Friday, June 23, 2017

Genesis 49:13-21 comments: Zebulun to Naphtali


13 ¶  Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon. 14  Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens: 15  And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute. 16  Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. 17  Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward. 18  I have waited for thy salvation, O LORD. 19  Gad, a troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last. 20  Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties. 21  Naphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words.

Zebulun’s border of Zidon, also spelled Sidon, was an ancient Phoenician city, north of the famed Tyre, that led a nearly worldwide trading empire. Controversial authors have claimed that the Phoenicians of trading fame were Jews. Later, in Exodus we will explore the origin of words written with letters rather than pictures as being delivered to Moses by God on Mount Sinai. History tells us that the so-called Phoenicians spread the alphabet.

Sidon was a son of Canaan in Genesis 10:15. Tyre and Sidon are mentioned together several times in the New Testament. Is it possible that the glories given to the ancient Phoenicians for a trading empire that finds hotly contested authors claiming that Phoenician coins were found in Brazil, tin mines in England, and that they circled around Africa in their quest for markets should be attributed to Hebrews or at least a Hebrew influence rather than Canaanites? Does not the accolades given to Phoenicia as a trading empire go along with our stereotypes regarding the Jewish people as excelling in business? Carthage, Rome’s mortal enemy until destroyed, saw 300 babies sacrificed to Baal’s superheated arms in one day to try to placate the Devil and end a Roman siege while musicians blared drums and horns to drown out the screams of the agony of the infants. Carthage was a colony of Phoenicia. Could there have been a strong Hebrew influence? We know that many of the Hebrews would eventually descend into Baal or Devil worship from the Bible.

Issachar is linked with Zebulun’s trading efforts later by Moses.

Deuteronomy 33:18 ¶  And of Zebulun he said, Rejoice, Zebulun, in thy going out; and, Issachar, in thy tents. 19  They shall call the people unto the mountain; there they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness: for they shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and of treasures hid in the sand.

Perhaps Issachar’s people will work with Zebulun in selling goods imported by the latter tribe. Zebulun goes out but Issachar stays on land. It is also suggested that Issachar will be an agricultural laborer in a fruitful land and have the burden of tribute or taxation. Perhaps the two burdens mentioned have to do with their subordinate position as a laborer and taxpayer. It is interesting to note that the laboring classes in England suffered heavily under the rigors of taxation. The working class has always been the one carrying the greatest burdens. But, there are many opinions on the meaning of these verses regarding Issachar.

Dan is likened to a lion cub in Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy 33:22  And of Dan he said, Dan is a lion’s whelp: he shall leap from Bashan.

The tribe of Dan falls into idolatry as we will see in Judges 18. Some commentators have spoken of this as a reference to Samson, the judge, who was of that tribe and made trouble for the Philistines not through open battle but through the vexations he caused them, like a poisonous serpent biting a horse and causing its rider to fall.

Judges 16:30  And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.

Matthew Henry said that verse 18 is interjected by a dying Jacob and is not part of the prophecies of his sons. This verse has special significance, though, as the words of a dying man.

Hebrews 11:13  These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14  For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. 15  And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. 16  But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

Let us remember that these fallible, sinful men have their names inscribed on the gates of that city.

Revelation 21:12  And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: 13  On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.

And what is Jacob waiting for in verse 18?

Isaiah 59:2  But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

Psalm 79:9  Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name’s sake.

Psalm 130:7  Let Israel hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption. 8  And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

Matthew 1:21  And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Gad became a warlike tribe, some underscore, but weren’t all the tribes warlike? Yet, there seemed to be something peculiarly fierce about this tribe.

1Chronicles 12:8  And of the Gadites there separated themselves unto David into the hold to the wilderness men of might, and men of war fit for the battle, that could handle shield and buckler, whose faces were like the faces of lions, and were as swift as the roes upon the mountains; 9  Ezer the first, Obadiah the second, Eliab the third, 10  Mishmannah the fourth, Jeremiah the fifth, 11  Attai the sixth, Eliel the seventh, 12  Johanan the eighth, Elzabad the ninth, 13  Jeremiah the tenth, Machbanai the eleventh. 14  These were of the sons of Gad, captains of the host: one of the least was over an hundred, and the greatest over a thousand. 15  These are they that went over Jordan in the first month, when it had overflown all his banks; and they put to flight all them of the valleys, both toward the east, and toward the west.

Asher is said to become a provider of gourmet food items for the kings. And, after all, the king was served from the field in an agricultural society.

Ecclesiastes 5:9 ¶  Moreover the profit of the earth is for all: the king himself is served by the field.

Naphtali’s promise, John Gill wrote, was a thinly veiled reference to the events of Christ’s time. He referred to;

Matthew 4:12 ¶  Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; 13  And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: 14  That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, 15  The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; 16  The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. 17  From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Which contains a reference to this passage;

Isaiah 9:1 ¶  Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. 2  The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.

In any event, these prophecies given by Jacob are obscure to us, in the main, and subject to much varying interpretations which must not slow us down as we move forward. But, clearly they will become apparent and obvious when we are instructed by our Lord directly upon our meeting with Him in Heaven.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Genesis 49:8-12 comments: Judah's prophecy looks forward to Christ's rule


    8 ¶  Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee. 9  Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? 10  The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. 11  Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes: 12  His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.

Back in 29:35 it was shown that Judah means, “praise.” Judah is said to be dominant. He is a lion’s whelp or cub, a young lion. A word study of the name young lion is interesting but not necessarily important to the narrative here except that Christ is called The lion of the tribe of Juda.

Revelation 5:5  And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

 Judah’s strength is underscored here and none of his weakness. Verse 10 is a prophecy that Christ will come from Judah and will rule the earth. A lawgiver from between his feet refers to the scepter of rule. In verse 10 by way of a parallel lawgiver and sceptre are linked as synonyms. Remember in verse 1 Jacob is referring to the last days. The Jew will be gathered to Israel which extends from the Nile to the Euphrates with Christ, from the line of Judah, ruling from Jerusalem.

Genesis 15:18  In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:

Now consider verse 11. Israel is referred to as a vine in places.

Jeremiah 6:9  Thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall throughly glean the remnant of Israel as a vine: turn back thine hand as a grapegatherer into the baskets.

Hosea 10:1  Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself: according to the multitude of his fruit he hath increased the altars; according to the goodness of his land they have made goodly images.

Christ’s kingship is acknowledged as He rides into Jerusalem on a foal, a colt of an ass. First, the prophecy…

Zechariah 9:9  Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.

Then, the fulfillment…

Matthew 21:1 ¶  And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, 2  Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. 3  And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. 4  All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5  Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. 6  And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, 7  And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. 8  And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. 9  And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. 10  And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? 11  And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.

(Side note: Don’t be afflicted with the modernist’s mental disease of reading this passage like you would read your car owner’s manual. Christ was NOT set astride two animals of different heights at one time, a very uncomfortable if not impossible thing to imagine. Compare the passages regarding this and use common sense. When we say, “He led the soldiers into battle,” we do mean to say that he walked directly in front of every soldier or was even near them. Christ rode these animals, as they were both with him but He was on the colt.)

Mark 11:1 ¶  And when they came nigh to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sendeth forth two of his disciples, 2  And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him. 3  And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither. 4  And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met; and they loose him. 5  And certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt? 6  And they said unto them even as Jesus had commanded: and they let them go. 7  And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him. 8  And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way. 9  And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: 10  Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.

Luke 19:29  And it came to pass, when he was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount called the mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, 30  Saying, Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither. 31  And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him. 32  And they that were sent went their way, and found even as he had said unto them. 33  And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt? 34  And they said, The Lord hath need of him. 35  And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. 36  And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way. 37  And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; 38  Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.

These proclamations of Jacob refer to not only Christ’s presentation to the Jews in the early first century but to the end of human history when Christ returns to rule from Jerusalem seizing the kingdoms of the earth, including what is left of America, from Satan, who rules them now through the lowest sort of individual.

Isaiah 63:1 ¶  Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. 2  Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? 3  I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. 4  For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. 5  And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me. 6  And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth.

Daniel 4:17  This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.

Luke 4:5  And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6  And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. 7  If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. 8  And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

2Corinthians 4:4  In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

Revelation 11:15  And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

Revelation 19:13  And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.

You cannot separate the return of Christ to the earth from His rule on earth and the destruction of the world system.

Verse 12 is a short description of Christ’s frightening appearance as He returns to take control. Eyes that are red like wine and teeth white as milk. Here is another description.

Ezekiel 1: 26 ¶  And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. 27  And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about.

…and another.

Revelation 1:13  And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. 14  His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; 15  And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. 16  And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

and yet another.

Revelation 19:11 ¶  And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12  His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13  And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Genesis 49:5-7 comments: Simeon and Levi's cruelty


5 ¶  Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations. 6  O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their selfwill they digged down a wall. 7  Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.

Simeon and Levi are the ones who, through deception, slaughtered the inhabitants of Hamor the Hivite’s city in revenge for Hamor’s son, Shechem’s rape of Dinah. Jacob lamented their actions.

Genesis 34:25 ¶  And it came to pass on the third day, when they were sore, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brethren, took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males…30  And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house.

Again, the prophecy for these tribes is not a positive thing based on the character of their originators. As all mankind suffers from their inheritance of a rebellious, sin nature against God from our first ancestor, Adam, so shall these tribes suffer with the rebelliousness of their progenitors.

Here we also have an example of how this Bible defines words. Anger’s quality is fierce and wrath’s quality is cruel. Our anger burns hot and our wrath is malicious and hateful.

Psalm 37:8  Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.

Proverbs 15:1  A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

Proverbs 27:4  Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?

Paul warns Christians;

Ephesians 4:31  Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

Colossians 3:8  But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.

Jacob speaks to his soul in verse 6 warning himself not to take counsel with these two as their way is violent and vengeful. There are similar warnings in different contexts in both Old and New Testaments.

Amos 3:3  Can two walk together, except they be agreed?

2Corinthian 6:14  Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

Proverbs 16:29  A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and leadeth him into the way that is not good.

Whatever you think or your culture demands regarding vengeance the vengeance of Simeon and Levi, more concerned with their own honor than an assault on their sister’s person, was not approved, even though allowed, as most despicable and ungodly acts of mankind are.

Here we have the picture developing not only of the Hebrews but of a person in general. In these two prophecies for these three men we see someone who is unstable in his ways, lacking in moral control of his sexual impulses, violent and vengeful, murderous even. It is not a pretty picture of humanity that is being presented, much less of the Hebrews. And it continues.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Genesis 49:1-4 comments: Reuben's legacy


1 ¶  And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days. 2  Gather yourselves together, and hear, ye sons of Jacob; and hearken unto Israel your father. 3  Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power: 4  Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father’s bed; then defiledst thou it: he went up to my couch.

Jacob calls his sons together to give them his prophecies concerning their future and, in doing so, the future of their offspring. This is of tremendous importance in what is to come. We must look not only to the individual’s future, but to the future of their tribes in history, and to the prophecy in Revelation regarding the conditions under which they survive until the end of human history. The Bible, unlike most other books of the world’s important religions, is a book filled with prophecy of the future, prophetic warnings and declarations.

Reuben was Leah’s hope that Jacob would love her when she knew that it was Rachel to whom he was emotionally attached.

Genesis 29:32  And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said, Surely the LORD hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me.

But Reuben had sex with Bilhah, Rachel’s handmaid, her personal servant.

Genesis 29:29  And Laban gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah his handmaid to be her maid.

Whom Rachel had given to Jacob as another wife.

Genesis 30:4  And she gave him Bilhah her handmaid to wife: and Jacob went in unto her.

Genesis 35:22  And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine: and Israel heard it. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve:

A concubine was a sort of secondary, lesser wife in this culture. This was not ordained by God but part of what He permits sinful man to do which condemns sinful man and reveals his weakness. God’s plan is for one man and one women to unite in marriage for life.

Genesis 2:24  Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

Matthew 19:3 ¶  The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? 4  And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5  And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? 6  Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

 So, Reuben committed a great wrong by doing what he did. In the age of the church Paul criticizes a congregation for permitting such a thing before asking that the man be forgiven as he was deeply repentant and anguished over his sin.

1Corinthians 5:1  It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. 2  And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3  For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 4  In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5  To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6  Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?

    7 ¶  Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8  Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

    9 ¶  I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: 10  Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 11  But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 12  For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 13  But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

Then;

2Corinthians 2:5 ¶  But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all. 6  Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. 7  So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. 8  Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. 9  For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things. 10  To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; 11  Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

Would it were that Christian congregations had a zeal against sin in their midst. Today we tend to justify or ignore instances of people committing fornication and other sins. There is little shame regarding sin against God in today’s church.

Reuben is judged unstable and weak and will not be the tribe through which Christ will come to offer redemption to mankind.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Genesis 48:8-22 comments: Jacob's blessing


8 ¶  And Israel beheld Joseph’s sons, and said, Who are these? 9  And Joseph said unto his father, They are my sons, whom God hath given me in this place. And he said, Bring them, I pray thee, unto me, and I will bless them. 10  Now the eyes of Israel were dim for age, so that he could not see. And he brought them near unto him; and he kissed them, and embraced them. 11  And Israel said unto Joseph, I had not thought to see thy face: and, lo, God hath shewed me also thy seed. 12  And Joseph brought them out from between his knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth. 13  And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near unto him. 14  And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn. 15  And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, 16  The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth. 17  And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father’s hand, to remove it from Ephraim’s head unto Manasseh’s head. 18  And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head. 19  And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations. 20  And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh. 21  And Israel said unto Joseph, Behold, I die: but God shall be with you, and bring you again unto the land of your fathers. 22  Moreover I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow.

Many times questions are asked in the Bible in a sort of rhetorical way. The understanding is that the person asking the question knows the answer but the requirement for an answer confirms a greater principle. For instance, in Genesis we know that God knows everything so this question becomes a requirement for someone to admit to something.

Genesis 3:8  And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.

    9 ¶  And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? 10  And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

Jacob is blind, or nearly so, as a consequence of age. As part of the judgment we in this world are enduring, old age leads to many physical failings on the part of even the noblest and upright of God’s men and women of destiny.

1Kings 14:4  And Jeroboam’s wife did so, and arose, and went to Shiloh, and came to the house of Ahijah. But Ahijah could not see; for his eyes were set by reason of his age.

Also read the metaphorical speech regarding old age that Solomon gives in Ecclesiastes 12.

1 ¶  Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; 2  While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain: 3  In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened, 4  And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low; 5  Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets: 6  Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. 7  Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

Joseph acknowledged that God had given him his sons and then Jacob said he wanted to bless them. Jacob expresses his joy and satisfaction that he never thought to see Joseph’s face again and yet now he has not only gotten to see Joseph’s face but also his children. One of the laments of we parents who have lost a child to death is that we will not only never see their face again in our earthly life but we will not see the children they might have had. It is an enduring pain and grief for some.

Joseph is holding his boys close and presents them to his father to be blessed and bows himself to the ground, this second greatest man in the world’s greatest superpower acknowledging the authority of his sheepherding father. It is a lesson we should learn as many of those reading this have risen to a higher social, economic, or political strata than their father but still honor him in respect. Position often has nothing to do with worthiness for respect.

Joseph presented the children in a specific order, so that Manasseh, the eldest, would receive the right hand of blessing from his grandfather, Jacob. Jacob cross his hands and place his right hand, instead, on Ephraim’s head, and blessed Joseph. He mentions the Angel, capital A, as protecting him and asks that Angel for a blessing on the children and asks that they be included in his posterity and in the inheritance promised to his descendants. We’ve already seen what the word angel refers to but let’s review as Roman and Persian mythology have dominated a significant part of Christian history and have polluted our thinking ability and colored the lenses through which we view the Bible’s clear statements.

Remember, an angel is a presence, an appearance of something that is somewhere else, representing that person or thing but with power and ability that would prevent us from distinguishing the difference.

Isaiah 63:9  In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.

Matthew 18:10  Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

Acts 12:15  And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.

Revelation 1:20  The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

Christ is the appearance of God; the angel of the Lord, His presence. I want to repeat the definition of an angel in Isaiah 63:9.

Isaiah 63:9  In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.

Galatians 4:14  And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.

(Even can link two things that are the same such as I, even I, in Genesis 6:17 and over a dozen other verses.)

Who led the Hebrews out of Egypt.

Judges 2:1 ¶  And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you.

You can imagine the angel of the LORD (LORD with all letters capitalized is Jehovah) or the angel of God as this Angel.

Joseph tried to remove his father’s hands, which Jacob had placed very deliberately where they were in full understanding of what he intended, onto the proper child in the order that he thought they should be placed. Jacob insisted, though, that Ephraim the younger would be greater than the elder. This is not the first time we have seen this, is it? Jacob himself was the younger child who supplanted the elder. But, this isn’t trickery or deception here. This blessing is from the beginning done wittingly.

The great leader to come, Joshua, a type of Christ in His Second Coming to conquer and rule, came out of Ephraim.

Numbers 13:8  Of the tribe of Ephraim, Oshea the son of Nun… 16  These are the names of the men which Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Oshea the son of Nun Jehoshua.

Jehoshua is a different spelling of the name Joshua.

Ephraim has its issues as a tribe which shall come out in the narrative as you read. Jacob admits he is dying but tells them they will see the land, meaning their descendants will, that was promised to them. Again, verse 22 is also a prophecy of time to come.

Genesis 15:16  But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Genesis 48:1-7 comments: Jacob's reminisence


1 ¶  And it came to pass after these things, that one told Joseph, Behold, thy father is sick: and he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. 2  And one told Jacob, and said, Behold, thy son Joseph cometh unto thee: and Israel strengthened himself, and sat upon the bed. 3  And Jacob said unto Joseph, God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me, 4  And said unto me, Behold, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a multitude of people; and will give this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession. 5  And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine. 6  And thy issue, which thou begettest after them, shall be thine, and shall be called after the name of their brethren in their inheritance. 7  And as for me, when I came from Padan, Rachel died by me in the land of Canaan in the way, when yet there was but a little way to come unto Ephrath: and I buried her there in the way of Ephrath; the same is Bethlehem.

Upon hearing that Jacob was ill Joseph took his sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, to see him. Jacob was apparently pretty out of it as he had to be told they were there. He then relates the blessing God bestowed on him through his father Isaac and his grandfather Abraham.

Genesis 28:13  And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; 14  And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15  And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.

Remember that it was Abraham who would be told that Canaan was to be an everlasting possession.

Genesis 17:7 ¶  And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.

8  And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.

Jacob states that Joseph’s sons are just as much a part of this blessing as are Joseph’s brothers, Jacob’s own sons Reuben and Simeon. He established them as tribes included in the inheritance by saying that their descendants would be named after them. Then, Jacob mentions his beloved Rachel and where she was buried. It has been many, many years but the pain is still there as it is with many of us who have lost a loved one decades in the past.

Genesis 35:16 ¶  And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour. 17  And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also. 18  And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin. 19  And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. 20  And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Genesis 47:27-31 comments: cultural practices in the Bible


27 ¶  And Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and they had possessions therein, and grew, and multiplied exceedingly. 28  And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years: so the whole age of Jacob was an hundred forty and seven years. 29  And the time drew nigh that Israel must die: and he called his son Joseph, and said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me; bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt: 30  But I will lie with my fathers, and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their buryingplace. And he said, I will do as thou hast said. 31  And he said, Swear unto me. And he sware unto him. And Israel bowed himself upon the bed’s head.

We find another reference to the cultural practice of putting a hand under someone’s thigh to declare an oath. Abraham made his servant swear an oath that he would get Isaac a voluntary bride from his own people.

Ge 24:2  And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh…9  And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning that matter.

Now, I daresay that none of you who are of a sound mind regard this as a requirement for you to be holy that you place your hand under someone’s thigh to make a promise. If it is not in your cultural frame of reference you pass over this like you would a verse number or a word you don’t know and are too lazy to cross-reference or look up elsewhere. So, for cultural practices that we know have an historical reason, we are not required, as a matter of holiness, to practice. For instance, in 1Corinthians 11 Paul tells them to follow the instructions he has given them and adds a but to include a practice of their own. He agrees with them that their women should have long hair while at the end of the brief argument he admits that it is not required practice in churches elsewhere.

1Corinthians 11:1 ¶  Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. 2  Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you. 3  But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. 4  Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. 5  But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. 6  For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. 7  For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. 8  For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. 9  Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. 10  For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. 11  Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. 12  For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God. 13  Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? 14  Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? 15  But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. 16  But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God. (Neither means roughly ‘not even’ in Paul’s letters.)

From history we know that at Acrocorinth, the acropolis of ancient Corinth, called Upper Corinth, stood the Temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of sexual love, among other related things. There were a thousand short-haired prostitutes working there that men would enjoy sexually being the devoutly religious people they were. That was sarcasm, by the way. It would not do, obviously, for a woman of Corinth’s church to be mistaken for a prostitute, a priestess of Aphrodite. So, you have a conviction that you should have long hair as I have a conviction that I should wear a suit when I teach Sunday School. Don’t impose it on others. Remember that the time you are honoring with your long hair, when you feel Christians were just and right, the late 1800s, they believed that not wearing it up, letting your hair hang down around your shoulders was sexually suggestive and scandalous just as my business suit bought off the rack at a department store would have had a whole different meaning in the early church. They were laborers and slaves and would have worn their shabby work clothes to a meeting of the church and then gone off to work. We must be careful about cultural practices becoming dogma.

In the same regard the letters of Paul call for the members of the church to give each other a holy kiss. That is not something we do in our culture in America typically. Nor do we feel less close to God because we don’t. It is not our cultural practice and Paul commanding it of the Roman church, the Corinthian church, and the Thessalonian church and we not doing it doesn’t bother us one bit.

Be careful about standards that other people set for you or as a Christian recently lamented on Facebook, “Don’t judge me for not believing something the Bible did not say.” Cultural practices in the Bible are not moral requirements, funnymentalist insistence aside.