37:4 But his brothers hated Joseph because their father loved him more than the rest of them. I want to say for the record that parental favoring is wrong, wrong! I see it over and over, and it is such a curse that seems to perpetuate from one generation to the next. No child deserves to be loved more or loved less than his/her siblings. It is a terrible, damaging, and selfish thing that parents do, often unabashedly. If your parents showed favorites (one of mine did!), you need to examine your parenting carefully to make sure you don't repeat the same sin. Of course, because of our children's different needs and personalities, we cannot treat them all the same, but there is a difference between parenting individually and showing partiality. We must love and care for our children equally!
37:5, 23 If Joseph has one gaping character flaw, we see that he flaunts his privileges and appears to enjoy having the upper hand over his brothers. In short, Joseph is full of pride and self-importance. Perhaps that is why the road God chooses for him as preparation includes being a slave, and being imprisoned for at least two years before he is ready for kingdom service! God needs to prepare him to have the future upper hand over his brothers in humility, not pride.
37:20 "Come on, let's kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns...then we'll see what becomes of his dreams!" Remember "Papa"? Papa, or M.A. Thomas, the man rescuing orphaned and abandoned children in northeast India and raising them to change their country for Christ, is a prolific writer, and he has written dozens of books and hundreds of devotionals. I love his devotional on this verse. Remember as you read it, Papa has been persecuted for his faith in India for almost 50 years:
No one can kill your God-given dreams. Joseph had a God-given dream that his entire family would bow down before him. His father scolded him, and his brothers were furious. They hated him and left him for dead, but they didn't keep him away from his dream, which resulted in the saving of a whole nation of people.
"Martin Luther King said, ‘I have a dream!' He was killed pursuing that dream, but no one could kill his dream for civil rights in America.
"Abraham Lincoln had a dream to stop slavery in America. His enemies killed him, but they did not stop his dream.
"Jesus Christ had a dream to establish God's Kingdom among every people, tribe, nation, and language of this world. His enemies killed him but they could never kill or destroy His dream (Revelation 7:9)."
Your enemies, your "friends," and sometimes even family may be willing to leave you for dead in a ditch somewhere, but they cannot kill the dream you are willing to live and die for. I, too, have a God-given dream of establishing one million churches in unreached parts of the world with the help of one million orphaned and abandoned street children. Like those before me, I too suffer because of this dream. There's a chance I will die for this dream, but nothing they do to me will stop this God-given dream. It is already happening.
Papa concludes by challenging his reader, like Joseph and like himself, to consider their own God-given dreams that will save lives for the Kingdom. In other words, the purpose that God has created you for (His dream for you) is at the crossroads of your passions and saving lives.
37:26: "What will we gain by killing our brother? His blood would just give us a guilty conscience. Satan never tells you the price you're going to pay for sin. He makes it look like all the fun with none of the responsibility. But he always promises more than he delivers. Little did Judah know when he said this, that his guilt for selling Joseph will follow him all the days of his life!
Chapter 38: In my own study and belief of the NT genealogies, both Messiah's (adoptive) father and mother are traced back to Abraham, splitting at David's sons (Joseph's line in Matthew 1, Mary's in Luke 3. Note that Mary is the daughter of Heli but Luke says Joseph because the men's names were always mentioned in genealogies. Here's the reference for Mary's father being Heli, hence Luke listing her line. So both lines came from quite a crew of interesting people, a.k.a. sinners! In fact, we see Jacob and Leah, and now Judah and Tamar, a one-night stand, of all things! Judah was so acting out of selfishness when he "hired" Tamar, thinking she was a prostitute. It is almost humorous some of the twists and turns God used for bringing about the royal line. I suppose He is making a point to us that no matter how bad we or our families are, He can still redeem our future. AMEN!
12:30 Anyone who isn't with me opposes me, and anyone who isn't working with me is actually working against me. No one can claim ambivalence toward the cross. We are born enemies of God. We are born dead. To undo this default position, we must make an empowered, proactive choice to be with God and to work with God.
12:39-40: But Jesus replied, "Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. This is an important verse for uncovering one of the errors we've been taught about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. In fact, there are a few errors, inconsistencies, and mis-translations surrounding this event in the New Testament. We'll get more in depth later and will learn things about this event that will blow your mind. But notice that Jesus says he will be in the heart of the earth for how long? Three days and three nights. In our traditional celebration of "Easter," which is better described as "Resurrection Celebration," or better yet, "Passover," we put Jesus in the grave on Friday afternoon, and rising again Sunday morning. But wait...that's only about 1.5 days! Any guesses what really happened? Like I said, as we move through Matthew to the crucifixion, we'll uncover the wrong theology and also the amazing information that will help us connect some important dots. I'll keep you in suspense until then!
43-45: When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, seeking rest but finding none. Then it says, ‘I will return to the person I came from.' So it returns and finds its former home empty, swept, and in order. Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before. I've seen this happen, so I think I know what this is saying. If a person gets rid of an evil spirit through exorcism, prayer or whatever means, but they don't fill themselves up with truth (God's Word) and relational fellowship with Jesus afterwards, the house is empty. It is not occupied with the presence of God. The house if left open for even more evil to come back and inhabit.
16:10 For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave. This is a Messianic prophecy (about Jesus). See Acts 13:32-38
Questions for personal reflection:
Is favoritism a problem in your family-your childhood home or your adult home? What problems have you seen result from it in the lives of the children involved?
Do you have a God-dream? If not, what has kept you from finding it? If yes, what steps of preparation are undergoing to make this dream a reality (either steps you are taking or steps God is taking you through)?
What are some of the dysfunctions your family has faced in recent generations that is categorized as "family secrets?" How does the lineage of Jesus offer you hope or comfort?
Do you have any sin(s) in your past that you have not dealt with adequately that keep coming up to haunt you? What do you need to do to make them right so that your conscience will be eased?