We'll treat you worse than them." They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door.
GE 19:10 But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. 11 Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door.
God has sent down two angels to get firsthand Intel on just how bad these cities were. This is the classic punishment for sin story of all time, telling how God destroyed Sodom and Gomorra because of homosexuality.
Sexual harassment is always a stupid crime. The men of Sodom reached the epitome of stupidity when they tried to rape the angels of God. By the way, there is no evidence in scripture that angels are sexual: male or female.
For more information, click Angels in the Bible.
Note the following points from Gen. 19:
Men of all ages were drawn to the two visitors. Since these were angels [v.1], their physical beauty was obvious to everyone.
The interest of the Sodomites was clearly evil; verse 5 says "Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.
V6: Lot allows this spirit of hospitality to overcome his common sense and offers his two virgin daughters to the men of the city if they will let the angels alone.
V. 9] The men of Sodom were so enraged with lust that they began to break down the door.
V. 11: The angels could take care of themselves; they slammed the door and blinded the lustful Sodomites.
GE 19:24 Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah--from the LORD out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities--and also the vegetation in the land. 26 But Lot's wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
So ends the story of the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah. Regardless of what the people of the 21st century say about homosexuality, it always has been, and always will be a violation of God's law for his universe. In the first chapter of Genesis, verse 22, God declared, "Be fruitful and increase in number ..." Everyone with even a modicum of intelligence knows that it is impossible to be fruitful through homosexual activity!
Finally Sarah Gives Abraham a Son.
GE 21:1 Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised. 2 Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. 3 Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. 4 When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. 5 Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. However, Sarah got ahead of God and suggested that Abraham try to have a child with Hagar, her servant, rather than wait for God's own time to be fulfilled. God allowed nature to take its course and Abraham got Hagar pregnant. However, this was outside God's plan for His Pipeline and it led to trouble from that day until this.
GE 21:8 The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. 9 But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, 10 and she said to Abraham, "Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac."
Perhaps Ishmael, Abraham's son through Hagar felt the weaning celebration was a little too fancy because Sarah felt he was making fun of it. She complained to Abraham and asked that Hagar's branch of the family be sent from the camp. Although she most likely didn't understand the concept of God's Pipeline, she didn't want Isaac to share God's blessing with Ishmael.
GE 21:11 The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. 12 But God said to him, "Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. 13 I will make the son of the maidservant into a nation also, because he is your offspring."
Abraham must have loved both boys and took the matter before the Lord. God assured Abraham that both boys would be the father of a nation. Isaac would become the father of the Jews and Ishmael would become the father of the Arabs. Of course God was sending the plan of salvation via the Messiah down the Jewish branch and not the Arab branch of the Pipeline
God Confirms Ishmael's Heritage.
GE 21:17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, "What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation."
Abraham had followed up on his conversation with Sarah concerning Ishmael and sent him and his mother, Hagar out of the camp and into the desert. Although Sarah and Abraham had rejected Ishmael and Hagar, God has not forgotten them. He dispatches an angel to check on them and confirms that God knows about the boy's tears. The angel then confirms the fact that Ishmael will become the leader of a great nation. We know now that this would be the Arab nation.
God Puts Abraham to the Test.
GE 22:1 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!" "Here I am," he replied.
Abraham's obedience and level of devotion to God is the primary purpose of the test. However, we learn an important secondary lesson from this test: human sacrifice will never be required for our salvation until God's own Son, Jesus Christ, is offered as the ultimate sacrifice.
GE 22:2 Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about."
GE 22:3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, "Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you."
GE 22:6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, "Father?" "Yes, my son?" Abraham replied. "The fire and wood are here," Isaac said, "but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"
Isaac has a valid question for his dad as they toil up Mount Moriah. "We have everything except the lamb. Where is the lamb?"
GE 22:8 Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." And the two of them went on together. GE 22:9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!" "Here I am," he replied.
Abraham's faith in God continues steadfast: God will provide the lamb. God's test continues until Isaac is tied up and placed on top of the altar. Abraham has the knife in his hand and is lifting his arm for the downstroke that will end Isaac's life when God intervenes.
GE 22:12 "Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son."
GE 22:13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided."
Sure enough; God has provided the lamb. A male sheep is caught in the thicket and Isaac's life is saved. Never again will a human sacrifice come as close to death as Isaac did that day. Not until Jesus was on the cross, that is.
GE 22:15 The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, "I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me."
Abraham receives God's confirmation of his Pipeline Plan as a reward for his complete trust in God's will, right up to the point of the downstroke of the knife!
A Wife for Isaac.
GE 24:1 Abraham was now old and well advanced in years, and the LORD had blessed him in every way. 2 He said to the chief servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, "Put your hand under my thigh. 3 I want you to swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, 4 but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac."
As Abraham comes to the end of his life, he remembers one bit of unfinished business. Isaac is coming of age and needs a wife. He commissions his chief servant to go back to his home country and seek a wife there; he senses that the Pipeline should not flow through the wicked tribes who are occupying Canaan then.
GE 24:6 "Make sure that you do not take my son back there," Abraham said. 7 "The LORD, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father's household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, `To your offspring I will give this land'--he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there. 8 If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from this oath of mine. Only do not take my son back there." 9 So the servant put his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham and swore an oath to him concerning this matter.
Abraham's servant is a little nervous and worries about finding the right girl who will be willing to come with him. Abraham promises that an angel will lead him to the proper choice.
GE 24:12 Then he prayed, "O LORD, God of my master Abraham, give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. 13 See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. 14 May it be that when I say to a girl, `Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,' and she says, `Drink, and I'll water your camels too'--let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master."
The servant picks a likely spot for finding a young woman: the town spring. He asks God for help although an angel had already been promised. He asks for a sign: A girl will give him a drink and will also offer to water his camels. Watering camels after they have traveled a distance is hard work. Camels are notoriously thirsty. Apparently the spring has a watering trough so girls can go down to the spring and carry jars of water up to the trough. Probably a number of trips would be required for more than one camel.
GE 24:15 Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milcah, who was the wife of Abraham's brother Nahor. 16 The girl was very beautiful, a virgin; no man had ever lain with her. She went down to the spring, filled her jar and came up again. GE 24:17 The servant hurried to meet her and said, "Please give me a little water from your jar." GE 24:18 "Drink, my lord," she said, and quickly lowered the jar to her hands and gave him a drink. GE 24:19 After she had given him a drink, she said, "I'll draw water for your camels too, until they have finished drinking." 20 So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, ran back to the well to draw more water, and drew enough for all his camels. 21 Without saying a word, the man watched her closely to learn whether or not the LORD had made his journey successful.
The girl's name is Rebekah, a member of Abraham's family. She is a beautiful virgin. She is also a hard worker. So, God has led the servant to a beutiful member of Abraham's family who is also a virgin and a hard worker. When you're on a hard personnel mission, it helps to have the angel of the Lord vetting all the applicants.
Twins Are Born to Isaac and Rebekah.
GE 25:20 and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan Aram and sister of Laban the Aramean. GE 25:21 Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. 22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, "Why is this happening to me?" So she went to inquire of the LORD.
GE 25:23 The LORD said to her, "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger." GE 25:24 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 25 The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau. 26 After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau's heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them.
GE 25:27 The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was a quiet man, staying among the tents. 28 Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.
God's Pipeline was stalled again because Rebekah was barren and couldn't have children. So Isaac interceded on her behalf before the Lord. He head Isaac's prayer and his wife conceived twin boys. At childbirth, the first to be born was red and hairy. He was named Esau. When Jacob was born, he was still holding on to Esau's heel.
In the moments of birth, the personalities of the boys were revealed in ways that would follow them for the rest of their lives. Esau became a man of the field who loved to hunt and feast on wild game. Jacob, on the other hand, was a homebody and something of a mama's boy with a tendency to trickery. Isaac liked to eat Esau's cooking but Rebekah favored Jacob over Esau, probably because he stayed close to home.
Esau Loses His Birthright and Isaac's Blessing
GE 25:29 Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. 30 He said to Jacob, "Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I'm famished!" (That is why he was also called Edom. )
GE 25:31 Jacob replied, "First sell me your birthright." GE 25:32 "Look, I am about to die," Esau said. "What good is the birthright to me?" GE 25:33 But Jacob said, "Swear to me first." So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.
GE 25:34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.
Esau was materialistic, impetuous, and not overly intelligent. He very carelessly and thoughtlessly let his birthwright slip through his fingers in exchange for a quick meal when he was hungry. In this era of human history, the firstborn male child was in the catbird seat. He stood to inherit his father's material substance upon his father's death. Such was the value of the birthright and Jacob knew it. Esau knew it also but he allowed his stomach to rule his brain. The scripture say, he despised his birthright. Despised in this context means he did not place enough value on it.
GE 27:1 When Isaac was old and his eyes were so weak that he could no longer see, he called for Esau his older son and said to him, "My son." "Here I am," he answered. GE 27:2 Isaac said, "I am now an old man and don't know the day of my death. 3 Now then, get your weapons--your quiver and bow--and go out to the open country to hunt some wild game for me. 4 Prepare me the kind of tasty food I like and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my blessing before I die."
As Issac grew old and neared death, his vision began to fail. One day, he asked Esau to take his bow and arrows into the field and hunt wild game. He remembered the old days when Esau used to cook him game and make him a flavorful dish. The meal that Isaac proposed was also to be a ceremony. He was going to bestow his blessing on his elder son and ask God to give him all the good things that Isaac had enjoyed during his life.
GE 27:5 Now Rebekah was listening as Isaac spoke to his son Esau. When Esau left for the open country to hunt game and bring it back, 6 Rebekah said to her son Jacob, "Look, I overheard your father say to your brother Esau, 7 `Bring me some game and prepare me some tasty food to eat, so that I may give you my blessing in the presence of the LORD before I die.' 8 Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you: 9 Go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, so I can prepare some tasty food for your father, just the way he likes it. 10 Then take it to your father to eat, so that he may give you his blessing before he dies."
Rebekah was not without guilt in what is about to transpire. In fact, she was the instigator. She obviously knew about Esau's earlier loss of his birthright and now she saw a way she could help Jacob hoodwink Esau out of Isaac's blessing, also. The blessing added to the birthright would giave Jacob a devastaing advantage over his brother Esau. Rebekah proposed to use her prowess in the kitchen to fool Isaac into thinking he was eating wild game instead of domestic goat. She may have been an excellent cook but she was a devious and conniving wife and mother. Esau was to be the loser.
GE 27:11 Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, "But my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I'm a man with smooth skin. 12 What if my father touches me? I would appear to be tricking him and would bring down a curse on myself rather than a blessing." GE 27:13 His mother said to him, "My son, let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say; go and get them for me." GE 27:14 So he went and got them and brought them to his mother, and she prepared some tasty food, just the way his father liked it. 15 Then Rebekah took the best clothes of Esau her older son, which she had in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob. 16 She also covered his hands and the smooth part of his neck with the goatskins. 17 Then she handed to her son Jacob the tasty food and the bread she had made.
Jacob was not totally stupid and was reluctant to embark on this nefarious scheme. However, Rebekah seemed to have all the bases covered:
She would season the goat to taste like venison.
She would dress Jacob in Esau's clothes to make him smell like Esau and further fool her husband.
She would cover Jacob's hairless hands and arms with goat fur so he would feel like Esau.
GE 27:18 He went to his father and said, "My father." "Yes, my son," he answered. "Who is it?" GE 27:19 Jacob said to his father, "I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me. Please sit up and eat some of my game so that you may give me your blessing." GE 27:20 Isaac asked his son, "How did you find it so quickly, my son?" "The LORD your God gave me success," he replied.
In spite of the elaborate scheme to fool Isaac, the old man was not without his sense of time. He remembered that successful hunting could take a certain about of time: scouting and finding the game, bagging the game, dressing it, and preparing it. Isaac sensed that Esau had not been gone long enough for the food to be served. Rebekah in her haste to do the evil deed had miscalculated the time it would normally take. However, Jacob compensated for his mother's mistake with a blashemous lie. He said God had helped him complete the total task with such speed.
GE 27:21 Then Isaac said to Jacob, "Come near so I can touch you, my son, to know whether you really are my son Esau or not." GE 27:22 Jacob went close to his father Isaac, who touched him and said, "The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau." 23 He did not recognize him, for his hands were hairy like those of his brother Esau; so he blessed him. 24 "Are you really my son Esau?" he asked. "I am," he replied.
Isaac is still not at ease and wants to touch Jacob. The old man is still not completely fooled. He said to Jacob you sound like Jacob but you feel like Esau. Again Jacob lies to his father and confirms that he is indeed Esau.
Isaac then remembers the good old days when he and Esau went hunting together and asks for a meal of wild game. In preparation for the blessing, he asks Jacob to kiss him. Jacob has already stolen Esau's birthright and he is about to steal the blessing, also. This blessing was a very special plea to God that Heaven's best be with the first-born son always.
GE 27:25 Then he said, "My son, bring me some of your game to eat, so that I may give you my blessing." Jacob brought it to him and he ate; and he brought some wine and he drank. 26 Then his father Isaac said to him, "Come here, my son, and kiss me." GE 27:27 So he went to him and kissed him. When Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he blessed him and said,
"Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that the LORD has blessed. GE 27:28 May God give you of heaven's dew and of earth's richness-- an abundance of grain and new wine. GE 27:29 May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed."
GE 27:30 After Isaac finished blessing him and Jacob had scarcely left his father's presence, his brother Esau came in from hunting. 31 He too prepared some tasty food and brought it to his father. Then he said to him, "My father, sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing."
Esau arrives but he is too late. The coveted blessing has been bestowed on Jacob and not Esau.
GE 27:32 His father Isaac asked him, "Who are you?" "I am your son," he answered, "your firstborn, Esau." GE 27:33 Isaac trembled violently and said, "Who was it, then, that hunted game and brought it to me? I ate it just before you came and I blessed him--and indeed he will be blessed!" GE 27:34 When Esau heard his father's words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, "Bless me--me too, my father!" GE 27:35 But he said, "Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing."
Isaac and Esau are both understandably distressed by the deceitful actions of Jacob and his mother, Rebekah.
GE 27:36 Esau said, "Isn't he rightly named Jacob? He has deceived me these two times: He took my birthright, and now he's taken my blessing!" Then he asked, "Haven't you reserved any blessing for me?" GE 27:37 Isaac answered Esau, "I have made him lord over you and have made all his relatives his servants, and I have sustained him with grain and new wine. So what can I possibly do for you, my son?" GE 27:38 Esau said to his father, "Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!" Then Esau wept aloud. GE 27:39 His father Isaac answered him, "Your dwelling will be away from the earth's richness, away from the dew of heaven above. GE 27:40 You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother. But when you grow restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck."
Esau pleads with his father for a blessing, also. Esau is reduced to tears by his distress and asks Isaac if he might not have another blessing he can give his elder son. In verse 40, he gives something that sounds more like a curse than a blessing.
GE 27:41 Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, "The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob."
Esau is so enraged by what has transpired with the loss of both the birthright and the blessing, he vows to kill Jacob after Isaac passes and the funeral is over.
GE 27:42 When Rebekah was told what her older son Esau had said, she sent for her younger son Jacob and said to him, "Your brother Esau is consoling himself with the thought of killing you. 43 Now then, my son, do what I say: Flee at once to my brother Laban in Haran. 44 Stay with him for a while until your brother's fury subsides. 45 When your brother is no longer angry with you and forgets what you did to him, I'll send word for you to come back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?"
GE 27:46 Then Rebekah said to Isaac, "I'm disgusted with living because of these Hittite women. If Jacob takes a wife from among the women of this land, from Hittite women like these, my life will not be worth living."
Now Rebekah uses a tantrum about Canaanite wives to mask the fact that she is helping Jacob escape from the wrath of Esau. Her long-range plan is to send back Jacob to her brother's country so he can find a wife among his own family. Marrying cousins did not carry the taboo then that is does now. In fact, Fox newsman John Stossel claims that the danger of marrying cousins is largely overblown today.
GE 28:1 So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him and commanded him: "Do not marry a Canaanite woman. 2 Go at once to Paddan Aram, to the house of your mother's father Bethuel. Take a wife for yourself there, from among the daughters of Laban, your mother's brother. 3 May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. 4 May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now live as an alien, the land God gave to Abraham." 5 Then Isaac sent Jacob on his way, and he went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, who was the mother of Jacob and Esau.
GE 28:6 Now Esau learned that Isaac had blessed Jacob and had sent him to Paddan Aram to take a wife from there, and that when he blessed him he commanded him, "Do not marry a Canaanite woman," 7 and that Jacob had obeyed his father and mother and had gone to Paddan Aram.
8 Esau then realized how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Isaac; 9 so he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, in addition to the wives he already had.
When Esau realized that Isaac and Rebekah didn't want Jacob to marry a Canaanite woman, he deliberately went out of his way to marry an Ishmaelite woman. Ishmael was the son born to the union of Abraham and Hagar because Sarah couldn't wait for Isaac to be born, the child of promise.
Ishmael was definitely outside the Pipeline and when Esau married into that family, he moved even farther from being part of God's Plan of Salvation. He is without birthright, without blessing, and outside God's Pipeline.
GE 28:10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. 11 When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. 12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 There above it stood the LORD, and he said: "I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. 15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."
Meanwhile, while Esau is chasing after foreign women, Jacob has a very extraordinary dream of angels and a staircase to heaven. This dream is coupled with a renewal of God's promise to Abraham and Isaac. Jacob was far from perfect. He had deceived his brother Esau twice and was now running from his murderous rage. But God still honored His Pipeline promise and planned to use Abraham's family to carry the news of Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God to our generation.
GE 28:16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it." 17 He was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven."
Jacob is overwhelmed with the dream and the confirmation of God's promise to his grandfather Abraham. Even though Jacob is a trickster, he is spiritually sensitive to the power and presence of God in his environment.
GE 29:16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful. 18 Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, "I'll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel."
Jacob's travels in the land of his ancestor takes him to the ranch of Laban, his mother's father. There we falls in love with Rachel, Laban's younger and beautiful daughter. He agrees to give Laban 7 years of labor in exchange for Rachel's hand in marriage.
GE 29:19 Laban said, "It's better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me." 20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.
Jacob is so head over heels in love with Rachel the seven years pass as swiftly as though they were days instead of years.
GE 29:21 Then Jacob said to Laban, "Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to lie with her." GE 29:22 So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. 23 But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and gave her to Jacob, and Jacob lay with her. 24 And Laban gave his servant girl Zilpah to his daughter as her maidservant.
Jacob is very open about his long-term objective. All along he has been sexually infatuated with Rachel and now, after seven years, he want sexual consummation of the relationship. This is consistent with what the Apostle Paul says about the role of physical sex in the marriage relationship. See Bible Sex Facts, Part 3, for more information.
So, now we have Leah as Jacob's first legal wife and Zilpah went along on the honeymoon as the servant girl. Since Zilpah is now part of the story, it is time to tell you that eventually Jacob will have 12 sons with two wives and two servants/mistresses. When Jacob eventually marries Rachel, a servant girl comes along with that package, also, and her name is Bilhah. Rachel [the favored wife] only has two of the twelve sons: Joseph and Benjaman. The other ten are split among Leah , Zilpah , and Bilhah . See details in the chart below.
Leah, First Wife Rachel, Favored Wife Zilpah, Servant Bilhah, Servant Reuben
GE 29:25 When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, "What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn't I? Why have you deceived me?"
GE 29:26 Laban replied, "It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. 27 Finish this daughter's bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work."
GE 29:28 And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. 29 Laban gave his servant girl Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her maidservant. 30 Jacob lay with Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years.
The wily Laban wiggled out of the trick by claiming local custom demanded that the elder Leah be married first. So Jacob signs on for another seven years of hard labor for the girl of his dreams. What goes around, comes around! The timeline of Jacob's two marriages and two honeymoons is not exactly clear in scripture. We know these things for sure:
He eventually had twelve sons by his two wives and two servants. For details, see chart above.
It should be noted that God's primary plan was for each husband to have one wife. However, in certain old testament stories, God tolerated multiple wives and it always brought trouble in the family, via jealousy and sibling rivalry.
GE 30:1 When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, "Give me children, or I'll die!" GE 30:2 Jacob became angry with her and said, "Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?"
GE 30:3 Then she said, "Here is Bilhah, my maidservant. Sleep with her so that she can bear children for me and that through her I too can build a family." GE 30:4 So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife. Jacob slept with her, 5 and she became pregnant and bore him a son. 6 Then Rachel said, "God has vindicated me; he has listened to my plea and given me a son." Because of this she named him Dan.
In these times, having children was very important to the wives. Here we see that Rachel was willing to share her bed so that she would have a family, also.
It is needless to say that there is no Biblical record of a husband failing to perform on cue in this kind of bed sharing in Old Testament times.
GE 30:22 Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and opened her womb. 23 She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, "God has taken away my disgrace." 24 She named him Joseph, and said, "May the LORD add to me another son."
Finally the favored and loved wife has a son; Rachel calls him Joseph and the favored status enjoyed by his mother is passed down to the son "of his old age".
GE 30:29 Jacob said to him, "You know how I have worked for you and how your livestock has fared under my care. 30 The little you had before I came has increased greatly, and the LORD has blessed you wherever I have been. But now, when may I do something for my own household?"
GE 30:31 "What shall I give you?" he asked. "Don't give me anything," Jacob replied. "But if you will do this one thing for me, I will go on tending your flocks and watching over them: 32 Let me go through all your flocks today and remove from them every speckled or spotted sheep, every dark-colored lamb and every spotted or speckled goat. They will be my wages. 33 And my honesty will testify for me in the future, whenever you check on the wages you have paid me. Any goat in my possession that is not speckled or spotted, or any lamb that is not dark-colored, will be considered stolen."
GE 30:34 "Agreed," said Laban. "Let it be as you have said." 35 That same day he removed all the male goats that were streaked or spotted, and all the speckled or spotted female goats (all that had white on them) and all the dark-colored lambs, and he placed them in the care of his sons. 36 Then he put a three-day journey between himself and Jacob, while Jacob continued to tend the rest of Laban's flocks.
GE 30:37 Jacob, however, took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond and plane trees and made white stripes on them by peeling the bark and exposing the white inner wood of the branches. 38 Then he placed the peeled branches in all the watering troughs, so that they would be directly in front of the flocks when they came to drink. When the flocks were in heat and came to drink, 39 they mated in front of the branches. And they bore young that were streaked or speckled or spotted. 40 Jacob set apart the young of the flock by themselves, but made the rest face the streaked and dark-colored animals that belonged to Laban. Thus he made separate flocks for himself and did not put them with Laban's animals. 41 Whenever the stronger females were in heat, Jacob would place the branches in the troughs in front of the animals so they would mate near the branches, 42 but if the animals were weak, he would not place them there. So the weak animals went to Laban and the strong ones to Jacob. 43 In this way the man grew exceedingly prosperous and came to own large flocks, and maidservants and menservants, and camels and donkeys.
As the years pass, Jacob gets restless in his role as Laban's head shepherd and wants to branch out on his own. Laban, however, knows he has a good thing in that God has blessed him because of Jacob. Therefore, he is reluctant to let Jacob leave.
Jacob hit on the idea, a form of selective breeding. This was helped by a contrived visual aid for the animals: branches that were peeled in such a way as to look striped. At the bottom line, Jacob's holdings continued to grow.
Jacob Goes Home to Canaan.
GE 31:1 Jacob heard that Laban's sons were saying, "Jacob has taken everything our father owned and has gained all this wealth from what belonged to our father." 2 And Jacob noticed that Laban's attitude toward him was not what it had been. 3 Then the LORD said to Jacob, "Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you."
God realized that things were going sour between Laban and Jacob so He sent him back to Canaan, the promised land. So Jacob rounded up Rachel, Leah, his children, and all his livestock and started home. Laban caught up with Jacob's caravan on the road and they had a meeting.
GE 31:48 Laban said, "This heap is a witness between you and me today." That is why it was called Galeed. 49 It was also called Mizpah, because he said, "May the LORD keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other. 50 If you mistreat my daughters or if you take any wives besides my daughters, even though no one is with us, remember that God is a witness between you and me."
GE 31:51 Laban also said to Jacob, "Here is this heap, and here is this pillar I have set up between you and me. 52 This heap is a witness, and this pillar is a witness, that I will not go past this heap to your side to harm you and that you will not go past this heap and pillar to my side to harm me. 53 May the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us." So Jacob took an oath in the name of the Fear of his father Isaac. 54 He offered a sacrifice there in the hill country and invited his relatives to a meal. After they had eaten, they spent the night there.
Jacob and Laban really couldn't trust each other because they had a long history of some very shady dealings with each other. Over the years in the evangelical movement, the Mizpah Benediction has been used in an atmosphere of fellowship and caring. The King James Version says, The Lord watch between me and thee when we are absent one from another. A paraphrase of this verse could be: I don't trust you and you don't trust me, so God is the referee to make sure one doesn't cheat the other while no one is looking.
The Reunion with Esau
GE 32:13 He spent the night there, and from what he had with him he selected a gift for his brother Esau: 14 two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15 thirty female camels with their young, forty cows and ten bulls, and twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. 16 He put them in the care of his servants, each herd by itself, and said to his servants, "Go ahead of me, and keep some space between the herds."
GE 32:17 He instructed the one in the lead: "When my brother Esau meets you and asks, `To whom do you belong, and where are you going, and who owns all these animals in front of you?' 18 then you are to say, `They belong to your servant Jacob. They are a gift sent to my lord Esau, and he is coming behind us.' " GE 32:19 He also instructed the second, the third and all the others who followed the herds: "You are to say the same thing to Esau when you meet him. 20 And be sure to say, `Your servant Jacob is coming behind us.' " For he thought, "I will pacify him with these gifts I am sending on ahead; later, when I see him, perhaps he will receive me." 21 So Jacob's gifts went on ahead of him, but he himself spent the night in the camp.
Jacob looks forward to his meeting Esau with quite a bit of fear, and with good reason. The last time these two brothers were together, Jacob has just stolen Isaac's blessing from Esau. Esau is mad enough to kill him and the mother, Rebekah, helps Jacob "get out of Dodge." Now, he hears Esau is on the road with 400 men and Jacob isn't sure it's a friendly welcoming party.
He assembles an assortment of gifts to smooth out the meeting, including: 200 female goats, 20 male goats, 200 ewes, 20 rams, 30 female camels, and so forth. Each herd of gift animals had a separate herder and there was to be space between the herds. The idea was for the gift herds to soften up Esau so by the time Jacob came along in the rear, all the old animosity generated by the stolen birthright and the stolen blessing would be dissipated by Jacob's current generosity.
GE 32:22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak." But Jacob replied, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." GE 32:27 The man asked him, "What is your name?" "Jacob," he answered.
GE 32:28 Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome."
GE 32:29 Jacob said, "Please tell me your name." But he replied, "Why do you ask my name?" Then he blessed him there.
GE 32:30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared."
GE 32:31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob's hip was touched near the tendon.
GE 33:1 Jacob looked up and there was Esau, coming with his four hundred men; so he divided the children among Leah, Rachel and the two maidservants. 2 He put the maidservants and their children in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph in the rear. 3 He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother.
After Jacob has sent his family and his possessions across the ford of the river, he camps alone overnight. During the night, he wrestles with an unknown man until daybreak. His adversary is actually God and Jacob wants Him to identify Himself. The adversary does rename Jacob as Israel and since that day, all the ancestors of Jacob have been known as Israelites. They wrestle to a draw and the adversary is able to get away by dislocating Jacob's hip.
On the road again, Jacob arranges the line of march with the servant girls and their sons at the head of the line. Next came Leah and her sons, and finally Rachel and Joseph. Then Jacob moves to the head of the march and approaches Esau directly. There is much ceremonial bowing as Jacob and Esau finally meet face to face.
GE 33:4 But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept. 5 Then Esau looked up and saw the women and children. "Who are these with you?" he asked. Jacob answered, "They are the children God has graciously given your servant."
After all the worrying, and arranging the gift herds and the line of march with spaces between the gift herds, Esau meets Jacob with hugs and tears and not animosity. All is forgiven and Jacob's worrying is all in vain. The first thing out of Esau's mouth is "Tell me about your family".
The Story of Joseph, Israel's Favored Son.
Chapter 36 of Genesis is devoted to the offspring of Esau. However, Esau and his descendants were not part of God's Salvation Pipeline so Esau receives this rather skimpy and factual account.
With Chapter 37, the Bible continues with the main story: God's Salvation Pipeline. Joseph was a central character in the Pipeline story.
Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them. GE 37:3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him. 4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.
Joseph was the son of Rachel and Israel. Benjamin was also their son but at this point in the story, he was too young to figure in the interpersonal interactions among Joseph and the older sons. Bilhad and Zilpah were concubines and not legal wives. Their sons were especially jealous of Joseph because he stood higher in their father's esteem than they did. When Joseph tattled on them regarding their poor work habits, they hated him all the more. The famous coat of many colors that Israel gave him to wear didn't help matters any, either.
GE 37:5 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6 He said to them, "Listen to this dream I had: 7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it." GE 37:8 His brothers said to him, "Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?" And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said. GE 37:9 Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. "Listen," he said, "I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me."
Joseph's dreams would come true in his lifetime but neither his brothers nor his father had any way of knowing this.
One day, Israel sent Joseph out to check on his brothers as they watched the flocks. Joseph had trouble finding where they were herding so he asked someone for directions.
GE 37:17 "They have moved on from here," the man answered. "I heard them say, `Let's go to Dothan.' " So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. 18 But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him. GE 37:19 "Here comes that dreamer!" they said to each other. 20 "Come now, let's kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we'll see what comes of his dreams." GE 37:21 When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. "Let's not take his life," he said. 22 "Don't shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the desert, but don't lay a hand on him." Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father. GE 37:23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe--the richly ornamented robe he was wearing-- 24 and they took him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it.
Jealousy has escalated to murder as the plotting brothers make plans to kill Joseph and throw him down a dry cistern. However, Reuben, Joseph's eldest brother by the less favored wife, Leah, steps in to intervene by suggesting that he be thrown down the empty cistern. His long range plan is to wait for a chance to pull Joseph out of the cistern and take him back to his father.
GE 37:25 As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt. GE 37:26 Judah said to his brothers, "What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come, let's sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood." His brothers agreed.
GE 37:28 So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.
During the lunch break, the brothers happen to see a caravan of Ishmaelites passing by. Ishmael, you may remember, was the illegitimate son of Isaac and Hagar. Therefore, the Ishmaelites were definitely outside the Salvation Pipeline, as it flowed straight from Abraham to Christ. Judah suggests that Joseph be sold as a slave to this passing caravan. Judah was the fourth son of Israel and Leah; he had the same mother as Reuben. The Bible is silent regarding the motivation of Judah's slavery plan. He may have had pity on Joseph and wanted to save his life. He may have feared the wrath of his father, Israel, if the true fate of Joseph came to light. Or, he may have seen the intrinsic value of a live Joseph sold as a slave compared to a dead Joseph thrown down a well. All we know for sure was that money changed hands and Joseph was on his way to Egypt.
GE 37:29 When Reuben returned to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not there, he tore his clothes. 30 He went back to his brothers and said, "The boy isn't there! Where can I turn now?"
GE 37:31 Then they got Joseph's robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. 32 They took the ornamented robe back to their father and said, "We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son's robe." GE 37:33 He recognized it and said, "It is my son's robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces."
GE 37:34 Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. 35 All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. "No," he said, "in mourning will I go down to the grave to my son." So his father wept for him.
GE 37:36 Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh's officials, the captain of the guard.
When Reuben returns and finds Joseph gone, he is so upset he tore his clothes in a typical Old Testament act of distress. Meanwhile, the other brothers kill a goat and dip Joseph's fancy robe in the blood. When they get back to the home camp, they tell Israel Joseph has been killed by wild animals and offer the bloody robe as proof.
Meanwhile, down in Egypt, Joseph goes up on the slave auction block and is bought by the household of Potiphar, Pharaoh's captain of the guard.
Israel is overcome with grief and tears his clothes and wears burlap bags during a long period of mourning.
GE 39:2 The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, 4 Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. 5 From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the LORD blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the LORD was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. 6 So he left in Joseph's care everything he had; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.
Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, 7 and after a while his master's wife took notice of Joseph and said, "Come to bed with me!"
Although Joseph was a slave in a strange household and in a strange land, God kept His hand on him and blessed everything he did. Potiphar probably had no idea of the source of Joseph's skill in running his household but he surely approved of the end result. Joseph was appointed chief cook and bottle washer!
Potiphar's wife took notice of Joseph, also. Verse 6 of Chapter 39 describes Joseph as well-built and handsome. In due time, Mrs. Potiphar tried to seduce Joseph.
GE 39:8 But he refused. "With me in charge," he told her, "my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. 9 No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?" 10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her. GE 39:11 One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 12 She caught him by his cloak and said, "Come to bed with me!" But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house. GE 39:13 When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, 14 she called her household servants. "Look," she said to them, "this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. 15 When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house." GE 39:16 She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. 17 Then she told him this story: "That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. 18 But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house."
Joseph was far from home and family. He could have easily given in to Mrs. Potiphar's seductive behavior and had a time of physical pleasure for a while. There is nothing in the Bible to suggest that she was anything but attractive. But Joseph did not abuse the responsibility and authority Potiphar had given him. Furthermore, he clearly understood that fornication was a sin against Mrs. Potiphar and against God. This was not an isolated incident that happened in a moment of female weakness. Day after day, she pestered him to have sexual relations with her and he consistently refused.
One day, she caught him in the house alone and grabbed his robe, again asking for sexual intimacy. But Joseph continued to resist this temptation to sin. He slipped out of his outer garment and left it in her hands, running out of the house.
She began to scream "Rape!" She persisted in her lie, both to the rest of the servants and then to Potiphar, also.
GE 39:19 When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, "This is how your slave treated me," he burned with anger. 20 Joseph's master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king's prisoners were confined. But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.
22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph's care, because the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.
Potiphar acted like a typical husband; he believed his wife and had Joseph arrested and imprisoned.
Here we see a continuation of a pattern that has developed in Joseph's life.
First, he was low man on the totem pole in a household of shepherds but God gave him the special ability to interpret dreams.
Next, he was a slave in Potiphar's house but God helped him to become the head of the household, second only to Potiphar, himself.
Then, he landed in prison because of the false rape charge, but God helped the prison warden to see Joseph's true leadership qualities and he rose to the position of trusty.* [a prison employee without keys.]
Finally, Joseph becomes the Vice President for Grain Distribution for all Egypt during a time of devastating famine and he has the privilege of saving the lives of his father and all his brothers. But, we'll see more about this story belo.
GE 40:1 Some time later, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their master, the king of Egypt. 2 Pharaoh was angry with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, 3 and put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same prison where Joseph was confined. 4 The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them. After they had been in custody for some time, 5 each of the two men--the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison--had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.
GE 40:6 When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. 7 So he asked Pharaoh's officials who were in custody with him in his master's house, "Why are your faces so sad today?" GE 40:8 "We both had dreams," they answered, "but there is no one to interpret them." Then Joseph said to them, "Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams." GE 40:9 So the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream. He said to him, "In my dream I saw a vine in front of me, 10 and on the vine were three branches. As soon as it budded, it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes. 11 Pharaoh's cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharaoh's cup and put the cup in his hand."
GE 40:12 "This is what it means," Joseph said to him. "The three branches are three days. 13 Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh's cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer. 14 But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. 15 For I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon."
GE 40:16 When the chief baker saw that Joseph had given a favorable interpretation, he said to Joseph, "I too had a dream: On my head were three baskets of bread. 17 In the top basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head." GE 40:18 "This is what it means," Joseph said. "The three baskets are three days. 19 Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and hang you on a tree. And the birds will eat away your flesh." GE 40:20 Now the third day was Pharaoh's birthday, and he gave a feast for all his officials. He lifted up the heads of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker in the presence of his officials: 21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, so that he once again put the cup into Pharaoh's hand, 22 but he hanged the chief baker, just as Joseph had said to them in his interpretation. GE 40:23 The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.
GE 41:1 When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile, 2 when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds. 3 After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank. 4 And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up. GE 41:5 He fell asleep again and had a second dream: Seven heads of grain, healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk. 6 After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted--thin and scorched by the east wind. 7 The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up; it had been a dream. GE 41:8 In the morning his mind was troubled, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him.
GE 41:9 Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, "Today I am reminded of my shortcomings. 10 Pharaoh was once angry with his servants, and he imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the captain of the guard. 11 Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own. 12 Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream. 13 And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was hanged. "
While Joseph was working as a trusty. [Note the word here is "trusty", not "trustee". A trusty is a high ranking prisoner, while a trustee is a member of the board.] in prison, he ran across Pharaoh's cupbearer who was a fellow prisoner. The cupbearer had a dream that troubled him. Joseph was able to interpret his dream and he asked him to put in a good word for him the next time he ran across Pharaoh. However, the cupbearer forgot him and two years passed.
Then Pharaoh has a dream about the impending famine but no one could tell him what it means. Finally the cupbearer came to his senses and remembered his prison buddy, Joseph. He referred Joseph to Pharaoh for dream interpretation.
GE 41:14 So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh. GE 41:15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it." GE 41:16 "I cannot do it," Joseph replied to Pharaoh, "but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires." GE
41:17 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile, 18 when out of the river there came up seven cows, fat and sleek, and they grazed among the reeds. 19 After them, seven other cows came up--scrawny and very ugly and lean. I had never seen such ugly cows in all the land of Egypt. 20 The lean, ugly cows ate up the seven fat cows that came up first. 21 But even after they ate them, no one could tell that they had done so; they looked just as ugly as before. Then I woke up. GE 41:22 "In my dreams I also saw seven heads of grain, full and good, growing on a single stalk. 23 After them, seven other heads sprouted--withered and thin and scorched by the east wind. 24 The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven good heads. I told this to the magicians, but none could explain it to me."
GE 41:25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, "The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26 The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads of grain are seven years; it is one and the same dream. 27 The seven lean, ugly cows that came up afterward are seven years, and so are the seven worthless heads of grain scorched by the east wind: They are seven years of famine.
GE 41:28 "It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29 Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt, 30 but seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land. 31 The abundance in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe. 32 The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon.
Sure enough. Pharaoh's dreams were about the impending severe famine preceded by seven years of plenty.
GE 41:33 "And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. 34 Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. 35 They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food. 36 This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine."
It seems like Joseph has learned a trick or two about negotiating a good deal from his father, Jacob/Israel. While Joseph is interpreting Pharaoh's dream, he weaves in a job description for himself as the Vice President for Grain Storage and Distribution.
GE 41:37 The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his officials. 38 So Pharaoh asked them, "Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?"
GE 41:39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. 40 You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you."
GE 41:41 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt." 42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph's finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. 43 He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and men shouted before him, "Make way!" Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt.
So, with one stroke of Pharaoh's quill, Joseph vaults up from a prison trusty to the King of Egypt's right hand man, complete with a signet ring, a gold chain, and robes of fine linen. If Joseph had given in to Mrs. Potiphar's seduction, he would still be sneaking sly sex when no one was looking instead of riding in a chariot while forerunners shouted "Make way!" There is a clear moral to the story thus far: Do the right thing when no one is looking, and someday, everyone may be looking.
GE 41:53 The seven years of abundance in Egypt came to an end, 54 and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in all the other lands, but in the whole land of Egypt there was food. 55 When all Egypt began to feel the famine, the people cried to Pharaoh for food. Then Pharaoh told all the Egyptians, "Go to Joseph and do what he tells you."
Egypt's fortunes turned out the way Joseph had predicted in his interpretation of Pharaoh's dream. As the months of famine ground on, the people of Egypt turned to Pharaoh for help. He simply referred them to Joseph.
GE 41:56 When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt. 57 And all the countries came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe in all the world.
GE 42:1 When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, "Why do you just keep looking at each other?" 2 He continued, "I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, so that we may live and not die." GE 42:3 Then ten of Joseph's brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt. 4 But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph's brother, with the others, because he was afraid that harm might come to him. 5 So Israel's sons were among those who went to buy grain, for the famine was in the land of Canaan also.
Since the food shortage was world-wide, the people up in Canaan felt the pinch, also. Soon Joseph's brothers were knocking on the granary door, down in Egypt. Of course, they had no inkling that the Secretary of Agriculture was the same kid they had sold into slavery years ago.
GE 42:6 Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the one who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph's brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. 7 As soon as Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. "Where do you come from?" he asked. "From the land of Canaan," they replied, "to buy food."
You might think that if Joseph was truly a Godly man, he would have treated his brothers with more respect. Instead, he pretended that de didn't know them and accused them of being military spies.
GE 42:8 Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. 9 Then he remembered his dreams about them and said to them, "You are spies! You have come to see where our land is unprotected."
GE 42:18 On the third day, Joseph said to them, "Do this and you will live, for I fear God: 19 If you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay here in prison, while the rest of you go and take grain back for your starving households. 20 But you must bring your youngest brother to me, so that your words may be verified and that you may not die." This they proceeded to do.
Now Joseph hit on a new plan. He asked that the youngest brother, Benjamin, be brought down from Canaan while Simeon was held hostage in Egypt.
GE 42:21 They said to one another, "Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that's why this distress has come upon us."
GE 42:22 Reuben replied, "Didn't I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn't listen! Now we must give an accounting for his blood." 23 They did not realize that Joseph could understand them, since he was using an interpreter.
Reuben remembered how they had mistreated Joseph years ago and, although he didn't see any connection to the incident with the grainmaster, he did feel that God was using the hostage situation to punish the brothers for how they had lied to their father and mistreated Joseph by selling him into captivity.
GE 42:24 He turned away from them and began to weep, but then turned back and spoke to them again. He had Simeon taken from them and bound before their eyes.
Joseph wept privately, probably because of all the grief that had been caused to his father by his faithless brothers.
GE 42:35 As they were emptying their sacks, there in each man's sack was his pouch of silver! When they and their father saw the money pouches, they were frightened. 36 Their father Jacob said to them, "You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!"
Joseph found another way to torment his brothers. He replaced the food money they had paid down in Egypt by putting it in the mouths of the sacks of grain they purchased. Jacob saw this as an ominous sign that he would never see Simeon again, and if they took Benjamin to Egypt, he would be lost to him, too.
GE 44:11 Each of them quickly lowered his sack to the ground and opened it. 12 Then the steward proceeded to search, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest. And the cup was found in Benjamin's sack. 13 At this, they tore their clothes. Then they all loaded their donkeys and returned to the city.
Joseph finds another way to bring pressure on the brothers. After the brothers have shared a feast with Joseph, he sends them on their way back to Canaan with the grain money in the mouths of their sacks and with his personal silver cup in the mouth of Benjamin's sack. The steward is sent after them and searches their sacks. When the brothers realize what has happened, they are devastated. Finally, Joseph reveals his true identity to his brothers and they all have a time of great joy and reunion.
The Children of Israel Migrate to Egypt at Pharaoh's Invitation.
When Pharaoh learns of Joseph's extended family, he invites them all to migrate down to Egypt, where there is food for all.
GE 46:2 And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, "Jacob! Jacob!" "Here I am," he replied. GE 46:3 "I am God, the God of your father," he said. "Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. 4 I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph's own hand will close your eyes."
We of this age might have reservations about such a move but God assures Israel and promises that He will bring the Israelites back to Canaan, their true promised land.
GE 46:5 Then Jacob left Beersheba, and Israel's sons took their father Jacob and their children and their wives in the carts that Pharaoh had sent to transport him. 6 They also took with them their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in Canaan, and Jacob and all his offspring went to Egypt. 7 He took with him to Egypt his sons and grandsons and his daughters and granddaughters--all his offspring.
*A trusty is a convict regarded as worthy of trust and therefore granted special privileges. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, ©2007.
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The author of the Bible Highlights is G. Edwin Lint
He has a broad knowledge base and extensive training, and experience. His formal education includes Bachelor of Science in Bible and Bachelor of Theology degrees from the Allentown, Pennsylvania campus of Houghton College; Master of Arts in educational supervision and administration from Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey.
He has 36 years of professional education experience with state certification as: Elementary teacher Elementary supervisor Supervisor of curriculum and instruction Elementary principal Special education teacher Supervisor of special education. His professional experience includes 2 years as elementary teacher at Cedarville, NJ, 8 years as teacher, supervisor of special education, and director of education at the Vineland [NJ] State School, 10 years as Assistant superintendent for Rehabilitation Services, and unit manager at the Laurelton [PA] State School, and 15 years as Special Education Adviser for the Pennsylvania Department of Education in Harrisburg.
Throughout his secular career, he has remained active in Christian service in a variety of capacities: Sunday school teacher Sunday school superintendent Teacher trainer Director of Christian education Choir member, choir director Orchestra member (playing trumpet and tuba) Member and manager of a regional Gospel singing group Owner of a Gospel music store Representative for the Pennsylvania Council on Alcohol Problems Interim and supply pastor.
For over 37 years he has worked as a part -time Gospel DJ. In 1971, he earned an FCC Third Class License with Broadcast Endorsement by passing the written examination. During 1973-1997 he produced and hosted a Gospel music radio program: Gospel Caravan. His program was on Internet radio via streaming audio 2000 through 2009. Ed Lint claims that his most important credential is "a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I have accepted Jesus Christ as my sin sacrifice. He is my Lamb of God and coming King. The Holy Spirit fills me. He gives me power to live a successful Christian life and protects me from Satan and his demons."
He retired in 1994 and has been an educational consultant and primary author of DiskBooks Electronic Publishing. He has the following publications in the Kindle Store:
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