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Bible Time Period: Patriarchs
In the time of the Patriarchs, you called Abraham and promised his children land, a royal kingdom, and worldwide blessing: Help me to trust in your promises today.
These five chapters bring the period of the Patriarchs to a close and set the stage for what is to follow. You may be tempted to rush through chapters 48-49, which record Jacob’s blessing on his 12 sons. But the details will be important later – the 12 tribes of Israel come from these men and the blessings hint of their future.
Key Verse to Remember From the Period of the Patriarchs
“Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves” (Gen 12:1-3)
Meditate on Genesis 50:20 (you might want to include verse 21 if you have children). What does this verse mean? What does it mean to you?
Join the discussion below!
Chapter 50: 20-21 mean to me that God has a plan for Joseph and for his children…and I claim these verses for my family…God is a God who wants good for us, even though others mean us harm, God means for it to be for our good…so we are not to fear when evil overtakes us…God can turn the evil into good…as I am seeing now in me and my family…there is a saying that we learn best through our mistakes and failures…and I have found this to be true…in the good things we rejoice, but the lessons come through sadness, heartache, and failings of all sorts…God molds us into what He wants us to be through all things that happen in life…Lord, may we always say “yes” to you in all that we hear, see, feel, say, and do…Amen…and Amen.
Amen. Nicely said.
Yes thank you, you have said it well!
Well said, Beverly. I have had much adversity in my life and often wondered why. Although I’m still not totally sure of why such things happened (sickness, addiction, financial issues), I do know that it has drawn me closer to God. Somehow, someway, I know he’ll use these afflictions and failures for the good of my family or others who pass through my life. What’s interesting is that he may have already used them in small ways that I didn’t even recognize. The Lord is an awesome God indeed!
amen. this is true
Joseph acknowledged that his brothers were meant to do harm to him in the past. Was the Holy Spirit with Joseph when he uttered, “…but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” Genesis 50:20
I think this verse was trying to explain that what happened was really a blessing in disguise. It made me think of my family and how much I take the family unit for granted. Instead of wishing things would go my way, I need to step back and allow God to do things His way, regardless of consequences.
So true…thank you.
I would just add that our ways are not Gods ways–we have to trust in God
God uses hardship. suffering, and man’s evil purposes as instruments for ultimate good. I have, like others, have had my share of hardship and suffering in my childhood through my adult life. Before I truly accepted God’s plan, I would blame God even to the point that I rejected Him, my faith and upbringing. Ironically, it took some other hardships, when I might have lost myself and those I love to see that through hardship, suffering I can indeed find peace and comfort. It is all a matter of perspective at times. What good or evil happens takes on meaning when viewed from the perspective of God’s time. The ultimate expression of this has been God’s sacrifice of his only Son for our eternal salvation. Forward in time to Roman 8:28, and “we are well assured that everything helps to secure the good of those who love God, those whom he has called in fulfilment of his design.”
In Genesis Chapter 15:13 God tells Abraham ” Your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land; they will be slaves there and will be treated cruelly for four hundred years. So it happens exactly as planned by the Lord. Joseph is sent a head of his brothers to prepare the way and the stay for the Israelite people. The way Joseph forgives his brothers is admirable. The Lord was with Joseph all through his journey.and struggle in Egypt .
Blessings Mark, I’m not sure God planned for the Hebrew’s to be enslaved for 400 years. Being God, He knew where the choices of each man, woman and child would eventually lead. But what God does do is provide openings/opportunities for us to turn to Him for salvation regardless of the situations we find ourselves in from the decisions we make and those of others. Was it God’s wish that Joseph be sold into slavery – seeing God through the lens of Christ Jesus, I doubt that. But what God did was aid in Joseph’s restoration of his life and because Joseph knew where this salvation came from, he was strong enough to lead his people out of despair (in the form of a famine).
The two things that God did that had nothing to do with our choices were: He created us through Jesus and He saved us through Jesus. All else (which is fantastic), God’s presence is to pick us up after decisions are made by us or by others that impact us. From those two incredible events in human history, we then are called to “do something” – live in a way God intended us to live (to serve God through love of Him and each other) and do something with God’s salvation gift (to serve God through love of Him and each other).
Thanks Joe for your comments. The Hebrews were surely destined to go to a foreign land and remain there for 400 years according to genesis 15::13.
This helps me to put suffering and difficulties into perspective. When things go wrong in my life, I have to remind myself that God can use these painful events to achieve good. It’s not always easy to think this way, but it does console me when I can.
And isn’t hindsight a marvelous thing? Joseph sure understood it!
this helps me too
Notice the nuance in the passages leading up to Genesis 50:20…the brothers were still apprehensive about Joseph’s kindness when the brothers sought food during the famine. Joseph had just buried a father he loved dearly and the same held true for Jacob’s love of Joseph. Joseph’s focus was squarely on Jacob and the love he had for him. It was so great, that nothing could break it down. Joseph was in a very good place – his heart was with God. Though Joseph acknowledged the evil intentions of his brothers before the famine Joseph understood in hindsight that God was always with him. God had a bigger plan – that of salvation for the many.
These verses assure me that goodness can come out of evil. Yes, evil as we are, God still loves us and looks after us – we only need to believe, trust and ask Him in prayer. Amen!
Hearing Joseph’s words of reassurances to his brothers, I also take comfort that God will bless my children and the children’s children, it sends a such joy to my soul even
though we may not deserve them due to our sinful nature. How awesome is that!
I am wondering, still on the subject of Joseph, but backtracking a little to Ch. 41, I have read how Joseph is considered in Church teaching to be a “type” of Christ, given his dependence on God, irreproachable behavior, and that he was betrayed by his brothers, and sold as Jesus was by his apostles. It occurred to me as I read (as I am behind a day) that he may also be a type of Peter/ the Pope? He was made the vizier of the Pharoah–he was given the signet ring which basically gave him the authority of the “keys of the kingdom”. Any thoughts?
It certainly makes sense, as Christ gave the keys to Peter and through the centuries to each consecutive Pope. As the popes are “types” of Christ, so too is Joseph, I believe. It makes the action of Joseph taking Mary and the infant Jesus into Egypt that much more profound!~
joseph knew this prayer would be answered :God bring good out of this bad situation.it was.the fruit of kindness to his children is also a blessing.blessing my children each day is a habit that i hope will also give them security and reassurance.have a good week.
I think that these are some of the most beautiful chapters in the book of Genesis… Joseph is finally reunited with his family. Whatever the reason that family is separated, there is no joy greater than putting it all behind you and living in harmony and peace once again. I know this firsthand.
After Jacob dies, Joseph’s brothers fear that he will
retaliate against them, so they make up the lie that their father instructed Joseph to forgive them. And that’s when Joseph breaks down and cries and tells them, “even though you meant harm, God meant it for good”. Even though what the brothers did to Joseph was awful, just think, if it never happened, he would never have been in the position to save so many people from the time of famine.
I think we can apply this to our own lives. Many people take up what is bad in their lives as a “cause”, devoting their time, talent and treasure to making this world a better place. You see this time and again in the medical field. Research is done because people have lost loved ones to diseases that used to have no cure. People help those less fortunate because they, too, struggled in the past.
For me, I take the experiences of my own struggles to try to help others who are suffering; offering up inspiration and hope to them through Jesus Christ our Lord. He is the Way. He is the answer to all our prayers. He is our refuge, our provider, our sustenance.
I thought the same thing regarding the fact that if his brothers had not betrayed him he couldn’t have helped them when they needed it. God works in mysterious ways.
These verses illustrate something I share with my children, as well as the participants in Scripture studies I facilitate:
Change is inevitable; growth is not. But as wayfarers (sojourners on this earth), growth is not optional if we intend to stay on the path God sets for us. We must accept that life is change from the moment we are born into diapers to the moment we exit, probably in diapers. Every experience, every day brings change. From even the worst experiences we must choose: death through surrender to our miseries, or life through growth in faith, hope and charity.
Well said. Sadness and happiness are active choices we make. God will help us choose happiness if we just ask Him !
The verse reminds me that most of the harm and suffering comes about through the wrong, thoughtless or evil actions of people. Yet God can work through that to bring great blessings and good. We might not understand why things happen or why it takes a long while, but somehow God uses that for the good of our souls and/or others. We might have a long painful time as did Jacob, Judah and Joseph, but God will use that to bless us. Although I do not have children chap 50:21 describes the trust I have that God is providing for my mother whilst she is in a nursing home.
This verse must be very important as it is a repetition of Chpt 45:5. The meaning is God is in charge he brings good out of bad and even those who have brought about the suffering can repent. The Israelite people will be saved but they must endure 400 years as strangers in a foriegn land before they will return to Caanan
Verse 50:20 reminds me of something I emailed my daughter when she told me that the children were proving to be very challenging and things were not going too good… I wrote “Sorry if you thought I
wasn’t being sympathetic. But sometimes that’s how it is, just give thanks for
the good and not so good days as well”. God indeed has a plan.
My sentiments exactly Jacquline. I always tell my children to watch for small victories, You don’t have to save the world you just have to help one person and that may just be a kind word.
God does not expect us to be perfect, just obedient, not successful, just have a willing heart. He does the rest through me and each one of us.
What the verse means to me is that I can stop striving and worrying, and just trust. David says it (be still and know that I am God), Jesus says it (don’t worry about what to wear or eat), Paul says it (be anxious for nothing)….maybe one day I’ll learn to trust those words.
I am still trying to trust those powerful words but there always semm to be something that weaken my spirit. I pray for strength daily
I remembered this verse from the last time I did the Great Adventure Bible Study. It is both an encouragement to me and an instruction as to how to live my life. O Lord, help me to keep my eyes on You and Your Word, and let harmful words and deeds roll off me so that I might respond with kind words even for those who might desire harm to me.
I like that Joseph said “you ment harm for me.” He doesn’t sugar coat it, or excuse their behavior. But then goes on to say “but God meant it for good.” That puts it in perspective. It helps me to endure hardships, knowing that a current hardship might be part of “the bigger picture.” And, as in verse 21, when I try to do God’s will, even my children are blessed.
It strikes me Joseph’s assurance in the summation, that, “Even though you meant harm to me, God meant it for good, to achieve this present end, the survival of many people.”To me this is the foreshadowing of Jesus unfathomable love and charity to humanity as He gave Himself as sacrifice to die in the cross but before his last breath He commended us to the Father to forgive us for we know not what we do.
To me, this verse means plain and simply, Joseph is in no position to judge his brothers for their ill treatment of him. That task is left solely up to God, our creator and ultimate judge. Reading further into verse 20, Joseph openly says he knows his brothers were aiming to cause him great suffering (perhaps even death.) The brothers made no attempt to find Joseph which speaks to their consciences and heart. Joseph, however takes the moral high ground and is able to see how this is used for the overall good of His people. This brings to mind a recent biography I read on Aleksander Solzhenitsyn. He was a Communist thrown into the Russian gulag system for a letter the government thought was ironically anti communist. This mistake ultimately leads to Solzhenitsyns renouncing of Communism and acceptance and desire for Christianity. Sometimes the biggest blessings lie in what appear to be the most dire circumstances. Joseph knows this to be true for his circumstances so truly holds no ill will towards his brothers. What a beautiful lesson on how God works in each of us and the blessings we are able to achieve with true forgiveness.
Beautifully expressed, Michelle! We should all pause before we complain about our dire circumstances. I for one, have been richly blessed…
Thank you, Marianne! I too have been richly blessed and hope I have only a fraction of the power of forgiveness that Joseph showed toward his family! Have a blessed day.
I am taking the full 24 week Bible Time Line course and we have reached this topic of “Forgiving” We are studying the Exile. At the time prievious to the exile the Jews were no longer practicing forgiveness. We were refered to the parable of the unforgiving servant Matthew 18:21 http://www.usccb.org/bible/matthew/18 And the question came up are we supposed to forgive even if we are not asked to forgive. The answer is absolutly yes !!!!
Absolutely, Barbara! Forgiveness is truly a blessing that I believe cannot be measured. I have learned a lot about true forgiveness this year and most important is the liberating feeling it provides me with not harboring feelings of ill-will towards another person. True forgiveness is a win-win, in my opinion. The one being forgiven knows they have once again found favor with the person they wronged and the forgiver has the gift of being able to let go of anger which can be so damaging spiritually and emotionally! Blessings to you, Barbara!
I have said at times “Forgiveness is the best revenge”
Thank you for the reminder!!! I learned a LOT about forgiveness last year when I read this book: As We Forgive Those by Charles F. Finck. The author of the book actually gave a presentation during Lent at our parish last year. It was fantastic!!! During most of my life, I had forgotten about the forgiveness part… I had been focusing on “Carrying the Cross” for my wounds… rather than forgiving them. I really needed that reminder! In general, what I learned, is that if I still have bitterness/resentment/etc about someone or something that happened, I obviously have not fully forgiven it. (not to be confused with the general memory of it) True/Full forgiveness does not happen over night. For me, I have to practice on small matters, in order to fully succeed with the bigger ones.
I so agree, Kevin! I have forgiven a serious hurt, but lingering resentments crop up every now and then….. I’m learning it is a process and I can only do it with God’s help. Each time it pops up, I’m trying to immediately give it to God, and I’m hoping that ‘practice makes perfect’!
You got it, keep up the great work! Sometimes it helps me by reminding myself that I have probably hurt lots of people during my life that I am unaware of. Or unaware of the severity of it.
All suffering, when given to God, can be used by God for the good of others.
1 col 24
Exactly!!! I am a firm believer that everything that happens in this world that is “bad/negative” has something good that can come from it. If we fail to discover the good of it, then those who suffered that “bad” event, suffered it for nothing… I am often reminded by my Mom’s 3 word sentence that she often said to us when we were kids. “Offer It Up” How simple, yet difficult to do. More specifically, how difficult to “remember” to do when you are hurting/suffering.
That is redemptive suffering.
It is so funny. Today when I was walking my dog, I was thinking about the story of Joseph and that it, like many other stories in the Bible, really show that we must have trust in God’s plan. Things happen and we may not understand why until much later. In hindsight, we can look back and see the good reasons! So I am going to work on increasing my trust. Instead of moaning “why me?” I think I will say in wonder “why, me!”
Excellent attitude! He is the way!
We can also ask, ” What can I learn from this? ”
Joseph’s heart must have been filled with the love of God. It takes a humbled person to acquiesce to God’s will and wishes. Joseph could have admonish his brothers but the Holy Spirit guided his thoughts and words to emphasize the importance of God’s covenant with His people.
Is this the not the best way to admonish someone. It is not saying what they did was not bad, but God brought something good out of their actions. They still have to answer to God for their actions.
This is true spiritual gratitude. thankful for our being ,both the good and the bad.it is all gift. our entire lifes experience has led us to the moment we are in.
Joseph’s analysis of the situation reminds me of Romans 8:28 We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. I just hope I can apply it today because I am suffering from a back injury.
I also can relate to Romans. In the past 5 years, I have been miraculously cured from two incuralble cancers. My Dr. now believes in God. I am still suffering from a back injury but then Jacob lived to be 147 years old with a bad back 🙂 I will say prayers for your recovery.
Thank you! I’m going in to the clinic at 1:55 today. My daughter is here to help. Alternating cold and hot is what the nurse recommended. This back injury is hopefully short term. Congratulations on the cures.
Please don’t congratulate me on the cures they were from God. The miracle here is my formerly atheaistic Dr. now believes in God. I am happy to have been God’s instrument in his conversion
Been a while, but I thought I should update you. My back is in good shape. I’ve been being careful and also getting more exercise to strengthen my back. It was much better by the end of March.
I didn’t do as well on the 90 day challenge.
I am so glad God mended your back. I will be having the first of possibly three back surgeries on this next Holy Thursday Cancer has not returned
Speaking of scriptures verses, Genesis 50:20 reminds me of a scripture verse I memorized as a child (Roman 8:31) – ‘If God be for us, who can be against us.’ More than just trusting in God, we should know that He’s got our back! If we know this and take it to heart, we can struggle and not be broken. I think the Saints are those who know God, submit to his will, and know that in all circumstances, he will take care of them. This is why they are able to live holy lives, and we are able to see God work through them.
Larry, I hope you back is much better now. I’ll keep you in my prayers today.
I love that passage. It helps put into perspective circumstance and the actions of others. It also is a good way to remind us why we forgive. God has a plan. We are part of that plan. We may not understand or “see” things at certain moments but we can be assured that we will eventually.
One of my sayings I say all the time is “It is what it is” What I really mean by that although I cannot say it at work is “It is what God is” Meaning it is what god is and what god is doing. We don’t need to question it. We don’t need to fear. We just need to know that we are loved and that we are part of this plan. Everything else is just secondary.
M.G. I like what you wrote. The passage is truly a reminder how important it is to forgive and be patient for what happens to us.
I first read what I had written last year. Now I have come to realize that my understanding of that verse truely means. I put that verse together with the Chapter 49. i noted particularly Jacobs blessing of Levi.
Cursed be their fury so fierce,
and their rage so cruel!
I will scatter them in Jacob,
disperse them throughout Israel.
That looks more like a curse than a blessing. But how is this blessing played out.
Moses, Aaron, and John the Baptist are all of the house of Levi. It is true that the decendants of Levi are scattered throughout Israel but they are scattered for a Divine purpose to be priests. Thus what seems to be a justifed curse actually becomes a blessing finding it’s reason in John the Baptist.
Also I have seen something in those verses that has enhanced my own “joy in forgiveness” When we forgive we must see God working in that forgiveness” We cannot take back that forgiveness even if we find out the hurt is even deeper that
Genesis 50:20, makes me understand that God allows problems and misfortunes sometimes so that His glory can be shown and better appreciated. in times of trials and temptation, we should completely trust God, though not easy, but letting go and letting God in can bring calm and peace amidst troubled water
This climactic statement is the culmination of the Joseph saga. He reminded his brothers of God’s providence and It expressed a firm declaration of trust in divine providence and God’s ultimate power over evil and tragedy, and ultimately in his own forgiveness (50:21)
For me personally, this verse teaches me that I can’t judge what is happening to me in my life right now. The way I see my situation is not the way God sees it. I need to live to the best of my ability, then leave it all to God, no matter what. If things go well, it is not necessarily good and if they are going bad, it is not necessarily a bad thing. It is totally up to God’s plan and what happens is His business.
Good point, mary ann!
Very nice explanation!
Very true, Mary Ann. Hind sight is 20/20. Often, I look back and I can see how God has taken an event in my life and brought about change because of it. I am doing better about trusting in and following God’s plan for me.
50:20 is a beautiful passage, and one I need to remember daily. When things don’t go my way or it seems like my prayers aren’t answered the way I want them to be, God is only guiding me towards a solution that will benefit me another way, if only I will be patient. Judah and Joseph have brought about such endearing revelations for my soul. Forgiveness and Patience.
Genesis 50: 20 is a whole retreat, and is worthy of meditation. It reminds us that in all things we should seek God’s will. Joseph new God and surrendered to his will and in so doing, God worked mighty works through him. I need to pray for the grace to submit/surrender to the will of God, so that it is not always my will but God’s will that prevails. Even submitted to her own will and brought sin into this world. The Blessed Virgin Mary submitted to the will of God and brought forth our savior. This verse also teaches us that God works in mysterious ways – through tragedy, illness, violence and pain, he is always there and will bring us up out of our affliction and into his grace. As St. Paul said ‘where there is sin, grace abounds even more.’ We have to learn to trust God – completely.
Thank you Pauline, I believe you’re right Genesis 50:20 is a retreat in itself. I also love your quote of St. Paul, “where there is sin, grace abounds even more,” I need to learn to trust God completely.
What an excellent reminder that God is the one to judge not I. God also already knows what is in store for us throughout our journey and in some of the most difficult times this is perfect time for me to remember that He will watch over us even when things go wrong and we think he’s not there he is we need to be patient. I need to let go and let God! Wow, what a beautiful closer for all of these brothers…new start!
I enjoyed all the inciteful posts today. Thanks all!
Once again Joseph gives God the glory in Genesis 50:20. 50:20 speaks of God’s will and the ability for God to do extraordinary things considering human circumstances. God’s will be done and he can do all things if we give him the Glory he deserves and put our faith in him.
Love the prophecy of Jacob before his death in Genesis 49. Let us all think of how a prophet would explain our characters. We are all created and still alive for a reason. Let us make the most out of our lives and live life the way God wants us to live. Remember God knows the heart.
Jacob speaks, “Few and hard have been years of my life” (Gen 47:9). Jacob was 130 years old when he stated this. I think we can all related that our lives have gone by very quickly so far and they have not always been easy. Even if you live to 100 your life is in a blink of an eye. We are all going to die soon. Let us get ready. Heavenly Father help us to give you the glory, put our faith in you, reflect on our lives, and realize that this life is short. I pray this in the name of Jesus.