Tag Archives: Joseph

Matthew 1 – The People

It’s interesting to me to see not only the life and lives of the scriptures coming to life, but also the arguments and debates.

This first book of the New Testament is clearly written for Jewish people.  This is seen from the very beginning of the very first chapter.  Matthew 1 begins with a genealogy for Jesus the Messiah that sets up Joseph the husband of Mary as a direct descendant of David and Abraham.  This genealogy serves at least a dual purpose.  1) It shows that Jesus has every right and privilege of being King David’s direct descendant.  And, 2) It takes a step toward proving that Jesus is indeed the Messiah by showing the fulfillment of prophecy through this genealogy.  It is the history of a Jew for Jews.

One of the debates that comes up is about the genealogy itself.  According to Matthew’s depiction of the genealogy there are 14 generations defined from Abraham to David, 14 generations defined from David to the fall of, and 14 generations defined between the captivity and Jesus the Messiah.  It’s a great pictorial representation, but it’s not without its issues.  For instance, there appear to be discrepancies between this listing and the listing in the book of Luke, but my issues are more direct than that.   How can there be 14 generations between Abraham and David?

When i go through this genealogy I see “Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David the king.”  That’s 4 generations between the time of Moses and the time of David.  1) Salmon to Boaz  2) Boaz to Obed  3) Obed to Jesse 4) Jesse to David.  So according to this listing, all that happened between Moses bringing the people to the Jordan River in the end of Deuteronomy to David being anointed King by Samuel occurred within that 4 generation time span.   That includes all of the book of Joshua (very feasible as it would have been done within one generation), and all of Judges (not so feasible?).

That’s where i get a bit more skeptical.  Just looking at Judges 10 we see numerous minor Judges who served for a number of decades, died then another judge arose and judged Israel, and died and the people sinned again and are afflicted for decades again before we hear of another judge arising.  Then when Samuel is born, the word of the Lord appears to have been scarce for a long time and he serves as Judge and priest for a long time before ever anointing David.  That’s just a sampling of the issue.  There’s still Deborah & Barak, Sampson, Gideon, etc.  How could all of that fit into 4 generations?

Considering that all my life and experience with God / YHWH has shown me beyond a doubt that the scriptures truly are written by the inspiration of God and are infallible, how do i reconcile this and other difficult questions?  The answer to this and other quandaries is much more simple and elegant than we may think.  I have my answers / solutions to the puzzle, but what are yours?  😉

 

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Exodus 1 – Purpose?

Today has just started as one of those days.  I got up, got my chapter done, and in a short 21 verse chapter i just could not stay awake.  It took me quite a bit longer than it should have.  Afterwards i immediately went back to bed and crashed… hard.  This project can be a real struggle sometimes.  I love it, and i love doing it, but on days like today i just want to quit.  I wonder if it’s really worth getting up two hours early to get the chapter copied over and the post written?

Add to that the fact that i am a man in my early 30’s and i feel like i have accomplished nothing in my life.  That’s at least a third of my life gone, with what feels like nothing to show for it.

Then i look at this passage, and i wonder.  Joseph was a man who did what God called him to do.  He put all this work, time, and effort into being the man of God that was needed for the time.  God spent all that time prepping him, and he worked so hard for Pharaoh.  He perhaps single handedly (with God’s direction) saved the lands of Egypt and Canaan from a major drought that would have left the land barren and the people starved to death.

He did all this, and “(n)ow a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.”  This new king owed everything he owned to Joseph, but that didn’t matter.  Joseph struggled, worked, and toiled all his life, helped Egypt to grow in prosperity and strength, and it doesn’t matter.  The king saw all of the Israelites in the land and decided that that was going to be his target.  Joseph’s work and all that he did didn’t mean a thing to this Pharaoh.

I struggle with this because, if all that Joseph did ceases to matter, and he, with God’s direction, did some amazing things, how much more I.  Do i even matter?  Does anything that i could accomplish really matter?  I’ve gotten this far into my life, and it feels like i have accomplished little of real value, but even if i did, does it really matter?  Fifty years after my death, will anyone even remember me or what i have done?  If they do, will they even care?

 

John Camiolo

P.S.  I know, i know.  Many of you will point out that what Joseph did did matter.  After all, we know Joseph’s story, and it was all a part of God’s much bigger plan.  Also some will say that it’s not about our credit here, but we are storing up treasures in heaven…  I understand these concepts and more, but there are times when the facts get buried in how we feel.  And that’s where i’m at today.

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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 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 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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