TODAY’S READING IN THE OLD TESTAMENT: GENESIS 46:1- 47:31
“Hear and understand!” (Matthew 15:10). This is what Jesus says to his disciples. Our prayer as we read God’s Word should be: “Let me hear and help me to understand!”
In Genesis 46:2 God speaks to Jacob in the visions of the night, and calls him to attention with a double salutation, “Jacob, Jacob!” This is what the Angel of the Lord did when he called out to Jacob’s grandfather, saying, “Abraham, Abraham!” (Genesis 22:11).
The Lord would do the same to Moses when He calls him from the burning bush, “Moses, Moses!” (Exodus 3:4) He would do the same with Samuel, the prophet, calling “Samuel, Samuel!” (1 Samuel 3:10). Jesus underscored the importance of his statements by using the double salutation also, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem!” (Matthew 23:37); “Martha, Martha!” (Luke 10:41) “Simon, Simon!” (Luke 22:31) and “Saul, Saul!” (Acts 9:4)
The double salutation signals that God has something very important to say. It also marks a turning point in the lives of those whom He calls. God is going to do the work of making the sons of Jacob into a great nation.
Genesis 46:3-4 3 He said, “I am God, the God of your father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you a great nation there. 4 “I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will close your eyes.”
Genesis 46:27b 27 all the persons of the house of Jacob, who came to Egypt, were seventy.
It is an interesting observation to see that Jacob had 12 sons and then his tribe increased to a household of 70 (Genesis 46:27b) when they started their life in Egypt. After 400 years, they became a great nation. Similarly, Jesus chose 12 disciples (Matthew 10:1-2, Mark 3:14, Luke 6:13, John 6:67). He then sent out the 70 (Luke 10:1). After His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, He gives the Holy Spirit to reproduce His life through the communication of the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth. Those who believe His Word become ‘a holy nation’ (1 Peter 2:9).
Jacob senses his life has come to a completion when he sees Joseph face to face, seeing that he is still alive.
Genesis 46:30 30 Then Israel said to Joseph, “Now let me die, since I have seen your face, that you are still alive.”
He has a sense of satisfaction, much like Simeon when he beholds the Christ child (Luke 2:25-35).
Luke 2:25-29 25 And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, 28 then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29 “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, According to Your word.
What a blessing it was for Israel to know that his son Joseph was alive! His joy is a foreshadowing of the joyful song of believers who discover the Risen Christ- “Life is worth the living just because He lives!”
The sons of Jacob are prompted to answer Pharaoh’s question about their livelihood by telling him that they tended livestock. This was a profession that was looked down upon by the people of Egypt (Genesis 46:34), but one that is highly esteemed in God’s economy. Shepherds can relate to our covenant keeping God.
Psalm 77:20 20 You led Your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
Psalm 80:1 1 Oh, give ear, Shepherd of Israel, You who lead Joseph like a flock; You who are enthroned above the cherubim, shine forth!
Psalm 95:7a 7 For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.
Psalm 100:3 3 Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
We highly value the Good Shepherd (John 10) who rescues all of us who “like sheep have gone astray” (Isaiah 53:6).
Joseph administered the distribution of food in the remaining years of famine and saved his people from starvation.
Jacob describes his 130 years of lifetime as ‘the years of my pilgrimage’ (Gen 47:9). He lived 17 more years after arriving in Egypt and died at 147. He lived to see his family prosper in the land of Goshen. The family did so well in Egypt, you could understand why they would want to live there forever. Jacob would not see the hard bondage that future generations of Israelites would experience in slavery. His final request, however, was that he not be buried in Egypt, but in the Promised land with his father Isaac, and grandfather, Abraham. It was not comfort or sentiment that caused Jacob to request to be buried in Canaan, but the fact that he had the Promised land in his heart. He knew that his people’s future would not be in Egypt, no matter how promising the situation looked in that moment, or in the foreseeable future. He was a man of faith whose future was bound up with the promises of God. What a great example this is for us. Is your heart bound to the temporal comforts of this world, or the eternal treasure promised in heaven?
TODAY’S READING IN THE NEW TESTAMENT – MATTHEW 15:1-28
Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for their hypocrisy when they upbraid him for breaking the traditions of the elders by not observing their rules about handwashing. The Pharisees out of their religious zeal added to the law many additional rules and stipulations which obscured and eclipsed the meaning of the law. Jesus rebukes them for making void the Word of God for the sake of upholding their traditions.
He gives the example of how they invented practices that violated the commands of God, such as adding a law that encourages people to neglect providing for their parents in old age by giving offerings to the religious institution instead, thereby nullifying the command, ‘Honor your father and mother.’
Jesus reminds his disciples that the Law of God reveals and applies to the condition of our hearts. It was not meant to be a means of measuring one’s own goodness by external conformity to religious rules. The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart.
Matthew 15:19 19 “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.
Jesus came to give us needed heart surgery. He came to grant repentance and faith.
Ezekiel 36:26-27 26 “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.
How is it with your heart?
Those false teachers who fail to see their need for salvation, and those religious systems will one day be rooted up (Matt 15:14).
- Campbell Morgan writes, “Here is the test of all human teaching, however well-intentioned. If it be not based and rooted in the Word of God, or if it departs in any degree from the true intention of that Word, it is without pity to be rooted up. By this test we need ever to try our traditions, customs, habits, rules, and regulations.”
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS- PSALM 19:1-14
This Psalm wonderfully pictures the greatness of our God as both our Rock and our Redeemer. He is the Mighty God, the Maker of the heavens and earth. But He is also the Gracious God who redeems us through the power of His Word.
The knowledge of God’s glory is declared through the wonders of the universe.
Psalm 19:1-2 1 The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. 2 Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge.
The heavens declare the glory of God. No matter what your native language may be, the creation indisputably speaks of God’s existence (Psalm 19:1-6; Romans 1:20).
The knowledge of God’s glory comes also through the Word (Psalm 19:7-11). Think of what God graciously does as our Redeemer through the agency of the Scriptures (His Holy Word): He revives the soul, makes wise the simple, rejoices the heart, enlightens the eyes, and gives us an unfailing revelation of God’s greatness. The Word of God warns us and transforms us. His Word is a searchlight that exposes hidden faults, presumptuous sins, and vain speech. The Law convicts us of our need for a Savior and points to God’s perfect provision for a full salvation through the Prophesied Lamb of God! It is no wonder that the Psalmist says that God’s Word is to be desired more than gold! (Psalm 19:10).
A PROVERB A DAY – TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS
Proverbs 4:14-19 14 Do not enter the path of the wicked and do not proceed in the way of evil men. 15 Avoid it, do not pass by it; Turn away from it and pass on. 16 For they cannot sleep unless they do evil; And they are robbed of sleep unless they make someone stumble. 17 For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence. 18 But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day. 19 The way of the wicked is like darkness; They do not know over what they stumble.
What road will you travel today? Both roads have promise. One leads to greater understanding, illumination, peace, and salvation. The other leads to greater darkness, foolishness, stumbling, and destruction.
PRAYER: O Lord, You have spoken of Your infinite power and creativity through the work of Your hands. The created universe declares your glory. You have spoken of Your mercy and grace through Your merciful condescension to take on a body such as ours, to salvage rebels like ourselves. You who have spoken in the past through the prophets have spoken fully and finally in the Person of Your Son, who loved us and gave Himself for us on the cross. Thank You for revealing the heart of the Law. We rejoice that You are not just our Rock, but our Redeemer. We rejoice that You, the Law-Giver, have given us Your Spirit to be the Law-Keeper in our hearts! Thank You for fulfilling Your Promise, reviving our souls, and enlightening the eyes of our heart’s understanding. Every day with You is sweeter than the day before. Keep me abiding in You! You shine Your light more fully on my pathway as I trust You. I anticipate that day when Your light will shine upon me to the full, that day when I see you face to face! In Jesus’ Name. Amen.