Category Archives: Genesis

Exodus 31 – Work & Rest

In the New Testament there is a listing(s) of spiritual gifts.  Gifts given to the people of the body of Christ in order to strengthen the body and to help the people do the work of ministry.  There are people who debate about how many “gifts” are actually represented in the list(s) and what it all means.  It can be an interesting conversation sometimes trying to process through the information, but the conversation of the gifts of Spirit will oftentimes come back to the Old Testament.  To Exodus 31.  Why?  “See, I have called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah.  I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship, to make artistic designs for work in gold, in silver, and in bronze, and in the cutting of stones for settings, and in the carving of wood, that he may work in all kinds of craftsmanship.”  Suddenly, there is a whole new discussion.  Are there “gifts” of the Spirit that we don’t even know about?  YHWH gave this man and others gifts to be able to do the work of building the tabernacle and all that was to be in it.  They were given gifts of the Spirit for the building up of the people and the work of service, yet craftsmanship is not listed in the New Testament gifts.  It certainly gives you pause to think.

I would so love to see the work that was done by these people.  I can only imagine the beauty and craftsmanship of their work.  To see the alter and the tabernacle.  To smell the incense and the sacrifice.  To hear the sounds of the work and the worship.  What beauty.  But, it is not a privilege that i will have on this side of eternity.

The other key aspect of this chapter is its focus on the Sabbath.  Six days are for work, and one for rest.  God takes that command very seriously, even when we don’t.  We know that we should be taking a day of rest, but how often do we truly take a Sabbath?  Aren’t we working around the house, or in the yard, or preparing for work, or some other “important” task.  I know that many times i’m teaching a class on Sunday mornings.  Monday through Friday i’m teaching college level psychology in the high-school.  Wednesday through Saturday i’m working with boys and young men who have low IQ’s and behavioral problems.  Add to that the time spent working around the house, and that i am working on this project almost every day, and it all adds up to working 7 days a week almost every day of the year.  I know i’m not the only one who does this kind of thing.  So if God’s word is so important, and He takes the Sabbath so seriously, why don’t we?

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Exodus – Introduction

It’s amazing to me  to consider that Genesis is done.  I have made a personal copy of one of the most powerful and influential books ever written.  All 50 chapters word-for-word.  Now we enter a new era.  It is a time of re-revelation; a time of hope, struggle, inspiration, and new life (revival).

Four-Hundred years have passed since the close of Genesis.  The Israelites have gone from blessed and honored guests to mistreated and abused slaves.  The Pharaoh who knew and loved Joseph and insisted that the Israelites had to stay there has long since died and been forgotten.  Since then the Egyptians have become concerned with how blessed the Israelites have been, and how quickly they are growing.

The Israelites are here residing on their land and overrunning them like rats in the sewer.  The Egyptians realize that if they don’t do something about this “Hebrew problem” soon, it’ll be too late.  So a “wise” Pharaoh decides that it’s time to turn the table on these Israelite invaders.  He begins by hiring them.  He uses them for cheap labor.  Pharaoh even goes down to help work in the trenches.  He takes his clean robe off and becomes one of the men; doing the work of the masses.

However, what has started out as hard work for a decent wage becomes sweatshop work, then eventually slavery under whips and cruel taskmasters.  The Israelites are toiling and dying under the abuse and under the expectation of their daily quota.  So, they begin crying out for help from the God of their fathers.

This is the God that they know only from their history; the stories passed down of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob / Israel and their covenants with Him.  The Israelites are surrounded by the many gods of the Egyptians, each one with a name, a face, and a purpose.  Yet their God seems to have none of those things.  Yet in order to worship Him properly, the Israelites need to know these things.  Is He one of the gods of the Egyptians?  How about one of the Baals from a neighboring nation?  Maybe he’s Moloch of the Ammonites?

How do you serve a God that you do not know?  How do you cry out to Him?  How do you appease Him when He is angry at you for some unknown transgression and therefore allowing you to be mistreated, beaten, and killed, and He doesn’t appear to be doing anything about it?  What do you do!?!

That’s the backdrop of this book.  The Israelites don’t realize that this is part of a plan much bigger than they are.  A plan with a story that is about to play out for all of history to see.  Their Exodus is about to begin…

In the meantime, what does this say about us?  How are we treating those who are sojourning in our land?  …those who have left their homes due to famine, troubles, and a desire for a better life?  Do we treat them with contempt because they don’t speak very good English?  Do we kick  them out and tell them “We don’t want your kind here”?  Do we put them into sweatshops, one step above slavery; sometimes not even a step above?  Do we fear  them like the Egyptians did, or do we embrace them?  What is God’s plan?

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Genesis – Word Cloud

Genesis posts - white

Genesis posts as word cloud - white

 

 

Genesis posts - black

Genesis posts as word cloud - black

 

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Genesis 50 – Mourning & Hope

What is the difference between happiness and joy?  How about between mourning and dismay?  What keeps trials from becoming desperation, and sadness from depression?  There is one word; one concept or idea that divides these from each other.  That is hope.  Hope creates joy (long-term & deeply rooted) rather than happiness (short-term & fleeting).  Hope separates mourning (the natural response  to loss) from dismay (fear of facing the future resulting from loss).  This almost undefinable, nugget of life we call hope is a key and defining ingredient that separates sadness from depression.

Jacob is dead; he has died of old age.  The time of mourning is here, and Joseph and his brothers work to fulfill their responsibility to bury him in the cave of his fathers resting place.  There is a huge procession of Israelites and Egyptians that carries the body of Jacob to the burial mound.  All that is expected and more has been done.

With the passing of their father, Joseph’s older brothers begin to lose that hope.  Their past sin that has continued to haunt them their entire lives now comes to a head.  What will Joseph do to them?  What will he do to their families and children?  Will he enslave them as they did to him?  Will he treat them with cruelty and contempt?  Will he have Pharaoh and the Egyptians do it for him?  So many troubles caused by one choice.  They fear because of the seeds sown by their own actions so long ago.

What does Joseph do?  He relieves them of those full grown weeds; the result of those seeds planted so long ago.  He gives them hope.  He tells them that all that they did was part of the plan meant not for the destruction of his life, but for life for the Egyptians and themselves.  They have no need to fear.  They have no need to be troubled.  God has a plan bigger than they are, and all this trouble and fear is simply wasted life.

How about us?  Do we have a hope, or are we buried in our mourning and fear?  Does mourning turn to dismay and sadness become depression?  It’s time to let all of that go, and to seek the hope that has been freely offered and given.  The one who has created us has a plan.  He has a purpose that includes you and me.  We need to pursue Him… to find He who has been pursuing us.  Are you ready?

 

Rev. John Camiolo

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Genesis 49 – Jacob’s Last

Well, Genesis is almost done.  It is the beginning’s end.  I really liked copying this chapter down.  It was easy to process and write as there is a solid thought on each line (or in the least a solid chunk of a solid thought).  It makes the process, oh, so much easier!

Israel has some final words to say to each of his sons.  It is here that Jacob makes changes to the natural order of his progeny.  Reuben was the firstborn, but here he officially loses that honor and privilege due to his hasty actions of sleeping with his father’s concubine.  Yeah, now that was smart, Reuben </sarcasm>!  Simeon and Levi are next in line, but they both lose that honor due to their rash decision to annihilate the Hivites  (chapter 34)  whose prince raped their sister Dinah.  In fact, Simeon ended up receiving no natural inheritance at all when the Israelites reentered the land of Canaan.

So that left Judah to become heir apparent.  He received the lion’s share of the blessing and inheritance (and gave some to Simeon because it was too much for them).  Judah also received the blessing of having the Messiah, the Christ, come through his line.

It’s interesting to note that this is probably the last time that Joseph specifically gets named in the listing of the sons/tribes of Israel.  From now on, Joseph’s place is taken by the half-tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh (Joseph’s two sons that Israel claimed as his own in chapter 48).

After charging his sons (i like the way this brings the word “charging” into a clearer understanding than the way we recognize it today) to bury him with his fathers in the cave at the end of the field bought from Ephron, Jacob finally breathes his last.

What do we do to ruin our inheritance?  Are we like Reuben, Simeon, and Levi allowing our rash, unthinking, and angry natures to destroy our blessings?  Is that even possible?  Think on these things.

Also of note, there are some interesting names of God that appear in this text: Abir Yacob (Mighty One of Jacob), Ra-ah (Shepherd), Eben Yisrael (Stone of Israel), Shaddai (Almighty), and of course El (God).

Rev. John

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Genesis 48 – Favored

We are coming to the end of the beginning.  Israel is dying and Joseph is bringing his sons to Israel so that he can bless them.  Israel does something unexpected.  He tells Joseph that Joseph’s sons do not belong to him.  Israel is taking Manasseh & Ephraim and claiming them as his own.  Joseph can claim any others that come after them, but these two are his.

Then Israel goes to bless them.  Joseph puts Manasseh (the elder) at Israel’s right hand, and Ephraim at Israel’s left.  So Israel goes to bless them and he crosses his hands and places his right hand on Ephraim giving him the blessing of the elder while Manasseh gets the lesser blessing.

God does that sometimes.  He sets up certain expectations and standards of His own actions and behaviors and of ours.  Then He goes ahead and breaks those expectations as if they don’t really matter.  Go figure, the God who sets the expectations can rearrange them as He sees fit.  🙂  God blesses / favors him who he wishes to bless / favor, and curses him who he wishes to curse.

Does that mean that we can do the same thing?  I would say, absolutely positively, without a doubt, usually not.  God puts his rules and expectations into place for specific reasons, they are important and when we ignore them it means trouble (…the rules serve the reasons).  However, the purposes and reasons extend beyond the rules.

So when God chooses to bless His favored over the expectations of society and the individual, that is a choice He is free to make.

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Genesis 47 – Desperation

So Pharaoh finally gets to meet the family of his illustrious first-in-command.  As a result of this meeting, Israel and his family are allowed to settle in the best of the land of Egypt.  They are now being provided for for the last five years of the famine.  They have no need and no worry.  They have been blessed by God.

The people of the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan are running out of money.  They have been paying for food so that they can stay alive.  However, all the money in the land of Egypt is running out.  There is still a famine, yet there is no money to use to buy more food they are getting desperate.  So they come to Joseph and ask for help.  Joseph makes them a deal.  “Give up your livestock, and I will give you food for your livestock, since your money is gone.”  So now they have food for another year, at the cost of their livestock.

However, another year comes and goes, and the famine is not over yet!  They still need food, and they now have no money and no livestock to barter for food.  Desperation is high and provision is low, what are the people to do?  They come to Joseph honestly.  They tell him that they have no money and no livestock.  They have nothing to trade for food but themselves and their land.  So Joseph agrees.  They will become slaves of Pharaoh and their land belongs to him, and in turn he (Joseph) will provide them with food.

How desperate are you to see God work and move in your life?  How desperate are we?  Have we yet gotten so sick and tired of having mediocre Christianity, of not having strong, solid bread of life that we are willing to give up what we have for it.  Are we, like the Egyptians, in understanding of our own need and desperation?  Do we recognize our own famine?  Do we realize just how much we need God and for him to move in our lives, in our cities, and in our nation?  Or, are we satisfied with dying a slow spiritual death as we watch our spiritual life ebb and drain away to nothing?

…As we watch our families, cities, and nations slowly degrade into squalor, where is our desire for something more?  Where is our longing for something better?  At what point is enough, ENOUGH!?!  Where is OUR desperation?  Where is your desperation?  The Egyptians had to come to the point where they were willing to give up their land and their very lives in order to get the food that they needed to survive.  Are you there yet?  When will enough be enough?

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Genesis 46 – Long Journey

You could say that this is where it ends, or you could say that this is where it starts.  Either way, Jacob and his family are on their way to Egypt.  There is a much bigger plan for them than any of them can see right now.  It is a plan that won’t be fulfilled for 400+ years.

Jacob makes a wise decision.  Even though his lost son has called for him to come down to Egypt with all that he has and that he will be taken care of, he still seeks the advice of Elohim; the God of his fathers.  Jacob wants to make sure that this is what God is directing him to do.  What’s important to note here is that even when faced with something he desires more than anything in the world, Jacob does not just accept and do what he desires with all of his heart.  He seeks God’s will before he makes the choice.

As a result God blesses him.  God tells him that he is to go.  That He (God) Himself will bring them out, and that Joseph will be there to see him off on his death bed.  At this point there is nothing more that Jacob desires.  We will see more of this plan of God’s in the coming books, but understand that all that occurs in the meantime is a part of God’s plan.

Do we jump into doing something that we want so badly just because we want it without consideration of the consequences or whether it is God’s will.  Many times i have seen an amazing situation that i really, really want and think that it must be God blessing me, but i may forget to actually ask Him if it is from Him.  Other times i seek God’s will and accept what He tells me; then when things fall apart i wonder if i really heard God or if i was just doing my own thing.

Just because it is a blessing, does not mean it is God’s will.  Just because it has led to frustration and trouble, does not mean that it isn’t a part of God’s plan.

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Genesis 45 – Revealed

Some chapters i have to read and read and read the same thing over and over again before i can get it down on paper accurately.  I just have a hard time keeping it all together in my mind long enough for it to get put on paper accurately.  Other times, like today, i start copying the verses down and it all flows so smoothly.

This has to be my favorite part of this story.  He just can’t take it anymore.  Joseph breaks down and lets it all out.  He reveals the truth in the presence of his brothers.  All the work and testing that he has done, has led up to this purpose.  He can now tell them not only who he is, but that this has all been a part of God’s plan.  That they have nothing to fear and that God is blessing them abundantly above all things.

Wow, what it must have been like?  To have all of this happen to you, to look back and know that God was directing and leading it all, and that you now have such a huge part to play in the process.  Then to be able to come back, reconcile with those who “did you harm” and be able to tell them, “Do not fear.  God meant for all of this to happen, and His plan is amazing!”  What must it have been like for the brothers?  Their dark and dirty secret out in the open, but for the good.  All the guilt, pain, and agony that they had buried finally revealed with the ability to let it go.  They still had to deal with the consequences and the backlash.  But, the truth has been revealed, and they can finally be free.

Are their things in our lives that we have hidden that we wish would and could be revealed?  I know that plenty of times in my life this has been the case.  What Jesus told the Pharisees was that if they chose God and became His disciples, they would know the truth, and the truth would set them free. (John 8:32)  They had enslaved themselves to the law and their own rules.  They needed to be released from those chains.  This was their chance and opportunity.  One day, all will be revealed, until then; we may know / reveal the truth, and the truth will set us free.

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Genesis 44 – The Plan

“It all comes down to this.”  How often in our lives do we work towards something; desiring for it to come to pass, and then it all comes down to the wire?  It is the moment of truth.  Will the hero save the day?  Will the girl say. “Yes!”?  Will he get the job that will spark his career and set him on the path for greatness?  Will she get the score that she needs to get into the prestigious school that she wants?

This is just such a time for Joseph and his brothers.  Joseph is pulling the strings and testing his brothers.  He needs to know if they are still the same bitter, angry, jealous men they were when they decided to kill him and ended up selling him into slavery for a few coins.  Is his little brother in just as much trouble as he was by being with them?  Will they stand up for him, or give him away to whomever will take him?  The plan is in place, and the opportunity is given.  How will they respond, and what will it mean for them?

I wonder sometimes in reading this, what would have happened if the brothers had made the wrong choice?  Ultimately we don’t know, because it never did.  Judah stood up and wisely and tactfully responded to the problem.  He explained the situation desiring to get Benjamin off the hook, but needing to do so without making this ruler / lord lose face.  He sacrifices himself so that his younger brother (and father) would live.

Would you or I be willing and able to make the same choice?

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