2865.) Good Friday 2020

April 10, 2020

 

2865.   Good Friday 2020

 

“To some, the image of a pale body glimmering on a dark night whispers of defeat. What good is a God who does not control his Son’s suffering? But another sound can be heard: the shout of a God crying out to human beings, “I LOVE YOU.” Love was compressed for all history in that lonely figure on the cross, who said that he could call down angels at any moment on a rescue mission, but chose not to – because of us. At Calvary, God accepted his own unbreakable terms of justice.

Any discussion of how pain and suffering fit into God’s scheme ultimately leads back to the cross. ”

~Philip Yancey

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“The marvel of heaven and earth, of time and eternity, is the atoning death of Jesus Christ on the cross. This is the mystery that brings more glory to God than all creation.”

~ Charles Spurgeon

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“Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us, we have to see it as something done by us.”

John Stott

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Christ has not only spoken to us by his life but has also spoken for us by his death.

~Soren Kierkegaard

Exalt the Cross! God has hung the destiny of the race upon it. Other things we may do in the realm of ethics, and on the lines of philanthropic reforms; but our main duty converges into setting that one glorious beacon of salvation, Calvary’s Cross, before the gaze of every immortal soul.

~Theodore Ledyard Cuyler

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Music:

HERE  is “Behold the Wood of the Cross,” by Daniel Shutte.

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Images courtesy of:
Good Friday.   https://www.awarenessdays.com/awareness-days-calendar/good-friday/
1 Peter 2:24.   https://www.pinterest.it/pin/385057836872342942/

2864.) Genesis 43

April 9, 2020

The Ballroom of Buckingham Palace was set up for a State Banquet and then opened to tourists in the summer of 2008. The actual experience of eating with the Queen at such an event is reserved for only a small number of people. Certainly Joseph’s brothers never imagined that they would have a similar experience. And for us — just imagine what it will be like when Revelation 19:9 comes true: “Then the angel said to me, ‘Write, “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!”‘”

Genesis 43   (NRSV)

The Brothers Come Again, Bringing Benjamin

Now the famine was severe in the land. 2And when they had eaten up the grain that they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go again, buy us a little more food.”

3But Judah said to him, “The man solemnly warned us, saying, ‘You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.’ 4If you will send our brother with us, we will go down and buy you food; 5but if you will not send him, we will not go down, for the man said to us, ‘You shall not see my face, unless your brother is with you.’“

6Israel said, “Why did you treat me so badly as to tell the man that you had another brother?”

7They replied, “The man questioned us carefully about ourselves and our kindred, saying, ‘Is your father still alive? Have you another brother?’ What we told him was in answer to these questions. Could we in any way know that he would say, ‘Bring your brother down’?”

8Then Judah said to his father Israel, “Send the boy with me, and let us be on our way, so that we may live and not die—you and we and also our little ones. 9I myself will be surety for him; you can hold me accountable for him.

Judah put his own life on the line as a guarantee for Benjamin. This is the first good thing we see Judah doing. Previously, he was the one who had proposed the sale of Joseph. He was also the one who wronged his daughter-in-law Tamar and had sex with her as a prostitute.

If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever. 10If we had not delayed, we would now have returned twice.”

11Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be so, then do this: take some of the choice fruits of the land in your bags, and carry them down as a present to the man—a little balm and a little honey, gum, resin, pistachio nuts, and almonds.

This gift basket includes roasted almonds, roasted pistachios, and honey peanut butter crunch.

12Take double the money with you.

They took double money with them to Egypt to buy grain and the Egyptian leader’s favor. Since ten brothers went to Egypt and they took double money, there were 20 units of money. This answers exactly to the 20 pieces of silver they sold Joseph for (Genesis 37:28). The words for silver and money are the same.

–David Guzik

Carry back with you the money that was returned in the top of your sacks; perhaps it was an oversight. 13Take your brother also, and be on your way again to the man; 14may God Almighty grant you mercy before the man, so that he may send back your other brother and Benjamin. As for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.”

Proverbs 18:16 (NLT)

Giving a gift can open doors;
it gives access to important people!

15So the men took the present, and they took double the money with them, as well as Benjamin. Then they went on their way down to Egypt, and stood before Joseph.

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

16When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the steward of his house, “Bring the men into the house, and slaughter an animal and make ready, for the men are to dine with me at noon.”

Revelation 3:20 (ESV)

Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”

17The man did as Joseph said, and brought the men to Joseph’s house. 18Now the men were afraid because they were brought to Joseph’s house, and they said, “It is because of the money, replaced in our sacks the first time, that we have been brought in, so that he may have an opportunity to fall upon us, to make slaves of us and take our donkeys.”

Yes! Yes! Joseph, the second-most powerful man in Egypt, wants to take their donkeys! — How skewed our outlook can become when all we think about is ourselves! Any “donkeys” in your world recently?

19So they went up to the steward of Joseph’s house and spoke with him at the entrance to the house. 20They said, “Oh, my lord, we came down the first time to buy food; 21and when we came to the lodging place we opened our sacks, and there was each one’s money in the top of his sack, our money in full weight. So we have brought it back with us. 22Moreover we have brought down with us additional money to buy food. We do not know who put our money in our sacks.”

23He replied, “Rest assured, do not be afraid; your God and the God of your father must have put treasure in your sacks for you; I received your money.” Then he brought Simeon out to them.

24When the steward had brought the men into Joseph’s house, and given them water, and they had washed their feet, and when he had given their donkeys fodder, 25they made the present ready for Joseph’s coming at noon, for they had heard that they would dine there.

26When Joseph came home, they brought him the present that they had carried into the house, and bowed to the ground before him.

“Joseph and his brothers” a woodcarving by contemporary Canadian artist Robert Whitehead

27He inquired about their welfare, and said, “Is your father well, the old man of whom you spoke? Is he still alive?”

28They said, “Your servant our father is well; he is still alive.” And they bowed their heads and did obeisance.

29Then he looked up and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son, and said, “Is this your youngest brother, of whom you spoke to me? God be gracious to you, my son!” 30With that, Joseph hurried out, because he was overcome with affection for his brother, and he was about to weep. So he went into a private room and wept there. 31Then he washed his face and came out; and controlling himself he said, “Serve the meal.”

Delicious Egyptian food! Clockwise from top: pita bread, baba ghanoush, hummus, falafels with mixed vegetable salad

32They served him by himself, and them by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because the Egyptians could not eat with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination to the Egyptians. 33When they were seated before him, the firstborn according to his birthright and the youngest according to his youth, the men looked at one another in amazement. 34Portions were taken to them from Joseph’s table, but Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as any of theirs. So they drank and were merry with him.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

–William Cowper

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Music:

HERE  is a very familiar table grace, “Be Present at our Table, Lord,”  sung by the Purduettes, a women’s choir from Purdue University.

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Buckingham Palace banquet table.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/gen-43-banquet-table.jpg?w=450
Gift basket.  http://www.giftbasketdropshipping.com/members/images/regular/Nuts_Gift_Packs=refresher-course=SKU-GB0244-.jpg
donkeys.   http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2008/04/25/donkeys10d.jpg
Whitehead.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/joseph_and_brothers-wood1.jpg?w=450
Egyptian food.   http://sphinxbazaar.com/images/all-about-egypt/gourmet-egypt/gourmet_egypt_large/pharos-food_large.jpg

2863.) Genesis 42

April 8, 2020

“Joseph’s Brothers Beg for Help” by Pontormo, 1515 (National Gallery, London)

Genesis 42   (NRSV)

Joseph’s Brothers Go to Egypt

When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you keep looking at one another?

Why indeed? Once Dad starts talking about Egypt, the sons start remembering Joseph’s cries as they sent him off as a slave to Egypt years ago. Assaulted by guilt and fear, they are in bondage to their sin.

2I have heard,” he said, “that there is grain in Egypt; go down and buy grain for us there, that we may live and not die.”

3So ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt. 4But Jacob did not send Joseph’s brother Benjamin with his brothers, for he feared that harm might come to him. 5Thus the sons of Israel were among the other people who came to buy grain, for the famine had reached the land of Canaan.

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Music:

What a difference a day makes! Certainly the brothers, and Joseph, and Jacob, could hardly have envisioned the upcoming events of the next few days and weeks! And what a wonderful promise the Lord gives us in Matthew 28:20 — “I am with you always.” We have nothing to fear, since the Lord will lead us into and through each new day.  HERE  is “Lead Me, Lord”  sung by Gary Valenciano.

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6Now Joseph was governor over the land; it was he who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground.

joseph-brothers-bowing-stained-glass

Obviously, this reminded Joseph of the dream he had some 20 years before, that his brothers would bow down to him (Genesis 37:5-8).

When Joseph’s brothers plotted murder against him and sold him into slavery, they did it specifically attempting to defeat his dreams (Genesis 37:19-20). Instead, by sending Joseph to Egypt, they provided the way the dreams would be fulfilled.

The great and glorious truth of God’s providence is He can and does use the evil actions of man towards us to further His good plan. This never excuses man’s evil, but it means God’s wisdom and goodness are greater than man’s evil. Surely the wrath of man shall praise You (Psalm 76:10).

–David Guzik

7When Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke harshly to them. “Where do you come from?” he said.

They said, “From the land of Canaan, to buy food.”

8Although Joseph had recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. 9Joseph also remembered the dreams that he had dreamed about them.

He said to them, “You are spies; you have come to see the nakedness of the land!”

Meaning, you are spying to see if Egypt is vulnerable to attack.

10They said to him, “No, my lord; your servants have come to buy food. 11We are all sons of one man; we are honest men; your servants have never been spies.”

12But he said to them, “No, you have come to see the nakedness of the land!” 13They said, “We, your servants, are twelve brothers, the sons of a certain man in the land of Canaan; the youngest, however, is now with our father, and one is no more.”

“We are honest men.”
“One brother is no more.”
They have told these lies to themselves so often that now they almost believe them.

14But Joseph said to them, “It is just as I have said to you; you are spies! 15Here is how you shall be tested: as Pharaoh lives, you shall not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here! 16Let one of you go and bring your brother, while the rest of you remain in prison, in order that your words may be tested, whether there is truth in you; or else, as Pharaoh lives, surely you are spies.” 17And he put them all together in prison for three days.

18On the third day Joseph said to them, “Do this and you will live, for I fear God: 19if you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay here where you are imprisoned. The rest of you shall go and carry grain for the famine of your households, 20and bring your youngest brother to me. Thus your words will be verified, and you shall not die.” And they agreed to do so.

Yes, three days in prison in Egypt did the trick for the brothers!

21They said to one another, “Alas, we are paying the penalty for what we did to our brother; we saw his anguish when he pleaded with us, but we would not listen. That is why this anguish has come upon us.”

The power of a guilty conscience! The United States government has something called the Conscience Fund (created in 1811), which collects money people send in because they know they cheated the government in some way. People have sent in money because they took army blankets for souvenirs or cheated on income tax. But our consciences are notoriously weak or corrupt. One man wrote the IRS and said, “I cheated on my taxes and can’t sleep at night. Here is a check for $100. If I still can’t sleep, I’ll send the rest I owe.”

–David Guzik

22Then Reuben answered them, “Did I not tell you not to wrong the boy? But you would not listen. So now there comes a reckoning for his blood.”

“Joseph sold into slavery by his brothers” by Karoly Ferenczy, 1900 (Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest)

23They did not know that Joseph understood them, since he spoke with them through an interpreter. 24He turned away from them and wept; then he returned and spoke to them. And he picked out Simeon and had him bound before their eyes.

25Joseph then gave orders to fill their bags with grain, to return every man’s money to his sack, and to give them provisions for their journey. This was done for them.

Joseph’s Brothers Return to Canaan

26They loaded their donkeys with their grain, and departed. 27When one of them opened his sack to give his donkey fodder at the lodging place, he saw his money at the top of the sack. 28He said to his brothers, “My money has been put back; here it is in my sack!” At this they lost heart and turned trembling to one another, saying, “What is this that God has done to us?”

29When they came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them, saying, 30“The man, the lord of the land, spoke harshly to us, and charged us with spying on the land. 31But we said to him, ‘We are honest men,

Well, I guess that depends on how one defines “honest”!

we are not spies. 32We are twelve brothers, sons of our father; one is no more, and the youngest is now with our father in the land of Canaan.’

33″Then the man, the lord of the land, said to us, ‘By this I shall know that you are honest men: leave one of your brothers with me, take grain for the famine of your households, and go your way. 34Bring your youngest brother to me, and I shall know that you are not spies but honest men. Then I will release your brother to you, and you may trade in the land.’“

35As they were emptying their sacks, there in each one’s sack was his bag of money. When they and their father saw their bundles of money, they were dismayed. 36And their father Jacob said to them, “I am the one you have bereaved of children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and now you would take Benjamin. All this has happened to me!”

Genesis 42:36 (NIV)

Their father Jacob said to them, “You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!”

William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Act 4, Scene 4.

Hamlet:  “How all occasions do inform against me . . .”

Romans 8:31-32 (NIV)

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him,  graciously give us all things?

37Then Reuben said to his father, “You may kill my two sons if I do not bring him back to you. Put him in my hands, and I will bring him back to you.”

38But he said, “My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he alone is left. If harm should come to him on the journey that you are to make, you would bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to Sheol.”

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Images courtesy of:
Pontormo.   http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/upload/img/pontormo-josephs-brothers-beg-help-NG6453-fm.jpg
“Joseph’s Dreams.”   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/josephs_dreams1.jpg
guilty conscience.   https://i.pinimg.com/736x/a9/db/3d/a9db3dd58fc7909a201257747cb48f1b.jpg
Ferenczy.   http://www.hung-art.hu/kep/f/ferenc_k/muvek/2/feren212.jpg

2862.) Genesis 41

April 7, 2020

“Pharaoh’s Dream” fractal art by contemporary American artist Doug Harrington

Genesis 41  (NRSV)

Joseph Interprets Pharaoh’s Dream

After two whole years,

The royal butler forgot about Joseph, and Joseph remained  in prison for two more years. What good was God building into Joseph’s soul during this long wait? During the times we think God isn’t doing anything, He is doing the work most important to Him: developing our character and transforming us into the image of Jesus Christ.

Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing by the Nile, 2and there came up out of the Nile seven sleek and fat cows, and they grazed in the reed grass. 3Then seven other cows, ugly and thin, came up out of the Nile after them, and stood by the other cows on the bank of the Nile. 4The ugly and thin cows ate up the seven sleek and fat cows. And Pharaoh awoke.

5Then he fell asleep and dreamed a second time; seven ears of grain, plump and good, were growing on one stalk. 6Then seven ears, thin and blighted by the east wind, sprouted after them. 7The thin ears swallowed up the seven plump and full ears. Pharaoh awoke, and it was a dream. 8In the morning his spirit was troubled; so he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt and all its wise men. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was no one who could interpret them to Pharaoh.

9Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “I remember my faults today. 10Once Pharaoh was angry with his servants, and put me and the chief baker in custody in the house of the captain of the guard. 11We dreamed on the same night, he and I, each having a dream with its own meaning. 12A young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. When we told him, he interpreted our dreams to us, giving an interpretation to each according to his dream. 13As he interpreted to us, so it turned out; I was restored to my office, and the baker was hanged.”

14Then Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was hurriedly brought out of the dungeon. When he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came in before Pharaoh. 15And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.”

16Joseph answered Pharaoh, “It is not I; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.”

To God be the glory!

cows grazing on the banks of the Nile

17Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing on the banks of the Nile; 18and seven cows, fat and sleek, came up out of the Nile and fed in the reed grass. 19Then seven other cows came up after them, poor, very ugly, and thin. Never had I seen such ugly ones in all the land of Egypt. 20The thin and ugly cows ate up the first seven fat cows, 21but when they had eaten them no one would have known that they had done so, for they were still as ugly as before. Then I awoke.

22″I fell asleep a second time and I saw in my dream seven ears of grain, full and good, growing on one stalk, 23and seven ears, withered, thin, and blighted by the east wind, sprouting after them; 24and the thin ears swallowed up the seven good ears. But when I told it to the magicians, there was no one who could explain it to me.”

25Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “Pharaoh’s dreams are one and the same; God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good ears are seven years; the dreams are one. 27The seven lean and ugly cows that came up after them are seven years, as are the seven empty ears blighted by the east wind. They are seven years of famine.

28It is as I told Pharaoh; God has shown to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29There will come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt. 30After them there will arise seven years of famine, and all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt; the famine will consume the land. 31The plenty will no longer be known in the land because of the famine that will follow, for it will be very grievous. 32And the doubling of Pharaoh’s dream means that the thing is fixed by God, and God will shortly bring it about.

33Now therefore let Pharaoh select a man who is discerning and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. 34Let Pharaoh proceed to appoint overseers over the land, and take one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt during the seven plenteous years. 35Let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming, and lay up grain under the authority of Pharaoh for food in the cities, and let them keep it. 36That food shall be a reserve for the land against the seven years of famine that are to befall the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish through the famine.”

Joseph shows both his boldness and his gift of administration. No responsible leader would present such news without also suggesting a plan to meet the coming crisis.

Joseph’s Rise to Power

37The proposal pleased Pharaoh and all his servants. 38Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find anyone else like this—one in whom is the spirit of God?”

39So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. 40You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command; only with regard to the throne will I be greater than you.”

. . . thus making Joseph the straightest man in the Bible, since Pharaoh made a ruler out of him . . . hahaha . . .

41And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” 42Removing his signet ring from his hand, Pharaoh put it on Joseph’s hand; he arrayed him in garments of fine linen, and put a gold chain around his neck. 43He had him ride in the chariot of his second-in-command; and they cried out in front of him, “Bow the knee!” Thus he set him over all the land of Egypt.

44Moreover Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no one shall lift up hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.” 45Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-paneah; and he gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, as his wife. Thus Joseph gained authority over the land of Egypt.

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Music:

HERE  is “Song of the King (Seven Fat Cows)” from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. If you have not seen this musical, get a copy — it is a lot of fun!

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Harvest in Egypt, from the tomb of Sennedjem, Thebes, ca. 1200 BC.

Harvest in Egypt, from the tomb of Sennedjem, Thebes, ca. 1200 BC.

46Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went through all the land of Egypt. 47During the seven plenteous years the earth produced abundantly. 48He gathered up all the food of the seven years when there was plenty in the land of Egypt, and stored up food in the cities; he stored up in every city the food from the fields around it. 49So Joseph stored up grain in such abundance—like the sand of the sea—that he stopped measuring it; it was beyond measure.

“Grain bins in a spring wheat field” photograph by Dave Reede

50Before the years of famine came, Joseph had two sons, whom Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, bore to him. 51Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” 52The second he named Ephraim, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my misfortunes.”

From his Egyptian wife, Joseph fathered Manasseh, whose name means “forgetfulness.” This was because God made Joseph to forget all the previous pain and trial in his life. His second son is Ephraim, which means “fruitfulness,” because God made Joseph fruitful in Egypt.

We can’t be doubly fruitful until we are also forgetting. In his book The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis described hell as a place where no one forgets anything, remembering every slight, every cruel exchange of words, every wrong ever done to them, and everybody is utterly unforgiving. But in heaven all these things are put away because all things have become new.

Joseph did not forget the faith of his fathers even though he rose to great glory in Egypt and had an Egyptian wife. As a sign of this, his children were given Hebrew names, not Egyptian names.

–David Guzik

53The seven years of plenty that prevailed in the land of Egypt came to an end; 54and the seven years of famine began to come, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in every country, but throughout the land of Egypt there was bread. 55When all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread. Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph; what he says to you, do.”

56And since the famine had spread over all the land, Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe in the land of Egypt. 57Moreover, all the world came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain, because the famine became severe throughout the world.

“Joseph, Overseer of the Pharaoh’s Granaries” by Lawrence Alma-Tadema, 1874 (Dahesh Museum of Art, New York City)

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Images courtesy of:
Harrington.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/phar-dream-fractaljpg1.jpg?w=450
cows and wheat watercolor.   https://sincetimebegan.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/pharaohs-dream.gif
cows.  http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3275/2600906207_820c4d70b8.jpg?v=0
wheat.   http://www.infiniteunknown.net/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/wheat-beautiful.jpg
ruler.  http://iruler.net/ruler_0_10.jpg
Egypt harvest.   http://www.ancientegyptmagazine.co.uk/images/41permesut1.jpg
Reede.   http://www.davereedephoto.mb.ca/photoslg/wheat_spring_tiger_hills.jpg
Alma-Tadema.    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/95/Joseph_Overseer_of_the_Pharaohs_Granaries.jpg

2861.) Genesis 40

April 6, 2020

“Joseph Interprets the Butler’s and Baker’s Dreams in a Prison” by Alexander Ivanov, 1827 (The Russian Museum, St. Petersburg)

Genesis 40   (NRSV)

The Dreams of Two Prisoners

Some time after this, the cupbearer of the king of Egypt and his baker offended their lord the king of Egypt. 2Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, 3and he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison where Joseph was confined.

The butler was in charge of Pharaoh’s wine. The baker was in charge of Pharaoh’s food. They were imprisoned because they offended their lord, the king of Egypt. It is difficult to tell if it was in a minor or a major way. Considering how the account will develop, it is probable there was a plot to murder the Pharaoh (perhaps by poisoning). But we never lose sight of the over-arching reason: whatever external reason they were sent to prison, they were really there to meet Joseph.

–David Guzik

4The captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he waited on them; and they continued for some time in custody.

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

Joseph was in prison. His feet were hurt with fetters, his heart was hurt by injustice and unkindness. But none of these things prevented him from helping others.

The story that follows shows how full of kindness his service must have been. Joseph must have done more than his bare duty. We do not go for sympathy to those who have been cold and uninterested in our affairs. We avoid them. The butler and the baker went to Joseph sure of his loving, self-forgetful sympathy.

It makes us think of Another whose feet were hurt, and His hands and His side, and far more His loving heart. Out of the midst of His pains He thought of others, only of others.

Matthew 27:42:  He saved others; Himself He cannot save. More and more these words seem to sum up His life on earth.

Lord Jesus, who left us an example that we should follow in Thy steps, help us to follow. Let us forget self in service. Give us Thy love that, loving others, loves them to the end.

5One night they both dreamed—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison—each his own dream, and each dream with its own meaning. 6When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were troubled.

Reflection:

Do I notice when the people I am with are troubled? Do I ask them about it, and try to help them however I can? Am I willing to put the needs of others above my own?

Galatians 6:2 (NIV)

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

7So he asked Pharaoh’s officers, who were with him in custody in his master’s house, “Why are your faces downcast today?”

8They said to him, “We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.”

And Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.”

9So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, “In my dream there was a vine before me, 10and on the vine there were three branches. As soon as it budded, its blossoms came out and the clusters ripened into grapes. 11Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand; and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.”

12Then Joseph said to him, “This is its interpretation: the three branches are three days; 13within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office; and you shall place Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer.

In only three days, the cupbearer will know if Joseph was correct or not.

14But remember me when it is well with you; please do me the kindness to make mention of me to Pharaoh, and so get me out of this place. 15For in fact I was stolen out of the land of the Hebrews; and here also I have done nothing that they should have put me into the dungeon.”

16When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was favorable, he said to Joseph, “I also had a dream: there were three cake baskets on my head, 17and in the uppermost basket there were all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating it out of the basket on my head.”

18And Joseph answered, “This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days; 19within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head—from you! —and hang you on a pole; and the birds will eat the flesh from you.”

Joseph interprets the butler and baker's dreams. Domenico Maggiotto,

Joseph interprets the butler and baker’s dreams. Domenico Maggiotto,

_________________________

Music:

Kings/Pharaohs and birds —  HERE  the German chamber choir, ClaritasVocalis, directed by the founder Uwe Heller, perform “Sing a Song of Sixpence” from Five Childhood Lyrics by John Rutter. Wonderful fun!

_________________________

20On the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, he made a feast for all his servants, and lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants. 21He restored the chief cupbearer to his cupbearing, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand; 22but the chief baker he hanged, just as Joseph had interpreted to them.

23Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.

Again Joseph is forgotten. But hang on, Joe! There is light at the end of your tunnel, and God is going to rescue you in a way you cannot now begin to imagine!

All people God uses greatly, He first prepares greatly. Are we willing to endure the greatness of God’s preparation? God orders both our steps and our stops.

Proverbs 15:33 (NIV)

The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom,
and humility comes before honor.

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Ivanov.   https://dwellingintheword.wordpress.com/2009/06/17/32-genesis-401-23/
Joseph dressed in red.    https://sincetimebegan.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/joseph-baker-butler.jpg
Ratner.  http://www.ratnermuseum.com/includes/images/photos/bible/bible-45.jpg
Maggiott.     http://www.realbiblestories.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Maggiotto_Joseph-Interpreting-Dreams-Pharaohs-Butler-And-Baker.jpg

2860.) Proverbs 7

April 3, 2020

William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 is one of my favorite reflections on true love. It draws a very different picture from what we read in Proverbs 7.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments.  Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
____________

Proverbs 7 (The Message)

Dressed to Seduce

1-5 Dear friend, do what I tell you; treasure my careful instructions.
Do what I say and you’ll live well.
My teaching is as precious as your eyesight—guard it!
Write it out on the back of your hands;
etch it on the chambers of your heart.
Talk to Wisdom as to a sister.
Treat Insight as your companion.
They’ll be with you to fend off the Temptress—
that smooth-talking, honey-tongued Seductress.

6-12 As I stood at the window of my house
looking out through the shutters,
Watching the mindless crowd stroll by,
I spotted a young man without any sense
Arriving at the corner of the street where she lived,
then turning up the path to her house.
It was dusk, the evening coming on,
the darkness thickening into night.
Just then, a woman met him—
she’d been lying in wait for him, dressed to seduce him.

Dressed for success . . .

Brazen and brash she was,
restless and roaming, never at home,
Walking the streets, loitering in the mall,
hanging out at every corner in town.

13-20 She threw her arms around him and kissed him,
boldly took his arm and said,
“I’ve got all the makings for a feast—
today I made my offerings, my vows are all paid,
So now I’ve come to find you,
hoping to catch sight of your face—and here you are!
I’ve spread fresh, clean sheets on my bed,
colorful imported linens.
My bed is aromatic with spices
and exotic fragrances.
Come, let’s make love all night,
spend the night in ecstatic lovemaking!

Other (shorter) pick-up lines:

I have a cat who would really like to meet you.

Do you have any raisins? No? How about a date?

If you were a new hamburger at McDonald’s, you would be McGorgeous.

Well, here I am. What were your other two wishes?

Does my breath smell OK?

My husband’s not home; he’s away on business,
and he won’t be back for a month.”

Dear Hubby,

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder” —
So stay away a little longer!

21-23 Soon she has him eating out of her hand,
bewitched by her honeyed speech.
Before you know it, he’s trotting behind her,
like a calf led to the butcher shop,
Like a stag lured into ambush
and then shot with an arrow,
Like a bird flying into a net
not knowing that its flying life is over.

24-27 So, friends, listen to me,
take these words of mine most seriously.
Don’t fool around with a woman like that;
don’t even stroll through her neighborhood.
Countless victims come under her spell;
she’s the death of many a poor man.
She runs a halfway house to hell,
fits you out with a shroud and a coffin.

a build-it-yourself coffin kit!

_________________________

Music:

True love is quite different from what this chapter describes!

This song was one of “our” songs when David and I first started to realize that we were going to be more than just friends. Now, some sixteen years after we were married (during a Saturday night worship service at Christ Our Shepherd Lutheran Church in Peachtree City, Georgia), being with David still “Feels Like Home to Me.” Sung  HERE  by Chantal Kreviazuk.

_________________________

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Images courtesy of:
William Shakespeare.    http://karinshah.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/shakespeare1.jpg
harlot.    http://elementoffire.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/harlot.jpg
girl at bar.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/7-girl-at-bar.jpg
Bye-bye.    https://www.sendscraps.com/img-2299.html
coffin.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/7-coffin.jpg?w=656

2859.) Genesis 39

April 2, 2020

“Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife,” by Guido Reni, 1631 (Pushkin Museum, Moscow)

Genesis 39   (NRSV)

Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife

Now Joseph was taken down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there.

Captain of the guard:  The idea behind this title means “chief of police,” or probably more precisely, Potiphar was head of Pharaoh’s “Secret Service,” his personal security force. He was a highly trusted official in the government of Egypt.

–David Guzik

2The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man; he was in the house of his Egyptian master. 3His master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord caused all that he did to prosper in his hands. 4So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him; he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had.

How easy it is for us to complain to God that He put us in a terrible or difficult place. Yet God’s will is that we trust Him to bless us and make us successful (as He measures success) wherever we are. The point is not the comfort and ease of our lives. The point is our obedience in being conformed to the image of Christ through the circumstances we encounter. We can be certain that God will be faithful to us in all things.

5From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field. 6So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge; and, with him there, he had no concern for anything but the food that he ate.

Proverbs 14:27 (NIV)

The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life,
turning a man from the snares of death.

Now Joseph was handsome and good-looking.

Joseph’s appearance is of special note. The Bible only calls two other men beautiful: David (1 Samuel 16:12) and Absalom (2 Samuel 14:25).

7And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.”

The Talmud (Yoma 35b) explains that she changed her clothing often in order to entice him.

–jewishtreats.org

Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?

8But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Look, with me here, my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my hand. 9He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except yourself, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”

Reflection, a story:

“Rabbi, what can I do to silence the voice of temptation,” asked the man. When the rabbi replied that this voice might never be silenced, the man exclaimed, “But it’s driving me crazy. Is there any advice that can help me overcome it?”

“Ah, overcome it,” mused the rabbi, “Overcoming the voice is not hard at all. There is one magical word and when you say it, the voice is instantly overcome. It doesn’t go away, mind you. It rarely ever does that, but it can be overcome.”

“A magical word that will deliver me from the brink of temptation? Please share it with me,” the man begged.

The rabbi smiled and firmly replied, “No.”

“Why not? Please, I beg you.”

“No,” repeated the Rabbi. Crestfallen, the man turned to leave — when the rabbi softly explained that word “no” was, in fact, the magical word.

–from Countering the Voice of Temptation, by Lazer Gurkow.

10And although she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not consent to lie beside her or to be with her.

“Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife,” by a Christian artist in Thailand, Sawai Chinnawong, 2004.

11One day, however, when he went into the house to do his work, and while no one else was in the house,

The Midrash explains that Joseph expected the house to be empty since “It was the festival of the Nile. All had gone to the theater” (Genesis Rabbah 87:5).

–jewishtreats.org

12she caught hold of his garment, saying, “Lie with me!” But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside.

It was not, the Midrash explains, that Joseph was not tempted – after all, he was in the flush of his youth – but rather he overcame any thought of temptation by seeing a vision of his righteous father Jacob (Talmud Sotah 36b) and his departed mother Rachel (Genesis Rabbah 98:20).

–jewishtreats.org

“Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife” by contemporary New York artist Richard McBee.

Hebrews 13:4 (ESV)

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

 

"Joseph and Potiphar's Wife" by Bartolome Esteban Murillo, around 1665

“Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife” by Bartolome Esteban Murillo, around 1665

13When she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled outside, 14she called out to the members of her household and said to them, “See, my husband has brought among us a Hebrew to insult us! He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice; 15and when he heard me raise my voice and cry out, he left his garment beside me, and fled outside.” 16Then she kept his garment by her until his master came home, 17and she told him the same story, saying, “The Hebrew servant, whom you have brought among us, came in to me to insult me; 18but as soon as I raised my voice and cried out, he left his garment beside me, and fled outside.”

19When his master heard the words that his wife spoke to him, saying, “This is the way your servant treated me,” he became enraged. 20And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined; he remained there in prison.

Potiphar went easy on Joseph because he suspected his wife’s role in the matter. The anger aroused may have not been directed towards Joseph, but against the wife for manipulating him into a situation where, to save face, he had to dismiss the man who made the whole household run well.

–David Guzik

21But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love; he gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer. 22The chief jailer committed to Joseph’s care all the prisoners who were in the prison, and whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. 23The chief jailer paid no heed to anything that was in Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper.

The dominating theme is that Joseph succeeded because of the blessing of God:

  • The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man (Genesis 39:2)
  • His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand (Genesis 39:3)
  • The Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had (Genesis 39:5)
  • But the Lord was with Joseph (Genesis 39:21)
  • The Lord was with him (Genesis 39:23)

Romans 6:15-18 (NLT)

Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.

_________________________

Book:

Bruce Feiler: Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land through the Five Books of Moses (Book II, Chapter 1 “On the Banks of the Nile”).

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Music:

“Yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin;
Each vict’ry will help you some other to win;
Fight manfully onward; dark passions subdue;
Look ever to Jesus, He’ll carry you through.”

This song was written by Horation R. Palmer in 1868.  HERE  it is sung by Ramona Campbell.

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Reni.  http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d4/Joseph_and_Potiphar%27s_Wife.jpg/506px-Joseph_and_Potiphar%27s_Wife.jpg
Voulez-vous.   http://i53.photobucket.com/albums/g72/stolen1985/sleeping.jpg
Chinnawong.  http://www.jewishtreats.org/2017/12/a-biblical-story-familiar-to-our-time.html
McBee.   http://www.fadingad.com/potifar.jpg
Murillo.    http://www.artble.com/imgs/c/8/4/527124/joseph_and_potiphar_s_wife.jpg