“At the End”
Torah: Genesis 41:1–44:17
PROPHETS: 1 Kings 3:15–4:1
APOSTOLIC WRITINGS: 1 Corinthians 1:18–25
These devotionals are designed to supplement, not replace, your Bible reading.
Torah 1 and 2
Joseph Ascends from Prison
Joseph was only 17 years old when his brothers sold him into slavery after he shared his dreams of grandeur (cf. Genesis 37:2). He then spent 11 years serving in Potiphar’s house and the jailhouse before interpreting the dreams of fellow inmates (Chapter 40).
Joseph had to spend 2 more years in prison, however, before God brings to pass the circumstances that finally free him (41:1a; cf. 41:46). Pharaoh’s uninterpretable dreams (vv. 1b–8, cows & heads of grain) cause the cupbearer to remember Joseph who had interpreted his dreams years earlier (vv. 9–13). Joseph still has his own youthful dreams that have remained unfulfilled (cf. 37:5–9, family bowing down to him). Do you have “youthful dreams” that are still unfulfilled?
Providentially, Pharaoh brings Joseph up from prison to interpret his dream (v. 14).
Joseph Serves in Dependence UPon God
When Pharaoh asks for help (v. 15), what does Joseph’s response reveal about his heart (v. 16; cf. vv. 25, 28)? Compare his previous responses to dreams at age 17 (cf. 37:6–10, youthful pride with no reference to God) and at age 28 (cf. 40:12a, 18a, self-dependence with a cursory reference to God, v. 8b). How has God been “breaking him” during these thirteen years away from home to make him a more dependent and thus useful vessel? How has God “broken” you for Kingdom usefulness?
When Pharaoh shares both of his dreams (vv. 17–24), Joseph interprets the “two” as echad (“one”, vv. 25–31; cf. Deuteronomy 6:4). Joseph interprets the practical implications of the “two” dreams as bearing “one” meaning (v. 32). What are some of the theological implications of a true unity in the face of a revealed multiplicity?
Based on God’s revelation and for the sake of Egypt’s salvation, Joseph makes recommendations (vv. 33–36) that Pharaoh quickly heeds (vv. 37–38). Verse 38 is the first biblical reference of “Ruach Elohim” (“Spirit of God”) being on/in someone. This description fits someone that Pharaoh is looking for.
What did Moses want (Numbers 11:29), Joel foretell (Joel 2:28–29 [3:1-2 Heb]), and Peter describe (Acts 2), that reflects God’s desire for all His people? In what way does this describe you?
Torah 3 and 4
God Has Tested Joseph
Pharaoh’s question in the preceding verse appears rhetorical, knowing what he is about to do. He gives Joseph all power (vv. 39–44), a new name and wife (v. 45) and sends him out across the land of Egypt (v. 46).
During the 7 years of plenty, Joseph gathers grain (vv. 47–49) and has two sons (vv. 50–52).
Joseph Tests His Brothers
After these years of plenty, the 7 years of famine draw Egypt (41:53–56), and in fact all nations (v. 57) to Joseph for sustenance by way of grain provisions. These events merely set the context for the “nation-in-embryo” in need of an “incubator” (42:1–2). Egypt will serve as the incubator in which God will harvest one nation to reach all nations.
Initially, Jacob withholds his youngest beloved son and sends the other ten down to Egypt to buy grain.
During the brothers’ 1st encounter in Egypt, Joseph tests his brothers (vv. 5–17) but still fears God (v. 18; cf. Acts 7:9–12). How much do you think he is motivated by concern for his father and full-brother back home? What do you think Joseph is looking for in his brothers?
torah 5 and 6
Roundtrip from Egypt to PRomised Land
The brothers have their 2nd encounter after spending a few days in jail. Joseph instructs them to go provide for their starving family but one brother must stay as “collateral” (42:19–20).
While still not recognizing Joseph, the brothers do begin to recognize God’s justice for their unrepentant sin (v. 21). First-born Reuben says, “I told you so” (v. 22; cf. 37:21–22, 29).
Understanding his brothers’ Hebrew conversation, Joseph is moved to tears and binds up second-born Simeon as the one who must stay (vv. 23–24). Why doesn’t Joseph bind Reuben as the first-born representative head of the family? Could it be that he is moved by learning that Reuben had originally tried to save him from his brothers’ murderous intentions (cf. 37:21–22, 29)?
Joseph sends his brothers out full (vv. 25–26) for their weeklong journey home. On the way home, they discover the unaccounted for money and perhaps begin to look to God to understand their circumstances (vv. 27–28).
Upon arrival home, they give Jacob a report (vv. 29–34) who becomes grieved at the prospect of losing his other beloved son, Benjamin (vv. 35–36). When Reuben steps up to insure Benjamin’s safety (v. 37), Jacob refuses (v. 38) until the jaws of famine clamp down once again (43:1–2). This time, after giving a detailed defense to Jacob about their interrogation (vv. 3–7), Judah steps up to insure Benjamin’s safety (vv. 8–10). Pressured by famine and persuaded by Judah, Jacob sends them back to Egypt prepared to pay for everything (vv. 11–15).
Feasting during Famine
In Egypt, preparations are made for Joseph to dine with his brothers who misunderstand and misinterpret their circumstances (vv. 16–25).
When Joseph arrives and greets them, he quickly turns his attention to Jacob and Benjamin (vv. 26–29). If you were Joseph, what would you be feeling toward your brothers?
Is there anyone in your life with whom you need to reconcile? How can you pursue biblical reconciliation with them that will honor the Lord?
torah 7 and
The Feast Ends with a Trap
The meal begins only after Joseph vents some tears (43:30–31). The meal is segregated (v. 32) and Joseph probably astonishes his brothers when he seats them by birth order when presumably no one would have had this knowledge (v. 33). Benjamin’s extra portions are perhaps an expression of favoritism, perhaps they are a way to test to see if his brothers would treat Benjamin with the same jealous contempt with which they had treated him years ago (v. 34).
When this 3rd encounter is over, Joseph again sends them out full (44:1–3) but sets a trap for them that will bring his full-brother back to him (vv. 4–6). The brothers defend their innocence (vv. 7–9) but Benjamin is discovered with the cup (vv. 10–12). Panic stricken, they return to stand before Joseph in what will be their 4th encounter (v. 13).
Judah Steps Up But Benjamin is Singled Out
When confronted (vv. 14–15), Judah acknowledges their guilt before God but not for the current circumstances (v. 16; cf. 37:26–27). Joseph has a different idea (v. 17).
1 Kings 3:15–4:1
Dreams and wisdom were central in the life of Joseph (his youthful dreams, wise interpretations and wise leadership over Egypt). A dream is also central to King Solomon’s life. His conversation with God in this dream sets the stage for his life as a king who possesses wisdom (3:5–14). This wisdom is put to the test, however, when two women come to him to settle a custody battle. His handling of the matter impresses all of Israel and makes it easier for God’s chosen nation to accept him as their chosen leader (3:28–4:1). James 1:5–8 reminds us that what God did for Solomon He will do for us too. According to Colossians 4:5, what is one of God’s purposes in giving us wisdom?
1 Corinthians 1:18–25
The believers in Corinth had begun to have disputes and factions. Paul wrote this letter to them to straighten them out. He exhorts them about the nature of God’s wisdom. To the world, God’s wisdom looks like foolishness. Sawing a baby in half to settle a custody battle appears foolish indeed but was effective in establishing justice. Yeshua is God’s wisdom (1:24, 30). Following Him will often look foolish to those who are perishing (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:14; 2 Corinthians 2:15–16). Are you walking in your own wisdom or God’s wisdom?
The verses this week also tell us about God’s power. Joseph and Solomon were given wisdom to exercise authority. This authority was a wielding of power on earth for the sake of building God’s Kingdom. Is the power that you have been wielding these days your own strength or God’s? A good way to tell is whether you are focused on building His Kingdom through all that you do and whether there is Kingdom “fruit” (Galatians 5:22–23) that causes others to recognize the matchless value of God and the matchless power of the cross and empty tomb.
Rest. Fellowship. Discussion.