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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Genesis Series

I have completed my 42nd sermon from the book of Genesis. It will nearly take a year to finish this series. It has truly been informative and edifying as I have learned much from my study and sermon preparation. Here are my notes from Genesis 45:16-47:26.


The broken family of Jacob torn apart by favoritism, rivalry, and polygamy has found partial redemption through the most unlikely of circumstances.

God gives the favored son of Joseph dreams when interpreted predict a day when his entire family will bow down to him. Joseph’s sharing of this dream with his family coupled with the tension that already existed led his angry and jealous brothers to sell him into slavery.

Joseph ends up in the nation of Egypt in the care of Potiphar, the captain of the guard for Pharaoh. Despite the desperate plot that Joseph found himself in, separated from his family, in servitude, in a foreign country, God was still with him.

God blessed Joseph to the extent that Potiphar made him head of his household. Additionally, when Joseph was unjustly thrown into prison, God blessed him there too, and he was made overseer of the prisoners.

Threw providential circumstances, Joseph was bale to correctly interpret the dreams of two men who were extremely close to Pharaoh. Years later when Pharaoh himself had two dreams that could not be interpreted by the wise men of Egypt, Joseph was remembered and was brought before Pharaoh where he satisfactorily interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams.

Joseph says that Egypt will face 7 years of plenty and 7 years of great famine. He suggests that Egypt prepare in the first seven years to sustain the country in the second seven years. At his suggestion, Pharaoh appoints Joseph to second in command with the goal of preserving the nation.

The famine reaches Canaan where Joseph’s family resides. And his brothers come to purchase food for the family. Through a series of tests by Joseph, the brothers confess their sin towards Joseph, they demonstrate the health of Joseph’s blood brother Benjamin, and Judah demonstrates his own personal redemption when he offers to trade his life for Benjamin.

Last week, as we surveyed, the first half of chapter 45, we witnessed the partial reunification of the family of promise. We witnessed the reconciliation of a family were bitterly divided and full of jealousy. Now we have 12 brothers who are once again one; they are a family again.

The Invitation of Pharaoh (Genesis 45:16-28)

The healing process is only partially complete for Joseph has been reunited with his brothers including Benjamin, but he has yet to be reunited with his father, Jacob.

Pharaoh, who has been a hidden figure in this developing situation enters into the narrative again and commands Joseph’s family to return to Canaan taking abundant provisions for their entire family to make a pilgrimage back to Egypt and live in the healthiest part of the kingdom.

The Pharaoh’s generosity to the family of Jacob is further evidence of God’s fulfillment of his promises. God’s covenant to Abraham included the promise to bless those who bless him. This promise extends to each generation of the sons of promise. Pharaoh’s kindness to Joseph was rewarded by God’s salvation of Egypt through the severe famine. This generosity continues from Pharaoh to Joseph’s family as he invites them to live in his land.

The family returns to Canaan, and after some prompting, Jacob believes in the report that his long dead son is alive. The family makes preparations to move to Egypt.

God’s Promise & Jacob’s Family

The importance of God’s encounter with Jacob in a dream is significant for this reason. The land of Canaan is the land of promise. Canaan is the land that God promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. His departure from the land of promise might be interpreted as a sign of faithlessness.

However, since God specifically told him to not be afraid to go into Egypt, this sojourn is deemed appropriate.

The author then proceeds to tell us about the vast number of family members who made the journey. The author emphasizes the number 70. Seventy was a Hebrew number which symbolized completeness.

Lamech (seventy times seven) Genesis 4

Days of mourning for Jacob (seventy) Genesis 50

70 nations descended from Noah Genesis 10

Technically speaking there were more than seventy people who were brought into Egypt. For example verse 7 says that all of his son’s daughters came, but none are listed. Additionally in verse 5 it says that his sons’ wives came, but they are not listed. His servants are not listed either. It seems the only ones counted as descendants are sons, grandsons, one daughter, and one granddaughter. A further evidence that the number seventy is more symbolic than technical is that Joseph’s two sons are counted as part of the seventy, but they never came from Canaan. They were born and raised entirely in Egypt.

The main idea expressed here is his entire family was spared and saved in Egypt. Furthermore, the number seventy expresses the idea that the family of promise was rapidly growing as God had said it would. God’s promises do not always come to pass in the timing we think it should, nevertheless they do not fail and always come to pass.

Joseph and Jacob reunite (Genesis 46:28-30)

The family is one again

Joseph’s instructions (Genesis 46:31-47:12)

Joseph gives a crash course to his family on proper conduct before Pharaoh so that all may go well with them. The family passes test.

Joseph secures all Egypt’s Gold and Land for Pharaoh (Genesis 47:13-26)

The famine was so severe the people of Egypt sold everything to Pharaoh so that they might survive.

Important Phrases, Observations, & Applications:

1. Genesis 45:26, “And they told him, “Joseph is alive, and he is ruler over all the land of Egypt. And his heart became numb, for he did not believe them.”

There are so many happenings in this large narrative that remind us of the story of Jesus.

Turn with me to Luke 24:1-12

A son was dead, but now he is alive. Indeed it was hard to believe in both situations. Joseph is Lord of Egypt. Jesus is Lord of lords and King of kings.

Joseph was “dead”, but was raised by God to bring deliverance and salvation to Egypt and the family of promise. Joseph was used by God to bring about family reconciliation even through sins and trials.

Likewise Jesus was literally dead, but was raised by God from the dead. In his resurrection, Jesus was declared the Son of God in power (Roman 1:4). Jesus was used by God to bring deliverance and salvation to the entire world. His work set in motion and laid the foundation (Matt 21:42; Acts 4:11) for the redemption of the cursed earth, and forgiveness of sins to all who will believe in his name.

Through Jesus, God brings reconciliation between the families of the earth and God and between the peoples of the earth.

2. Genesis 46:3-4, “The he said, “I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. I myself will go down with you to Egypt…”

God’s presence brought greater confidence for Jacob as he sojourned in a foreign land that God would continue to work to fulfill all his covenant promises.

The same is true for all God’s covenant partners, especially to those who are covenanted with him through the blood of Jesus Christ.

Jesus gave us similar words in Matthew 28:20, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” So with the Hebrews author we can say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me (Heb. 13:6)?”

We can with certainty cling to hope in Jesus Christ no matter what context of life we may find ourselves in. God’s words never fail. Jesus said, “Heaven and Earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away (Matt 24:35).” “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.”

3. Genesis 46:34, “you shall say, your servants have been keepers of livestock from our youth even until now, both we and our fathers, in order that you may dwell in the land of Goshen, for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians.”

The power that Pharaoh accumulates and the utter distaste the Egyptians normally hold to the Hebrews who are pastoral shepherds foreshadows the future hostility the family of Jacob will face in Egypt.

When the current Pharaoh dies and the famine is history, a new Pharaoh will turn on the Israelites. God’s abundant blessings to turn a family of seventy into a nation of thousands leads to their freedom being turned into slavery, which in turn would to the great display of the mighty hand of God in power over the Egyptians in the Exodus.

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