Geometric Faith

(Genesis 50:22-26)



“In Chase the Lion, Mark Batterson writes that in 1983 Lorne Whitehead published an article about the domino chain reaction. You can picture it in your mind, can't you? You knock over a domino, and it sets off a chain reaction that can knock down hundreds of dominoes in a matter of seconds. But the unique significance of Whitehead's research was discovering that a domino is capable of knocking over a domino that is one-and-a-half times its size. So a two-inch domino can topple a three-inch domino. A three-inch domino can topple a four-and-a-half-inch domino. And a four-and-a-half-inch domino can topple a … well, you get the point.


By the time you get to the eighteenth domino, you could knock over the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Of course, it's leaning so that's not fair. The twenty-third domino could knock over the Eiffel Tower. And by the time you get to the twenty-ninth domino, you could take down the Empire State Building.


In the realm of mathematics, there are two types of progression: linear and geometric. Linear progression is two plus two equals four. Geometric progression is compound doubling. Two times two equals four. If you take thirty linear steps, you're ninety feet from where you started. But if you take thirty geometric steps, you've circled the earth twenty-six times!


Faith isn't linear. Faith is geometric. Every decision we make, every step of faith we take, has a chain reaction. And those chain reactions set off a thousand chain reactions we aren't even aware of. They won't be revealed until we reach the other side of the space-time continuum.”


Source: Adapted from Mark Batterson, Chase the Lion (Multnomah, 2016), pages 169-170.




We are going to see how Joseph’s faith was geometric and not linear. ​​ It was going to have an incredible impact on the future of the nation of Israel.



  • ME

    • Trusting God by faith for our future

        • Moving

          • Judy and I have done that couple of times as most of you probably know

          • We moved from Florida to Ohio after our oldest son was born without having a job already lined up

          • We did the same thing when we left California, but we didn’t know where we would be moving to next

        • Children

          • We trusted the Lord with our future when it came to having children

          • We especially had to trust the Lord with our last two children, because of complications


  • WE

    • Trusting the Lord with our future

        • Every one of us probably has a story of how we had to trust the Lord with our future, whether with jobs, children, health, finances, etc.

        • We can continue to trust Lord with our future from here on out as individuals and as a church


Joseph had been faithful to the Lord throughout his entire life from the time he was sold into slavery at 17 years old until 110 years old, when this narrative takes place. ​​ Joseph experienced the blessings of the Lord in every stage of life and especially now with having lived a long life. ​​ Joseph had faith concerning the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, so he was able to trust God to fulfill those promises. ​​ His final words express an incredible faith in the God who had sustained, protected, and provided for him. ​​ We learn through Joseph’s example that . . .


BIG IDEA – We can trust God by faith for our future.


Let’s pray


We are coming to the end of about a two and a half year journey through the book of Genesis. ​​ We began our journey on January 24, 2021. ​​ It has been a wonderful journey as we looked at the ten instances of the Hebrew word toledot that we translated as “the history of/the generations of/the account of/the origins of. ​​ We have traveled through the following accounts of:

        • The heavens and earth (2:4-4:26)

        • Adam’s line (5:1-6:8)

        • Noah’s line (6:9-9:29)

        • Noah’s sons line (10:1-11:9)

        • Shem’s line (11:10-26)

        • Terah’s line (11:27-25:11)

        • Ishmael’s line (25:12-18)

        • Isaac’s line (25:19-35:29)

        • Esau’s line (36:1-37:1)

        • Jacob’s line (37:2-50:26)


Let’s look at the final verses of this foundational book of the Bible.


  • GOD (Genesis 50:22-26)

    • Family (vv. 22-23)

        • Joseph’s age

          • Joseph stayed in Egypt with all his father’s family after his father, Jacob had died

          • He lived to 110 years old

            • Joseph lived 17 years in Canaan before being sold into slavery in Egypt (Genesis 37:2)

            • He was 39 years old when his father, Jacob, moved to Egypt

            • He was 56 years old when his father, Jacob, died

            • He lived another 54 years in Egypt following his father’s death

          • The age of 110 was considered to be the ideal life span by Egyptian culture, which signified God’s completed blessings on his life [Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 625-26]

        • Joseph’s generations

          • Because of his long life, Joseph was able to see his grandchildren and great grandchildren

            • The third generation of Ephraim’s children would have been his great grandchildren

            • He also got to see his great grandchildren through Manasseh’s son, Makir

            • I know how excited our parents have been to see their great grandchildren – it brings them great joy

            • Being able to see our great grandchildren is a sign of God’s blessing

              • Psalm 128:5-6, May the Lord bless you from Zion all the days of your life; may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem, and may you live to see your children’s children. ​​ Peace be upon Israel.

              • Proverbs 17:6, Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.

              • Isaiah 53:10, Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper his hand.

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – God blesses those who are faithful to Him.

              • Joseph’s life

                • He was blessed as a youth with dreams from the Lord about his future

                • He did not hold a grudge or waver in his faith after being mistreated by his brothers and sold into slavery

                • He did not allow a false accusation to deter him from working hard and remaining faithful to the Lord in prison

                • God blessed him with the ability to interpret dreams while in prison

                • He remained faithful to the Lord after being forgotten by the chief cupbearer for two years

                • Joseph remained faithful to the Lord after being promoted to second in command in Egypt and having everything he could have imagined

                • He remained faithful to his heritage by giving his sons Hebrew names

                • Joseph experienced God’s blessings throughout his life

                • Finally, God’s blessing on Joseph meant long life and the ability to see his great grandchildren

              • God’s blessings on those who are faithful to Him can be varied, so the blessing of long life is not necessarily an universal principle – it may come in other ways throughout our lives

              • How many of us can say that it has been a blessing from God to see and hold our great grandchildren?

              • For those of us who have not reached that blessing in our lives, how have you seen God’s blessings in other ways?

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Praise the Lord for His many blessings, as I have been faithful to Him.

            • It’s never too late to choose to be faithful to the Lord – He can and will bless you for making that decision

          • Joseph followed in his father’s footsteps by adopting some of his great grandchildren as his own

            • That is what is meant by Makir placing his children on Joseph’s knees when they were born

            • This was a common practice in the ancient Near East

              • Joseph’s mother, Rachel, did it with her handmaiden, Bilhah’s children, Dan and Naphtali (Genesis 30:3-8)

              • Jacob took Joseph’s two sons and adopted them as his own (Genesis 48:5-12)

              • Naomi took Ruth’s newborn son, Obed, and laid him in her lap and the women living there said, “Naomi has a son.” (Ruth 4:16-17)

          • Joseph experienced the joy and blessing of being able to see his great grandchildren

        • Joseph’s faith extended beyond his past experiences to a future he would never see

        • He knew that he could trust God by faith for his future and we can do the same

    • Faith (vv. 24-25)

        • Joseph’s faith about the future

          • As Joseph neared death, he wanted his brothers and their relatives to have the same faith in God and confidence in His promises that he had

            • Joseph was the second youngest son, so Benjamin surely outlived him and maybe some of his older brothers did too

            • Joseph probably viewed his surviving brothers and their children as one and the same [Mathews, New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 929]

          • Joseph mentioned the Exodus from Egypt 360 years before it ever happened

            • At this particular time, Joseph and his family were still regarded highly by Pharaoh and the people of Egypt

            • A time came when the new Pharaoh did not know about Joseph, and he forced the Israelites into slavery

            • The writer of Hebrews mentioned this passage when he wrote, By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions about his bones (Hebrews 11:22)

              • “Faith isn’t a shallow emotion that we work up by ourselves, or an optimistic ‘hope-so’ attitude of ‘faith in faith.’ ​​ True faith is grounded on the infallible Word of God, and because God said it, we believe it and act upon it. ​​ True faith leads to obedient action (James 2:14-26).” [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Pentateuch, 173]

              • Read James 2:14-26

            • I wonder if Joseph’s brothers and their children even understood what he was saying at this point

              • Why would God need to come to their aid, they were living a really good life, at this point?

              • Why would they want or need to return to the land God has promised them on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? (Goshen had the best pasture land that Egypt had to offer)

              • Fortunately they listened to, and passed down, Joseph’s instructions from generation to generation

              • Perhaps some of them were not caught off guard by the change in their status before the new Pharaoh

              • They remembered Joseph’s instructions from hundreds of years before

          • Joseph mentions God’s oath about Canaan

            • It was an oath God had made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

            • God’s original promise to Abraham is found in Genesis 15:13-16, Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. ​​ But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. ​​ You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age. ​​ In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”

            • This promise to Abraham was passed down to his son, Isaac, who in turn passed it down to his son, Jacob

            • Jacob then shared the promise with Joseph as we saw in Genesis 48:21, Then Israel said to Joseph, “I am about to die, but God will be with you and take you back to the land of your fathers.

            • It is a testimony about God that this promise was accepted by each generation, by faith

          • Joseph, like his father, grandfather, and great grandfather trusted God by faith for their future – a future none of them would see or experience

          • With an incredible faith in God’s promise about the future, Joseph makes a request

        • Joseph’s request for the future

          • Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath

            • Jacob had done the same thing with Joseph in Genesis 47:31

            • He was putting them under oath, because he did not want his bones to remain in Egypt

          • He made them swear, that when God came to their aid, they would carry his bones up from Egypt to the Promised Land

            • They obviously swore to do what Joseph was asking, because we see the fulfillment of this oath by Moses and Joshua

            • Exodus 13:19, Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the sons of Israel swear an oath. ​​ He had said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.”

            • Joshua 24:32, And Joseph’s bones which the Israelites had brought up from Egypt, were buried at Shechem in the tract of land that Jacob bought for a hundred pieces of silver from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem. ​​ This became the inheritance of Joseph’s descendants.

            • What a testimony to the faith and influence of Joseph, that his request was remembered and fulfilled after 360 years

              • How many of us are even aware of a request made by a relative over 300 years ago?

              • How many of us can even remember a request made by our grandparents?

              • How many of us men can even remember a request our wives made last week or yesterday?

              • How many of us children even heard the request our parents made this morning?

            • Joseph had faith in God who was able to fulfill his request even after several centuries

          • We can trust God by faith for our future.

        • Application

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – We can trust God by faith for our future.

            • What are you struggling to trust God with concerning your future?

              • Education (which college or university to attend)

              • Occupation (what trade or industry should I work in)

              • Family (future spouse, future children, current children or grandchildren, etc.)

              • Health (will I ever feel normal again)

              • Finances (will I ever get out of this deep whole)

              • Economy (will I ever be able to buy a house, will I have enough money to retire)

              • Our country or the world

              • Environment (global warming, clean energy, etc.)

              • Spiritual (is God calling me into ministry or missions, will my family member ever turn to Jesus)

            • God is loving, just, all-knowing, sovereign, and eternal

              • It means that you are precious to Him

              • It means that he wants what’s best for you

              • It means that He knows everything about you

              • It means that He has the right to rule and rules rightly in your life

              • It means that He knows the beginning from the end – your whole story

            • You can trust Him by faith for your future.

          • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Trust God by faith for the future of _______________.

        • Joseph trusted God by faith for the future fulfillment of his request

    • Future (v. 26)

        • We are not told how soon Joseph died after asking his brothers and their children to swear the oath

          • We knew with Jacob that right after he gave his final instructions to his sons that he drew his feet up into bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people

          • For Joseph, it was while he was still 110 years old, so it could have been a few days later, a week later, or a month later (we are not told the time frame)

        • Coffin

          • “The word for coffin is ʾārôn (aw-rone’), the word used for the “ark” (i.e. chest) of the covenant.” ​​ [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 711-12]

          • “All this time in the desert Israel carried two shrines with them, the one the coffin containing the bones of the dead man Joseph, the other the Ark containing the covenant of the Living God. ​​ The wayfarers who saw the two receptacles wondered, and they would ask, ‘How doth the ark of the dead come next to the ark of the Ever-living?’ ​​ The answer was, ‘The dead man enshrined in the one fulfilled the commandments enshrined in the other.’” ​​ [Ginzberg cited by Hamilton, 712]

  • YOU

    • What blessings do you need to praise the Lord for, as you have been faithful to Him?

    • What future items do you need to trust God for by faith?


  • WE

    • As a body of believers, what blessings do we need to praise the Lord for, as we have been faithful to Him?

    • What future items do we need to trust God for by faith?



“In December of 2016, a ride at Knott's Berry Farm in California became stuck 148 feet in the air. There were 20 people on board, including seven children. Firefighters tried to reach the stranded passengers by using a massive ladder, but it was too short. Fire crews had no choice. They would have to lower each passenger from 148 feet in the air, harnessed to a single rope.


Fire Captain Larry Kurtz said, ‘It sounds scary, but … we have very, very strong ropes that have 9,000 pounds of breaking strength on them.’ He was building the faith of those who were trapped. He was giving them information that if believed would dissipate their fears. It was up to each person to believe what he said and place their trust in the firefighter.


Let's zero in on one of the youngsters, and say his name was Luke. He's seven years old—old enough to feel terror as he looks at the ground 148 feet below. The firefighter looks Luke in his eyes, and with a steadying voice says, ‘Trust me, Luke. I won't let you go. Your life is very precious to me, and I will have you down before you know it.’


Luke listens to him and thinks about the ‘very, very strong rope.’ He believes the firefighter's reassuring words and trusts him completely. This is his only hope of getting to safety. If he doesn’t have faith, then he doesn't believe that the firefighter cares for him. He would then lose his only hope of reaching the ground. Faith, hope, and love are bound together.


Luke and all 20 passengers were lowered safely to the ground just before 10 p.m. that night.”



Ray Comfort, The Final Curtain (New Leaf Press, 2018), pg. 199-200.




As we face the future, we have to have faith in an all-powerful God who created us and thinks we are very precious.


As we move into the book of Exodus, we will see that the Israelites had to have faith in an all-powerful God who would rescue them from human bondage and sin’s bondage.



Whispering Jesus

My opening illustration is from Three mean-looking guys on motorcycles pulled into a truck stop cafe where a truck driver, a little guy, was sitting at the counter, quietly eating his lunch. The three thugs saw him, grabbed his food, and laughed in his face. The truck driver didn’t say a word. He got up, paid for his food and walked out. One of the bikers, unhappy that they hadn’t succeeded in provoking the little man into a fight, bragged to the waitress, “He sure wasn’t much of a man, was he?” The waitress replied, “No, I guess not.” Then, glancing out the window she added, “I guess he’s not much of a truck driver, either. He just ran over three motorcycles.” The familiar saying, “Don’t get mad, just get even” sums up the world’s philosophy of how to deal with someone who wrongs us. But in contrast to the world’s way, God prescribes a radical approach when we are wronged: Ephesians 4:32 says, “We are to be kind and tenderhearted, forgiving one another just as God in Christ has forgiven us.” It’s easy to say that, but it’s a lot harder to do. The difficulty increases in proportion to how badly we’ve been hurt. When we’ve been badly hurt, we don’t feel like forgiving that person, even if they repent, at least not until they’ve suffered a while. We want them to know what it feels like and to pay for what they have done to us. Maybe some of us are struggling with those feelings this morning. Maybe it’s something that happened to us recently, or maybe from a while back. If we’re bitter and unforgiving, we’re not obeying the two greatest commandments, to love God and to love others. Bitterness not only displeases God; it spreads to others, defiling many as we see in Hebrews 12:15. So if we want to please God, we must ask ourselves, “How can we root out bitterness and truly forgive those who have wronged us?”

We have been studying the life of Joseph and he had to find a way to avoid bitterness and learn to forgive. He had been repeatedly hurt: His own brothers had planned to kill him, but instead sold him into slavery at the last moment. As Potiphar’s slave, he was faithful and upright, but was falsely accused of attempted rape by Potiphar’s wife. He spent years in prison and was forgotten by a man he had helped, who could have pled his case to Pharaoh. Yet in spite of all this, Joseph never grew bitter toward God or toward those who had wronged him. In fact, he was able to forgive his brothers for what they had done to him; forgiving them even before they apologized to him. When he revealed himself to them, he embraced, kissed, and wept over them. He then brought his entire family to Egypt, setting them up in their own land, and providing for them in every way. Joseph’s actions toward his brothers proved that he had forgiven them.

Joseph, because of the way he lived, his actions and his words, has been called a type of Christ. Typology is a form of symbolism that is prophetic. In the Old Testament, there are people and objects that pre-figure, foreshadow, or “whisper” of, something that is yet to happen or of someone (most often Jesus) who is yet to come. Joseph is clearly seen as a type of Christ throughout his life presenting a remarkable whispering of Jesus Christ. The typology between Joseph and Jesus highlights God's sovereignty and providence in ordaining events and individuals in redemptive history and serves to deepen the understanding of God's unfolding plan for us and the world. In Genesis 45, Joseph acknowledges God's sovereign hand in his suffering, betrayal, and eventual exaltation. This strikingly parallels the narrative of Jesus, who, as recorded in Acts 2 & 4, was betrayed and crucified according to God's predetermined plan. In both cases, God's providence ordained the evil intentions of men to bring about the deliverance of His people. Joseph, like Jesus, suffered unjustly at the hands of his brothers, yet ultimately saved many of those who initially sought to harm him. So far, in Genesis we have seen numerous typological connections with Jesus. First, betrayal and hatred: Joseph was betrayed and hated by his brothers, foreshadowing Jesus' betrayal by His own people. Second, temptation and sinlessness: Joseph resisted temptation and remained sinless with Potiphar’s wife, reflecting Jesus' sinless nature. Third, false accusation and condemnation: Joseph was falsely accused and condemned, mirroring Jesus' unjust trial and crucifixion. And lastly, exaltation and salvation: Joseph was raised to a position of authority beside Pharaoh, becoming the savior of many, prefiguring Jesus' resurrection and ascension as the ultimate Savior.

We will continue to see more typological connections this morning as we study Genesis 50:15-21. Just as Joseph was the whisper of Jesus by his life, as Christ-followers we are also to be whispering Jesus by our lives, our actions and our words. In order to be whispering Jesus in our everyday lives we must become more like Jesus. As that process of spiritual growth or sanctification happens, we will live as Joseph lived, as a whisper of Jesus. So our big idea this morning that God wants us to understand is that we must become more like Jesus. This is also our theme for the year as we strive to become more like Jesus in our devotion to prayer, to scripture, to serving others, to generosity, to fellowship, to evangelism and to worship. Those are all talked about in this year’s Spiritual Life Journal which can be found on the Information Station Wall in the foyer.

Before we start our study of how Joseph was the whisper of Jesus and how he is our example of becoming more like Jesus, let’s pray: Heavenly Father, as we open your Word this morning pour out your Holy Spirit on us. Give us wisdom and insight into what you what us to learn and obey. Open our hearts and minds to what you want us to share with those we come in contact with this week. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

There are two points this morning. The first is Appeal, found in Genesis 50:15-17. This is what God’s Word says, “When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.

A couple weeks ago, we studied the death of the patriarch, Jacob. He had his sons promise to take and bury his body in Canaan and the last we saw the brothers they had returned from Canaan carrying out that promise. We don’t know how long they were thinking about what was going to happen to them after their father died but we now know that they did not believe Joseph when he said, in Genesis 45:5, 7, “And now do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.” They did not believe that Joseph could forgive them for what they had done to him, so they are now afraid, wondering if Joseph had been holding a grudge all these years. Was he going to get payback now that their father was dead and buried? The phrase “pay us back” shows they were dreading what Joseph might do to them but they also realized that they deserved whatever payback they might get.

It seems their father, Jacob, had told the brothers to let Joseph know that he wanted him to forgive his brothers for their “iniquity, transgression (crime) and sin” against him. They sent word to Joseph asking him to forgive them based on this message from their father. They used the phrase, “your father” as opposed to “our father” because they wanted Joseph to think about his obligation to forgive them based on what Jacob would want him to do. They were trying to play on his emotions to get his forgiveness. At face value, it sounds like the brothers are trying to pull a fast one on Joseph in order to convince him to not take revenge on them for what they had done. What they failed to understand was that Joseph had already forgiven them and had moved on long before they showed up in Egypt. When Joseph named his first son, Manasseh, he was praising God for allowing him to “forgive and forget” his suffering at the hands of his brothers. We don’t know for sure if they were lying to Joseph or not but here are a few things to think about. First, if you remember, Jacob on two occasions talked with Joseph about burying his body in Canaan and not in Egypt. He could have mentioned forgiving his brothers then, but we don’t read that in scripture. Two, Joseph and all the brothers were with Jacob when he died and again nothing is mentioned. Three, if their father had really said this to the brothers and they were to relay it to Joseph then why not go and meet him face to face. You know it’s always easier to lie behind one’s back than it is to their face. Now on the possibility that this was true: it would not be the first time in Genesis that something had been brought out later that was never mentioned earlier. So, I will leave it up to you to decide. Nevertheless, the brothers are afraid of what Joseph might do to them now. Interestingly, after they recount what their father said they actually confess that they sinned against him. They refer to themselves as “servants of the God of your father” hoping Joseph would act like their father’s God who is the one who “forgives iniquity, transgression (crime) and sin.” (Wenham). ​​ But again, we are reminded that Joseph had already forgiven his brothers and the proof is seen in his actions. He wept because he was saddened that they didn’t believe that he had forgiven them and didn’t trust that Joseph wouldn’t punish them now. He wept because reconciliation had not been fully realized which is what he had hoped for.

So how was Joseph able to root out bitterness and truly forgive his brothers who had wronged him?” He had to have the proper attitude towards his brothers in order to truly forgive them. He had an attitude of humility before them and he didn’t keep score of their wrongs. And he didn’t easily take offense when they had hurt him yet again. He didn’t get upset at them and yell and scream “Why can’t you believe me?” No, he wept because he realized that all these years, they had continued to live with the guilt of what they had done. The problem was that the brothers had never confessed their sin to him until now. So how can we model Joseph and move toward becoming more like Jesus? We must forgive the wrongs done to us by others even before they come and ask for forgiveness. This humility before others is important. If we dwell on the wrongs done to us for too long, we become bitter and filled with hate. It will eat us up inside and if we don’t take care of it, will cause us to plot revenge on those who have hurt us. We need to remember that Jesus forgave others even while he was on the cross. In Luke 23:34, “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” ​​ Romans 5:8 says, “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” Jesus didn’t wait for us to confess what we had done before he forgave us. He forgave us, and showed us how much he loved us and then he pursued us into a relationship where we can come to repentance and salvation. So maybe this first next step on the back of your communication card is for you and will help you to become more like Jesus (Big Idea): My next step is to forgive those who wrong me before they ever ask for forgiveness from me.

That brings us to our second point this morning, which is Assurance found in Genesis 50:18-21. Follow along as I read those verses. This is what God’s Word says, “His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.

Once his brothers had sent the message from their father to Joseph, they then followed up with a face-to-face visit. They threw themselves down before Joseph and announced that they were his slaves. This would have been another fulfillment of Joseph’s boyhood dreams. But we notice that Joseph didn’t say “I told you so.” He told them that that was not necessary, and they were not to be afraid. He assured them he wasn’t holding a grudge against them and he wasn’t going to take revenge on them. To prove this he said to them, “Am I in the place of God?” This was the same question that Jacob had asked Rachel when she complained to him that she was barren. But there are differences between these two questions. Walton says, “When Jacob used the same rhetorical question in response to Rachel’s barren condition, he was confessing his inability to assume the role of deity. In contrast Joseph’s use of the question reflects his own commitment to restraint. He refuses to take on the role of deity. Hamilton says, The Septuagint renders his question “for am I God’s (surrogate)” meaning they had no fear of retribution for Joseph had God’s view of things and therefore is above retribution. Joseph denied that he was in God’s place. He refused to cross that line. Joseph will only be God’s instrument, never his substitute. That is important for us to remember, as well.

Joseph knew that to forgive others we must realize our proper place before God. We must allow God to be the judge and not ourselves. We must humble ourselves before the sovereignty of God and believe that God is good in all his ways, as we see in verse 20. Joseph didn’t sugarcoat what his brothers had done to him. They intended to harm him, and he told them so. This was not to make them feel bad, he was just telling them the truth. He wasn’t going to sweep it under the rug, but he wasn’t going to rub their noses in it, either. Joseph saw the sovereignty of God in what happened to him, and he embraced it. He also called it good because God had used it to accomplish the saving of many lives. Joseph not only forgave his brothers before they had even asked for forgiveness, he also humbled himself before Almighty God. As we follow this example of Joseph we will become more like Jesus (Big Idea). This brings us to our second next step on the back of your communication card which is to: Allow God to be the judge, humble myself before his sovereignty and believe that God is good in all his ways. ​​ 

He told them again to not be afraid and he promised to provide for them and their children. And he assured them that he had forgiven them, speaking kindly to them. He literally “spoke to their heart” reassuring them by his words and his deeds. “Speaking to their heart” is mostly used in the Bible in cases where there are feelings of guilt and there is a need for forgiveness and/or repentance. There was no malice in his tone at all and he was still going to provide and care for them as he had since they first came to Egypt looking for food. Joseph again in this section exhibits many attributes that we need to emulate in order to become more like Jesus. He didn’t remind his brothers about the fulfillment of his dreams even though it happened numerous times. He spoke the truth in love. He didn’t give them a free pass for what they had done to him but he knew it wasn’t his place to judge. He had provided for his family and would continue to do so. He was following God’s sovereign plan for his life. When we take our proper place before God it is easy to express the proper attitude towards others and we can forgive the way that Joseph forgave his brothers and the way that Jesus forgave us for our sins that nailed him to the cross.

My conclusion is adapted from a John Stott article called “Becoming More Like Christ.” What is God’s purpose for His people? God wants His people to become more like Jesus. We see the biblical basis for becoming more like Jesus in three scriptures. The first is Romans 8:29 which says that God has predestined His people to be conformed to the image of His Son. Becoming like Jesus is the eternal predestinating purpose of God for his people. The second is 2 Corinthians 3:18: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness, from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” It is by the indwelling Spirit Himself that we are being changed into becoming more like Jesus. Third is 1 John 3:2. “Beloved, we are God’s children now and it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears, we will be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” We don’t know for certain what it will be like in heaven, but we do know that we will be like Christ. We will be with Christ, like Christ, forever. These three biblical perspectives—past, present, and future – for becoming more like Jesus is the purpose of God for the people of God.

In what ways are we to be like Jesus? First, we are to be like Jesus in his incarnation. 1 John 2:6 says, “He who says he abides in Christ ought to walk in the same way as he walked.” In other words, if we claim to be a Christian, we must be Christlike. We are to be like Christ in his Incarnation meaning we are to be like Christ in the humility of Philippians 2:5-8: “Have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God something to be grasped for his own selfish enjoyment, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.” We are all called to follow the example of His great humility in coming down from heaven to earth. Second, we are to be like Jesus in His service. In John 13 it says, “He took off his outer garments, he tied a towel round him, he poured water into a basin and washed his disciples’ feet. When he had finished, he resumed his place and said, ‘If then I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet, for I have given you an example that you should do as I have done to you.” To be like Jesus in his service means that just as Jesus performed what in His culture was the work of a slave, so we in our culture must regard no task too menial or degrading to undertake for each other.

Third, we are to be like Jesus in His love. Ephesians 5:2 says, “walk in love as Christ loved us and gave himself up as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” We are to walk in love, meaning that all our behavior should be characterized by love, but we are also to be like Jesus in his death, to love with the self-giving Calvary love. Fourth, we are to be like Jesus in His patient endurance which is talking about his suffering. In 1 Peter 2, Peter urges Christian slaves, if punished unjustly, to bear it and not to repay evil for evil. We have been called to this because Christ suffered, leaving us an example so that we may follow in His steps. This is a call to us to be more like Jesus in suffering unjustly as he did. Fifth, we are to be like Jesus in His mission. In John 20:21, Jesus prayed, “As you, Father, have sent me into the world, so I send them into the world.” He is talking about his disciples but also about us. The disciple’s mission in the world was to resemble Jesus’ mission. As Jesus was sent into the world by his father, we are sent into the world by Jesus. As we put these into practice, we will become more like Jesus and be whispering him into the world.

There are three practical consequences of becoming more like Jesus. First, there will be suffering. Suffering is part of God’s process of making us more like his Son. Whether we suffer from disappointment, frustration, or some other painful tragedy, we need to see this in the light of Romans 8:28-29. God is always working for the good of His people, and this good purpose is to make us more like Jesus. Second, is the challenge of evangelism. Why do Christian’s evangelistic efforts often end in failure? One main reason is that we don’t look like the Christ we are proclaiming. John Poulton’s book, “A Today Sort of Evangelism”, writes: The most effective preaching comes from those who embody the things they are saying. They are their message. Christians need to look like what they are talking about. Christians must be authentic. The Reverend Iskandar Jadeed, a former Arab Muslim, has said “If all Christians were Christians—that is, Christlike—there would be no more Islam today.” WOW. If Christians would just be authentically Christlike in every way imagine what this world would be like. Third is the indwelling of the Spirit. In our own strength, becoming more like Jesus is clearly not attainable, but God has given us his Holy Spirit to dwell within us, to change us from within. So, God’s purpose is to transform us to become more like Jesus and God’s way to make us like Jesus is to fill us with his Spirit. This enables us to become more like Jesus: in His Incarnation, in His service, in His love, in His suffering, and in His mission. That brings us to the final next step on the back of your communication card this morning: My next step is to become more like Jesus in His humility, in His service, in His love, in His suffering, and in His mission.

As the praise team comes forward to lead us in a final song and as the ushers come to collect the tithes and offerings and communication cards, let’s pray: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of your Word. As we go about this week, help us to remember and obey what we’ve heard. Help us to be able to forgive others who have wronged us even before they ask forgiveness from us. Help us to allow you to be the judge, help us to humble ourselves before your sovereignty and believe that you are good in all your ways. ​​ And help us to become more like your Son in His humility, His service, His love, His suffering, and in His mission. I pray all this is your son’s precious name, Amen.


Welcome Home

Play Video of “Taps.” “Taps” is a highly recognizable tune that dates back to the American Civil War. Before “Taps” there was a traditional bugle call the Army used to let troops know it was time to sleep, but some believed this didn’t fit the somber reality of war. General Daniel Butterfield thought this bugle call should be more melodious after a long, tiring day so he reworked an existing call and had his brigade bugler play it for the Army men. Soon, buglers from other units spread this 24-note tune. It was so popular it even caught on with the Confederate troops. The tune is probably called “Taps” because of the tradition that was commonplace before this new bugle call which was to play a series of three drumbeats or drum “taps.” Soon after “Taps” was created it was first played for the military funeral of a Union cannoneer who was killed in the war. His commanding officer decided the bugle call would be a safer way to honor the loss instead of the traditional firing of three rifle volleys over the grave of the soldier which could have been seen as an attack by any nearby enemy. “Taps” didn’t become a mandatory part of military funerals until 1891 though it was likely used unofficially long before that. Since then, it’s become a way to honor all those who fought for our country. The song was a way to send troops to sleep after a long day and has become a call for the ultimate rest. There’s something beautiful about having the same tones and notes lingering through the centuries.

I wanted to play “Taps” this morning because we are going to be talking about the death of a patriarch today. Jacob is going to say his final words and people are going to pay their final respects to the grandson of Abraham and Sarah and the son of Isaac and Rebekah. He has lived a long life full of ups and downs, triumphs and hardships and happiness and sadness. He held on to his brother’s heel as he was born, and he held on to God and wouldn’t let go as he wrestled with him. He fought for a birthright and for a blessing, and through it all, in the immortal words of Frank Sinatra, he “did it his way.” But he also was a man of faith, and he was steadfast to the end. He trusted that the blessing of God handed down from Abraham and Isaac to himself and his descendants was something so important that he would not let it go even in death. And in his dying moment he transferred that important faith in God’s blessing and instilled it in his twelve sons. Jacob knew that Egypt was not his home, and that Canaan was the Promised Land of God’s chosen people. But Jacob also believed that there was more to this life than this earth and he wanted his sons to believe it too. He knew that the earth was not his home and that ultimately his home was where God dwelled and where his fathers were residing now. So when he died, he believed at that moment his fathers would say, “welcome home.” The death of his physical body would not be the end of his existence and it would not be his final note. That brings us to our big idea this morning that Death does not have to be your final note.

Before we start our study of this passage this morning let’s offer our time together to the Lord. Dear Heavenly Father, please pour out your Holy Spirit on all that hear your Word. Let it satisfy our souls and refresh us for the week ahead. Use it to teach us, rebuke us, correct us and train us in righteousness for your name’s sake. In Jesus name, Amen.

There are two points this morning, the first is Final Words found in Genesis 49:29-33. Follow along as I read those verses. This is what God’s Word says, “Then he gave them these instructions: “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite, the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite. There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah. The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites.” When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people.”

These are the last words spoken by Jacob to his twelve sons before he died. They were very important words that he saved until the very end. These final words were his living will instructing them about the final disposition of his body. He tells them that he is about to be “gathered” to his people and then he gives them instructions about where to bury his body. Being “gathered” to his people and the burying of his body were two different things. The first was spiritual and the second was physical. When he said he was about to be “gathered to his people” it was his statement of faith and hope in a life after death. He believed that when he took his last breath he would be reunited with his grandparents, Abraham and Sarah, his parents, Isaac and Rebekah, and his wives Rachel and Leah and others who had “believed by faith” in God and his promises. We see this same expression being used all the way back to Abraham in Genesis 25:8, Ishmael in Genesis 25:17, Isaac in Genesis 35:29, Aaron in Numbers 20:24 and Moses in Deuteronomy 32:50.

Then Jacob gave instructions about the burial of his physical body. He instructed that his body was to be buried in Canaan not in Egypt. This was the third time he gave these instructions. The first two times were to Joseph in Genesis 47:29-31 and Genesis 48:21-22. This time it was to all his sons. He wanted to make sure that they all knew they had the responsibility of obeying his final wishes and keeping this promise after he was gone. But there was more to it than that. Jacob believed in the blessing and promise of the land given to his fathers. He believed that Canaan was the Promised Land that God would give to his descendants. Again, this was a statement of faith in the promises of God. John Calvin wrote that Jacob “did not wish to be carried into the land of Canaan, as if he would be nearer to heaven for being buried there; but that, being dead, he might claim possession of a land which he had held during his life…because it was profitable that the memory of the promise should be renewed, by this symbol, among his surviving sons, in order that they might aspire to it.” Jacob believed God and the promises that he made, and he wanted his sons to believe in them too. But he also knew that his descendants would spend the next 400 years in Egypt and in slavery. His burial in Canaan would be a visible sign to the sons of Israel that God would one day deliver them from slavery, lead them out of Egypt and into their Promised Land. He wanted to give his sons and their descendants hope that no matter how bad their lives would become, God’s promises would be fulfilled.

Jacob also gave them a very specific and precise location as to where to bury his body. Look at the number of times he repeats certain phrases. He mentions a cave, a field and Ephron the Hittite three times. He mentions that Abraham bought it from Ephron the Hittite twice. He mentions Machpelah, Mamre and Canaan one time each. He tells them that Abraham and his wife, Sarah, Isaac and his wife, Rebekah, and Leah are all buried there. This is the first time we are told where Rebekah and Leah had been buried. This description and explanation were for two reasons. First, it was to prove that the place he wanted to be buried was his family’s burial place that was bought by Abraham from Ephron the Hittite in front of witnesses. We saw this in Genesis 23. It was legally owned by Abraham and his descendants, of which Jacob was one, and he had the right to be buried there. Baldwin says, “Land tenure in the ancient near east was dependent on the ability to make proper reference back to the original forefather who held the title authenticating the registration, and from then on transmitting the deeds. By naming the ancestors Jacob reinforces the necessity of his burial in the same location as Abraham and Isaac.” Second, his sons would be able to take his body to the exact place he was to be buried. He had given very specific directions to the cave at Machpelah: In Canaan near Mamre, in the field that his grandfather Abraham had bought from Ephron the Hittite. Hamilton says, “As he lay dying, he still remembered the covenant and thought about his post-death rituals in terms of the promises that have been made to his family by God.”

Once Jacob was done giving instructions to his sons “he drew up his feet into the bed,” “breathed his last,” and was “gathered to his people.” He “drew his feet into the bed” meaning he calmly accepted his physical death and his strong faith allowed him to face it satisfied and unafraid. That he “breathed his last” meant that his physical body was now lifeless. But we never see the words “and he died” as we did with others, such as Abraham and Isaac. The emphasis here was not on dying but on “rejoining.” The author of Genesis wants us to realize the confidence and hope that Jacob had in a life after death with his family and with the Lord. Hebrews 11:39 tells us that Jacob and the other great men of faith died without realizing the promises of God, but Jacob’s faith gave him that confidence and hope in God’s promises which sustained him as he “breathed his last.” As I have already covered, he was then “gathered to his people.” Jacob believed what Paul would write some 1600 years later in 2 Corinthians 5:8: “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” As Jacob faced his death, he exercised his faith in God’s promises. He had never died before and gone beyond the grave. He didn’t know what was waiting for him there, but he had faith, he had hope and he trusted in his God and the God of his fathers. He believed that God was a God of the living and not the dead.

Do we as Christians today have the same unwavering faith, hope and trust in God’s promise of life after death? We have the further knowledge that Jesus resurrected from the grave and is alive in Heaven as we meet here this morning. Jesus’ resurrection is the basis for our hope in our future resurrection, but do we live our lives like we believe it? Do we tell our family, friends and others that we believe it? Do we share this faith, hope and trust with others who do not know Jesus and are in desperate need of a Savior? If we don’t, we should and we must. We are commanded to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with the world. Our mission as Christ-followers is to Pursue, Grow and Multiply Disciples. That brings us to our first next step on the back of your communication card which is to share my faith, hope and trust in an eternal life with God and Jesus in Heaven. We need to be sharing this with our family, friends and especially those who don’t know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

This brings us to our second point today called Final Respects found in Genesis 50:1-14. Follow along as I read those verses. This is what God’s Word says, “Joseph threw himself on his father and wept over him and kissed him. Then Joseph directed the physicians in his service to embalm his father Israel. So the physicians embalmed him, taking a full forty days, for that was the time required for embalming. And the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days. When the days of mourning had passed, Joseph said to Pharaoh’s court, “If I have found favor in your eyes, speak to Pharaoh for me. Tell him, ‘My father made me swear an oath and said, “I am about to die; bury me in the tomb I dug for myself in the land of Canaan.” Now let me go up and bury my father; then I will return.’” Pharaoh said, “Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear to do.” So Joseph went up to bury his father. All Pharaoh’s officials accompanied him—the dignitaries of his court and all the dignitaries of Egypt—besides all the members of Joseph’s household and his brothers and those belonging to his father’s household. Only their children and their flocks and herds were left in Goshen. Chariots and horsemen also went up with him. It was a very large company. When they reached the threshing floor of Atad, near the Jordan, they lamented loudly and bitterly; and there Joseph observed a seven-day period of mourning for his father. When the Canaanites who lived there saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “The Egyptians are holding a solemn ceremony of mourning.” That is why that place near the Jordan is called Abel Mizraim. So Jacob’s sons did as he had commanded them: They carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre, which Abraham had bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite. After burying his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, together with his brothers and all the others who had gone with him to bury his father.”

When Jacob breathed his last, we see a perfectly human and real emotional response from Joseph. He was so overcome with emotion that he threw himself on his father and he didn’t just cry, he “wept”, and he “kissed” him. The NASB literally translates it as he “fell on his father’s face” reminding us of God’s promise to Jacob in Genesis 46:4 that “Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.” This was the fulfillment of God’s promise that Jacob would be reunited with Joseph and he would be present at his death. We can rejoice in the fact that God is a good God and he keeps his promises. He kept his promises to Jacob and Joseph and the Israelite people and keeps his promises to us today.

This is the only time in the Bible that it is mentioned that someone kissed the dead. Such an emotional response reminds us of the strong familial bond between this father and son. We aren’t told that Jacob’s other sons wept at his death, but we can believe that they did. Joseph’s response is the only one recorded since he is the main focus of the narrative. This is the sixth time we have seen Joseph cry and it is interesting that we only ever seen him cry for others and never for himself. The five times he has cried before this was in happiness. This is the first time he has cried in sorrow. Joseph was grieved over his father’s death, but he was not crippled with sorrow. He had promised his father that he would bury him in Canaan, and he immediately sets out to carry out his father’s last wishes. In this way he paid his final respects to his father and showed his faith in God.

Joseph, of all the brothers, with his official position in Pharaoh’s court, would have had the ability to make his father’s wishes happen. So he personally took charge of his father’s funeral arrangements directing the “physicians” to embalm his father’s body according to Egyptian practices. It would have taken forty days to complete the procedure. Jacob is only one of two Israelites that were embalmed in the Bible, the other being Joseph himself. Jacob’s body would have had to be embalmed in order to transport it to Canaan. Joseph employed “physicians” or “healers” to do the procedure instead of the professional embalmers of the day. This procedure involved considerable surgery so the physicians would have been familiar and capable of performing it, but it was usually done by “mortuary priests.” Embalming usually included numerous pagan religious rituals conducted by a trained group of mortuary priests which reflected a particular view of the afterlife. Joseph would have wanted to avoid these pagan rituals while still embalming his father’s body for transport to Canaan. This would have been in accordance with Jacob’s and Joseph’s faith in the one true and living God. Pharaoh commanded the Egyptians to observe an official mourning period of seventy days for Jacob. This mourning period would have included the forty days it took to embalm him. This period was exceptional in the fact that the time of mourning for a Pharaoh was seventy-two days. Jacob was so highly thought of and honored that he was mourned almost as long as a Pharaoh would have been. This was Pharaoh and the Egyptian people’s way of paying their final respects to Jacob. In contrast, the mourning period for the Hebrew people usually lasted seven days but there were exceptions such as Moses and Aaron who were mourned for thirty days each.

After the mourning period had ended, Joseph respectfully petitioned Pharaoh's court to speak on his behalf to Pharoah. “If I have favor in your eyes” emphasizes the importance of the request to him personally. The reason Joseph couldn’t go directly to Pharaoh was probably because he was considered unclean from coming in contact with his father’s dead body and wouldn’t be allowed in Pharaoh’s presence. He wanted Pharaoh’s court to speak to Pharaoh about being able to take his father’s body back to Canaan to be buried. He had made an oath to his father that he would fulfill his final wishes, but Joseph needed Pharaoh’s permission to leave Egypt. Joseph leaves out two things from the oath he made to his father. One, he doesn’t mention putting his hand under his father’s thigh to make the oath because it wouldn’t have made any sense to Pharaoh. It was a Hebrew custom not an Egyptian one. Two, he didn’t mention that Jacob under no circumstances wanted to be buried in Egypt. Joseph was diplomatic and didn’t want it to seem that Jacob was ungrateful for all that Pharaoh had done for his family. Joseph stresses that Jacob wanted to be buried in the tomb that he had “dug” himself in the land of Canaan. Now, we know that Jacob didn’t dig out the cave at Machpelah but Joseph used this nuance to appeal to Pharaoh who would understand wanting to spend eternity in a tomb of his own preparing. According to Hamilton it is possible that the word translated “dug” or “hewn” could also mean “bought” which is what Abraham did. Joseph waited till the end of his plea to ask permission to go, adding that he promised to return to Egypt. Jacob’s insistence on being buried in Canaan with his fathers was a statement of faith to where his children and their families really belonged.

Pharoah agreed to allow Joseph to go and bury his father’s body in Canaan just as Jacob made Joseph swear to do. Pharaoh was impressed by Joseph’s devotion to his father. He repeated Joseph’s words to “go and bury your father as you promised” but he didn’t repeat Joseph’s promise to return. This was an indication that Pharaoh implicitly trusted Joseph to keep that promise. Joseph then “went up” to bury his father along with a very large entourage. This entourage was made up of three different groups. The first were high ranking officials in Pharaoh’s court and in Egypt. This would have included elders of Pharaoh’s household and elders of the land. This showed great respect for both Jacob and Joseph. The second were members of Joseph’s household, his brothers and those in his father’s household. The third was the equivalent of a military escort consisting of chariots and horsemen which was also a sign of respect and honor. They would have also offered protection from bandits, thieves, and foreign countries along the way. The word “all” is mentioned three times reinforcing the largeness of the entourage. All who were able and necessary accompanied Joseph. The only people that did not go were Joseph’s and his brother’s families’ children. They also did not take their livestock. These would have been a sign to Pharaoh that Joseph and his family would return to Egypt according to his promise. We continue to see the fulfillment of the promise of God to make Abraham’s name great. All of Egypt stopped and mourned the passing of Abraham’s grandson and Pharaoh sent this huge funeral procession to Canaan to bury him. Walton says, “The attention paid to one’s death is often considered an indication of the greatness or significance of one’s life. Contrast the death of Jehoram, king of Judah found in 2 Chronicles 21:20: “He passed away, to no one’s regret, and was buried in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.” Jacob believed in the promises of God and God fulfilled his promises in and through Jacob in his life and in his death.

Joseph led his father’s funeral procession to Canaan until they came to the threshing floor of Atad near the Jordan. The location of this threshing floor is unknown except that it is near the Jordan River either right inside or just outside the land of Canaan. This would have been an appropriate spot to stop and observe a more private seven-day mourning period for his father. A threshing floor was chosen because they were usually outside the city, elevated and offered a large clear space for many people to gather at one time. This mourning period was specifically Hebrew and was marked by loud and bitter lamenting. After all this family had been through, they were broken by the death of Jacob and came together to honor him properly. Mathews says, The Hebrew is literally “they mourned there a mourning great and very grievous (or bitterly).” This mourning must have included actions as well as words because it was something the Canaanites in the area “saw” rather than “heard.” Along with the weeping and lamenting there was probably the tearing of clothes and the wearing of sackcloth. Some may have shaved their heads and others may have been walking around barefoot. All of which were visible signs of mourning. The intensity and conspicuousness of their grief is seen in the mention of the word “mourning” three times, as well as the Canaanites of the area taking notice. When the Canaanites saw this, they named the place, “Abel Mizraim,” which means, “the mourning of the Egyptians.” They falsely thought they were Egyptians holding a solemn mourning ceremony which would have been understandable because the coffin and the clothing they were dressed in would have been distinctly Egyptian.

Because of where the entourage stopped scholars believe they did not take the direct route to Canaan. There may have been some upheaval in the countries surrounding Egypt that made they go out of their way. But there are too many similarities to another journey that will be taken by God’s chosen people four hundred years later. Their route was much the same as the one the Israelites will take during the Exodus as Moses leads them out of Egypt and a lot of the same phrases in this narrative occur then as well. Goldingay says, “Joseph’s request “to go up” to Canaan anticipates Moses’ plea for the Israelites to take a trip out of Egypt.” Walton says “His burial procession is seen as a pledge or acted prophecy of the nation’s future move.” That the Canaanites acknowledge the event foreshadows their submission during the conquest. In effect this was a rehearsal for the future homecoming of the nation in fulfillment of the promises of God to Israel.

We are told that Jacob’s sons did as he had commanded them. This is the first mention of the other brothers since Jacob died and it is the first and only time we see all of Jacob’s sons doing anything together. Their obedience is emphasized as they participated in their father’s burial just as the sons of Abraham and Isaac participated in theirs. No matter how much brothers are at odds with each other during their lives they are expected to come together to bury their fathers when they pass away. From this spot, Jacob’s sons acted as pallbearers carrying his body to the land of Canaan indicating they were the only ones who entered Canaan to lay his body in its final resting place. This would have been a highly personal journey carried out by the sons of Jacob as they paid their final respects to their father. The text confirms that they buried him in the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre, which Abraham had bought along with the field as the burial place from Ephron the Hittite. We are again given these very specific details to prove that this burial ground was owned by Jacob’s family, and he had the right to be buried there. It also renewed to the people of Canaan that Abraham’s family had ownership of this land and that they would one day return to possess it.

After they finished burying their father everyone returned to Egypt. Joseph had kept his promise to his father and to Pharaoh. Although the text states that everyone returned the emphasis is singular not plural. Joseph proved trustworthy and faithful to his promise to return. The twice mention of the word “burial” in our final verse points out the magnitude that the author felt about Jacob’s death and burial in the Promised Land. It was supremely important for the future of the Israelite people and the plans and purposes of God that Jacob be buried with his fathers in Canaan.

Play “Reveille.” Winston Churchill planned his own funeral and it included many of the great hymns of the church and used the eloquent Anglican liturgy. At his direction, a bugler, positioned high in the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral, played “Taps,” the universal signal that day is done. But then came the most dramatic turn. As Churchill had instructed, as soon as “Taps” was finished, another bugler, placed on the other side of the great dome, played “Reveille”: If you don’t know the words to “Reveille” they are “It’s time to get up, it’s time to get up, it’s time to get up in the morning.” The author of this story didn’t know if Churchill was a true believer in Jesus Christ, but by following “Taps” with “Reveille,” he seemed to be testifying that death is not the final note in history. There will be that “great gittin’ up morning,” when the dead in Christ shall rise. When a loved one dies, there is the sorrow and grief of loss, but for the believer, there is also the hope of eternal life that overcomes the grief.

If you are a Christian this morning, this passage teaches us how to finish our journey of faith. Death is not the final note because as Christ-followers we have hope in God’s promises. We are reminded that there is a place that God is preparing for us, and he will surely come back for us and welcome us home. So how do we live out this journey of faith? How can our lives and our deaths point our family and friends to the Lord? How can we be faithful to our word as God has always been faithful to his? We can forgive others because through the shed blood of Jesus Christ we have been forgiven. We can live in hope because the promises of God are true and sufficient for us. We can die in faith because God offers us eternal life in Christ. That brings us to the second next step on the back of your communication card this morning which is to finish my journey of faith forgiving others, living in hope and dying in faith.

But if you are not a Christian, this passage teaches us that death does not have to be the final note in your life. One day, we will all die and every one of us will be gathered to our people. We will either be gathered to our people in heaven or gathered to our people in hell. There will be no exceptions. Believers and unbelievers alike will be gathered to their people. How, then, can we be sure that we will be gathered with God’s people? The key to being gathered to God’s people is to be gathered to Jesus Christ here and now. It is only as you are saved by the person and work of Jesus Christ that you can be sure of being gathered one day to His people. Those who will be gathered to His people at death are those who are identified with His people in life. So the question is who will you be gathered to when you die? You can only know for sure if you are gathered by Christ to His people in the here and now. Those who know for sure where they are going when they die are those who admit that they are sinners and believe that Jesus Christ died on a cross for their sins and rose again and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior this morning, I urge you to Admit, Believe and Confess and not let death be your final note. That brings us to the last next step on the back of your communication card which is to Admit I am a sinner, believe that Jesus died for me and rose again, and confess him as Lord so that when I die I am gathered to God and his people.

As the Praise Team comes to lead us in a final song and the ushers prepare to collect the tithes and offering and communication cards, let’s pray: Heavenly Father, I do thank you for your Word and I thank you for your son, Jesus, who came to seek and save the lost. Help us to be bold to share our faith, hope and trust in an eternal life in Heaven with you and your son Jesus. And Lord, as Christians, give us the strength to finish our journeys of faith having hope in your promises for ourselves on this earth and for heaven. And Lord, I pray that those who do not know you as their Lord and Savior will Admit they are sinners, believe that Jesus died for them and rose again, and confess him as Lord so that when they die they will be gathered to you and your people. In Jesus’ name. Amen.












A Fathers Blessing

(Genesis 49:1-28)



“In the movie Toy Story 3, Andy, the owner of Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and other toys, is preparing to leave for college. At the end of the movie, he decides to give his toys to a young girl named Bonnie.


The scene starts with Andy entering the front gate of Bonnie's home and showing her the box of toys. Andy tells her, ‘I'm Andy. Someone told me you're really good with toys. These are mine, but I'm going away now, so I need someone really special to play with them.’ Then as Andy proceeds to hand the toys to Bonnie, he introduces them by saying something special about each one.


He begins with his toy cowgirl Jessie: ‘This is Jessie—the roughest, toughest cowgirl in the whole West. She loves critters, but none more'n her best pal, Bullseye.’


Andy then hands Bonnie his toy Tyrannosaurus, Rex, ‘the meanest, most terrifying dinosaur who ever lived’


For the Potato Heads, Andy says, ‘The Potato Heads—Mister and Missus. You gotta keep em together cause they're madly in love.’


Slinky the Dog ‘is as loyal as any dog you could want.’


Andy blesses Hamm, the Pig, by saying, ‘He'll keep your money safe, but he's also one of the most dastardly villains of all time, Evil Dr. Pork Chop!’


Buzz Lightyear is ‘the coolest toy ever. Look, he can fly, and shoot lasers. He's sworn to protect the galaxy from the evil Emperor Zurg!’

Finally, for his pal Woody, Andy says, ‘He's been my pal as long as I can remember. He's brave, like a cowboy should be. And kind, and smart. But the thing that makes Woody special? Is he'll never give up on you—ever. He'll be there for you, no matter what.’”


Source: Toy Story 3, Scene 33, "Goodbye Andy," 1:28:55 to 1:32:05.





  • ME

    • Encouraging others

        • Family

          • Judy and I try to encourage each other when we notice something the other person has done

          • We also try to encourage our children and their spouses/girlfriend when they do something incredible or caring for others

          • We look for ways to encourage our grandchildren as they develop and grow

        • Friends

          • We look for ways to point out how our friends are being caring and thoughtful

          • We try to thank our friends for how they have supported and cared for us

        • Staff and Volunteers

          • I strive to encourage the staff and volunteers here at Idaville Church


  • WE

    • Whom do you need to encourage this week?

        • Family (spouse, children, grandchildren, parent, sibling)

        • Friends

        • Staff or volunteers


Jacob is nearing death and wants to have his sons together for one final family gathering. ​​ This gathering was important, because Jacob had some important words to share about his sons’ futures. ​​ While some of his blessings seem like anti-blessings, they are important nonetheless. ​​ He has something to share about each son. ​​ For some of his sons, he will reflect on their pasts and how that will affect their futures. ​​ We will learn from this passage that . . .


BIG IDEA – Our past can affect our future.


It can be either positive or negative, depending on what we did in the past. ​​ It may affect us, but it may also affect our descendants.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (Genesis 49:1-28)

    • Jacob’s call (vv. 1-2)

        • Jacob wanted to share some final instructions with his sons as he prepared to die

        • As we see in verse 1, Jacob looked beyond his present life and the lives of his sons, to a time when their descendants were back in the Promised Land [Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament, Genesis, 696]

          • He was looking beyond the individual to the clan/tribe

          • “It would not have been viewed as prediction as much as a determination of individual and tribal destiny.” ​​ [Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 712]

        • We know the content was important, because Jacob told his sons to listen

          • He wanted them to pay attention

          • While it may not affect them personally, it would affect the generations to come

        • Jacob blessed the six sons he had with Leah, first

    • Leah’s children (vv. 3-15)

        • Reuben [1st] (vv. 3-4)

          • Privilege

            • As the firstborn son of Jacob, Reuben should have inherited a double portion, been the priestly tribe, and the kingly tribe

            • Jacob had hopes and aspirations for Reuben

            • He should have excelled in honor and power, but his moral failure caused him to forfeit those privileges

          • Accountability

            • Reuben’s attitude and actions were like turbulent waters

              • Water is very unstable in its liquid form

              • Other than Jesus and Peter (kind of) no one has walked on water – when we try, we simply sink – water is unstable or weak

              • Turbulent water is a whole different animal

                • When a levee or dam breaks, the force of the rushing water causes great damage

                • When a tsunami or tidal wave reach land, the destruction that follows is devastating

              • Reuben’s lust for power created a devastating sexual tsunami

                • After Jacob’s wife, Rachel, died, Israel moved on to Migdal Eder (Gen. 35:21)

                • While he was living there, Reuben went in and slept with Bilhah, Rachel’s handmaiden and Jacob’s concubine (Gen. 35:22)

                • When he did this it defiled his father’s marriage bed

                • Perhaps Reuben thought that in doing so, he would somehow gain power or authority over his father

                • The opposite happened, he was stripped of his honor and power

                • When this incident happened, the narrator simply mentioned that Israel heard about it, but we are not told that he did anything about it

                • Now 40 years later, Reuben is hearing about the consequences of his sin

                  • The status of firstborn and the double portion went to Joseph and his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh

                  • The priestly duties were given to the tribe of Levi

                  • The royal/kingly honor went to the tribe of Judah

                • “Sin’s consequences can plague us long after the sin is committed.” ​​ [NIV Life Application Bible, footnote for Genesis 35:22]

              • Reuben’s sin affected the status of his clan/tribe forever

              • Our past can affect our future.

              • PRINCIPLE #1 – Our behavior affects the destiny of our descendants.

                • Substance abuse can affect the destiny of our descendants, because it can begin a long line of alcoholism and drug abuse (in some cases children will avoid those substances when they have been exposed to the consequences of them, through their parents)

                • Children are watching and listening to us, as parents, for clues concerning how they should behave and talk

                  • If we use foul language, they will use foul language

                  • If we mistreat other people, they will mistreat other people

                  • If we are abusive to our spouse, they will be abusive to their spouse

                  • If we prioritize other things above God, they will prioritize other things above God

                  • The opposite of all of these are true too (use our speech to build others up; treat others with kindness and respect; are loving and supportive of our spouse; put our relationship with God first above everything else)

                  • There are exceptions to the rule

                  • Certainly there are cases when our children do not follow in our footsteps (good or bad)

                • Our behavior and speech can affect the destiny of our descendants

                • Deuteronomy 5:8-9, “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. ​​ You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” (2nd Commandment)

                • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Seek the Lord’s help in behaving and speaking in a way that will honor God and benefit my descendants.

            • Perhaps Reuben thought he had gotten away with his little indiscretion, but that was not the case

            • His actions affected his descendants

          • The same was true for Simeon and Levi

        • Simeon and Levi [2nd & 3rd] (vv. 5-7)

          • Uncontrolled anger

            • While Reuben dealt with lust, Simeon and Levi dealt with anger and fury

              • When the narrator says that Simeon and Levi are brothers, he means that they both struggled with the same issue – anger and fury

              • Swords

                • The meaning of the Hebrew word for swords is uncertain

                • It is only found here in all of Scripture

                • It is a noun form from the verb, “to cut,” which could be referring to circumcision

                • This would make sense since the narrator is probably referring to the slaughter of the Shechemites in retaliation of the rape of their sister Dinah

                • Simeon and Levi tricked the Shechemites into being circumcised and when they vulnerable they went to Shechem and killed the inhabitants

                • The knives used for circumcision would have been weapons of violence

              • Separation encouraged

                • If you recall, Jacob was not pleased with Simeon and Levi’s actions

                • Here we see that Jacob did not want to ask them for council (he probably did not trust them)

                • He also did not want to join their assembly (he wanted to separate himself from them)

                • When the incident occurred, Jacob was concerned that the Canaanites and Perizzites would join forces, attack them, and destroy them (Gen. 34:30)

                • The reason that he wanted to remain separate from them was because they killed men in their anger and hamstrung oxen whenever they wanted to

              • Cursed

                • Jacob cursed their anger that was so fierce

                • He also cursed their fury that was so cruel

                • Their actions showed that they were controlled by anger and not controlled by the Lord

            • Their actions in the past affected their descendants also

            • Our past can affect our future.

          • Consequences

            • Jacob shared that their descendants would be scattered and dispersed

              • When we look at a map of the land that each of the twelve tribes inherited, we see that Simeon was absorbed into the land of Judah – his clan was scattered [show the map]

              • Notice that the tribe of Levi did not inherit any land

                • As the priestly tribe, the Levites were given 48 cities and the surrounding fields, dispersed throughout all of Israel

                • Their anti-blessing turns into a blessing when they are chosen as the priestly tribe [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 252]

              • “Regarding Simeon and Levi, division and dispersal is as much preemptive as judgmental—it is designed to stop them from indulging further in their angry violence. ​​ In the event, Levi as the ministerial clan will have towns spread around the promised land; Simeon will be enclosed within Judah (Num. 35; Josh. 19:1-9).” ​​ [Goldingay, 698]

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – Our behavior affects the destiny of our descendants.

          • The same would be true of Judah, but on a positive note

        • Judah [4th] (vv. 8-12)

          • Honor (v. 8)

            • As the ruling tribe, Judah will be praised by his brothers

            • It will not just be his five other brothers born to Leah, but all of Jacob’s sons

            • They will praise and bow down to the tribe of Judah, because of their ability to subdue their enemies (that is the imagery of Judah having their hand on the neck of their enemies – it represents victory over their enemies)

            • We see the fulfillment of this blessing in King David and his ability to conquer his enemies

            • During Solomon’s reign there was peace on all sides

          • Strength (v. 9)

            • The metaphor of a lion represents strength – the lion is the king of the jungle

            • “What is pictured here is a lion that has grown into adulthood. ​​ Grown . . . on prey is the equivalent of ‘your hand is on the neck of your enemies’ in v. 8. ​​ The lion, having recently eaten, has retired to its sleeping quarters to digest its meal. ​​ Even while it is reposing, nothing else tries to invade its territory, so powerful is the lion.” ​​ [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 658]

          • Ruling tribe (v. 10)

            • This blessing was fulfilled through King David

              • The Lord promised David that he would always have a descendant on the throne

              • Read 2 Samuel 7:11b-16

            • The blessing of the scepter and the ruler’s staff remaining with the line of Judah until he comes to whom it belongs is perhaps a foreshadowing of the Messiah

              • We know that the Messiah would come through the line of Judah

              • The Hebrew can also read until Shiloh comes or until he comes to whom tribute belongs

              • “The obedience of the nations is his,” would seem to be referencing Jesus’ eternal reign

              • Philippians 2:9-11, Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

          • Prosperity (vv. 11-12)

            • Tethering a donkey to a vine, the choicest branch

              • A regular vineyard farmer would not tether his donkey to any of his vines or branches, because the donkey would eat the grapes and the vines

              • A prosperous ruler would not worry about having one of his vines or branches eaten by his donkey

              • They would have plenty more to harvest from

            • Washing garments and robes in wine and the blood of grapes

              • Using wine and the blood of grapes as wash water again shows the wealth of a prosperous ruler

              • The common person would not waste wine by using it to “clean” their clothes

            • Dark eyes and white teeth

              • Dark eyes could be referring to dull eyes as a result of drinking too much wine

              • “His country will flow with milk . . . its pasturage will be so good that there are countless sheep and thus rivers of milk.” ​​ [Goldingay, 700]

              • “The soil of Judah produced the best wine in Canaan, near Hebron and Engedi (Num. 13:23, 24; Song of Sol. 1:14; 2 Chron. 26:10 cf. Joel 1:7ff.), and had excellent pasture land in the desert by Tekoah and Carmel, to the south of Hebron (1 Sam. 25:2; Amos 1:1; 2 Chron. 26:10).” ​​ [Keil & Delitzsch, 258-59]

          • Judah’s past

            • Judah also had some problems in his past

              • He was the one who suggested they sell Joseph into slavery

              • He also withheld his youngest son from Tamar, his daughter-in-law, which caused her to trick him into providing offspring by sleeping with him

            • Why is Jacob not harsh with his blessing of Judah?

              • I believe it has to do with how he responded after sinning

              • There was a change in Judah when Jacob was hesitant to send Benjamin to Egypt

                • He guaranteed his safety and said that he would be personally responsible (Gen. 43:9)

                • Reuben offered the life of his two sons and not himself (Gen. 42:37)

                • There is the difference

              • The change continued when Joseph threatened to keep Benjamin in Egypt

                • Judah explained to Joseph that he had guaranteed Benjamin’s life to his father

                • Judah then offers his own life for Benjamin’s life (Gen. 44:33)

              • The change perhaps began when Judah was confronted about his sin with Tamar

                • He had withheld his third son from Tamar out of fear that he would die

                • When he unknowingly sleeps with his daughter-in-law and is then confronted about breaking his promise to her he responds with humility and repentance

                • “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.” (Gen. 38:26)

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – God can use us for great things when we repent and seek forgiveness.

              • God used Judah and his line as the kingly tribe, through whom the Messiah would come – God recognized the change that had taken place in his life

              • God can and will use us, even after all our failures, for His glory and purposes, but He requires that we repent of our sins and seek to live a holy life

              • Do you want to be used by God for great things?

                • What do you need to stop doing and repent of?

                • What do you need to ask the Lord to forgive you for?

                • It is never too late to be used by God

                • You have not done too many bad things to be used by God

              • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Repent of my sins and seek the Lord’s forgiveness, so He can use me for great things.

          • Our past can affect our future.

          • Jacob switches the order of his next two sons by Leah by addressing Zebulun before Issachar

        • Zebulun [6th] (v. 13)

          • [show the map]

          • If you notice from the map, Zebulun is landlocked and is not by the seashore

          • They were not on the Mediterranean Sea or the Sea of Galilee

          • “The Hebrew preposition [for “by”] means ‘with reference to’ or even ‘near.’” [Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 609]

          • “Zebulun was located on an important route that carried merchandise from the coast to the Sea of Galilee and to Damascus.” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Pentateuch, 167]

        • Issachar [5th] (v. 14-15)

          • Jacob recognized Issachar’s strength and hard work

          • Lying down between two saddlebags is probably referencing where the tribe of Issachar would settle in the Promised Land [show map]

          • They lived in the valley of Jezreel that was between the Mt. Tabor and Mt. Gilboa ranges [Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 373 and Walton, 716]

          • “‘Ease at the cost of liberty will be the characteristic of the tribe of Issachar’ (Delitzsch). ​​ The simile of a bony, i.e., strongly-built ass, particularly adapted for carrying burdens, pointed to the fact that this tribe would content itself with material good, devote itself to the labour and burden of agriculture, and not strive after political power and rule.” ​​ [Keil & Delitzsch, 259]

        • Jacob turns to his sons born the Bilhah and Zilpah

    • Handmaiden’s children (vv. 16-21)

        • There is a little chiastic structure here in that Jacob started with Bilhah’s first son Dan, then blessed Zilpah’s two sons Gad and Asher, before returning to Bilhah’s second son, Naphtali

        • Dan [Bilhah’s 1st] (vv. 16-17)

          • The name Dan means “to judge”

          • The only Biblical account of a judge coming from the tribe of Dan is Samson

          • Perhaps the tribe of Dan provided justice in other ways

          • “Though small, Dan will be aggressive, dangerous, and strike unexpectedly to overthrow nations (see Judg. 18). ​​ Samson, from this tribe, single-handedly wounds the Philistines (see Judg. 14-16).” ​​ [Waltke, 611]

          • Dan’s attack, providing justice, will be stealthy

        • Gad [Zilpah’s 1st] (v. 19)

          • Gad settled on the eastern side of the Jordan River with Reuben and the half tribe of Manasseh [show map]

          • The King’s Highway, which was a major trade route that went north to south, went through the territory of Gad [Gangel & Bramer, 374]

          • Because of their location they experienced attacks from bands of raiders wanting to obtain the items being traded

          • The attacks came from the Ammonites (Judg. 10-12; Jer. 49:1-6), Moabites, Arameans (1 Kings 22:3; 2 Kings 10:32-33), and Assyrians (2 Kings 15:29) [Waltke, 611]

          • Since they were a small tribe they were not able to advance against their enemies head on, but would attack from the rear

          • “Mobility rather than number is Gad’s major asset.” ​​ [Hamilton, 673]

        • Asher [Zilpah’s 2nd] (v. 20)

          • As the map shows, Asher’s inheritance was along the Mediterranean Sea on the western slopes of the Galilean highlands

          • The land was incredibly rich and fertile and provided wheat and oil abundantly

          • During King Solomon’s reign he provided wheat and olive oil for King Hiram (1 Kings 5:11) [Keil & Delitzsch, 261]

        • Naphtali [Bilhah’s 2nd] (v. 21)

          • The territory that Naphtali inherited was rugged, isolated and fertile – just northwest of the Sea of Galilee [Gangel & Bramer, 374]

          • Perhaps the rugged isolated land would require this tribe to be like a hind or gazelle that is swift and skillful in its movements [Keil & Delitzsch, 261]

          • “Possessing the abilities to run like does and speak beautiful words, the people of Naphtali would make ideal messengers.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 168]

        • Need for deliverance (v. 18)

          • Jacob looks to the Lord for deliverance

          • As he is “blessing” his sons, he knows what some of them will be going through in the future

          • The statement “suggests that Jacob was in communion with the Lord while he was speaking to his sons.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 167]

          • Application

            • How many of us would agree today that we need the deliverance of the Lord for ourselves or some of our family members

            • We can cry out to the Lord, just like Jacob and declare, “Lord, I look to You for deliverance!”

            • Take time to cry out to the Lord right now, in the quietness of your heart and mind

        • Finally, Jacob blessed Rachel’s children

    • Rachel’s children (vv. 22-27)

        • Joseph [1st] (vv. 22-26)

          • Prosperity (v. 22)

            • Joseph’s name means “may he add” while his son Ephraim’s name means “twice fruitful”

            • Joseph’s clan through Ephraim and Manasseh would be fruitful

            • When I think of the metaphor used here of a fruitful vine and branch that climbs over a wall, I am reminded of the kudzu I saw in Alabama that would grow so quickly and plentifully that it covered everything

            • That is how prosperous Joseph’s clan would be

          • Protection (vv. 23-24)

            • The arrows are an image in Scripture of telling lies and using hateful words toward someone else [Wiersbe, 168]

              • We know that Joseph’s brothers could not say a kind word about him

              • His brothers also lied to their father about him

              • Potiphar’s wife lied about Joseph’s actions, which got him thrown in prison

            • Joseph’s bow remained steady and his strong arms stayed limber

              • Joseph was able to remain steadfast and strong under these attacks and lies, because he put his trust in the Lord

              • He did not blame his brothers for what happened to him, but recognized that God allowed it to happen for His purposes

              • He did not let imprisonment stop him from working hard and doing his best for the Lord

            • God’s was with him

              • God’s mighty hand was with Joseph, caring for him like a Shepherd, and providing stability for him while everything around him was crumbling

              • PRINCIPLE #3 – God is the One who strengthens us, cares for us, and provides stability for us when we are being attacked.

                • Where are your attacks coming from today? (family, employer, health, finances, Satan, your own mind)

                • Do you feel like everything is crumbling around you?

                • As children of God and followers of Jesus Christ, we can be confident that He is there to strengthen us, care for us, and provide stability as we face the attacks that come our way

                • He promises to never leave us for forsake us, so we can say with confidence that He is our helper (Heb. 13:5-6)

                • Take a moment to express to the Lord the attacks you have been experiencing

                • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Trust in God’s strength, care, and stability for me as I experience attacks in my life.

              • That is the only way that Joseph was able to survive all that he went through

            • With God’s help, Joseph also experienced blessings

          • Blessings (vv. 25-26)

            • Fertility of land

              • Joseph’s land would experience fertility from rain above and fountains and streams of water from below

              • When we left for national conference, our tomato plants were still kind of small, but when we returned they were huge and bushy (my guess is that we got some rain while we were gone)

            • Fertility of body

              • Joseph’s family would be blessed with children

              • Joseph’s animals would be blessed with offspring

            • Greater blessing

              • Jacob’s blessing on Joseph is greater than the blessing received by Abraham and Isaac

              • Jacob’s hope is that this blessing will rest on Joseph’s head

              • Joseph was certainly a prince that was separated from his brothers (perhaps a better translation than among his brothers)

          • Joseph’s descendant’s would experience prosperity, protection, and blessing because of how he handled the attacks in his life

            • His past affected his descendants future

            • Our past can affect our future.

          • Jacob has one final blessing for his youngest son

        • Benjamin [2nd] (v. 27)

          • Morning and evening

            • This reference means that Benjamin was continually on the prowl

            • In battle they were continually victorious and shared the booty they obtained

          • Descendants of Benjamin that fulfilled this blessing

            • Ehud the judge (Judg. 3:15-30)

            • Saul, the first king of Israel

            • Jonathan, Saul’s son

            • Abner (2 Sam. 2:23)

            • Sheba (2 Sam. 20:1-26)

            • Shimei (2 Sam. 16:5-14)

            • Saul of Tarsus (Rom. 11:1; Phil. 3:5), who ruthlessly pursued Christians to imprison them

        • As this section of Scripture ends, the narrator provides the conclusion

    • Narrator’s conclusion (v. 28)

        • The narrator makes three points [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 910]

          • All of Jacob’s sons were recognized

          • The blessings had the authority of the father (Jacob)

          • Each blessing was appropriate for each tribe and their part in the nation of Israel

        • Jacob has one final request of his sons before he dies, which we will see next week


  • YOU

    • Are you ready to seek the Lord’s help in behaving and speaking in a way that will honor Him and benefit your descendants?

    • Are you ready to repent of your sins and seek the Lord’s forgiveness, so He can use you for great things?

    • Are you ready to trust in God’s strength, care, and stability for you as you experience attacks in your life.


  • WE

    • We can seek the Lord’s help in behaving and speaking in a way that will honor Him and benefit those who come after us.

    • We need to repent of our sins and seek the Lord’s forgiveness, so He can use us for great things in our community.

    • We can trust in God’s strength, care, and stability for us as we experience attacks as a body of believers.



“Business researchers call it ‘the missing ingredient’ or ‘the hidden accelerator.’ Most managers could transform their workplaces with this missing ingredient: showing appreciation. That's the focus of a recent book entitled The Carrot Principle by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton. Based on a ten-year study that interviewed 200,000 people, Gostick and Elton conclude that appreciation tops the list of things employees say they want from their bosses. Some of the statistics to back up this claim include:


  • Of the people who report high morale at work, 94.4 percent agree that their managers show appreciation.

  • 79 percent of employees who quit their jobs cite a lack of appreciation as the key reason for leaving.

  • 56 percent of employees who report low morale also give their managers low marks for showing appreciation.


Of course these statistics tap into a fundamental need in all of our relationships: the need to give and receive affirmation and blessing. The authors of The Carrot Principle conclude, ‘The simple … act of a leader [or a spouse, parent, coach, mentor, or friend] expressing appreciation to a person in a meaningful … way is the missing accelerator that can do so much but is used so sparingly.’”


Source: Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, The Carrot Principle (Free Press, 2007), pp. 7-14.






Generational Blessing

(Genesis 48:1-22)



Did You Ever Wonder Why?


“Most of us wonder about the oddities of life at one time or another. ​​ Well, did you ever wonder . . .


  • Why people spend so much for those little bottles of Evian water? ​​ Try spelling Evian backwards: ​​ NAÏVE.

  • Why we say something is out of whack? ​​ What’s a whack?

  • Why the man who invests your money is called a broker?

  • If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen are defrocked, doesn’t it follow that electricians can be delighted, musicians denoted, cowboys deranged, models deposed, tree surgeons debarked, and dry cleaners depressed?

  • If Lipton Tea employees take coffee breaks?

  • What hair color they put on the driver’s licenses of bald men?


In Scripture there are many things that cause the reader to wonder why. ​​ In this passage there are a number of whys, some of which are answered while we are left to wonder about others.”


[Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 369]


We may wonder why Jacob elevated Ephraim and Manasseh to the status of sons and why he crossed his arms and put his right hand on Ephraim’s head when he was the younger son of Joseph.


We may wonder at the blessing Jacob speaks over Ephraim, Manasseh, and Joseph.


One thing we can be sure of is the blessing Jacob bestowed on Ephraim is a generational blessing – it had come down the line from Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, and now Ephraim.



  • ME

    • Generational blessings

        • One generational blessing that Judy and I have experienced has been money from an estate

        • The greater generational blessing we have received is a spiritual heritage that has been passed on from our parents, grandparents, and even generations further back


  • WE

    • What kind of generational blessings can we all reflect on this morning (spiritual, financial, occupational, and/or physical, etc.)


Jacob reflected on the blessings God Almighty had promised him when he met Him at Luz (Bethel). ​​ In his blessing of Joseph, he reflected on the blessing of a spiritual heritage that his father and grandfather had left him. ​​ Finally, he blessed Joseph with a piece of land in Canaan that had been his. ​​ What we will learn from this passage of Scripture today is that . . .


BIG IDEA – We can experience the blessings of God from generation to generation.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (Genesis 48:1-22)

    • Beneficiaries (vv. 1-12)

        • What we see happening in these twelve verses is that Jacob adopted Ephraim and Manasseh as his sons – they are elevated from grandsons to sons

        • Joseph’s visit

          • The exact amount of time that passed from Joseph’s solemn vow to bury Jacob in Canaan (Gen. 47:31) and this current visit is vague

            • Some time later. ​​ The Hebrew is literally, ‘after these things’ (i.e., after the oath ceremony).” ​​ [Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 595]

            • It was certainly a short time and not months or years later

            • It all unfolded in Jacob’s 17th year in Egypt

          • Jacob is ill

            • What prompted Joseph’s visit was news that his father was ill

            • Perhaps his brothers saw a drastic decline in their father

              • He was sleeping all the time

              • He stopped eating and drinking

              • So they sent an anonymous messenger to Joseph to encourage him to come

          • Joseph came to Goshen with his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim (Joseph lists them in birth order, remember that)

            • That means he had not moved to Goshen to live with his family, but was still living where Pharaoh lived

            • He probably brought his two sons with him in anticipation of a patriarchal blessing

            • Little did he know what was about to happen

          • Jacob rallied his strength

            • When Jacob was told that Joseph had come, he rallied his strength and sat up on the bed

            • “Jacob has deteriorated from ‘dwelling’ in Goshen to ‘dwelling’ in bed.” ​​ [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 628]

            • The fact that Jacob musters up the strength to sit up in bed shows how important this visit is to him

          • Jacob shared the terms of his adoption of Ephraim and Manasseh

        • Terms of adoption

          • Jacob repeated the covenant given to him many years before at Bethel that had initially been given to Abraham

            • Luz was the ancient name for Bethel

            • Genesis 28:13-15, 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. ​​ 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. ​​ 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.”

            • The blessing of Jacob was a continuation of the blessing given to Abraham and Isaac

            • He was experiencing the generational blessing

            • We can experience the blessings of God from generation to generation, too.

          • Only Ephraim and Manasseh

            • Notice that Jacob refers to Joseph’s two sons in reverse birth order – Ephraim and Manasseh (that is significant)

            • Ephraim and Manasseh will be to Jacob just like Reuben and Simeon were

            • Any children born to Joseph after Ephraim and Manasseh will be Joseph’s

              • They will not inherit a portion of the Promised Land like Ephraim and Manasseh will, but will be part of the inheritance they gain as two of the twelve tribes of Israel

              • Only Ephraim and Manasseh were elevated

              • “Since Joseph is the recipient of Reuben’s right of inheritance as the firstborn, according to the Chronicler, the sons of Joseph also receive firstborn rights as the adopted sons of Joseph (1 Chr 5:1-2).” ​​ [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 875]

              • 1 Chronicles 5:1-2, The sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel (he was the firstborn, but when he defiled his father’s marriage bed, his rights as firstborn were given to the sons of Joseph son of Israel; so he could not be listed in the genealogical record in accordance with his birthright, and though Judah was the strongest of his brothers and a ruler came from him, the rights of the firstborn belonged to Joseph)

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – “God is in control of circumstances, and He works providentially to accomplish His purposes.” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer]

              • God’s purpose was to have twelve tribes of Israel that would inherit the Promised Land

                • He knew about Reuben’s sin of defiling his father’s marriage bed, which forfeited his status as firstborn

                • He knew His plans involved having one of Israel’s sons, Levi, become a tribe of priests that would not need an inheritance, but would live in forty-four cities scattered throughout Israel (Num. 18:20; Deut. 18:2; Josh. 13:33; 14:4; 21:1ff) [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Old Testament, Pentateuch, 164]

                • God was working providentially to accomplish His purposes

                • He does the same thing in our lives

              • Application

                • How has God done that in the past?

                • Take a moment to reflect on how He has worked providentially in your life in the past

                  • Individually, I have had several instances when I knew that God was working out His plan and purpose in my life (leaving CEF; leaving EGM; becoming a pastor)

                  • As a body of believers we have experienced the providential hand of God using circumstances to work out His plan for us (live streaming before the pandemic started; having the payroll protection plan loan forgiven and using the money we saved to pay off the PA Department of Revenue tax debt; even how God orchestrates certain songs being sung that fit together so well with the message)

                • We do not always recognize it when we are going through it, but God is in control of the circumstances of our lives

                  • What are you going through right now that has you wondering what God is doing?

                  • Do you truly believe that God is in control of every circumstance, including your current circumstance?

                  • Can you trust His providential work in your life, because of His faithful work in your life previously?

                • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Trust God to accomplish His purpose in my life, since He is in control of the circumstances.

              • God was in control of the circumstances of Jacob’s life and through His providential work, Jacob elevated Ephraim and Manasseh to the status of sons so His purposes would be accomplished

          • Rationale for the adoption of Joseph’s two sons

            • Jacob revisits the premature death of his favorite wife, Rachel

              • When Jacob was returning from Paddan-Aram (Northwestern Mesopotamia), Rachel died near Bethlehem

              • We know that she died giving birth to Benjamin, her second child

              • Jacob buried her beside the road to Bethlehem

              • Had she not died prematurely, she would have probably had additional children including more sons

              • “Since Rachel had no more children, Jacob counted the sons born to Joseph as his own by proxy, immediately multiplying her tribes.” ​​ [Mathews, 875]

            • Joseph’s sons, who were now Jacob’s sons, would also be counted as Rachel’s sons

          • Official ceremony

            • When Jacob asked Joseph, “Who are these?” it was not because he did not know who they were

              • He had already used their names when talking about adopting them

              • The question was to signify the beginning of the official adoption ceremony

              • “. . . the question to identify the beneficiaries is part of the legal ritual of adoption and/or blessing (cf. 27:18).” ​​ [Waltke, 597]

              • “One thinks of the question at a baptism, ‘What name is given to this child?’ or the question at a wedding, ‘Who gives this woman to this man?’ – neither of which is prompted by the ignorance of the clergyperson.” [Hamilton, 634]

              • “We have here the second stage of the legal adoptive process, namely, the establishment of the true identity of the candidates for adoption by formal interrogation of the natural father.” ​​ [Sarna cited by Hamilton in footnote 24, 634]

            • Joseph’s response

              • He credits God for giving him these two sons

              • PRINCIPLE #2 – Children are a gift from God.

                • Whether they are biological, adopted, or spiritual children, all children are a gift from God!

                • Whether they are expected or unexpected, all children are a gift from God!

                • Whether they have special needs or are “normal,” all children are a gift from God!

                • Whether they are in the womb or outside the womb, all children are a gift from God!

            • Jacob requested that Joseph bring them to him so he could bless them

              • We learn that Jacob’s eyes were failing because of old age

              • Joseph brought his sons close to Jacob

              • Jacob embraced them and kissed them

              • Jacob never thought he would see Joseph again and now he has not only seen Joseph, but his two sons also

              • PRINCIPLE #3 – God is the One who numbers our days.

                • When our first grandchild was just an infant, we had the privilege of going to a family reunion on my father’s side

                  • We were able to take a couple of pictures that featured five generations [show the two pictures]

                  • Our granddaughter was the very first great, great grandchild for my Grandma Johns

                  • I do not know if my grandma ever imagined or thought that she would see a great, great grandchild

                  • I do not know if my parents ever thought they would see any great grandchildren, but now they have seen and held all three

                • Is there anything you never imagined you would see or experience in your lifetime?

                  • Think about the people who saw the first toaster, automobile, telephone, television, microwave, computer, etc.

                  • They probably never thought they would see or experience those things

                • Is there anything you are hoping to see before you die?

                  • Maybe it is grandchildren, great grandchildren, or great, great grandchildren (keep praying!)

                  • Maybe it is the salvation of a loved one (keep praying!)

                  • Maybe it is a spiritual revival in our nation (keep praying!)

                  • Perhaps it is the cure for some disease (keep praying!)

                • God knows our heart and the number of our days, so we can trust Him to accomplish His plan and purpose for us

            • Joseph removed his sons from Israel’s knees

              • It is unlikely that Ephraim and Manasseh were sitting on Israel’s lap, one on each knee

              • They would have been around 18 to 20 years old

              • If you remember, Israel is weak and frail and had to rally his strength to just sit up in bed

              • It is more likely that Joseph’s two sons were kneeling in front of Israel’s knees

          • With the adoption complete, Joseph bows down with his face to ground in respect of his father

        • Ephraim and Manasseh are now the beneficiaries of being adopted into Jacob’s family, but Jacob still has a blessing for them

    • Blessed (vv. 13-20)

        • Joseph orchestrated his approach to his father, Israel (v. 13)

          • He put Ephraim on his right side toward Israel’s left hand and Manasseh on his left side toward Israel’s right hand

          • He probably did this to help his father who was struggling to see

          • Joseph understood the culture and traditions of the day

            • He knew that the right hand was the “the position of strength, honor, power, and glory (cf. Ex. 15:6; Ps. 89:13; Prov. 3:16; Eccl. 10:2; Matt. 25:33; Acts 2:33).” ​​ [Waltke, 598]

              • Exodus 15:6, “Your right hand, O Lord, was majestic in power. ​​ Your right hand, O Lord, shattered the enemy.”

              • Psalm 89:13, Your arm is endued with power; your hand is strong, your right hand exalted.

              • Matthew 25:33, He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

            • He wanted Manasseh his firstborn son to receive the greater blessing

          • Israel shook it up (v. 14)

            • As Ephraim and Manasseh approached Israel, he reached out his right hand and placed it on Ephraim’s head, then he crossed his arms and placed his left hand on Manasseh’s head

              • “Jacob may be losing his sight, but he is not losing his insight.” ​​ [Hamilton, 636]

              • Israel followed the leading of the Lord in his crisscrossed gesture

              • It was God who was acting to accomplish His purpose

            • PRINCIPLE #4 – “God acts according to His own purpose, not necessarily in line with human tradition or custom.” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer]

              • God is all knowing and eternal, which means he knows the beginning from the end

                • He sees the totality of history and is able to act according to His own purpose

                • There are times when His actions do not line up with our traditions, customs, or human logic, but His ways are perfect

                • Isaiah 55:8-11, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. ​​ “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. ​​ As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: ​​ It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

                • Read Psalm 18:30-36

              • Application

                • Where are you at?

                  • Is there something you are going through right now that has you questioning God?

                  • Are you looking at it through the eyes of human tradition, custom, or logic?

                  • Do you believe that God’s way is perfect and His word is flawless?

                • What changes do you need to make?

                  • Do you need to submit to God’s ways instead of your own?

                  • Do you need to think with the mind of Christ instead of with the mind of humanity?

                • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Submit my issue to God’s perfect way, even if it does not line up with human tradition, custom, or logic.

            • God’s way is perfect (vv. 17-20)

              • When Joseph saw what his father had done, he tried to correct him, but Israel refused

              • Israel explained that he knew what he was doing and it was not an accident because of his poor eyesight

                • Israel intentionally gave the greater blessing to Ephraim

                • Isaac had unintentionally blessed Jacob/Israel due to deception, but that was not the case here

                • God knew exactly what He was doing through this entire situation

              • Manasseh became a people and became great also, but Ephraim was greater

              • Ephraim would be greater and his descendants became a group of nations and not just a people

              • “This blessing began to be fulfilled from the time of the Judges, when the tribe of Ephraim so increased in extent and power, that it took the lead of the northern tribes and became the head of the ten tribes, and its name acquired equal importance with the name Israel . . .” ​​ [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary of the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 248]

          • Let’s look back in verses 15 and 16 at the blessing

        • The blessing (vv. 15-16)

          • Israel/Jacob’s testimony covered three generations (vv. 15-16a)

            • Israel recalled how his grandfather and father walked before God

            • Next he highlighted how God had shepherded him all his life and delivered him from all harm

            • Finally, he prayed that this ever present, guiding, and delivering God would bless Ephraim and Manasseh

          • PRINCIPLE #5 – God walks with, guides, and delivers His people.

            • Whatever circumstances you are facing right now, God is with you in it, will guide you through it, and will deliver you from all harm

            • What do you need to experience from Him right now?

              • Do you need to experience His presence with you?

              • Do you need Him to guide your thoughts and actions?

              • Do you need Him to deliver you from something?

            • Cry out to Him right now!

            • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Ask the Lord to be with me, to guide me, and/or deliver me.

          • The result of the blessing

            • That Ephraim and Manasseh would be called by Israel’s, Abraham’s, and Isaac’s names

            • That they would increase greatly upon the earth

          • Ephraim and Manasseh experienced and received the generational blessing from Israel/Jacob

          • We can experience the blessings of God from generation to generation.

        • Israel/Jacob had one final blessing for Joseph

    • Bequeathed (vv. 21-22)

        • Israel encouraged Joseph that God would be with him and would take him back to the Promised Land

          • We do not know if Israel believed that Joseph would return to the Promised Land in his lifetime

          • We do know that when Joseph was about to die, he made the Israelites promise to take his bones back to the Promised Land when they returned, which they did

        • Israel gave a double portion of land to Joseph as the “firstborn”

          • It is not recorded what ridge of land Jacob had taken with his sword and bow

            • Some scholars believe it was the city of Shechem where Simeon and Levi had taken revenge for Dinah their sister by slaughtering all of the male inhabitants of Shechem

            • Jacob did not approve of their actions, but perhaps occupied the land after everyone was destroyed

            • Joshua 24:32, And Joseph’s bones, which the Israelites had brought up from Egypt, were buried at Shechem in the tract of land that Jacob bought for a hundred pieces of silver from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem. ​​ This became the inheritance of Joseph’s descendants.

          • For now, we may just have to wonder


  • YOU

    • Do you need to trust God to accomplish His purpose in your life, since He is in control of the circumstances?

    • Perhaps you need to submit your issue to God’s perfect way, even if it does not line up with human tradition, custom, or logic.

    • Maybe you need to ask the Lord to be with you, to guide you, and/or deliver you.


  • WE

    • As a body of believers, we need to trust God to accomplish His purpose in the life of our church.

    • We may need to submit our issue to God’s perfect way.

    • We may need to ask the Lord to be with us, guide, and/or deliver us.



“It is sometimes difficult to understand why things happen as they do. ​​ Even as believers we find it difficult to understand why God chooses certain purposes and brings them about a certain way. ​​ But God is sovereign. ​​ He acts in keeping with his character but not always in harmony with human custom and tradition. ​​ Both Jacob and Joseph demonstrated they understood that their responsibility was to exercise faith—faith to the very end of life.


[Gangel & Bramer, 376].




The Mercy of God

(Genesis 47:13-31)



“In the early 1950s teenage Lyle Dorsett and his family moved to Birmingham from Kansas City, Missouri. They were outsiders, often labeled Yankees by peers. But one summer evening in 1953, Dorsett was walking to his house after work and decided to take a shortcut through the campus of then-Howard College (now Samford University).


He was immediately intrigued by the sight he saw: a large tent on the football field featuring a magnetic preacher. As Dorsett drew near, he could hear evangelist Eddie Martin preaching on the parable of the prodigal son, calling other prodigals to come home. Dorsett said, ‘I knew I was the prodigal and … needed to come home.’


Martin asked those in attendance to return the next evening. Dorsett came early, and this time was seated near the front. When the call came, ‘the evangelist led me through a sinner’s prayer. I confessed my need for forgiveness. While being led in prayer, I strongly felt the presence of Jesus Christ. I sensed his love and forgiveness as well as his call to preach the gospel.’


Shortly thereafter, Dorsett and his parents joined a local Baptist church. However, 18 months later, Dorsett’s family moved back to Kansas City. On his return, gradually he drifted. During his time in college, he embraced a materialistic worldview. He received a Ph.D. in history but despite professional success, he began to drink heavily and became an alcoholic. His wife, Mary, who became a Christian after their marriage, began to pray.


One evening, he stormed out of the house after Mary asked him not to drink around the children. He found a bar and drank until closing. While driving up a winding mountain road, he stopped at an overlook and blacked out. The next morning, he woke up on a dirt road at the bottom of a mountain next to a cemetery not having any memory of the drive.


Dorsett cried out to God, ‘Lord, if you are there, please help me.’ At that moment, he recognized that the same presence he had met in Birmingham was with him in the car and loved him. The prodigal son had finally, truly come home. He said, ‘Although I made countless mistakes, the Lord never gave up on me.’


God then called Dorsett to full-time ministry, ordination in the Anglican Church, and eventually to the Billy Graham Chair of Evangelism at Beeson Divinity School, Samford University, where he had first heard God’s call to preach.


He concludes,

Over the years God has proved to be a gentle Comforter—like when Mary underwent massive surgery for cancer, and when our 10-year-old daughter died unexpectedly. Certainly, the most humbling and reassuring lesson is his persistence in drawing me to himself. And it was he who pursued me and sustained the relationship when I strayed in ignorant sheeplike fashion, doubted his existence, and then like the Prodigal Son deliberately moved to the far country. And it is all grace—unearned, undeserved, unrepayable grace.


Source: Lyle Dorsett, “A Sobering Mercy,” CT magazine (September, 2014), pp. 87-88; Kristen Padilla, “A Fulfilling Ministry,” Beeson Divinity (4-12-18).





  • ME

    • I have experienced the mercy of God throughout my life

        • I experienced the mercy of God when I lost both of my grandfathers a year apart (I was around 12 years old at the time)

        • I experienced the mercy of God when we moved to Birmingham, AL after my sophomore year of high school. ​​ I left behind a steady girlfriend, but the ending of that relationship, while it was difficult, was God’s mercy at work (now I have a beautiful wife of 32 years as of Thursday of this past week)

        • I experienced the mercy of God through several job transitions

    • I know that I can trust God to extend His mercy as I continue to live my life


  • WE

    • Perhaps every one of us can remember a time when we experienced the mercy of God

    • For many of us we can recall God’s mercy in various stages of life


We will see today that the Egyptians experienced the mercy of God through Joseph’s administration of grain, and Jacob experienced the mercy of God through Joseph’s promise to him. ​​ The author of Genesis wants us to understand that . . .


BIG IDEA – The mercy of God is for all stages of life.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (Genesis 47:13-31)

    • Procuring (vv. 13-26)

        • Contrast (v. 13)

          • As we saw last week, Pharaoh provided Jacob and his family with property and Joseph provided them with food (Genesis 47:11-12)

          • Now, in contrast to that, we see in verse 13 that there was no food available in Egypt or Canaan, because of the severity of the famine – Egypt and Canaan wasted away

        • Joseph’s administration

          • Because of Joseph’s recommendation to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance, Egypt was not actually out of food

          • All of the food was owned by Pharaoh and had been stored in the various cities throughout the country (Gen. 41:33-36)

          • They had not used any of the reserves up to this point

        • Progression of procurement (vv. 14-22)

          • Money

            • When it was time to begin distributing the grain, Joseph started with the money in Egypt and Canaan

            • He collected all of the money that was found in both countries

              • “The sense is that the people fervently rummage for money, ‘bringing every last penny.’” [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 857]

              • How many of us have experienced that feeling?

              • We have to rummage through our couch cushions or our car to find enough money to buy something

              • Judy and I experienced that when we moved back from California. ​​ We stopped at the Tropical Treat on our way back from Hanover to get ice cream with the boys and did not realize they did not take credit/debit cards until after we ordered. ​​ I started rummaging through our car and found a film canister that I had filled up with quarters. ​​ I canceled what I had order, but was able to pay for the rest with the money I had found in our car

              • When Judy and I were first married and still in college, she had a pair of jeans that would produce paper money at just the right time. ​​ It was amazing how we were able to go on a cheap date with the money her jeans produced. ​​ I do not think she has those jeans anymore. ​​ Of course, we realized it was God providing for us out of His incredible grace and mercy

              • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is merciful!

              • The mercy of God is for all stages of life.

            • Notice that Joseph did not keep any of the money for himself – he brought it all to Pharaoh’s palace

            • Notice the switch here from Egypt and Canaan to only Egypt

              • Only the Egyptians would forfeit their livestock, land, and lives

              • The Canaanites would not

              • I believe this is significant, especially as it pertains to The Promised Land

              • The Promised Land was reserved for God’s chosen people, therefore, it would not be owned by Pharaoh and Egypt

            • The Egyptians came to Joseph when their money was used up and asked him for food

          • Livestock

            • Joseph barters with the Egyptians

            • He will sell them food in exchange for their livestock

            • Their livestock included

              • Horses –

              • Sheep

              • Goats

              • Cattle

              • Donkeys

            • Joseph brought them through that year with food in exchange for their livestock

              • The various translations say it differently

                • Brought them through (NIV)

                • Fed them (KJV, NKJV, NASB20, NASB95, LSB, ASV, DBY, HNV)

                • Supplied them (ESV, RSV)

                • Provided them (CSB, NLT)

                • Got them through (NET)

                • Led them as a shepherd (literal translation NASB95, NASB20, LSB)

                  • “He is said to have ‘brought them through’ (piel, from nāhal), a term that can indicate a gentle leading of the weak to a place of respite (e.g., 33:14; Ps 23:2; Isa 40:11; 51:18).” ​​ [Mathews, 857]

                  • Psalm 23:1-3a, The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. ​​ He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters. ​​ He restores my soul.

                • Joseph mercifully leads the Egyptians through a difficult time in their lives

                • God does the same for us

                • The mercy of God is for all stages of life.

              • PRINCIPLE #2 – God, in His mercy, will lead us through any difficulty.

                • Scripture support

                  • Deuteronomy 31:8, The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will ​​ never leave you nor forsake you. ​​ Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

                  • Isaiah 41:10, So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. ​​ I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

                  • Philippians 4:19, And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

                • What difficulty are you facing today?

                  • Like the Egyptians, lack of food?

                  • Difficult relationship? (family, friend)

                  • Health issues? (feel normal again, do the things I used to do)

                  • Emotional struggles? (anxiety, depression, fear)

                  • Spiritual battle? (temptation, addiction)

                  • Financial shortage? (debt, medical bills, foreclosure)

                • Just as Joseph mercifully led the Egyptians through their lack of food, God will mercifully lead us through our difficulties to a place of peace and rest

                • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Trust in the mercy of God to lead me through the difficulty I am currently facing.

            • Joseph bartered with the Egyptians for their livestock, but they were going to have to surrender more in order to survive the severe famine

          • Land and lives

            • Nothing left

              • The livestock lasted for just a year and now the Egyptians do not have anything else to use to buy or barter for food

              • They openly admit this to Joseph – they cannot hide the fact from him

              • I am certain that Joseph already knew where they were

              • The Egyptians actually make the offer of their land and lives to Joseph and he accepts

              • Seed is the third word used for what they are receiving from Joseph

                • In verse 14 they receive rations (šeḇer) [sheh’ber/shay’-ver] (this was threshed grain, corn, or cereal) in exchange for money

                • In verse 17 they receive food (leḥem) [lekh’-em/lekh’-hem] in exchange for livestock

                • In verses 19 and 23 they receive seed (zeraʿ) [zeh’-rah] in exchange for their land and lives

              • The reason they are bartering their land and lives was two-fold

                • They did not want to die

                • They did not want the land to become desolate or ruined

            • No one exempt except the priests

              • Every Egyptian sold his field to Pharaoh

                • They were now land tenants

                • They no longer owned the land, but farmed it for Pharaoh

                • The NIV says that Joseph reduced them to servitude

                  • Other translations and the footnote in the NIV reference the Masoretic Text that says, Joseph moved the people into the cities

                  • “To make food distribution easier, many of the farm workers were moved into the cities until such time as seed would be available for planting.” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Pentateuch, 163]

                  • This was also a way of reinforcing the fact that Pharaoh now owned their land [Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament, Pentateuch, Genesis, 671]

              • Joseph did not buy the land of the priests

                • The priests did not need to sell their land, because Pharaoh gave them a regular allotment of food

                • They were not starving and about to die, like the regular Egyptians were

                • Just a reminder that Jacob and his family were also taken care of by Pharaoh and Joseph – they were not in need

            • The procuring is done – Pharaoh has all of the Egyptians money, livestock, land, and lives

            • Joseph takes it one step further

          • Futures (vv. 23-26)

            • Joseph established a law that was still in existence when the author of Genesis was writing (around 400 plus years later)

            • This was probably to ensure the success of all future Pharaohs who had priests and other groups to provide for

            • Joseph gave the Egyptians seed so they could plant the ground

              • When it came time to harvest the crop, they had to give one fifth (20%) of it to Pharaoh

              • They were allowed to use the other four-fifths (80%) as seed and food for themselves

                • This was a generous offer from Pharaoh

                • This was actually below average for the Middle East in ancient times

                • “First Maccabees 10:30 refers to a one-third tax on grain and one-half on fruit.” ​​ [Goldingay, 672]

              • Joseph was entrusting the seed that he had gathered during the seven years of abundance to the Egyptians, so that lives would be preserved and that God’s purposes would be fulfilled [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 245]

              • God does the same thing with us

            • PRINCIPLE #3 – God entrusts us with the good things of this earth for His purposes.

              • Biblical support

                • Psalm 24:1-2, The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.

                • 1 Timothy 6:17, Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain., but to put their hope in God, who richly provides for us with everything for our enjoyment.

                • 1 Timothy 5:8, If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

                • Proverbs 3:5-10, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. ​​ Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. ​​ This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. ​​ Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.

              • God has been generous with us

                • From the Old Testament we see the principle of tithing, giving 10% to the Lord of all that He has given to us

                • We also see the principle of offerings, which is anything extra that we give above our regular tithe

                • Giving is an act of worship, acknowledging God’s provision and care for us

                • It is also a way for God’s purposes to be accomplished here on earth (taking care of the orphan, widow, and poor; spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ, etc.)

                • 2 Corinthians 9:6-8, Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. ​​ Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. ​​ And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

              • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Give to the Lord a portion of all that He has given to me, so His plans and purposes can be accomplished.

            • Reaction of the Egyptians

              • The Egyptians were grateful to Joseph for saving their lives

              • They did not see Joseph as a tyrant that was treating them unfairly, but as a savior [Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 591]

        • Joseph mercifully led the Egyptians through the seven years of severe famine

        • Next we will see that Joseph was merciful to his father at the end of his life by showing him kindness and faithfulness

        • The mercy of God is for all stages of life, whether we are going through difficulties in the middle of our lives or as we near death

    • Promising (vv. 27-31)

        • Prosperous

          • We know that the Israelites settled in Goshen during the time of the famine and acquired property there

          • We also know that Joseph provided for them until the famine ended

          • God was blessing the wombs of the women during this time and the Israelites produced a lot of offspring

            • This was the fulfillment of the promise given to Jacob in Genesis 46:3

            • They were becoming a great nation in Egypt

        • Time stamp

          • We learn that Jacob lived in Egypt for 17 years before he died

          • He was 147 years old when he died

        • Nearing death

          • Jacob realized that his time was short, so he called for Joseph to come

            • Joseph has the power and authority to make Jacob’s last wish come true

            • Joseph is also the oldest son of Jacob’s favorite wife

          • Jacob asked Joseph to make a solemn vow by placing his hand under his thigh (this was a common practice in the ancient near east)

          • PRINCIPLE #4 – God is pleased when we show mercy to our loved ones.

            • Joseph was showing mercy to his father by being kind to him and faithful to his vow

            • We too can show mercy to our loved ones as they near death by being kind to them and faithful to our vows

              • I have had the privilege of being with individuals and their families as they have neared death

              • It is such a sweet time of sharing memories, love, and kindness

              • I remember one person, who had their entire family with them in the hospital room

              • The family members were loving on them and perhaps making final promises to care for one another and treat each other with kindness

            • Maybe you made a promise to a parent or spouse

              • How have you been doing with that promise?

              • Have you been faithful to that promise?

              • Is there anything you need to do to keep that promise?

            • Perhaps you have a loved one who is nearing death

              • With dementia and Alzheimer’s being more prevalent today, it can be difficult to show kindness to that loved one, especially when they constantly repeat the same thing over and over again

              • You can show God’s mercy to them by being kind and compassionate during those times

            • I want to challenge you today to ask the Lord to help you be kind and faithful to a loved one who is nearing death

            • He will give you the strength to succeed!

        • Joseph promised and swore to bury his father in Canaan at Machpelah (Gen. 50:12-14)

        • Israel/Jacob worshiped the Lord

          • He was grateful to the Lord that his last wish would be fulfilled

          • He was also grateful to the Lord that clan leadership had been successfully passed on to Joseph [Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 710]

          • Since, Jacob was too feeble to get out of bed and bow down in worship, he turned towards the head of the bed as a symbolic way of bowing [Kiel & Delitzsch, 245]

          • “Jacob’s desire was that his funeral would be a clear witness that he was not an idol-worshiping Egyptian but a believer in the true and living God.” [Wiersbe, 164]

          • Jacob did not want his ailing and feeble body stop him from worshiping the Lord

          • PRINCIPLE #5 – We should never neglect to worship the Lord.


  • YOU

    • Do you need to trust in the mercy of God to lead you through the difficulty you are currently facing?

    • Are you ready to give to the Lord a portion of all that He has given to you, so His plans and purposes can be accomplished?

    • Is there a loved one that you need to show mercy to?

    • Have you neglected to worship the Lord for something?


  • WE

    • We can trust in the mercy of God to lead us through difficult times

    • We can show mercy to those in our congregation

    • We can worship the Lord for all He has done for us



“I recently read a story by a woman who said that as a girl she was poor. She said, ‘I grew up in a cold water flat, but I married a man who had money. And he took me up to a place where I had flowers, and I had gardens, and I had grass. It was wonderful. And we had children.’


‘Then suddenly I became physically sick. I went to the hospital, and the doctors ran all sorts of tests. One night the doctor came into my room, and with a long look on his face, said, ‘I'm sorry to tell you this. Your liver has stopped working.’


‘I said, ‘Doctor, wait a minute. Wait a minute. Are you telling me that I am dying?’ And he said, ‘I, I can't tell you any more than that. Your liver has stopped working. We've done everything we can to start it.’ And he walked out.


‘I knew I was dying. I was so weak, I had to feel my way along the corridor down to the chapel of the hospital. I wanted to tell God off. I wanted to tell God, ‘You are a shyster! You've been passing yourself off as a loving God for two thousand years, but every time anyone begins to get happy you pull the rug out from under them.’ I wanted this to be a face-to-face telling off of God.


‘And just as I got into the center aisle of the chapel, I tripped, I swooned, I fainted. And I looked up, and there stenciled along the step into the sanctuary, where the altar is, I saw these words: LORD, BE MERCIFUL TO ME A SINNER. I know God spoke to me that night. I know he did.’


She didn't say how God communicated this to her, but what God said was, ‘You know what this is all about. It's about the moment of surrender; it's about bringing you to that moment when you will surrender everything to me. These doctors, they do the best they can. but they only treat. I'm the only one who can cure you.’


And she said, ‘There with my head down on my folded arms in the center of the chapel, repeating, ‘Lord, be merciful to me a sinner,’ I surrendered to God. I found my way back to my hospital bed, weak as I was.


‘The next morning, after the doctor ran the blood tests and the urinalysis and so forth, he said, ‘Your liver has started working again. We don't know why. We don't know why it stopped, and we don't know why it started up again.’ And I said in my heart, But I know. Oh but I know. God has brought me to the brink of disaster, just to get me to turn my life over to him.’”


Source: John Powell, "Prayer as Surrender," Preaching Today, Tape No. 108.





The Blessings of God

I want to open with two stories this morning. You will hear the first part of both stories now and the rest of the two stories at the conclusion. The first story comes from Mark Batterson’s book “A Double Blessing.” During his celebrated career as a composer, George Frederic Handel wrote forty-two operas, twenty-nine oratorios, and 120 cantatas. Of Handel, Beethoven said, “To him I bow the knee.” Handel certainly ranks as one of history’s greatest composers, but he hit a point of diminishing return later in life. At age fifty-six, Handel was past his composing prime. He was depressed, in debt and a stroke hindered the use of his right hand. Handel was struggling to stay musically relevant, which is rather ironic given the fact that he was about to score one of history’s most iconic pieces of music. On August 22, 1741, George Frederic Handel started composing. He would not leave his home for three weeks. In fact, he rarely left his composing chair. Twenty-one days later, Handel emerged from his writing room with a 259-page masterpiece called Messiah. The opening act prophetically points to the coming Messiah. The middle act is Handel’s commentary on the passion of Christ. The final act celebrates the risen Savior, who “shall reign forever and ever.” Finally Handel inked three letters on the last page, SDG—soli Deo gloria—“To God alone be the glory!”

The second story comes from the website “” Second Kings 7 tells a fascinating story of four lepers who sat at the gate of Samaria at a time when the city was under siege. Things had gotten so bad inside the city that women were eating their own children to survive. But Elisha the prophet had predicted something that seemed utterly impossible, that the next day food would be plentiful and affordable in Samaria. Meanwhile, the four lepers evaluated their dismal situation. If they stayed at the gate of Samaria, they would starve. If they went over to the enemy camp, they may be killed, which would be no worse than starving. But there was the outside chance that the enemy would take pity on them and give them some scraps of food. So they took their chances and went over to the enemy camp. When they got there, they were shocked to find the camp deserted. The Lord had caused the enemy to hear the sound of a great army of chariots and horses so that they fled in a panic, leaving all of their supplies behind. The four beggars ate all that they could eat. They hauled away and hid several loads of silver and gold and clothes. Those are the backstories and we’ll hear the rest at the end of the sermon.

What do those stories have in common? Both are stories of God’s blessings poured out on his creation. Handel was depressed, in debt and had had a stroke that hindered the use of his right hand. But God blessed him to still be able to write the Messiah, one of the greatest pieces in the history of music. God blessed the four lepers by miraculously supplying food and causing the enemy to flee in a panic in the face of a perceived army. Last week, Jacob, who was also called Israel, offered sacrifices at Beersheba and God spoke to him in a vision there. Jacob was given the ok from God to go down to Egypt and he promised to go there with him and to bring him back to the Promised Land one day. He also again promised to make him into a great nation. Then Jacob, his sons and grandsons and his daughters and granddaughters – all his offspring set out for Egypt. This morning we will continue to see God’s blessings poured out on Jacob and his family, but these blessings were not given to them to be hoarded. These blessings were given to fulfill Genesis 12:2-3 which says, “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. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” God’s blessings to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the nation of Israel were to be used to bless all peoples on earth. God’s blessings to us are also to be used to bless those on the earth around us which brings us to our big idea this morning that God blesses his people so that they will be a blessing to the world. Later on, we will talk about ways that we can be a blessing to those around us, especially those who are far from Jesus and are in need of a Savior.

As we think on that big idea and before we study our scripture this morning, let’s pray: Good and Generous Heavenly Father, we thank you for the many blessings that you pour out on us every day. Just waking up and taking our first breath of the day should cause us to worship you and give you praise. Fill us with your Holy Spirit this morning and give us insight as we open your Word. May your Word transform us and may we obey your commands found in it. I pray that we would not hoard your blessings for ourselves or for our church but that we would take your blessings given to us and pour them out on others especially those who do not know you which in turn would cause them to look to you as their Lord and Savior. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

There are two points this morning. The first is Preparation found in Genesis 46:28-34. Follow along as I read those verses. This is what God’s Word says, “Now Jacob sent Judah ahead of him to Joseph, to guide him to Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen. Joseph prepared his chariot and went up to Goshen to meet his father Israel; as soon as he appeared to him, Joseph threw himself on his neck and wept on his neck a long time. Then Israel said to Joseph, “Now let me die, since I have seen your face, that you are still alive.” But Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I will go up and tell Pharaoh, and will say to him, ‘My brothers and my father’s household, who were in the land of Canaan, have come to me; and the men are shepherds, for they have been keepers of livestock; and they have brought their flocks and their herds and all that they have.’ When Pharaoh calls for you and says, ‘What is your occupation?’ you shall say, ‘Your servants have been keepers of livestock since our youth even until now, both we and our fathers,’ so that you may live in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians.””

Jacob and his family have made the journey to Egypt and are ready to enter Goshen. At some point in the journey, Jacob sends Judah ahead to let Joseph know when they would be arriving. We continue to see Judah assuming the leadership and taking responsibility amongst his brothers. Back in chapter 43, it was Judah who talked Jacob into letting Benjamin go to Egypt with his own life as surety. At the end of chapter 44, it was Judah who begged Joseph to allow himself to take Benjamin’s place as his slave so that the favored son of Jacob could return home. We can now assume that Jacob and Judah are on good terms. The incident between Judah and Tamar is forgotten and Judah’s role in enslaving Joseph seemingly confessed and forgiven. Judah has proven faithful and is given the responsibility by his father to prepare the way for Jacob to meet Joseph in Goshen. This morning, I want to highlight God’s many blessings as they come up in our scripture and here is the first blessing we see. Blessing #1 is that Judah is given the leadership role and responsibility by Jacob. This leadership role would continue and culminate in Jesus Christ the Messiah coming from his tribe.

The sending of Judah to Joseph was probably some predetermined arrangement that was set up. Judah would come to Joseph and let him know that Jacob and the family had arrived in Goshen. Then Joseph would come to them and make arrangements for their settlement in the region. We notice the urgency of Joseph to see his father. He literally “harnessed” or prepared his chariot himself. Joseph was in a hurry to be reunited with his father and couldn’t wait for the servants to get his chariot ready so he did it himself. He then made the trek to Goshen to meet his father, Israel. Jacob is called Israel here because he is bringing the entirety of his family down to Egypt. The family that would, in Egypt, become the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people.

Next, we see the reunion between Jacob and Joseph. As soon as Joseph appeared to Jacob he embraced his father and wept a long time. This showed the strong attachment he had for his father. The word “appeared” subtly conveys the presence of God in this reunion which was twenty-two years in the making. Blessing #2 is Joseph being reunited with his father. There was really no expectation that they would ever see each other again, and when they do Joseph weeps for the fifth time in the narrative. Now we aren’t told that Jacob cried but we can imagine that he was probably as emotional as Joseph was; how could he not be. But we are given some insight into what was going through Israel’s mind at the time. He was now ready to die because he had seen Joseph’s face and knew that he was alive. Mathews says, “This recalls the vision of the Lord at Peniel and alludes to when he meets Esau saying “to see your face is like seeing the face of God.” This reunion with Joseph bears for Jacob the same divine significance as his reunion with Esau.” Earlier in the book of Genesis, Jacob said that he would go down to his grave in sorrow meaning that even in death he would not have peace. Jacob has been talking about death and dying for a while now but before it was all negative, now his death would be a positive thing. Jacob was resolved to see Joseph again and now that God had blessed him with this reunion he could now die in peace. Blessing #3 is that Jacob could now die in peace.

Have you ever had a desire for a resolution of something in your life, especially before you die? Maybe it’s a place you would like to visit or an activity you would want to do while you are still living. Or maybe it’s a person you would like to see one last time before you die. Maybe you have a close friend or family member who is not “born again.” They have never committed their life to Jesus as their Lord and Savior. And before you die you would like to see that resolved in their life before they die. We can all probably think of that someone right now. The question is what are we waiting for? In Matthew West’s song “While I can” he talks about the things he would do if it was his last day. The chorus goes like this: “What am I waiting for? It ain't like I'm gonna live forever I don't wanna miss it anymore So from now on it's now or never I'm gonna hold on to what matters And let the rest slip through my hands What I would do Is what I will do While I can.” This is true for that place you would like to visit or that person you would like to see one last time. Or for your friends or family members who don’t know Jesus yet. Do you really know what matters in life? What are you waiting for so that you can be at peace? That brings us to our first next step on the back of your communication card which is to go to that place, do that activity, see that person, go and tell my friends and family members about Jesus so that I can be at peace. It may be now or never so don’t wait to do the things and see the people that matter to you in this life.

Joseph informs his family that he is going to go and tell Pharaoh that they have arrived in Egypt from Canaan. He will tell Pharaoh that they are shepherds, they tend livestock, and they have brought all their flocks and herds and everything they own with them. Joseph prepares his brothers how to answer Pharaoh when he asks them what their occupation is. He tells them to say they have tended livestock just as their fathers have done before them. Joseph had an ulterior motive for having his brothers answer Pharaoh in this way. It was so Pharaoh would allow them to settle in Goshen. There were practical reasons for this, but Joseph was also thinking long term because God had given him divine insight. Practically, Goshen was the lushest part of Egypt and the perfect pastureland for their flocks and herds. Long term, it would keep the Israelites isolated and insulated from the culture and religion of the Egyptians. It was also closer to the Red Sea, so that later when the Exodus came, they would be able to make preparations to leave without prying eyes and would be closer to their “escape” route. God in his sovereignty and providence had worked out every detail. And the reason why Pharaoh would be in agreement with letting them settle in Goshen was because shepherds were detestable to Egyptians. The civilized Egyptians were mainly farmers, very good at agriculture and so looked down on nomadic shepherds. They may have considered shepherds ceremonially unclean just as the Israelites did in Jesus’ day. Pharaoh would have ample reasons to let Jacob and his family settle in Goshen.

That brings us to our second point this morning which is Presentation found in Genesis 47:1-12. Follow along as I read those verses. This is what God’s Word says, “Then Joseph went in and told Pharaoh, and said, “My father and my brothers and their flocks and their herds and all that they have, have come out of the land of Canaan; and behold, they are in the land of Goshen.” And he took five men from among his brothers and presented them to Pharaoh. Then Pharaoh said to his brothers, “What is your occupation?” So they said to Pharaoh, “Your servants are shepherds, both we and our fathers.” They also said to Pharaoh, “We have come to reside in the land, for there is no pasture for your servants’ flocks, for the famine is severe in the land of Canaan. Now, therefore, please let your servants live in the land of Goshen.” Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you. The land of Egypt is at your disposal; settle your father and your brothers in the best of the land, let them live in the land of Goshen; and if you know any capable men among them, then put them in charge of my livestock.” Then Joseph brought his father Jacob and presented him to Pharaoh; and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said to Jacob, “How many years have you lived?” So Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The years of my living abroad are 130; few and unpleasant have been the years of my life, nor have they attained the years that my fathers lived during the days of their living abroad.” So Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from his presence. Now Joseph settled his father and his brothers and gave them property in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had ordered. Joseph also provided his father and his brothers and all his father’s household with food, according to the number of their little ones.”

Joseph informs Pharaoh that his family has arrived in Goshen with their flocks and herds and everything they own. Pharaoh would have the last word on whether or not Joseph’s family were allowed to settle in Egypt. Joseph chose five of his eleven brothers and presented them before Pharaoh. We don’t know what five he chose and why he chose them but there are theories. He may have picked five instead of eleven so Pharaoh wouldn’t have any fears of a growing tribe. Five would remind the first hearers of five times the portions given to Benjamin and or that there were five years left of famine. Hamilton quotes Speiser saying, “He may have wanted to make a good impression on Pharaoh so chose the most outstanding brothers.” Hamilton goes on to say that “Rabbinic tradition says the opposite. That he took more inferior and less formidable brothers so that Pharaoh would not possibly conscript them into his army. According to that tradition, Joseph took Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Benjamin and Issachar.

Just as Joseph prepped the brothers, Pharaoh asked them what their occupation was. The brothers say they are shepherds as their fathers were before them. They added that they have come to Egypt to live for a while because the famine was severe in the land of Canaan and there was no pastureland for their flocks and herds. They humbly asked Pharaoh to allow them to settle in Goshen. The brothers would not be a burden on the state as they brought their own flocks and herds. They just wanted to be able to live in Goshen during the famine where they would have enough food for their families and their animals. Once they were finished addressing Pharaoh, notice that Pharaoh did not answer the brothers but addressed Joseph. Joseph was his second-in-command and would be the one to implement whatever decision Pharaoh made. He told Joseph that the entire land of Egypt was open before him and he could settle his father and brothers in the best part of the land which was Goshen. Blessing #4 is Pharaoh allows Joseph to settle his family in Goshen. But God’s blessings to the brothers didn’t stop there. If any of his brothers were capable men who had special ability, they were to be put in charge of Pharoah’s own livestock. This was Blessing #5. It was important that Pharaoh was the one who made this decision to settle Joseph’s family in Goshen. Ross says, “The detailed presentation of his family to Pharaoh was to show the settlement of Jacob’s family and the provision made during the famine was done expressly on Pharaoh’s guarantee. Pharaoh provided land and food for Jacob’s family attributable to Joseph’s wisdom.”

Joseph then presented his father Jacob to Pharaoh and we see Blessing #6 as Jacob immediately blesses him. Blessing was usually given by the greater to the lesser as in father to a son or king to a subject. God allowed Jacob to bless Pharaoh who would have been considered superior. Jacob expressed his faith in God’s promises and acted on the promise that all peoples on earth would be blessed through him and his offspring as seen in Genesis 12:2-3 and 28:14. Jacob would have been extremely grateful to Pharaoh for what he had done for Joseph and his family and it was only appropriate for Jacob to bless him. Gangel & Bramer quoting Oswalt says, “To bless someone is “to endue with power for success, prosperity, fertility, longevity, etc.” After Jacob blessed Pharaoh, Pharaoh, out of respect for Jacob’s long life, asked him how old he was. People did not live that long in the ancient Near East and Pharaoh had probably never seen anyone as old as Jacob. Pharoah would have been fascinated and impressed with his old age. Jacob replies that the years of his living abroad have been 130 years. God had blessed Jacob with long life just as he did for his father before him and his father before him. In the NIV, Jacob calls his life a pilgrimage meaning he didn’t have a place on this earth to call home. He had moved from place to place all his life. But he was looking forward to the Promised Land that God had given to his descendants. The patriarchs were pilgrims and strangers on the earth just as we are. This world was not their home just as this world is not our home. Heaven was their eternal home and one day will be ours, as well.

Jacob described his pilgrimage as few and difficult. Few because his father and grandfather lived longer than he was old at the time. Jacob unbeknownst to himself would live for another 17 years for a total of 147 years, but Isaac lived to be 180 and Abraham lived to be 175 years old. Jacob also described his pilgrimage as unpleasant or difficult which literally means “evil.” As Jacob looked back upon his life, he remembered the difficulties that he lived through. Some were of his own making, some were of other’s making and some were just part of living in a sinful world. Jacob then blesses Pharaoh again and leaves his presence. Joseph fulfilled Pharaoh’s directive for his family and settled them in the best part of the land, the district of Rameses. Most commentaries say that this reference to Rameses was an editorial note by the author distinguishing Rameses as the name for Goshen in Moses’ time. Joseph not only settled them in the best part of the land; he also granted them property there which is Blessing #7. It was like having a deed to the land; a permanent inheritance, which was above and beyond what Pharaoh had directed. Lastly, Joseph also provided his family with food as well as land. This is Blessing #8. Joseph did this according to the number of children in each household, meaning he was looking ahead to future generations. The people of Israel would spend the next four hundred years in Egypt before Moses would bring them out of slavery into the Promised Land.

As I conclude I want to tell the rest of the stories from the beginning of the sermon. The rest of the story from Mark Batterson about Handel’s Messiah is this: Messiah debuted as an Easter offering at the Great Music Hall in Dublin, Ireland, on April 13, 1742. The music mesmerized its listeners, but it accomplished so much more than that. It wasn’t just a concert; it was a benefit concert. That inaugural performance raised £400—$86,000 in today’s dollars! And that £400 was used to free 142 men from debtors’ prison. That is what qualifies Messiah as a double blessing. The first blessing was beautiful music that inspired the soul. The second blessing was setting 142 captives free!

The rest of the story from and 2 Kings 7 is this: But then their consciences began to gnaw at them. They said, “We’re not doing right. This is a day of good news, but we are keeping silent” (2 Kings 7:9). So they went and told the starving city where they could find abundant supplies to satisfy their needs. That story illustrates the main message of Zechariah 8, summed up by the Lord’s words in verse 13: “I will save you that you may become a blessing.” God’s people are blessed to bless others. God pours out His grace on us so that we will slop it over on others who are starving and dying without hope.

An African proverb states, “There is only one crime worse than murder on the desert, and that is to know where the water is and not tell.” God has led us to Christ, the living water. He has blessed us with His salvation and He promises to bless us even more abundantly in the future. But He didn’t save us so that we can sit in the lifeboat feeling warm and cozy, oblivious to the lost of the world. He saved us so that we may become a blessing to others. If you’re saved, but you don’t have your focus on blessing others, you’ve only got half the picture. He blessed you so that you may become a blessing.

What are some ways that we who are blessed by God can be a blessing to others? Here’s ten: The first way you can bless someone else is with words of encouragement. Our words can bring someone down or lift someone up. The second way is by helping someone who is going through a tough time. They may be going through the loss of a family member, loss of a job, a difficult pregnancy or birth, surgery or treatment for a disease. You could make and take them a meal, pick up and or pay for their groceries, offer to clean their house or babysit for them. The third way is like the second which is to also make an effort to listen well and be compassionate to those who are going through a tough time. The fourth way is to give your companionship or company. There may be someone you know who is lonely and needs someone to just visit with them. It may be an older family member, or someone in the hospital or someone who is shut-in and can’t get outside for whatever reason. The fifth way is to share your bounty with others. You may have had a big harvest in your garden or have received an unexpected bonus at work. You could share your bounty with others.

The sixth way is to teach someone something they want to learn. It may be teaching someone how to can or sew. It may be teaching someone how to use the internet or how to use a smartphone. It may be teaching someone how to play an instrument like the piano, guitar or drums. The seventh way is to pray with or for someone. Praying with and for someone can be comforting and encouraging to them. The eighth way is to give your undivided attention to someone. We can put down whatever is distracting us from paying attention to the person who is in front of us. The ninth way is to provide support for the journey someone is on. They may be trying to lose weight or find a new job. They may be going back to school or recovering from a long illness or an addiction. You can give words of affirmation and help to keep them accountable on their journey. The final way is to forgive and give grace. We are all human and fail and fall into sin. God forgave us and showed us grace and mercy. We can extend forgiveness, grace and mercy to someone who has let us down or sinned against us as well. That brings us to the second next step on the back of your communication card this morning which is to choose one of the ten ways to bless someone and bless them this week.

As the Ushers prepare to collect the tithes and offerings and as the Praise Team prepares to lead us in a final song, let’s pray: Lord, as we leave this place may we hide your Word in our hearts and may we allow it to transform us according to your will. Help us to resolve to go to that place, do that activity, see that person and especially go and tell our friends and family members who don’t have a relationship with your son about your son Jesus so that we can be at peace. Also, help us to not hoard the blessings that you give us but to choose to bless others the way that you have blessed us for your honor and your glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.



The Guidance of God

(Genesis 46:1-27)



“‘Pastor, could I talk to you for a minute?’


Her voice was low; she wasn't sure of herself. She looked to be in her early 20s, a girl I'd never seen at our church before.


It was my first year as senior pastor at Full Gospel Tabernacle in downtown Fresno, California. I was greeting people after the Wednesday night Bible study.


‘What can I do for you?’


‘Would you please talk with my husband? He moved out from our home and into an apartment with two women. I don't know what to do.’


‘Is he a Christian?’


‘He's the one who led me to a relationship with Christ.’


‘I'll be glad to talk with him. How can I get in touch with him?’

‘That's the problem. I can't reach him. If he wants to talk, he calls me.’


There was little I could do. I asked her to have him call me if he talked with her again.


I remember the look of despair in her eyes as she walked away.


Friday was my day off. I got up early. We were landscaping our front yard, and I wanted it finished. By late morning the end was in sight. It was hot. I was muddy, aching, and thoroughly tired of the whole project. To add to my woes, I ran out of ornamental plants. I drove to the store for more.


The first store had the right kind, but the price had gone up. A store a mile down the road had them, and the price was right. I loaded my cart and headed to the checkout.


As I waited in line, I glanced at the cashier's nametag. It looked familiar.


As he began to ring up the plants, I motioned to his nametag.


‘Is that your name?’ (Dumb question, but I wanted to be sure.)


He looked at me blankly, going on full ‘village idiot’ alert. ‘Yes.’


‘Are you married to ________?’ and I named the woman who had talked with me on Wednesday night.


He looked wary. ‘Yes?’


I drew myself up to my full 6 feet 5 inches—unshaven, messy, sweaty, and muddy. I gave him my happiest smile.


‘God has sent me here to talk to you about your marriage.’


Some 300,000 people lived in the Fresno area then. Out of all of them, the first person I had talked to—other than family and staff—since Wednesday night was this husband.


In a lifetime of seeking to be led by the Lord, that is the most powerful example I have experienced. I had heard many stories of people led by the Spirit to go to unusual places or to say unusual things. I always wondered what that would be like. At times I've really needed guidance and have prayed earnestly for it. God has helped me. But my unerring, no-wasted-step trip to that husband remains my most remarkable example. Not only was I not trying to be led, I wasn't conscious of God's leading. I just wanted the yard finished.”


Used by permission of author


Source: C. David Gable, "He Leadeth Me," Pentecostal Evangel (5-30-10), p. 15.





  • ME

    • God’s guidance

        • On Wednesday I was at a follow up meeting for Revival on the Farm

        • The meeting wasn’t over and they were planning to spend some time in prayer

        • I didn’t want to leave before the prayer time, but I was sensing that I needed to leave

        • So, I excused myself and drove back to the church

        • As I was walking from the garage to the church, I noticed that someone I recognized was entering the church

        • It was the person I have been working with to organize the Romanian Orphan’s Choir

        • She asked me if I had gotten her message about coming to the church at that time

        • I told her that I hadn’t gotten her message, because she had called after hours and I had stepped in to my office just to pick up a file before leaving for the follow up meeting

        • God had prompted me to leave the meeting, because he knew that this individual was coming and I wasn’t aware of it

        • God’s guidance is incredible!


  • WE

    • Perhaps all of us can remember a time when we knew that God was guiding us – especially after we were obedient to His prompting


Jacob was getting ready to leave the Promised Land for Egypt, but as he approached the border, he took time to offer sacrifices to God and seek His will. ​​ He received assurance that God was guiding him to Egypt and had His blessing to continue. ​​ Jacob sought the will of God and was able to trust Him to guide them as they traveled to Egypt. ​​ We can do the same thing, which brings us to our Big Idea, that . . .


BIG IDEA – We can trust God to guide us when we seek His will.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (Genesis 46:1-27)

    • God’s guidance (vv. 1-4)

        • Last week

          • Jacob was convinced that Joseph was alive

          • He is willing to go to Egypt and see him before he dies

        • Israel leaves for Egypt

          • We can assume that Israel/Jacob is still living in Hebron (Gen. 35:27; 37:14) [show map]

          • He leaves there and travels several days before reaching Beersheba (be-ayr’ sheh’-vah)

            • He stopped there momentarily

            • It was about 20 miles southwest of Hebron

            • This was the southernmost town in Canaan

            • It was a significant town for Jacob’s family

              • His grandfather, Abraham, had planted a tamarisk tree there and called on the Lord (Gen. 21:33)

              • His father, Isaac, had also called on the Lord there and built an altar (Gen. 26:23-25)

              • Jacob stopped there and sacrificed to the God of his father Isaac

          • Before leaving Canaan/The Promised Land, Israel/Jacob wanted to make sure that he was following God’s plan and not his own wishes or desires

        • Seeking guidance

          • The purpose of offering sacrifices to God was perhaps to seek the guidance and wisdom of God

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – “Don’t be afraid to confirm God’s leading in the midst of puzzling circumstances.” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer, 364]

            • If you remember, Jacob was living under the assumption, for the last twenty-two years, that Joseph had been devoured by a wild animal and was no longer alive

              • His sons had confessed that Joseph was still alive, second in command of Egypt, and wanted them all to come live with him there

              • Jacob grew numb at hearing the news

              • He probably never expected to see Joseph again

            • Israel/Jacob wanted to know the will of God for him

            • “It’s good to ask for God’s special help and blessing when we’re about to enter a new phase in life.” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Pentateuch, 161]

            • Application

              • Are you currently facing a change in your life – a new phase in your life?

                • Perhaps it’s a new relationship

                • Maybe it has to do with your occupation (needing a job, wanting a different job, etc.)

                • The change could be concerning your education

                • Others may be dealing with a change, financially

              • Have you already made the move or are you still considering it?

              • You may be on the border, about to make the change

              • Now is the time to stop momentarily and confirm God’s leading

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Ask the Lord to confirm His leading, about a change in my life, so I can experience His help and blessing.

          • We can trust God to guide us when we seek His will.

          • When we seek God’s will, He will answer

        • God’s promise

          • God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and used his given name, Jacob

          • “This last recorded speech of God to the patriarchs forms a preview of Israel’s sacred history in the land of Egypt. ​​ The next recorded special revelation will be to Moses at the burning bush (Ex. 3:1-4:17), about 430 years later (Ex. 12:40).” ​​ [Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 573]

          • Jacob is attentive to the voice of God – he is listening

          • We need to be attentive to the voice of God also, especially if we are seeking His will

          • After identifying Himself, God encourages Jacob

            • Don’t be afraid to go down to Egypt, because I will fulfill the promise there that I made to you, your father and grandfather

              • Perhaps Jacob was fearful about going to Egypt because of the difficulties his grandfather, Abraham had experienced (Gen. 12:10-13:1)

              • “Keep close to God, and then you need fear nothing.” ​​ [Joseph Eliot cited by Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 826]

              • He may have recalled God’s prohibition for his father, Isaac concerning Egypt (Gen. 26:2)

              • ​​ “What God denied Isaac he permits for Jacob. ​​ For Isaac Egypt was off-limits. ​​ For Jacob Egypt is the land in which God will bless Jacob and his progeny, and form them into a nation. ​​ Thus the sojourn of Jacob and his family to Egypt is not in fundamental opposition to God’s purposes. ​​ Rather, the sojourn is part of the development of God’s plan for this chosen family, first articulated to Abraham in 12:1ff.” ​​ [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 590-91]

            • God had promised to make Abraham’s descendants into a great nation

              • Genesis 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.”

              • Genesis 17:6, I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you.

              • Genesis 18:18, Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.

              • Jacob is given the same promise when is fleeing Esau

              • Genesis 28:14, 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.

            • “The promise of Jacob recalls the ominous prediction given to Abraham, also in a night vision: ‘Your descendants will be strangers [gēr] in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years’ (15:13).” ​​ [Mathews, 821]

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – God keeps His promises!

            • God had kept His promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob up to this point

            • Jacob could trust that He would keep His promise again

            • We can trust that God will keep His promises to us also

        • God’s presence

          • God promises His presence with Jacob as he enters Egypt

            • He not only promised his presence going to Egypt, but also in bringing him back from Egypt

            • Jacob knew that God would keep this promise, because He had already done it once before

            • At Bethel, God met with Jacob and promised to watch over him wherever he went

            • Genesis 28:15, “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.”

              • God had made this promise to Jacob as he was fleeing to Haran

              • Twenty-two years later He was still with him and had brought him back to the Promised Land

              • Genesis 31:3, Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.”

            • Jacob had confidence that God would once again go with him to a foreign land and bring him back to the Promised Land

            • He knew from experience that God is not limited by geography – He is omnipresent

          • We know from the last half of verse 4 that Jacob would be returning to Canaan in a coffin or sarcophagus, because Joseph would be there to close his eyes after he had died

          • Application

            • PRINCIPLE #3 – God promises to go with us wherever we go, when we go according to His will.

              • If you have asked the Lord about that new relationship you are interested in pursuing and He has confirmed His leading, then He will go with you into that relationship

              • If you have consulted the Lord about that new job and He has confirmed His leading, then He will go with you as you start that new job

              • If you have sought the Lord’s leading about your schooling and He has confirmed it, then know that He will be going with you to that school

              • If you have asked the Lord about that financial decision and He has confirmed His leading, then trust that He will be with you as you move forward

              • In whatever decisions you need to make, when you consult the Lord and receive His leading, then you can be confident that He will go with you

            • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Trust in God’s presence with me after I have consulted Him and received His leading.

            • We can trust God to guide us when we seek His will.

        • After a momentary stop at Beersheba (be-ayr’ sheh’-vah), Jacob continues his journey to Egypt

    • God’s grace (vv. 5-27)

        • Jacob’s sons used the carts that Pharaoh had provided to transport their father, wives, and children

        • They took with them two things (goods/group; clutter/clan; possessions/people; holdings/household)

          • Their goods

            • Livestock

            • Possessions

              • Last week I asked you if you had ever had the privilege of living in a fully furnish apartment or house

              • While that can be exciting, short-term, most of us find comfort in our own things

              • Perhaps that is what Jacob and his household were thinking

              • Jacob realized this was not going to be a short-term visit when the Lord told him that He would make him into a great nation there

              • Israel would become a great nation while they were in Egypt

              • “Egypt will become the womb for this great nation.” ​​ [Hamilton, 591]

              • We know from the promise to Abraham in Genesis 15:13 that the Israelites are going to be there at least 400 years

            • They not only took their goods, but also their group

          • Their group

            • Summary

              • Very generally, Jacob and all his offspring

              • Generally, his sons and grandsons and his daughters and granddaughters

            • Specifics

              • In verses 8-25 we are given the specifics of who went to Egypt in a genealogy structured around the two wives and their handmaidens

              • Leah’s (lay-aw’) [weary] children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren

                • Reuben (reh-oo-vane’) [behold a son]

                  • Hanoch (khan-oke’) [dedicated]

                  • Pallu (pal-loo’) [distinguished]

                  • Hezron (khets-rone’) [surrounded by a wall]

                  • Carmi (care-mee’) [my vineyard]

                • Simeon (shim-own’) [heard]

                  • Jemuel (yem-oo-ale’) [day of God]

                  • Jamin (yaw-meen’) [right hand]

                  • Ohad (o’-had) [united]

                  • Jakin (yaw-keen’) [He will establish]

                  • Zohar (tso’-khar) [tawny]

                  • Shaul (shaw-ool’) [desired]

                • Levi (lay-vee’) [joined to]

                  • Gershon (gay-resh-own’) [exile]

                  • Kohath (keh-hawth’) [assembly]

                  • Merari (mer-aw-ree’) [bitter]

                • Judah (yeh-hoo-daw’) [praised]

                  • Er (ayr) [awake] {died in Canaan}

                  • Onan (o-nawn’) [strong] {died in Canaan}

                  • Shelah (shay-law’) [a petition]

                  • Perez (peh’-rets) [breach]

                  • Zerah (reh’-rakh) [rising]

                  • Hezron (khets-rone’) [surrounded by a wall] {son of Perez}

                  • Hamul (khaw-mool’) [spared] {son of Perez}

                • Issachar (yis-sauce-har’) [there is recompense]

                  • Tola (toe-law’) [worm]

                  • Puah (poo-aw’) [splendid]

                  • Jashub (yove/yaw-shuv’) [persecuted]

                  • Shimron (shim-rone’) [watch-height]

                • Zebulun (zev-oo-loon’) [exalted]

                  • Sered (she’-red) [fear]

                  • Elon (ay-lone’) [terebinth, mighty]

                  • Jahleel (yakh-leh-ale’) [God waits]

                • These sons and Dinah (dee-naw’) [judgment] were born to Jacob in Paddan Aram

                • They totaled thirty-three in all

              • Zilpah’s (zil-paw) [a trickling] children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren

                • Gad (gawd) [troop]

                  • Zephon (tsif-yone’) [lookout]

                  • Haggi (khag-ghee’) [festive]

                  • Shuni (shoo-nee’) [fortunate]

                  • Ezbon (ez-vone’) [hasting to discern: I will be enlargement]

                  • Eri (air-ree’) [watchful]

                  • Arodi (air-road’) [I shall subdue: I shall roam]

                  • Areli (air-ay-lee’) [lion of God]

                • Asher (aw-share’) [happy]

                  • Imnah (yim-naw’) [right hand]

                  • Ishvah (yish-vaw’) [he will resemble]

                  • Ishvi (yish-vee’) [he resembles me]

                  • Beriah (bear-ee’-aw) [with a friend]

                  • Serah (seh’-rack) [the prince breathed] {sister}

                  • Heber (kheh-ver) [comrade] {son of Beriah}

                  • Malkiel (mal-kee-ale’) [my king is God] {son of Beriah}

                • Zilpah was Leah’s handmaiden

                • They totaled sixteen in all

              • Rachel’s (raw-khale’) [ewe] children and grandchildren (she is the only one identified as his wife in this genealogy)

                • Joseph (yo-safe’) [Jehovah has added]

                  • Manasseh (men-ash-sheh’) [causing to forget]

                  • Ephraim (ef-rah’-yim) [double ash-heap: I shall be double fruitful]

                  • Born to Joseph by Asenath (aw-say-nath’) [belonging to the goddess Neith] daughter of Potiphera (po-tee feh’-rah) [he whom the Ra gave], priest of On (Heliopolis)

                • Benjamin (bin-yaw-mene’) [son of the right hand]

                  • Bela (beh’-lah) [destruction]

                  • Beker (beh’ker) [young camel]

                  • Ashbel (ash-bale’) [a man in God; a man of Baal; fire of Bel; I will make a path]

                  • Gera (gay-raw’) [a grain]

                  • Naaman (nah-am-awn’) [pleasantness]

                  • Ehi (ay-khee’) [my brother]

                  • Rosh (roshe) [head]

                  • Muppim (mop-peem’) [serpent]

                  • Huppim (khoop-peem’) [protected]

                  • Ard (aired) [I shall subdue]

                • They totaled fourteen in all

              • Bilhah’s (bil-haw’) [troubled] children and grandchildren

                • Dan (dawn) [a judge]

                  • Hushim (khoo-sheem’) [who makes haste]

                • Naphtali (naf-taw-lee’) [wrestling]

                  • Jahziel (yakh-tseh-ale’) [God divides]

                  • Guni (goo-nee’) [my defender (?)]

                  • Jezer (yate-ser) [forming]

                  • Shillem (shil-lame’) [repaid]

                • Bilhah was Rachel’s handmaiden

                • They totaled seven in all

            • Totals

              • The total of Jacob’s direct descendants, not counting his sons’ wives, that went to Egypt was 66

              • Including Joseph, his two sons, and himself brings the total to 70 in all who started out in Egypt

              • We see this same number of 70 in the beginning of Exodus (1:5)

              • “It may be best to consider the list in Genesis 46 as a document listing those who are considered charter members of the Goshen settlement (similar to the list that serves as a foundation for the Society of Mayflower Descendants) rather than something like an airplane’s manifest or a census document. ​​ That this is the case is indicated somewhat in the text itself as it notes that the number does not include the sons’ wives (46:26). ​​ They would have physically participated in the journey and resettlement, but their charter status is represented in their husbands.” ​​ [Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 686]

              • Total leaving Egypt 430 years later was 600,000 men on foot, besides women and children (Exodus 12:37) – so potentially 2 million in total

        • God’s grace was with Jacob as he left Beersheba and entered Egypt


  • YOU

    • Are you ready to ask the Lord to confirm His leading, about a change in your life, so you can experience His help and blessing?

    • Do you need to trust in God’s presence with you after you have consulted Him and received His leading?


  • WE

    • We need to ask the Lord to confirm His leading about Idaville Church, so we can experience His help and blessing

    • We need to trust that God is with us after we have consulted Him and received His leading



“Wishing to encourage her young son’s progress on the piano, a mother took him to a Paderewski concert. ​​ After they were seated, the mother spotted a friend in the audience and walked down the aisle to greet her. ​​ Seizing the opportunity to explore the wonders of the concert hall, the little boy eventually explored his way through a door marked ‘NO ADMITTANCE.’


When the house lights dimmed and the concert was about to begin, the mother returned to her seat and discovered that the child was missing. ​​ Suddenly, the curtains lifted and spotlights focused on the impressive Steinway on stage. ​​ In horror, the mother saw her little boy sitting at the keyboard, picking out ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.’


At that moment the great piano master made his entrance, quickly moved to the piano, and whispered in the boy’s ear, ‘Keep playing.’ ​​ Then Paderewski reached down with his left hand and began filling in the bass part on the piano. ​​ Soon his right arm reached around to the other side of the child as he added a running obbligato. ​​ Together, the old master and the young novice transformed a frightening situation into a wonderfully creative experience. ​​ The audience was mesmerized.


That’s the way it is with God. ​​ What we can accomplish on our own is less than noteworthy. ​​ We try our best, but the results aren’t exactly graceful, flowing music. ​​ But with the hand of the Master, our life’s work can be beautiful. ​​ Next time you set out to accomplish great feats, listen carefully. ​​ You can hear the voice of the Master, whispering in your ear, ‘Keep playing.’ ​​ Feel his loving arms around you. ​​ Know that his strong hands are there to help you turn your feeble attempts into a true masterpiece.


God doesn’t call the equipped; he equips the called. ​​ And he’ll always be there to love you and to guide you on to great things. ​​ Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. ​​ And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace.


Jacob did not expect to see his son Joseph again, but now he would because God did not ‘stop playing.’ ​​ God will make something out of our lives if we remain faithful to him.”


[Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 357].




The Goodness of God

(Genesis 45:16-28)



“When the Ku Waru warriors of Papua New Guinea were about to launch any risky activity that required close cooperation—like going into battle—they first took time to set themselves right. Not only overt actions, but even hidden feelings had to be revealed.


The Ku Waru men would go to a secluded spot in the jungle, kill and roast pigs, and as they shared the meal, confess to each other the items they had stolen and the animals they had mistreated. But there was still more on the agenda. The Ku Waru believed that feelings such as anger or jealousy would sap their strength and cause them to be wounded or even killed. Only through confession could these pent-up negative emotions be neutralized.


[The Ku Waru understand an important truth.] Only by facing our faults, misdeeds, and hateful or jealous thoughts can we be made whole again. Only then can they, and we, be at full strength and ready to face a marauding tribe … or the kids at home.”


Source: Paul Wilkes, The Art of Confession (Workman Publishing Company, 2012), pp. 24-25.





  • ME

    • Confession

        • On Tuesday evening at Revival on the Farm, Pastor Mark Ostby guided us in several prayers to the Lord confessing how we have grieved the Holy Spirit

        • After we spent that time alone with the Lord, he encouraged men to find another man, and women to find another woman and confess one of the sins we prayed about to that individual

        • After confessing, the other person would say, “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses you from all sin.” ​​ Then they would pray for a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit in the person’s life

        • This was an incredibly beautiful exercise

        • James 5:16, Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. ​​ The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.


  • WE

    • Confession

        • Perhaps every one of us has experienced forgiveness when we have confessed our sins to those we have hurt, lied to, cheated, etc.

        • How many of us have also experienced God’s goodness after confessing and receiving forgiveness?


Last week we learned that Joseph finally revealed himself to his brothers. ​​ Pharaoh hears about Joseph’s brothers and offers them the best that Egypt has to offer, as well as provisions and resources to relocate them to Egypt. ​​ Joseph’s brothers experienced the goodness of God through Pharaoh and Joseph after they confessed their wrongdoing and received forgiveness. ​​ That is our Big Idea today, that . . .


BIG IDEA – We can experience the goodness of God when we confess and seek forgiveness.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (Genesis 45:16-28)

    • In Egypt (vv. 16-24)

        • Reaction of Pharaoh and his officials (v. 16)

          • Obviously the attendants that Joseph asked to leave in verse 1 were aware of what had transpired and subsequently told Pharaoh

          • They figured out that the men Joseph had been courting were his brothers

          • Pharaoh and his officials were pleased to hear about Joseph’s family coming

            • “Were pleased” can be translated literally as “it was good in the eyes of Pharaoh and his officials”

            • “Pharaoh and his courtiers favor Joseph’s family because they look upon Joseph with favor (contra Ex. 1:8).” ​​ [Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 571]

            • Remember, Joseph was able to interpret Pharaoh’s dream and then recommended a course of action, which Pharaoh and his officials accepted (Gen. 41:1-40)

            • They put Joseph in charge of the plan and he executed the plan perfectly, saving not only all Egypt, but also the surrounding countries (Gen. 41:41-57)

            • It was not wonder that the news about Joseph’s brothers coming, was good in their eyes

            • All they know about Joseph’s family is what they had experienced with him and it had been very positive

            • They probably assumed that the rest of his brothers had the same kind of character as him

          • Hopefully, others view our family the same way, because of the kind of character we have exhibited

          • Pharaoh gave Joseph two directives for his brothers and through this we see Pharaoh’s generosity

        • Pharaoh’s generosity (vv. 17-20)

          • First directive with a promise

            • Their responsibility

              • Load your animals

                • Obviously Joseph’s brothers had brought their own donkeys to carry back more grain for their households

                • They had loaded them down with the best products of the land of Canaan (balm, honey, spices, myrrh, pistachio nuts, and almonds) as gift

                • They were simply reloading what had been given to them before they were detained

              • Return to Canaan

              • Bring your father and your families back to me

            • Pharaoh’s promise

              • I will give you the best of the land of Egypt

                • Joseph already had in mind where he wanted them to settle

                • As shepherds, they would need plenty of pasture land

                • Joseph had already chosen Goshen as the best place for his family to settle

                • We will see all of this unfold in the coming weeks

              • You can enjoy the fat of the land

                • The Hebrew word for enjoy, literally means “to eat”

                • “Fat of the land” is referring to the “finest products of harvest” [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 818]

                • They were going to be enjoying the finest food of the land

                • When I was growing up in Alabama, my parents had befriended a couple who had emigrated from Europe. ​​ He was a classically trained chef and was opening a restaurant in Birmingham. ​​ Our family was invited to the grand opening. ​​ That was probably the first time I had eaten high quality, fine food. ​​ The memory I have of the meal was that I ate asparagus and liked it. ​​ I had eaten asparagus before and did not like it.

              • What an incredible promise from Pharaoh

            • Pharaoh had a second directive with a promise

          • Second directive with a promise

            • Their responsibility

              • Take some carts from Egypt for your children and wives

              • Get your father and come back to Egypt

              • Don’t worry about your belongings

            • Pharaoh’s promise

              • The best of Egypt will be yours

              • Jacob and his sons were not only going to have the best pasture lands for their flocks and herds and the finest food to eat from the harvest, but also whatever belongings they needed would be provided by Pharaoh

              • Have you ever lived in a fully furnished house or apartment (Judy and I did right after Wade was born and before we moved back to Ohio from Florida)

            • They were going to experience the goodness of God through the generosity of Pharaoh

            • I’m certain that Joseph’s brothers were grateful they were related to him at this point

              • How many stories have we heard about long, lost family members who finally found their relative who recently won the lottery

              • We know of athletes who have provided houses and vehicles for their family members once they made it to the highest level of their sport

              • Celebrities and entertainers have also done the same thing

              • Those family members are probably grateful to be related to them

              • That’s probably how Joseph’s brothers felt at this point

              • They were experiencing the goodness of God, because of Joseph

            • We can experience the goodness of God when we confess and seek forgiveness.

          • Application

            • The only reason Joseph revealed himself to his brothers is because he had tested them and saw that they had changed

              • They were repentant for what they had done to him

              • Judah had confessed that God had uncovered their guilt (Gen. 44:16)

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – God forgives us and extends His goodness to us even though we have sinned.

              • That is exactly what Joseph’s brothers were experiencing

                • Joseph had forgiven them

                • God had forgiven them

                • Now they were going to be taken care of, royally, until the severe famine ended

              • We can experience God’s goodness when we confess our sins and accept His forgiveness

                • The goodness of God looks different for each person

                • We may not be given the best pasture lands, the finest food, or have all of our belongings provided for us

                • Instead, we may experience God’s goodness through restored relationships, health, jobs, scholarships, opportunities, etc.

              • Sometimes we struggle with accepting God’s forgiveness or the forgiveness of others, but don’t let Satan have the victory

              • 1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Accept God’s forgiveness, so I can experience His goodness.

          • Pharaoh was very generous, but Joseph was also

        • Joseph’s generosity (vv. 21-23)

          • Joseph did as Pharaoh had instructed him

            • He gave them carts

            • He gave them provisions for their journey

          • Joseph added to what Pharaoh had directed him to do

            • He gave each of his brothers a set of new clothing

              • The clothing described here was not every day wear

              • It was festival clothing, dress clothes to be worn on special occasions

              • “The brothers had taken Joseph’s robe from him when they sold him to the merchants (37:23), but he gave each of them new clothes to wear. ​​ In Scripture, a change of clothes is often the sign of a new beginning (35:1-7; 41:14), and this was certainly a new beginning for Jacob’s eleven sons.” [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Old Testament, Pentateuch, 160]

            • He gave Benjamin five sets of festival clothing and 300 shekels of silver

              • This is reminiscent of how Joseph treated Benjamin at the banquet, where he gave him five times the amount of food

              • Three hundred shekels of silver would be about 7.5 pounds of silver

                • For reference let me share several items that weigh around 7 pounds (Persian cat, 24-inch LED monitor, Big-sized melon, Cordless drills, 3 bags of sugar, 3 liters of vegetable oil, Telecaster guitar, Small sledge hammer, Pomeranian dog, Electric hand planer)

                • []

              • The narrator does not indicate that this favoritism of Benjamin caused his brothers to fall back into anger, jealousy, and rage

                • Perhaps they were just grateful for God’s goodness to them through Pharaoh and Joseph

                • They had changed and grown since they sold Joseph into slavery

                • “The brothers have learned the lesson of sovereign grace and are now above petty jealousy. ​​ Even after Joseph gave Benjamin five times as much food (43:34), they were still willing to be enslaved for him (44:13).” ​​ [Waltke, 572]

              • While Joseph gave some gifts to his brothers, he also prepared some items for his father

            • Joseph’s gifts to his father

              • Ten donkeys loaded with the best things of Egypt

                • We are not told what these items are

                • We can assume it is probably not food, since the ten female donkeys are carrying those items

              • Ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and other provisions for his journey

                • The food being carried by these donkeys was to be used for their journey back to Egypt

                • The grain that each of the brothers donkeys were carrying would have been for their trip to Canaan and for food while they prepared to move

              • So Jacob was receiving 20 donkeys, some of the best things of Egypt, and grain, bread, and other provisions

            • Joseph added one more thing above and beyond Pharaoh’s directives

          • He had a warning for them as they traveled back to Canaan

        • Joseph’s warning (v. 24)

          • He told his brothers not to quarrel on their trip home

            • The Hebrew term for “quarrel” does not mean that, anywhere else in Scripture

            • It literally means “Do not get excited,” [Waltke, 572] or “Do not get worked up or agitated” [Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 683]

            • It can refer to being angry, excited, fearful, anxious, joyful, or sad [Walton, 683]

          • Why did Joseph give them this warning?

            • What could they possibly get excited, worked up, or agitated about, since they have just experienced the goodness of God through Pharaoh and Joseph?

            • Joseph doesn’t want them to rehash their crime of selling him into slavery

              • He had forgiven them, so they should extend forgiveness to each other

              • Read Matthew 18:21-35

              • “The matter had been settled once and for all and there was no need to discuss it or to try to fix the blame or measure the guilt.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 160]

              • Psalm 133:1, How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!

              • Jacob’s sons were going to have some explaining to do when they told their father about Joseph being alive

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – Forgiveness eliminates the need for blame and guilt.

              • Joseph wanted his brothers to forgive each other and themselves

              • Read Genesis 45:5-8a

              • Since Joseph had forgiven them, they didn’t need to point the finger at each other or feel guilty themselves

              • Neither of these is easy to do

                • When we know we have to come clean about something we did wrong, it is natural, in our humanness, to place blame on someone or something else, so we can save face

                • Satan does an excellent job of reminding us of our past sins and/or our habitual sins

                • The old adage goes, “When Satan reminds you of your past, remind him of his future.”

                • As followers of Jesus Christ, Satan has no power over us

                • When we confess our sins, God removes them

                • Psalm 103:11-12, For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

                • When we confess and seek forgiveness, then we can experience the goodness of God

              • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Embrace the forgiveness extended to me, so I can forgive others and myself.

        • After receiving the directives from Pharaoh and the warning from Joseph, the brothers left Egypt and headed for Canaan

    • In Canaan (vv. 25-28)

        • Arrival (v. 25)

          • They traveled home and met their father

          • I’m sure that Jacob was probably counting heads at this point to make sure that Benjamin and Simeon were with the other brothers

          • It is likely that Jacob’s sons shared more details than what we are given in this text

          • Perhaps what led to their announcement and confession about Joseph was the extra donkeys and carts that Jacob saw when they arrived

        • Confession (v. 26)

          • They shared that Joseph was alive and was ruler of all Egypt

          • Jacob struggled to believe what he was hearing, because he had been mourning for Joseph twenty-two years

          • Jacob realized that his sons had lied to him

            • They had broken trust with him by keeping up false pretenses for so many years

            • “But whereas he believed his sons when they were lying (37:31-35), he can’t believe them when they are telling the truth. ​​ ‘Look at what happens to a liar. ​​ Even when he tells the truth, people do not believe him’ (Gen. Rab. 94.3).” ​​ [Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament, Pentateuch, Genesis, 653]

            • PRINCIPLE #3 – Lying breaks trust.

              • Not lying is one of the Ten Commandments

              • I would venture to guess that everyone of us has lied at some point in our lives

              • There are no levels of lying (big or small)

              • If you have ever been lied to, you know how hard it is to believe that person the next time they tell you something – the question in the back of your mind is whether or not what they just told you was truthful or not

              • It takes a long time to rebuild trust once it is broken

              • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Always speak the truth.

          • Jacob was stunned

            • It can also be translated “grew cold” or “grew numb”

            • How many of us have experienced that feeling when we have heard bad news or news that is hard to believe

              • I remember feeling that way after hearing about the attacks on 9/11

              • Some of us have experienced that when we hear the news of a loved one passing away – we are never ready to hear that news

              • Others have experienced that when hearing a diagnosis about an illness

              • All of us have probably experienced that

          • Jacob did not remain in that state for very long

        • Revival (vv. 27-28)

          • PRINCIPLE #4 – Confession promotes healing.

            • Jacob’s healing seemed to come pretty quickly

            • His spirit was revived after he heard everything Joseph was promising them and saw the carts he had sent to bring them to Egypt

            • The same is true for us

              • When we confess our sins, it promotes healing

              • Healing does not always take place, unfortunately, because the other person has to be willing to forgive and move forward

              • Our job is not to bring healing, but to confess

              • Healing may take years as we remain truthful and honest

              • #4 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Help promote healing by confessing to those I have lied to or hurt, and ask for forgiveness.

          • Israel is convinced

            • The narrator uses Jacob’s new name, Israel, because that name represents strength and leadership

            • He is going to lead his family to Egypt to see Joseph before he dies

            • He is also leading his family in forgiveness

            • Israel experienced the goodness and mercy of God

            • “His life has been dominated by grief for years, but as he gets nearer the end of life, he finds relief, not because he grows out of grief but because God has mercy.” ​​ [Goldingay, 653]

            • We can experience the goodness of God when we confess and seek forgiveness.


  • YOU

    • Are you ready to accept God’s forgiveness, so you can experience His goodness?

    • Are you ready to embrace the forgiveness extended to you, so you can forgive others and yourself?

    • Are you ready to abandon lying and speak the truth at all times?

    • Are you ready to promote healing by confessing your sins and asking for forgiveness?


  • WE

    • We can experience God’s goodness when accept His forgiveness corporately

    • We can forgive others and ourselves, because of what Jesus has done for us

    • We must always speak the truth

    • We need to promote healing



“Ever since my high school buddy and I drank ourselves sick with a case of quarts, I have liked beer …. Out of the keg, tap, bottle, or frosty mug—it doesn't matter to me. I like it.


[But I also know that] alcoholism haunts my family ancestry. I have early memories of following my father through the halls of a rehab center to see his sister. Similar scenes repeated themselves with other relatives for decades. Beer doesn't mix well with my family DNA. So at the age of twenty-one, I swore off it ….


Then a few years back something resurrected my cravings …. At some point I reached for a can of brew instead of a can of soda, and as quick as you can pop the top, I was a beer fan again. A once-in-a-while … then once-a-week … then once-a-day beer fan.


I kept my preference to myself. No beer at home, lest my daughters think less of me. No beer in public. Who knows who might see me? None at home, none in public leaves only one option: convenience-store parking lots. For about a week I was that guy in the car, drinking out of the brown paper bag.


No, I don't know what resurrected my cravings, but I remember what stunted them. En route to speak at a men's retreat, I stopped for my daily purchase. I walked out of the convenience store with a beer pressed against my side, scurried to my car for fear of being seen, opened the door, climbed in, and opened the can.

Then it dawned on me. I had become the very thing I hate: a hypocrite. A pretender. Two-faced. Acting one way. Living another. I had written sermons about people like me—Christians who care more about appearance than integrity. It wasn't the beer but the cover-up that nauseated me.


[So what] happened with my hypocrisy? First I threw the can of beer in the trash. Next I sat in the car for a long time, praying. Then I scheduled a visit with our church elders. I didn't embellish or downplay my actions; I just confessed them. And they, in turn, pronounced forgiveness over me. Jim Potts, a dear, silver-haired saint, reached across the table and put his hand on my shoulder and said something like this: "What you did was wrong. But what you are doing tonight is right. God's love is great enough to cover your sin. Trust his grace."


After talking to the elders, I spoke to the church. At our midweek gathering I once again told the story. I apologized for my duplicity and requested the prayers of the congregation. What followed was a refreshing hour of confession in which other people did the same. The church was strengthened, not weakened, by our honesty.”


Source: Max Lucado, Grace (Thomas Nelson, 2012), pp. 89-91.






The following is from a November 29, 2022 article on A Texas woman who was kidnapped as a baby more than 50 years ago has been reunited with her family members thanks to a home DNA testing kit. Melissa Highsmith was just 22 months old when a babysitter allegedly kidnapped her from her parents’ Fort Worth apartment in August 1971, according to NBC Dallas-Fort Worth. Highsmith's mother, Alta Apantenco, who was working as a waitress at the time, placed an ad in a local newspaper to find childcare for her daughter. After a woman answered the ad, Mrs. Apantenco hired her without meeting her first. The woman allegedly took her daughter and never returned. Alta, and her husband, Jeffrie Highsmith, and her family members spent the next five decades searching for the missing child, even turning to social media in the digital age by creating a Facebook page called “Finding Melissa.” After a recommendation from a genealogist, the family decided to use the home DNA testing kits Ancestry and 23andMe in an effort to track down Melissa. The idea worked: A promising DNA match turned up on 23andMe. Melissa Highsmith's sister Victoria told NBC Dallas-Fort Worth that the DNA matched samples from Melissa Highsmith’s children. Her parents then provided their own DNA samples. Within three weeks, the Highsmiths were reunited with their long-lost daughter, now age 53. “It was like, ‘Boom, boom, boom,’ we found her,” Victoria Highsmith said. “I couldn’t stop crying. I was overjoyed and I’m still walking around in a fog trying to comprehend that my sister is right in front of me and that we found her,” she added. “It’s a Christmas miracle! It’s amazing meeting her. It was like looking into myself; she looks like me, like us. She’s overjoyed to be in our lives.” According to NBC Dallas-Fort Worth, Melissa Highsmith, who grew up believing her name was Melanie, lived most of her life in Fort Worth and had no idea she had been kidnapped. A spokesperson for 23andMe told NBC News that the company had never heard of an account like this one. “There are really no words to describe how incredible this story is. We are so grateful Melissa and her family were able to reunite after such a long period of time, and we wish them all the best in getting to know one another.”

This morning we are going to see another family reunion with a similar theme. It’s been twenty-two years since Joseph’s brothers kidnapped him and sold him into slavery. Their father was shown his bloody robe and thinking he had been killed by a ferocious animal, had no hope of ever seeing him again. Over the past several weeks we have followed the story as Joseph’s brothers arrived in Egypt looking to buy grain during the worldwide famine. They unknowingly encountered their brother, who was now the second-in-command of Egypt. The brothers were put through a series of tests, by God through Joseph, to remind them and convict them of their sin and bring them to repentance. These tests have reminded them of their guilt believing that God was punishing them for what they had done to their brother. Last week, Judah made an impassioned plea to take Benjamin’s place as Joseph’s slave. Judah showed how much he cared for his father, wanting to keep him from having to deal with the loss of another favored son. Judah, as the spokesperson for himself and his brothers, proved that they had changed and were sorry for what they had done to Joseph all those years ago. This morning we will see a family reunited with embracing, kissing and tears made possible because Joseph had forgiven his brothers for what they had done to him and because his brothers had repented of their sin against him. They were able to be reconciled and have true fellowship with each other once again, which brings us to the big idea this morning that Forgiveness and repentance bring reconciliation and fellowship. When we are willing to forgive and repent, we can be reconciled and have true fellowship with other human beings. And when we repent of our sins God forgives us and we can be reconciled and have true fellowship with our heavenly father.

Let’s pray: Heavenly Father, as we open your Word today, give us wisdom and insight from your Holy Spirit. Help us to grow in love for you and your Word and in wisdom and knowledge. Give us a heart for all your creation as we navigate our everyday lives on this earth you have placed us on. Help us to fall deeper in love with you as we surrender our lives to you and follow your will. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

There are three points this morning. The first is Pardoning Grace found in Genesis 45:1-4 and 14-15. Follow along as I read those verses. This is what God’s Word says, “Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!” So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it. Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence. Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 14 Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him.

As I already mentioned, Judah makes an impassioned plea on behalf of his father. He refers to him fourteen times in a loving and caring manner at the end of chapter 44. “Simply, Judah so feels for his father that he begs to sacrifice himself for a brother more loved than himself.” (Sternberg). Joseph realizes that what he has hoped for has come true. His brothers have changed. Judah is willing to become a slave to Joseph in Benjamin’s place and they care for their father, not wanting to see him hurt anymore. They have also seemingly treated Benjamin differently than they treated Joseph and there is repentance for what they had done to him. Speiser says, “Joseph’s brothers have passed a critical test which is all the more revealing since they did not know they were being tested.” That’s important, isn’t it? This showed that a true transformation had taken place in his brother’s lives. Once Joseph was convinced of their transformation, he could no longer control his emotions. In order to keep this a private family matter, he commands his Egyptian attendants to leave, and he reveals himself to them. Joseph is so overcome with emotion that he weeps tears of joy and love because he could now be reunited with his family. He wept so loudly that the Egyptians in his household, outside the room, could hear him and the news of his weeping even reached Pharoah’s household.

Joseph tells his brothers that he is their long-lost brother. He then asked them if his father was still living. This question showed his compassion toward his brothers. He didn’t want them to feel more guilty about what they had done to him, so he directed their thoughts to their father, not focusing them on himself or what they had done to him. Now this question about his father may seem strange because right before the feast in chapter 43 he had asked if his father was still living, and they answered that he was alive and well. And Joseph knows they never made it back home before being stopped and questioned about the silver cup. But this time he asks about “my father” as opposed to “your father.” He didn’t want to know literally if his father was alive or not because they had already told them he was. He wanted to know all the intimate details about his father that he had missed in the last twenty-two years.

His brothers are stunned by this revelation and are left speechless. They are terrified of him because if this is really their brother that they sold into slavery and if he is really the second-in-command of Egypt, they are terrified that he will have his revenge against them. Their guilt is brought to the surface again. Joseph, seeing the panic in their faces, tells them three things to encourage them. First, he tells them to “come close to him” so they would feel more at ease. This was in the plural meaning all his brothers. They may have been reluctant at first because Egyptians and Hebrews didn’t have close intimate contact, but he needed them to see that he was sincere and that he was one of them. Second, as they came closer to him, he again tells them that he is Joseph, and adds that he is their brother. Third, he qualifies his previous statement that he is “the one you sold into Egypt.” He didn’t do this to make them feel more guilty but to further identify who he was. This would prove who he was because no one else would have that particular information.

Moving down to verses 14 and 15, we see the pardoning grace that Joseph extended to them. He started with his full brother Benjamin. He embraced him and wept over him. And Benjamin reciprocated by embracing him and weeping over Joseph as well. He then kissed all his brothers and wept over them. His weeping showed them this was not a trap and that he held no resentment, bitterness, or grudge toward them. He had already forgiven them, and they didn’t need to feel guilty or be afraid anymore. Lastly, they were able to fellowship together and even speak to one another, which was important. Genesis 37:4 says that his brothers hated him so much that they couldn’t speak a kind word to him. Now that Joseph had forgiven them and they had repented, they could be a family again, being reconciled and enjoying fellowship together. (BIG IDEA).

Our second point this morning is Preserving Grace found in verses 5-8. This is what God’s Word says, “And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.”

Joseph didn’t want his brothers to be distressed, meaning grieved, and he didn’t want them to be angry with themselves for selling him into slavery. There was no reason for them to keep feeling guilty for what they had done to him because God was in control, and it was part of his plan all along. He mentions four times that God was behind the events of his life. In God’s preserving grace he sent Joseph to Egypt ahead of his family to save lives. This was why Joseph was sold into slavery and rose to second-in-command of Egypt. This was why God gave him the knowledge of the seven-year famine and the plan to save Egypt, Canaan and the world from starvation. The famine has been in effect for two years and there will still be five more years of no significant harvesting taking place. Yes, the brothers hated Joseph and sold him into slavery, but God used their hatred to further his plan to preserve a remnant on the earth and save their lives by a great deliverance.

This great deliverance speaks to this present saving and the future saving of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. It also speaks of the future coming of Jesus, the Messiah. Joseph’s family, who would become God’s chosen people, were the remnant from the earth, that would deliver the world from death and sin through their descendant, Jesus Christ. Jesus would save lives by a great deliverance by dying on a cross for the sins of the entire world and resurrecting on the third day. This was why God made Joseph father to Pharaoh, meaning he was Pharaoh’s advisor, and made him lord over his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. It was to fulfill his plan and purpose to save the world. It was the sovereignty and providence of God that sent Joseph to Egypt not his brothers. We don’t know exactly when in Joseph’s journey he realized the hand of God in his life but when he did, he was able to extend forgiveness to his brothers for what they had done to him.

Sometimes I believe that we don’t give God enough credit for what he is doing in our lives and in the world. We feel like we are in total control of our lives, and he is not influencing us at all. Now do not get me wrong. We are not puppets to God the puppet-master. We still have free will and can make our own decisions. And we still have a human responsibility for our actions. But I can fully testify that God’s hand has been all over my life from the day of my birth and he has directed my paths even as I have sinned against him. I believe that he still does every single day and wouldn’t want it any other way. I also I think we are fearful and anxious about what is going on in our lives and the world because we feel God doesn’t really care about us. We don’t fully believe that he loves us and wants to be in fellowship and in relationship with us. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Matthew 10:29-31 says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

When we realize that God loves us, wants a genuine relationship with us and wants to move in our lives we can truly have fellowship with him and an abundant life on this earth following his will. When we totally surrender our whole lives to him, we will see the events of our lives in a different way and will be able to go through life with hope and peace instead of fear and anxiety. Maybe you struggle for some reason with these concepts this morning that God loves you, cares for you, and wants to be in fellowship and relationship with you. Maybe you struggle with the idea of God’s sovereignty and providence in your life or in the world. That brings us to the first next step on the back of your communication card which is to totally surrender to God, embracing his love and care for me and his sovereignty and providence in my life.

Our third point is Promised Grace found in verses 9-13. This is what God’s Word says, “Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay. You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.’ “You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it is really I who am speaking to you. Tell my father about all the honor accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen. And bring my father down here quickly.”

Joseph tells his brothers to hurry to Canaan and bring their father and their families back to Egypt. But he realizes that Jacob may have a few problems with this message from his sons. First, Jacob will probably not want to leave the Promised Land. He did that once before at the urging of his mother after Esau threatened to kill him and he ended up being gone for twenty years. Now that he is again living in the Promised Land that God gave his grandfather Abraham as his inheritance, why would he leave? Canaan is where he is supposed to be. Joseph’s brothers will need to make a compelling argument for Jacob to realize his need to leave Canaan and that God’s hand is in it. They are to tell their father about the honor that God has given Joseph. He is lord of all Egypt and because of that he has a place for them to live. “Part of the Abrahamic covenant (Gen. 12:3), especially the promise of a great name, was being fulfilled in Jacob’s son, Joseph, because God had made him lord of all Egypt.” (Gangel & Bramer).

In Goshen, Jacob, his children, his grandchildren, their flocks and herds and all they have can be comfortable and safe. Goshen was the best of the land and was unpopulated because it was reserved for royalty. They would also be able to be near Joseph and would not lack for anything. He promised to provide for them for the remaining five years of famine and he could make this promise because God put him right where he needed to be, right when he needed to be there. They were also to tell their father that if he didn’t come down to Egypt his household and all who belong to him would become destitute. During times of famine families would have to mortgage their lands and even sell themselves and their family into slavery causing them to become destitute. Joseph didn’t want this for his family.

Second, Jacob may not believe them that Joseph was alive. He would probably be a little skeptical. Joseph’s brothers were going to have to do a hard thing. They were going to have to tell their father that Joseph didn’t die but that they had sold him into Egypt. Then they would be able to testify that they had seen him with their own eyes, and had heard him with their own ears. Joseph had sent everyone out in verse one including the interpreter, so he has been speaking Hebrew to his brothers during this whole time. This was evidence that he was truly their brother. Joseph singles out Benjamin because their father would more readily take his word for it, being Joseph’s full brother by the same mother. All of this would be compelling evidence for Jacob to believe that Joseph was still alive. Lastly, Joseph tells them again to tell their father about all the honor, status and power, he has in Egypt and that they have seen this with their own eyes. He finishes with “bring my father down quickly.” This reunion with his brothers has been sweet, especially with Benjamin but now what he really wants is to be reunited with his father. He thought he would never see his father again and Jacob thought he was dead all these years but now a full family reunion can be had, and fellowship can be rekindled because there has been forgiveness, repentance and reconciliation. (BIG IDEA).

Before I close this morning, I want to pass on four principles of forgiveness we can glean from these last couple of chapters. One, forgiveness should be done privately. Matthew 18:15 says, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.” Second, forgiveness should be given freely and unconditionally. We may ask how can this be done when someone has hurt us or wronged us badly? Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” We must forgive others because we have been forgiven by God. Three, forgiveness seeks correction and restoration of the offender. Too many times restoration never happens because either the offended or the offender doesn’t want it or doesn’t think it’s important. Reconciliation and restoration are what can bring us back into fellowship and relationship. Four, forgiveness must be permanent and not brought up again. It may not be humanly possible to forget the sin perpetrated against us but in order to have true forgiveness and reconciliation, once the offense if repented of and forgiven, you must live and act like you have forgotten it in order to have fellowship with that person.

A father and his teenage son had a stormy relationship. So the son ran away from home. His father began a journey in search of his rebellious son. Finally in Madrid, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in the newspaper. The ad read, “Dear Paco, meet me in front of the newspaper office at noon. All is forgiven. I love you, Your father.” The next day at noon in front of the newspaper office eight hundred “Pacos” showed up. They were all seeking forgiveness and love from their fathers. Joseph didn’t require that his brothers make the first move in seeking forgiveness. Even before their repentance Joseph had treated them generously and graciously when he had every right to treat them with bitterness and vengeance. He wanted to be reconciled. Once he knew their hearts were ready, he revealed the truth to them. He held nothing against them but desired to hold them close and to see his father again.

Our families and churches are full of many broken relationships that beg to be mended. But reconciliation requires the conviction that something is wrong, the confession of that wrong, and forgiveness offered and accepted. So what are you prepared to do to repair the broken relationships in your life? Are you willing to take the first step? What is your desire – to be vindicated or to be reconciled? May we be like Joseph, seeking reconciliation. That brings us to our final next step this morning, which is to forgive and seek reconciliation in the broken relationships in my life.

As the praise team comes to lead us in a final song and the ushers prepare to collect the tithes and offerings, let’s pray: Heavenly Father, thank you this opportunity to be in your house with your people learning from your Word. Help us to be willing to surrender our lives to you. Help us to embrace your love and care for us and your sovereignty and providence in our lives. And I pray that we would be willing to forgive other first seeking reconciliation in the broken relationships in our lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.