Stephen Preaching On Joseph – Acts 7

English: Joseph and His Brethren Welcomed by P...

English: Joseph and His Brethren Welcomed by Pharaoh, watercolor by James Tissot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Stephen’s speech before the Sanhedrin continues with the account of Joseph. He recounts how his brothers were jealous of him and sold him into Egypt. But he says that God was with him — that He gave Joseph favor and wisdom before Pharaoh so that he was made to be a ruler over Egypt. An important point to note here (and in the rest of Stephen’s Spirit-filled account of history) is that in each section of time, Stephen continues to show God’s unfailing love and care in all sorts of circumstances.

He goes on to talk about the famine and how Jacob and his family came to live there after Joseph made himself know to his brothers. Stephen mentions 75 coming to live there, whereas Exodus 1:5 says there were 70. But the differences in the Hebrew and the Septuagint can be explained and they harmonize fine (as if it really matters). A good explanation of that subject can be found in this article at ApologeticsPress.org.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week

Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Acts here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 2 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” to find out about my published and upcoming books, and for a link to my Facebook Author’s Page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

O T Facts (First Book of Law) – Genesis

In this installment of our Old Testament Facts series, we will focus today on the first book of the Pentateuch – Genesis, the first “Book of Law.”   This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of events of this book.  Rather, it is presented as a summary of events that seem most relevant to worship of the Lord and the ultimate coming of Jesus the Christ.

Creation_003Genesis

The book of the beginning and of new beginnings

Genesis 1 – Creation of the universe

Genesis 2 – Adam and Eve created

Genesis 3 – “The fall” – sin enters the world; first promise of the Messiah (Gen 3:15)

Genesis 4 – Cain murders Abel

Genesis 6–9 – Noah and the flood

Mamre, near Hebron. Abraham's home at one time

Mamre, near Hebron. Abraham’s home at one time

Genesis 12 and 15 – God’s covenant with Abraham (promise of land, a “great nation” and the Messiah)

Genesis 21 – Birth of Isaac

Genesis 32:28, Gen 35 – God names Jacob “Israel” (meaning God fights)

Genesis 37 – Joseph sold into slavery

Genesis 41 – Joseph rises to power in Egypt under Pharoah

Genesis 46 – Joseph brings his family to Egypt, is reunited with Jacob

Tabernacle - arrangement of tribes

Tabernacle – arrangement of tribes

Genesis 48 – Jacob (Israel) blesses Joseph’s sons Ephraim and Manasseh, claims them as “his” (Gen 48:5-6), again favoring the younger (Ephraim) over the first-born (Genesis 48:14-20).

Genesis 49 – Jacob blesses his sons, but declares that Simeon and Levi (their descendants) will be scattered among the other tribes (Gen 49:5-7).  So the Twelve Tribes of Israel are named – to include Ephraim and Manasseh (Genesis 49:3-28).  Jacob’s death and burial (Genesis 49:29-50:14).

Genesis 50:22-26 – Death of Joseph – end of Genesis

/Bob’s boy

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image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Luke 2 – The Birth of Jesus Christ

Verses 1-20 deal with the miraculous birth of Jesus.   The circumstances of His birth, the lack of great wealth on the part of His parents, and even the people who this scripture places with Him all point to a King that was not just for the favored few.

The Roman emperor Caesar Augustus was born about 62 BC, and reigned from about 32 BC until his death in about 14 AD.  Joseph and Mary had gone to Bethlehem (the city of David, of whose lineage Joseph was descended) from Nazareth because of a decree by Caesar Augustus that all subjects of the Roman Empire must be registered for the purpose of taxation.    Of course, had there been no such decree, something else would have brought them there anyway because God’s prophets had already told us that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (see Micah 5:2).  Verse 7 says that Mary “gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”  Those were the signs that the angel of the Lord, who appeared to some shepherds, told them to look for when they went to see for themselves (verses 8-13).

Stone manger from Bible times, perhaps similar to the one that cradled the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. The manger held food for animals.

At the end of eight days, he was circumcised (according to God’s commandment to Abraham in Genesis 17:12); and named Jesus – just as Mary had been told before He was conceived (Luke 1:31-32).  Verse 22 would be 33 days later in which they would have journeyed to Jerusalem (Leviticus 12:3-8) to make their sacrifice according to the Law given to Moses.  Joseph and Mary would not have the means to offer a lamb, but would obey the Law of the Lord.  We do not know anything else about the man Simeon in verses 25-35.  The scripture says that the Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would see the Christ before he died, so he had obviously found favor with God.  As he held the savior in his arms, his words affirm that verse 10′s reference to “all people” means Jews and Gentiles alike as, in verse 32, he calls Jesus “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”  Verses 36-38 recount more of God’s revelations about Jesus to his humblest of servants.  The family then returned to Nazareth, where verse 40 tells us that Jesus grew in wisdom and “the favor of God was upon him.”

Naturally, as verse 41 says, his parents returned to Jerusalem every year to observe the Feast of the Passover.  On the occasion of verse 42, he was 12 years old.  This may be about 7 AD, as the best estimates (contrary to what many people might assume), are that He was born about 5 BC.   It seems more than a bit strange to us that Joseph and Mary did not notice he had remained behind in Jerusalem until they well on their way back to Nazareth (verses 43-44), but we must remember that such a journey during an important festival would have had them traveling with a large group of family and friends that trusted and cared for one another.  When they returned to Jerusalem to search for Him, they finally found Him in the Temple – and as verses 46-47 say, amazing the teachers there.  He demonstrates that He already knows He is the Son of God, as He says in verse 49 “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Exodus 1 – Israel Increases Greatly in Egypt

Highlights we have passed over in Genesis – As Israel (Jacob) nears death, he takes Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh as his own (Gen 48:5). That is why there is not tribe of Joseph in the “Twelve Tribes of Israel”.  These two make up the “half-tribes”.  Jacob sets Joseph and Ephraim apart, and once again the younger is blessed above the first-born as he says that “his offspring shall become a multitude of nations” (Gen 48:19). He makes it clear that he is to be buried in Canaan, where his people shall end up, and blesses all of his sons. Chapter 49 is full of poetic imagery and prophecy, much of it (particularly verses 8-12) pointing to the empire of King David, and ultimately, the Lord Jesus, the Messiah.  In chapter 50, Pharaoh allows Joseph to bury his father in Canaan, and Genesis concludes with the death of Joseph.  And so, God’s word picks up 400 years later…

Genesis 15:13-14:
Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. 14 But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.

Pharaoh Oppresses Israel

The 12 sons of Israel (Jacob) (and Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh) have long since died; and their descendants, now referred to as “the people of Israel” have multiplied greatly – to the extent that the ruler of Egypt fears their numbers.  So they are ruthlessly made slaves (verse 13), and the mid-wives instructed to kill all newborn sons.  But the midwives feared God (verse 17), and they let them live.  “And the people multiplied greatly and grew very strong” (verse 20), as God had promised Abraham in Genesis 13:16.  Pharaoh then ordered his people to cast every son that is born to the Hebrews into the Nile.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

 

Genesis 46 – Joseph Brings His Family to Egypt

The Lord tells Israel in verse 2 that Egypt is where he should now go, and where he will become a great nation. Remember, God had forbidden his father Isaac to go there during a previous famine (Gen 26:1-5).  So Jacob, his sons and daughters, and all of their families set out for Egypt.  The Lord, through Moses, remembers his sons – and their sons in the text; and verse 26 tells us that the number of Jacob’s descendants (not including his sons’ wives) was 66.  Add Israel himself, Joseph and his two sons, and there were 70 (verse 27).  That number will multiply by more that 80,000 – to over 600,000 at Sinai (Num 1:44-46) after Moses has led them out of Egypt in Exodus 12:51.

Joseph and Israel have an emotional reunion in Goshen, and Joseph reveals how they will be (for now) left to their own devices there in verses 31-34 because “every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians”.

(Side note: “Ferrell’s Travel Blog” has several articles, accompanied with some photographs, concerning Goshen.  Two that I find interesting are “Why were shepherds detestable to Egyptians?” and “The Land of Rameses“)

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

 

Genesis 45 – Joseph Provides for His Brothers and Family

Judah’s speech evokes high emotion in Joseph, and he finally reveals himself to his now speechless brothers.  When they were brought back to this governor accused of theft, they must have thought that life had turned about as badly as it could get.  Now they find out that this powerful ruler is the brother they sold into slavery!  But Joseph is quick to reassure them in verses 5 and 7 that God is working through him and intends to continue to do so through their descendants. This does not absolve them of their guilt, but it shows God’s power to use even the worst actions of men for good!

With Pharaoh’s pleasure, and even his own instruction for providing for them generously (verses 16-18), Joseph sends them back to bring their father, Israel and the rest of their families to Egypt to dwell in the land of Goshen.  Israel is unbelieving at first, but when convinced, is very happy (verse 28).

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

 

Genesis 44 – Joseph Tests His Brothers

When Joseph sends them away, he has his steward once again place their money in their sacks.  But this time, he has his silver cup placed in Benjamin’s bag and he has them followed, accused of theft, and brought back.  The brothers who have carried the burden of their guilt for so long are convinced that God himself has brought this on them for what they did to Joseph so many years ago.

Joseph tells them that the rest of them can go, but Benjamin will remain as his slave.  The brothers are purposely placed in the position of losing their younger brother – and facing Jacob’s (Israel’s) devastation.  Judah begins a passionate plea of repentance in verse 18, offering himself in his younger brother’s place.  Remember, it was Judah’s idea to have Joseph sold instead of killing him in Gen 37:26-28.

The change that has taken place in his brothers is no doubt what Joseph was looking (and hoping) for.

(Side note: Here is a link to a lengthy, but very interesting article from the publishers of “Bible and Spade” magazine calledThe Joseph Narrative (Genesis 37, 39–50)that includes information about Egyptian captives from Canaan)

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

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Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.
/Robert

Genesis 43 – Joseph’s Brothers Return to Egypt

The grain that Joseph’s brothers brought back from Egypt has run out.  Jacob (who is referred to as “Israel” more times in this chapter than previously) knows that the brothers must go back for more, but it is Judah who speaks up convinces his father to entrust Benjamin to him (verse 9).  In stark contrast to Reuben, he places the responsibility for the boy’s safety on his own shoulders; and Israel is resigned that there just is no choice, and fears he may not see them again (verse 14).  So he sends them with gifts and a double portion of money, and they return to Joseph.

When they are brought to Joseph’s house, their fears mount (verse 18), but instead of harsh treatment, they are fed and treated well.  Joseph’s love and compassion for his younger brother is great, and Benjamin receives five times the amount of food that his brothers get.  Joseph has plans for little brother.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

___________________

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.
/Robert

Genesis 42 – Joseph’s Brothers Go to Egypt

With the famine in full swing now, Jacob  hears that there is grain for sale in Egypt and sends all of his sons except Benjamin to buy some.  Having already suffered the loss of Joseph, he is not willing to risk his youngest.  The brothers appear before their brother, who is the governor.  But Joseph was just a teenager the last time they saw him and they have no reason to think he may still be alive.  Moreover, this powerful “Egyptian” governor who speaks to them through an interpreter (verse 23) commands and receives respect from all of the hungry masses who come to him.  Joseph has no trouble recognizing them, however, as the dream he told them about in Gen 37:5 comes to pass in verse 6, and verse 9 tells us that he remembered those dreams as they bowed down to him.  He accuses them of being spies and has them confined for three days to show them his power.

Joseph then sends all but Simeon back to return with the younger brother they mentioned as proof they are not spies, holding Simeon “hostage” until they return.  When he sends them on their way, he does so with the grain they came for – and has their money placed back in their bags.  The discovery of the money brings great fear to them and to their father, Jacob, when they return.  Is this the work of God upon them for what they did to their brother (verse  28)?  If they were caught with it, what then?  Jacob has to wonder himself why they still have money – and perhaps, what has really become of Simeon.  And now they say they have to take Benjamin with them.  Reuben’s statement about his own sons in verse 37 would not exactly inspire Jacob to trust him with the safe return of his youngest.  Jacob flatly refuses to allow it (verse 38).

The brothers spoke to one another of their guilt concerning Joseph (and even of Joseph having begged in verse 21) as being the reason that this predicament fell on them, not knowing that “the governor” understood them.  Joseph then had turn away to weep, as he was keeping his hard front up to them.  Their sin is weighing heavily on them, as sin often does – and hearing so undoubtedly stirs many emotions in Joseph.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

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Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.
/Robert

Genesis 41 – Joseph Interprets Pharaoh’s Dreams

We come to a lengthy, but crucially important chapter of the Bible – two years after Pharaoh has his chief baker hanged.  Pharaoh has two dreams of his own.  When his wise men were unable to tell him what the dreams mean, his cupbearer (undoubtedly hoping to gain favor) had a sudden improvement in his memory, and told him about Joseph rightly predicting the baker’s fate and his own by interpreting their dreams.  So Joseph is quickly brought out of prison (verse 14), cleaned up, and brought before Pharaoh, who repeats his dreams to him.

Joseph is quick to point out before interpreting (verse 15), that it is God who will give Pharaoh the answers he is looking for, not Joseph himself.  Then throughout the interpretation, he makes it clear that God has shown Pharaoh through these dreams the reality of what He is about to do.  Joseph says that the “doubling” (verse 32) of the dreams (for they both mean the same thing) means that they will be fulfilled soon.  There will be seven years of great abundance, followed by seven years of severe famine.  He tells Pharaoh that he should appoint overseers over the land and take “one-fifth of the produce” from the plentiful years into reserves “so that the land may not perish through the famine” (verse 36).

So begins Joseph’s rise to power, as the Pharaoh decides that he will be that overseer.  He declares that Joseph will be second only to Pharaoh himself in all the land (verse 40).  To complete his acceptance as such in the land, Pharaoh gives him an Egyptian name (Zaphenath-paneah) and the hand of “Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On” in marriage.  It is from this marriage that Joseph’s sons, Manasseh and Ephraim are born.  We will see these two names figure prominently throughout the Old Testament, as their descendants become the famed “half-tribes” destined to go with the descendants of Joseph’s 11 brothers, as the “Twelve Tribes of Israel” are led by Moses, and finally by Joshua to the Promised Land ~400 years later.

For now though, Joseph’s choice of names for the two in verses 51-52 (the name Manasseh ironically relates to “forget” and Ephraim sounds like the Hebrew for “make fruitful”) reflects his acknowledgement throughout the chapter that God is in control, and that by His power Joseph’s life has been blessed.

The boy who was 17 years old (in Gen 37:2) before his brothers threw him away is 30 years old when he begins with Pharaoh (verse 46); and after the famine began 7 years later, “all the earth came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain, because the famine was severe over all the earth” (verse 57).

Now, thanks to God, the young Hebrew has just become the second most powerful man in the world!

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.
/Robert