"And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah"........"Zebulun were a people who despised their lives even to death, and Naphtali also, on the high places of the field."

As we went through the last words of Jacob to his sons in Genesis 48, we had the opportunity to look briefly at the lives and families of his sons. Jumping out at us we a few notable events, such as in the times of the Judges. Deborah a prophetess of the tribe of Issachar, was one who was raised up to battle the Canaanites, who had severely oppressed the children of Israel. We see the valiant bravery of these fellow tribesmen as they waged war with little regard to their own ease and welfare. As the battle raged on then, it does too today. The Lord is still looking for warriors today, to go forward against the oppression and attack of the enemy.

Pastor Russell

"For Thy salvation I wait, O Lord."

In recent studies, we've commented on pearls of wisdom in little one-line verses. Ages and spaces of time set in the space of one comma, the significance of jots and tittles in regards to Hebrew meanings. And here, sandwiched in between this descriptive of Jacob's sons, we find verse 18. So patient and good is the Lord, He reminds us of no matter who or no matter what, our hope should be in Him. Amidst all the business or concerns of life, all that really matters is our focus on Him. Today life is filled with distraction and worry, but wait on Him you child of God, for He never fails.

Pastor Russell

And he named the second Ephraim, “For,” he said, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction."

Nary a word or indication of any complaint by the young Jewish lad as he was taken captive by his brothers, then sold into slavery and thrown into prison. Yet now in this one verse, the story of the years of hardship is revealed. Joseph all along went with God’s plans and purpose, not questioning the Lord. Now second only to the pharaoh of Egypt, a glimpse of what went on through the years, and what the Lord had done in this mans life. A life of surrender to God would mean salvation for his family and many of the families of the world. Oh what the Lord can do through a life surrendered to Him.

Pastor Russell

And he blessed Joseph, and said, "The God whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day...."

As the aged Jacob blessed his son Joseph and his two sons, he rehearses God's faithfulness and charges them that they would commit to memory and pass the same along to their offspring. You see, the knowledge of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, would be passed down to the many generations of Jews to this day, and the stories of His faithfulness would be forever emblazoned upon their hearts and minds. The Jews, though wayward at times, such like many of us, His love never fails. Our great high Shepherd, He never fails.

Pastor Russell

“But the Lord was with Joseph and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer.”

Joseph, waylaid by his brothers, sold into slavery two times over, than accused of sexually battery and jailed, still found favor with God. It seemed that all the bad that had happened to him was continually deflected by Gods grace and mercy. Not a word of complaint from Joseph, but only a willingness to move forward with the plans of the Lord. Even in lockup, he was made to prosper, or succeed by Gods blessing, as he would give glory to Him.Big lesson for us, as we are so prone to complain and question rather then give praise with thanksgiving. How do you react to the tough and scary times? I hope we are all are much like Joseph, going with the flow of the Spirit and seeing what God has.

Pastor Russell

"Now Israel lived in the land of Egypt in Goshen, and they acquired property in it and were fruitful and became very numerous."

The ragtag band led by Jacob from the land of Cannan, now Israel, found themselves nestled in the best of the land of Egypt. God would use extraordinary methods to preserve his people from famine, and then place them in a surrounding abundant with all that was needed to thrive. Yet to get there, it would mean facing hardship, sacrifice and perseverance to achieve all that was before them. There would be no shortcuts or easy outs, but only hope, faith and trust in the Lord. For some, it was just being moved along, oblivious to what God was doing. For others, it was a more conscious knowledge that God was in control, and that He was working all things out to His glory. Wherever we may be today, remember that God has a plan for your life, plans for good, for our welfare and hope.

Pastor Russell

And the neighbor women gave him a name saying, "A son has been born to Naomi!" So they named him Obed, He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.
 
It was a dark time in Israel's history where faithlessness ran rampant. Set in this period, is a story of a young Moabite widow, who turns from her pagan roots and upbringing, to embrace the people and God of Israel. Love, devotion and redemption shine forth from the Lord during this bleak time, as He rewards her by giving her a new husband and a son who was to be positioned to be in the lineage of David and Jesus Christ. Ruth's undaunting hope and trust in God allowed her to be blessed and used beyond measure. Truly inspiring for us today.
 
Pastor Russell

So Jacob said to Pharaoh, "The years of my sojourning are one hundred and thirty; few and unpleasant have been the years of my life, nor have I attained the years that my fathers lived during the days of their sojourning." And Jacob blessed Pharaoh,

Sandwiched between two verses where we find Jacob blessing Pharaoh, is his honest appraisal of his life. Perhaps it was his deceiving his father to secure the blessing of the first born or taking advantage of his brothers' hunger in securing the birthright. Tricked into a marriage by his uncle, and then years of servitude, accompanied by strife within the home between two wives who were sisters. His return to Cannan was accompanied by fear of his brother's wrath, and then even wrestling with the angel of God, who would touch him. Like Jacob, our own lives fraught with bumps and bruises, miscues and out and out rebellion, till we are touched by the Lord. Like Jacob who would end up in submission, one who sought to bless others, we too can be a blessing to others as we receive God's touch for our lives. God's best was yet to come for Jacob, so it is for us too.

Pastor Russell

"and let us arise and go up to Bethel, and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone."
 
Jacob's relationship with God had been forged in the crucible of struggle, self-will, fear and hardship, now solidified he acknowledged his Lord and Savior in worship. The reality of God's faithfulness drawing him ever closer as he forsook the false gods of the world to press on in worship the true and living God. His life is a model for us, as we forge ahead in our walk and relationship with Him.
 
Pastor Russell

"And he kissed all his brothers and wept on them, and afterward his brothers talked with him."

Here within two short chapters (44-45) of Genesis, we see God's word paint some very powerful pictures of the coming alongside and conviction of the Spirit, confession, and forgiveness given and received in the redemptive work of Christ, and the love and restorative work of the Father. The years of living a lie, guilt and wonder, sadness, loneliness, fear and anxiety all made good in the lovingkindness of the Lord. While we wouldn't want to be part and party to any willful transgression, we see here the faithfulness of the Lord in working all things out to His glory within the hearts and lives of these men. The Lord is truly able to do beyond what we think or ask in Christ Jesus.

Pastor Russell

".....and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone."
 
Jacob draws a strong and resounding declaration as he purposes in his heart that he will worship the Lord. He recalls of God's sure response to all his own troubles, and how He faithfully delivered. A relationship was forged, and bonds of lasting remembrance of God's faithful dealings was made even stronger in Jacobs heart. In Jacobs life, we've seen the sketchiness of man's makeup, the waywardness of the flesh, even unfaithful at times, but God was faithful to Jacob as He is with us. Distress and uncertainty come and go, but the faithfulness of the Lord never fails. He who has begun a good work, will continue until the day of Christ Jesus.
 
Pastor Russell

Now the men were afraid, because they were brought to Joseph's house; and they said, "It is because of the money that was returned in our sacks the first time we were brought in, that he might seek occasion against us, and fall upon us, and take us for slaves with our donkeys."

The brothers were held in fear that resulted from their heinous treatment of their younger brother Joseph. Though years had gone by, their consciences were riddled by guilt and condemnation, their minds imagining the worst. God's word tells us in 1 John, that "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out all fear." And "We love because He first loved us." As we all have sinned, it's good for us to remember "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Pastor Russell

"Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept."
 
With swift action, all the anxiety and fear that filled the heart of Jacob, all at once evaporated. Now gone were the thoughts of not knowing what his brother would do to him. And we see, twenty years in the making within the heart of his brother Esau was the magnanimous act of forgiving and forgetting. No longer any thoughts of stolen birthrights and blessing, Esau now filled with gladness at the return of his brother. Jacob, on the other hand, had struggled for the better part of his life with attaining all he had, and just the night before wrestled with all of his own desires before tapping out to the Lord. He would have to surrender before he would see and receive all that God had for him, not imagining that the Lord was able to do exceeding beyond all that he could ask or think in Christ Jesus. Now, for the child of God, we ought to stand by firmly planted in Him, and see His salvation go before us.
 
Pastor Russell