Together, we serve
to know Christ
and to make Christ known
for the glory of God

4 March 2020

Proverbs 3:33

The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked,
    but he blesses the home of the righteous.

Rewards and trials fall on us throughout our lives. Consider then by what manner you most want to receive them and from whom.

One minister of a large, popular church has received many rewards. He has one of the largest congregations in the country and is one of the most recognised religious figures. His church and ministry empire flourishes; he is blessed with material prosperity and gives the appearance of being a happy man. His trials would be that of receiving criticism from other Christians who disapprove of his teaching. He would also be criticised by nonreligious people as well. And no doubt there are trials associated with running such a large operation. Nevertheless, he believes he is blessed by God.

But what will he say to God when he must give account of his ministry? How will he explain that he rarely taught scripture, and when he did, he twisted it to mean what it does not say? How will he react when he learns that the crowds came to him, not out of blessing by the Lord, but because their sinful desires for worldly success were encouraged by him?

What is the blessing that God gives to the righteous? He may or may not give physical health and prosperity. The proverbs teach that the righteous typically can expect better health, longer life, and greater prosperity; even so, those are the natural results of godly living. The righteous, along with the wicked, do suffer illness, die early deaths, and struggle to pay bills. What then is the blessing they can expect that the wicked cannot have?

There is eternal salvation, eternal bliss living in the presence of God and his favour, eternal worship in the midst of multitudes of his saints, the freedom from all suffering, the freedom from ever committing, even contemplating, a sin.

There is the present blessing of this assured hope; the blessing of God’s revealed Word which fills us with knowledge of our God, of his salvation, and of his instruction for life; the blessing of possessing the Holy Spirit who gives us the ability to please God and to resist sin; the blessing of the gospel of Christ which assures us of forgiveness when we do sin; the blessing of Christian fellowship and of ministering in the name of Christ; the blessing of knowing what is true, what is good; the blessing of seeing the beauty of creation and knowing the Creator.

The list can go on. The point is to know what is true blessing and from whom you want to receive it. Jesus spoke of the Pharisees who displayed their religiosity in public so as to receive acclaim. He said that they have received the reward they will get. Seek not after temporal blessing that ends in judgment. Seek the blessing of God that enters into the dwelling of your heart now and lasts through eternity.

Genesis 49-50

49 Then Jacob called for his sons and said: ‘Gather round so that I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come.

‘Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob;
    listen to your father Israel.

‘Reuben, you are my firstborn,
    my might, the first sign of my strength,
    excelling in honour, excelling in power.
Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel,
    for you went up onto your father’s bed,
    onto my couch and defiled it.

‘Simeon and Levi are brothers –
    their swords are weapons of violence.
Let me not enter their council,
    let me not join their assembly,
for they have killed men in their anger
    and hamstrung oxen as they pleased.
Cursed be their anger, so fierce,
    and their fury, so cruel!
I will scatter them in Jacob
    and disperse them in Israel.

‘Judah, your brothers will praise you;
    your hand will be on the neck of your enemies;
    your father’s sons will bow down to you.
You are a lion’s cub, Judah;
    you return from the prey, my son.
Like a lion he crouches and lies down,
    like a lioness – who dares to rouse him?
10 The sceptre will not depart from Judah,
    nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until he to whom it belongs shall come
    and the obedience of the nations shall be his.
11 He will tether his donkey to a vine,
    his colt to the choicest branch;
he will wash his garments in wine,
    his robes in the blood of grapes.
12 His eyes will be darker than wine,
    his teeth whiter than milk.

13 ‘Zebulun will live by the seashore
    and become a haven for ships;
    his border will extend towards Sidon.

14 ‘Issachar is a scrawny donkey
    lying down among the sheepfolds.
15 When he sees how good is his resting place
    and how pleasant is his land,
he will bend his shoulder to the burden
    and submit to forced labour.

16 ‘Dan will provide justice for his people
    as one of the tribes of Israel.
17 Dan will be a snake by the roadside,
    a viper along the path,
that bites the horse’s heels
    so that its rider tumbles backwards.

18 ‘I look for your deliverance, Lord.

19 ‘Gad[i] will be attacked by a band of raiders,
    but he will attack them at their heels.

20 ‘Asher’s food will be rich;
    he will provide delicacies fit for a king.

21 ‘Naphtali is a doe set free
    that bears beautiful fawns.

22 ‘Joseph is a fruitful vine,
    a fruitful vine near a spring,
    whose branches climb over a wall.
23 With bitterness archers attacked him;
    they shot at him with hostility.
24 But his bow remained steady,
    his strong arms stayed supple,
because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob,
    because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,
25 because of your father’s God, who helps you,
    because of the Almighty, who blesses you
with blessings of the skies above,
    blessings of the deep springs below,
    blessings of the breast and womb.
26 Your father’s blessings are greater
    than the blessings of the ancient mountains,
    than the bounty of the age-old hills.
Let all these rest on the head of Joseph,
    on the brow of the prince among his brothers.

27 ‘Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;
    in the morning he devours the prey,
    in the evening he divides the plunder.’

28 All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, giving each the blessing appropriate to him.

 

The death of Jacob

29 Then he gave them these instructions: ‘I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30 the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite. 31 There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah. 32 The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites.’

33 When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people.

 

50 Joseph threw himself on his father and wept over him and kissed him. Then Joseph directed the physicians in his service to embalm his father Israel. So the physicians embalmed him, taking a full forty days, for that was the time required for embalming. And the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days.

When the days of mourning had passed, Joseph said to Pharaoh’s court, ‘If I have found favour in your eyes, speak to Pharaoh for me. Tell him, “My father made me swear an oath and said, ‘I am about to die; bury me in the tomb I dug for myself in the land of Canaan.’ Now let me go up and bury my father; then I will return.”’

Pharaoh said, ‘Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear to do.’

So Joseph went up to bury his father. All Pharaoh’s officials accompanied him – the dignitaries of his court and all the dignitaries of Egypt – besides all the members of Joseph’s household and his brothers and those belonging to his father’s household. Only their children and their flocks and herds were left in Goshen. Chariots and horsemen also went up with him. It was a very large company.

10 When they reached the threshing-floor of Atad, near the Jordan, they lamented loudly and bitterly; and there Joseph observed a seven-day period of mourning for his father. 11 When the Canaanites who lived there saw the mourning at the threshing-floor of Atad, they said, ‘The Egyptians are holding a solemn ceremony of mourning.’ That is why that place near the Jordan is called Abel Mizraim.

12 So Jacob’s sons did as he had commanded them: 13 they carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre, which Abraham had bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite. 14 After burying his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, together with his brothers and all the others who had gone with him to bury his father.

 

Joseph reassures his brothers

15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, ‘What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?’ 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, ‘Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 “This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.” Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.’ When their message came to him, Joseph wept.

18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. ‘We are your slaves,’ they said.

19 But Joseph said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.’ And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.

 

The death of Joseph

22 Joseph stayed in Egypt, along with all his father’s family. He lived a hundred and ten years 23 and saw the third generation of Ephraim’s children. Also the children of Makir son of Manasseh were placed at birth on Joseph’s knees.

24 Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’ 25 And Joseph made the Israelites swear an oath and said, ‘God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.’

26 So Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. And after they embalmed him, he was placed in a coffin in Egypt.