Monday, April 30, 2012

Genesis Covers Some 3,500 Years After Creation, A Postlude


The story that began with Adam, Eve, Noah, Abraham, and Isaac, continued with Jacob and Esau, and then Jacob’s sons, most prominently Joseph.  But Genesis is not the end of the story, as long as it was, covering some 3500 years.  It continues to this very day with you and me, and those that may well come after us.  We are just as much a part of this story as the characters we read about and studied.  The exact role we are to play is a function of our faith in, and relationship with, the God who created Adam and was a Friend of Abraham’s.

Matthew Henry, also writing on Genesis, says this: “Thus the book of Genesis, which began with the origin of light and life, ends with nothing but death and darkness; so sad a change has sin made.”  Yes, sin has made a difference but perhaps all is not “woe is me”.

Living in the 21st however, we have the benefit of being involved with more of the triune God than Adam or Abraham were.  We have been ransomed by the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, and being guided every day of our lives by the Holy Spirit of the Almighty.  Genesis may have ended with the Jews facing some 400 years of slavery, but we can be partakers of an everlasting life that can begin now for each of us who believe in and personally know Jesus Christ, the Deliverer Son of God.

As we close this volume, I hope the two things that were my objectives blessed you.  First, to show the incredible “gems” that are found throughout Scripture and the fact that one does not need to be a professional theologian to find them.  And second, that there is application in almost every single verse of Scripture that can be made and found relevant to each of us as we live in the twenty-first century.

It has been my honor to have you join me in this journey through Genesis.  May you have been challenged to continue your own study of Scripture commencing with Exodus in a similar way and sharing with others what God has shown you.

As always, I would welcome your correspondence.

Ken B. Godevenos
Toronto, Ontario, April 30, 2012. 

You can read all of the posts on Genesis elsewhere in this blog or feel free to contact the author at kgod@accordconsulting.com .

[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

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Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Yes, Love, Pray, Present the Truth to Win Them; but How Do We Stop Them from Getting Killed?

I wrote this email to a Middle-Eastern Christian Leader today and am eagerly waiting his reply.  I would appreciate your thoughts on the topic as well.  I am seriously seeking an answer and would welcome serious reflection from those that care to respond.  Here's my letter . . .

"Dear _____:  I had the pleasure of hearing you speak very recently and was impressed with what God has done and can do and is doing in your part of the world.   As a committed Christian, involved actively in mission work both in Canada and Africa, I am fully aware of the need to love our enemies; pray for them; and releasing the truth unto them.  God does the rest.

"I understand the need for that in order that many may come to a full knowledge of HIM.  I commend you for what you and your team are doing in the midst of the situation you are in.

"My question, however, has to do with the "other aspect" of what may also be our responsibility, but I am not sure.  And that is this:

"While we have a responsibility to do all the Bible empowers us to do to introduce men and women to Christ, do we as "Body of Christ" also have any responsibility in utilizing our influence to stem the genocide (for that is what I believe it amounts to if we collectively are aware of all Christians that are persecuted and killed by others) that we see before us around the world?   Do we have a responsibility to take stronger action together to convince the non-Islamic countries that we must act to stop this globally before it is too late?   Do we have a responsibility to act like those who acted to protect Jews against Hitler, for example?  I fear the "boot" of intolerant radical Islam is making big gains and is marching and stomping across the face of the earth.  

"As one who works with those in Africa, I see it annually coming down from northern Africa to south of the Sahara dessert and having a great influence with its power, money, and fear-causing approach.  I simply ask "Is it time for some of the Church's well-known leaders to come together to discuss what can be done to influence those global leaders that will still hear us?"

"I realize the simple answer may be "We cannot do that, only God can".   I know that, and I must admit I find it difficult to share my feelings on this topic with so many that have no idea of what is going on across the face of the earth these days.  The devil is working 24/7 and he has undertaken an incredible recruiting program, as well as a major initiative to lie to the world.   Yes, only God can -- but what can we do with God, for God, and for our children and grandchildren for the sake of God's Kingdom?   I am not yet ready to believe the answer is "nothing".   Perhaps you or others can convince me otherwise.

"Please understand I am asking about the "other side" of the equation -- you have well handled the Christian's responsibility to "the Great Commission".  I have no quarrel with that and am on board.  My heart yearns to discover what God would have us do for those that are Christians already, to keep them from perishing at the hands of the enemy.    Think of it as the difference between "witnessing to slaves" in the days of slavery and protecting the slaves that have been freed after England and the United States abolished slavery.   Are we doing anything for the latter situation including those Muslims that are being converted to Christianity even today?  (The young lady you mentioned in your talk comes to mind.)

"That is my sincere question.

"I would appreciate your thoughts on this and I would be happy to correspond with you on this issue.  If there was some interest as to how an ordinary man like me could be involved in helping bring this about, I would be happy to devote myself to it.

"In His Service with you, Ken B. Godevenos, Toronto."



[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

Thanks for dropping by. Sign up to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends. Ken Godevenos, Church and Management Consultant, Accord Consulting.

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Joseph’s Death & the End of Genesis - Genesis 50:24-26


And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will surely take care of you, and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob.”  Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones up from here.”  So Joseph died at the age of one hundred and ten years; and he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt.

With this passage we come to the end of the book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible.  In it, we find Joseph himself, in a manner similar to what his father experienced, being aware he was about to die.  I believe more of us know when our time is just about up than we may want to admit.  There are those who die suddenly in an accident or via a heart attack, of course, but more of us seem to get some warning, than those that do not.  Assuming you and I may get such a warning, the question arises as to whether or not we will be able to handle it as well as both Jacob, and later Joseph, did.

Joseph’s biggest concern as death approached him was the welfare of his brothers and their families.  He wanted to assure them that God would indeed take care of them.  He wanted to remind them that the goal was for God to lead them up from the land of Egypt to the land the Almighty had promised their father Jacob, their grandfather Isaac, and their great-grandfather Abraham.  This was an “oath” of God – a promise that would be kept not only because it was a promise, but also because it was God Who made it.  With this statement and his subsequent request to his brothers, Joseph is showing the depth of his faith in the God of his fathers.  And with it, an understanding that even he who had risen to the position he had in Egypt realized he was just a “wayfarer” there and not a citizen.  His real home was the land that God had promised his people.  That is the understanding that all of us need to have, exhibit, and share with those that come after us.  As true believers, we realize we are only journeying through life on earth, and our destination is the home that our Heavenly Father has prepared for us.  If you are a Christian and reading this, and don’t feel that way – may I humbly suggest that something is out of kilter and you need to find out what it is.

In Joseph’s days, promises were very serious things.  Once made, people did all they had to in order to deliver them.  Would that we would take our ‘promises’ to others and to God as seriously.  Would that we would go out of our way, to any extent necessary, to keep our oaths.  To be a disciple of Jesus or to be like Jesus, to be like His Father, keeping promises made becomes one of the highest priorities.  And that goes from keeping a promise that simply says, “I’ll call you,” to one that says, “Until death do us part.”

Sometimes promises are requested from us.  In this case, Joseph asked his brothers to promise to carry his bones with them to the land God was going to give them when they went – whenever that would be.  And that was it; no more was said.  Given how well the people of God honored oaths and promises, we could be certain that Joseph’s brothers would both accept and deliver their promise to him.

My dad, in his 91st year, and as he was knew his remaining days were very few due to his advanced cancer, asked a favor of me.  His one desire was that I, being an only child, would not sell the home he and mom had bought in 1953 – the home from which I was married, the home from which mom died, the home his three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren loved to visit, and the home from which he died.  He did not care if we rented it, used it, or left it empty – but he just did not want it sold until I had died.  He realized the generation after me would likely not value it for its historic or sentimental value.  He never posed it as a promise I had to make, but I knew that doing so would make him happy.  I, on the other hand, chose to ‘promise’ him that I would keep his request.  And so I did.  When dad died, we wondered what we would do with the house.  It turned out God had His plans already lined up; we just had to come in line with them as He brought His desire, and something that would have made my dad so pleased, to our minds and then, our pursuit.

My wife and second daughter spent the first year after dad’s death working with an architect to design a home that would allow three generations (my wife and I, my daughter and her husband, and their three children) to enjoy as one family.  And what a home they designed.  They hired a contractor and we watched as dad and mom’s home bought almost six decades ago was taken down, a new larger foundation was built, and a new house was erected.   As I pen this we have all enjoyed the benefits of living together (and yes, dealt with and still face some of the challenges) for close to four years already.  We all know we are in God’s will -- for us at least -- and we have all been able to keep the promise I made to my father.

I was not emotionally attached to the land my father had bought when I was five years old.  But I treasured it for what it meant to our family since my youth.  And when I saw it still had a role to play in the rest of my life and then in the life of one of my children and some of my grandchildren, I learned to really love it.  And I know I will love that way it until my own dying day.  Bible commentator Chuck Smith suggests the love the Jews have for Israel even today was not something that they latched onto in recent years, it was there from the time of Abraham forward, even before they possessed it the first time.

Joseph made his request of his brothers and then he died after having lived one hundred and ten years.  The Scriptures say he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt.  There is no evidence that he was ever buried.   He lay in a coffin in probably some austere room for all the years between his death and when God took the Israelites out of Egypt.  Some commentators say that was 300 years, others say it was over 400 years.  It all depends when we start counting.  Either way, it was a long time.  And in that coffin, he lay above ground as, according to David Guzik, “a silent witness for all those years that Israel was going back to the Promised Land, just as God said.”  When a Jewish child would see the coffin and would ask why the corpse in it was not buried, the parent had an incredible opportunity to tell him/her about the Promised Land.

We do not know if Joseph had any indication from God as to how long it would be before the Jews were to leave Israel, but his faith in what God had promised could last as long as it took.  That is what real faith is all about.   It does not have a “limited time application” sticker on it.  If I believe in God and what He said, time is not an issue.  It will happen.

Joseph died, and even though the Egyptians whom he served so well would have wanted him buried in Egypt, he was likely given a royal funeral but then preserved in a coffin as per his wish, until he could be carried to the land God was giving his people.  While we focus on the hope that such a coffin would bring to the generation of Jewish people for the next 400 or so years, we must also be aware of the fact that its exposure was a thorn in the flesh to many Egyptian rulers that followed between Joseph’s death and the Exodus.  The idea of loosing all that population and later slaves was not an easy one to accept.

Matthew Henry points out “Joseph died looking forward to God’s unfolding plan of redemption”.  What a fitting ending for Genesis, the Book of Beginnings.  Henry writes, “It (Genesis) concludes looking forward to the continuation of God’s eternal, loving, wise plan.”  Are you in it?

[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

Thanks for dropping by. Sign up to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends. Ken Godevenos, Church and Management Consultant, Accord Consulting.
 

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Joseph’s Reward - Genesis 50:22-23


Now Joseph stayed in Egypt, he and his father’s household, and Joseph lived one hundred and ten years.  And Joseph saw the third generation of Ephraim’s sons; also the sons of Machir, the son of Manasseh, were born on Joseph’s knees.

In this short passage we learn Joseph and Jacob’s households stayed on, after Jacob’s death, to live in Egypt for many years.  There is no direct reference to the households of the other brothers, but we could assume that since they had settled there, they too were included, from a language perspective, under Jacob’s household.  This is supported by verse 24 that follows this passage wherein Joseph at his death is speaking to his brothers and tells them God will take them from Egypt to the Promised Land.

We also learn that Joseph lived to the age of 110.  Our last look at our chronological timeline (from the beginning of Genesis) was back in Genesis 47:27.  Let’s revisit it.

·      3461    The meeting of Jacob and Pharaoh when Jacob’s family moved to Egypt (based on Genesis 47:9 and the dates we had arrived at above)(Jacob was 130 years old)
·      3478    Jacob’s death in Egypt at the age of 147 (based on Genesis 47:28,29)

To this we would, if we could, add the next event.

·      ????    Joseph dies at age 110

This presents our own “chronological timeline” with a problem.  While we know this occurred some time after Jacob’s death around 3478 years from the start of Genesis, we do not know exactly when. The reason is that we have information of how old Joseph was when he died, but not the year in which he was born.  We can only hope that later in Scripture, more information is given to us to allow us to continue down this avenue of time measurement through the Bible.

Literally the text speaks of Joseph “seeing” the third generation of his son Ephraim’s sons. That is, he saw Ephraim’s children (first generation of Ephraim’s sons), their children (Joseph’s grandchildren and Ephraim’s second generation), and their grandchildren (Joseph’s great grandchildren and Ephraim’s third generation).  That was Joseph’s reward – to be able to live long enough to see all these children.  That would be quite a blessing.  My own father lived to see five great-grandchildren.  They kept him young and he loved them all.

The text also speaks of Joseph seeing the sons of Machir his grandson, born to Manasseh and his wife.  Later on we discover this was Manasseh’s eldest son and likely born to him through one of his Aramite or Syrian concubines.  Manasseh was Joseph’s oldest son, but Jacob, back in Genesis 48, had given the younger son, Ephraim the ‘right-hand’ blessing reserved for the ‘first-born’.

All these generations Joseph enjoyed as part of his blessed life.  What is your life like today?  Are you blessed?   Have you placed yourself in a position to be blessed in this manner with family and grandchildren?  Or have you gone your own way because of family feuds, your own stubbornness, etc.?  If so, it is never to late to start “rebuilding” that same family, starting with your relationship with God.  I encourage you to re-examine your current lot in life.  Is it what it could be?  Is it what it should be?  If not, I pray you will take the steps to start heading in that direction.   Even if you’re on your deathbed, it is never too late.  And the rewards are immense.

[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

Thanks for dropping by. Sign up to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends. Ken Godevenos, Church and Management Consultant, Accord Consulting.



Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Joseph The Potential Judge, Responds - Genesis 50:18-21


Then his brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.”  But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place?  And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.  So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.”  So he confronted them and spoke kindly to them.

You will remember in the passage before this one, the Bible says the brothers “sent a message” to Joseph concerning their newly resurfaced fear.  We do not know whether that was through a chosen brother to represent them all, or through someone else.  But here it is clear that all the brothers came to see Joseph, either at his request, or on their own, at some point after he had received the original message.

And when they went, they went humbly.  They bowed down before Joseph and simply acknowledged that they were in his hands and were there as his servants to do as he wished.  I see a picture here that somehow resembles our relationship to God and His Son.  Man has sinned against God and fears for his own wellbeing.  He recognizes his errant ways and realizes his need for a Savior.  He approaches the Almighty with all humility and agrees to serve Him.  And like Joseph, God accepts us as members of His family.  The parallelism is striking.

This short passage of Scripture also contains one of the most quoted lines of the Old Testament – “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.”  Put another way, God used sinful man (the brothers) to pursue evil ends (the elimination of Joseph) to achieve His desired ends (Joseph ending up leader in Egypt) for the purpose of saving the lives of many (the Israelites in Egypt).  Something that struck me odd here is the use of the phrase “God meant it”.  In my current thinking I would have found it much more conducive to my theological exposure if the text had said “but God allowed it”.  Some of us have always found it hard to accept the idea that God orchestrates “bad things to happen to good people”.  But perhaps this verse is suggesting otherwise.  If so, I am okay with this.  After all, God is God and He can do whatever He wants to.  I believe that is the most crucial admission that any man or woman or child can make whether one is a Christian or not.   The non-Christian may not like it.  The Christian will soon find that it is the only way he or she can accept what is going on in the world today.

Joseph is telling his brothers that because it was God that not only was involved in, but also was the One Who was in control of, the situation, they should not be afraid.  His job is to forgive them and to provide for them and their families like a loving older brother or father.  And the Bible says the brothers were faced with those facts and were spoken to kindly.

As I thought about this at the time of writing, I wondered how I could apply the lesson of this passage to my own life.  What was I particularly concerned about, even to the point of fear?  Well, to be totally honest with you – it is the march of radical non-tolerant Islam across the face of earth.  I see it coming like a twister tornado at full speed and I am distraught, to say the least, as to why not only our western politicians but also our own Christian leaders are doing nothing about it.  And if not that, why nothing significant is being done about the treatment of Christians in countries where Muslims already make up 51% or more of the population?

If I take my own advice, I have to realize that God is indeed involved.  In fact, He is in control.  Maybe I think this world movement is meant for my evil but maybe God intends it to be for not only my good, but as a means to bring out about the salvation of many, both Muslims and others.  What I have to do is “therefore, not be afraid” and know that God will provide for “me and my little ones”.  I must admit that is a very hard place to get to, at least for me.

You probably have your own fear or two.  Together we must find within us the means by which we get to that place.  For the Christian, that means is the indwelling of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Secondly, we must realize His presence within us provides us the means by which we can remain there.

[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

Thanks for dropping by. Sign up to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends. Ken Godevenos, Church and Management Consultant, Accord Consulting.



Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

With Jacob Buried, Fear Sets In for the Brothers - Genesis 50:15-17


When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph should bear a grudge against us and pay us back in full for all the wrong which we did to him!”  So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father charged before he died, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph, “Please forgive, I beg you, the transgression of your brothers and their sin, for they did you wrong.” And now please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.’”  And Joseph wept when they spoke to him.

I love the English used here at the beginning of this passage – “When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead. . . .”  Clearly, they had ‘seen’ he was dead prior to that for they had mourned for him for seventy days, then travelled three hundred miles with his body, then mourned again for another seven days.  Here then is an example of language usage in the Bible that is a little unlike ours today.  In this case, the verb ‘to see’ is being used in its ‘to come to understand or realize’ aspect.  When the brothers realized that their father Jacob, who may well have protected them from the possible wrath of Joseph for what they had done to him, was dead, fear set in.  Perhaps they thought Joseph was only biding his time until Jacob had died before he turned on them for their past sins against him.

There is a parallel here between the fear Jacob’s sons are exhibiting here, a fear similar to what many of us feel or may have felt towards our natural fathers, and the fear that we as Christians sometimes have with respect to our Heavenly Father.  I remember well the time or two that my father protected me from school or neighborhood bullies.  Once he stepped into the picture, they all of a sudden wanted to be my friends.  Maybe you have had similar experiences.  When one or more of our young grandchildren were having difficult times at school, sometimes even with a teacher, just knowing that their mom and/or dad, let alone their fiery grandfather, were there to take up their cause rightfully, was a big encouragement to them.

Because of the fact that at some point we lost the protection of our earthly fathers, we often have the same feeling when it comes to the relationship between God, our Heavenly Father, and ourselves.  Usually, but not always, the cause of such a feeling by us is based on the fact that we have done something, sinned in a way, that we believe places us beyond help or beyond being worthy of help and our God has abandoned us.  That is one of the biggest lies that Satan can ever lay on us.  It is not true.  Scripture, experience, and our faith tell us that it is not the case.  Our Heavenly Father’s protection is always with us.  We can’t leave home without it, even if we wanted to.

Here also we have the human “what if” scenario at play.  As humans we tend to start thinking about things that “might” be.  What if one of my family members had cancer?  What if my child didn’t pass?  What if my spouse left me?  What if I lost my job? There’s a time for all that kind of “what if” scenario planning, but when God has shown His faithfulness to us in so much over the course of our lives, that time is not now, especially if He is blessing us in so many ways right now.  In business we do that kind of planning in the process of our “risk management” exercises that we are obligated to conduct on behalf of our clients, the government, our staff, and our stakeholders.  In our lives, our “risk management” process is to practice and celebrate the fact that God is for us and with us, then obeying His instructions to us, and constantly growing in our relationship with him.  No other negative “what if’s” are required.  We need to have a second or third alternative in our minds, of course, on some of these issues.  That’s just using the mental ability and skills that God has given us to take care of our needs and those of our family.   No one is recommending we have our heart set on a single outcome and then be hit by utter destruction and not be able to survive the calamity.  But when it comes to borrowing tomorrow’s woes, the Bible instructs us not to bother.

In the case of the brothers, their fear was over justice.  They did not want to be justly treated for what they had done.  And surely to goodness, if anyone now had the power to treat them justly, it was their “nice up-to-this-point, but with no-future-guarantee” brother Joseph who was the second ruler of all Egypt.  I’d be afraid too, because true justice had never been achieved; no real consequence had ever been suffered for the wrong that had been done.

We must notice that this exchange between Joseph and his brothers was not necessarily made directly by all of them.  First we don’t know how much time had elapsed between the burial in verse 14 and this realization of the brothers in verse 15.  We do know that they had all returned to Egypt.  But Matthew Henry points out that Joseph had returned to the royal court in a major Egyptian city while the brothers returned to their land in Goshen, in the remote parts of the country.  In verse 16 we read that they “sent a message” to Joseph on this matter.  Was it via a servant or was it delivered by one or more of them?  We do not know.  At the end of verse 18, we read that Joseph wept (on which we comment below) but what is interesting is that the text says he “wept when they spoke to him.  Again, was that a form of English that included that he wept when they “spoke to him through the messenger”?  Or, did this conversation include a stage whereby he called them to come in and see him in person in order to finish it off?  (You’ll remember Joseph was very good at arranging these ‘second meetings’ if you think back to how he treated the brothers when they first came to Egypt for grain.) Again, we do not know.  But, let us go back to the planning of the brothers for a moment.

The next thing we notice is that in all likelihood, fear begets lying.  There is no record in Scripture that Jacob charged his sons any such thing as what they related to Joseph.  I would be the first to say, “Yes, it is possible he did”.  But once again, we have to look at the whole evidence to land on a particular position.  Does what we do know of Jacob suggest that he might have done so?  I don’t think so.   But does the timing of this idea from the brothers, with respect to the onset of their fear and so long after their father’s death, suggest that it may have been a made-up charge?  I think so.   I’m prepared to go with that, always remaining open to the possibility that I, and anyone joining me, could be wrong.  These guys had lied to Jacob about Joseph.  It was not a big hurdle for them to lie to Joseph about Jacob, especially now that he was gone.  Nevertheless, when our fear starts requiring us to tell lies, it is time to come clean, with God, and others.

Isn’t it interesting that our messages often conceived primarily as a lie, often carry with them one or more elements of truth.  In this case, they put some of these words in the mouth of their deceased father, Jacob, namely admitting through him that they basically had a fear and implying that they were wrong.

But then you will notice in the text that the part attributed to Jacob ends – the quotation is closed and the brothers now make their own direct plea, when they say “And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.”  The end result is a personal admission to being wrong, seeking forgiveness, and explaining that they have found their way back to God and are now serving Him.  I believe there was sincerity there.

As I comment on this portion today, I am reminded of the National Hockey League general manager yesterday, who echoed management apologies to fans for a lousy season when he said, “I want to say on behalf of management, the coaching staff and players, I want to echo Mr. (chairman of the franchise owners)’s apology for our failure to deliver this year. We didn’t deliver at the end.”  He was asked at various points in the news conference if he was personally apologizing and his response was “I said what I said,” and walked out.  Well, that just won’t cut it with some fans and they’re seeking his firing.  Humans are like that – some fail to take any personal responsibility for what went wrong and some want them shot for not doing so.  In the case of Joseph’s brothers, I believe they were truly sorry for what they had done and sincerely sought his forgiveness.

But somehow the person of God reacts differently as Joseph shows us in his response to the brothers sharing with him the ‘supposed’ charge of his recently deceased father, Jacob.  Joseph wept.  We could well ask why?  Was it because he was reminded again of his beloved father, or because he now had to deal with another wish or request of his father’s?  Was it because he was reminded of what the brothers had indeed done to him?  Was it because it disappointed them greatly that they thought so little of him and his love for them when he felt he had shown it so lavishly as they settled in Egypt?  Or was it because he felt so sorry for his brothers that carried this great fear of him with them all this time?  We don’t know, but we do know he wept and was sensitive to the need for full reconciliation.

[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

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Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Two Promises Kept - Genesis 50:12-14


And thus his sons did for him as he had charged them; for his sons carried him to the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre, which Abraham had bought along with the field for a burial site from Ephron the Hittite.  And after he had buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, he and his brothers, and all who had gone up with him to bury his father.

To those that have studied the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, these verses mark the end of a great era that made up the lives and trials of the famous “fathers’” trio of Israel.  It is fitting that a grandson gets buried in the cave of the field that his grandfather had bought.  This was the same cave where Abraham’s son Isaac buried him.  The same cave where Isaac’s son Jacob buried him.  And now the same cave Jacob’s son Joseph was burying him.  But things were going to be somewhat different now.  The tribes were growing.  The grandmothers were also all gone.  The sons of Jacob were living in Egypt.  Keeping all the Israelites focused on living with and for their God was not going to be an easy task.  What happens from here on in to the people of God left behind by Jacob is something that many of us who are alive now can well identify with.  While some of the members of the generations that came after us are as true to the Word of God as we may be, and perhaps more so in some cases, the majority just pay lip service.  They take what they want and do what they have to, either because that is what they have always done, or because they want to be sure they qualify for the “free gift of eternal life”.  There is often no real repentance of their past sinful ways, nor is daily life a conscious attempt to live for and to serve their Savior.  As one moves on to study Exodus and the rest of the Old Testament one observes a loving God who will not let go of His people.  Today, we too, can be thankful of God’s desire to keep on calling us to a closer relationship with Him.

This short passage is also an account of two promises kept.  First, Jacob’s sons led by Joseph, kept their promise to Jacob to bury him in the land of Canaan and in the place he made them promise to do so as he was dying.  A father’s wish was fulfilled.  Second, Joseph’s promise to Pharaoh that all of the family would return to Egypt after they buried their father, was also kept.

We thus begin “life after Jacob” with men of integrity.  What could possibly go wrong?  Lots, as we’ll find out in the rest of the Pentateuch and beyond.

[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

Thanks for dropping by. Sign up to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends. Ken Godevenos, Church and Management Consultant, Accord Consulting.



Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Traveling to Canaan to Bury Jacob - Genesis 50:7-11


So Joseph went up to bury his father, and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his household and all the elders of the land of Egypt, and all the household of Joseph and his brothers and his father’s household; they left only their little ones and their flocks and their herds in the land of Goshen.  There also went up with him both chariots and horsemen; and it was a very great company.  When they came to the threshing floor of Atad, which is beyond the Jordan, they lamented there with a very great and sorrowful lamentation; and he observed seven days mourning for his father.  Now when the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “This is a grievous mourning for the Egyptians.”  Therefore it was named Abel-mizraim, which is beyond the Jordan.

Can you imagine the burial procession going up from Egypt towards Canaan? Scripture tells us the entire households of all of Jacob’s sons went along with the household of Jacob himself, plus it says ‘all’ the servants of Pharaoh.  It goes on to say that the elders of ‘his’ household, most likely with reference again to Pharaoh’s household, also went along with ‘all’ the other elders of the land of Egypt.

Here too is another place we can make a point about truth and Scripture and whether the Bible means exactly what it says.  Did every single servant of Pharaoh go on this trip leaving Pharaoh to fend for himself?  Did every single elder in the land of Egypt go up to Canaan to bury Jacob?  I would suggest that was not the case.  But if I make that assertion, you could well argue that I am questioning the infallibility of Scripture.  Or am I?  First, let me assure you that I believe in the infallibility of Scripture – there are no errors therein.  Second, let me suggest that it is totally possible (that is from a physical perspective) that ‘all’ the servants of Pharaoh and ‘all’ the elders of Egypt did go on this journey.  But, it is highly unlikely.  So, what then are we left with?

It is possible that the word ‘all’ is used to refer to ‘a great number’ along the lines of us saying today, “You should have seen ‘all’ the people at the football game”.  Clearly, “all” the people that exist were not at the game, but there surely were a good number of people there.  It is also possible that the author was writing this from the perspective of what was being conveyed to him over the generations with respect to what those that were there actually saw.  That is, referring to “all the servants” and “all the elders” that they saw, and there were many of them.  Again the point is being made that we have to allow a text claiming to be ‘truth’ to be examined by other probable explanations as to how it is still ‘truth’ and not be quick to judge its validity.  We will find that this test of “other probable explanations” is a good one and will always find Scripture to be true.

The text also tells us that ‘they’ most likely in reference to Jacob’s sons, left their little ones and their flocks back in Egypt.  In order to do so, there must have been either some mothers left behind with children that were being nursed, or some servants to take care of the children.  More evidence that the ‘all’ referred to the vast numbers involved rather than the totality of what was being described.  This is yet another example of how “biblical text answers biblical text” when combined with common sense and a sincere desire to show that our belief of its infallibility is correct.  But what is more significant in this statement about little ones and flocks being left behind is that it is further evidence of the fact they did indeed intend to return to Egypt, as Joseph had promised Pharaoh.  When we make a promise, we need to act accordingly.

The next thing we notice here is that somehow, someone, likely with Pharaoh’s permission, a host of chariots and horsemen accompanied the burial procession to Canaan.  One could argue that this was to make sure the Israelites would return to Egypt.  Perhaps.  But if that were the case, then there was no need for so many of the servants and the elders of Egypt to go with them.  My guess is that this was to protect the Israelites on their journey.  The entire trip from Egypt to Canaan where Jacob was to be buried was approximately three hundred miles.  There is no doubt that this entire entourage would attract attention, some of it not so welcomed.

Our passage indicates that they “came to the threshing-floor of Atad”.  Some believe this proper name as used here may indeed have referred to a common noun that translates to “the plain of the thorn bushes”.  Scholars place it on the border between Egypt and Canaan.  Robert Jamieson in his commentary suggests that this was the last spot where both the family and the Egyptians present could indulge in grieving together and thus called for a prolonged halt.  After this, Jacob’s family likely moved ahead on their own to the actual place of burial.  So, this was to be the place of the last and most demonstrative mourning with respect to wailing and crying and for these reasons, Joseph ensured that the burial company remained here for seven days.

Some may wonder why Scripture only refers to Joseph as observing seven days of mourning here for his father.  Again, we need to look at various possibilities.  It is very unlikely that the other brothers no longer mourned.  Instead, what we have here is the probability that only Joseph is mentioned because he was indeed in charge of the group at the time.  He was the organizer of both the trip and the burial given his position in Egypt.  When we remain true to the idea that Scripture is infallible, we are open to possible explanations that support our premise.

Finally, we note that the local inhabitants in the land of Canaan noticed the serious mourning of the Egyptians.  For whatever reason, they missed the fact that these Egyptians were actually mourning on behalf of their new Israelite friends that had earned a respected place among them since Jacob and his family had come to Egypt and who really were among the mourners as well.  It appeared to the Canaanites that the company before their eyes was indeed homogenous.  What a testimony that is.  What an example we have here of how we should act and live when we go to another culture, another place, especially for the purpose of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We must work hard to earn the respect of those whose land we are guests in.  That is not to imply, however, that we must give up our principles and our beliefs for remember, the Egypt were agreeing to join the Israelites in Joseph’s desire to bury his father in Canaan.  The Israelites did not give in to burying him in Egypt.  There are things on which we are to hold our ground and things that we must not force our hosts to change.  I pray God gives us the wisdom to know which are which.

So well had the Israelites done this that the Canaanites mistook everyone as being Egyptians.  And thus the Canaanites gave another name to that location, that of “Abel-mizraim” which is interpreted to mean “the mourning of the Egyptians” and only used this one time in Scripture.

As we leave this passage, we are reminded of several things.  First, the extent to which Jacob’s family went to mourn his loss and to bury him as per his request.  Second, the respect that Joseph, Jacob, and the Israelites in general had gained in Egypt.  And third, that as “children of God” live according to His will and plan for their lives when it comes to how we deal with others, the world will notice us as the Canaanites noticed the unity of the mourners.   I pray it will be so with us.

[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

Thanks for dropping by. Sign up to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends. Ken Godevenos, Church and Management Consultant, Accord Consulting.



Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Happy Easter 2012

Let me just take a moment of your time today to wish you and yours a very Blessed Easter.

It seems to me that as we get older, God has a way of reaching us in a special way.   This has been quite a week for me -- the week leading up to Easter.   I was reminded several times of my shortcomings and my human nature.

It started a week ago this past Saturday.  I was out for something to eat with my wife and a friend and over some silly matter, I got  a little short and upset at a restaurant manager.  Needless to say I did not behave like a Christian and clearly felt very badly afterwards.   It is not a restaurant I had frequented before nor one I would likely return to, so I made my peace with God and with my wife and friend, and thought that would be okay.   Well, it wasn't.   The Spirit kept saying you can't do that.  You need to deal with the individual that you were upset at and towards whom you didn't act very Christ-like.   When God says something like that to you, you can't sleep very well.   Not until you've done something tangible about it.  So, the next day -- Sunday afternoon -- I sat down and did what I felt was appropriate and what would give me peace.  I wrote them a letter, and mailed it, in which I said the following . . .
"Dear __________ Downtown Toronto Manager on duty Saturday night, March 31, 2012:

I am sorry I do not know your name.  But on that night you and I had an altercation.  It was based on the fact that I felt you weren’t flexible enough with respect to a request I was making and I was most upset at the thinking of the company as a whole who would put the value of ______   ahead of having a happy customer for life.

While I still believe that to be unfortunate, that is not the reason for my writing to you.   I am writing to you to apologize for my behavior that night.  I should never have reacted the way I did.  It is not who I am or what I represent.   I make no excuses, only apologies for raising my voice, being somewhat belligerent, etc.

Please forgive me.  I do not like living my life with unfinished business, especially when I was clearly the one that left it that way.

Not only did I upset you and make things difficult for you, but I also embarrassed my wife and my friend who was there with me at the time.  But dear manager, more important to me was the fact that in some way, like the Apostle Peter of the Bible who betrayed his own Master, Jesus Christ three times in one night, I felt that I too had let Him down terribly especially as one of His followers in the way I behaved.  I have asked His forgiveness and that of my wife and friends, and I hope I have yours.

I wish you all the best in your career.  May nights like the one I caused you be extremely rare in your experience.  Again, I offer my humble apologies.  And should we meet again, I hope we will be friends."   And I signed my name, etc.

That was not easy to do, but as I was preparing for Easter, I realized it was nothing compared to what Jesus did for me.   But still, it took some thought and action on my part.  It wasn't enough to just say, "Ah gee, I'll do better next time."   No, I had to fix what I did wrong this time.

On Good Friday, I took my eight (almost 9) year old granddaughter to our Good Friday Service.  It was terrific -- both the service and being there with her.  At one point she looked up at me and wondered why I had tears in my eyes.  I was able to share with her that what we celebrate this weekend means the world to me.  I hope it does to you as well.   It is a mysterious weekend -- it integrates the darkness and sadness of death with the glory and celebration of life.    It is a free yielding of One's self to death, so that all the rest of us can be given the free gift of eternal life.   It is not something that skeptics can easily comprehend or accept.   It takes the thinking and the faith of a child to believe it.

On Saturday, yesterday, I was working away at my desk when the front doorbell rang.   I answered it and I saw a man handing me a little card he wanted me to read, or so he indicated with hand gestures.  He either was or was pretending to be deaf and dumb.   He was selling the card for any amount I would be willing to pay to help him put some food on his table, or so the card said.  He looked harmless.   He was not a derelict.   But I sent him away.   Well, that was it -- I could not get back to my work.  I felt bad -- not because I didn't give to someone who may have been taking me, but because I acted so quickly without reflecting as to whether or not there was some real need here, whether or not there was some opportunity for me to be "Jesus with skin on again".  The Spirit would not let me forget it and goodness knows I was trying hard to fight Him with every standard excuse I could think of.   This was twice now within a week that I had failed being a good representative of Christ, our Saviour.   Finally, I couldn't take it any longer.  I went into the kitchen and asked my wife for a bag and a whole bunch of various fresh fruits.  She obliged me.   By now, some time had elapsed but I could not rest.   I got into my little car and started driving up and down streets in the neighbourhood until finally I caught sight of him.  I stopped the car, went over to him, and showed him the bag, asking him if he would like it.   He was most thankful as I detected from his facial expressions and his bowed body.   What happened at that very moment was not about him.   God was just using him to get to me.  Doing what I did was about me and my relationship to God.

Later in the day, I received a difficult email from a colleague.  I wanted to react quickly with the truth.  I wanted to let them know how wrong they were.  But I knew I shouldn't.  I knew I needed to pray about it first, I needed to gather some more facts that would help the individual see that things were not the way they were describing, and I needed to think about how to bring peace to this situation rather than to add more fuel to the fire.   In short, I decided to seek Jesus for further direction in the situation.  Sometimes that comes instantaneously; sometimes He says wait.  My job is now to wait for the 'red' light to turn 'green' and proceed with Christ-like love into the intersection of humanity.

I was given yet one more chance not to blow it still later yesterday afternoon -- another chance to act with my Saviour in mind, and not with my own strengthen, expertise, wisdom.  A young girl and her father came to my door -- with all the proper papers and documents, raising money for her M.S. walkathon later this month.  The eleven year old had been doing this for several years and last year she had raised over $15,000.   I asked her "what motivates an 11 year old to be so passionate about this?"  Her reply, "my mother has M.S. and I'm doing this for her and other mothers".   I participated in the her campaign.

As I thought about that last experience during our church's Easter Sunday service this morning, I wondered how many of us have friends, relatives, neighbors, colleagues, and so on who have another form of life-destroying M.S. -- a form I call "menacing-sin".  That type of M.S. leads to death every single time unless it is dealt with appropriately.   How many do we know like that?   How passionate are we about helping them find the only Antidote that will work?

As you and I reflect on our Christian celebration of the events that took place just over 2,000 years ago -- will we make a special effort to bring the whole thing into the present, into 2012, into our relationships, into our circumstances?  Will you and I yield to the Holy Spirit's urgings in how then we should live today because of how He died "That Friday" and lived that "Easter Morning"?

Happy Easter.   Ken.


[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

Thanks for dropping by. Sign up to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends. Ken Godevenos, Church and Management Consultant, Accord Consulting.




Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.