Genesis 41-50 Highlights
- Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dreams, which predicted seven years of plenty followed by 7 years of famine
- Joseph is made second in command of all of Egypt
- Joseph’s brothers, who sold him into slavery, go to Egypt when the famine begins to ask for food
- Joseph’s brothers return a second time, not knowing they are getting food from Joseph
- Joseph provides for his brothers and family, in spite of all they had done to him
- Joseph reveals himself to his brothers
- Joseph brings his family to Egypt during the famine (how Israel as a nation gets into the land of Egypt)
- Joseph’s family settles in Egypt
- Jacob (Israel) blesses all 12 of his sons, prophesying about their future as a tribe of Israel
- Jacob and Joseph die as the book of Genesis ends
Psalm 24, 108, 25
- Psalm 24 speaks to the whole world being God’s as He created and formed it. Verse 4 says those with clean hands and pure hearts will stand before God, which for Christians is a beautiful thing; because of what Jesus has done, we can stand before God and be declared righteous. Jesus took our sin and cleansed us of it. The LORD is strong and mighty.
- Psalm 108 speaks to the steadfast love of God. The Hebrew word for steadfast love is hesed, which means ‘loyal lovingkindness’. God’s love for us is genuine, loyal, and true. All of the earth is the Lord’s, and when David petitions God for help, he quickly remembers God’s steadfast love and that God is with His people, and ‘with God we shall do valiantly.’
- Psalm 25 speaks to our cry as followers of the LORD; that he would teach us His ways and paths; that He would lead us in truth and teach us. God is the God of our salvation – He has saved us when we could not save ourselves. When we find ourselves struggling, lonely, afflicted, or troubled, we can turn to God and say with David in this psalm, “Oh, guard my soul and deliver me!”
Mark 16; Galatians 1-4 Highlights
- Mark ends with the resurrection of Jesus – “He has risen!”
- Galatians is written by Paul to all the churches in Galatia
- These churches had started to believe false teaching and distort the true gospel
- Paul writes to try to correct them and remind them of the one and only truth
- Paul tells of his dramatic conversion and testimony
- Paul opposed Peter for fearing Jews and not continuing to minister to Gentiles
- We are justified by faith alone in Christ alone
- We are not saved by works that we do to merit our salvation before God
Genesis finishes by walking us through the remainder of God’s dealings with Joseph and God’s dealings with His people as they are formed. Joseph rightly interprets the prisoner’s dreams he is with in jail, and when Pharaoh has a dream that no one can interpret, the cupbearer remembers Joseph and tells Pharaoh that there is a man in prison who could tell him what his dream meant. Joseph is brought before Pharaoh, and tells him his dream means there will be seven years of plenty in regards to food, and then a severe famine for the next seven years that they need to prepare for.
Pharaoh is impressed by Joseph, and makes him second in command to him in all of Egypt. Joseph prepares and makes a plan for storing food for when the famine comes. When the famine does come, Joseph’s brothers (not knowing, of course, that he is in charge) are forced to come to Egypt to ask for food. They don’t recognize Joseph, but he recognizes them immediately. They have to come back a second time for more, and at that point Joseph reveals himself to his brothers. They are terrified, but Joseph loves them and forgives them. Joseph gets Pharaoh’s permission to invite his family to come and live in Egypt during the time of the famine. Joseph makes the famous statement in Genesis 50:20, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” The book closes with Jacob blessing his 12 sons, and then the deaths of Jacob and Joseph with God’s people now in Egypt.
There are many things of note, but three mentioned here:
1. God is orchestrating His plan for His people. Joseph’s life and the famine are being used by God to orchestrate His people ending up in Egypt. This is so God could begin to show his love and salvation power towards His people, as he delivers them out of slavery in Egypt. God is working in and through the lives of people, while also working out His grand narrative story for all of history.
2. Jacob blessing his 12 sons is more important than maybe it first appears in Genesis 49. Jacob (Israel) is really giving us a glimpse of what will become of each tribe of Israel as they grow and multiply. One interesting note – in blessing the tribe of Judah, Israel states, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.” The scepter and ruler’s staff belonged to a King. When we move to the New Testament, we see that Jesus comes from the line and tribe of Judah. So, in this passage in Genesis, Israel is giving us a glimpse of one who will come from Judah who will be a King, and obedience will be due to him from all peoples.
3. Joseph’s statement in verse 20 of chapter 50 is important. He was NOT saying that everything went well in his life specifically. We obviously know that isn’t true. He was hated by his brothers, sold into slavery, wrongly thrown in prison, and forgotten about. We often take this verse out of context; Joseph wasn’t thinking of himself when he says God meant the things for good that his brothers meant for evil; he was thinking about God’s people as a whole! God is always working to love and bring about the salvation of His people, which is a good thing! This verse isn’t teaching that everything will go well specifically in your life, but that God is working all things for His glory and the good of His people! This should encourage, not discourage, you; God may be using something in your life to save many! We should be like Paul when he says, “for me to live is Christ and die is gain.” Whatever God chooses to do in our lives is up to him, but we know that either way it is good – even if we lose our life for the gospel, it is gain, because we gain Jesus for eternity!
The book of Galatians is one of Paul’s letters that he wrote to the churches in an area he had visited before and planted churches. Like many of Paul’s letters, he starts with a greeting. Depending on the state of the church or churches he is writing to, he then either encourages them or enters into a rebuke. Galatians is one area where many of the churches need a rebuke.
In chapter one, Paul starts by stating in verse 6, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.”
The problem in the Galatian churches was that false teachers had come into the churches and were teaching things that were not true. Instead of rejecting this false teaching, the Galatians were starting to believe it, and in so doing distorting and forgetting the gospel of Christ. This was a serious problem. Paul says there is only ONE gospel, and if you are believing a different gospel then you are believing a lie, and you are not a follower of Christ.
Paul encourages them with his own testimony as a testament to the life changing power of the true gospel. Paul was a leader with Judaism, and was known for being a persecutor of Christians (Acts 8:1-3), someone who arrested Christians (Acts 8), and someone who would always vote against Christians (Acts 26:10). Paul HATED Christians. After his miraculous conversion however, Paul was a missionary on fire. He traveled all over the world preaching the gospel, planting churches, and being severely persecuted for the same beliefs that he used to persecute others. Paul wants these churches to see that they have forgotten the life-changing power of the gospel and exchanged it for lies that can do nothing to save. Only a gospel that comes from God Himself could save a man who used to terrorize Christians, but now tried to lead everyone he came into contact with to become a Christian.
The reminder here is that Christianity hinges on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If we don’t believe that, or believe something else instead, then we believe something that cannot save us and cannot lead us to a relationship with God.
Paul then spends the next couple of chapters in the book hammering home to them this idea of God’s grace and God’s gospel being the only truth worthy of staking our lives on. He talks about how we are only justified by faith, and not by works. It is only God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone that can save someone. We are made right with God and saved from the punishment of our sin through simple repentance and faith. We cannot earn our salvation by doing good works. There is nothing that we can ‘do’ to merit salvation and favor from God. In chapter 3 verse 10 Paul writes, “For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” We cannot keep God’s law perfectly. Not one of us can do all things perfectly. We are all sinners and we all fall short of the perfect standard of God’s holiness.
Paul wants his readers in Galatia, and us, to see that you CANNOT EARN YOUR SALVATION. And here is the great news; we don’t have to! When we could do nothing to save ourselves, Christ did everything we need to be saved. Look at Galatians 3:13: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us”. Christ took our sin and punishment we were due upon himself when he willingly laid down his life on the cross. Jesus became a curse for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God.
This is why Paul wants us to know, more than anything else, that God’s gospel is solely based on grace. When we were unlovable and rebels against God’s kingdom, God sent His only son to be the perfect sacrifice for our sin. Our ‘job’ in all of this is to do nothing but accept it; it’s so counter-intuitive to our nature of feeling like we have to earn what we get. God’s kingdom is often upside-down compared to the world’s. In God’s kingdom, we do nothing and we receive everything, so that God alone gets all the glory!