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Sunday, March 15, 2020

posted Mar 15, 2020, 3:29 PM by Site Administrator



Genesis 36:1-38:30

Key Verses 37:6,7


He said to them, Listen to this dream I had: v7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.


First, The account of Esau (36:1-43). Genesis 36 talks about Esaus descendants. Esau had three wives: Adah daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Oholibamah daughter of Anah and granddaughter of Zibeon the Hivite, and Basemath daughter of Ishmael and sister of NebaiothIn 26:34, the names of Esaus first two wives are Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite and Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite. But in chapter 36, their names are not mentioned; instead, two other names are mentioned: Adah daughter of Elon the Hittite, Oholibamahdaughter of Anah the Hivite. It seems that Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite and Adah daughter of Elon the Hittite are the same person, or sisters. Maybe, Basemath died soon, and Elon, Esaus father-in-law gave Esau another daughter, Adah as his wife. In the same way, maybe, Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite died without leaving any child, and Esau married Oholibamah the Hivite - she is also described as the Horite in the passage, showing that the Hivites and the Horites were the same people, or she was both Hivite and the Horite. Adah bore Eliphaz to Esau, Basemath bore Reuel, and Oholibamah bore JeushJalam and Korah. These were the sons of Esau, who were born to him in Canaan. Esau took his wives and sons and daughters and all the members of his household, as well as his livestock and all his other animals and all the goods he had acquired in Canaan, and moved to a land some distance from his brother Jacob. Their possessions were too great for them to remain together; the land where they were staying could not support them both because of their livestock. So Esau (that is, Edom) settled in the hill country of SeirThe hill country of Seirwas located Southeast of the Dead Sea. Modern day, it belongs to mostly Jordan, and a little portion to Israel. 


Actually, the hill country of Seir was the hometown of one of Esaus wives, OholibamahProbably, Oholibamah suggestedEsau to move to Seir, and the people of Seir, the Horites welcomed them. So, two peoples came to live in the hill country of Seir: The descendants of Seir, the Horites, and the descendants of Esau, the Edomites. Thats why Genesis 36 talks about these two groups. Verses 9 through 19 talks about the 14chiefs of the Edomites: Chiefs Teman, Omar, ZephoKenazKorahGatam and Amalek. These were the chiefs descended from Eliphaz in Edom; they were grandsons of Adah. 17 The sons of Esaus son Reuel: Chiefs Nahath, Zerah, Shammah and Mizzah. These were the chiefs descended from Reuel in Edom; they were grandsons of Esaus wife Basemath. 18 The sons of Esaus wife Oholibamah: Chiefs JeushJalam and Korah. And verses 20 through 30 talks about the 7 chiefs of the Horites. Then, verses 31 through 43 talks about the kings of Edom, showing that the Horites were absorbed into the Edomites. A unique thing of this kingdom was that the kingship was not dynastic, or hereditary. Each kings rule was secured lifelong, but once he died, the kingship was not given to the kings son, but to another person who was elected as kingperhaps tosomeone who did something heroic among them. As a conclusion about the descendants of Esau, verses 40 through 43 comes up with 11 chiefs of Edom: TimnaAlvahJethethOholibamahElah, Pinon, KenazTemanMibzarMagdiel and Iram. Among these 11 chiefs, 2 of them were Horite womenTimna (Elipaz, Esaus firstborn sons concubine) and Oholibamah (Esaus 2nd wife) In the whole world, women were not considered at all in those days. Yet, among the descendants of Esau, women were honored. Esau was fruitful and his descendants were well organized; they became powerful, establishing a kingdom, even democratic kingdom, in those days. 


About 500 years later, when the Israelites came out of Egypt, they came to have their first encounter with the Edomites. Moses asked the king of Edom for passage through their country, promising that they would not touch anything in the land. But the king of Edom refused that proposal; instead, he came out with his army. At this, God told Moses not to fight with the Edomites, but make a detour, because He had givenEsau the hill country of Seir as his possession. (Num 20:14-21; Deut 2:1-6)


After Judah was destroyed by the Babylonians (586 B.C.), the Edomites saw that Judah was empty and moved into the area. These people were called Idumeans. Then, during the Hasmonean Dynasty, King John Hylkanus (125 B.C.) converted them to Judaism. Thus, later, when Herod the Great, an Idumean, was assigned to be king of Judah, the Jews were not offended too much. According to Josephus, during the siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD by the Roman General Titus, 20,000 Idumaeans fought together with the Jews against Rome. After this war, the Idumaean people are no longer mentioned in history


Esau was indeed fruitful; God blessed him greatly, not because of any other reason than the fact that he was related to Gods covenant people - he was Isaacs son and Jacobs brother. We already learned that God blessed Ishmael, just because he was Abrahams son. Everyone related to Gods covenant people was blessed. But these blessings - great family, wealth, and even establishing kingdoms - are not comparable to the blessing of becoming Gods covenant people. God blessed these people greatly because they were related to Gods covenant family, yet, still the real blessing, Gods covenant blessing, was not given to them. It was given only to those who were chosen - Isaac and Jacob. And this great blessing of becoming Gods covenant has been given to us. What a blessed people we are! And because of us, God blesses everyone who is related to us. That way, God shows that we are indeed a source of blessing for many. 


Second, Joseph had dreams (37:1-36). So far, the book of Genesis has zoomed in on how Jacob became a spiritual man by Gods grace. And now, after he was established as Gods covenant person fully, the author focuses on his 12 sons, especially, Joseph. Thus, Gods redemption work went down from one generation to another. God was really working hard without taking any rest. How was Josephs youth? Look at verse 2. It reads: This is the account of Jacob. Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his fathers wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them. Wait a minute! He was a snitch?! How do you feel about a snitch? No one likes a snitch. You may be angry with him. As we can see in Genesis, he had no evil intention; he was not a crooked person. So, the reason why he brought a bad report about his brothers was because simply they had not done things right; instead, they did wrong things, maybe, they were negligent in tending flocks; or they sold flocks for themselves, and Joseph told his father about their wrongdoings. 


From Josephs youth, he had been his fathers favorite, because he was the son of Jacobs beloved wife Rachel, and had been born to him in his old age. Israel lavished so much love and attention on Joseph. To make matters worse, as yet another expression of his love for Joseph, Israel gave Joseph a richly ornamented robe.


How did Josephs brothers respond? Look at verse 4. It reads: When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him. Not that they didnt speak a kind word to Josephdeliberately, but that they could not speak a kind word to him - it was impossible for them to greet Joseph, Good morning.Instead, whenever they saw him, they lashed out, or slammed the door in his face, or simply, they avoided him. When your sibling treats you that way, it is so confusing and terrifying; you become so sad. That was the atmosphere in Josephs family. His soul could have been deeply damaged and crooked when his own brothers had treated him this way. Yet, thanks to Jacobs love for him, he could grow as a sound person, not sensing his brothers jealousy and hatred against him that much.


One day Joseph had a dream and said to his brothers, Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it. Josephs brothers, infuriated, said to him, Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us? They were furious, yet, it seemed that Joseph did not catch it; he was just excited about the dream. Later, he said to his brothers and his father again, Listen, I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me. Of course, his brothers were angry at him, yet, Joseph seemed to not understand what was going on because he was simply thrilled by these dreams. He was a naive person. This time Jacob rebuked him, but, being a man whom God had spoken to in dreams and visions, he kept it in mind. In fact, Josephs dreams were no ordinary dreams: they revealed that God had a special plan for his life. They told of Josephs future spiritual leadership among his brothers.


God gave these two dreams to Joseph. There was no Bible; and Joseph was too immature and blind in spirit for God to havemeaningful fellowship with him. But God wanted to show him his great plan for him. So, He used these dreams. When Josephhad these powerful and exciting dreams, he felt so good; maybe, he began to think about a wonderful future; maybe, he was thinking about being a leader. He didnt know everything in regard to these two dreams; nonetheless, he felt so good and excited. Maybe, when he had some free time, when he was alone, he thought about what these dreams meant; maybe, later, even when his life was going really terribly, from time to time, he would think about these two dreams and pick up new strength, saying, Things will become great. These dreams gave him a direction; they became his hope; they were a source of strength for him.


Modern day, one big problem most people have is that they do not have dreams for their lives. When they dont have dreams for their lives, then, they just struggle to take care of their duties and responsibilities. They just live according to their natural desires such as the desire for survival in this dog-eat-dog world, the desire for eating well, drinking well, sleeping well, marrying well; they are busy with so many things to take care of; their duties and responsibilities are endless. Eventually, they get old and sick. Then, when they look back, they find that they have done nothing meaningful in their life; their life is empty. All these people are full of regret, saying, Ah, if I live again,...Having a dream for our own life is important. Otherwise, they cannot say anything when their children ask them, Daddy, what is life? When you have a dream for your life, you know what you have to do; you can really choose the right way to go; you have courage and strength to deal with the challenges of life; you may be discouraged, but you will not be destroyed. Dont you remember what Martin Luther King Jr. saidI have a dream. A dream is a source of strength, hope, direction, and courage. How can we have dreams for our life? True dreams come from God, because Gods dream is the real dream for all of us. When we turn to God, God shows his dreams for us, saying, Increase in number and fill the earth; subdue it; rule over... He says, All peoples on earth will be blessed through you. You will be a blessing. You will be the father of many nations. You will be the mother of many nations. Dont be afraid. From now on, you will catch men. Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. Go and make disciples of all nations. When you come to God, you can see Gods great dream for you, and it becomes the dream for your life. Thats why people must turn to God; thats why we must study the word of God diligently; thats why we must pray continuously. Have dreams of God for your life, and those dreams will keep you alive, protecting you from all harms. 


Look at verse 12. Sometime later, Jacob sent Joseph on an errand to check up on his brothers who were grazing their fathers flock near Shechem. Joseph replied, very well and went on his way. From the Valley of Hebron where Jacob lived to Shechem was about 60 miles, about 2 days journey on foot. Joseph walked all the way and came to Shechem, but he couldnt find his brothers. A man found him, while he was wandering in the wilderness, looking for his brothers, and told him that they had gone to Dothan. So Joseph went to Dothan, which was about 20 or 30 miles on foot from ShechemThis shows that Joseph was faithful and reliable; once a task was given him, he would somehow do it, willing to go the extra mile; he was that kind of person.


Look at verse 18. When Josephs brothers saw him in the distance, they plotted to kill him, saying, Come now, lets kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then well see what comes of his dreams. What a terrible crime they thought about - they wanted to kill their young brother because of jealousy. This was the result of unrepentant jealousy. If you have any jealousy against anyone, if you have any hatred or bitterness against anyone, repent; let it go in Jesus Christ; forgive that person, and ask God for the forgiveness of your sins. If that jealousy is unattended continually, you never know what it will eventually bring into your life. Then, Reuben told them not to kill Joseph, but to throw him into a nearby cistern. He secretly planned to rescue Joseph and take him back to his father. He was about 23 years old, and all his brothers were about 18 to 21. He should have exercised the leadership among them as the eldest brother. But he was too weak, and among the brothers, there was no real unity since they had grown up in such a strange family. 


In selling Joseph to the Midianites, Judah was the ring leader. He suggested that they do this instead of killing him, saying, What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come, lets sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood. He was burdened about killing his own brother, even though he did not like him; so were all other brothers. They liked his suggestion and for 20 shekels of silver, they sold him to the Midianites who took him to Egypt; there, Joseph was sold to Potiphar, one of Pharaohs officials, the captain of the guard. Then his brothers dipped Josephrobe in goats blood and took it back to their father Jacob. Jacob, in great distress mourned for his son and refused to be comforted, saying, No, in mourning will I go down to the grave to my son.


What a painful moment it was for Joseph to see that his own brothers wanted to kill him! How painful it was for him to be betrayed by his own brothers and sold to a stranger for some money! Maybe, it was the most painful moment for him. Some of us have experienced some betrayal or abandonment, yet probably not as shocking and painful as what happened to Joseph. Wait a minute! Didnt God give him great dreams? Didnt God have great plans for him? Wasnt God guiding his life? Yes. Then, how come such a terrible thing, such a painful thing happened to Joseph? It happened because God had a great plan for him! It happened because God was guiding him so that he would be shaped up for Gods special purpose. It happened so that Gods purpose would be fulfilled in his life. 


People like the idea of having Gods dreams; they like the idea that God has a great vision for them. So, they think about doing great things. But when things do not go well despite their struggles, when challenges come, when they fail over and over again, they are confused; they doubt, saying, God, dont you want me to do great things for you? How come you dont help me? God having a great vision for you does not mean that your life goes very smoothly and that everything goes well with you; it does not mean that you have no suffering and no failures; it does not mean that you are successful all the time. Instead, actually it is the opposite. Because God has a great plan for you, He lets you experience pains and sorrows; because God wants to do great things with you, He lets you experience betrayals and failures continually. The Apostle Peter says, Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. (1Pe 4:12) Gods desire is not that you just become puffed up due to success in everything you do; instead, God wants you to be really prepared and ready for the great works He has prepared for you. Hebrews 12 reads: And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: My son, do not make light of the Lords discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” 7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons... God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.Because God has a great plan for you, He does not want to spoil you with easy success in everything you do; instead, God wants you make you strong and mature; thats why trials come, challenges rise, and you experience many failures and even betrayals. When those things occur, dont harden your heart; instead, receive that training before God with humility, always coming up with the decision of obedience and submission. Even when our human fathers disciplined us, we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the heavenly Father? He disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.


Third, She is more righteous than I (38:1-30). Genesis chapter 38 talks about Judah and Tamar. Verse 1 reads: At that time, Judah left his brothers and went down to stay with a man of Adullam, named HirahIn those days, usually, brothers and sisters stayed together for power and protection. But Judah left his brothers; he wanted to be alone. Why? Because he could not bear his guilty conscience any longer. Judah was the ring-leader in selling his brother Joseph as a slave. He was really angry at Joseph and didnt want to see him any longer; so, he got rid of him from his life. But when he saw how devastated his father was, he realized what he had done - such a grave sin against heaven, against his father, and against his young brother. He suffered terribly from his guilty conscience; he regretted his actions a lot; he spent many sleepless nights; yet, it was already done and he could not take it back. After Joseph was gone, all the laughter disappeared from Jacobs household, and the atmosphere was dark, heavy and gloomy; Jacob his father wanted to die so that he would go to Joseph. Judah could not bear it any longer, so he left his fathers house, giving up his position as a member of Gods covenant family. 


After giving up his life as a member of Gods covenant family, how was his life? He married, had sons, and secured a wife, Tamar, for his firstborn, who died leaving no heirs. And when his second son, who married Tamar to succeed his brother died too, Judah said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, Live as a widow in your fathers house until my son Shelah grows up.For he thought, He may die too, just like his brothers. SoTamar went to live in her fathers house. Tamar was a Canaanite woman, but when she realized to whose family she had been given in marriage--Gods covenant family--she was so happy. She belonged to the legendary line of Abraham! But now because she did not bear any sons for the family, she was kicked out, and had to live as a widow. She waited and waited for the time she would marry Judahs third son and bear children, when she could again be a part of Gods covenant family. But Judah had no intention of giving his last son to Tamar. When she realized this, she would not give up. She would not be kicked out of Gods covenant family no matter what; she would not miss such a great blessing no matter what. Tamar was absolutely determined to be included in the covenant family, so in desperation she cooked up a very strange scheme. She disguised herself as a prostitute and became pregnant by Judah. Humanly speaking, what she did was not acceptable at all. But she didnt care about what others would think of her, or human ethics or customs. No matter what, she wanted to be a part of Gods covenant family. She knew the consequence of this act - death -yet, she was willing to risk her life for it. To her, the identity of being a covenant family member was the most valuable thing there was. For this, she was willing to go beyond human concepts or knowledge; indeed, she pursued this privilegedesperately as a matter of life and death

At first, when Judah heard that his daughter-in-law was pregnant, out of anger, he wanted to burn her to death, but after realizing her desire for membership in Gods covenant family, he said, She is more righteous than I. Judah gave up this membership because of guilty conscience. But his daughter-in-laws desperate attitude shocked and inspired him. He realized that Gods covenant calling was more important and weightierthan his guilty conscience. It was not something he should give up only because of thatSo he went back to his fathers house and remained as a member of the covenant family from then onGod honored Tamars act of faith and included her in the genealogy of Jesus. 


Here, we see a different world where different value system, view and understanding apply. We saw it in the case of Rebekah in her struggle to secure Isaacs blessing for Jacob; and now we see it in the struggle of Tamar. Humanly speaking, what they did was not acceptable - actually terrible. Yet, in Gods eyes, what they did was beautiful and praiseworthy. So, God blessed them. This shows that in regard to securing Gods covenant blessing, we must not be limited by any human standard or custom or ethics. Actually, this is what Jesus expects to see from his people. Jesus says, Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who lives his son or daughter is not worthy of me. (Mark 10:37) Jesus wants us to value his covenant calling more than anyone, more than anything in this life. If you choose Gods calling even above your father or mother, and even above your son or daughter, what can stop you from loving God and serving his mission wholeheartedly? Nothing! By any means, at any cost or danger, you will do what God wants you to do. That kind of absolute commitment is what Jesus desires from us. Thats what Jesus wants to see. Lets be Jesus worthy people that he may be proud of us. We may lose everything in the world, but we will gain Jesus. In Jesus, those who want to save their life will lose it, but those who lose their life for Jesus and the gospel will save it to eternal life. When you lose your father or mother, or son or daughter for Jesus and his calling, you will not fail to receive 100 fathers, 100 mothers, 100 sons or 100 daughters in this age with persecution as bonus, and eternal life in the age to come. God honors and blesses such people. 


One Word:Have Gods dreams For Yourself