Genesis Day Thirty Three

by Rev Joel Yong

Genesis 44:17-34
But he (Joseph) said, “Far be it from me that I should do so! Only the man in whose hand the cup was found shall be my servant. But as for you, go up in peace to your father.” Then Judah went up to him and said, “Oh, my lord, please let your servant speak a word in my lord’s ears, and let not your anger burn against your servant, for you are like Pharaoh himself. My lord asked his servants, saying, ‘Have you a father, or a brother?’ And we said to my lord, ‘We have a father, an old man, and a young brother, the child of his old age. His brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother’s children, and his father loves him.’ Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me, that I may set my eyes on him.’ We said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father, for if he should leave his father, his father would die.’ Then you said to your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you shall not see my face again.’ “When we went back to your servant my father, we told him the words of my lord. And when our father said, ‘Go again, buy us a little food,’ we said, ‘We cannot go down. If our youngest brother goes with us, then we will go down. For we cannot see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’ Then your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons. One left me, and I said, “Surely he has been torn to pieces,” and I have never seen him since. If you take this one also from me, and harm happens to him, you will bring down my gray hairs in evil to Sheol.’ “Now therefore, as soon as I come to your servant my father, and the boy is not with us, then, as his life is bound up in the boy’s life, as soon as he sees that the boy is not with us, he will die, and your servants will bring down the gray hairs of your servant our father with sorrow to Sheol. For your servant became a pledge of safety for the boy to my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, then I shall bear the blame before my father all my life.’ Now therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the boy as a servant to my lord, and let the boy go back with his brothers. For how can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? I fear to see the evil that would find my father.”

Joseph did not know if his brothers had changed.
They were jealous and sold him into slavery.

He created a situation to test them.
Judah rose to the challenge.

Remember, years ago, it was Judah who suggested- that they sell Joseph into slavery.

Genesis 37:25-27
Then they sat down to eat. And looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing gum, balm, and myrrh, on their way to carry it down to Egypt. Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers listened to him.

Now years later, this same Judah, offers to sacrifice himself for his youngest brother.

No wonder his offer, moved Joseph to the point of tears.

Genesis 45:1-2
Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him. He cried, “Make everyone go out from me.” So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept aloud, so that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it.

I find this heartwarming.
By God’s hand, people do change.

Even people who betrayed you, like Judah did.
It may take years, but let God do His work, while you move on and live your life- as Joseph did, climbing through the many betrayals he experienced in his life.

On a closing note, I wonder what Joseph did to Potiphar after becoming Pharaoh’s right hand man?


Genesis Day Thirty Two

by Rev Joel Yong

Genesis 43:34
Portions were taken to them from Joseph’s table, but Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as any of theirs. And they drank and were merry with him.

In the Hebrew perspective, firstborn sons got the double portion of any sons born thereafter.

Deuteronomy 21:15-17
If a man has two wives, the one loved and the other unloved, and both the loved and the unloved have borne him children, and if the firstborn son belongs to the unloved, then on the day when he assigns his possessions as an inheritance to his sons, he may not treat the son of the loved as the firstborn in preference to the son of the unloved, who is the firstborn, but he shall acknowledge the firstborn, the son of the unloved, by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the firstfruits of his strength. The right of the firstborn is his.

That is why Esau wailed when Jacob was blessed as if he were the firstborn.
But here, Joseph, despite being a Hebrew, gives Benjamin – the youngest son of Israel, 5 times what his older brothers received!

This probably surprised the brothers who may have subsequently written it off as the ignorance of an Egyptian unfamiliar with Hebrew customs.

But Joseph did so deliberately.
Inspired, I would think.

He was showing us, how God would not let earthly rank, determine how He shows His favor or showers His blessings.

Jesus would reiterate the same truth much later on when he would teach:

Matthew 19:30
However, many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

Jesus was teaching about how the disciples’ sacrifice, in terms of leaving their livelihoods to follow Him, in comparison with the rich young ruler’s reluctance to give up his possessions- will be duly rewarded in the kingdom of God.

There are other biblical examples of this truth.
Judas Iscariot was an early follower of Jesus but wound up betraying Him.
Paul was one of the last apostles but wound up writing many of the epistles and working so very hard for the kingdom of God.

The Israelites were the first whom Jesus made Himself known to, but the Gentiles made up many of those who began following Jesus first.

Being a last born child, I fully appreciate and understand this good news.

Thank You God, that earthly rank is no determiner or bias that influences how You operate and how Heaven’s blessings are poured forth.

Genesis Day Thirty One

by Rev Joel Yong

Genesis 42:1-5
When Jacob learned that there was grain for sale in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you look at one another?” And he said, “Behold, I have heard that there is grain for sale in Egypt. Go down and buy grain for us there, that we may live and not die.” So ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt. But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with his brothers, for he feared that harm might happen to him. Thus the sons of Israel came to buy among the others who came, for the famine was in the land of Canaan.

He was desperate for food amidst this famine so he sends his sons to Egypt to buy grain.
But he is traumatized by the loss of Joseph, who disappeared years ago and he was allegedly killed by wild animals, according to the account told.

I do not know if he believed those accounts, and blamed himself.
After all, Jacob was the one who sent Joseph out to look for his brothers.

Genesis 37:12-14
Now his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock near Shechem. And Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers pasturing the flock at Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.” And he said to him, “Here I am.” So he said to him, “Go now, see if it is well with your brothers and with the flock, and bring me word.” So he sent him from the Valley of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.

Or perhaps he found something fishy, and did not trust his sons, thinking something else may have happened to Joseph.

Whatever the case, because of his loss, he now clings tightly to his precious youngest, Benjamin. A son even younger than Joseph was.

But watch what happens next.
Joseph now unrecognizable in Egyptian garb, meets his brothers, plots to make them bring Benjamin down to Egypt for he longs to see him. He does so, by pretending to remand Simeon as prisoner until they return with Benjamin.

Jacob’s response to this, is telling.

Genesis 42:38
But he said, “My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he is the only one left. If harm should happen to him on the journey that you are to make, you would bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to Sheol.”

He chose to keep Benjamin by his side and let Simeon languish in prison.

Sometimes when losses are inflicted upon our lives, we react by doing whatever we can to cling onto what is left and prevent a similar outcome from ever happening …

Our colleague backstabs us and we become suspicious of what other colleagues now mean when they say something to us …
Our heart gets broken when our lover leaves, and we become jealously protective of our next boyfriend or girlfriend, even stifling them …
Our tendency seems to deviate towards that of a scarcity mindset …
Instead of one that trusts God for what is ahead …

It even blinds us, like it did Jacob.
Such that he devalued one son for another by effectively letting Simeon remain in captivity, out of his fear of losing Benjamin.

We wind up hurting those around us, with our responses created by our fear of further losses …

Genesis Day Thirty

by Rev Joel Yong

Genesis 41:14-16
Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they quickly brought him out of the pit. And when he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came in before Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” Joseph answered Pharaoh, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.”

He could have seized the opportunity to leverage himself.
But instead he pointed to God and credits God as the Source.

We are given much in life.
Our abilities.
Our finances.
Our influence.
Our relationships.
Our time.

What do you do … do you pat yourself on the back looking at all you have?

Jesus spoke about people like that–

Luke 12:16-21
And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’” But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Rest not, in the security of all around you, you did not do it on your own.

It is God who gave you what you have.
Be like Joseph.

Always credit Him.
Always remember.
Always give thanks.

Then you will be a good steward of the Master’s blessings.

Genesis Day Twenty Nine

by Rev Joel Yong

Genesis 39:1-10
Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field. So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate. Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except yourself, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her.

His boss thought he was a valuable worker, because of the work he churned out.
His boss’ wife valued him too, because he was handsome in form.

How do the people around, appreciate you?
Do they appreciate you for what you can do for them, or for who you really are?

It’s important.
Because once you cease to be of help to them, they won’t value you anymore.

Potiphar turned against Joseph.
His wife falsely accused him of molest.

Genesis 39:16-21
Then she laid up his garment by her until his master came home, and she told him the same story, saying, “The Hebrew servant, whom you have brought among us, came in to me to laugh at me. But as soon as I lifted up my voice and cried, he left his garment beside me and fled out of the house.” As soon as his master heard the words that his wife spoke to him, “This is the way your servant treated me,” his anger was kindled. And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison. But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.

But look at that last line.
When all human favor and support around him had ceased, God was still with Joseph.

And that is all that matters.
Because of God’s favor, Joseph rose to become the right hand man of Pharaoh.

So live, to seek God’s favor and not favor that comes from mankind, for that is fickle and untrustworthy.

Genesis Day Twenty Eight

by Rev Joel Yong

Genesis 38:6-11
And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord put him to death. Then Judah said to Onan, Go in to your brother’s wife and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother. But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his. So whenever he went in to his brother’s wife he would waste the semen on the ground, so as not to give offspring to his brother. And what he did was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and he put him to death also. Then Judah said to Tamar his daughter-in-law, Remain a widow in your father’s house, till Shelah my son grows up—for he feared that he would die, like his brothers. So Tamar went and remained in her father’s house.

The commentaries of old are often shy to discuss this passage for obvious reasons.

But it is necessary. It highlights that Judah’s sons were evil.
And God struck them down, one by one.

Onan, seemed to have an opportunity to do right though.
Back then, when a husband dies, it’s the duty of the husband’s family to send his brother to take his place, so the widow would not be defenseless and prone to mistreatment from society.

She would have a husband again.
But any children conceived, would be considered descendants of her dead husband’s line.

Strange to us, but that was their custom back then in the Middle East.

But here, we read that Onan did not want children, that were not listed in the books, or seen as of his own.
Even if it was his brother’s line of descent, that was not good enough of him.

So … he slept with Tamar but did not want to complete the reproductive act.
He used her body but did not desire to give her descendants.
It was not family planning; it was pure selfishness …

And for that, God struck him down too.

Then we read that Judah becomes worried and makes up an excuse to Tamar.
He does not want to seem cold and heartless and does not cast her out as a defenseless widow, but he is reluctant to let his next son marry her too.

He somehow thinks she might be the cause of why her husbands are each dropping off dead!!

Strange behavior.
Either he cannot see that his sons were evil and that is why they all died, when judged by God.
Or he knew they were evil but feels helpless to prevent their descent into sinfulness that culminates in their deaths.

I think it’s the former and not the latter …
Perhaps sometimes we are blind to not just our own sinful state but that of those around us.
We are blind because we love them too much, to the extent that we think they can do no wrong or aren’t that bad …
So when God acts to correct this evil, we still seem clueless as to why things happened the way they did …

Like Judah.

Keep reading the next few chapters and see what folly he gets up to next …