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Recognize God’s three promises to Abraham and the connotations of each promise. (Sect. 5.1–5.3 and subpoints).
- 1.Descendents (this element is dominant in Gen. 12-50)
- A future
- Land symbolizes rest
- A place to govern
- An inheritance for his descendents
- 3.Blessing: the divine-human relationship element (dominant in Ex. and Lev.)
- A core, biblical concept is blessing – the life-giving result of an exchanged relationship between God and humans. God’s blessing to Abram meant:
- Success in whatever he did
Recognize the type of faith Abraham exhibited that is a model for us.
- Abram believed (he∙emiyn→amen) God (Gen 15:1-6)
- God was his shield, his very great reward. Abraham’s extraordinary example encourages us to focus on personal trust in the God who promises rather than on what we know from our background and experience.
- • Abram had been waiting for a long time for God to fulfill his promise of a son and offspring more numerous than the stars he could count. Now Abram is confronted with a crisis of faith and two choices: 1) to believe God’s ridiculous promise, to trust God and live with the outcome, or 2) to return to paganism and believe God is not motivated to fulfill his promises…God is telling him, “Choose to go against what your reason and all experience tells you. Trust me.”
- • Abram believed God (v. 6) is a radical verse. It is the bottom line with all believers. When things are not happening anything like we hoped or expected (e.g., we experience great pressure, pain and/or disappointment), and God’s promises are not yet fulfilled, will we choose to trust God? Or reject God and go our own way?
Recognize the meanings behind the Hebrew word for “credited” (khashav), as found in Genesis 15:6.
- God credited (khashav) righteousness (tsedaqah) to Abram because he trusted God
- “Credited” (khashav) has meanings that arise from two fields of human experience:
- • Accounting – an account is reckoned or balanced out.
- • Sacrifice – when the priest examines an animal and declares it is without blemish, then it becomes acceptable for sacrifice.
What is a solemn agreement that brings unrelated people into a kinship relationship?
Recognize the significance of God walking between the cut animals by himself when he made the covenant with Abraham.
- God went through the halves – a unilateral covenant; therefore, the covenant was unbreakable
- Whenever a covenant is cut and the blood of animals is poured out in the process, a particular assertion is either made explicitly or assumed implicitly: “This much and more to me also if I do not fulfill the stipulations of this covenant!” Amazingly, God is obligating Himself to Abram and his seed to the point of putting Himself under a potential curse of death! What does this point to?
"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives."
Explain (in 4 paragraphs): a) the three principles about God’s providence exhibited in Joseph’s life, b) two incidents in Joseph’s life that illustrate these principles, and c) the conclusion we can draw about God’s providence from the patriarchal stories.
- 1.People cannot subvert the plans of God for your life
- Several powerful narratives from Joseph’s life help us when devastating things happen and we ask ourselves, “Where can God possibly be in this?” To help us understand suffering, we can remember:
- • God gives people their wills, but he does not overpower their wills.
- • But God can overcome human weakness to accomplish his purposes.
- In Joseph’s life, three incidents were obstacles to God fulfilling his plan for Joseph’s life:
- 8.1.1. The foolish parenting of Jacob, the envy and anger of his sons, and the provocative precociousness of Joseph cannot derail God’s plan (Gen 37)
- • Jacob showed favoritism to Joseph. Joseph dreams of his brothers bowing down and calling him king, and he provokingly shares this. Therefore, Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery.
- 8.1.2. The false accusations of a wicked woman with power (Gen 39)
- • Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce Joseph but he is too upright and refuses her. Furious, she accuses him of rape and Potiphar sends Joseph to prison. Joseph likely wondered where the grand life was that God promised him through dreams.
- 8.1.3. The self-absorption of the restored cupbearer (Gen 40)
- • Pharaoh was angry with his cupbearer and baker and imprisoned them. They had important prophetic dreams that God enabled Joseph to interpret – the cupbearer would be exalted and the baker would be killed. Joseph begged the cupbearer, “When you are restored to your position, remember me. Mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of prison.” However, when the cupbearer was restored, he was self-absorbed and forgot Joseph.
- 2. God’s favor overcomes human capriciousness
- 8.2.1. “The Lord was with Joseph” (Gen 39:2-4, 20c-23)
- • After his brothers sold him into slavery, Joseph found favor with Potiphar, who entrusted all he owned to Joseph.
- • While in prison, God granted Joseph favor in the warden’s eyes. The warden put him in charge of the whole prison.
- • The key to Joseph’s life was the refrain: the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did. Joseph’s success, favor and prosperity were because of God, not his inherent talents or hard work. Thus, a great prayer we can pray is, “Lord, give me favor in this situation.”
- 8.2.2. Pharaoh’s troubling dreams and Joseph’s words of wisdom (Gen 41)
- • Pharaoh is troubled by dreams of gaunt cattle and ears of corn. No one can interpret the dreams. Suddenly the cupbearer remembers Joseph and tells Pharaoh he can accurately interpret dreams. Joseph is brought to Pharaoh, interprets his dreams and advises him to appoint a wise person to prepare for the upcoming severe famine. Pharaoh appoints Joseph, giving him phenomenal authority and exaltation, second only to Pharaoh’s. Joseph’s dreams as a teenager (of his brothers bowing down and calling him king) are finally fulfilled when he is an adult.
- • There is a difference between the Call and the Calendar. When we get God’s call for our lives, we get excited. But the calendar of God’s due time is not ours. God works with us, molding our characters through: 1) waiting, 2) suffering, 3) his Word, and 4) the Spirit.
- 3. Joseph puts his pain and trials into the context of God’s sovereign plan
- Joseph reinterprets all his suffering within the context of God’s bigger plan and picture. Joseph was submitted enough to God to see his circumstances in the framework of God’s plotline for his life.
- 8.3.1. “It was not you who sent me here, but God” (Gen 45:8)
- • When Joseph made himself known to his brothers he explained that God sent him ahead of them.
- • In Biblical stories, God is the real hero, on the third tier above human heroes and villains.
- 8.3.2. “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Gen 50:20)
- • Joseph’s whole clan, most of Egypt and most of the surrounding nations were all saved from the worst famine in memory.
- • There are significant parallels between Joseph’s and Jesus’ lives.
- 8.3.3. Compare the Psalmist’s account of Joseph (Ps 105:16-22) and Paul’s revelation of how believers are conformed to the likeness of Jesus (Rom 8:28-30, 31-39).
- • The Psalmist recounts how God sent Joseph before his people into the famine. Joseph suffered shackles and prison until the Word of the Lord tested him. Likewise, our painful circumstances may seem to doom the realization of God’s call in our lives. Yet God uses difficulties to test us and sort us out.
- • Rom. 8:28-30, 31-39 assures us that in all things God works for our good. His ultimate goal is to glorify us by making us into his likeness. We can view our suffering through this lens: if God is for us, who or what can really be against us? God did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all. He also gives us all things; he is not tight-fisted. No one, not even the devil, can accuse us. Even Jesus does not accuse us; he is our defense attorney who never loses a case.
- CONCLUSION: These patriarchal stories teach us that God’s providence overrules the plots and schemes of humans, turning their malevolent intent to his own ends (Gen 50:20). Furthermore, God provides for, protects, and directs those who follow him.
What is the penalty for breaking a covenant?