Women of Genesis Bible Study

The Women of Genesis: Lesson 35

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 89, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34

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Read Genesis 47:27-50:26

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Questions to Consider

1. Briefly summarize, in your own words, Joseph’s story and how Jacob and his family came to live in Egypt, reviewing previous lessons (links above) if necessary.

2. Compare 47:27 with Jeremiah 29:4-7 and these New Testament passages. Think about the concept of God’s people living among pagans, displaced from their Promised Land, and waiting for the day when they can enter and possess it. Describe how this concept fleshes itself out in each of these passages. What is the Christian’s “Promised Land“? How does God want His people to live during the time of their exile? In the Genesis and Jeremiah passages, are there any general principles for godly living that you can apply to your life in “exile” on this earth today?

3. Examine 47:29-31 and 49:29-32. Where did Jacob (Israel) want to be buried? Why was it so important to him not to be buried in Egypt but to be buried in Canaan? Consider family/tribal bonds, the Abrahamic Covenant, and God’s promise to Jacob in 46:4 as you answer.

4. Explain 48:5-6 as it pertains to the establishment of twelve tribes of Israel (49:28, 49:1-27). What group do Israel’s twelve sons point ahead to in the New Testament?

5. Compare Jacob’s blessing of Ephraim and Manasseh (48:8-20) to Isaac’s blessing of Jacob and Esau. What are the similarities? The differences?

6. Consider Jacob’s blessing of Ephraim, Manasseh, and each of his sons. (48:15-49:28) What was the significance of the patriarchal blessing of the sons? Was it prophecy? Good wishes for a bountiful posterity? Instructions for the future? Information on the inheritance? Examine the cross references for each of the people Jacob blessed. How did his predictions for the future come true for each?

7. Which of the twelve tribes of Israel was Jesus descended from? Examine 49:9-12 as well as the cross-references. What do these verses call to mind about Jesus?

8. Revisit your answers to question #2. What was the result of Jacob’s and Joseph’s godly living while in “exile”? What sort of impact did these men have on the Egyptians? (50:2-3,6-7,9-11)

9. Examine 50:15-21. How is this a picture of the permanence of God’s forgiveness and of salvation? What was Joseph’s reaction (50:17) when he realized his brothers didn’t trust his forgiveness?

10. Compare Joseph’s request about his remains (50:24-25) to Jacob’s (47:29-31, 49:29-32). What were the similarities? The differences? How did Joseph’s request demonstrate his faith that God would keep His promises of the Abrahamic Covenant and serve as an introduction to Exodus? Where did both Jacob’s and Joseph’s remains eventually end up?


Homework

Compare 50:20 to Romans 8:26-30 and James 1:2-4. How does God’s ability to “make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear” demonstrate His sovereignty? What are some of the ways God can bless and grow us during times of difficulty? How can these passages inform our prayer lives when God allows or causes difficult circumstances in our lives? Write out a prayer that lines up with these passages that you can pray the next time you face a trial or tribulation.


Suggested Memory Verse

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
Genesis 50:20

Women of Genesis Bible Study

The Women of Genesis: Lesson 34

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33

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Read Genesis 46:1-47:26

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Questions to Consider

1. Briefly review previous lessons (links above) to refresh your memory on the background of today’s passage. What events led up to the action in chapters 46-47?

2. Review previous lessons regarding the role the Abrahamic Covenant has played in the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, especially with regard to physically living in Canaan and “possessing the land”. Trace Israel’s journey from Hebron to Egypt on a Bible map. Why would he have stopped and sought the Lord at Beersheba, specifically, and why would God have assured him it was OK to leave Beersheba and enter Egypt? (46:1-4)

3. Compare 46:3 to Genesis 12:2. How is this a promise to Israel of fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant? How can this passage be a reminder to us that God does not forget His promises and that He has a right to carry out those promises in any way and any timing He chooses, even if it doesn’t make sense to us? What does this teach us about God’s sovereignty, His authority, and His infinite wisdom, compared to our humility and limited knowledge?

4. Why would it have been important to the nation of Israel’s history and record-keeping to list the names, numbers, and relationships (46:8-27) of the people who left Canaan to settle in Egypt?

5. Consider 47:5-6 and recall 45:16-20. Why was Pharaoh, a pagan, so favorably disposed toward Joseph, and consequently, Joseph’s family? What character traits had Joseph displayed while serving Pharaoh that had such an impact on him? Think about the way you serve your employer, your family, and your church. How does the Fruit of the Spirit you display impact your relationships with those you serve?

6. Compare 47:11-2 with these passages. How does Joseph’s provision for his family who has come to him paint a picture of God taking care of the needs of those who come to Him?

7. Consider 47:13-26 with regard to Egypt’s rise to power in the ancient world. What did Pharaoh take from the people first? (47:14-15) Next? (47:16-17) Next? (47:18-21) How did this shift the balance of power between the people and the Egyptian government? Was it God’s will for Egypt to become a powerful and prominent nation? Who sent the famine that set these wheels in motion and who could have stopped it? Thinking ahead to the Exodus, what was the significance of having an “almighty” Pharaoh and empire as the backdrop for Almighty God’s signs, wonders and deliverance?

8. Think about 47:23,35 in light of these passages. How does Joseph purchasing the people to save their lives point to Christ’s redemption of sinful man? Was there any way for the people to save themselves? How did Joseph show mercy and compassion to them? What was the people’s response to becoming servants? Were they resentful? Grateful? What does this teach us about why we should serve Christ, and the attitude with which we should serve Christ?


Homework

Again compare 46:3 to Genesis 12:2, and consider 46:1-4, this time putting yourself in Israel’s shoes. God has promised Canaan to Abraham’s descendants. Israel already lives there with a decent number of descendants. (46:8-27) From Israel’s human vantage point, does it make sense for him to pack everybody up and leave the Promised Land (46:5-7) rather than staying, increasing in number, and taking over Canaan? But can Israel see the big picture, centuries into the future, the way God does?

Think about a time God worked in your life in a way that, humanly speaking, didn’t make sense. Compare your finite knowledge of the situation with God’s infinite knowledge of it and His “big picture” plans. Considering this, write down three reasons it is important to trust God and three reasons it is important to obey God, especially when things don’t make sense.


Suggested Memory Verse

And they said, “You have saved our lives; may it please my lord, we will be servants to Pharaoh.”
Genesis 47:25

Women of Genesis Bible Study

The Women of Genesis: Lesson 18- Rebekah

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 89, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17

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Read Genesis 24

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Questions to Consider

1. Review lesson 17 (link above) and briefly set the scene for chapter 24. Who are the main characters? What events have recently transpired? Approximately how old is Isaac in chapter 24? (v.67)

2. Why didn’t Abraham want Isaac to marry a Canaanite woman? (3) Why did Abraham tell the servant not (6,8) to take Isaac back to his native land? (7) Think in terms of the Abrahamic Covenant and Abraham’s concept of possessing the land. What might the future ramifications of possessing the Promised Land (Canaan) have been if Isaac had intermarried with a Canaanite and had descendants who were partially Canaanite? What might have happened if Isaac had gone back to Abraham’s native land and stayed there- would Abraham’s lineage still have had a physical presence (possession) in the Promised Land after he died?

3. What impact would all of the issues in #2 have had on Rebekah when she married into this family?

4. What can we learn about marriage and betrothal customs of the time from this chapter? What else can we learn about Mesopotamian culture, such as hospitality, gender roles, authority and submission, etc.?

5. How do Abraham, Isaac, the servant, Rebekah’s family, and Rebekah each demonstrate their trust in God in this chapter? How does God demonstrate His trustworthiness in each of their situations?

6. Examine Rebekah’s words and actions in this chapter and write a brief character sketch of her. What are some ways she sets a good (or bad?) example for you as a Christian woman today?

7. How does this chapter showcase God’s sovereignty over our personal lives as well as over history?


Homework

Examine the decision-making process, and list the steps the servant took, to determine whether or not Rebekah was the right choice. (12-14) Does this serve as an instruction to Christians today on how to make godly decisions? Are we to pray for a sign or for wisdom to make godly decisions? Are we to expect God to verbally tell us what to do, or depend on His fully sufficient written Word for guidance? Do you have an upcoming decision to make? My article Basic Training: 8 Steps to Finding God’s Will for Your Life may be helpful.


Suggested Memory Verse

And they blessed Rebekah and said to her,
“Our sister, may you become
thousands of ten thousands,
and may your offspring possess
the gate of those who hate him!”
Genesis 24:60

Wednesday's Word

Wednesday’s Word ~ Joshua 24

josh 24 15Joshua 24

Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel. And they presented themselves before God. And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Long ago, your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor; and they served other gods. Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan, and made his offspring many. I gave him Isaac. And to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. And I gave Esau the hill country of Seir to possess, but Jacob and his children went down to Egypt. And I sent Moses and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt with what I did in the midst of it, and afterward I brought you out.

“‘Then I brought your fathers out of Egypt, and you came to the sea. And the Egyptians pursued your fathers with chariots and horsemen to the Red Sea. And when they cried to the Lord, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians and made the sea come upon them and cover them; and your eyes saw what I did in Egypt. And you lived in the wilderness a long time. Then I brought you to the land of the Amorites, who lived on the other side of the Jordan. They fought with you, and I gave them into your hand, and you took possession of their land, and I destroyed them before you. Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and fought against Israel. And he sent and invited Balaam the son of Beor to curse you, 10 but I would not listen to Balaam. Indeed, he blessed you. So I delivered you out of his hand. 11 And you went over the Jordan and came to Jericho, and the leaders of Jericho fought against you, and also the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And I gave them into your hand. 12 And I sent the hornet before you, which drove them out before you, the two kings of the Amorites; it was not by your sword or by your bow. 13 I gave you a land on which you had not labored and cities that you had not built, and you dwell in them. You eat the fruit of vineyards and olive orchards that you did not plant.’

14 “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods,17 for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed. 18 And the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.”

19 But Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. 20 If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm and consume you, after having done you good.” 21 And the people said to Joshua, “No, but we will serve the Lord.” 22 Then Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord, to serve him.” And they said, “We are witnesses.” 23 He said, “Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your heart to the Lord, the God of Israel.” 24 And the people said to Joshua, “The Lord our God we will serve, and his voice we will obey.” 25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and put in place statutes and rules for them at Shechem. 26 And Joshua wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God. And he took a large stone and set it up there under the terebinth that was by the sanctuary of the Lord. 27 And Joshua said to all the people, “Behold, this stone shall be a witness against us, for it has heard all the words of the Lord that he spoke to us. Therefore it shall be a witness against you, lest you deal falsely with your God.” 28 So Joshua sent the people away, every man to his inheritance.

29 After these things Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being 110 years old. 30 And they buried him in his own inheritance at Timnath-serah, which is in the hill country of Ephraim, north of the mountain of Gaash.

31 Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua and had known all the work that the Lord did for Israel.

32 As for the bones of Joseph, which the people of Israel brought up from Egypt, they buried them at Shechem, in the piece of land that Jacob bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for a hundred pieces of money. It became an inheritance of the descendants of Joseph.

33 And Eleazar the son of Aaron died, and they buried him at Gibeah, the town of Phinehas his son, which had been given him in the hill country of Ephraim.


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.


 

Questions to Consider:

1. Verse 1 lists the groups of people God was speaking to in this chapter. Who are they? What place do they occupy in Israelite society?

2. In the Old Testament, we often see passages in which God (or one of His prophets) is reciting Israel’s history. Why, in general, would God do this, and why, in particular does He recite Israel’s history in this chapter? (14, 28)

3. In verses 14-18, what ultimatum does Joshua put to the people, and what is their response?

4. Why, after telling the people to choose between serving God and serving foreign gods, did Joshua tell them they would not be able to serve God? What did he mean when he said God would not forgive them? (19-20)

5. What was the purpose of the stone Joshua set up? (26-27) Which ordinances of the church today can serve a similar function for Christians?

Christian women, Faith, Old Testament, Salvation, Sunday School, Women

Rahab: From Floozy to Faithful ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 3-30-14

sunday school

These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 13 ~ Mar. 23-29
Joshua 1-24
Rahab: From Floozy to Faithful

rahab-scarlet-thread

By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient,
because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.
Hebrews 11:31


Background- Joshua 1
Joshua 1 sets the stage for the story of Rahab and the spies. Moses had recently died, and God “promoted” Joshua to take his place. It was finally time for the Israelites to enter and take possession of the Promised Land. As God “installed” Joshua into his new position, He reminded Him:

  • Stay true to My word and you’ll be successful in what I command you to do.
  • Be strong and courageous (4 times in ch. 1); I will never leave you nor forsake you.
  • Here is the extent of the land I promised. I will keep my promise.

Cities had to be conquered, and first on the agenda was Jericho. Joshua began planning for the conquest by readying the people and by gathering intelligence about the city.

Joshua 2

Gathering Intel (1-2, 9-11, 24)
Do you remember one of the first stories we studied in which Joshua played a major role? He was one of the two spies in Numbers 13-14 who brought back a good report about taking the land of Canaan. I wonder if Joshua was thinking about that incident here, forty years later.

Joshua sent two spies, compared to the twelve who went to spy out Canaan, of which he was a part. Jericho was a much smaller area than Canaan, only two were needed, and a larger group would have been more easily discovered. Interestingly, unlike the story of Joshua and Caleb, we never discover the names of these brave spies who risked their lives and their reputations to bring back a good and faithful report. What did they find out and report back to Joshua about Jericho? (v. 9-11,24)

The Hiding Place (1-6)
Why would two nice, godly Jewish boys hide out in a prostitute’s house? Why not a nice, clean hotel? Well, first of all, they generally didn’t have hotels as we know them back then. When people traveled, they brought tents with them and camped out, stayed with friends or relatives, spent the night in the town square (Gen. 19:2), etc. And, sometimes, if it was immoral men traveling without their families, a prostitute’s house was a preferred option for a night’s lodging.

Rahab’s house would have been the perfect place for the spies 212wall_sketchto hide. They were foreigners, they were travelers, and it wouldn’t have been abnormal for them to be surreptitious (covering or disguising themselves) when entering and leaving her house. Plus, Rahab had men arriving and departing at all hours. Since she was a prostitute, many of the townspeople may have avoided her and her clientele, so it was probably the best option available for the spies.

Rahab’s house was built into the city wall. At that time, kings of various cities/countries would regularly attack each other, so many cities were built like fortresses with tall, thick walls around them and gates that could be opened or closed. The back wall of Rahab’s house was also the city wall and had a window the spies could escape from. After the gates had been shut, there would have been no other way to get out of the city.

The Faith of the Spies (24)
The main focus of this story is, rightfully, on Rahab’s faith. But, what about the faith of the spies? These men, out of faithfulness to God, and loyalty to Joshua and Israel could have been tortured and killed had they been discovered. They stayed in the home of an unclean prostitute, which was a BIG deal. (Think back over all the clean/unclean laws we just studied.) They followed the instructions of someone who was: a) a woman, b) a prostitute, c) an enemy and an pagan, and d) had no military/spy experience of her own that we know of. (Although, perhaps, in her profession, she was skilled in hiding men who were being hunted down by people on the warpath). They found an impossibly heavily fortified city. There was no human way to successfully attack it. And still, they were confident in their trust that God would somehow keep them safe and give Israel the city.

The Faith of Rahab (9-13, Romans 1:19-20, 2:14-15)
Rahab was a pagan. How could she have had faith in God? How did she even know about Him? The Bible tells us that ALL human beings have a basic knowledge of God in two ways: through creation (Rom.1) and through our consciences (Rom.2).

But Rahab knew some other things, too. She knew how God treated His children and His enemies. She had heard what God had done at the Red Sea (10)—how God had protected His children and destroyed the Egyptians. She knew how God had defeated the kings of Sihon and Og (10). She knew that out of all the gods she had ever heard of, this One was the real thing- God of heaven and earth. She knew, and she was afraid. Her fear and her defection prove her faith. If she had not believed in who God was, and that He was able to do all these things she would have had no reason to be afraid, nor would she have helped the spies and aligned herself with them against her own people.

Rahab became so convinced in her mind that God was indeed who He had shown Himself to be that she gambled everything on it. Think of what the king would have done to her if she had turned out to be wrong and had gotten caught. At the very least, she would have been killed. but as a traitor, she certainly would have been made and example of. She probably would have been publicly tortured to death, and maybe her family too. This was no small thing she did. She bet her life on a God she didn’t know. That’s the faith that saved her and led her to hide the spies and her other actions. The actions did not save her, it was the overwhelming belief in God which drove those actions.

Two Different Faiths Then (John 4:22, Luke 10:21, Deuteronomy 32:39)
There is a qualitative difference between the faith of the spies and the faith of Rahab. As Jesus said to the woman at the well, “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.” (John 4)

The spies were God’s people. They knew Him personally. They were born into God’s house and grew up as obedient sons. They were chosen by Him and belonged to Him. They had seen Him work as eyewitnesses. They had, and knew, His word. They would have been like the older brother in the prodigal son story if he had been faithful.

Rahab, on the other hand, had none of that. She was the prodigal. She did not know God personally, but only, as an outsider, by reputation. She likely knew nothing of God’s love and promised blessings for obedience, but only of His wrath towards sinners. She was not born into God’s house; she was a pagan. She was not an obedient son; she was a woman, and as sinful a woman as she could be. She was not chosen by God and did not belong to Him. She was an outcast. She had no idea what God might do next. All she knew was that she didn’t want to die.

The spies knew. God had laid it all out for them. They were obeying God, not out of fear, but out of love.

Two Different Faiths Now
Rahab’s faith versus the spies’ faith reminds me of unchurched people coming to Christ versus churched people coming to Christ. We “spies” who were raised in church by Christian families grew up knowing all the Bible Stories, all the whys and wherefores of Jesus and salvation. It is the blessing of a godly heritage.

Rahab, like the unchurched, lived her whole life not knowing God, just doing what sinners do. When she finally heard about Him, all she had was the basics, and, knowing only that He was “Lord of Heaven and earth” (Luke) and “able to kill and make alive” (Deut.), she flung herself unashamedly on His mercy—which, at the time, she probably wasn’t sure would catch a woman like her—all because she wanted to live instead of die.

The Object and Outcome of Our Faith (Joshua 6:17, 22-25, Matthew 1:5, James 2:25)
But no matter our background or how we come to faith in Christ—Rahab or spies, unchurched or churched—the object of our faith is what matters, and the object of our faith is Christ. And because the object of our faith is the same, the outcome of our faith is also the same.

What was the outcome of this whole scenario for the spies? For Rahab? They were saved despite the destruction all around them. After it was over, they all lived in the Promised Land together. Rahab and her family became part of God’s family just like the spies were. She even got to be one of Jesus’ great, great…grandmothers (Matt.), was commended in the “Hall of Faith” (Heb. 11, above), and was cited as an example of good works giving evidence of our faith (Jas.).

God loves the prostitute just like He loves the good little girls. He sent His precious Son to save both of us and to display us as trophies of His grace.

Additional Resources
The Walls of Jericho by Answers in Genesis