Old Testament Israel

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In reading Severe Compassion: The Gospel According to Nahum I absolutely agree with what Gregory Cook said. “Christians often make a grave error in their interpretation of Old Testament history. When we read about Israel’s sins, we tend to judge Israel harshly. We are right to see these sins as grievous, because the Bible makes this plain. What we in the church have not rightly considered is that we have sinned even more grievously” (p. 24).

I often hear people say, “Israel got what they deserved.” This is true. Israel repeatedly broke covenant with Yahweh and suffered the consequences. While Christ has paid believers’s sin debt on the Cross, our sin no less grieves God. Moses and the Prophets were Israel’s intercessor, while believers today have Jesus, their Great High Priest making intercession on their behalf.

“Israel had only the promise of a Messiah, we have a glorious gospel. We need to repent of how we have viewed the Israelites. They sinned greatly against God, but our sin is much greater” (Cook, p. 25). When we love the world more than Christ, we are much worse than Israel. Israel did not have the completed, inspired, infallible Word, nor did they have Jesus as their Mediator.

“Is there anything in your life that excites your passion more than Jesus? If so, you need to consider that the sins listed in the Old Testament are specks, while yours is a log” (p. 25). I am SO thankful that Jesus satisfied God’s wrath on the Cross! God cannot and will not excuse sin. “Every sin must be paid for” (p. 25); however, through Christ’s work and belief in Him “grace is freely extended to the worst of sinners” (p. 26). When we confess our sins, Jesus is faithful and just to forgive us (1 John 1:9).

A warning for all of us today is that “[t]he Bible does not allow us to use grace as a license for sin. We have no right to judge the sins of Old Testament Israel and then to presume upon God’s grace to cover our own love for the gods of our culture” (p. 26).

I do not ever want to take advantage of the grace of God extend in Christ Jesus our Lord. I do not want the Lord to discipline/rebuke me for harshly judging the sins of others while refusing to look at the sins in my own life.

When we are quick to judge Old Testament Israel’s sins, we need to be as equally quick to judge our own sins. Now more than ever we need to cling to our Savior and not to this world. We need to remember: “When we enter into covenant with God, receive the blessings of that covenant and then worship what the world worships, we sin deeply. Israel committed this sin in Exodus 32. Israel again committed this sin in Numbers 13. Judah committed this sin when it chose Assyrian protection instead of faithfulness to God. We commit this same sin when we find God boring and the world fascinating” (p. 18 see 1 John 2:15-16).

May we strip off every sin that trips us up, so that we may run with endurance the race that we have been given with our eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith (Heb 12:1-2).

Father God, may we NEVER become bored with You. May we NEVER forget that You hate sin. May we NEVER get tired of looking to You. Lord God, may we not gloss over our sin. Lord God, may we be reminded that as You left a remnant in Israel, so You leave a remnant of believers in each generation. Lord God, may we judge/hold others accountable with pure hearts and motives. Lord, may we seek to grow in holiness and Christlikeness. May we take comfort in Your provision and care for Israel. Lord God, I know there are MANY debates and theological differences to national, political Israel today. In all things Lord may we be reminded that You are seeking and saving men, women and children from every tribe, nation and tongue. Lord God, may Your Spirit stir mouths and hearts to confess Jesus as their Lord and Savior while there is still time. Thank You Lord for this reader. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

God’s Sovereignty

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For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: 

a time to be born, and a time to die; 

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 

a time to kill, and a time to heal; 

a time to break down, and a time to build up; 

a time to weep, and a time to laugh; 

a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 

a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; 

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 

a time to seek, and a time to lose; 

a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 

a time to tear, and a time to sew; 

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 

a time to love, and a time to hate; 

a time for war, and a time for peace (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ESV). 

Are you singing this in your head?! I know I did! I am SO glad my Bible reading plan had me read Ecclesiastes 3 today!

עֵ֥ת (time) is repeated 29 times in verses 1:8. Estes states, “The principle that lies behind the list of illustrations in 3:2–8 is that God has a plan that embraces all humans and all their actions at all times” (Handbook on the Wisdom Books and Psalms, 2005, p. 309).

No book of the Bible is more applicable to our world today than Ecclesiastes. God’s sovereignty is being missed in the midst of all the chaos that is occurring in our world. To this point Estes states, “…despite appearances, God’s activity in the world is not arbitrary or haphazard; closer inspection reveals that there is divine order within the apparent chaos of life under the sun” (p. 309).

God’s plan encompasses the most mundane areas and activities of our lives; as well as the whole gamut of human emotions. Believers need to be confident that all of life is under God’s Sovereign and Providential control, not our human control. Our response is to obey God, trusting that He will equip us and see us through.

When I take my eyes off of God and His Sovereignty, I can have a very negative outlook. When Solomon (author) says, “everything is vanity/meaningless” (Ecc 1:2) and there is “nothing under the sun” (Ecc 1:9) he is saying that without God “everything is vanity/meaningless” with “nothing new under the sun.”

Now more than ever do we need to remind ourselves that God is in control. That He knows individuals and He knows and rules over this world. We know that God’s Word brings life and yet we consistently seem to be feeding ourselves with the things of this world. I am NOT suggesting that we should not be informed! God does not call us to bury our heads in the sand! He calls us to be in this world but not of this world.

May we take time today and this weekend to mediate on how God’s Presence has worked in the mundane times of our lives. May we start reading autobiographies or biographies of godly saints who went before us and how they endured persecution or stood for Jesus when it was costly.

Only in Jesus do we find value and meaning. Only in Jesus do we have peace and hope in a world gone mad. Only in Jesus do we know that regardless of what happens in this life, we will be with Him in the end. There is indeed a time and season for everything “under heaven” and the Lord Jesus Christ is in control of it all.

Father God, thank You that You are Sovereign over all. Thank You that there is NO moment this world has ever seen where You were not in control! Lord God, may we focus on You and the meaning and purpose You have for us. Lord God, may we preach Your Word to ourselves when we are discouraged and in despair and fearful. Now more than ever Lord is it essential for believers to be in community with other believers. What that looks like Lord for each person only You know, but may this reader know they have a friend in me! Lord God, thank You for all the times that You do not give us new insight but rather remind us of the insight You have already given us. Lord God, may we obey You. May we trust You walking by faith and not by sight or feeling. Lord God, thank You for this reader. Please Lord, fill this reader with the Peace of Your Presence. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

 

Jealous and Avenging God

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The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord is avenging and wrathful; the Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies (Nahum 1:2 ESV).

In my last post Burning Coals believers are not to take vengeance, we are to leave this to God. Here in Nahum, three times he uses נֹקֵ֤ם to mean avenging or vengeance. These are qal, participles describing God’s character. Keeps is also a qal participle with the root word meaning watch over or guard.

God’s jealousy, vengeance and wrath cannot be separated from His love, mercy and grace. “If God did not care when our hearts are far from him (Isa 29:13) or when we adulterously give our hearts to the world (James 4:4), he would not love us…The notion of a love without jealousy and vengeance cannot survive a thorough biblical examination. It is a concept lacking passion or power. It is apathy masquerading as virtue” (G. Cook, Severe Compassion: The Gospel According to Nahum, 2016, p. 11).

The Lord has really put His jealousy, vengeance and wrath heavy on my heart lately. This world is changing rapidly and as believers we absolutely cannot love God and this world. It is impossible.

It grieves me at how easily I can be distracted and sidetracked from spending time with the Lord. I hate it! I genuinely believe that covid has and is revealing people’s hearts (my own included) in a way in which we have never seen before.

God hates idolatry and anything that competes for His people’s love, attention and affection! As this world becomes more hostile to Christians we have two choices: look like the world which brings death or look like Christ and live. While not in the same way, God will judge both the believer and nonbeliever.

I am grieved to think of my unsaved loved ones who will experience the vengeance and wrath of God. I really appreciate what Cook says, “The primary reason for missions and evangelism is not to save people from hell, as important as that is. The primary reason to abandon all to tell others about Christ is that he might receive glory” (p. 13).

May we seek ways to glorify our Triune God while there is still time.

Lord God, may we NEVER forget that You are a Jealous God, that You will take Vengeance and pour out Wrath on Your enemies. Lord God, may we not gloss over this or make light of this. Lord God, we are truly entertaining ourselves to death. May we remember our first love. May we remember You. Lord God, may we glorify You as that is the purpose that You have for us. Lord God, whenever Your people wonder what their purpose is or if they matter, remind us that it is to bring You glory! Lord God, thank You for this reader. May they carve out time to worship You today. May this reader seek You today while there is still time. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Burning Coals

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If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you (Pr 25:21-22 ESV).

Love for one’s enemy is a biblical theme that runs from Genesis to Revelation. In this Proverb eat and drink are commands; enemy and heap are participles. It is a fact that we will deal with enemies in this life, but when we heed the command of giving our enemy bread to eat and water to drink we will continuously heap burning coals on the head of our enemy. The concept of heaping coal’s on an enemy’s head is one of pain and shame. The verb reward is related to shalom which is more than just peace, it is the state of being whole.

Paul confirms this when he says, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head” (Ro 12:20.) As in Proverbs 25:21-22 feed and drink are commands. But the motive of Paul is different: “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord'” (Ro 12:19).

When we allow the Lord to deal with our enemies and we trust Him by loving our foes, He will take care of us. This is a mark of the true Christian. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Ro 12:21). Paul commands us to not be overcome by evil as well as to overcome evil with good. This is by no means easy! But we can rest assured that God is indeed a God who wages war on His enemies. While this is NOT popular today, it is true. From Genesis 3 to Revelation 20, there is a theology of holy war in the Bible.

Each day is one day closer to the return of Christ, as such believers need to start practicing what it looks like to love their enemies now. Hostility for Christians is growing by the day. As Philip Ryken says, “The law always reveals the character of the lawgiver” (P. Ryken, Exodus: Saved for God’s Glory,2005, p. 525). As to the character of the lawgiver, “It must also be noted that Jesus’ instruction on the love of enemies (Matt 5:43–47) be read in light of this proverb and that the love of enemy is originally an Old Testament idea that was both enacted and commanded by Jesus” (Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiasties, Song of Songs, 1993, p 209). The more that we love our enemies and overcome evil with good the more we will be transformed into the image of Christ.

Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Proverbs, Matthew, Romans we are given commands to love God, be holy as God is holy, love our neighbor and to let the Lord take vengeance for His Name’s sake and for the sake of His people. Again, I do not claim this is easy; however, may we start obeying God and His commands. The more that we love our enemies, overcoming evil with good, the more we will be transformed into Christ’s image.

Lord God, it is not easy to love our enemies. I am thankful Lord that loving our enemy does not go hand and hand with reconciliation. Lord God, give us wisdom and discernment when it comes to handling difficult relationships and people. Lord God, help Your Church. Help us to be a people who live in Your strength and not our own. Lord God, may we NEVER forget that You are both a God of Wrath and a God of Love. May we NEVER forget that You are Just, Jealous and Compassionate. May we NEVER take Your mercy and grace for granted. Lord God, it is time for Your called out, set apart, holy people to live LESS like this world and MORE like citizens of Heaven. Lord Jesus, You know I get this wrong ALL the time, I am a sinner saved by grace and I praise You for the gift of salvation daily. Lord God, thank You for this reader. Lead them and guide them as they navigate living in a world that is rapidly changing. Keep this reader connected to You Lord and in all things may they seek You more than the things of this world. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

April 2021 Prayer

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“And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not” (Deut 8:2 ESV).

Father God, thank You for this new month. Lord God, as these days are rapidly getting darker and more evil, help us to remember the past. Help us to remember what You have done in Your Word, from delivering and leading Israel to the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. Help us to remember and read Your Word this month!

Lord God, now more than ever may we share our testimonies of Your faithfulness in our lives. Help us to remember You. Help us to want to remember You. Help us this month to reflect on who You are, and who we were before You. Help us to remember the joy that lies ahead for those of us who are in Christ.

Lord God, prepare our hearts for Resurrection Sunday. Lord God, may You call more people to Yourself this Easter. May we reflect today how You washed Your disciples feet and gave them (and us) a new commandment to love one another. Help us to remember that for those who are in leadership positions, we cannot lead anyone unless we are first following Christ. Lord God, may we pause and reflect on Good Friday to remember the crucifixion of Christ. Lord God, cause us to reflect on Saturday the darkness that would be in the world if it were not for the Resurrection of Christ the next day! Lord God, thank You that we live on the Resurrection side of the cross and help us to remember those who lived faithfully before as is written in Hebrews 11.

Lord God, I do not know what any of us will face in this month, but what I do know is that You will strengthen Your people who are actively seeking to love and obey You. Thank You Lord that works based salvation is debunked in both the Old and New Testament. Thank You Lord that from Genesis to Revelation You teach us that we are saved by grace through faith. Lord God, may we respond to Your salvation with singing and obedience.

Lord, how taboo and repugnant obedience and submission are in today’s culture. Lord, may we be willing to be thought foolish and primitive for our singleminded love and devotion to Christ. Lord, in this new month, help us to live more focused on You than ever before.

Lord God, people everywhere, believers and unbelievers are restless. People want a return to normal. Lord help us to understand You are not calling us to normal or status quo. You are calling us to Yourself, to live for You, to imitate and look like You!

Lord God, thank You that like Israel, when we fail tests, You give us second chances. Lord God, may we be reminded of the one thing that we will NOT be doing in heaven: Evangelizing. Lord God, help us to share our faith more this month knowing there are no redos, no make ups for those who die without Christ. May we trust You to give us words to witness when You lead us to share but above and beyond, may our actions reflect Your heart. May our hands be quick to do Your Work. Not because we think our works will save us but because our works are a manifestation of the gift of salvation You have graciously given to us.

Lord God, thank You that no matter what happens, know matter where we are, You are with us. Strengthen Your people Lord. Help us to stand strong sharing our faith with the lost knowing that one day soon and very soon we will be with You in glory. Lord God, draw this reader closer to Yourself this month. In Jesus’s Awesome, Holy and Victorious Name I pray. Amen.

PQ’S 2!

Today is my Cavapoo’s second birthday! I have learned SO much about myself through PQ and the pandemic this past year. Through PQ, I have learned that God, Nathan and my parents are INCREDIBLY patient with me and that I often do not extend the same grace and mercy as they do to me.

I never understood what it meant that a dog was man’s best friend until having my own puppy. I also did not understand loyalty until having a puppy. I will confess I do tell PQ when I am exasperated with him for various things such as NOT listening that he is “an awful wretched beast!” (This “beast” weighs less than 9 lbs and is afraid of EVERYTHING!) I am sure that over my 39 years on God’s green earth my folks have thought the same thing of me at times!!!!

God has used PQ to teach me about interruptions and how to manage distractions (which is a test I am continually failing, arg!). I do take my responsibility to care for PQ seriously. I am thankful for all the people whom God has allowed in my life for me to care for, pray for and love!

Father God, thank You that Your care for us is perfect. You deal with us justly and fairly even when we are unjust and unfair. Lord God, thank You for the joy PQ brings to people, including me. Lord God, thank You that You are so incredibly patient. Lord, may we seek You and care for all that You have entrusted to us in a manner that pleases and glorifies You. Thank You Triune God for Your love for us. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

I usually video PQ; however, here are some pictures of PQ over the past year if you are interested!

March 2021 Prayer

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Father God, thank You for the gift of this new month. Lord God, prepare our minds, hearts and hands for what You have for us this month. Lord God, prepare us for those we will encounter and prepare those who we will encounter for us.

Lord God, help us to grow in love this month. Lord God, may we be reminded it does not matter what gifts, talents, time, abilities and resources we have if we do not use them in love. Lord God, love is the most excellent way. Lord God, You have created each one of Your people differently. May we seek unity in the midst of our diversity. May we use the gifts, talents and resources that You have given us for Your glory.

Lord God, help us to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. There is so much anger and outrage, even amongst Your people. Lord God, may we seek ways to do good rather than divide. May we look to find common ground with others rather than fault finding. May we be reminded to take out the log in our own eyes before we call out the speck in others.

Lord God, may we be reminded that words have power. Whether they are verbal or written we will all have to give an account for what we have said and thought. Help us to take our thoughts captive, submitting them to Christ.

Lord God, thank You for this reader. Comfort this reader and encourage this reader as only You can. Lord God, thank You that You know how to best deal with each one of Your people. May we seek You today. May we share Jesus with others and in all circumstances may we seek to grow closer to You. May we continue to grow more and more in Christ’s image this month. Thank You Lord for loving us. Thank You Holy Trinity that You are God. Help us to love You and trust You more this month. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Persecution

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Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matt 5:10 NIV).

In the eighth and final Beatitude Jesus tells those who are truly poor in spirit, mourning over their sin, meek, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart and peacemaking they can expect persecution. The more a person is transformed into Christ’s image, walking in His Ways, whose allegiance is to Him and His Kingdom, the more one will face hostility and persecution from the world.

The Beatitudes end with the same reward as the first “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” All of these Beatitudes go together. We cannot pick and choose which of the Beatitudes we are going to follow. While some may be easier than others, we are called to live in righteousness, imitating Jesus.

Matthew continues saying, “‘Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you'” (vv 11-12).

In these verses Jesus moves from the third person plural to the second person plural. While Jesus was speaking to His disciples/followers at that time, the same is true for us today: “Blessed are y’all when people insult y’all, persecute y’all and falsely say all kinds of evil against y’all because of me…great is you all’s reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before y’all.

One of the things I love the most about Christianity is that it is NOT cookie-cutter. Each believer is unique, individually made with gifts and personal convictions tailored made for them. While the Body of Christ as a whole suffers persecution, so does each individual Christian. It is important to remember that not all Christians are “persecuted because of righteousness” in the same way.

Worldwide it is becoming ever more difficult to follow Christ. There is a price to pay. It is wise for all of us everywhere to ask God to prepare us and to help us endure the persecution that we will face. We need to ask Jesus to prepare us to endure because we are commanded to rejoice and be glad. Jesus has told us what to expect and He has also told us how to respond, rejoicing and being glad.

In Acts 5:41, “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for [Jesus].” Jesus has left us no room to sulk, feel sorry for ourselves or be dismayed by persecution. Because Jesus commands us to rejoice and be glad in our persecution we are not to seek revenge nor retaliation.

Because Christ was persecuted, believers will be persecuted as well. Jesus reminds us that the prophets who went before us suffered persecution. Hebrews 11 recounts the great heroes of the faith and how all of them suffered in some way, never seeing the Promised Messiah. The writer of Hebrews then says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (12:1-3). 

We do not need to seek out persecution, if we are living for Christ, being transformed more and more into His image, insults and hardships will come. As the world persecuted Christ, so too will the world persecute His people. I do not claim to know what persecution, trials and hardships look like in your life, but I pray that you will be able to endure knowing that the Holy Spirit empowers and the Son intercedes on your behalf to the glory of God the Father.

Dear reader, as we conclude our time in the Beatitudes together, I want to thank you for walking through each of these with me. I am thankful that in the Christian life we never walk alone! The Beatitudes are just the beginning of the “Sermon on the Mount” and I am excited to see where the Lord takes us in the posts ahead. If there is ever any way that I can pray for you or come beside you and encourage you, NEVER hesitate to email me through my contact page.

Father God, may we never stop living the Beatitudes. May we never stop growing in our character and conduct. Lord God, prepare us to be persecuted because of righteousness. Help us to be poor in spirit because in both of these Beatitudes the reward is the kingdom of heaven. Lord God, remind us that we are Kingdom citizens who are to do Your will and way on this earth. Lord God, regardless of where we live may we be reminded that our allegiance is to you first and foremost. Lord God, as this world grows ever more hostile to You, may we seek refuge in Your Kingdom and not in the things of this world. Lord God, I ask that You continue to reveal and expose false prophets, teachers and ministries. Lord God, the world is watching and when they are not seeking to persecute Your people they are laughing. Lord God, in many ways the Gospel that is being promoted today is counter to what You teach in Your Word, especially in the Beatitudes. Lord God, imprint these Beatitudes in our minds, write them on our hearts so when we are in difficult situations we will know who You are and what we are to do. Thank You Lord for this reader. May they continue living in the ways that You have set before them. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Joseph and Potiphar

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Meanwhile the Midianites had sold [Joseph] in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard (Gen 37:36 ESV).

 It is well known that Joseph goes from being the favored son of Jacob, to being sold by his brothers to the Ishmaelites and then being sold by the Ishmaelites Joseph to Potiphar (see Genesis 37:1-35).

What is not well known is the significance of Potiphar’s title the captain of the guard. In Hebrew the root word for guard here is associated with slaughter or butcher. Alter states, “The actual responsibilities of this high imperial post remain unclear” (The Five Books of Moses, 2019, p. 144); however, I think we can make a connection that Potiphar had some degree of involvement with Pharaoh’s kitchen (as we will see in later events).

Joseph was both trustworthy and handsome (39:6). As much as Potiphar trusted Joseph, Potiphar’s wife wanted to seduce Joseph. Joseph continues to resist her advances until she had enough and told Potiphar that Joseph tried to lie with her (see vv 7-18). When Potiphar heard her story his “anger was kindled” (or “he burned with anger” NIV) and he put Joseph in prison (vv 19-20).

There are some misconceptions here. First, Potiphar was NOT angry with Joseph; he was angry with his wife. Potiphar is angry that she lied about Joseph trying to seduce her. Walton states, “Given his wife’s slander of his own motives [Potiphar bringing a Hebrew into the house to laugh at them], the proven trustworthiness of Jospeh, the fact that he is going to lose the services of a competent slave, and his knowledge of his wife’s character or lack of it, his anger arguably burns at his wife, not at Joseph” (J. Walton, Genesis, NIVAC, 2001, p. 671).

The second way we know that Potiphar believes Jospeh is because he did not have Jospeh executed immediately. To this point Walton states, “Jails were not common in the ancient world since imprisonment was not a standard punishment for crimes. If Potiphar truly believed that Joseph, his slave, was guilty of sexually assaulting his wife, execution would have been the swift and normal response” (J. Walton, “Genesis,” ZIBBC, 2009, p. 127). Potiphar puts Joseph imprison to keep his family’s honor and to preserve Joseph’s life. “The actions he takes against Joseph are as minimal as they can be” (Walton, Genesis, p. 672).

Later on we learn that “Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison where Joseph was confined” (Gen 40:2, emphasis mine). While Potiphar is not mentioned by name here, what is mentioned here is Potiphar’s title, captain of the guard.

Jospeh is not imprisoned in some other part of Egypt, he is “transferred to another part of Potiphar’s house” (“Genesis,” p. 127). This is why I think that guard has a connection to the kitchen. It only makes sense that Pharaoh’s chief cupbearer and chief baker would be imprisoned at the house of the captain of the guard. The chief cupbearer and chief baker are vital to the survival of Pharaoh. Walton states, “The potential for assassination attempts through the king’s food was real and constant, so these officials not only needed to be incorruptible themselves, but also had to be able to hire people above reproach and to identify attempts at infiltration of the staff by enemies of the king…it seems logical to speculate that the king may have gotten sick from a meal” (“Genesis,” p. 128).

If in fact the chief baker and chief cupbearer were enemies of Pharaoh, it makes perfect sense why Potiphar, “the captain of the guard appointed Joseph to be with them and attended them [because] they continued for some time in custody” (v 4, emphasis mine). Potiphar, as the captain of the guard would not want anything to happen to Pharaoh under his watch. Potiphar already knows the kind of man that Joseph is and again, it is no wonder that he “appoints” Joseph to watch over them!

No two people would be closer to Pharaoh than the chief cupbearer and chief baker and at some point each of these men had a dream (v 5). God gave Joseph the ability to interpret the dreams correctly. The chief baker was hanged and the chief cupbearer was restored to his position (vv 6-23).

Two years later, God caused the cupbearer to remember the “young Hebrew… a servant of the captain of the guard (41:12, emphasis mine) who interpreted correctly the dreams of himself and the chief baker. Pharaoh then sent for Joseph. God caused Joseph to interpret Pharaoh’s dream correctly, thus being elevated to the second most powerful person in Egypt (vv 14-45). In which Joseph is used by God to save Israel and sons from the famine in the land. Truly what Joseph’s brothers meant for evil God used for good.

By looking at the historical-cultural background we can see even more how God’s Hand, Favor and Protection were upon Joseph. Joseph was with Potiphar for 11 years (how the time is divided between house and prison is unknown; see Walton, Genesis, p. 672). God uses unbelieving people to accomplish His will in His people’s lives, both in blessing and in consequence/discipline. Potiphar is part of Joseph’s story more than we realize. Who are the unbelieving people that God has used in your life?

Father God, thank You that when we look deeper into Your Word we learn more about the time and place in which Your people who went before us lived. Lord God, may we be reminded that Your common grace rains on both the just and the unjust. Lord God, thank You for the life and story of both Joseph and Potiphar. Their lives are intertwined more than we usually realize. Lord God, help us to be a people of integrity regardless of who is watching. Lord God, while You may not elevate us to the palace in this life, may we be mindful that Your Kingdom that is coming is more glorious, more majestic and magnificent than any palace this world has to offer. May we be encouraged by Your past workings in our lives and in the lives of others, so that we may endure our current circumstances and to eagerly await Your second coming and the consummation of Your Kingdom. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Peace: Maker or Breaker?

Photo by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God (Matt 5:9 NIV).

“This beatitude is not about being a passively peaceful person but about being an active reconciler of people” (D. Turner, Matthew BECNT, 2008, n.p.). As a child of God we have no choice but to be peacemakers, just like we have no choice but to show mercy, mourn and be poor in spirit. This is not easy. This is hard work. This is messy. It is fitting that when one is pure in heart they would seek to make peace with God and others. For those of us who are in Christ, we are His ambassadors, His Agents of reconciliation in this dark and hurting world. There is a billboard in my town that says, “Know Jesus Know Peace; No Jesus No Peace.” I know all too well the truth of that saying.

I will confess I can be a peace-breaker far more than a peacemaker. I act like a peace-breaker when I demand to be heard, demand my own way, sow discord because I think I have been wronged. When I do not obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit when He stirs me to do something because of fear, anxiety or not wanting to be bothered, I am being a peace-breaker. When I am peace-breaking I am NOT acting like a called child of God; rather I am acting like the ruler of this world, the devil.

We all know this is not a peaceful world and it is becoming more hostile by the minute. God does not promise the world peace and reconciliation. He gives peace and reconciliation to His called, chosen, elect at salvation and continues to sanctify and make peace in His children’s lives when they obey and take heart in Him. “In a world full of all sorts of aggression, Jesus’s reminder that peacemakers (not warmongers) have God’s approval is sorely needed” (Turner, n.p.).

God’s shalom is more than just peace, it is wholeness. This shalom wholeness, completeness heals individually and corporately, so that individuals and the corporate Body of Christ can be agents of shalom in this world. Called in this verse is passive, we do not call ourselves children of God, God is the One who calls us His children. For those of us who are in Christ we are called His children now and at the end of the age.

Wherever you are today, if you do not know Christ, I pray that you will seek Him today while there is still time and for those who are in Christ may you be an agent of peace and reconciliation today.

Father God, thank You that Jesus is our Prince of Peace and that You are reconciling sinful people to Holy God by grace, through faith in Christ. Father God, thank You that You are able to put us together and make the broken pieces fit. Lord, when we look to the world for peace and reconciliation we will find that all the kings horses and all the kings men cannot put us nor Humpty Dumpty together again. Lord God, Your Church is sick and divided. We are seeking the things of this world rather than Your peace and reconciliation. May we seek common ground wherever possible. Lord God, for those of us who have experienced Your reconciliation, Your peace may we long to share that with others. May we be compelled to share Your Good News with others. Help us to be peacemakers rather than peace-breakers. Lord God, as the flowers and trees live peaceably together may Your people learn from nature as all creation points to You. Lord God, use this reader as an agent of Your peace and reconciliation. May we pour out our lives for You. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.