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January 12 + Daily Notes & Reading

DAY 12

I think you'll find today's readings easy.  The chapters are fairly short, and I'm sure several of you might find what you read familiar today.

But don't get comfortable!

I've found it's easy to skim through a story you think you know.  Avoid that temptation.  I've learned this from our Jewish friends.  Right now, you and I are reading the Bible together.  That's great.  You could say we're climbing on top of the iceberg, searching for meaning and insight.  A Jewish reader isn't on top of the iceberg.  They are under the water, under the iceberg, digging inside.

That's a whole other level of study.  We'll get there.  One way we do is by not just skimming.  Read.  Underline.  Ask questions.  Read again.  Read aloud.  Ask someone what they think about something that happened.  Pray.  Read again.

Speaking of reading, let's get to it. 

DAILY READINGS

Genesis 38-40 & Psalm 12

DAILY NOTES

Genesis 38:1

  • The placement of this story seems out of place.  It is placed within the larger framework of Joseph's story.  This is the last story of Genesis that does not include Joseph.
  • "Went down from his brothers" could mean that he separated because they were made at him. Although they all, minus Reuben, wanted to kill Joseph, it was Judah's idea to sell him off.  Now, they could blame Judah for their father's deep remorse.
Genesis 38:7
  • There is no indication of what Er's wickedness was.  Did everyone know he was wicked?  
Genesis 38:8-11
  • Judah recognizes that his dead son does not have an heir.  Remember in Luke 20 when a group of Sadducees ask Jesus about resurrection?  Their hypothetical question is in regards to a woman loosing a husband.  The man's brother marries the widow.  He dies and the next brother marries, etc.  They all die childless.  This is an indicator of the cultural norm.  It was the brother's responsibility to provide an heir.
  • Onan could have just not slept with her, I suppose.  Instead, he withdraws.  Could it be that he is disgracing his brother?  We know Er was wicked in the sight of God, but we do not know why.  We're told here that what Onan did was displeasing, read "wicked" to God.  He received the same punishment as his brother.  
  • Judah's charge to Tamar is to return home.  It looks like he might blame her for the deaths of his sons.  It's a weak excuse, waiting for the younger son to grow up.  
Genesis 38:14
  • Tamar realizes the lame excuse about Shelah was just that.  Although Judah approaches and makes advances to her, there is no indication that she had in mind to trick him.  Although the place where she sits, Enaim, can mean either a "spring/fountain" or "eye."  Was her eye opened?  We can gather, however, that she was not all too please to see Shelah was grown and unmarried (to her).
Genesis 38:15
  • Judah engages in prostitution.  Shelah should have been the next to marry Tamar, but she passes him and devises a plan to have Judah himself provide an heir.  This is also advantageous for her.  
Genesis 38:24
  • Modern readers quickly recognize a double standard that was not so evident in the ancient world.  Judah seeks out who he thinks is a prostitute.  No problem.  Tamar is ridiculed and shamed because she has "played the whore."  Remember when the woman who was caught in the act of adultery was brought to Jesus?  Why wasn't the man who was caught in adultery brought to Jesus, too?
    • Of course, she doesn't just face shame.  She is facing death.
Genesis 38:26
  • Tamar's plan works.  Not only is she able to escape death, she is able to show Judah as the father of her child.  To his credit, Judah owns what he did and recognizes that he wronged her for not following through with the marriage to Shelah.
Genesis 38:27-30
  • Recall how Esau and Jacob were born.  These two brothers, in more dramatic fashion, struggle with each other, too.  Perez is noted as an ancestor to King David.  Is that why this story is written?

Genesis 39
  • Joseph ascends to power in Egypt.  Take note of the phrase "the Lord was with him."  That will be the only reasonable explanation for what takes place for Joseph in the future considering everything he faces.  "Had it not been the LORD who was on our side..." is how the psalmist recounts his people's story (Psalm 124). 
  • Joseph was so good at his work that his master only had one care: what he was going to eat.  
  • Joseph not only shows himself to be a faithful worker, but also a righteous man.  He does not give in to Potiphar's wife's demands.  To do so would be a wicked thing to do against his master and a sin against God.  How often do we know the right and wrong things to do, but still do them any way?  
  • The wife accuses Joseph and sexual advances and he is put into prison.  It is an unfair, unjust thing for Joseph to endure, but, as verse 23 reminds us, the Lord was with him.
Genesis 40:1-2
  • Remember when Potiphar only worried about his food?  It seems here Pharoah has to worry about his food.  Maybe the cupbearer and baker were found to be engaged in some immoral activity, or maybe they tried to ruin his food.
Genesis 40:8
  • Among his other leadership skills, now Joseph demonstrates an ability to interpret dreams.  The men do not know what he can do.  To be fair, neither do we.  Joseph trusts in his God's ability to make known to him what these dreams mean.  The men were looking for people to interpret.  Joseph demonstrates that he knew God was with him.
Genesis 40:14
  • Joseph demonstrates wisdom by asking the cupbearer to remember him when he is free.  It's not a payback; it would be an act of kindness.  We learn in verse 23, after he is restored and Joseph's interpretation proves true, that the cupbearer didn't just not remember Joseph.  He completely "forgot" him.  
Genesis 40:18
  • You can't say that Joseph was not honest.  The baker is hopeful his dream will allude to something great for him, too.  It does not.  Joseph does not withhold what the dream means.

OTHER OBSERVATIONS

I am struck by Joseph's ability to, as it's said, bloom where he is planted.  Of course, God was with him.  We know that.  We read that several times.  Joseph knew God was with him. 

There's a sense, though, that who Joseph was is just as much a part of his success.  His faithfulness, his patience, his work ethic.  No wonder everyone thought of him so highly.  He benefited himself and other people. 

Have you noticed people do not always have a strong work ethic?  It may be that, like Joseph, one of the best ways we can be a witness to Christ is by how willing we are to work at our best levels.  Make our work not just about us, but about other people.  Remember that Joseph's boss didn't have to worry about anything other than what he was going to eat each day.  That's how much he trusted Joseph to do a good job.  When Joseph was in jail, the jailer, likewise, "paid no heed to anything that was in Joseph's care."  Why?  Because he trusted Joseph to do a great job.

Colossians tells us this: Whatever you do, work at it with your whole being, for the Lord and not for men..." (3:23).  Work. Work. Work.  And let your work be a witness that God is with you.

Stay blessed...john


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