by Rev Joel Yong
Exodus 10:2 ESV
and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the Lord.
The great things God does, were never meant to be a testimony to just 1 generation.
Like how stories of heroes are retold throughout the generations- God’s great deeds are meant to be repeated and retold to our children and to their children and the generations after.
The failure on our part … is when we leave this task to only our Sunday School teachers.
It is also our task as parents and uncles and aunts to tell these stories.
Well you see- the storytelling forms the identity of not just the listener but also that of the storyteller.
In this case, when Hebrew grandparents tell their grandchildren the story of the Exodus – it reaffirms this identity they share as a people rescued by God.
In like manner- when Christian parents tell our young these same stories rather than leave it to Sunday School teachers – it forms a family identity of who we are. A family blessed by God’s grace- before we came to be in existence, this God we follow has already been faithful.
And guess what – He still is.
by Rev Joel Yong
Exodus 5:2 ESV
But Pharaoh said, Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.
Pharaoh did not know the God of Israel.
It sounded like a word of defiance but it was true.
No doubt he was familiar with the Egyptian pantheon of deities but not Israel’s God.
His words – become a challenge to God to make Himself known.
And God acts in response.
Check out His words in the next chapter-
Exodus 6:1 ESV
But the Lord said to Moses, Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand he will send them out, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.
The 10 plagues were not random. They were specifically chosen to prove a point- they showed how God was in control of the weather and of the river sources and of the animals that creep on earth and even life itself! And not the Egyptian deities as Pharaoh had believed.
Psalm 14:1 NLT
Only fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their actions are evil; not one of them does good!
We can either be the kind of people who say “Thy will be done.” Or whom God says these words “Alright then. Have it your way.”
I pray we are the former and not the latter for that is foolishness.
by Rev Joel Yong
Genesis 49:3-4 ESV
Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, and the first fruits of my strength, preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power. Unstable as water, you shall not have preeminence, because you went up to your father’s bed; then you defiled it—he went up to my couch!
Firstborns are the recipients of their parents’ full attention and love. There are no other children existing in the family unit at that time to draw the parents’ attention away.
At the same time these firstborn infants are a novelty. Their parents have never had a child before and never done this whole childrearing thing till they entered their parents’ world!! Their parents are excited and energetic in taking care of them.
As such, researchers have found that firstborns display certain traits. Traits formed no doubt from the attention they received and due to the lack of initial competition from other children in the household.
We see how Israel speaks favorably initially of his firstborn Reuben here. But these favorable remarks turn into a withdrawal of blessing – the firstborn tended to get the majority of the inheritance in biblical times. And we note that the privileges are withdrawn because Reuben had sinned. He slept with his father’s concubine!!!
Though he was the firstborn and in line for great privilege- he took it for granted and by his actions showed his disregard for all that was promised to him by birth order.
Sound familiar? Esau did it too.
Sold his birthright for a bowl of lentil soup.
Israel as a nation – did it too.
Jesus came to them as His chosen people amongst the nations but they rejected Him and thus the Gentiles had the opportunity to receive God’s gospel for themselves.
by Rev Joel Yong
Genesis 45:4-8 ESV
So Joseph said to his brothers, Come near to me, please. And they came near. And he said, I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors.
So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.
I find it amazing that he actually thinks his brothers spent some time distressed and angry with themselves after selling him off into slavery.
He actually gives them the benefit of the doubt that they would eventually be sorry for what they had done.
I wonder what ran through his mind- in all those years spent in slavery and then in prison, falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife.
It sounds here – as if he thought “I am sure when my brothers sold me into slavery that they didn’t expect it to be so bad for me in the end!”
He thought positive thoughts about his aggressors rather than negative ones!!
I wonder if this made a difference and turned his perspective of his life journey from one that could have been filled with blame and hatred, into one that saw the hand of God working in his life as he navigated his way through life’s valleys.
Henry Cloud and John Townsend wrote -“No one can make you happy or angry. You can either choose to be angry when someone makes their comment or you can choose to let it pass. Your emotions are a choice you make.”
I think that is how it was with Joseph.
Such that he could indeed say-“So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. “
by Rev Jason Phua
Bible Readings: Jeremiah 19:1-21:14; Proverbs 25:9-10
READ (Verse chosen for reflection)
Jeremiah 20:1-2 “Now Pashhur the priest, the son of Immer, who was chief officer in the house of the LORD, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things. Then Pashhur beat Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the upper Benjamin Gate of the house of the LORD.”
Jeremiah spoke to the people about what he heard from the Lord. For that, he didn’t get any praises for being courageous in speaking the truth; instead he was beaten and locked up so that he could be silenced. Yet, when Jeremiah was released from the prison, the crying prophet did not stay mute. Instead, he prophesied about the destruction of the one who jailed him as well as the bleak destiny of Israel. Jeremiah was persecuted because the words that came from his mouth were not soothing to itching ears. Jeremiah was persecuted because what he prophesied wasn’t the words that the people wanted to hear. How sinful our hearts can be! We know the truth but chose to suppress it by becoming more sinful.
There are some who claimed that they are followers of Jesus Christ but chose to have itching ears. They chose what they want to hear and discard that which do not suit their current lifestyle. They could even persecute those who dare to speak forth the truth; especially truths that make them uncomfortable. Yet, our Lord Jesus is not one who “mince his words” or try to be “politically correct” (a term which has unfortunately crept up in the church). Quite often, He spoke boldly and plainly against the hypocrisies of the religious leaders, spoke about the evil and destructiveness of sin as it is and made very “threatening” statements with regards to discipleship.
Have we in anyways, persecuted anyone for the truth? We might not have put prophets into the prisons; but we might have encaged God’s faithful servants in the jail of our hearts. When someone is used by God to speak forth the truth into our lives; how have we responded? Have we responded in humility? Or have we chose to persecute the messenger in the fear that we have to change? May the Lord help us to confront our inner man and bring to the feet of Christ whatever that holds us back from following Him all the way.
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be
Let that grace now, like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above!
(3rd stanza of “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing)
by Rev Joel Yong
Genesis 42:1-3 ESV
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.
Their lives have been halted by the famine that has stricken much of the ancient world.
But then they discover that one nation has food supplies!
I love how Jacob responds- “Why do you look at one another?”
He is saying “ACT ON THE SOLUTION. GO GET HELP! EVEN IF YOU HAVE TO GO TO EGYPT!!”
I find it shocking how we neglect the spiritual dimension of our lives.
We search everywhere and it’s like a famine.
Nothing can satisfy us.
Yet we continue starving.
Some of us read our Bibles and pray so infrequently even as all of our life collapses all around us.
We do not make the journey to the ONE who possesses the supplies to feed our souls.
Even if you have to drop whatever it is you are doing.
Even if you have to travel across great plains.
Just to find NOURISHMENT from the ONE place you can find it from- at the feet of Jesus.
but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.
by Rev Joel Yong
Genesis 38:7 ESV
But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord put him to death.
The same happened to Onan- for he too was evil.
Genesis 38:10 ESV
And what he did was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and he put him to death also.
Judah’s response was strange.
Genesis 38:11 ESV
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.
a) he did not know the reason why his sons were dying and thought it might be all linked to some hereditary illness
b) he was superstitious and thought Tamar was cursed and thus caused her husbands to die.
c) he knew his sons died because they were evil but felt helpless to influence his youngest son to live according to God’s ways.
I think it might have been (b) which was why Tamar was physically removed from Judah’s house.
The poor lady. Her husband died and her brother in law made use of her and her father in law was not understanding nor sympathetic.
Indeed it was tough for widows and orphans in biblical times and it still is now. They have no natural defenders to protect them.
How comforting it is then to know we follow a God who cares for such as these!
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.