Chapter One

It is part of the infinite greatness of our God’s love that He forgives sin. A less understood truth,
but one that is equally important is the fact that He has ordained that there are consequences for
sin, even sins whose penalties have been forgiven. Generational curses, which is one of our main topics in
this book, are simply the consequences of the sins of our forebears. This does not mean God penalizes
children for the sins of their fathers. It is saying that God, in His justice, has decreed that the consequences
of both righteous and unrighteous actions, are trans-generational. This simply means that as sure as it is right
that God has made us able to bless our seed, His justice decrees that will also be able to curse them.

It is part of God’s “rightness” (righteousness) that even if a person repents of sin, such as an act of
adultery, and God and men, (and women) completely forgive him, there will still be consequences of his
actions. For example, it is scriptural that temptation itself is an act of suffering, and a sincere repenter may,
in some cases, always suffer more temptation to return to his past sin than he would have had he never fallen
to begin with. He may have acquired a venereal disease in his folly, which may or may not be eventually
cured. He may have to voluntarily restrict himself from being in situations which might tempt his wife to
suspect his motives. Had he never “jumped the fence” he would have been blessed with an undisturbed peace
in his marriage relationship which is most prized by those who have lost it.

If the act of adultery was “the straw that broke the camel’s back”, so to speak, and a divoce ensues,
there will be an even greater impact on his children than on he himself. If he only has weekend visitation
rights with them, and diciplining them during his brief time with them is more than he can make himself do,
his children will have a harder time receiving the Lord’s discipline than they might have otherwise. This
alone could have many implications of what battles they may have to face as adults.

None of what I have said so far is any great revelation; it is clearly declared in the lives of almost
everyone we know. There is great revelation though, into how these kinds of things happened “in the first

place”, that is, in the Book of Genesis. Within its ancient chapters are even greater insights into how such
curses can be broken. Come with me as we examine an awesome “big picture” of the making and breaking
of curses across the four generations of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the twelve patriarchs.

Genesis 12

1. The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household
and go to the land I will show you.
2. “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you
will be a blessing.
3. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
4. So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five
years old when he set out from Haran.
5. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the
people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.

We are only in the twelfth chapter of The Book, and yet, time wise, we are already halfway through
4000 years of Bible history. It is at this point, at the introduction of Abram, that we see what appears to be a
modest attempt by God to stem the tide of wickedness that flooded the earth after Noah’s Deluge. The
profound importance of what happens here, in the very “center” of the Bible, time wise, can hardly be


After the flood of Noah, men quickly began to be moved by the Deceiver back toward the darkness
that dominated the ante-diluvian centuries. God’s first step toward the redemption of the fallen race of men is
to call one man out from them. He will get him alone with Himself long enough to show him who He is and
who He isn’t. There is, however, a particular reason why this essential setting will be very hard to achieve. I
has to do with the Tower called “Babel”.

In the previous chapter, Genesis 11, we see the story of the Tower of Babel. Its shadow stretches all
the way across the Bible, darkening most of its pages, and reaches to the Book of the Revelation of Jesus
Christ. It is the story of a strong enchantment I call “The Fear of Man and the Love of his Praise”, and is
Satan’s chief mechanism for keeping men from getting alone with God. At the Tower of Babel men decided
that keeping a big group together and building up a name and a reputation was to be preferred to obeying the
Lord’s command to spread throughout the land. This is why it was so vital to get Abram to leave his “peer
group” as we moderns say. It would be hard to overstate Abram’s Act of Faith in leaving the impressive and
sophisticated world that was Ur of the Chaldees. Turning from it, and walking away on the Word of an
Invisible God, was a hugely Anti-Babel feat. The first step in any journey is the hardest, and for taking that
first stride, Abram richly deserves the title of the “Father of the Faithful”. I believe we will soon see that
because of unique nature of Abram’s “Apostolic” call, his failure to leave ALL his family had a negative
effect that we feel to this day. For those given much, much is required, for everything they do has a huge
impact. Abram was not just “in on the ground floor”, he was the ground floor of God’s building. Therefore,
both Abram’s obedience and disobedience echo till this day.

Of course, nephew Lot was supposed to be left behind with the rest of the family. It probably wasn’t
a simple thing to walk off and leave Lot in Ur. It may be deduced from Stephen’s remark in Acts 7:4 that
Abram was the youngest of Terah’s sons. Therefore, Lot was very likely around the same age, if not older
than, his Uncle Abram. Lot was a wealthy man with many servants, and it was very appealing to have him
along as a traveling companion in an unknown country with no Police Force on call. While verse four
implies to me that Lot was asking to go along, verse five implies that Abram also wanted him on board.

10. Now there was a famine in the land…

God often disciplines his sons by letting us have what we lust for, and then making us sick of it. Lot
was an “asset” … till God sent a famine, (read drought, for that’s what a “famine” is to shepherds). When
grass is short, one large group can maneuver around and find enough forage. But when two large groups are
trying to stay together, and move around and find forage, they quickly become a burden to each other. The
very aspect of bringing Lot that caused Abram to disobey the Lord and bring him along was the size of his
outfit. That aspect has become an albatross around his neck, threatening his survival.

Had Abram known the Lord as well at this point as he did later, he’d have gone straight to his God,
confessing that his disobedience had gotten him in hot water. He would have quickly repented and asked the
Lord for direction that would correct his situation. But Abram is yet in his spiritual infancy, and in his
distress he turns to Egypt instead of turning to his God. He probably feels uncovered and afraid, knowing
he’s reaping the consequences of his sin. He may have thought, (correctly), that this God he has just met may
have sent the drought. From that he may have surmised, (incorrectly), that since he was reaping what he had
sown, he would have to get out of this one on his own!

Pretend you’re reading this the first time and note the fear in the man’s words:

… and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe.
11. As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman
you are.
12. When the Egyptians see you, they will say, `This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will
let you live.
13. Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared
because of you.”

If you realize what you just read, you are probably still wincing. He is putting his wife in the most
compromising of positions, FOR THE SAKE OF HIS OWN PROTECTION (“…my life will be spared…”)
AND PROVISION (“…I will be treated well…”)! In the world of Abram, brothers received the major portion
of the dowries of their sisters. Abram is presuming that God won’t protect him if he stays in Canaan, and the drought is hurting him financially, so he heads for Egypt. On the way he lays a plan that was supposed to
prevent his beautiful wife, Sarai, from becoming an endangerment to him, and turn her into an asset all in
one stroke. His nephew Lot, whom he’d thought of as an asset, has turned out to be such a liability, that he
felt compelled to use his wife for protection!

In case this makes you want to throw away this book, know that God’s Word is not chock full of
perfect heroes we can never hope to be like. It is a scary thing to read of flopping, flailing, faulty figures who
eventually repent and get it right. It makes us know we don’t really have any excuse to not take His grace
and press on toward the purposes of God for ourselves. We’d rather read of unreal supermen whom we can
adore from afar, but never really be challenged to emulate.

My understanding is that the essence of the Disciple’s Cross is trusting God to protect and provide,
even if it seems He’s not going to do either. This event happened to Abram for our instruction, for here we
see him grasping in the flesh for both protection and provision. We see both Abram’s exploits and his
disasters in this book. We are about to see one of the greatest disasters since the Fall of Adam. Read:

14. When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that she was a very beautiful woman.
15. And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace.

This does not necessarily mean he slept with her. Unfortunately, what follows does mean just that.
Read carefully:

16. He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female
donkeys, menservants and maidservants, and camels.
17. But the LORD inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s
wife Sarai.
18. So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell
me she was your wife?
19. Why did you say, `She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? (italics mine) Now then,
here is your wife. Take her and go!”

Here is the hardest thing you will have to endure in reading this book: Try to not be offended. Give
me a chance to prove my words here and with what I will say in the coming chapters of this book.
Hendrickson’s Hebrew Interlinear Bible says of Genesis 12:19b:

“Why did you say my sister she is and so I took her to me for wife.”

“Took her to me for wife” is even more clear than the euphemistic phrase in the sentence, “John ‘slept with’
Jane”. The rest of this book will be spent to speak to, not only the truth of this statement, but its implications
for other texts, and its ramifications for us.

It is an exceedingly hard saying to say this scripture means our hero and Spiritual Father Abraham
was at one point weak enough to paint himself into such a corner as to not be able to prevent this from
happening. Try to endure this, distasteful as it is, till we see the Glory of God revealed in even these events.
If you must have something else to corroberate this picture right now, before I show how the rest of the

whole patriarchal story grows from this verse, turn over and slowly read Ezekiel 23. You may wish you

20. Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his
wife and everything he had.

I do not enjoy saying this, but this means Abram was paid for what happened in Pharaoh’s
bedchamber. It is likely that the noble heart of the Father of the Faithful was sickened by these wages. Do
you remember a little later, that after his great exploit of faith in the “slaughter of the Kings” and the rescue
of Lot, Abram swore to refuse to receive payment from the King of Sodom? I think that has to do with what
happened to our Spiritual Father here.
[Note: you may be thinking that you distinctly remember reading that Sarai wasn’t defiled by the
King. You do, but that was King Abimelech in chapter 20.]

Genesis 13:
1. So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and
everything he had, and Lot went with him.

Notice the repetition of the phrase, “… and Lot went with him.”

2. Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver
and gold.
3. From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to
Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been
4. and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on
the name of the LORD.

On his way to Egypt and the fateful events that transpired there,
Abram had paused between Ai, which means “ruin”, and Bethel, which means
“House of God”. He made his final decision there to proceed on southward
toward Egypt. On his way back he paused there again, having learned a
painful lesson. Notice what subject is next brought forward by the
Bible’s Divine Author:

5. Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and
herds and tents.
6. But the land could not support them while they stayed
together, for their possessions were so great that they were not
able to stay together.

Even if all the effects of the “famine” had passed during their
trip to Egypt, and they most likely hadn’t, Abram’s greatly increased
herds make it totally impractical for them to stay together.

7. And quarreling arose between Abram’s herdsmen and the herdsmen
of Lot. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land
at that time.

Here comes Abram’s second great act of faith.

8. So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between
you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are
9. Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you
go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll

go to the left.”
10. Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was
well watered, like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt,
toward Zoar. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and
11. So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and
set out toward the east. The two men parted company:
12. Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the
cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom.
13. Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly
against the LORD.

Here Abram makes a leap of faith. He understands in his spirit
what many in the New Covenant have yet to grasp. He recognizes that
God’s grace completely removes the penalty of sin, but it does not
remove the consequences of sin. Abram knew God had promised him all of
Canaan, but he didn’t struggle to protect and defend his right to keep
it. He realized that he himself should shoulder the responsibility for
bringing Lot to Canaan, and he offers Lot the best half of the Land to
square things with both Lot and the Lord. Notice how impressed the Lord
is with Abram’s spirit:

14. The LORD said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Lift
up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and
15. All the land that you see I will give to you and your
offspring forever.
16. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so
that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be
17. Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am
giving it to you.”
18. So Abram moved his tents and went to live near the great
trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he built an altar to the LORD

This is a perfect example of trusting God to protect and provide! A perfect walking out of saving
one’s life by losing it! God makes a truly repentant sinner better than he was before he sinned! He had
already known something of God’s grace and power, but now he also knows the perils of giving in to the
flesh. And now his possession of Canaan cannot be lost, because he has given it up and let it die, (he gave
the best of the land to Lot), and then he received it back, (he got God’s solemn oath that his numberless
offspring would inherit this land)!

The hallmark of embracing the Disciple’s Cross is the spirit reflected by the repentant thief on the
cross. He said to his fellow, “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve.” (Luke
23:41) Abraham didn’t proclaim that God had given him Canaan, (though He had), and rebuke Lot as an
interloper on what was his inheritance by Divine right! He said by his actions that he was responsible for
bringing Lot to Canaan, and he would accept the consequences. His pure heart knew instinctively that God’s
Grace removes the penalty of sin, but not the consequences. This is true faith in the God who is inherently
True and Holy. It stands in stark contrast to the more common “faith” that clutches for “rights” and
benefits supposedly due every Believer. The surest way to receive God’s benefits is as a byproduct of
this, the true faith of Abraham.

What follows hereafter is what I consider to be one of Abram’s three greatest moments: his rescue
of Lot. (A confederation of kings had ransacked Sodom and some of the neighboring cities, and had taken
their inhabitants off as captives, including Lot.)

Genesis 14:
14. When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men
born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan.
15. During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as
far as Hobah, north of Damascus.
16. He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together
with the women and the other people.

Let’s disregard for a moment the courage it took to chase down four kings and their armies. The
fact that he desired to rescue Lot at all was the greatest victory! It was a fantastic feat of faith to not sit
passively by and let Lot reap the consequences of his choice to live in wicked Sodom! And these
consequences just happened to be ridding Abram of the consequences of his own sin, namely, losing half
of Canaan to Lot!. Abram’s great heart was devoid of any false motives that would cause him to put words in
God’s mouth and presume that God was simultaneously speaking judgment on Lot’s sin and making good on
His promise to give all of Canaan to himself. For faith to be pure it must be totally free of the manipulations
of the flesh. Abram proved himself to be unwilling to manipulate circumstances, even passively, in his own
favor. Had he done nothing, and not rescued Lot, he would have failed a very difficult test, but he would
have failed nonetheless. But he ruled his own spirit, and by so doing, gave great glory to God.

Another point greatly to Abram’s credit is that nowhere does it say God commanded Abram to
rescue Lot. Notice:
verse 14: “When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men …”

In Abram God has a son walking in enough maturity to act like a “chip off the old block”. He risked
his life because of something God has begun to build in him. He is walking in wisdom, without having to be
given a word. This is a level higher than obeying a specific word. This is being conformed to The Word.

The Holy Spirit frequently teaches in Scripture by laying two similar instances side by side and
inviting us to discern similarities and differences. Notice the occurrence of the concept of “consequences” in
each of these last two feats of faith. Abram is quick to judge himself as deserving of losing part of Canaan as
a consequence of his sin in bringing Lot to the promised land. On the other hand, he has no opinion at all
concerning whether or not Lot may be reaping what he’s sown by living in the most wicked environment on
earth. This too is wondrous faith! It is also evidence of the total peace and confidence Abram has about God
having totally removed the penalty of his sin. “Those forgiven much love much”, is being spoken here, two
thousand years before the Incarnation. God is speaking it by showing us a man whom God has forgiven
risking everything to rescue Lot, a man that had chosen to sit in the council of the ungodly. Nor is this the
last time we will see Abram interceding to prevent disaster from coming on Lot because of his association
with the wicked.
And notice how unbending is Abram’s purity of motive:

21 The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the people and keep the
goods for yourself.”
22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the
LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath
23 that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread

I believe the wealth Abram received from Pharaoh as a result of Sarai’s trip through his
bedchamber, galled this righteous man. Have you ever wanted to throw up and couldn’t? I believe that when
God saw to it that Abram got what he wanted and was “treated well” for Sarai’s sake, he taught the man a
lesson he well remembers as he returns from the slaughter of the Kings. His noble heart now has no desire
for the wealth of the wicked. And the tremendous courage Abram shows here tells me he has decided it’s
better to die trusting God than it is to live forever in fear and self-preservation.
Notice these three verses concerning the mysterious Melchizedek, who meets Abram as he returns

in triumph:

18. Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High,
19. and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.
20. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a
tenth of everything.

I, like many Bible teachers, believe Melchizedek was the Preincarnate Christ. That aside, think
what a feat of righteousness the Lord had just witnessed in His son Abram. Melchizedek means “King of
Righteousness”. (Takes one to know one?) Abram is himself a King of Righteousness in this hour, and is
honored as such by a Divine Messenger.

Consider these verses:

NIV Psalms 85:10
Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each
I’d say, when Melchizedek met Abram, righteousness and peace
kissed righteousness and peace.

I believe there is yet another voice of “wisdom” that cries for our ears from this text. Abram is, in a
sense, having to “untrace” the steps of unbelief he made as he chose to bring Lot for the “safety in numbers”
he and his caravan would provide. It took far more faith to attack four armies with 318 men than it would
have to just obey God and forego bringing Lot to begin with. Because Lot has been brought, past tense, the
chance for simple obedience is now past. But God is good: if we fail a test, we usually get to take it over.
The only hitch is, make-up tests are harder! This though is wonderful! The true heart that has found genuine
repentance is broken because of past sin. While it refuses any condemnation as a demonic temptation, this
heart will gladly embrace fighting a bear if it has just repented of “wimping out” when it was supposed to
have taken on a medium sized wolf. This chapter shows us that the same Abram who ran from a little lobo,
takes on a bear like he was Davy Crocket!


(Concerning Genesis 15)

Understanding the events of Genesis 15 are essential to the understanding of the things the Lord is
speaking through this book. In the opening verses Abram has asked the Lord to help him “know” the Divine
Promises to him will be fulfilled.. God does so by having Abram set up a blood covenant path, a trail of
blood between the halves of three animals. It was to be walked together by those making covenant. Abram
waits patiently for someone to show up and walk with him. The first manifestation he gets is that he suddenly
falls into a trance, a “deep sleep”, according to this text. Now pretend you are reading this your first time:

12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a
thick and dreadful darkness came over him.

I believe this “thick and dreadful darkness” represents the presence of the enemy’s hand in Abram’s
future. Abram’s sin in giving his wife to the king of Egypt had given the “Prince of Darkness” a certain
right, access, and sway within his family. In the presence of this “thick and dreadful darkness”, the God
Who is the Sovereign Lord over every angelic and demonic principality speaks:

13 Then the LORD said to him, “Know for certain that your
descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they
will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years.
14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and
afterward they will come out with great possessions.

Wives were like property to the pagans of this day, and Abram had made his wife the property of
Egypt’s king for a time. In His grace, God sovereignly intervened and returned her to Abram. But the
consequences of this trip was that there was the potential that Sarai’s offspring would be in Egypt and would
know a time of being Egyptian property, at least till the time came when God would sovereignly set them

Think of it: If you had never read this before, wouldn’t you be a little awed by God saying Abram’s
kids would have four centuries of curse, (what else would you call it), placed on them? Why? Did God just
wake up grouchy that morning? Is God ever arbitrary? Was this for no reason? Consider this verse from the

Exodus 34:7
7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and
sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity
of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto
the third and to the fourth generation.

As near as I can tell, “visiting” is an excellent rendering of the
original wording here. And it’s the iniquity of the “fathers” that is
specified. There will be many corroboration’s as we go along of this insight that the 400 years in
Egypt goes back to Abram’s giving of his wife to Pharaoh. But let me jump ahead and give you one now,
one for which it is not necessary for us to wait until I have built a case for it.

Doesn’t it seem strange that, with all that’s left out of Abram’s biography, God would spend the
whole of Genesis Chapter 23 giving us the details of Sarah’s funeral arrangements. Know that commentators
are in agreement that Abram, in giving 400 shekels of silver for her burial site, paid “through the nose” for
it. Does that number ring a bell? “… enslaved and mistreated 400 years …” Silver speaks of atonement
elsewhere in the Books of Moses. It took a shekel for each of the 400 years to lay Sarah to rest.

The “third and fourth generation” from Abram will be grandson Jacob and his children. Abram’s
sins will be “visited” on them, that is, they will face the same demon who tempted Abram to not trust God to
protect and provide. And how they fare in this contest of faith will determine whether the 400 years in Egypt
actually happens, and whether or not all the time there is spent being “enslaved and mistreated”.


(Concerning Genesis 16)

It has been said that if you fail one of God’s tests, “not to worry”, you’ll get to take it again! I
believe that this is true, but it is essential to understand that if you have to take a make-up test because you
failed a test, or just didn’t show up on test day, make-up tests are harder! Was there a reason why Sarah had
to wait 24 years after she left Ur to conceive? About this I am not certain, but I believe that because she was
defiled by Pharaoh, there was a delay, a time period she must spend “outside the camp”. (Read Numbers 12).
If what I’m saying is true, then failing a test precipitated another test. If it’s not true that this was the reason
for the delay, all the other points that follow stand true anyway.

As this chapter opens ten years have passed since they left Ur. Sarai is chafing in her childlessness.
She has an Egyptian handmaid by the name of Hagar. (Remember, Pharaoh had given handmaids to Abram

as part of the “price” for Sarai, Genesis 12:16) She is about to fail a make-up test. She says the LORD has
kept her from conception. Does she feel defiled? Does she feel permanently cast away? Their sojourn into
the depths of the Character of this Invisible Deity has taken some heart jolting turns. First there was famine
and lack. Then Pharaoh’s bedchamber, and “a fate worse than death.” It’s a trifle hard for her to just stand
and believe, when she came to Canaan barren to begin with, and now she is watching her body become post-
menopausal! It’s a little hard to believe this Deity is going to fix everything and make it all better, when her
bruised heart is telling her that God’s discipline is synonomous with His rejection. So she pitches Hagar to
Abram .. and he receives her. He’s not able to muster enough faith to assuage his own fear/doubt/guilt, let
alone his wife’s, who’s a little on the touchy side about now anyway.

At this point a side trip is necessary. Jesus spoke something I see as fundamentally essential to any
real understanding of the Word, for it is alluded to in almost every story in Scripture. In Matthew 18, He
says, basically, in my words, “First, don’t be a cause of stumbling or temptation to anyone, especially
children, OR ELSE! If you do, you are responsible for their fall and you’re in a heapa trouble with ME!
Second, presume no one and no thing can make you sin! Cut off whatever offending body parts get in your
way, if need be, if that’s what it takes to not sin, but don’t come with this business of somebody or something
made me sin! If you sin, I’ll hold you responsible.” He was saying that in the final analysis, which is
Judgment Day, for us everything will be vertical, that is, between each one of us and God. We won’t be able
to blame anyone for our failures, but the Lord may well hold us responsible for the failures of others.
Meditate on this, and the Holy Spirit will show you a hundred places where it applies in Scripture. And ten
thousand where it applies in life will become evident, like the lawsuits against “Big Tobacco”, and the
“victim spirit” that affects so many personal, social, and even business relationships.

Sarai and her husband are grappling with the bitter consequences their sin. Division threatens
because they both know the sins in question are chiefly his. Thus Abram feels a demonic accusation that, in
view of his sin, if he is going to do the “right” thing, he will grant his wife this small reparation for the
wrongs she’s suffered. (Jesus said Jezebel claims to be a prophetess, and prophetesses always counsel us to
do the “right” thing.) Furthermore, “did God really say” the son would come from Sarai’s body? “No, I don’t
believe he did,” Abram may have reasoned. “He just said it would come from my body, and God’s grace
probably isn’t sufficient to heal my wife’s barrenness, in view of my sin in arranging her defilement.” (This
is called “arguing from silence”, basing doctrine on what we haven’t heard God say, and it is a dangerous

And so the trap closes, Hagar is received and Ishmael is conceived. She who was put into the arms
of an Egyptian man because of fear, puts her husband into the arms of an Egyptian woman for the same
reason. He who is conceived in fear and anger will ultimately have to be sent away. Which sending away will
be perceived by the boy as rejection from God. Which pain will be so enormous as to tempt his children to
rewrite the Scripture to rid themselves of the record of it, so they can believe Isaac was sent away, and their
father Ishmael was the chosen seed. Which fear/anger stronghold will be called Islam, and will only be
overcome by the Blood of the Lamb, the words of our testimony, and loving not our lives unto death.
Every time God’s people depend on Egypt, (the world), for help they get burned. As soon as Hagar knows
she is carrying Abram’s Seed, she despises Sarai. In the agony of the moment, as Sarai feels abandoned by
her God, and rebuked by her own flailing efforts, she speaks to Abram a truth she knows in the depth of her

5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my servant
in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the LORD judge
between you and me.”
Now to most husbands this probably appears to be a typical female diatribe based solely on
emotions. It’s true that this is a very feminine response, but look more closely. She is totally desperate and
completely frustrated. What has happened to her is obviously her fault, and yet, truthfully, not all her fault
either. She is painfully aware of her recent role in the conception of this child, and yet she is feeling that her

plight has something to do with the trip they took to Egypt, and what happened in Pharaoh’s bedchamber. It
must seem to her that sin is like the ol’ tar baby: the more you fight with it in the flesh, the more it gets all
over you, and you wish you’d never started swinging at all! And if Sarai feels cornered, Abram has a terrible,
sinking feeling that he’s just messed up again and made a bad situation worse. And now the pressure is even
greater! And what will our father do at this point?

This would have been a great place to embrace the cross. A good place to say, “Honey, I did it
wrong when I brought Lot along, and when I took us to Egypt, and when I gave you to Pharaoh, and when I
consented to go in to Hagar, and I take the blame for all our troubles. I now repent whole heartedly, and I ask
for God’s forgiveness, and yours. And whether you forgive me or not, I’ll see to it that Hagar is respectful to
you from now on.” But Father Abram didn’t do this. He had absolutely no example of anyone who had ever
done this, not in person, and not in the Bible, for there was no Bible as yet. And once you start tumbling
down hill, it’s hard to stop before you hit bottom. If you get your clothes on fire and you ever run the first
step, (instead of falling down and embracing the flames), you probably will run till you turn to ashes. No, he
didn’t embrace his cross. Instead, he said:

6 “Your servant is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai
mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.

Hagar fled because Abram, with his breeches on fire, spiritually speaking, had fled first. But the
“Angel of the LORD” intercepted her, and prevented her death in the desert, and Abram’s bloodguilt

7 The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside
the road to Shur.
8 And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”
“I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered.
9 Then the angel of the LORD told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.”

So it is that Ishmael, the son conceived in fear, is born to a father giving way to the temptation to be
passive and a fearful. Note what the “Angel” says to Hagar:

11 The angel of the LORD also said to her: “You are now with child and you will have a son. You
shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery.
12 He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand
against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.”

How did this “Angel” know Ishmael would turn out to be “a wild donkey of a man”, that conflict
and war would be his lifestyle? Yes, I know, we are talking about a divine source here, but something else
factors in. The fact that Abram is beginning the boy’s life in passiveness, it seems to me, will predispose him
to raise him the same way. More on this when we see God agreeing that Ishmael must be sent away in
Genesis Chapter 21


(Concerning Genesis 17)

In this chapter, thirteen years after Ishmael’s birth, the LORD suddenly appears to Abram and starts
talking to him about the particulars of how He is going to confirm His covenant with Abram’s offspring. The
whole time God is talking, Abram is surely thinking, “He’s talking about Ishmael’s kids, He’s talking about
Ishmael’s kids!” Then suddenly the LORD mentions that this offspring will be coming through Sarai, who is
to be renamed “Sarah”. Abram laughs in astonishment, till he realizes God is serious!!

A principle is laid out for us here: the seed God will bless will not issue from Abram’s body till he
has been circumcised, which means, “to cut a circle”. A circular scar must be on Abram’s body before he can
bring forth seed that will last. And, he must do this violence to a member of his body that seems dead! Then,
and only then, the “Offspring” will manifest. Note:

Genesis 17:13
My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant.

Now remember, this is not a covenant of salvation, it’s a covenant of fruitfulness. And it is,
amazingly, “in [our] flesh”. And I say “our”, referring to us as New Testament believers, because it is
“everlasting”. Nothing is more apparent in the New Testament than the fact that literal fleshly circumcision
is not required of Christians. Then it obviously follows that the Disciple’s Cross is essential for us to bring
forth our “Isaacs”, our lasting fruit. Does this also imply that we will not see Him who is “The Offspring”,
returning in Glory, until we both accept that we are “dead”, “crucified with Christ”, and yet, totally confident
that “nevertheless we live” and have an indestructible life? I think so!

And so, Abram accepts God’s Word that Ishmael is not Isaac, and he never will be. And he accepts
that he himself must, like a kernel of wheat, fall to the ground and die in order not to remain only a single
seed. Consequently, he and his household are circumcised that selfsame day.


(Concerning Genesis 18, 19, & 20)

There had been a lapse of 13 years between chapters 16 and 17, but now we find chapter 18
opening within two months of chapter 17. Chapter 17, where Isaac is promised within the year, happened
when Abraham was 99. Chapter 18 finds that Isaac is yet to be conceived, and yet he will be born when
Abraham is 100.

The Lord, it seems, accompanied by two angels, is headed for a close inspection of Sodom when He
drops by the camp of His friend Abraham. Abraham prevails upon Him to stay for supper. In the course of
the meal the Lord mentions that Sarah will bear a son within a year. Sarah, eavesdropping just inside the tent,
laughs. This may imply that Abraham had somehow not gotten around to telling her what the Lord had said
to him previously about her future motherhood. In any case, she now knows, and though she lies to hide her
laughing, she puts her unbelief behind her and believes the Word of the Lord to her. This we know from the
Words of Apostle Paul.

Then the Lord gets down to His other business. He lets Abraham know of His mission to Sodom.
Whereupon Abraham, even though he knows full well the decadence of Sodom, immediately intercedes,
asking for leniency for the city. He eventually gets the Lord’s assurance of extreme leniency in that if only
ten righteous people live in the city, it will be spared. “And surely”, Abraham may have reasoned, “Lot is
living in enough faithfulness to produce a few converts, isn’t he??”

Chapter 19 suggests to us that Lot’s zeal for the Lord is not exactly, well, “setting the town on fire”
down in Sodom. If he was at all uncertain what kind of place Sodom was before he got there, he was by now
well aware of the wickedness of the city. Lot had previously been swept up in the judgment that came upon
Sodom and its inhabitants when the four kings took them off as a captives from the city, (see Genesis 14).
Lot should have considered that righteous judgment had befallen him for pitching his tents near Sodom, and
that judgment had been rescinded by pure grace when he was rescued by Abram. Be that as it may, as this
chapter opens he still has not responded in faith. Instead of fearing the Lord, and avoiding those who
were “sinning greatly against the Lord” (Gen.13:13), he has moved from pitching his tents near Sodom to
living in the city itself. Though he was “tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and

heard” (2 Peter 2:8;), he managed to ignore the Grace of God that surely was wooing him to leave Sodom.

Before we go further, let me suggest that chapters 19 and 20 are laid beside each other for the
purpose of comparison. In this pair we see two men who have been delivered by the Sovereign Grace of God
from situations they got themselves into. As far as we know, neither man was rebuked by the Lord for
getting into the fixes he got into. In each we will see only the weakest contrition for their past sin, for when
faced with the same test they had failed before, they don’t improve their score on the make-up test.

Lot was around Abram long enough to have picked up a few things. He, unlike his neighbors,
instantly recognized the angelic character of the two strangers in town. The way he talked to them implied
that he would have liked to blind their eyes to Sodom’s decadence and hurry them into his dining room and
then on out of town. He seemed willing to pay any price to shield them from seeing the degree of the
wickedness of the city. When he failed in this maneuver, he was extremely reluctant to leave behind
whatever he had in the city. Far from contrite that he had deliberately lived in such a place – far from
horrified that God is being sinned against to such a degree, he had to be dragged from the city. Further, he
claimed he was too weak to flee to the mountains as instructed, and begged to be allowed to stay in one of
the Suburban Sodomite villages called Zoar. Zoar, though slated for destruction, was preserved by his fleshly
intercession. When Lot actually saw the fire start to fall, he suddenly found the energy to flee to the
mountains! Doubtless, his casual attitude about repenting of involvement with Sodom would have had
some influence on the woman he husbanded. Did he help push his wife over the edge of contempt for the
warning they received, and thus tempt her to take that famous, fatal, rearward glance?

Speaking of tempting; Does this chapter of extraordinary sexual sin and its tolerance by a man of
God, have no relationship at all to what Lot saw in the house of the only godly man he knew? His offering of
his daughters to the men of Sodom, as horrible as that sounds, did that spring solely from what he had
absorbed in Sodom? Did it have nothing to do with what he saw Abram do in Egypt? Had Lot’s daughters
heard about Sarai, Hagar, and righteous uncle Abram when they planned the seduction and incest they
committed with their Father? I’m asking, just asking, did that trip to Egypt cast its long shadow over these

In chapter 20 we find Abram and his wife again telling the story about her being his sister! Again a
king, Abimelech by name, takes her into his harem intending to make her his wife. Had this actually
transpired, it would have again resulted in a defilement of Sarai and probably another obligatory time
“outside the camp”, that is, a long period of infertility. But this time God can’t let the consummation happen
because Isaac has been promised within the year. So after a midnight heart-to-heart talk with Jehovah the
scared witless king calls in the red-handed Abram. Notice that it is explicitly related that Abimelech, though
deceived, humiliated and terrified, had not touched Abram’s wife. (The fact that this Scripture is so explicit
that Sarah had not been touched by Abimelech is strong implication that the previous visit to Pharaoh’s
palace did not have the same outcome.)

When Abimelech asked Abram’s motive for such a deceitful ploy, Abram frankly confessed that he
feared for his life. Thus we see a very important point: though God had delivered Abram from the penalty of
his sin in Egypt, Abram is still not willing to trust God in this area. The stronghold remains, just below the
surface. And it is in the very nature of Jehovah that the sins of fathers that are not dealt with are “visited” on
their children. This is the true meaning of the term “generational curse”. We will see that a “generational
curse” does not mean someone has to sin, but that the battles fathers have refused to fight, must be fearlessly
engaged by their descendants. How and where this transpires makes up the balance of this book.

Before we progress in that story let me make clear what I believe the Lord is saying when he says
sins of fathers are “visited” (Exodus 34:7 – KJV) on their children. The Hebrew word for “visit” is “paqad”
which implies, among other things: “confront”, “call into account”, or “look after”. I believe this implies that
it is part of the just arrangement of God’s universe that parents bequeath to their children the blessings and
cursings they acquired in there own lives. If it is just and right that God makes it possible for us to leave our

children better off because of the choices we make, our enemy must have the right to confront our children
with the gaps we left open in our hedge, and then dare them to stand in the gap their forebears left them.

What this means, practically speaking, is that if you submit to a demonic bondage of, say,
drunkenness, your children will face an extra onslaught of temptations to give in to addiction of one sort or
another. Even if you die, “your” demons will stick close to your family, which manifestation is sometimes
called a “generational curse”. Thus it is that children have to be confronted by, and confront in a powerful
way, the enemies their fathers fell to. They are honored with the opportunity to lay down their lives in trust,
and thus break off the stronghold handed down to them. They do not have the option to not fight! They either
fend off the enemy’s schemes, or they submit to them, and increase in number the hordes their children in
turn must face. This will be especially evident in the biographies of Jacob and his children, the “third and
fourth generations” from Father Abraham.


(Concerning Genesis Chapter 21)

Although the story of the birth of Isaac is wonderful, it is not an essential part of the thread of
revelation we are pursuing. On the other hand, as grievous as the story of the sending away of Hagar and
Ishmael is, it is necessary that we look into it.

Scriptural example, as well as my own painful experience, are in agreement that the acquiring of an
“Ishmael” is often accomplished in spite of the warning of the Spirit not to acquire him. Once he is born and
God confronts us with who he is, a thorough repentance for birthing him will produce a sense of the Lord’s
cleansing and love. This knowledge can potentially produce the major miracle of a clear conscience, even in
the face of the constant awareness of our past that comes with living with an Ishmael day after day.

For varying reasons, this “major miracle” of a cleared conscience does not always occur. A lot
depends on the degree of our repentance for begetting him. One of two errors I have seen frequently is that it
is possible to actually be found “protecting” your illegitimate offspring ( your “Ishmael”), from the Lord’s
Hand. We may want to refuse to admit he is “Ishmael”. The consequences of this can be the stillbirth of
Isaac. By all means, be a quick, thorough repenter.

Never allow yourself to love what God has given more than you love God. At the same time, it is
essential to keep clear in our minds what we know in our hearts: Ishmael is also undeniably a gift from the
Sovereign God, and must be treated as such. He is often a relationship that should be curtailed, (though this
does not mean God is ever telling you to divorce that “son of Hagar”). He could be a corporate relationship,
such as a business, a ministry, or a school. Or he could be a horse.

The second common mishandling of the boy is to want to be rid of him too soon. I once wrestled
long and hard trying to avoid this one. I had ignored a Word from the Lord and bought an “Ishmael”, a
Golden Palomino Quarter horse. I tried to pretend he was Isaac, but I gave myself away by the way I was
defensive about getting him. My conscience bothered me to the point that it affected my sleep. Then, in one
day, both I, and judgment, fell! I was repentant, and VERY careful about how I disposed of him, knowing as
I did about Genesis chapter twenty-one. Though I wanted to immediately “send him away”, (once I admitted
to myself who he was), I steeled myself to embrace one of the most common consequences of sin: living with
what you formerly lusted after! My care in how I sold him limited the negative effects of my “begetting”
him, but there are still consequences of that event that echo in my family to this day.

Read with me about the celebration of Isaac’s weaning. Note the unfinished business that rears its
head on this otherwise joyous occasion:

Genesis 21:
8 The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast.
9 But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking,

Note that it does not say simply that “Ishmael was mocking”; it says “ … the son whom Hagar the
Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking.” We are reminded of how he got here before we are told what
he is doing. We are again reminded of a trip to Egypt and its haunting consequences. And then we are told he
“was mocking.”

That Ishmael is mocking tells me that this fifteen year old boy has been unrestrained by his father.
This suggests to me that Abraham knew in his heart that he had not begotten Ishmael “legitimately” even
before the Lord told him Isaac was yet to be born. And according to Hebrews 12:8, fathers do not discipline
their illegitimate sons. Legitimate sons are begotten in God, which is to say they are begotten through the
Cross. Bearing fruit that remains requires abiding in the Vine. This will mean we will pass through a grave
that will deliver us from the power of the flesh and give us resurrected offspring that will bless all the nations
of the earth. Isaacs are born when we patiently submit to the Lord. Ishmaels come when we fearfully grab for
what we fear God wants to deprive us of having.

10 and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman’s son
will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”
11 The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son.
12 But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to
whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.
13 I will make the son of the maidservant into a nation also, because he is your offspring

It is true that Ishmael did become a nation. However, most of the time his seed, (today we know
them as Islam), has been in conflict with Isaac’s seed. This does not have to happen. Ishmael, especially this
side of the Cross, does not have to be sent away. Ishmael could have been loved and disciplined just as Esau
could have been loved and disciplined. If Ishmael’s seed could have blessed the chosen seed, they would
have been blessed immeasurably. But they didn’t. Abraham’s barren wife pressured him to give her
Ishmael. I believe that because of what happened in Egypt, he gave in to her. The echoes of his guilt and fear
in this decision may be heard in the fear/resentment Moslems have toward Jews in our day, for the rejection
Ishmael felt as he walked from his father’s camp still haunts his children.


(Concerning Genesis 25)

The stories of Abraham’s triumph of faith on Mount Moriah and the marriage of Isaac and
Rebekah, though beautiful, are not part of our thread of revelation. The events surrounding the death of
Sarah, which seem a little tedious and less than necessary, are, nonetheless, an essential portion of Scripture
for our story. However, we’ve already jumped ahead and related how the 400 shekels Abram paid for her
burial site is a reflection of the 400 years of exile hanging over her descendants.

The thread we are following resumes during the pregnancy of Isaac’s one and only wife, Rebekah.
Read with me:

22. The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?” So she
went to inquire of the LORD.
23. The LORD said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will

be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.”

[The critical word here for our thread is: “ …the older will serve the younger.” ]

24. When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb.
27. The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob
was a quiet man, staying among the tents.
28. Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

Isaac liked the taste of game and he loved best the son who provided it for him. He not only loved
him best, he fully intended, as we will see later, to give Esau the Blessing conferred on him by his father
Abraham. We can be sure that Isaac understood the Word of the Lord spoken over his sons before their
births. We may know that he knew the Blessing was supposed to go to the one whom Esau was supposed to
serve, namely Jacob. But as Eve ignored what God said about the Tree, and Cain ignored what God said
about the curse on the ground, it seems Isaac chose to forget this prophetic Word spoken over his sons. (It is
possible this prophetic word came through their grandfather Abraham, who was still very much alive at that

Now let’s be real. We have all lived in families. If we are aware of the above facts, how much more
aware of them are the members of this little household. Two competing camps are drawn up around Isaac’s
home fires. Isaac’s side justifies itself by appealing to the tradition of primogeniture, that is, giving the
birthright and the blessing to the oldest son. Rebekah’s side says God has spoken that Jacob is to be served
by his brother. Rebekah is correct in her facts, but she is about to show that she has little understanding of
the character of the Holy One, the God who had called her father-in-law “Friend”. Her husband, instead of
showing his wife by his manner of life who the Lord is, is instead following the desires of his belly and the
traditions of men. So no one is “minding the store”, and they are about to be robbed. Robbed by trusting
themselves a lot and the Lord very little. Read with me:

28. Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.
29. Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished.

It seems the “skillful hunter” has failed in his skill, and he who majored in filling his father’s belly
now has an empty stomach.

30. He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom. )
31. Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”
32. “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”
33. But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.
34. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.

Was there an awareness in Esau’s heart that his father’s preference for him, based on the food he
could provide, was sin? Was part of the strength of the temptation to give in to his physical hunger and
despise his birthright coming from the fact that he had seen his father give in to his desire for tasty game
dishes, while planning to ignore a Word from God? It hardly seems that one has nothing to do with the other,
when they are in consecutive verses, ( 28 & 29). I believe the sins of Esau’s father were here “visited” on
him. I believe “visited” means that whatever demonic schemes you fall for will be tried on your children by
the same spirits that tempted you. If you fail a test, your children get to take the make-up test, and, as I said
before, it seems to me that make-up tests are harder!

No better example of sins “visiting” children exists anywhere in Scripture than in the following
chapter. Isaac claims his wife is his sister when he visits Gerar. You may say, “Well sure, he saw his father

do it. ‘Monkey see, monkey do’!” Wrong! Read chapter 20 again. Isaac wasn’t born either time his father
Abraham claimed Sarah was his sister. And Isaac didn’t even have the lame excuse that his wife was indeed
his half-sister as did Abraham. For him it was a bare-faced lie.
Doesn’t Jacob seem a little cold-hearted, a little mercenary toward his hungry brother? Is he not
thinking that what is supposed to be his is being traded off by his father because of food? Isn’t he thinking
that it would be a satisfying “gotcha” if he can wrest a legal claim to the birthright by the use of food, of all
things? I think it was an angry blow at an unjust situation he felt powerless to remedy. Esau was truly
despising his birthright, indeed, as Hebrews 12:16 makes clear, but now we may see that his carnality had its
roots in the previous generation. (Birthright and blessing are not the same, but are closely related. See
Hebrews 12:16-17) A generational curse lies naked, right before our eyes.


(Concerning Genesis 26)

Turning again to chapter 26, we must again consider the story of Isaac’s visit to Philistine country
and how he lied about his wife being his sister. Clearly implied in this story is his lack of faith that God
would protect him from the Philistines, even though God had just promised him great blessing as he entered
this land.

NIV Genesis 26:1-11
1 Now there was a famine in the land–besides the earlier famine
of Abraham’s time–and Isaac went to Abimelech king of the
Philistines in Gerar.
2 The LORD appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt;
live in the land where I tell you to live.
3 Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will
bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these
lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham.
4 I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the
sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring
all nations on earth will be blessed,
5 because Abraham obeyed me and kept my requirements, my
commands, my decrees and my laws.”
6 So Isaac stayed in Gerar.
7 When the men of that place asked him about his wife, he said,
“She is my sister,” because he was afraid to say, “She is my
wife.” He thought, “The men of this place might kill me on account
of Rebekah, because she is beautiful.”
8 When Isaac had been there a long time, Abimelech king of the
Philistines looked down from a window and saw Isaac caressing his
wife Rebekah.
9 So Abimelech summoned Isaac and said, “She is really your wife!
Why did you say, `She is my sister’?” Isaac answered him,
“Because I thought I might lose my life on account of her.”
10 Then Abimelech said, “What is this you have done to us? One of
the men might well have slept with your wife, and you would have
brought guilt upon us.”
11 So Abimelech gave orders to all the people: “Anyone who
molests this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.”

. Another thing that is not said here, though it is clearly “between the lines”, is Jacob and Esau were

adults and were present during these events in Gerar. They probably were told what the Lord had said to
their father in the opening verses of this chapter. They certainly knew what their father did and didn’t do
with regard to their mother. Jacob saw his father flatly fail a test of his faith in God. He saw that his father
didn’t trust the Lord to protect and provide. He saw with his own eyes the outworking of a generational
curse, and the rights invisible spirits seem to have to test children where there fathers failed.

In the next chapter, when we see Jacob tell his father a bare-faced lie as he serves him phony
venison, we won’t have to wonder where such deceit came from. And if Jacob got it from Isaac, whence did
Isaac get it? Do you see that the trip Abram made to Egypt, where he lied about his wife, will have fruit in
Jacob’s life, the third generation? Jacob’s sons will also see him lie when he fears for his life, and then they
in turn will lie to Jacob about something connected to Egypt. We will begin to see how the 400 years in
Egypt will indeed have its roots in Abram’s original trip to Egypt.

Notice in the above Scripture passage that the Lord specifically forbade Isaac to go to Egypt. God’s
grace on his chosen people kept them from miring irretrievably in generational sin, but he didn’t fence them
out of every error they could possibly make. Certainly the Lord knew what Isaac was about to do in Gerar,
and He didn’t prevent it. He did, however, keep it from happening in Egypt, and he kept Rebekah from
actually being defiled with Abimelech. Do you sense God’s grace in letting us express our corruption in
ways that He will ultimately use to tell the story of Who He Is, and who we are? He channels our rivers in
such a way so as to prevent our self-destruction. Praise and Glory be to His Name forever and ever!

You probably need to reread the above paragraph.

(Concerning Genesis 27 and 28)

Genesis 27.
1. When Isaac was old and his eyes were so weak that he could no longer see, he called for Esau
his older son and said to him, “My son.” “Here I am,” he answered.
2. Isaac said, “I am now an old man and don’t know the day of my death.
3. Now then, get your weapons–your quiver and bow–and go out to the open country to hunt
some wild game for me.
4. Prepare me the kind of tasty food I like and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my
blessing before I die.”
The first thing we need to consider here is that the “blessing” Isaac wants to confer will be based on
Esau providing a feeling of satisfaction of his father’s physical appetite. There is something sorely amiss
here, as:

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy
in the Holy Spirit,” Romans 14:17

Can it be that the Abrahamic Blessing through which God will bring the “Offspring”, Christ, the
One that will bless all the nations, can it be that it can be conferred to whomever the recipient chooses to
confer it? Is it as simple as that? Many of my contemporaries would answer this question with a hearty
“Yes”! But let’s read further:

5. Now Rebekah was listening as Isaac spoke to his son Esau. When Esau left for the open country
to hunt game and bring it back,
6. Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Look, I overheard your father say to your brother Esau, 7. `Bring me some game and prepare me some tasty food to eat, so that I may give you my
blessing in the presence of the LORD before I die.’
8. Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you:

9. Go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, so I can prepare some tasty food for
your father, just the way he likes it.
10. Then take it to your father to eat, so that he may give you his blessing before he dies.”
[Apparently Rebekah believed Isaac could subvert God’s plan to make Jacob the Head of the clan.]
11. Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “But my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I’m a man with
smooth skin.
12. What if my father touches me? I would appear to be tricking him and would bring down a
curse on myself rather than a blessing.”
13. His mother said to him, “My son, let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say; go and get them
for me.”

“What if,” it may be asked, “what if Isaac had blessed Esau, wouldn’t he have been blessed?” To
which I reply, “What if God fell off His throne?” “But surely,” it may be asked, “Jacob was in sin in lying to
his father, right?” Sure. But God uses the disobedient for his purposes as easily as He uses the obedient. The
Bible is too full of examples of this for me to argue that point. Do you really think God watched Jacob
deceive his father, and said to Gabriel, “Oh, like wow Gabe! Did you see what he did???”

God is brooding over this whole history just as He is brooding over your own life. He is seeing that
Isaac’s sin produces Jacob’s sin which stores consequences and yet keeps the flow of events in the channels
of His Divine Pre-determined purpose. Jacob will receive the blessing, and yet only his distant seed will
receive the blessing, both because of and in spite of the fact that Jacob got the blessing from Isaac the way
he did. In Jacob’s lifetime there will be misery for himself and his sons because he, like his father before
him, chose not to trust God to protect and provide in this particular arena. The “blessing” which Isaac
planned to confer in the flesh was “stolen” and became a very mixed “blessing” indeed.

And poor Rebekah! Because she was raised in the idol worship/witchcraft of her Aramean family,
she didn’t believe in the immutability of Yahweh. She believed that she had to help God fulfill the Word
spoken over Jacob before his birth. Otherwise, she believed, it would not be fulfilled. No one, least of all
her husband, (remember Abimelech?) had taught her to “trust the Lord to protect and provide even if it looks
like he won’t protect and provide”. Inherent in this lack of trust is a curse. A curse that indeed, “fell on her”
because it was already on her. The direct result of her sham was that Jacob had to leave home and she never
saw her beloved son again. We will get a good look at her theology as we look at the heart attitudes of her
brother Laban, Jacob’s future father-in-law.

The main theme in the story of Balaam and Balak in Numbers 22 through 24 is that the God of
Israel is not “on tap”, that is, He is not a force to be dispensed at will. Balak, the King of Moab, believed that
enough money could buy him the services of the prophet Balaam, and through him the legendary power of
Yahweh. Surely the most comical story in the Bible has as its central point Balaam’s response to Balak in
Numbers 22:38 –

37. Balak said to Balaam, “Did I not send you an urgent summons? Why didn’t you come to me?
Am I really not able to reward you?”
38. “Well, I have come to you now,” Balaam replied. “But can I say just anything? I must speak
only what God puts in my mouth.”

Balak’s theology was that money could put any human prophet “on tap”, and all “gods” were “on
tap” for their prophets. God gave Balak the most comical theology lesson in the Bible, the long and short of
which is: “You can’t manipulate Yahweh. He manipulates you, one way or the other.”

Jacob and his house are going to be blessed by Heaven, one way or the other, because of God’s
Sovereign choice. But because of Jacob’s personal sinful choices, he will often think he has made his bed in

14. So he went and got them and brought them to his mother, and she prepared some tasty food,
just the way his father liked it.
15. Then Rebekah took the best clothes of Esau her older son, which she had in the house, and put
them on her younger son Jacob.
16. She also covered his hands and the smooth part of his neck with the goatskins.
17. Then she handed to her son Jacob the tasty food and the bread she had made.
18. He went to his father and said, “My father.” “Yes, my son,” he answered. “Who is it?”
19. Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me. Please sit up
and eat some of my game so that you may give me your blessing.”
20. Isaac asked his son, “How did you find it so quickly, my son?” “The LORD your God gave
me success,” he replied.
21. Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Come near so I can touch you, my son, to know whether you really
are my son Esau or not.”
22. Jacob went close to his father Isaac, who touched him and said, “The voice is the voice of
Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.”
23. He did not recognize him, for his hands were hairy like those of his brother Esau; so he blessed
24. “Are you really my son Esau?” he asked. “I am,” he replied.
25. Then he said, “My son, bring me some of your game to eat, so that I may give you my
blessing.” Jacob brought it to him and he ate; and he brought some wine and he drank.
26. Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come here, my son, and kiss me.”
27. So he went to him and kissed him. When Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he blessed him
and said, “Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that the LORD has blessed.
28. May God give you of heaven’s dew and of earth’s richness– an abundance of grain and new
29. May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the
sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you
be blessed.”

Notice that a blind Isaac ignored what his ears told him. He then relied on the other three senses,
and was deceived, in order, by what he touched, tasted, and smelled. He was trying to bless the wrong son,
(Esau), because of a spiritual blindness to Esau’s true character and refusing to hear what God had said of his
sons at birth. Led by the baser senses, was going to bless the son who provided the tasty venison. The
carnality that got him into this place of missing God’s will, was being used to judge him, and keep him from
actually frustrating God’s will. Esau’s lust for food kept him from getting the Birthright and now Isaac’s lust
for food keeps him from getting the Blessing.

The Lord is a big God!

30. After Isaac finished blessing him and Jacob had scarcely left his father’s presence, his brother
Esau came in from hunting.
31. He too prepared some tasty food and brought it to his father. Then he said to him, “My father,
sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.”
32. His father Isaac asked him, “Who are you?” “I am your son,” he answered, “your firstborn,
33. Isaac trembled violently and said, “Who was it, then, that hunted game and brought it to me I
ate it just before you came and I blessed him–and indeed he will be blessed!”
34. When Esau heard his father’s words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his
father, “Bless me–me too, my father!”
35. But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing.”
36. Esau said, “Isn’t he rightly named Jacob ? He has deceived me these two times: He took my
birthright, and now he’s taken my blessing!” Then he asked, “Haven’t you reserved any blessing for

Notice Esau’s bitterness, blameshifting, and self-deceit. Jacob had been crassly selfish and
commercial when he traded Esau “beans for birthright”, but he had been in no way deceitful about his
bargaining. While it is true that Esau has been sinned against in regard to the Blessing, Esau is as far as you
can get from true repentance in regard to his own part in this mess. He is a long way from the Spirit that says:
“We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve.” [Luke 23:41] Esau is playing the role of
victim, casting his brother as the villain in the black hat. Esau has chosen to sow to the flesh, but the real
disaster is that he refuses to see his sin as his own.

In this context, let me say that I believe the KJV misconstrues Hebrews 12:17 when it says:

17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected:
for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

Esau was not here trying to muster up a spirit of repentance; he was desperately trying to change his
father’s mind. Thus the NIV rendering of Hebrews 12:17:

17 Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could
bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears.

The tragedy is that if Esau had changed his own mind, embracing his cross, saying, “I am “punished
justly”, he would have received a Blessing – from his Heavenly Father! Had you been in Esau’s sandals,
could you have said, “Lord, you are good, and what you do is good. And I believe you are Sovereign even
over the actions of sinful men. I do not judge my brother for this, nor do I judge You for permitting it. ‘Let
the Righteous One strike me, it is a kindness’. ‘I will trust you to protect and provide even if it seems you
won’t protect and provide’ ”?

37. Isaac answered Esau, “I have made him lord over you and have made all his relatives his
servants, and I have sustained him with grain and new wine. So what can I possibly do for you, my
38. Esau said to his father, “Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!”
Then Esau wept aloud.
39. His father Isaac answered him, “Your dwelling will be away from the earth’s richness, away
from the dew of heaven above.
40. You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother. But when you grow restless, you
will throw his yoke from off your neck.”
41. Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to
himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”
42. When Rebekah was told what her older son Esau had said, she sent for her younger son Jacob
and said to him, “Your brother Esau is consoling himself with the thought of killing you.
43. Now then, my son, do what I say: Flee at once to my brother Laban in Haran.

[“Wait a minute! Am I missing something here! Esau, if the Blessing Jacob got was worth having,
will you be able to just snuff him out like a rabbit? Rebekah, will the God who was strong enough to bless
your favorite son not be able, without your help, to at least keep him alive?” Let the reader understand the
inherent curse that is on those whose God is so small he may be channeled like a force and has to be helped
out in the performance of His promises. Contrariwise, know there is an inherent blessing on those who
believe He is both good and immutable!]

44. Stay with him for a while until your brother’s fury subsides.
45. When your brother is no longer angry with you and forgets what you did to him, I’ll send word
for you to come back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?”

Sadly, so ends Jacob’s life at home in the promised land as a single man. He is effectively fleeing
from his twin brother. But during his flight from Canaan he has his famous Jacob’s ladder dream.

NIV Genesis 28:11-16
11 When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one
of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep.
12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven,
and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.
13 There above it stood the LORD, and he said: “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham
and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying.
14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to
the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your
15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I
will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not
aware of it.”

Boy, isn’t it a good thing Rebekah was able to talk Jake into stealing that blessing? And boy, it sure
was lucky Esau was gone hunting long enough to not prevent the blessing of Jacob, huh? If Esau had killed
that deer ten minutes earlier, the Lord would have been speaking the above prophecy to ole Esau, right?
Yeah, and we’d all be singing “We are climbing Esau’s ladder” in Sunday School, right? Baloney!

We all need to decide what we believe about the following two statements:

1. Nothing ever occurred to God.
2. Nothing ever happened to God.

Notice verse 16 again:

16. When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not
aware of it.”

When his race is run, he will realize this was the theme of his life. So will you. And I. “Surely the
LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” The faith I believe the Bible teaches throughout is the
Revelation that God is doing something in every event and we need to vigorously believe He’s up to
something good in every development, even our past sin. Never mind our heads for a moment, can our hearts
believe we are responsible for a sin, repent of it deeply, and yet lift up our eyes and see what the Lord was
doing in His Sovereign rule of the events that befell us? Oh for our faith to rise to these heights!

He goes on to say,

“How awesome is this place! This is none other than the House of God; this is the Gate of Heaven”.

And it is. Ever had a glorious revelation of Who God is, and you wanted desperately to stay in that
place and not lose the knowing of that moment? Jacob for one moment knew that God’s Dwelling, and our
Gate to that Dwelling has to do with knowing God is with us, behind us, and ahead of us, even as we are
reaping the consequences of our sin. Jacob’s Ladder has everything to do with the context in which it
happened, a fugitive fleeing the consequence of his sin.. Sadly, Israel the people, will recapitulate the
experience of Israel the man in that they will know, but later fail to remember, Who God is. They will see
Who He Is, but will forget it in the heat of trial.

20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this

journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear

[Notice the key issue here of provision …]

21 so that I return safely to my father’s house, then the Lord will be my God

[ …and the issue here of protection.]

22 and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will
give you a tenth.”

The very nature of God is seen in the cross. He is calling forth children who will say, “I have seen
Who You Are, and I love you, and will gladly serve You, even if it profits me nothing. The man who sees
God, and says, “You can be my God as long as I see that you are going to ‘do me good’. If you’ll be sure to
provide for me and protect me, I’ll be faithful, and I’ll cut You in for ten per cent,” this man has not really
seen God. In the next chapters there will be a spiritual fire fight in Jacob’s heart about the issue of trusting
God to protect and provide. Read it with me, and weep.

(Concerning Genesis 29)

Consider in particular the behavior of the shepherds in the following verses:

Genesis 29:
1Then Jacob continued on his journey and came to the land of the eastern peoples.
2 There he saw a well in the field, with three flocks of sheep lying near it because the flocks were
watered from that well. The stone over the mouth of the well was large.
3 When all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone away from the well’s
mouth and water the sheep. Then they would return the stone to its place over the mouth of the
4 Jacob asked the shepherds, “My brothers, where are you from?” “We’re from Haran,” they
5 He said to them, “Do you know Laban, Nahor’s grandson?” “Yes, we know him,” they answered.
6 Then Jacob asked them, “Is he well?” “Yes, he is,” they said, “and here comes his daughter
Rachel with the sheep.”
7 “Look,” he said, “the sun is still high; it is not time for the flocks to be gathered. Water the sheep
and take them back to pasture.”
8 “We can’t,” they replied, “until all the flocks are gathered and the stone has been rolled away
from the mouth of the well. Then we will water the sheep.”

Why were the shepherds unable to water the sheep? Speaking as a professional herdsman and a full
time human being, I believe there was an attitude that went something like this:

“Why should I move this heavy stone and open the well?” Bubba hasn’t even gotten here yet and if
I open it and he pops over the hill with his flock, he’ll get to water his without helping! And these other two
shepherds here with me, Darrell and Junior, they want to wait till he’s here so it will be easier to move with
four of us pushing. It all pays the same. After all, the owners of the sheep don’t pay us enough to strain too
hard. We don’t care if the sheep stand around this well for hours every day, losing weight, killing the grass
around the well by overgrazing it, turning this area into a swamp of mud and sheep dung every time it rains.”

This, the very spirit of poverty, says: “I’d rather be poor and be sure no one takes advantage of me,
than work and think a little extra in order to produce more, and chance being someone’s sucker”. The man

who will be known as Israel will beget a race by the same name who, 4000 years later, are still known for
their industry, ingenuity, and prosperity. They produce in environments where others have existed fruitlessly
for generations, and are often hated by those mired in mediocrity, indolence, resentment, poverty, and sheep

Watch Jacob in the next verses and the next chapters:

9 While he was still talking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a
10 When Jacob saw Rachel daughter of Laban, his mother’s brother, and Laban’s sheep, he went
over and rolled the stone away from the mouth of the well and watered his uncle’s sheep.
11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel and began to weep aloud.
12 He had told Rachel that he was a relative of her father and a son of Rebekah. So she ran and told
her father.
Jacob works first, kisses second. He couldn’t bear to see this nonsense go further. We have no
indication he was a Samson. He just did what needed to be done. A virtuous act, I’d say.

13 As soon as Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister’s son, he hurried to meet him. He
embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his home, and there Jacob told him all these
14 Then Laban said to him, “You are my own flesh and blood.” After Jacob had stayed with him
for a whole month,
15 Laban said to him, “Just because you are a relative of mine, should you work for me for nothing?
Tell me what your wages should be.”
16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger
was Rachel.
17 Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful.
18 Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger
daughter Rachel.”

Note Jacob’s generous offer and patient love. The boy “had it bad”, as we say, for Rachel. And
notice, there is no hint of selfishness or subterfuge about him. He believes the God of Bethel will provide for

19 Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.”
20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because
of his love for her.
21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to lie with her.”
22 So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast.
23 But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and gave her to Jacob, and Jacob lay with
24 And Laban gave his servant girl Zilpah to his daughter as her maidservant.
25 When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to
me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?”
26 Laban replied, “It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the
older one.
27 Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for
another seven years of work.”
28 And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter
Rachel to be his wife.
29 Laban gave his servant girl Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her maidservant.

Now consider that Jacob’s generous offer and spectacular love for Rachel at first cost him the
seven years of servitude he agreed to pay, years he did not begrudge, but worked out gladly.
But seemingly, his faithfulness has only trapped him into an additional seven years of unpaid
servitude. These will be years he will spend with a burgeoning family around him. I think that
no man desired monogamy more than Jacob, but now he must share every day with Leah, and

her growing brood. This at a time when his income is limited to that of a bond-servant. The
point is that Jacob is being tempted sorely here to not trust God. I think that during those long
days of tending sheep during the second seven years he may have thought: “Look what faith
and forthrightness got me, seven long years of minimum wage and an extra, less than beautiful
wife I’ll be stuck with the rest of my life!”

No man ever lived without hearing the shrill voice of Bitterness whining, “Just my luck!” “If you
don’t look out for yourself in this world, nobody else is going to!” “Nice guys finish last!” “I bet from now
on I’ll be looking out for ‘number one’” To agree with these voices and adopt their attitude as one’s own is
basic unbelief and rejection of the cross. It is the cross that demands we believe God is doing something in
everything and the thing He is doing is to our ultimate good if we love him and heed the call of His purposes.

There is also another principle built into this Divine History we must consider. God’s forgiveness,
be it Old Testament or New, atones for, that is, it does completely away with the Eternal Penalty of sin.
However, it does not always remove the temporal consequences of sin, that is, it does not abrogate the Law
of Sowing and Reaping. The thief on the cross that repented, unlike his friend who did not repent, did not
demand to escape the consequences of his sin. He only asked for Eternal Remission of his sin. Here is a
major point of this book: real repentance patiently endures the consequences of past sin without any
indignation. A clear sign that the other thief was unrepentant was that he demanded Jesus deliver him from
his cross, the just consequence of his sin.

Think of old blind Isaac, chowing down in his “dining tent” on his favorite dish from the hands of
his favorite son, or so he thought. He couldn’t really tell Jacob (the last born) and goat meat from Esau (the
first born) and venison. What a Divine irony that Jacob thinks he takes his favorite “dish”, (Rachel, the last
born), into the bridal tent, and is sure he is dining on the best “marital ambrosia” in existence, that is, till morning’s light
brings him the surprise of his life: Leah, the first born!

When David repented of his sins of adultery and murder, saying, “I have sinned against the Lord”,
Nathan the prophet immediately responded: “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.”
But then the prophet began to outline the consequences of David’s iniquity, including sin and death rampant
in his own house. Years later, as David fled from his rebellious son Absalom, he was cursed and pelted with
stones by a man named Shimei on the ridge above his path out of Jerusalem. When his aide asked permission
to go “lay hands on” Shimei, David said,

“… If he is cursing because the Lord said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who can ask, ‘Why do you do
this?’ … Leave him alone; let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. It may be that the Lord will
see my distress and repay me with good for the cursing I am receiving today.” 2 Samuel 16:10-12

David, unlike his companions, had no fear that some power in Shimei’s cursing would “hex” him.
He was only concerned that he himself be rightly related to the Lord. Part of this right relationship meant that
if he did not become indignant when he reaped what he had so royally sown, he would be blessed in the
middle of reaping it. This had been part of David’s vow when he repented of his sin in Psalm 51,

“Then I will teach sinners your ways …”

It is quite simply built into the “ways” of who God is, that the pure in heart instinctively know the exquisite
mercy of God’s free atonement and the disciplinary justice of practical consequences of sin. And they know

that both are His love.

A thousand years prior to David’s test, David’s ancestor Jacob is not doing as well with his own
particular wrestling match. He has been tempted to lie, deceive, and steal to wrest the traditional rights of the
older child away from his brother, and he has chosen to give in to these temptations. How sorry is he that he
sinned against his brother? This is part of what the “Watcher of Men” is asking when he brings about a
reaping of our past sin. Jacob, the deceiver of Isaac with regard to the rights of the firstborn, has now
become the deceived – and the rights of the firstborn are what is at issue here! Now he will pay a high price
for what he has done. Will he say, with the repentant thief, (he was a thief, you know), “I’m getting what my
deeds deserve.” I believe the coming chapters will show us he will instead revert to being fearful and prefer
to trust himself alone with regard to his own protection and provision.

(Concerning Chapter 29:31 – 30:24)

At this point we take a short detour. I have been building a picture of the inner workings of the roots
of our faith. Most of what has been said heretofore is part of building that view of Holy History, and each
chapter has been an essential one to make the big points I have yet to establish. But for this one chapter let us
digress into a prophetic view of the story of the births of the twelve patriarchs, the sons of Jacob.

Interestingly, I am writing this in the year of our Lord 2000. I believe that we are at, or at least near
the end of 6000 years of history. Since my childhood I have subscribed to the idea that the six days of
creation would correspond to six millennia, each day being “like a thousand years”, and that a millennial day
of rest should soon ensue, give or take a half century or so. I believe Leah’s seven children give us, in the
29th and 30th chapters of the Bible, an intriguing map of the seven millennial days. (They were, by the way,
all born in a seven year period of time!) Interestingly, we are also given a special ‘blow up’ shot of the
church age, a kind of expanded view of the fifth and sixth millennia, which corresponds to the two millennia
since Christ.

Noah was born 1056 years after the creation of Adam, very near the beginning of the second
millennium. It seems that very near the beginning of each new millennium of Bible History a person of
overriding historical significance is born. Adam, of course, was created at the beginning of the first.
Jacob/Israel was born at the beginning of the third, David at the beginning of the fourth, and Jesus at the
beginning of the fifth.

Reuben, Leah’s firstborn, according to the time/map I am suggesting, would represent the first
millennium, from Adam’s creation to the birth of Noah. The NIV footnote to Genesis 29 says: “Reuben
sounds like the Hebrew for ‘he has seen my misery’; the name means ‘see, a son.’” According to Luke 3:27
Adam was “the son of God” (son with a small case ‘s’). The fact that Adam and his millennium brought in
misery is clear on every hand. Reuben’s father Jacob described him prophetically as “excelling in honor,
excelling in power” which sounds like the priveleges of Adam’s original station. But Jacob continued:
“Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel, for you went up onto your father’s bed, onto my couch
and defiled it.” (Gen 49:3-4.) Reuben’s incest with his father’s concubine Bilhah was more an act of
rebellion than lust. In lying with her he was trying to take the role of the head of the clan. He, like his father
Jacob, was trying to seize what was already his, and, in so doing, Reuben lost it. Jacob, as we’ve already
seen, by not trusting the Lord to give him what was promised him before his birth, lost the peaceful lifestyle
that belongs to those who trust the Lord with preserving what He has promised to give them. Adam, made in
God’s image, ate the fruit of the tree less out of lust than of a desire to become like God. And he, like
Reuben lost what he already had by trying to gain it by works of the flesh. (See Romans 10:3)

Simeon, Leah’s second son, lived by the sword. He, with his brother Levi, plotted the betrayal and
slaughter of the Shechemites as revenge for their sister’s rape. The second millennium, from the birth of

Noah to the birth of Jacob, was characterized as “filled with violence” in Gen 6:13. Simeon’s violence cost
him the privilege of being next in line for the rights of the firstborn. The cost of the violence of the second
millennium was the flood of Noah. Simeon committed murder. After the flood God gave the first law since
Eden: don’t murder. (Gen. 9:5-6)

Levi, the third son of Leah, was Simeon’s co-conspirator against the Shechemites. The Shechemites
were told by Simeon and Levi that if they would submit to circumcision, they would be allowed to
intermarry with the people of God, becoming one with them, and that the sin against their sister would be
forgiven. But the brothers plotted to use the weakness of the flesh to destroy. The two brothers slaughtered
the Shechemites on the third day after their circumcision, when their victim’s physical pain and soreness was
at its peak, and their helplessness complete. This reeks of the whole LEVItical system and the giving of the
Law, which, of course, occurred during the third millennium. “The Circumcision” became the title of the
people who adhered to the Law of Moses, (a Levite!), but whom, with Paul, “… found that the very
commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.” (Rom. 7:10)

But, “Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for.” Because of what Simeon and Levi did their
father Jacob placed a curse on Levi’s tribe. Nevertheless, this curse was turned into a blessing five centuries
later. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai and found Israel reveling in their worship of the golden
calf, he called for faithful men to rally to his side and put the revelers to the sword. The Levites, to a man,
stood with him. They “atoned” for their father’s sins with the same swords their fathers had used against the
Shechemites. (See Exodus 32:25-29). For this act of faithfulness Levi’s tribe was awarded the priesthood, a
blessing on a par with being of royal lineage. We see here in the third millennium both the judgmental and
the redemptive purposes of God; both His kindness and His severity. Certainly, Moses and his fellow Levites
were typical of the third millennium, from Jacob to David.

It’s not hard to see that the fourth millennium, from David to Christ, is well represented by Judah,
fourth son of Leah. Judah was the forebear of David, and of course, of David’s Greater Son, Jesus Christ.
Judah and his brothers, acting on a suggestion by Judah, betrayed their brother Joseph to what they thought was certain death
as a slave in Egypt. When a famine later made it necessary for them to go to Egypt for grain, and it was absolutely essential
that the brothers take with them their father’s beloved son Benjamin, Judah offered himself as the guarantee
of Benjamin’s return. Thus Judah moved from being one of the betrayers of Joseph to the place of offering
himself as a ransom for Benjamin. He became like Jesus, who, as we know, “did not come to be served, but to
serve, and to give himself as a ransom for many.”

Historically speaking, the fourth millenium was very much Judah’s. Though it began with all twelve tribes in
Canaan, it concluded with only Judah remaining in the land. The northern ten tribes were lost in the Assyrian exile, leaving
Judah and Benjamin, whom Judah more or less absorbed, in the south. Later, though Judah was also exiled, she was able to
receive the grace of returning to the homeland. Like Judah the man, and David the Judahite, Judah the tribe sinned greatly,
but received a great restoration as well.

Judah means “praise”. The fourth millennium began with the man who defined praise, the sweet
singer of Israel, King David. It concluded with hosannas to the Son of David, the Lion of Judah. Shortly after

Judah means “praise”. The fourth millennium began with the man who defined praise, the sweet
singer of Israel, King David. It concluded with hosannas to the Son of David, the Lion of Judah. Shortly after
the hosannas died away Daniel’s prophecy was fulfilled, and “the Anointed One [was] cut off”.

After Judah was born, “[Leah] stopped having children.”

It is in this parenthetical moment when Leah temporarily stops having children between her fourth
and fifth sons that we see a blow-up shot of the history of the Church. In this space the two maidservants
have their four sons. It’s at this point I’d like to say that I don’t want to “tell more than I know”. Some of the
details of this blow-up shot are a little fuzzy on the edges. There surely is more insight to come than I

currently possess on this subject.

The very first words after the note that Leah has stopped bearing children are: “When Rachel saw
that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister.” Denominations, and even
congregations are sisters to each other, all married to the same bridegroom. Our call is to maintain intimacy
with the bridegroom, to see that we please him in everything, and never to compare the fruit of another sister
to that of our own. But Rachel did compare. And jealousy is the Siamese Twin of fear. Thus, it was in a spirit
of fear that she pursued fruit, for Bilhah means “fear”. And so it came to be that Rachel gave her maidservant
Bilhah to Jacob “as a wife”.

“Then she said, ‘Here is Bilhah, my maidservant. Sleep with her so that she can bear children for
me and that through her I too can build a family.” Gen. 30:3

The fruit of fear, the first son of Bilhah, was appropriately named “Dan” which means
“vindication”. When intimacy with the Lord is not the primary thing in our lives, we will take our cues from
man’s approval. And numbers of “children” mean vindication for our ministry, call, etc. Dan also means
“judgment”. There is instant, inherent judgment in valuing a head count above the approval of the Lord. The
Babylon of Revelation surely has its roots in Tower of Babel in Genesis, where keeping a large group
together and making “a name for ourselves”, was valued over obeying the Lord’s command to go into all the

When “Large crowds” followed Jesus, He counseled them that the going was gonna get tough and
that they’d be less embarrassed to quit now than they would if they got about halfway into this thing and then
had to back out. (That’s the Albright version of Luke 14:25-35.) But we moderns are sure we know better,
and because of our own insecurities we pastors cross land and sea to make converts and keep them filling our
pews and vindicating our ministries. Sounds like Genesis 30 was written for the American church, doesn’t it?
God deliver us from unconverted dogs who eat the children’s bread and take ninety percent of leadership’s
time and energy! Remember, “He who stealeth sheep more times stealeth wolves.” (Albright’s Almanac.)

There is a Rabbinical tradition that Antichrist will come from Dan. The circumstances around his
birth mentioned above are enough for him to be at least a spirit of antichrist, so to speak, in the hearts of
leadership. The prophecy given over Dan by his Father Jacob was in part: “Dan will be a serpent by the
roadside, a viper along the path, that bites the horses heels so that its rider tumbles backward.” (Genesis
49:17;) I believe this probably describes some end time antichrist character, about which I have no insight.
But I also think this “rider”, whose horse was bitten by the serpent, was a picture of the Church’s
underwhelming performance thus far. I think we started falling backward in a big way in the fifth century
when the Church became big business. Somethink that the White Horse the Lord returns on speaks of a
pure movement. If that is true, the bitten horse in this scripture may speak of an injured, or possibly
poisoned, movement. One thing’s certain: we don’t need to be spend too much time counting the troops!

Another wooden nickel we are prone to take is believing the fallacy that provision means we have
God’s approval. Rachel prophesied, falsely, that God had “listened to her plea” and “given [her] a son” when
Dan was born to Bilhah. (Abraham probably sang this same song over Ishmael!) A deadly cycle of self-
deceit has begun when, leaving intimacy with the Lord, we struggle in the flesh and hail our bastard
successes as the provision of the Lord. Our hearts in such a state are hardened by ‘blessings’. Can you think
of anyone more impervious to warnings than a philandering, though ‘successful’ pastor? Spiritual burnout is
a contradiction in terms, but soulish burnout is inevitable if we stay on this ancient treadmill.

Not surprisingly, Rachel named the next son of Bilhah “Naphtali”, which means “struggle”, saying
she had “had a great struggle with my sister.” Struggling with her sibling? Sounds familiar. And she was
rewarded the same way her husband had been rewarded for struggling with Esau: constant turmoil that never
allowed her to really be blessed by her “blessings”. This, by the way, is what the Lord has in mind when He

says in Malachi “I will curse your blessings.”

By the way, where is Jacob, Rachel’s covering and protection, during all of this? He is en route to
chapter 32, where he will be told by a broken-hearted Shepherd, “…you have struggled with God and with
men and have overcome.” This was hardly a commendation of Jacob’s foolhardy self trust … but I’m getting
ahead of myself. But it’s a tragic day when we become convinced that “we can do this thing on our own even
if God doesn’t show up!”

“When Leah saw that she had stopped having children, she took her maidservant Zilpah and gave
her to Jacob as a wife.” According to Strong’s, “Zilpah” has reference to the slow oozing, the “trickle” of
resin, as the resin of the myrrh bush. “Myrrh” literally means “bitterness”. I suspect that Leah wasn’t exactly
rejoicing in the new arrivals through Bilhah. More likely she was slowly slipping into bitterness, an easy
thing to do when it appears that the Kingdom’s gonna come through the success of the other guy’s
manipulation! Leah answered her foolish sister according to her folly, and she became likewise foolish:
Giving up intimacy with the bridegroom, she gave Zilpah into Jacob’s arms. Thus was “Gad” conceived,
whose name has the twin meanings of “a troop” and “good fortune”. This speaks to me of the attitude of the
deacon who said, “Man, we sure are lucky to get those new families as members of our church!” If you move
in bitterness, and succeed in your design, you’ll thank your “lucky stars” in your heart, instead of giving real
praise to the Lord. Leah named Zilpah’s second son “Happy”, (Asher), for she was indeed happy over the
apparent success of her “program”.

I suggest that the #1 nemesis of ministers in our day is not the more famous sins of Adultery or
Stealing, but their angry cousin “Bitterness”. Among its ancestors are Fear, Pride, and Competitiveness. Its
offspring is Burnout. Watch out lest Bilhah (Fear), stampede you into consorting with Zilpah, (Bitterness).

Next we come to an interesting crossroads: “During wheat harvest”, Leah acquires some mandrake
plants which are supposed to have an occult power to grant fertility. But instead of using them, she made a
major decision and trades them to her sister for the right of intimacy with Jacob. (These women must have
had Jacob’s schedule all worked out for him, like who gets him which nights.) Out of this renewal of
intimacy with Leah two more sons and a daughter were conceived. Our manipulations and machinations to
succeed in ministry by gaining and retaining numbers are not far from the rebellion of witchcraft. But when
we repent and seek God’s face, returning to our first love, and intimacy with the Lord, we will bear real fruit
that will not be consumed as stubble at the Judgment Seat. “The harvest is the end of the age”, (MT. 13:39).
If we give ourselves to genuine intimacy with the Son of God, there will be reward and honor for our
“Lover”, and for us, His “Beloved”, at the Harvest/Judgment. Leah renewed her intimacy with Jacob and
let her sister try her “luck” with her occultic faith in the mandrake plants. Leah then bore the fruit of the birth
of two more sons: Issachar, which means “reward”, and Zebulun, which means “honor”. This is the
prophetic hope herein held forth for the Church at the end of the Age, or at least for the remnant who will
love God with all their heart. Dinah is typical of the Bride of Christ reigning with the Bridegroom in the
seventh millennium. Most of what we know about her is in Genesis 34. If Dinah is the Bride of Christ,
what does Genesis 34 say about the people of God down through the centuries? Dinah believed she could
be friends with the world and not get hurt. Her presumption got her “date raped” by Shechem, son of
Hamor. [Hamor means “ass”, by the way.] Her experience seems to say to us that when we leave the
protection of our Father’s house in order to get closer to the world, the world will rape us, becoming one
flesh with us. This often results in misguided efforts within the church to try to eliminate the evil in the
world, instead of relying on the more Scriptural advice to come out from the world and be a separate,
holy people. This desire to eliminate the evil in the world is pictured by her brothers’ slaughter of the
Shechemites, which brought great reproach on the character of the people of God. The greatest reproach
ever brought on the Church in all her history has been precipitated by her “taking up the sword” of war
against foreign “infidels” and the execution of unbelievers who wouldn’t convert at home. Though it is
a thorn in our side, we probably thoroughly deserve the extreme measures secularists have gone to separate
church and state. Our efforts to make the world holy will always backfire on us.

But the Lord will triumph. He will have His spotless Bride, and hopefully before the seventh
Millennium is far spent. Dinah means “justice”. Note Isaiah 32:1-2:

“See, a king [the Lord] will reign in righteousness and rulers [the Church] will rule with justice.
Each man will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water
in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land.”

There will come a day when Dinah will be an honor and a glory to her Divine Bridegroom, when
the Justice of God in the courtroom of heaven will be glorious. Glorious in no small part because a Bride
redeemed from Adam’s race reigns with her Lord on a still imperfect earth, confronting, contrasting, and
exposing evil in ways yet undreamed. This, I believe I discern, will be what is accomplished in the
Millennial Reign of Christ.

Because Rachel wanted what she thought she could get from Jacob, (children), more than she
wanted Jacob himself, she became “hardened” by the “blessing” of children. She was hardened into a vicious
cycle of struggle and self-vindication and more struggle. God will deliver the church from this trap as we
trust Him because we love Him. He will deliver us because we trust Him at all times to protect and provide
and thereby embrace the cross; trust Him because we love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and

Leah had six sons and then a daughter. Genesis 29:31 says “When the Lord saw that Leah was not
loved, he opened her womb …” Fifteen hundred years later God speaks of the deliverance He will bring
Israel through Messiah, who came through Leah! He says in Hosea 2:23 “… I will show my love to the one I
called ‘Not my loved one’”. And through the one “not loved” He has clearly demonstrated in these last days,
His faithful love for both men and angels to see.

(Concerning Genesis 30)

Genesis 30, as we just saw, is awesome in its prophetic implications. There are also some things
to be learned here that are needful for every moment of daily life. If, in our hearts, we really don’t love God
as much as we love his blessings, we will be automatically detoured from the path of the Knowledge of God.
This is made chillingly clear in this chapter.

Jacob and his mother surely wanted the Blessing, but they had no dread of displeasing the God who
would be Everyman’s Best Friend. They just wanted His power.

Rachel had no passion for the Lord before her great trial, and when Jacob said God had closed her
womb, she saw Him as only a force to be manipulated or circumvented. Think about it: If God had “flattened
all the tires” on the car she was deserting Him in, He would be the kind of God who is interested only in
compliance, and not heartfelt love. So God “blessed” her by opening Bilhah’s womb, though He knew this
would make Rachel’s heart move further from Him. She preached the gospel she believed to her family. She
said basically “God has vindicated me and endorsed my theology! It worked didn’t it? It got me what I
wanted, and I will believe in whatever “god” is out there who gives me what I want! And if any god out there
expects me to wait and just trust him to provide for me, while my sister spits out babies like watermelon
seeds, he can forget it! I say, ‘find what works for you and do it.’ Look out for yourself. If you don’t, no one
else will!”

Rachel’s theology is still popular. Some believe that if you say the right things or mentally believe
certain things, you can write your ticket with God. They believe any theology that works is right. If you
decide that the god who blesses you is the only one worth serving, you will eventually leave God’s camp and
you won’t even know you’re gone. Because of His character, God invented a time called “time”, when

people who really loved Him could prove it by serving Him even when it would often seem like it not only
wouldn’t “pay” to serve Him, it would cost them everything. Though Rachel doubtless had terrible pain in
her barrenness, she decided who she was by saying that she cared more about the relief of her pain and
sedating her fear of more pain, than she cared about knowing intimately the Bridegroom who wanted to
honor her with the chance to really prove herself worthy of Him. (Having to wait for a baby is a severe test,
as we’ve already seen.)

People in the country say, “it’s okay to ‘witch for water’ ‘cause it works, and it’s a lot better than
digging dry wells or not having a good well!” Or, “Ol’ Man Smith can ‘witch warts’ and it must be okay.
because it works every time!” Others, “I prayed the Rosary and it must be right, my prayers were answered
right away!” Our world is now and always has been “results oriented”. But God is now, and always has been,
calling us to know his heart, and love his quiet, understated purposes more than the loud clamor of our fears
and lusts. Can we maintain our intimate passion for Him even if it appears He will never give us fruit?

Read with me again the following four verses:

Genesis 30:
14. During wheat harvest, Reuben went out into the fields and found some mandrake plants,
which he brought to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s
15 But she said to her, “Wasn’t it enough that you took away my husband? Will you take my
son’s mandrakes too?” “Very well,” Rachel said, “he can sleep with you tonight in return for your son’s mandrakes.”
16 So when Jacob came in from the fields that evening, Leah went out to meet him. “You must
sleep with me,” she said. “I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he slept with her that
17 God listened to Leah, and she became pregnant and bore Jacob a fifth son.

Did you catch that? “God listened to Leah”, it says, though we have no record of a verbal prayer!
When Leah chose to forsake the external attempts to control God’s power through the witchcraft of the
mandrake plants, and instead leapt at the chance to be intimate with her bridegroom, God considered that a
“prayer of faith” of sorts. God is fanning a smoldering wick of faithfulness, even though Leah has adopted
some of Rachel’s theology. Notice:

18 Then Leah said, “God has rewarded me for giving my maidservant to my husband.” So she
named him Issachar.

Issachar ( “Reward” ) is called so in the false belief that God’s blessing is on her for giving up
intimacy with Jacob, when in fact, God is rewarding her for giving up her works and resuming intimacy with
her husband. Think about this: Let’s say a chronic gambler named Gill is on his way to bet on the ponies,
and just before he gets to the track he walks by a Salvation Army soldier ringing a bell beside a collection
pot. Wanting to be “lucky” and on the good side of the powers that be, Gill drops money into the pot. He
immediately goes in, and on a hunch, bets on a dark horse and wins big! He might be eager to donate to the
Salvation Army on his way to the tracks the next day, but is his theology right? God is doing something in
everything, even the winners of horse races, but God was trying to break Gill’s heart with his kindness. He
wasn’t rewarding him for his generous giving. Because of the heart that God knew was deep within Gamblin’
Gill, He was calling the man away from his life of sin and bondage, of which gambling was a part.

(If you think I’m stretching this passage to get a sermonette out of it, hold on. You’re going to see
this concept brought out and interwoven in the coming chapters.)

“God listened to Leah” it says, and she bore two sons and a daughter. Then it says,

22 Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and opened her womb.
23 She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, “God has taken away my disgrace.”
24 She named him Joseph, and said, “May the LORD add to me another son.”

Now we all know God had not “forgotten” Rachel making it needful for Him to “remember” her as
we would a forgotten dentist appointment. The word for remember also means “reflect upon”. God gave
Rachel what she wanted even though He knew she would focus only on the gift, and not on the Giver. This is
implied in that she named her son: “More! More! Pleases give me another one!” ( Albright translation.) If
you doubt my inference of what is being said here, remember this, and watch the steps she and her husband
tread that will bring them to Bethlehem, where the son for whom she is now begging will be born, and his
birth will bring her death.

(Note: This would be a natural place for a chapter break, but I want to emphasize that how the women got

their “kids” and how Jacob got his goats is all the same thing, so I won’t break here.)

25 After Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me on my way so I can go back to my own
26 Give me my wives and children, for whom I have served you, and I will be on my way. You know how
much work I’ve done for you.”
27 But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, please stay. I have learned by divination that
the LORD has blessed me because of you.”

[Note the Lord’s tongue-in-cheek ridicule of Laban’s god’s “divination powers”. It didn’t take much magic
to see that Jacob and his LORD had made something out of nearly nothing.]

28 He added, “Name your wages, and I will pay them.”
29 Jacob said to him, “You know how I have worked for you and how your livestock has fared under my
30 The little you had before I came has increased greatly, and the LORD has blessed you wherever I have
been. But now, when may I do something for my own household?” 31 “What shall I give you?” he asked. “Don’t give me anything,” Jacob replied. “But if you will do this one thing for me, I will go on tending your flocks and watching over them:

Jacob is being very careful as to how this deal is worded. He wants it clear that he’s working for
wages, not a gift, which would seem to be a good idea, knowing Laban. When Jacob had asked to work
seven years for Rachel, Laban had answered, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man”,
craftily avoiding having to consummate the agreement he was implying he was making.

When Jacob then asked why Laban had foisted Leah on him, instead of letting him have Rachel,
Laban said, “It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one.” This
was understandably a bitter pill for Jacob to swallow, and an awesome temptation to become a man who
wants to work for wages instead of waiting for a gift. Is it any wonder his descendants stumbled over
salvation by faith (trusting)?


“Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation.
However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith
is credited as righteousness.” Romans 4:4-5
Yes Jacob is putting it into his children’s “spiritual DNA” that it will be hard for them to forget
works, wages, struggling, and wrestling.

Continuing with our passage in Genesis:

32 Let me go through all your flocks today and remove from them every speckled or spotted
sheep, every dark-colored lamb and every spotted or speckled goat. They will be my wages.
.33 And my honesty will testify for me in the future, whenever you check on the wages you
have paid me. Any goat in my possession that is not speckled or spotted, or any lamb that is
not dark-colored, will be considered stolen.”
34 “Agreed,” said Laban. “Let it be as you have said.”
35 That same day he removed all the male goats that were streaked or spotted, and all the speckled or spotted female goats (all that had white on them) and all the dark-colored lambs,
and he placed them in the care of his sons.
Basically, Laban is taking no chances on Jacob sneaking around and mating one of the dark males of the sheep and goats to the females of his herd. His sons, instead of being in actual productive occupations, are watching the hen house lest Jacob pull a fast one. (It’s not hard to see the kind of atmosphere that was pervading the family reunions at Laban’s house! There really is no “honor” among thieves.)

Notice that the same spirit of poverty that was on the shepherds at the well is on
Laban’s sons. They do not see that they are robbing themselves by fearing being
hoodwinked by Jacob. The penalty of their sin is in the sin itself. They are not honest,
and they know they have dealt dishonestly with Jacob, so they expect him to try to
defraud them. Most of the world sees wealth as something to be kept, hoarded, seized,
inherited, stolen, or spent. The covenant that will be made with Jacob’s descendants will
say that the Lord gives them power to produce wealth, a very different idea indeed. Jews
and Christians will have a virtual monopoly on the awesome productiveness that will one day revolutionize
the world. They will make the stones beneath their feet turn into airships and light bulbs and personal
computers. Meanwhile most of the world guards their shrinking hoards, ever suspicious of the “fatcat Jews
and Christians”, who they think must surely be thieves, for how else could they have acquired so much wealth?
And this blessing will be on those who know it’s in the Bible, and on those who don’t. It’s on Jacob here, long
before the Bible was penned.

36 Then he put a three-day journey between himself and Jacob, while Jacob continued to tend the rest
of Laban’s flocks.
37 Jacob, however, took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond and plane trees and made white stripes
on them by peeling the bark and exposing the white inner wood of the branches. 38 Then he placed the peeled branches in all the watering troughs, so that they would be directly in front
of the flocks when they came to drink. When the flocks were in heat and came to drink,
39 they mated in front of the branches. And they bore young that were streaked or speckled or spotted.
40 Jacob set apart the young of the flock by themselves, but made the rest face the streaked and
dark-colored animals that belonged to Laban. Thus he made separate flocks for himself and did not put
them with Laban’s animals.
41 Whenever the stronger females were in heat, Jacob would place the branches in the troughs in front
of the animals so they would mate near the branches,
42 but if the animals were weak, he would not place them there. So the weak animals went to Laban
and the strong ones to Jacob.
43 In this way the man grew exceedingly prosperous and came to own large flocks, and maidservants
and menservants, and camels and donkeys.

“Exceedingly prosperous” indeed, and don’t you know, “exceedingly” tired! As a professional
herdsman, you can take my word for it, this guy was bushed at the end of the day! He has worked 14 years
without a pay day all the while unable to go home and enjoy his abundant inheritance because of the
Blessing he stole from his brother! Now, in a six year period, (which is not much time at all for an ordinary
livestock operation), he gains the wealth described in verse 43. Now consider, did this text really say he
influenced the coat color of these animals by his diligence and the supposed power of what a female animal
sees while she’s conceiving causing her offspring to be born spotted? No, it did not. It tells what he did and
what happened, but it does not say one caused the other. This is so subtle it’s neat, but notice carefully what
the Lord had shown Jacob in the middle of all this struggling and wrestling to be prosperous:

Genesis 31:
10 In breeding season I once had a dream in which I looked up and saw that the male goats mating
with the flock were streaked, speckled or spotted.
11 The angel of God said to me in the dream, `Jacob.’ I answered, `Here I am.’
12 And he said, `Look up and see that all the male goats mating with the flock are streaked, speckled or spotted, for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you.
13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and go back to your native land.'” (italics mine)
Unbelievers have had a field day and believers have had a good deal of perplexity over verses
37 through 43 that seem to corroborate the idea that if a pregnant lady is scared by an elephant, her child will
have big ears and a long nose! But our God is so confident in Who He Is, and so sure in His purpose, that He
doesn’t explain chapter 30 till chapter 31. In this chapter He not only tells what really was going on, He
gives the world its first lesson in true Mendelian genetics! The fact that your body is, say, “tall dark and
handsome” or your billy goat has a white hair coat is called your, (or his), “phenotype” by modern genetics.
But because of the recessive genes you (and your goat) carry, (this is called “genotype”), all your “kids”
(pun intended) could be born looking completely different from you, depending on what genetic “cards” God in nature
decided to deal you. Though the angel (read “messenger”) of God, who is the God of Bethel, does not use
the terms “phenotype” and “genotype”, He says that though the males are really white, they are streaked,
speckled or spotted at the moment they breed the females. This is to say, God selected which genes the male
goat would be carrying, AND which sperm cell was the one who won the race to fertilize the female’s egg,
and God’s hand saw to it that it was a sperm bearing recessive genes that would produce offspring of color!

Do you see how this connects to Jacob’s wives’ carnal striving to bear children? God wanted to
give them the desire of their hearts, but if He grants their wish while they are not trusting, but working,
they will always believe they got it because they worked! What a curse! God showed Jacob that He was the
one coloring the goats all along, though Jacob was sweating bullets trying to get the nanny goats to face the
right object at the right moment so their kids would be born spotted! His God was begging him to believe
that if he would lay down his life God would see to it that he would find it! But there’s more. Notice:

Genesis 31
4. So Jacob sent word to Rachel and Leah to come out to the fields where his flocks were.
5 He said to them, “I see that your father’s attitude toward me is not what it was before, but the
God of my father has been with me. 6 You know that I’ve worked for your father with all my strength,
7 yet your father has cheated me by changing my wages ten times. However, God has not
allowed him to harm me.
8 If he said, `The speckled ones will be your wages,’ then all the flocks gave birth to
speckled young; and if he said, `The streaked ones will be your wages,’ then all the flocks bore
streaked young.
9 So God has taken away your father’s livestock and has given them to me.

Jacob, in his six years of shepherding for pay, has probably only had six breeding seasons and six lambing (birthing) seasons. His wages have been changed ten times from speckled to streaked or from streaked to speckled, or maybe from speckled to solid black, and so on. Can’t you see him out there recalling all the streaked limbs and trying to carve speckled limbs to get speckled lambs? And even if he thought he could strive and struggle and cause a lamb to be speckled by what its mother saw at its conception, if Laban changed Jacob’s wages back to streaked after its conception, Jacob would have been out of “LUCK” anyway! Unless … unless there is a Real and Omniscient God who has chosen to be on Jacob’s side, and He knows men’s hearts before they know their hearts. In other words, God here has given Jacob every reason to cease striving and rest in his Lord’s faithfulness. He tells Jacob “I am the God who appeared to you at Bethel, in the middle of reaping your sins against your brother I personally appeared to you to let you know that I am with you because I have chosen to be with you, whether you are good or bad, trusting or faithless. Now Jacob, how is that going to affect your heart? Will you start trusting me now that you see that you may as well? Or will you and your children after you be hung up on believing you can do it yourself? Are you too strong for God?
(Albright’s Amplified Version)

Did you catch that Rachel’s Theology is really Laban and Rebekah’s Theology? Laban believes he
can operate whatever spiritual forces there are without submitting his heart to a lord who is really Lord or a
god who is really God. He believes Jacob is the favorite of a deity called Yahweh and so as long as Jacob
and his God hang around, he thinks he will prosper. To him it makes perfect sense to cheat Jacob to keep
him and his God around, because he doesn’t realize Yahweh is moral and holy as well as all-knowing and he
doesn’t know that this God inevitably calls men into account for everything they do. He believes Yahweh is
some “local deity” who can be manipulated for one’s benefit if one is clever enough and plays his cards
right. He basically believes God is a “force”. This really is the religion of the world, out of which God called
Abram in order to demonstrate, through Abram and his children, who He Himself Is, and who He isn’t, to all
men and all angels. This is why the events in Genesis transpired, why they were recorded, why this book was
written, and why you, at the end of the age, are now reading about it!

Jacob’s brother’s second name is Edom, which means “red”. Jacob, operating in the Theology of
Rachel, had thought he could bless himself by tempting and manipulating his brother with a bowl of red
stew. Laban means white. Jacob made “white stripes” on tree branches in order to rob Laban and bless
himself. So far, it surely doesn’t seem that Jacob is much changed by his experience at Bethel, does it?


Read the following verses carefully, noting particularly Jacob’s attitude and actions:

14 Then Rachel and Leah replied, “Do we still have any share in the inheritance of our father’s estate?
15 Does he not regard us as foreigners? Not only has he sold us, but he has used up what was paid
for us.
16 Surely all the wealth that God took away from our father belongs to us and our children. So do
whatever God has told you.”
17 Then Jacob put his children and his wives on camels,
18 and he drove all his livestock ahead of him, along with all the goods he had accumulated in
Paddan Aram, to go to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan.
19 When Laban had gone to shear his sheep, Rachel stole her father’s household gods.
20 Moreover, Jacob deceived Laban the Aramean by not telling him he was running away.
21 So he fled with all he had, and crossing the River, he headed for the hill country of Gilead.
22 On the third day Laban was told that Jacob had fled.
23 Taking his relatives with him, he pursued Jacob for seven days and caught up with him in
the hill country of Gilead.
24 Then God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream at night and said to him, “Be careful not to say

anything to Jacob, either good or bad.”
25 Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country of Gilead when Laban overtook him, and Laban and
his relatives camped there too.
Now let me ask you, why would an experienced herdsmen try to control the color of goat kids by showing their mother’s striped sticks? It’s same reasoning that would persuade a woman to trust a mandrake plant ( they look like the lower part of a human body) to help her conceive a baby! Fear and pain will tempt any heart to be unwilling to chance being subjected to more fear and pain, even for a god who says He is the True God. Why would a man, encumbered with small children and many herds with their young, even try to catch his boss not looking and flee, believing he could outrun his boss and his men? This is the action of a man who has decided to trust his own arm and not trust anyone else, including God, even when it would seem useless to trust himself!

What, of all Jacob’s possessions, did he love most and fear most to take a chance on losing?

Certainly it would be Rachel, the love of his life! And is it an Eternal Truth, or just a New Testament Truth,

that says if you try to save your life, you will lose it? Jacob never tells anyone that Rachel is his sister! Far

from it, he protects her with rabid zeal! But because his love for her is more than his love for God, he winds

up harming her more than his Grandfather Abram harmed his wife. Note verse 19 again:

19 When Laban had gone to shear his sheep, Rachel stole her father’s household gods.

Had Jacob looked with faith on the fact that God had sovereignly given him Laban’s herds, even

though he hadn’t trusted the Lord, he would have said to Laban, “If God gave me your herds Laban, God can

keep me alive to enjoy them. So I must tell you, face to face, that the Lord has told me to leave here and go

home!” Do you remember that because Jacob thought he himself was responsible for getting his father’s

blessing, that he thought he’d have to be responsible for protecting himself by fleeing from Esau?

But here we are again, and what Jacob really believes in his heart is that he worked and got the

herds by the strength of his own struggling, his own wrestling. He therefore planned to sneak off when

Laban was gone a couple of days in an easterly direction. By doing this, who was he saying to his wives that

his God was? It was the same message that Abram and Isaac gave their wives when they told them to say

they were their sisters! The consequence of Jacob not trusting the Lord was that he was providing both the

motive and the opportunity for Rachel to steal her father’s gods. This decision, I believe we will see, will

ultimately cost Jacob the love of his life.

Amazing the patience of our King! Even after Jacob again refuses to trust Him to protect him from
his near penniless uncle/father-in-law, God protects him anyway! What the Lord said to Laban just
before he caught up with Jacob is reminiscent of what God said to Abimelech after Isaac had claimed
Rebekah was his “sister” – “One false move and your ‘dog meat’, boy!” (Albright Ideas Version). If God
did this with Jacob running like a chicken, how much more would He have protected him had he stood
still, in faith!
Now read the following interaction realizing that Jacob is embarrassed, a little sheepish, and a little
defensive that he’s just been caught running off with a big part of Laban’s family and former flocks.
Laban, on the other hand, is just getting over the shock of going from red hot, murderous anger to the
quick cool down of being warned by a SERIOUS god that he’s not to touch Jacob, period! This mix
makes for a rather strange encounter and a stranger conversation.

26 Then Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done? You’ve deceived me, and you’ve carried off my

daughters like captives in war.

27 Why did you run off secretly and deceive me? Why didn’t you tell me, so I could send you away

with joy and singing to the music of tambourines and harps?

[Somehow, I think he’s lying, again. I don’t think he would have, of his own accord, given Jacob a

big, jolly send-off.]

28 You didn’t even let me kiss my grandchildren and my daughters good-by. You have done a foolish


29 I have the power to harm you; but last night the God of your father said to me, `Be careful not to

say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.’

[A crucial point of error: If Jehovah is against you, you may think, or want to think, you have power

to do a thing, but you are in fact are helpless to do anything he is resisting.]

30 Now you have gone off because you longed to return to your father’s house. But why did you steal

my gods?”

31 Jacob answered Laban, “I was afraid, because I thought you would take your daughters away from

me by force.

32 But if you find anyone who has your gods, he shall not live. In the presence of our relatives, see

for yourself whether there is anything of yours here with me; and if so, take it.” Now Jacob did not

know that Rachel had stolen the gods.

Jacob said, “But if you find anyone who has your gods, he shall not live.” It’s central to

understanding the theme of this book to recognize that Jacob’s striped branches did not color his sheep. In

the same way, his words did not have a mechanical effect that later caused his wife’s death. It’s not like he

fired a bullet that ricocheted and accidentally hit her. It is part of the government of God that Jacob’s words

were a reflection of the spiritual reality in his life, not the cause of the spiritual reality. It is part of Who

Yahweh Is that He speaks through Jacob’s own mouth the truth of the peril of his path. If Jacob had been

listening, he would have heard from his own mouth a “Goddian slip”. Earlier, when Rebekah had counseled

her son in deception and then said, “Let the curse fall on me,” she was unwittingly speaking the Truth of God

about the inherent results of trying to be one’s own god, and trying to save one’s own life. Because of her

faith in herself, Rebekah lost her favorite son for the rest of her life. Jacob, by doing the same thing, will lose

his favorite wife!

33 So Laban went into Jacob’s tent and into Leah’s tent and into the tent of the two maidservants,

but he found nothing. After he came out of Leah’s tent, he entered Rachel’s tent.

34 Now Rachel had taken the household gods and put them inside her camel’s saddle and was sitting

on them. Laban searched through everything in the tent but found nothing.

35 Rachel said to her father, “Don’t be angry, my lord, that I cannot stand up in your presence; I’m

having my period.” So he searched but could not find the household gods.

Something awesome just happened here. Something strange and seamy and dark. She, who has

proven herself willing to prefer witchcraft to intimacy with the bridegroom, has just been in very intimate

contact with the small gods, the small statues her father has revered. When a woman sits on an idol as small

as these were, she is indeed, very intimate with it. In God’s wisdom He allows our tares to grow till the fruit

of them becomes extremely obvious. This scene is a shockingly blunt picture of where Laban’s Theology

was taking Rachel.

Why did she steal them anyway? What does she desire her gods to grant her? “Give me children, or

I’ll die!” Her desire is the polar opposite of the faith of the man who walked three days to Mount Moriah

with a son he considered as good as dead, and resurrected! It should be no surprise to us that her impending

death is linked to the delivery of her next child.

Continuing …

36 Jacob was angry and took Laban to task. “What is my crime?” he asked Laban. “What sin have I

committed that you hunt me down?

37 Now that you have searched through all my goods, what have you found that belongs to

your household? Put it here in front of your relatives and mine, and let them judge between the two

of us.

His anger is the anger of a man with a bad conscience, for he knows that whether or not he has
stolen the flocks is a delicate question. He hasn’t, but it’s not because he didn’t try! He did everything
in his power to unfairly influence the color of the offspring, which would have been stealing, had he
succeeded. But since he didn’t really influence the outcome, and God had done it Himself, he is
accidentally innocent. But you can’t tell it by his blustering indignation. You’d think he’d never cheated
anyone in his life!

“What sin have I committed that you hunt me down?”
he asks. He’s being hunted down because he has run like a man with a guilty conscience. His sin is
gross unbelief. And the irony of the situation is awesome, for Jacob believes, on one level, that he
changed the color of the goats. On the other hand, he believes what the Lord told him, (a little bit), that
God had done it Himself. And all his blustering claims of innocence depend morally on his believing he
hadn’t stolen the goats by changing their hair color himself, but God had done it. Yet his every step and
attitude betrays his belief that he had done it himself!

38 “I have been with you for twenty years now. Your sheep and goats have not miscarried, nor have

I eaten rams from your flocks.

39 I did not bring you animals torn by wild beasts; I bore the loss myself. And you demanded

payment from me for whatever was stolen by day or night.

40 This was my situation: The heat consumed me in the daytime and the cold at night, and sleep

fled from my eyes.

41 It was like this for the twenty years I was in your household. I worked for you fourteen years

for your two daughters and six years for your flocks, and you changed my wages ten times.

[Isn’t it interesting that “Rachel” means “sheep”?]

42 If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, you

would surely have sent me away empty-handed.

[Might we ask Jacob, “Okay … so God was with you, and therefore you fled deceptively, and
without a send-off … but with full hands?” ]

“But God has seen my hardship and the toil of my hands, and last night he rebuked you.”

Wrong, Jacob. God is not protecting you because of the “toil of [your] hands” any more than God

enabled Leah to conceive Issachar because she gave her maid servant to her husband. God is protecting you

because He has chosen before your birth show His love to you.

43 Laban answered Jacob, “The women are my daughters, the children are my children, and the flocks

are my flocks. All you see is mine. Yet what can I do today about these daughters of mine, or about

the children they have borne?

Laban, like his son-in-law/nephew is also doing a good job of missing an obvious call to walk

humbly with God.

This chapter of “His story” is ending on a very sad note. Two proud, fearful, self-reliant men sit

across a campfire from one another and make a covenant not to murder each other! Both have been shown

awesome grace by the Lord, but both are determinedly holding on to “Laban Theology”. Laban departs the

stage of Scripture, but his theology follows his descendants across the whole Old Testament landscape, and

even makes appearances in the Church Age. As a matter of fact, it still whispers in my ear, and has tried to

reconvert me to its tenets this afternoon!


(Concerning Genesis Chapter 32)

I know that many of you are familiar with this famous chapter, but I ask you to carefully re-read the

following verses. See if you begin to see the story a little differently than before, having just seen what

we’ve just seen.

1 Jacob also went on his way, and the angels of God met him.

2 When Jacob saw them, he said, “This is the camp of God!” So he named that place Mahanaim.

[“Mahanaim” means “two camps”. Jacob was memorializing his vision of the angels around him by

saying, in effect, “I recognize that our camp is not the only one here. The angels are not only continually

ascending and descending around us, as they were at Bethel, they are camped here with us!”

3 Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom.

Heretofore it has become evident that the desire of the Lord is to have Jacob trust Him, to have him

resting in faith, and give up wrestling against faith, and struggling to insure his own future. Now this may not

seem like a big deal, but as soon as Jacob acknowledges that he is surrounded by God’s angels, he sends out

his own “angels” to check out Esau. (In the Hebrew text, the word for “angel” is the same word here used for

“messenger”!) God shows Jacob he has no reason to fear anything, that all bases are covered by the angels

all around him. Instead of just being still, and trusting Divine “messengers”, he sends out his own

“messengers”. If you think I’m making too much of this, read on:

4 He instructed them: “This is what you are to say to my master Esau: `Your servant Jacob says, I

have been staying with Laban and have remained there till now.

5 I have cattle and donkeys, sheep and goats, menservants and maidservants. Now I am sending this

message to my lord, that I may find favor in your eyes.'”

6 When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, “We went to your brother Esau, and now he is

coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.”

7 In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people who were with him into two groups, and the

flocks and herds and camels as well.
Did you catch that he divides his caravan into “two camps”? God had shown Jacob he was not
alone, that he was escorted by a host of angels, and even got it out of his own mouth that the place
should be named “Two Camps”. But the result of giving in to a subtle temptation to depend only on his
own “angels”, was that he was going to get some information that was going to further tempt him. He
is going to learn something he’d have been better off not knowing, namely, that Esau was coming with
an impressive entourage. He fails in the heat of this temptation, for instead of trusting The God who just
delivered him from Laban, though he had not trusted Him to do so, he quakes with fear of what might
happen to him. Notice that giving in to this temptation now means that instead of trusting God to protect
his camp with the angelic camp, he now has to generate his own “Two Camps”! Notice it does say “great
fear and distress”. Not exactly a description of confident trust, is it?

8 He thought, “If Esau comes and attacks one group, the group that is left may escape.”

Now wait a minute, did you get that! His plan is that maybe one “camp” can escape while the other

is being slaughtered! How is it then, that we almost universally teach that Jacob sets a wonderful example

here of faith, that the following prayer is a mighty faith statement? Ever notice that though Jacob is in the top

four as far as amount of biography we have of him in the Old Testament, he still is only commended in the

“Hall of Fame of Faith”, (Hebrews Chapter Eleven), for a prayer he prayed over two of his grandsons near

the end of his life?

Read this prayer now, and then watch his actions, and reconsider what I think is the most

misunderstood chapter in the Bible:

9 Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, O LORD, who said

to me, `Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’

10 I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant.

I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two groups.”

[Okay, let’s see now Jake, why was it you fled your family’s home and your ample inheritance with

only a staff? Is it now God’s hand of blessing that has caused you to become, “two groups, “two camps”?]

11 Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me,

and also the mothers with their children.

12 But you have said, `I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand

of the sea, which cannot be counted.'”

13 He spent the night there, and from what he had with him he selected a gift for his brother Esau:

14 two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams,

15 thirty female camels with their young, forty cows and ten bulls, and twenty female donkeys and

ten male donkeys.

16 He put them in the care of his servants, each herd by itself, and said to his servants, “Go ahead

of me, and keep some space between the herds.”

Notice how laboriously he is manipulating the positioning and sequence of his herds! This is

obviously reminiscent of how he got the herds! Remember his tedious efforts to get the stronger females

facing the right direction while they were breeding? He is going to all this trouble to maximize their

psychological impact on the brother he presumes is bent on cutting his throat! He is again planning on

manipulating a situation to his own advantage by the direction his livestock is facing!

17 He instructed the one in the lead: “When my brother Esau meets you and asks, `To whom do

you belong, and where are you going, and who owns all these animals in front of you?’

18 then you are to say, `They belong to your servant Jacob. They are a gift sent to my lord Esau,

and he is coming behind us.'”

19 He also instructed the second, the third and all the others who followed the herds: “You are

to say the same thing to Esau when you meet him.

20 And be sure to say, `Your servant Jacob is coming behind us.'” For he thought, “I will pacify

him with these gifts I am sending on ahead; later, when I see him, perhaps he will receive me.”

“Maybe, just maybe he won’t kill me if I butter him up really good!” Would you agree that Jacob

is not exactly resting in the Arms of Jehovah!

21 So Jacob’s gifts went on ahead of him, but he himself spent the night in the camp.

22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants and his eleven

sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok.

23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions.

24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.

I believe this is the showdown at high noon for Jacob. I believe God has been wrestling

with him all his life right up to this climactic night to try to get him to voluntarily give himself, his heart,

mind, and will, over to the Lord. I believe that when “men” were wrestling with him, even evil “men”, it

was really the Lord, hidden by the darkness of this world, struggling with him. God is also “in this place”,

(and in the oncoming Esau) and he knows it not. I believe this is the turning point, after which it will be too

late to avert the consequences of past sins, his own, and those of his fathers. I don’t believe this literally,

but its almost like the Father said to the Son on this night, “Go down there and see if you can wrestle with

him and get him to give his will to you, before he meets Esau and sets this 400 year curse in concrete! But

you can’t let him see who you are, you’d be intimidating him into submission if you did, so get out of there

by daylight!”

25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so

that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man.

There are consequences to refusing to willingly submit. Jacob will limp the rest of his life, without,

I contend, having his heart at all changed by this encounter. If you doubt this, watch the part of his journey

that is yet ahead. It will clearly speak of where his heart is. And I believe Jacob, (that is “Israel” the nation),

limps to this day as a result of this night, when the self-reliant “wrestler”, had the strongest part of his body


26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless

you bless me.”

27 The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered.
28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled

with God and with men and have overcome.”

Jacob later “blesses” his own sons, but what he said over some of them was not what we usually

think of as a “blessing”. Isaac’s “blessing” of Esau was more a “pronouncement” or a “prophecy” than a

sweet benediction. I strongly believe that the words spoken over Jacob here by a “man” who is also later

called “God” were not a “blessing” in the “nice” sense. These words fell from the quivering lips of a

weeping God who called Jacob “Israel”, which most literally means, “struggles with God”. He was saying,

“Jacob, you win. You have refused to give up your life so I could give it back to you as Abundant Life. You

win. You’re too strong for man, and your too strong for God. Go your way. Tonight you have set the course

of the next four millennia.”

29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he

blessed him there.

“Why ask His Name, Jacob? You won’t be able to comprehend a Name like “Yeshua”, ‘Yahweh

Saves’, because you don’t really believe He saves. And because of this night, Jacob’s children will fail to

know Jesus, the Son of God by His Name, two thousand years later.

30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life

was spared.”

31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip.

To me, this is the saddest verse in the Bible. Jacob wrestled with a “man” till daybreak. Now the

match is over, and Jacob “won”, and yet he lost more than can be calculated.

32 Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip,

because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.

Curiously, this custom is not practiced today. But “to this day” Israel feels the effect of this night.

(Concerning Genesis 33)

1 Jacob looked up and there was Esau, coming with his four hundred men; so he divided the

children among Leah, Rachel and the two maidservants.

I’m sure you remember that the “four hundred men” galloping over the horizon are THE test that

was sown by Jacob’s grandfather Abraham. Here we are, with the sins of Jacob’s grandfather being “visited”

on the third generation. Watch carefully as we see the outcome of this day, an outcome pre-determined by

the events of the night just past.

2 He put the maidservants and their children in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and

Joseph in the rear.

The seeds of resentment between the sons of Jacob that will produce a bitter harvest in the years to

come were sown in the country of their birth, Paddan Aram, for jealousy was surely the rule between their

mothers. But with this event those seeds receive a very significant watering. What message did Jacob convey

to his sons at the front lines? Expendability! You guys, in the front, are most expendable; you in the middle

are medium expendable; the toddler Joseph and his mom are least expendable. All of this being the direct,

and totally unnecessary, result of refusing to trust God to preserve what He had already given Jacob!!

3 He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his


[Is this the man who decided to steal “his brother’s” blessing so that he could magically receive the

right to rule over him? ]

4 But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him.

And they wept.

How wonderful, especially in light of what Jacob expected from Esau! Surely Jacob won’t believe

this tender moment was produced by his own manipulation and Esau’s greediness to get the gifts he has sent

to meet Him? Surely Jacob will know this moment is produced by the Grace of God and he will be overcome

by God’s patient Goodness … surely he will … won’t he ?

5 Then Esau looked up and saw the women and children. “Who are these with you?” he asked. Jacob
answered, “They are the children God has graciously given your servant.”

6 Then the maidservants and their children approached and bowed down.

7 Next, Leah and her children came and bowed down. Last of all came Joseph and Rachel, and they too

bowed down.

8 Esau asked, “What do you mean by all these droves I met?” “To find favor in your eyes, my lord,”

he said.

9 But Esau said, “I already have plenty, my brother. Keep what you have for yourself.”

[Esau couldn’t be more genuinely glad to see his brother, or less interested in Jacob’s gifts. But

Jacob has solidified his conviction that his own struggling is what added color to the hair of Laban’s goats,

(Laban means “white”), and it is what changed the heart of Esau, (which means “hairy”).]

10 “No, please!” said Jacob. “If I have found favor in your eyes, accept this gift from me.”

[Is Jacob being truly generous here, or is he nervous at the thought of having the thing he really
trusts in, (bribery), removed from him? Continuing :]

“For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably.

Just as Jacob totally missed the point of his encounter with God at a place he himself named “Two
Camps”, now he is missing the point of what God struggled to get him to see at the place he named
“Peniel”, which means “Face of God”. The joy on Esau’s face is truly the hand of the mighty Creator,
but Jacob has brought an idolatry out of Paddan Aram that will be more pervasive than that that clings to
his wife Rachel; he brings the idolatry of believing in himself and what he can do. He believes he has
seen the handiwork of the “god” he really believes in, in the tender expression on Esau’s countenance.
He believes in himself, and that he himself has wrought this miracle in the change in Esau’s heart.

11 Please accept the present that was brought to you, for God has been gracious to me and I have

all I need.” And because Jacob insisted, Esau accepted it.

Think back. Who did Jacob really believe gave him the herds he acquired? The word for “insisted”

here means “to bring pressure”. The “wrestler” still “wrestles”.

12 Then Esau said, “Let us be on our way; I’ll accompany you.”
13 But Jacob said to him, “My lord knows that the children are tender and that I must care for the

ewes and cows that are nursing their young. If they are driven hard just one day, all the animals

will die.

Of course he has just set a land speed record when he decided he needed to flee from Laban to

preserve what he had acquired, but now that it serves his purpose of getting rid of Esau, he declares how

slowly he must travel, and that he surely doesn’t want to impede his brother as he returns home. And why is

he so anxious to be separated from his now affectionate sibling? Those who do not trust the Omnipotent

One, who are their own gods have no rest, for they know themselves to have only very limited powers. If

Jacob believes he has bought his brother’s love with greed for a golden egg, he will fear that the temporary

enchantment he has wrought will wear off, and the greed for gifts that he thinks has controlled his brother up

to this moment, might carry him on to the decision to butcher the goose!

14 So let my lord go on ahead of his servant, while I move along slowly at the pace of the droves

before me and that of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir.”

15 Esau said, “Then let me leave some of my men with you.” “But why do that?” Jacob asked.

“Just let me find favor in the eyes of my lord.”

Did you hear the shrillness in Jacob’s cracking voice as he said “But why do that?” He knew he was

lying and that as soon as he could get Esau out of sight he would head 180 degrees away from the route to

Seir! This would be a little hard to pull off with an escort from the men of Esau.

Feel the swirling eddy of Omnipotent Sovereignty as Jacob fearfully turns down an escort through

dangerous territory, a situation which was the reaping of what Abraham sowed when he was unable to muster

the faith to leave an escort (Lot and company) behind in Ur of the Chaldees! Let the reader understand …

16 So that day Esau started on his way back to Seir.

17 Jacob, however, went to Succoth, where he built a place for himself and made shelters for his

livestock. That is why the place is called Succoth.

You saw that didn’t you! Succoth means “shelters”. Jacob has laboriously built shelters for himself

and his livestock! “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the Shadow of the Almighty.”

Psalm 91:1. But there is no rest for Jacob as he insists on being his own shelter. And as I said, he was

blatantly lying to his brother, for Succoth is in the opposite direction from Seir. Comments on the obvious

pun “Succoth” suggests in the King’s English are tempting but will remain muted in this medium.

What is Jacob generating in the fourth generation from Abraham? His boys are old enough to get

the message that the “god” of their father allows him to treat them as pawns. And his god must have no

affinity for the truth as it seems that their father’s honesty is as cheap as his children are expendable!

18 After Jacob came from Paddan Aram, he arrived safely at the city of Shechem in Canaan

and camped within sight of the city.

19 For a hundred pieces of silver, he bought from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem,

the plot of ground where he pitched his tent.

Here is what I believe about this passage. You will see much more of why I believe it later on, but I

present it here for the perspective it brings as we pass through this chapter. (You will probably enjoy reading

this book more the second time than you are the first.)

I believe that what the Lord spoke to Abraham in Genesis 15 about his children spending 400 years in

exile had to fulfilled on one level, and yet its bitterness could have been removed. (See chapter two of The

Hardening of Blessing for insight as to how the Levites changed their curse into a blessing by embracing their

crosses.) According to the Scriptures, a curse, (which is a stronghold of sin), is particularly “visited” on the third

and fourth generations. Those whom it visits have the opportunity to break the cycle or pass it on to the next

generation. After Peniel and his encounter with Esau, Jacob’s chance, in the third generation, to ameliorate

the curse concerning the 400 years has now passed. He has set in concrete at least part of its bitterness. I

understand the first chapter of Exodus to imply that the majority of Israel’s time in Egypt was spent in

Goshen, not as slaves, but as prosperous citizens … till a king arose who “… did not know about Joseph …”. I

believe I understand the Spirit to say that they prospered for the first three centuries, and became slaves only

in the fourth. Much of this will have some corroboration later, but for the present, I believe Jacob just “paid

the fare” for the fourth century in Egypt to be a time of bondage. After this point, at least this much of the

bitterness is unavoidable. It has just cost him 100 shekels of silver to lie to Esau in full view of his sons, as

opposed to faithfully following Esau to Seir as he promised. These hundred shekels are prophetic of a bitter

hundred year harvest his children will have to reap. The first member of Jacob’s family to go to Egypt will

do so as a direct result of the jealousy, fear and deceit among Jacob’s sons. Remember that the price of

Sarah’s grave was 400 shekels? The remaining 300 will be shekels of “atonement” that I believe represent

the three blessed centuries in Egypt. They will be paid by Joseph in the fourth generation after he (and

Judah) lay down their lives for their God and His sheep. (Gen 45:22)

I believe there is another corroberation of what I am saying in what Stephen says in Acts 7:17 –

“As the time drew near for God to fulfill His promise to Abraham, the number of our people in Egypt greatly

increased. Then another king, who knew nothing about Joseph, became ruler of Egypt.”

The oppression by the king who didn’t know about Joseph was clearly toward the end of the stay in

Egypt. I believe it was the fourth century, which actually turned into 130 years, because the Egyptian sojourn

turned out to be exactly 430 years long, (Exodus 12:41). I believe I know the reason for this thirty year

extension but that will have to wait for another time.

The choice to head for Succoth instead of following Esau was the fateful moment in Jacob’s life.

Buying the land for 100 shekels at Shechem “formalized” the instatement of the generational curse that his

seed would face in Egypt. It is stunning to realize that the first stop Israel made as she came out of Egypt was

a place called “Succoth” (Exodus 12:37). It was a different “Succoth” from the one Jacob went to, but the

irony is still potent! It’s as though Jacob’s children are having to walk backwards the steps Jacob made to put

them there! The children of the man who refused to trust God for “shelter”, for that is what “Succoth” means,

are having to trust God greatly and dwell only in “the Shelter of the Most High”.

There is a strange overall confirmation of our theme in this book. Acts 7:16 sounds like Stephen made an error

concerning the history of the Patriarchs. Even if he did, I presume God meant for him to make his mistake, as God, the

Author of the infallible Word had something He wanted to say, whether Stephen meant to say it or not. Acts 7:15-16 says:

15. Then Jacob went down to Egypt, where he and out fathers died.

16. Their bodies were brought back to Shechem and placed in the tomb that Abraham had bought from the sons of

Hamor at Shechem for a certain sum of money.

There is no record of Abraham himself having anything to do with any purchase other than the purchase of the cave

and field of Ephron the Hittite in Hebron, a considerable distance from Shechem. In fact, Hamor would not have been born

during Abraham’s lifetime. What I believe the Holy Spirit is saying is that when Abraham did what he did in Egypt with

Sarai, he set in motion a sequence of events, a “curse” if you will, that culminated in Jacob’s purchase of land at Shechem.

As we said earlier, Abraham did “A”, which tempted Isaac to do “B”, which tempted Jacob to do “C”. In the country there is

a saying: “he almost bought the farm!” It means that a man made a major blunder and almost killed himself in an accident. (I

suppose it means he almost qualified his wife to receive his life insurance, which would pay off the farm.) When Abraham

blundered in Egypt, I believe he effectively “bought a farm”. But it seems it wasn’t manifested till Jacob made his transaction

in the third generation.

Back to Genesis 33:

20 There he set up an altar and called it El Elohe Israel.

I do not relish bringing sad news, but forget for a moment the rousing messages you’ve heard about

the above verse, and remember there are no capitals in the Hebrew text. Also remember that “God”, in

Hebrew, is a title, like “king”, or “president”, not a name. Now, who would you say at this point is really

“god, the god of Israel”?

(Concerning Genesis Chapter 34)

I believe I will show when we study Genesis 37 that events in this chapter provide “fuel for the

camel” that will carry Joseph to Egypt.

1 Now Dinah, the daughter Leah had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the women of the land.

2 When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of that area, saw her, he took her and

violated her.

3 His heart was drawn to Dinah daughter of Jacob, and he loved the girl and spoke tenderly to her.

I believe there is real insight in the meanings of some names here. Jacob has chosen to live near

“Shechem”, which refers to the neck and shoulder. I believe this alludes to labor and a yoke. Jacob has not

chosen the Rest and Shelter of abiding in the Jehovah. “Hamor” means “donkey”, which also, I believe,

alludes to labor. “Dinah”, like “Dan” refers to judgment. I believe her rape at Shechem is the consequence of

his being there, refusing to trust God and out of God’s will.

4 And Shechem said to his father Hamor, “Get me this girl as my wife.”

Now remember that Abraham zealously declared that Isaac’s wife should not come from the

Canaanite peoples, and he went to great lengths to insure that this did not happen. Isaac, through his sin,

tempted Jacob to be in the situation that pushed him out of the land at a marriageable age. This resulted in

his return to the Land with multiple wives and literal and spiritual adultery in tow. Now Jacob’s sin, which

has to do with trusting in his own laboring, seems about to push the people of God into a merger with what

must surely be a profane people. And it would appear that Jacob is about to passively cooperate with the


5 When Jacob heard that his daughter Dinah had been defiled, his sons were in the fields with his

livestock; so he kept quiet about it until they came home.

6 Then Shechem’s father Hamor went out to talk with Jacob.

7 Now Jacob’s sons had come in from the fields as soon as they heard what had happened. They

were filled with grief and fury, because Shechem had done a disgraceful thing in Israel by lying

with Jacob’s daughter–a thing that should not be done.

8 But Hamor said to them, “My son Shechem has his heart set on your daughter. Please give her

to him as his wife.

9 Intermarry with us; give us your daughters and take our daughters for yourselves.

10 You can settle among us; the land is open to you. Live in it, trade in it, and acquire

property in it.”

11 Then Shechem said to Dinah’s father and brothers, “Let me find favor in your eyes, and I will

give you whatever you ask.

12 Make the price for the bride and the gift I am to bring as great as you like, and I’ll pay

whatever you ask me. Only give me the girl as my wife.”

[Notice that Shechem speaks to the father and brothers, but only the brothers reply:]

13 Because their sister Dinah had been defiled, Jacob’s sons replied deceitfully as they spoke to

Shechem and his father Hamor.

[“Deceitfully” is the same word in Hebrew that is used to describe what Jacob did to Esau in

Genesis 27:35. Jacob’s sin is being “visited” on his sons.]

14 They said to them, “We can’t do such a thing; we can’t give our sister to a man who is not

circumcised. That would be a disgrace to us.

15 We will give our consent to you on one condition only: that you become like us by

circumcising all your males.

16 Then we will give you our daughters and take your daughters for ourselves. We’ll settle

among you and become one people with you.

17 But if you will not agree to be circumcised, we’ll take our sister and go.”

In the previous chapter they had witnessed their father:

A./ Lying ..

B./ … to someone offering friendship ..

C./ … who had in the past sinned against him…

D./ …concerning a trip that was about to be made…

E./ …using presumed greed for livestock as a means to manipulate!
Some seeds germinate quickly, don’t they?!

18 Their proposal seemed good to Hamor and his son Shechem.

19 The young man, who was the most honored of all his father’s household, lost no time in doing

what they said, because he was delighted with Jacob’s daughter.

20 So Hamor and his son Shechem went to the gate of their city to speak to their fellow townsmen.

21 “These men are friendly toward us,” they said. “Let them live in our land and trade in it; the

land has plenty of room for them. We can marry their daughters and they can marry ours.

22 But the men will consent to live with us as one people only on the condition that our males be

circumcised, as they themselves are.

23 Won’t their livestock, their property and all their other animals become ours? So let us give our

consent to them, and they will settle among us.”

24 All the men who went out of the city gate agreed with Hamor and his son Shechem, and every

male in the city was circumcised.

25 Three days later, while all of them were still in pain, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi,

Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and attacked the unsuspecting city, killing every male.

26 They put Hamor and his son Shechem to the sword and took Dinah from Shechem’s house and


27 The sons of Jacob came upon the dead bodies and looted the city where their sister had been


28 They seized their flocks and herds and donkeys and everything else of theirs in the city and

out in the fields.

29 They carried off all their wealth and all their women and children, taking as plunder everything

in the houses.

30 Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me a stench

to the Canaanites and Perizzites, the people living in this land. We are few in number, and if they

join forces against me and attack me, I and my household will be destroyed.”

It is God’s will to make Israel into a priest nation to the other nations. Toward that end, He has just

Sovereignly delivered Jacob’s family from annihilation by Esau. Tragically though, because Jacob did not

respond in faith to God’s grace, and did this in full view of his sons, what he was delivered from has now

been perpetrated on one of the nations he was called to help deliver! And notice that Jacob does not

bemoan the fate of the Shechemites so much as he declares his fear of his own annihilation!

Note the next verse before I continue:

31 But they replied, “Should he have treated our sister like a prostitute?”

Have you noticed how many times forced, or at least involuntary sexual relations has come up in

this book?

1. Sarai in Egypt

2. Hagar with Abraham

3. Lot’s daughters offered to the men of Sodom

4. Lot with his daughters

5. Jacob and Leah

6. Jacob and Bilhah

7. Jacob and Zilpah

8. Jacob “hired” by Leah

9. Shechem and Dinah

If she was treated like a prostitute, it may have been sown even before Jacob “pitched his tent

toward Shechem”. This event will, most assuredly, produce many echoes in the years to come.


(Concerning Genesis 35)


1 Then God said to Jacob, “Go up to Bethel and settle there, and build an altar there to God, who

appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau.”

I believe the Lord is saying here, “You’re in serious trouble with these Canaanites, Jacob. Build an

altar to Me, the Real God who appeared to you when you’d had no personal encounters with Me. I Am the

God of Bethel and I was trying to show you that I was surrounding you because I had chosen you from birth.

I am not “God, the God of Israel [Struggler with God]”, which god is really yourself. You have lost some

important opportunities, but I will to keep you alive for my Name’s sake, so consecrate yourself so I can.”

2 So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods you

have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes.

[Jacob has apparently known about the “gods” for some time, but he’s just now dealing with them.]

3 Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build an altar to God, who answered me in the

day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.”

[And the Lord had indeed been with Him, but it has beenin spite of Jacob rather that because of


4 So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods they had and the rings in their ears, and Jacob buried them

under the oak at Shechem.

5 Then they set out, and the terror of God fell upon the towns all around them so that no one

pursued them.

This was a full-fledge miracle of God. It’s reminiscent of God’s appearance to Laban as he was

closing in on the fleeing Jacob, with murder in his heart. Jacob is again given plenty of reason to trust the

Lord, but his best opportunities to walk in faith are now past.

6 Jacob and all the people with him came to Luz (that is, Bethel) in the land of Canaan.

7 There he built an altar, and he called the place El Bethel, because it was there that God revealed

himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother.

8 Now Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died and was buried under the oak below Bethel. So it was

named Allon Bacuth.

9 After Jacob returned from Paddan Aram, God appeared to him again and blessed him.

10 God said to him, “Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will
be Israel.” So he named him Israel.

11 And God said to him, “I am God Almighty; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a

community of nations will come from you, and kings will come from your body.

12 The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your

descendants after you.”

13 Then God went up from him at the place where he had talked with him.

14 Jacob set up a stone pillar at the place where God had talked with him, and he poured out a drink offering

on it; he also poured oil on it.

15 Jacob called the place where God had talked with him Bethel.

My perspective of what we see here is that God has come to Jacob:

1. Confirming that He is with Jacob

2. Implying that He is the God of Bethel and not “God, the God of Israel”

3. Confirming that He will maintain His covenant with Him, multiplying Jacob’s descendants

4. Confirming that his name is now “Israel”. I don’t think this is good news. I think it pains God to speak it

as it will impact God’s relationship with his seed forever.

16 Then they moved on from Bethel. While they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel began to

give birth and had great difficulty.

17 And as she was having great difficulty in childbirth, the midwife said to her, “Don’t be afraid, for you

have another son.”

18 As she breathed her last–for she was dying–she named her son Ben-Oni [which means, “son of sorrow”].

But his father named him Benjamin.

19 So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).

20 Over her tomb Jacob set up a pillar, and to this day that pillar marks Rachel’s tomb.

Surely no one believes Rachel’s death is without meaning. She is the first in the patriarchal family

to find an early grave. I believe she loved God’s gifts more than she loved God. Even when she did bear her

first natural child, instead of giving thanks or praise for him, she named him “Joseph”, meaning “give me
another one quick”, (my translation). She chose the witchcraft of mandrakes over relationship with the

bridegroom. She clung to her fathers idols to the death.

Jesus said we must “hate” our loved ones, to love Him, (Luke 14:25-27), and yet He is the very one who

showed us the meaning of loving them. Jacob loved Rachel more than he loved the Lord, and refused to

entrust her to God, insisting on protecting her himself. He protected her from Laban by sneaking off from

Laban’s house while he was gone, thus enabling her to steal her fathers idols. He protected her from Esau by

placing her and Joseph in the rear of his “camp” as Esau approached. Is it true that if you save your life you

will lose it? But Esau did not kill Rachel, did he?

The Apostle Matthew, who lived twenty centuries after Jacob, quotes something a prophet had said five

centuries prior to his own day. Think about that. Here is the passage to which I refer:

Matthew 2:

17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

18 “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing

to be comforted, because they are no more.”

What did Jeremiah know, five centuries before Christ and fifteen centuries after Rachel? I doubt he

knew all he knew. What he spoke was that something was still suspended in the Spirit in his day, something

as yet unreaped and therefore not understood. Matthew says, by the Infallible Spirit of God, that it applied to the

slaughter of the babes of Bethlehem in his own day. Jacob had “saved” Rachel from Esau, only to see her

lost on the way to Bethlehem.

Did you ever think of what Esau felt when, after God had somehow managed to soften his heart

toward his deceitful brother, and he had truly and tearfully welcomed him back … did you ever think what

Esau felt when he realized Jacob was not following him to Seir at all, as he had promised? Maybe he worried that

something had happened to him, and thought that he should have made Jacob let him leave some of his men

with him. Do you imagine he sent men to find his brother, and did they come back with word that he and his

family were right outside the now smoldering ruins of Shechem?

Do you remember that, five centuries after Jacob and Esau died, when the nation of Israel

wandered in the desert between Egypt and Canaan, the Edomites refused believe the Israelites would keep

their word and take a certain harmless route through their country? (Numbers 20:14-21) I wonder why?

Did you know that Herod, the mad, demonized, anti-Christ slaughterer of infants, was an “Edomite”,

that is, a descendant of Esau? So a son of Esau slaughtered the “children of Rachel”, prophetically speaking, and in

Bethlehem at that. When Rachel died she was on the way to Bethlehem. Am I saying that what Herod did was a righteous

act of justice? Hardly. But I believe that somehow sins “echo” across generations, and the thing Jacob sowed as the federal

head of Israel is awesome, and it echoes down to our day. He “saved” Rachel from Esau by his own hand. Then, when God

showed him that He Himself had changed Esau’s heart as profoundly as He had, and he still refused to trust God, something

really heavy was stored up in the Spirit. Somehow it resulted in dead baby boys, truly “sons of sorrow” scattered throughout

the streets of Bethlehem. God help us to understand all it means for our day before the “time of Jacob’s trouble” finally


21 Israel moved on again and pitched his tent beyond Migdal Eder.

22 While Israel was living in that region, Reuben went in and slept with his father’s concubine Bilhah, and

Israel heard of it. Jacob had twelve sons:

This is another verse most of us would like to forget. This was not an act of sexual lust. He, like

Adam, and his immediate father Jacob, was trying to secure by his own strength a position he had by birth.

He was trying to claim the rights of firstborn, the right to take his fathers place. It would seem his father

hadn’t taught him much about how not to get a blessing. This is not mentioned again in the Scriptures till

Jacob gives his deathbed “blessings” [read “pronouncements] to his sons. We know by what Jacob said then

that by trying to save his life in this area, Reuben lost it.


(Concerning Genesis 37)

We have now come to final leg of our story which begins with a most remarkable chapter. Notice

the first verse:

1 Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan.

Jacob has come to live, we would say, where his father never left. One of the victories of Abraham

was to walk in enough wisdom and prophetic insight to direct that his son Isaac was not to leave the land

looking for a bride. (Genesis 24: 5-9) As we said before, because of Isaac’s favoritism of Esau, Jacob was compelled

to leave the land and go to Paddan Aram. This journey has cost Jacob a lot, but it will cost his seed even more.

2 This is the account of Jacob. Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his

brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad

report about them.

The account of my life, whether I like it or not, will be my children. The King James Version begins this verse by saying:

“These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph …”

The story we are about to read, which might be called “Joseph’s Story”, is what Jacob in one sense

“generated”. His life generated Joseph, his “fair-haired boy”, but it also generated half-siblings who were

very much in fear and anger toward Joseph, each other, and most likely, toward God as well.

3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old

age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him.

4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not

speak a kind word to him.

The man who knew what it was to not be the father’s favorite now has eleven sons trying to choke

down the same bitter pill.

5 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more.

No matter how Joseph had told this dream, his brothers would have resented it. It is my opinion that

this text implies that the way he told it gave them a little extra temptation to be bitter. I also believe there is a

very subtle implication that even this small sin brought on some sowing and reaping. If this is right, he told two dreams

in a somewhat overeager manner to eleven brothers. (I going to call that 22 “dream/brother units”?) Then he was separated

from them for twenty-two years! There is an obvious connection here in the realm of sowing and reaping. But let me

be clear about this: even if I’m right about this seventeen year old’s offense, this seems pretty small to me compared to some

things I know I’ve done since I turned 37!

6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had:

7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright,

while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”

8 His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated

him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.

9 Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and

this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”

10 When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream

you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?”

11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.

It didn’t take a really strong prophetic gift to get the drift of these two dreams. His brothers

understood the implications right away. What they didn’t see was the applications of the dreams.

The first dream is “of earth, earthy”. It concerns events as real and temporal as a hot, dusty wheat

field at harvest. Joseph will remember this dream and it will guide his steps as he decides not to reveal

himself to his brothers prematurely. It will steel his resolve not to take vindication before God has brought

all eleven brothers to Egypt. The second dream is “ …of heaven, heavenly”. It seems a little strange because

Rachel, Joseph’s mother, is dead! Jesus, apparently speaking of the Judgment Seat, said he would make

certain persons come before the Philadelphians and, “ …fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have

loved you.” (Rev 3:9) On earth Joseph’s brothers fell before him, but they always suspected his motives,

believing to the end that he might kill them if he got the chance (see Genesis 50:15-21). Joseph certainly received a

significant earthly vindication from them, but it will be nothing compared to his eternal and heavenly vindication,

where no tongue flatters or patronizes. His brothers and his parents will praise God forever for “THE Father’s” special

and righteous love for Joseph, who was the agent of their redemption.

12 Now his brothers had gone to graze their father’s flocks near Shechem,

13 and Israel said to Joseph, “As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I

am going to send you to them.” “Very well,” he replied.

14 So he said to him, “Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring word

back to me.” Then he sent him off from the Valley of Hebron. When Joseph arrived at Shechem …

If you read the above out loud, you’ll notice the word “Shechem” is used three times. It sounds

almost redundant … or like Someone is trying to drop a hint! You’ll see this better later, but the Lord is

implying that there is a reaping of past sins here. Why is Jacob a little extra nervous about the boys being

camped near “Shechem”? I think he fears the reaping of a sin his boys committed years before, a sin he, by his

own weakness at Peniel, had tempted them to commit. So the sins of his past are reaching out to nudge

events along with the result that this will be the last time Jacob will see his favorite son for 22 years!

15 a man found him wandering around in the fields and asked him, “What are you looking for?”

16 He replied, “I’m looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they are grazing their flocks?”

17 “They have moved on from here,” the man answered. “I heard them say, `Let’s go to Dothan.'” So

Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan.

I believe the Holy Spirit is showing us something in the above passage I call “Divine Tweaking”.

Sins are being reaped and are carrying a process forward. Also, we now get to see God’s Hand causing:

1. Joseph, and

2. his brothers, and

3. a conveniently dry cistern, and

4. a certain Ishmaelite caravan

to intersect at the right time. It would have been an easy thing for the Lord to have put the Ishmaelites and a

dry cistern all in Shechem to start with. Joseph didn’t just “happen” to miss his brothers in Dothan. He missed them because

God wanted to have these events written down so that “we upon whom the end of the ages have come” would get

to see that the reaping of past sin carries the events of life forward, but also God’s Sovereign “adjusts” things

to work out His will in the earth. We are allowed to see the generational curse working itself out, and at the same time we see

God’s Hand “tweaking” the circumstances to move things around according to His will.

18 But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.

19 “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other.

20 “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal

devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”

21 When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. “Let’s not take his life,” he said.

22 “Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the desert, but don’t lay a hand on him.”

Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father.

Jacob’s giving Joseph the “richly ornamented robe” was sin. But this chapter is replete with

examples of God using men’s sin to control events as deftly as an artist uses a brush. The robe provided a

way to positively identify Joseph in the distance so they would have time to work out their plan the way God


23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe–the richly ornamented robe he

was wearing–

24 and they took him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it.

25 As they sat down to eat their meal …

[This sounds just a bit cold-hearted, considering that Joseph is doubtless screaming for mercy, don’t

you think? ]

… they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with

spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt.

26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood?

27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our

own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed.

28 So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold
him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.

There is something here that is subtle, but it becomes essential to understand in the next

chapter. Judah is fourth in line for the rights of firstborn, so it would seem that this would be a non-issue

for him, but it’s not. When Jacob gives his “blessings” (pronouncements) over his sons in Genesis 49,

we will be clued in on some things these boys are certainly already aware of at the point we are now

considering. Reuben, the firstborn, had disqualified himself for the rights of firstborn by being afraid he

wouldn’t receive them. His fear drove him to try to claim his rights by sleeping with his father’s wife,

Bilhah. (Remember, her name means “fear”. Rachel also used Bilhah’s sexuality because of her fears.)

Simeon and Levi, Jacob’s second and third sons, disqualified themselves for the rights of firstborn at

Shechem. This will be plain when we read their “blessings” in chapter 49. Though no one is officially

out of this race as yet, Judah, a dark horse in the beginning, suddenly is the front runner! The only fly in

this ointment for Judah is Joseph. It looks like the old man is liable to dub him “firstborn”. When Judah

sees the approaching caravan, he hears the ring of a cash register! He does want to avoid bloodshed,

(something Reuben had brought up), but in addition to that, he has a chance to gain two shekels of silver

(twenty shekels will be divided among ten brothers). More significantly, he is after two portions, for a

double portion of inheritance went with the rights of firstborn!

29 When Reuben returned to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not there, he tore his clothes.

30 He went back to his brothers and said, “The boy isn’t there! Where can I turn now?”

Reuben, as the eldest, and “acting firstborn”, knows he is responsible for what is happening away

from home. He knows his fear has caused him to miss his chance to withstand his brothers and rescue the

boy. I picture him sincerely grieving for Joseph, and one of his brothers walking up and throwing two

shekels at his feet, his reward for his unwilling part in their treachery.

31 Then they got Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood.

32 They took the ornamented robe back to their father and said, “We found this. Examine it to see

whether it is your son’s robe.”

They resented the robe, but especially notice the words, “ … your son’s …”. They also resented that

Jacob seemed to speak of Joseph, (and later Benjamin), as though he was his only begotten. * They were

being tempted unfairly by their father’s favoritism. But a later “son of Joseph” would also be resented for a

true and righteous claim to be The Father’s Only Son. He too would be stripped and his body placed in a

hole in the earth. And a thing often begets a similar thing, as we have already seen.

33 He recognized it and said, “It is my son’s robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has

surely been torn to pieces.”

34 Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days.

35 All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “in

mourning will I go down to the grave to my son.” So his father wept for him.

Day by sorrowful day, as Jacob’s grief seemed to know no limit, his sons came to be gripped by a

suffocating guilt for what they had done. Judah’s particular share of guilt was very grievous, as we will soon

see. He will soon be able to bear it no longer and will find it necessary to leave his father’s home. He will be leaving

home because of his struggle for the rights of firstborn, which was the same reason his father had taken a trip to

Paddan Aram thirty-one years earlier.

36 Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of

the guard.

Did you notice that the “Ishmaelites” are here called “Midianites”? They were probably children of

Ishmael living in the land of Midian, much as “Asian American” denotes both race and country. So what? I

believe the Lord here again alludes to the role of past sins being instrumental in carrying the first of many

Israelites to Egypt. If what I have explained earlier is accurate, there would have been no Ishmael without

Hagar the Egyptian handmaid. Egyptian handmaids were part of the price Pharaoh paid Abram for “his

sister” Sarai. Thus, the fruit of sin in Egypt hauls Joseph back to Egypt. Also, God “tweaks” things, using

many things that have nothing to do with sin to adjust events according to His will. Midian was also a son of

Abraham, born to him after Sarah’s death by Keturah. The conception of Midian can be presumed to have nothing

to do with anyone’s sin. Thus we see dark forces and light, working together in the hands of an Almighty Sovereign to

bring Abram’s grandchildren back to the smelting furnace of Egypt, where they will get to decide who they


* See Genesis 37: 33, 35; 42:38; 44:27; note the change in 45: 9, 28;


(Concerning Genesis 38)

We have now come to a chapter I once greatly disliked, but I can now say that it is my favorite

chapter in Genesis. I believe it is the turning point of the book. Read with me, carefully and reverently:

1 At that time, Judah left his brothers and went down to stay with a man of Adullam named Hirah.

2 There Judah met the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua. He married her and lay with her;

3 she became pregnant and gave birth to a son, who was named Er.

4 She conceived again and gave birth to a son and named him Onan.

5 She gave birth to still another son and named him Shelah. It was at Kezib that she gave birth to him.

We have already commented on why Judah is here, and how it compares to Jacob being in Paddan

Aram. This sub-plot will develop more quickly than Jacob’s did in his uncle’s house.

6 Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar.

7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the LORD’s sight; so the LORD put him to death.

We have no idea what form this wickedness took, but we do know:

A. God is perfectly just.

B. So far, there has been a strong pattern in our story of sons walking in the unrepented sins (generational

curses) of their fathers.

C. Judah is fleeing from God because of his treachery against Joseph.

D. When we see that word, “firstborn”, we need to listen up!


8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Lie with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to

produce offspring for your brother.”

The son designated “firstborn” received a double portion. If a man had, say, three sons, at his death

his property was divided four ways and the firstborn would receive two quarters, (half), and the other two a

quarter each. So Judah is asking Onan to “resurrect” (for inheritance purposes) his dead brother; that is,

conceive and raise a son by Tamar to take Er’s place. He’s asking him to resurrect a dead brother, at his own

considerable expense, (for he would have to raise any daughters that impeded this process of trying to

produce a son). This son/ “older brother” (“Er Junior”) born to Onan and Tamar would not only be a dead

expense, he would be inheriting half of Judah’s property. The thought may have crossed Onan’s mind that,

after all, “Er Senior” was so evil the Lord Himself had judged him! Why should he sacrifice to “restore” a

sinful brother? On the other hand, if Onan could make it appear that Tamar was barren, he himself would be

reckoned the oldest of Judah’s two living sons, and would not only avoid a needless expense, he would

inherit two thirds of Judah’s estate , instead of only a measly quarter!

Judah was asking his son to do the direct opposite of what he himself had done. For two

shekels and a shot at being firstborn, he had not “resurrected his brother, he had effectively murdered him!

He was saying to his sons, “Don’t do as I did, do as I say”, which never works. I’m not saying I think Judah’s

sons knew about what happened to their Uncle Joseph. The whole point of this book is that children get visited

strongly with whatever sins their parents don’t overcome, which is the essence of the generational curse. The same

Judah that betrayed Joseph is raising these boys. The fruit of his life is that one has already died for his wickedness,

and another is being sorely tempted to commit a sin that will get him killed as well!

9 But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so whenever he lay with his brother’s wife, he spilled

his semen on the ground to keep from producing offspring for his brother.

10 What he did was wicked in the LORD’s sight; so he put him to death also.

We know today that the Lord had predestined that Christ would have the blood of both Judah and

Tamar in His veins. When Onan “spilled his semen on the ground” he was doing all in his power to keep

those genes apart! He was willing to imply that Tamar was barren, and that “God has kept her from having

children”. Sound familiar? (Remember what Rachel said to Jacob?) And he was doing this possibly

rationalizing that he was justified in this and doing “God a service”, for God Himself had killed Er. But the

real reason in his heart, that is, the “mark” on his mind, was his desire for two-thirds of Judah’s property. Two-

thirds, (that’s 66.6 %), is so much more than a mere 25%! Yes, he was “anti” the blood of Christ for the sake

of 0.666 of the property of Judah!

As distasteful as this subject may be, it is important to recognize that Jacob attempted to deceitfully control

goat semen with peeled tree limbs. His purpose was to unfairly shift wealth from his father-in-law to himself. His grandson

is taking this spirit to its logical, and deadly, conclusion. Whatever sins you give in to will have a tendency to have “visiting

rights” with your offspring.

Let me recap: Onan is doing this at least partly because his father Judah had sown selfishness and and deceit. Judah

had done so, at least partly because his father had sown so much selfishness and deceit, part of which was making nanny

goats face peeled tree limbs.

11 Judah then said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Live as a widow in your father’s house until my son

Shelah grows up.” For he thought, “He may die too, just like his brothers.” So Tamar went to live in her

father’s house.

A deception is here planned against Tamar by Judah, son of Jacob (“he deceives”). Judah was

sinned against by his father. Then he sinned against his son Onan. Onan deceptively sins against Tamar and

his father, implying that Tamar is barren. God kills Onan. Judah believes Tamar not only is under a curse of

barrenness, he believes the has caused the death of his two oldest sons. But Judah is responsible for their

deaths, and Onan, whom Judah had tempted, is responsible for Tamar appearing to be kept by God from

having children! And the reason Judah is in this country, married to this woman, having these sons, is that he

believes he has killed the son of a woman who was angry at God because of a few years of infertility. A

woman who, even after God gave her a son, at once was asking for another and yet was not trusting the Lord at all.

12 After a long time Judah’s wife, the daughter of Shua, died.

[She surely died a young woman, for the whole time of Joseph’s separation from his family was only 22 years. Her

sons necessarily died in their late teens.]

When Judah had recovered from his grief, he went up to Timnah, to the men who were shearing his sheep,

and his friend Hirah the Adullamite went with him.

13 When Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is on his way to Timnah to shear his sheep,”

14 she took off her widow’s clothes, covered herself with a veil to disguise herself, and then sat down at the

entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that, though Shelah had now grown up, she

had not been given to him as his wife.

[The fact that she was so confident of how Judah would react to a woman dressed as a prostitute speaks volumes

about what she thought of Judah’s character.]

15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face.

16 Not realizing that she was his daughter-in-law, he went over to her by the roadside and said, “Come now,

let me sleep with you.” “And what will you give me to sleep with you?” she asked.

17 “I’ll send you a young goat from my flock,” he said. “Will you give me something as a pledge until you

send it?” she asked.

18 He said, “What pledge should I give you?” “Your seal and its cord, and the staff in your hand,” she

answered. So he gave them to her and slept with her, and she became pregnant by him.

19 After she left, she took off her veil and put on her widow’s clothes again.

20 Meanwhile Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite in order to get his pledge back from

the woman, but he did not find her.

21 He asked the men who lived there, “Where is the shrine prostitute who was beside the road at Enaim?”

“There hasn’t been any shrine prostitute here,” they said.

22 So he went back to Judah and said, “I didn’t find her. Besides, the men who lived there said, `There hasn’t

been any shrine prostitute here.'”

23 Then Judah said, “Let her keep what she has, or we will become a laughingstock. After all, I did send her

this young goat, but you didn’t find her.”

It is very apparent that she did this for neither gain, nor sexual gratification, but so that she could conceive a

child. This makes a strange text for a sermon on “faith”, but for a woman who has a reputation of being “barren”,

she seems pretty sure her efforts will be rewarded! How could a childless woman, twice widowed have

“conceived” such a plan. Something about the way she asked for Judah’s seal and staff tells me this girl had

a plan for exactly what she was going to do after she conceived. And this plan was built around the assumption that

God would grant that she could conceive in one night with a man to whom she was not married. A man

whom she knew to be responsible for keeping her from being married.

She who had been sinned against by a man manipulating semen to his on advantage and to her disadvantage, trusts

absolutely that the God who controls everything will control the events of this night and see that she is impregnated in one


She knew that she and God alone knew what Onan had done. Had she cried out in faith to the Only One who could

deliver her from Onan’s cruel, self-serving avarice? Did she then see God dramatically vindicate her by striking him dead?

She was sinned against by Onan, and then saw him judged for the sin his father Judah had tempted him to commit…

who was tempted by Jacob’s unfairness… who was tempted by Isaac’s cowardly cry that his wife was his sister… who was

having the sins of his father Abraham “visited” on him… who was tempted because he thought he had to go to Egypt… who

had to go to Egypt because he disobeyed God and took Lot with him to Canaan.

Rachel said that God had “vindicated” her when her handmaid Bilhah bore a son. Certainly “God

did it”, but He did not justify or “vindicate” her faithless action by doing so. Regardless of the strange

circumstances surrounding this conception, I believe God was indeed “vindicating” Tamar. She, a stranger to

the Covenant, is proved more righteous than her husband’s family, as Judah will soon attest.

24 About three months later Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar is guilty of prostitution, and as a

result she is now pregnant.” Judah said, “Bring her out and have her burned to death!”

Why did they say she was guilty of prostitution, instead of the lesser crime of fornication? I strongly

believe she waited out the three months till it looked like she was “caught” by the fact she was now

“showing”, and then brazenly told them she had committed “prostitution”! She knew full well they would run

to Judah with the news! And knowing him inside and out, playing him like a fish, she was sure of what his

reaction would be to this situation as well!

25 As she was being brought out, she sent a message to her father-in-law. “I am pregnant by the man who

owns these,” she said. And she added, “See if you recognize whose seal and cord and staff these are.”

This is one classy, cool, courageous lady! She holds her trump card till the last second. Thus, she

elicits a reaction in Judah that changes the history of Heaven and Earth!

26 Judah recognized them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son

Shelah.” And he did not sleep with her again.

I believe it was at this point that Judah recognized that he was almost responsible for the deaths of

Tamar and her (his!) child (children, there were twins)! I believe God broke his heart enough for him to see

his measure of responsibility for the “death” of Joseph, and the deaths of his own sons, and possibly his

beloved wife, even as Jacob had been partially responsible for the death of his most beloved wife. I believe

this is where a work was wrought in Judah that would make him agree with the second thief on the cross, and

say, in effect: “I’m getting what my deeds deserve, here, and also back home in Dad’s camp. I don’t relish

watching my father trying to grieve himself and his sons to death, but I deserve much worse than that. I’m

going home!” And we will see him embrace the cross like it was his dearest friend after today. And when he

and Joseph both “trust the Lord to protect and provide, even if it seems He won’t”, the Battle of Genesis

turns. Their agreement gives God his first true beachhead in a planet groaning with the carnage of Adam’s


There are two levels to embracing the Disciple’s Cross. The first has to do with refusing to resent

suffering for the effects of one’s own sin. The second is becoming willing to suffer for the effects of a

brother’s sin. Judah had asked Onan to pay for the “restoration” of his brother Er, whom God had struck

down. Onan failed the challenge. We will see Judah become willing to suffer, not only for his past sins, but

for the sins of a bratty kid brother who appears to be a thief.

Notice the: “And he did not sleep with her again.” I believe this was both his and her decision.

Because of the grace shown them in the midst of great sin, I believe they decided to leave a legacy that

would say, “Don’t let grace become an excuse for sensual indulgence”. They give up a right to sexual

gratification in marriage. More, instead of clutching and grabbing to build a family as so many of their tribe

had done, they sacrificed this ambition to the Lord, and this before they knew she was carrying twin boys. Is

it not amazing, that from only three children – Judah’s surviving son Shelah, and the twin boys about to be

born – Judah will come to be the largest tribe in Israel? What Judah died to, he received back in spades!

27 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb.

28 As she was giving birth, one of them put out his hand; so the midwife took a scarlet thread and tied it on

his wrist and said, “This one came out first.”

29 But when he drew back his hand, his brother came out, and she said, “So this is how you have broken out!

“And he was named Perez.

30 Then his brother, who had the scarlet thread on his wrist, came out and he was given the name Zerah.

It would seem the Lord is making wry comment about the argument about who is firstborn! And

Perez, who is counted Tamar’s second born, becomes the ancestor of the Second Adam, the Offspring who

will bless the whole earth.

Now skip ahead with me to Jacob’s deathbed and listen to what he prophesies over Judah:

Genesis 49:

8 “Judah, your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons

will bow down to you.

[Sound familiar? Isn’t there an amazing resemblance here to the promises given Joseph in his


9 You ar e a lion’s cub, O Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down,

like a lioness–who dares to rouse him?

[When Judah “returned” to his father’s camp in “weakness” from Adullam, he returned in an

awesome meekness, strength in submission. “Like a lion he … lies down.”]

10 The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to

whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his…

Where had Judah’s staff been? Why is it now called a “scepter”? Having received his staff back

from Tamar the way he did, he is a changed man! In his humility, he is fit to rule. A thousand years from this

day a shepherd boy of his stock will be anointed king of Israel. He will be sifted and tried in the extreme

before he takes the scepter, but he will triumph in the end. And a thousand years after David, his Greater

Son, having been supremely tested, will sit down at the Right Hand of all Authority and Power, and wait for

His enemies to be made a footstool for His Feet. And you, dear reader, are granted the opportunity to have a

part in making that happen!


(Concerning Genesis 39)

1 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the

captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.

The first Israelite to enter Egypt did so as a slave, not fundamentally because of his own sin, but as

a very real, though indirect result of his great-grandfather’s trip there four generations before. The fourth

generation of Israelites in Egypt will also be slaves.

2 The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master.

3 When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he


4 Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and

he entrusted to his care everything he owned.

There are some interesting pairs in our story. Joseph is now the number two man in Potiphar’s

house. He was one of Rachel’s two sons and the number two man in his father’s home … till he had two

dreams. Having been betrayed by Judah for two shekels and two portions of inheritance, he will become the

number two man in prison, where he will correctly handle two dreams. This act of righteousness will not

extricate him from the prison; he will have to wait two more years. Correctly handling the Word of Truth in

Pharaoh’s two dreams will deliver him from imprisonment and make him the number two man in the Egypt.

Then he will have two sons. The process of reunion with his brothers will require one of them to stay with

him in Egypt, making two of them there. The reunion will occur after twenty-two years of separation, when the

second half of Pharoah’s dreams are two years into their fulfillment and Judah unknowingly “seconds” Joseph’s

faith by standing in the gap for Benjamin. I’m not sure of all the reasons for these pairs, but I believe part of it is

the Spirit’s emphasis on the fact that “the third and fourth generations”, (the last two of the four), are what is now

being considered. And Joseph and his brothers are now “at bat”, and they represent the second of the two generations

being emphasized.

5 From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the LORD blessed the

household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the LORD was on everything Potiphar had,

both in the house and in the field.

Having read the above verses concerning Joseph in Potiphar’s house, remember “the blessing” and

its immediate history. Jacob fled his home because of his sin and Joseph was carried away from his home,

primarily because of the sins of others. Laban found that the Lord greatly blessed his household because of

Jacob. Potiphar has the same experience (“the blessing of the Lord”) when Joseph enters his household. Jacob’s

response to God’s grace on his life was refusing to trust the Lord. Joseph will gratefully recognize the

grace he’s given as something God given and will respond by being extremely faithful. God kept blessing Jacob in

spite of his unfaithfulness, and this served to harden his heart further. Joseph will go to prison as his immediate

reward for faithfulness, which process will make him able to stand the pressure of standing in the gap to

deliver his people! The real “blessing” of God that is really a blessing cannot be stolen, nor in one sense can

it even be given by a man. It comes as a by-product of a living, dynamic trust/relationship with a God Who Is


6 So he left in Joseph’s care everything he had; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with

anything except the food he ate. Now Joseph was well-built and handsome,

There is something subtle implied here. Isaac, because of his focus on the “food he ate”, and the

spiritual passiveness that accompanied that sin, lost the “blessing” of having Jacob in his house. Isaac also sinned

by not actively interceding for Jacob to protect him from Esau, even as Abraham had not interceded in the

conflict between Sarai and Hagar, and later, between Isaac and Ishmael. Potiphar will lose Joseph, and his

accompanying blessing, because of a similar spiritual passiveness toward seeing justice done in regard to his wife’s

accusation. Laban actively manipulated circumstances thinking it didn’t matter how he kept his “lucky charm son-in-law”

around, just so long as he kept him. Though Potiphar is not manipulating circumstances to try to use Joseph, the Blessings of

Yahweh will not remain forever with a man who only basks in His benefits. If one is not “Godded by God”, he will not long

be able to retain the by-products of God’s Presence

But the main emphasis in the Spirit here is that Jacob committed a sin against Esau that contributed

to his plight, and though he was guilty in this regard, he did not truly humble himself, saying, “I’m getting

what my deeds deserve”. Joseph on the other hand, is in the “enviable” situation of suffering because of the

sins of others. He will embrace nobly a cross he does not deserve. His father refused to embrace a cross he did

deserve. The destiny of the children of Abraham is being forged by the response of the “third and fourth

generations”, (Jacob and his sons), to the visitation of the sins of their fathers Abraham and Isaac.

We are in the same situation this side of the “Blood of His Cross”. Note these verses from 1 Peter

chapter two:

19 For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of


20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for

doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.

21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow

in his steps.

Our Father watches continually the response of our hearts to every painful situation we encounter.

But back to our story:

7 and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”

8 But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the

house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care.

9 No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because

you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?”

This is pretty impressive when you consider that the Ten Commandments had not been written on

stone at this point. And further, he recognizes that adultery, a “victimless crime”, as it is popularly called today,

is first and foremost a “sin against God”. He’s ahead of many of us 4000 years later.

10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.

11 One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside.

12 She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran

out of the house.

13 When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house,

14 she called her household servants. “Look,” she said to them, “this Hebrew has been brought to us to make

sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed.

15 When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”

16 She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home.

Do you remember that Jacob used his brother Esau’s clothes to deceive his father and ultimately cause his own

suffering? Joseph’s clothes are used by both his brothers and Mrs. Potiphar to cause him to suffer innocently.

17 Then she told him this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me.

18 But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”

Jacob lied. Joseph was lied against. Joseph reaps what Jacob had sown.

In chapter sixteen we listed nine times involuntary sexual relations has come up in our story. In

every case it was the result of a failure to trust God by one of His people. In this scene we find Joseph being

tempted as sorely as a man can be tempted. A boy in his late teens has the strongest sexual appetite a human

being can experience. Add to this the loneliness he must have known, and the temptation to be bitter and take

solace where it could be found. Finally, he was possibly being threatened with being charged with rape if he

would not consent to simply “serve” the needs of his mistress. The love for God he showed in resisting her

deserves more than passing notice. Under these circumstances, this act of faith may well be equal to

Abraham’s triumph on Mount Moriah!

Another consideration that begs to be made is how this drama contrasts with Judah’s tragedy in the

previous chapter. Tamar did not have to twist Judah’s arm to get him to consort with her as a supposed

“prostitute”. But our Awesome God is going to twist together the faiths of the virginal Joseph and the

broken-hearted Judah, former consort of prostitutes, and make with these two cords a lifeline with which He

will rescue the people of God.

19 When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned

with anger.

20 Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined. But

while Joseph was there in the prison,

[Indeed, as the Apostle Paul after him, Joseph was “The King’s” prisoner!]

21 the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.

22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all

that was done there.

23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the LORD was with Joseph and

gave him success in whatever he did.

As I said, it’s possible that Joseph may have sinned a small sin in provoking his brothers with an

attitude about his coat, his dreams, or his favored position. If he did, he saw his small sin get him in a lot of

trouble. But it is apparent from the narrative in the first part of this chapter that he had not a whit of

bitterness or self pity because of what he had reaped. In other words, he has become willing to suffer the

consequences of his own sin without resentment. This is the first level of the Disciple’s Cross. The second

level is being willing to suffer the consequences of the sins of others without resentment or anger toward

them or the Sovereign Lord who permitted the suffering. The latter part of this chapter shows Joseph willing

to embrace even this second level cross. Because of the sins of others, he will suffer for doing the right thing.

This is what will qualify him to be the redeemer of his brothers and the savior of his whole family.


(Concerning Genesis 40)

1 Some time later, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their master, the king of Egypt.

2 Pharaoh was angry with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker,

3 and put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same prison where Joseph was


4 The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them. After they had been in custody for

some time,

5 each of the two men–the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison–had

a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.

6 When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected.

7 So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, “Why are your faces

so sad today?”

8 “We both had dreams,” they answered, “but there is no one to interpret them.” Then Joseph said to them,

“Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.”

The most important key to the understanding of dreams is a continual acknowledgment that

interpretations are God’s and He gives them one at a time at His discretion. There is something about dreams

that makes it a very tempting to want to be the “interpreter of dreams” and the holder of esoteric knowledge.

Contrariwise, abject humility about this ministry is the key to success in it.

9 So the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream. He said to him, “In my dream I saw a vine in front of me,

10 and on the vine were three branches. As soon as it budded, it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into


11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup and put the cup in

his hand.”

12 “This is what it means,” Joseph said to him. “The three branches are three days.

13 Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put

Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer.

14 But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get

me out of this prison.

15 For I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve

being put in a dungeon.”

16 When the chief baker saw that Joseph had given a favorable interpretation, he said to Joseph, “I too had a

dream: On my head were three baskets of bread.

17 In the top basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating them out of the

basket on my head.”

18 “This is what it means,” Joseph said. “The three baskets are three days.

19 Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and hang you on a tree. And the birds will eat away

your flesh.”

The first of these two dreams has to do with natural life and exaltation; the second with death. The

first of Joseph’s two dreams dealt with his exaltation in the natural world; the second with an exaltation that

could not occur till after Joseph and his family were dead, for his deceased mother played a key role in it. At

this point in time, Joseph’s brothers think that his dreams were supposed to mean he would be exalted to the right

hand of their father, but they believe the dreams actually spelled the doom of “that dreamer”.

20 Now the third day was Pharaoh’s birthday, and he gave a feast for all his officials. He lifted up the heads

of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker in the presence of his officials:

21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, so that he once again put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand,

22 but he hanged the chief baker, just as Joseph had said to them in his interpretation.

23 The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.

If Joseph sinned in how he handled his own two dreams, what befell him shortly thereafter was in

some measure the consequences of his sin. As we said in the last chapter, he bore these consequences well,

patiently enduring this first level of the cross. Now he comes to the second level. He is again afforded the

opportunity to correctly handle two dreams. This time he does it without committing any sin, and yet,

because of the sins of others, his faithfulness will be rewarded with two more full years in prison. But even

as the dreams were fulfilled “within three days”, at the beginning of the third year after this event, he will

also be exalted to the throne room of Pharaoh.

The “prison dreams” were not about him, and yet they were, at least the first was, in an overarching

prophetic sense. The cupbearer’s dream concerned a grapevine and an exaltation on a third day. Note the

prophetic blessing spoken over Joseph by his father in Genesis 49:22 –

“Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall.

Joseph is a vine and the fruit of it. He was squeezed severely, and when the sweetest wine came

forth from him, it was received by the “King”. The third day is also relevant, for by my calculations, Joseph

and his brothers were born at the beginning of the third millennium. Of course, “a thousand years are as a

day to the Lord”. Something profound in happening here at the beginning of God’s “third day”. Something

very prophetic of what God will accomplish through the One who called Himself “The Vine”, at the dawn of

God’s fifth day. May we, at the beginning of God’s seventh day, (which is in another sense, a “third day”), rise to the

occasion and fulfill our destiny!


(Concerning Genesis 41)

1 When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile,

We know Joseph was a youth of seventeen years when the incidents with his coat, dreams, and

betrayal befell him. He is thirty years old when he is elevated to Pharaoh’s right hand, (see verse 46) and

thirty-nine at the end of the famine’s second year, when he is restored to his family. Since we know he

interpreted the two “prison dreams” two years previous to his elevation, we know he was twenty-eight at that

time. This means that the mid-point of his twenty-two year separation from his family was when he correctly

handled the word of truth in the dreams God gave the cupbearer and the baker. So there were definitely two

segments of time involved, each eleven years in length. You remember I pointed out that he told two dreams

to eleven brothers and was separated from them for twenty-two years. I heard Mr. Bob Jones say the number

eleven seemed to him to speak of the ministry of a prophet since Joseph was Jacob’s eleventh son. I’ve also

heard that P.I.T. stands for “prophet in training”. This may well be.

Pertinent to the things we are learning, Joseph had to endure an eleven year period of slavery and

imprisonment as a consequence of his family’s sins, and to some degree, his own error in the way he handled

the things given him by his natural father as well as his Heavenly Father. At the end of this eleven years he

was given the opportunity to retrace his steps and handle two dreams wisely. This he executed flawlessly,

and was rewarded with unfaithfulness and neglect by the one he blessed, (the cupbearer). Now he has a

chance to truly suffer without resentment something he was not at all reaping as any consequence of his own

sin. He doesn’t know, that as he faces this test, he is “headed out of the woods”. He doesn’t know the second

eleven year period has begun, the last nine years of which he will spend as Governor of the major world

power of his day. In his embrace of “the second level of the disciple’s cross”, God is qualifying him to

deliver his brothers.

2 when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds.

3 After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the


4 And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.

5 He fell asleep again and had a second dream: Seven heads of grain, healthy and good, were growing on a

single stalk.

6 After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted–thin and scorched by the east wind.

7 The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up; it had been a


8 In the morning his mind was troubled, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told

them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him.

9 Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I am reminded of my shortcomings.

10 Pharaoh was once angry with his servants, and he imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the

captain of the guard.

11 Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.

12 Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams,

and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream.

13 And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other

man was hanged.

14 So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and

changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh.

Joseph, who has been clothed by his father, and then twice stripped (by his brothers and Potiphar’s

wife), is now being clothed again. Pharoah will soon clothe him further. Every step down he endures will be matched by a

corresponding step up.

15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that

when you hear a dream you can interpret it.”

16 “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”

A repetition of what he said to the cupbearer and the baker: “do not interpretations belong to God?”

17 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile,

18 when out of the river there came up seven cows, fat and sleek, and they grazed among the reeds.

19 After them, seven other cows came up–scrawny and very ugly and lean. I had never seen such ugly cows

in all the land of Egypt.

20 The lean, ugly cows ate up the seven fat cows that came up first.

21 But even after they ate them, no one could tell that they had done so; they looked just as ugly as before.

Then I woke up.

22 “In my dreams I also saw seven heads of grain, full and good, growing on a single stalk.

23 After them, seven other heads sprouted–withered and thin and scorched by the east wind.

24 The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven good heads. I told this to the magicians, but none could

explain it to me.”

25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh

what he is about to do.

26 The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads of grain are seven years; it is one and the

same dream.

27 The seven lean, ugly cows that came up afterward are seven years, and so are the seven worthless heads

of grain scorched by the east wind: They are seven years of famine.

28 “It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do.

29 Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt,

30 but seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, and the

famine will ravage the land.

31 The abundance in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe.

32 The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by

God, and God will do it soon.

33 “And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt.

34 Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven

years of abundance.

35 They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the

authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food.

36 This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will

come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine.”

37 The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his officials.

38 So Pharaoh asked them, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God ?”

39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning

and wise as you.

40 You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to

the throne will I be greater than you.”

41 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.”

42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of

fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck.

43 He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and men shouted before him, “Make way !” Thus

he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt.

44 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all


45 Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah and gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of

On, to be his wife. And Joseph went throughout the land of Egypt.

It is no coincidence that, by giving up his “right” to have the wife of Potipher for a moment, he received the daughter of Potiphera permanently!

46 Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out

from Pharaoh’s presence and traveled throughout Egypt.

47 During the seven years of abundance the land produced plentifully.

48 Joseph collected all the food produced in those seven years of abundance in Egypt and stored it in the

cities. In each city he put the food grown in the fields surrounding it.

49 Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea; it was so much that he stopped keeping

records because it was beyond measure.

50 Before the years of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest

of On.

51 Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and

all my father’s household.”

52 The second son he named Ephraim and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my


Two childen was a very small family in Joseph’s clan. But his two sons, like Judah’s three sons, will

indeed be “fruitful”, as Judah and Joseph’s tribes will ultimately become the largest in Israel. Joseph has

forgiven and forgotten the sins against him, (Manasseh), and therefore God is able to make him very fruitful


53 The seven years of abundance in Egypt came to an end,

54 and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in all the other lands, but

in the whole land of Egypt there was food.

55 When all Egypt began to feel the famine, the people cried to Pharaoh for food. Then Pharaoh told all the

Egyptians, “Go to Joseph and do what he tells you.”

56 When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened the storehouses and sold grain to the

Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt.

57 And all the countries came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe in all the


Joseph will later tell his brothers that God planned his coming to Egypt so they could be delivered

from the “natural” famine. But in another even more true sense, this “natural” famine is affecting their whole

world because of the sin of God’s people. The Lord could easily have prevented this famine, but He is using

it, as well as the disasters that befell Joseph, to paint a portrait that will be the salvation of His people Israel, and ultimately,

every nation, from the ultimate famine of sin and death.


(Concerning Genesis 42)

1 When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you just keep looking

at each other?”

2 He continued, “I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, so that

we may live and not die.”

I have a feeling that Jacob is no joy to live with at this point, even though his favorite son has been

gone for over two decades.

3 Then ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt.

This would be the same group that betrayed Joseph, for young Benjamin certainly would have had

no part in what had happened.

4 But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with the others, because he was afraid that harm

might come to him.

Implication: Since the loss of Joseph, Jacob has petted his only remaining son by Rachel even more

than he petted Joseph.

5 So Israel’s sons were among those who went to buy grain, for the famine was in the land of Canaan


Remember that we concluded in chapter one that God squeezed Abram with a famine because he

had brought Lot to the land with him. Because of Abram’s failure in that test, ten of his great-grandsons are

joining their brother down there. They, like Abram, will be faced with a presumed threat from Pharaoh’s


6 Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the one who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph’s

brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground.

Suddenly, in one day, Joseph’s first dream is over 90% fulfilled!

7 As soon as Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke

harshly to them. “Where do you come from?” he asked. “From the land of Canaan,” they replied, “to

buy food.”

8 Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him.

9 Then he remembered his dreams about them and said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see

where our land is unprotected.”

Why does it say “he remembered his dreams about them”? When he remembered them, and saw

Benjamin was missing, he knew he had to interface with God in the complete fulfillment of his dream. He

forthwith hatched a plan that would get all eleven of them down there.

10 “No, my lord,” they answered. “Your servants have come to buy food.

11 We are all the sons of one man. Your servants are honest men, not spies.”

12 “No!” he said to them. “You have come to see where our land is unprotected.”

13 But they replied, “Your servants were twelve brothers, the sons of one man, who lives in the land of

Canaan. The youngest is now with our father, and one is no more.”

14 Joseph said to them, “It is just as I told you: You are spies!

15 And this is how you will be tested: As surely as Pharaoh lives, you will not leave this place unless

your youngest brother comes here.

It is a fruitful practice to pay close attention to vows in the Bible. Notice he did not say “as surely as

God lives!” How “surely” do you think Pharaoh lives? Not much, for he spent his whole life building himself

a crypt! Joseph knew he wasn’t going to keep his brothers in Egypt, for this would not his serve his purpose.

When he spoke this vow, both he and God had their “tongues in cheek”!

16 Send one of your number to get your brother; the rest of you will be kept in prison, so that your

words may be tested to see if you are telling the truth. If you are not, then as surely as Pharaoh lives, you

are spies!”

17 And he put them all in custody for three days.

18 On the third day, Joseph said to them, “Do this and you will live, for I fear God:

19 If you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay here in prison, while the rest of you go and take

grain back for your starving households.

20 But you must bring your youngest brother to me, so that your words may be verified and that you

may not die.” This they proceeded to do.

21 They said to one another, “Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how

distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that’s why this distress

has come upon us.”

22 Reuben replied, “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn’t listen! Now we must

give an accounting for his blood.”

They were acutely aware that they were threatened with slavery in the very land they had sent

Joseph to as a slave.

23 They did not realize that Joseph could understand them, since he was using an interpreter.

24 He turned away from them and began to weep, but then turned back and spoke to them again. He had

Simeon taken from them and bound before their eyes.

We know from what he did to the Shechemites that Simeon was capable of violence. He may well

have had a lot to do with the original plot against Joseph. If this was true, his brothers had their eery feelings

about this situation considerably heightened when they saw him “clapped in irons”!

25 Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, to put each man’s silver back in his sack, and to give

them provisions for their journey. After this was done for them,

26 they loaded their grain on their donkeys and left.

27 At the place where they stopped for the night one of them opened his sack to get feed for his donkey,

and he saw his silver in the mouth of his sack.

28 “My silver has been returned,” he said to his brothers. “Here it is in my sack.” Their hearts sank and

they turned to each other trembling and said, “What is this that God has done to us?”

Because of the two shekels of silver they’d each collected upon Joseph’s betrayal, finding their

silver in their sacks was surely a considerable shock!

29 When they came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to

them. They said,

There are all sorts of “echoes” in this story. Actually they only told their father the part of the

violence that had happened to them that they knew. Unwittingly, they left out the part of the drama

about who the governor really was. Earlier they had deliberately misinformed him about what had

happened to Joseph. The deceivers are being deceived

30 “The man who is lord over the land spoke harshly to us and treated us as though we were spying on

the land.

31 But we said to him, `We are honest men; we are not spies.

Where did Joseph get the idea of calling his brothers “spies”? Is it possible they had once

accused him of spying for their father? [ …and he brought their father a bad report about them. Genesis 37:2]

32 We were twelve brothers, sons of one father. One is no more, and the youngest is now with our father

in Canaan.’

33 “Then the man who is lord over the land said to us, `This is how I will know whether you are honest

men: Leave one of your brothers here with me, and take food for your starving households and go.

34 But bring your youngest brother to me so I will know that you are not spies but honest men. Then I

will give your brother back to you, and you can trade in the land.'”

35 As they were emptying their sacks, there in each man’s sack was his pouch of silver! When they and

their father saw the money pouches, they were frightened.

36 Their father Jacob said to them, “You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and

Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!”

His spirit is all wrong but his words hit a mark he didn’t know was there. Or did he? Did he suspect,

deep down in his heart, that beastly treachery rather than a wild animal had taken Joseph?

37 Then Reuben said to his father, “You may put both of my sons to death if I do not bring him back to

you. Entrust him to my care, and I will bring him back.”

Reuben again intercedes, but again he lacks the courage necessary to lay down his own life in

behalf of another.

38 But Jacob said, “My son will not go down there with you; his brother is dead and he is the only one

left. If harm comes to him on the journey you are taking, you will bring my gray head down to the grave

in sorrow.”

Jacob’s sons have doubtless been hearing this gray head/grave business for twenty-two years. And

the worst of it is they know they’ve brought it all on themselves.


(Concerning Genesis 43)

1 Now the famine was still severe in the land.

2 So when they had eaten all the grain they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go back and

buy us a little more food.”

Notice in the following verse the first mention of Judah since his return to his father’s camp:

3 But Judah said to him, “The man warned us solemnly, `You will not see my face again unless your brother

is with you.’

4 If you will send our brother along with us, we will go down and buy food for you.

5 But if you will not send him, we will not go down, because the man said to us, `You will not see my face

again unless your brother is with you.'”

Judah could have been as silent as the rest of his brothers. He could have let Jacob send them down

on a fruitless journey and let the consequences of avoiding the truth of their predicament confront his father.

He could have allowed starvation to corner Jacob, for it surely would have been pressing them after a “dry

run” to Egypt and back. In a word, he could have remained passive. But he didn’t. He stood in the gap and spoke the truth,

knowing full well the whining and self-pity his father would gush on him. But he knew he well deserved much worse.

With this Spirit of faithfulness holding sway in his inner man, this son’s heart was turned to his

father, with the result that, while maintaining a fully submissive attitude, he became a “father” to his father.

6 Israel asked, “Why did you bring this trouble on me by telling the man you had another brother?”

7 They replied, “The man questioned us closely about ourselves and our family. `Is your father still living?’

he asked us. `Do you have another brother?’ We simply answered his questions. How were we to know he

would say, `Bring your brother down here’?”

At the time of his brothers’ first trip to Egypt, Joseph had been Governor of Egypt for almost nine

years. He could have fetched his family down to him in a week’s time at any point during those years, but he hadn’t.

Possibly his first dream had an influence on this. It had been couched in terms of submission to him in a grain field,

and Joseph may have foreseen that the coming famine for bread would bring the fulfillment of the dream in

God’s time.

Meanwhile, I’d say his worst pain was not concerning what had been done to himself, but what had

been done to his beloved father by the loss of his favored son. He knew his father well enough to know he

was capable of grieving himself to death over his loss. Many of us can endure almost any offense against

ourselves, but harming one of our loved ones is more than we are willing to endure. Those who believe the

Son suffered more on Calvary than the Father, do not know the Father. Notice as we go through our story

how often Joseph inquires as to whether his father is still alive.

8 Then Judah said to Israel his father, “Send the boy along with me and we will go at once, so that we and

you and our children may live and not die.

9 I myself will guarantee his safety; you can hold me personally responsible for him. If I do not bring him

back to you and set him here before you, I will bear the blame before you all my life.

10 As it is, if we had not delayed, we could have gone and returned twice.”

The Hebrew for “ … bear the blame before you … ” is literally “ … be the sinner before you …” !

Judah is actually offering to be a sin bearer, bearing the blame for the loss of Benjamin, should it happen,

though he wouldn’t really be morally responsible for any harm that came to the boy. He, along with his

brothers, has already confessed his awareness that the Almighty is still holding them accountable for what

happened to Joseph. In that awareness, Judah knows that if he is held accountable for something he hasn’t

done, the tragedy will not be insufferably great, considering what he hasn’t been punished for.

As for Jacob’s part, Judah has just forced him to see that he doesn’t really have to risk losing Benjamin, he doesn’t

have to rise up in faith and trust God to protect what he loves dearest. The opportunity to do that is past, because now it is a

dead certainty that Benjamin will soon die if his father doesn’t send him with them to Egypt. Since there is now no choice for

Jacob, since God is now “forcing” him to trust Him, there is now no credit or “glory” for Jacob. His opportunity to “go out

on a limb” with the Lord is past.

11 Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be, then do this: Put some of the best products of the land

in your bags and take them down to the man as a gift–a little balm and a little honey, some spices and myrrh,

some pistachio nuts and almonds.

The gifts he sends to the “Governor” are reminiscent of the gifts he sent to Esau, to buy his favor. He knew not that,

because of the grace of God, both Esau and the “Governor” had nothing but the best of intentions toward him.

12 Take double the amount of silver with you, for you must return the silver that was put back into the

mouths of your sacks. Perhaps it was a mistake.

It is not lost on his sons that “…double the amount of silver…” is twenty pouches! They will be

taking Joseph’s full brother and twenty portions of silver to Egypt! (Ten brothers had made the first trip – Joseph

and Benjamin were absent. Ten brothers make the second trip – Joseph and Simeon are absent.)

13 Take your brother also and go back to the man at once.

14 And may God Almighty grant you mercy before the man so that he will let your other brother and

Benjamin come back with you. As for me, if I am bereaved, I am bereaved.”

Strange, isn’t it, that he didn’t say “…let Simeon and Benjamin come back with you.” No, he said,

“… let your other brother and Benjamin come back with you… “ ! It almost sounds as though he knew there

was more than one “other brother” down there! At least we know the Divine Author of this history knew it.

15 So the men took the gifts and double the amount of silver, and Benjamin also. They hurried down to

Egypt and presented themselves to Joseph.

16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the steward of his house, “Take these men to my house,

slaughter an animal and prepare dinner; they are to eat with me at noon.”

17 The man did as Joseph told him and took the men to Joseph’s house.

18 Now the men were frightened when they were taken to his house. They thought, “We were brought here

because of the silver that was put back into our sacks the first time. He wants to attack us and overpower us

and seize us as slaves and take our donkeys.”

Ahhh, they for some reason believe that someone is going to make them slaves in Egypt and take

away their property! It’s not too hard to see why they might be a little paranoid along those lines.

19 So they went up to Joseph’s steward and spoke to him at the entrance to the house.

20 “Please, sir,” they said, “we came down here the first time to buy food.

21 But at the place where we stopped for the night we opened our sacks and each of us found his silver–the

exact weight–in the mouth of his sack. So we have brought it back with us.

22 We have also brought additional silver with us to buy food. We don’t know who put our silver in our


23 “It’s all right,” he said. “Don’t be afraid. Your God, the God of your father, has given you treasure in your

sacks; I received your silver.” Then he brought Simeon out to them.

The steward said he received their silver, and that God had sovereignly put the ten pouches of silver

in their sacks. They are probably thinking, “That’s what we were afraid of !”

Note that we are told of Simeon’s return. Joseph, interfacing with the Hand of the Almighty is

setting up the situation so God’s drama can happen in His way and in His time, with all twelve brothers present.

24 The steward took the men into Joseph’s house, gave them water to wash their feet and provided fodder for

their donkeys.

25 They prepared their gifts for Joseph’s arrival at noon, because they had heard that they were to eat there.

26 When Joseph came home, they presented to him the gifts they had brought into the house, and they bowed

down before him to the ground.

Bingo! The first dream is technically fulfilled as all eleven brothers prostrate themselves before

Joseph. But he doesn’t reveal himself. More than desiring simple external, physical submission, Joseph, like

the heavenly King he serves, desires to call forth royalty in his brothers. He desires to use his power to let his

brothers decide who they are. He will give one of them a chance to rise to the top and join with him in laying

down his life to redeem their family. Even as a true pastor raises up pastors, Joseph is about to call forth a intercessor like


27 He asked them how they were, and then he said, “How is your aged father you told me about? Is he still


28 They replied, “Your servant our father is still alive and well.” And they bowed low to pay him honor.

29 As he looked about and saw his brother Benjamin, his own mother’s son, he asked, “Is this your youngest

brother, the one you told me about?” And he said, “God be gracious to you, my son.”

30 Deeply moved at the sight of his brother, Joseph hurried out and looked for a place to weep. He went into

his private room and wept there.

31 After he had washed his face, he came out and, controlling himself, said, “Serve the food.”

Having paid for our redemption by His shed Blood, Jesus ever lives to intercede for us. The best

kept secret in God’s kingdom is that this present ministry of intercession by Christ Jesus is as agonizing today as it was

when He walked the Via Dolorosa. Only those most intimate with Him are allowed to see this reality. Those who do

see it have the opportunity to share with Him this Fellowship of His suffering. It is not shown to everyone.

He is not trying to manipulate us or to stir up shallow sympathy. The suffering that is of God is Godward,

and gives Glory to God. It is not before men. It does not fawn after man’s praise.

32 They served him by himself, the brothers by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by

themselves, because Egyptians could not eat with Hebrews, for that is detestable to Egyptians.

Had his brothers paid attention, they could have known their host was also a Hebrew. “But their eyes

were holden that they should not know him.” (Luke 24:16 KJV)

33 The men had been seated before him in the order of their ages, from the firstborn to the youngest; and

they looked at each other in astonishment.

They’re thinking again, “God’s messin’ with our minds!”

34 When portions were served to them from Joseph’s table, Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as

anyone else’s. So they feasted and drank freely with him.

In these last two verses birth order is again brought up, followed by the youngest receiving “…five

times as much as anyone else’s.” It would appear to them that God is very aware of the sequence of their

births, and He is desirous of seeing their reaction if the youngest receives “five times as much”. (I think

Joseph considered presenting Benjamin with a “richly ornamented robe”, but decided that would probably be

too obvious.)


(Concerning Genesis 44)

1 Now Joseph gave these instructions to the steward of his house: “Fill the men’s sacks with as much food as

they can carry, and put each man’s silver in the mouth of his sack.

2 Then put my cup, the silver one, in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack, along with the silver for his

grain.” And he did as Joseph said.

3 As morning dawned, the men were sent on their way with their donkeys.

4 They had not gone far from the city when Joseph said to his steward, “Go after those men at once, and

when you catch up with them, say to them, `Why have you repaid good with evil?

5 Isn’t this the cup my master drinks from and also uses for divination? This is a wicked thing you have


This is exceedingly important: “…the cup my master drinks from and also uses for divination…”. Our Savior

asked His disciples if they could drink from His cup. Joseph has drained the bitter cup of suffering to its

dregs. By his refusal to resent the bitterness of the cross assigned him by his Sovereign Lord, Joseph has

provided for the redemption of his people. Two thousand years later Jesus did the same thing, only in a much

more full sense. This side of Pentecost our Lord uses the cross, which is His “cup”, to “divine” our hearts, that is, to find out

if we really trust Him. Watch as Joseph offers his cup to his brothers. They will not know with their minds what is

being offered them, but one of their number whose heart has been broken by grace will leap forward and take

it to his lips!

6 When he caught up with them, he repeated these words to them.

7 But they said to him, “Why does my lord say such things? Far be it from your servants to do anything like


8 We even brought back to you from the land of Canaan the silver we found inside the mouths of our sacks.

So why would we steal silver or gold from your master’s house?

9 If any of your servants is found to have it, he will die; and the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves.”

Notice the penalty they have suggested for such an unthinkable transgression. Now note the lesser

penalty offered by Joseph’s steward:

10 “Very well, then,” he said, “let it be as you say. Whoever is found to have it will become my slave; the

rest of you will be free from blame.”

11 Each of them quickly lowered his sack to the ground and opened it.

12 Then the steward proceeded to search, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest. And the

cup was found in Benjamin’s sack.

The implied but unstated drama here is overwhelming. Picture Reuben, the first to open his sack, as

his face changes from confidence in his innocence to horror at the revelation that two portions of silver are

there in the mouth of his own sack! Shades of the accursed two shekels he’d unwillingly earned twenty-two

years previously! And he’s not sure whether he’s more or less afraid as each brother opens his sack in turn,

also finding his guilt hauntingly reflected in two measures of silver!

Doubtless, they had not yet fathomed the words the Governor’s steward had uttered on their return

to Egypt: “Your God, the God of your father, has given you treasure in your sacks;”. More than they knew,

because the Almighty was the God their father had resisted at Peniel, they were standing gawking at the

revelation of one man’s silver after another. Their father’s God brought them to this moment, not because He

hated them, but because they were the children of Israel, and of Father God himself. And for millennia yet to

come, the children of Israel will find themselves laden with their own guilt before a Father who is trying to

woo them to the place of trusting Him with their sin.

Again, there is a very dramatic re-emphasis of Benjamin’s position as last born. And there is no

time for cross examination, (pun intended). They will have to presume he is guilty, and in the context of a

fresh reminder of their own guilt, decide what their attitude toward him will be.

13 At this, they tore their clothes. Then they all loaded their donkeys and returned to the city.

14 Joseph was still in the house when Judah and his brothers came in, and they threw themselves to the

ground before him.

15 Joseph said to them, “What is this you have done? Don’t you know that a man like me can find things out

by divination?”

Notice closely the statement: “ …a man like me can find things out by divination?” Our Savior and

Lord, having confronted us with the goodness of Who He Is by his death for us, and forgiveness of us, is in a

totally unique position. Having redeemed us and forgiven us He can now sift us in a very special way by

testing (divining) our attitude with regard to forgiveness and love for those who’ve sinned against us. Watch

what follows:

16 “What can we say to my lord?” Judah replied. “What can we say? How can we prove our innocence? God

has uncovered your servants’ guilt. We are now my lord’s slaves–we ourselves and the one who was found to

have the cup.”

“Servants’” is plural possessive; Judah refers to guilt incurred long before the day at hand had


17 But Joseph said, “Far be it from me to do such a thing! Only the man who was found to have the cup will

become my slave. The rest of you, go back to your father in peace.”

The “Governor’s” steward had offered to forego the capital punishment/slavery penalty suggested

by Joseph’s brothers, and only require the enslavement of the one guilty person. Judah, however, doesn’t

presume on such clemency, not having heard it from the Governor himself. Judah humbly confesses that they

all deserve enslavement, (he’s surely aware that they had sown enslavement). When the Governor speaks his

sentence, he gives them all freedom to return home, save the one “guilty” party, Benjamin, who ironically, is the only

innocent one among them.

The analogy is profound. Anyone whose sins are forgiven is freely granted permission to go to the

“father in peace”. Many “Christians” are redeemed, but aren’t much like Christ. They believe heaven was

made for them, and they care little for what is on the Lord’s heart. They have the “right” to go to heaven in

peace, and that is all they are concerned with. Judah, on the other hand, gets it clearly established by the

Governor’s own word that he himself is a free man and no man’s slave, and having done so turns his heart

not to his own interests, but those of others. You will see this “free man” willing to be “Christ’s slave”.

18 Then Judah went up to him and said: “Please, my lord, let your servant speak a word to my lord. Do not

be angry with your servant, though you are equal to Pharaoh himself.

19 My lord asked his servants, `Do you have a father or a brother?’

20 And we answered, `We have an aged father, and there is a young son born to him in his old age. His

brother is dead, and he is the only one of his mother’s sons left, and his father loves him.’

21 “Then you said to your servants, `Bring him down to me so I can see him for myself.’

22 And we said to my lord, `The boy cannot leave his father; if he leaves him, his father will die.’

23 But you told your servants, `Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you will not see my face


24 When we went back to your servant my father, we told him what my lord had said.

25 “Then our father said, `Go back and buy a little more food.’

26 But we said, `We cannot go down. Only if our youngest brother is with us will we go. We cannot see the

man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’

27 “Your servant my father said to us, `You know that my wife bore me two sons.

28 One of them went away from me, and I said, “He has surely been torn to pieces.” And I have not seen him


29 If you take this one from me too and harm comes to him, you will bring my gray head down to the grave

in misery.’

30 “So now, if the boy is not with us when I go back to your servant my father and if my father, whose life is

closely bound up with the boy’s life,

31 sees that the boy isn’t there, he will die. Your servants will bring the gray head of our father down to the

grave in sorrow.

32 Your servant guaranteed the boy’s safety to my father. I said, `If I do not bring him back to you, I will

bear the blame before you, my father, all my life!’

33 “Now then, please let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy, and let the boy

return with his brothers.

34 How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? No! Do not let me see the misery that would

come upon my father.”

Mission accomplished! The betrayer to slavery has become the redeemer from slavery! Though

Judah had no head knowledge that the Governor actually didn’t want to enslave Benjamin, but really wanted

someone to intercede for him, he has unwittingly become one with the “lord” (Governor) in purpose. By

resisting the apparent just purpose of the Governor’s expressed intentions, he has given the Governor his

greatest desire. He has become a co-laborer together with God. He has become “one” with God, in type and

shadow. Little wonder that the Messiah, who would give the Father His Great Heart’s desire by turning aside

His just wrath from the people onto Himself, no wonder this Messiah was destined to come from Judah’s


It is plain in Scripture that there was no prophet like Moses. He was the man who “disagreed” with

the Lord’s expressed intention to wipe out Israel, asking for mercy that Israel would not even request for

themselves. In so doing he was giving the Lord the desire of His heart, more than the request on His lips.

The two persons in the New Testament described as having “great faith” were a Roman Centurion and a

Syro-Phonoecian woman. They both disagreed with Jesus and both were interceding for another that they

loved who was oppressed by the devil. And both became part with Him in giving the Lord, not what He

asked for, but what His heart really desired.

Here is thin ice, dangerous ground. It gives God glory for us to obey His Word instantly and

without question. But the greatest glory that can be given God may sometimes require us to hear His Spirit

even more clearly than His verbiage, and sometimes stand in the secret place before the Lord, yea, inside the

Lord, saying “no Lord, let it not be so!”

Consider very prayerfully the following verses from the second chapter of 1 Corinthians:

9 However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has

prepared for those who love him” —

10 but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.

Jesus was wont to say: “You have heard … but I say unto you …” thereby showing how the New

Covenant filled full and even transcended the Old Covenant. Even so, Paul says that this quotation from

Isaiah is no longer strictly true. Many things that formerly no eye had seen are now revealed.

11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no

one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.

12 We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what

God has freely given us.

13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit,

expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.

14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are

foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.

15 The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment:

16 “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

Can you believe that Paul was saying in the above verse, also taken from Isaiah, that God has given

us “the mind of Christ”, and that He now sometimes calls us to, in a sense, be his “counselor”? Could God be

that loving, that humble? Yes, I declare to you that this is Who He Is!

But isn’t this dangerous ground? Mightn’t someone arrogantly presume to know God’s heart and

mind, when they really don’t? Yes, they will, and if there is no love in their motivation, they’ll probably be

very quickly judged for such presumption, and good enough for them, as far as I’m concerned! Others may

make mistakes whose basic motive is love, and it will be easy for the Omniscient One to know which ones they are,

and a simple thing for the One Who is Love to straighten them out!

Maybe the ultimate embracing of the Disciple’s Cross is to want the Lord to have what He wants in

Heaven more than you want to make it to heaven yourself. Think about the heart that is reflected by the

following words of the Apostle of Grace:

For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my

own race, Romans 9:3

I’m pretty sure that not every one can, or is supposed to receive these words, but whoever has ears

to hear, let him hear.


(Concerning Genesis 45)

1 Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Have everyone

leave my presence!” So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers.

When is the Savior revealed? When He can no longer stay away, because His bride has made

herself ready. When she has become so much like Him in embracing the cross that He is irresistibly drawn to

Himself perfected in Her, even as Adam was drawn to the one taken from himself.

2 And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it.

Some got to see, some heard it from a distance, and others only heard about the Revelation of

Joseph. So it is with Christ today.

3 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to

answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.

The instant he revealed himself, he made it plain that his first concern was his beloved father. This,

as we said before, clarifies what the true nature of his suffering really was.

4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother

Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt!

5 And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to

save lives that God sent me ahead of you.

As far as Joseph was concerned, the sins of his brothers had been within the full control of his

Sovereign Father, and he had no criticism of His handiwork. God’s handiwork here was also Joseph’s handiwork. Because

Joseph gave himself fully to the Lord, God “save[d] lives”. My premise has been already stated that Jacob precipitated a

century of slavery during the 400 years but Joseph caused the first three centuries to be a time of relative prosperity. Where

would Joseph’s family be right now without him? They would, at best, suffer the same fate the citizens of Egypt suffered:

they would have been enslaved by the famine. Chapter 47 and verses 18 and 19 make it clear that Joseph bought the

Egyptians for Pharoah with the grain he had stored up. Had he given in to bitterness, he would have never become Governor.

Had he not been Governor, his people would have definitely been enslaved. Had this happened it would have been the result

of the curse handed down unbroken for four generations. But, thanks be to God, it was broken!

6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing

and reaping.

There is more here than “meets the ear”. This is spoken two millennia after Adam, and there are yet

five millennia to go before the Great White Throne Judgment, when the curse on the ground will be totally

reversed. Taking each year as representative of a millennium, you have here a prophetic statement of the whole of “His

Story” across His ages.

7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great


8 “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire

household and ruler of all Egypt.

9 Now hurry back to my father and say to him, `This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of

all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay.

10 You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me–you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks

and herds, and all you have.

11 I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your

household and all who belong to you will become destitute.’

12 “You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it is really I who am speaking to you.

13 Tell my father about all the honor accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen. And bring

my father down here quickly.”

14 Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping.

15 And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him.

16 When the news reached Pharaoh’s palace that Joseph’s brothers had come, Pharaoh and all his officials

were pleased.

17 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Tell your brothers, `Do this: Load your animals and return to the land of


18 and bring your father and your families back to me. I will give you the best of the land of Egypt and you

can enjoy the fat of the land.’

19 “You are also directed to tell them, `Do this: Take some carts from Egypt for your children and your

wives, and get your father and come.

20 Never mind about your belongings, because the best of all Egypt will be yours.'”

21 So the sons of Israel did this. Joseph gave them carts, as Pharaoh had commanded, and he also gave them

provisions for their journey.

22 To each of them he gave new clothing, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred shekels of silver and five

sets of clothes.

Do you suppose the “new clothing” was “richly ornamented robes”. The 300 shekels are the

complement to the one hundred shekels paid by Jacob for a piece of land near Shechem, making a total of four hundred. As

we said before, they are redemptive; Jacob’s one hundred were a curse. The nature of the four hundred years they will spend

in Egypt because of Abraham’s sin is now, in the third and fourth generation, fixed and predetermined in its nature.

There is another ironic confirmation that Jacob’s misspent 100 shekels and Joseph’s well spent 300 shekels

represent the nature of the centuries in Egypt. It is Joshua 24:32 which says:

“And Joseph’s bones, which the Israelites had brought up from Egypt, were buried at Shechem in the tract of

land that Jacob bought for a hundred pieces of silver from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem. This

became the inheritance of Joseph’s dscendants.”

I believe that Jacob, before he died, realized what he had done and what Joseph had done. I believe I see in this

record that Jacob took the piece of land he bought out of extreme “unfaith”, and bequeathed it to the son who acted in

extreme faith. I hope this was a token of unselfish, unguarded repentance for a life spent largely refusing to trust God to

protect and provide.

Genesis 45:

23 And this is what he sent to his father: ten donkeys loaded with the best things of Egypt, and

ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and other provisions for his journey.

Twenty shekels of resentment and betrayal conveyed Joseph to Egypt. Twenty donkey-loads of gracious provision

will bring the rest of his family down.

24 Then he sent his brothers away, and as they were leaving he said to them, “Don’t quarrel on the way!”

25 So they went up out of Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan.

26 They told him, “Joseph is still alive! In fact, he is ruler of all Egypt.” Jacob was stunned; he did not

believe them.

27 But when they told him everything Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the carts Joseph had sent to

carry him back, the spirit of their father Jacob revived.

28 And Israel said, “I’m convinced! My son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.”

(Concerning Genesis 48)

I believe that when Judah was confronted head on with the courage, faith, and self-sacrifice of Tamar, his heart was

changed forever. The experience converted him from traitor to redeemer. Likewise I believe a similar work was wrought in

Jacob as he contemplated the awesome faithfulness his son Joseph, faithfulness that had enabled him to deliver his largely

undeserving family from sure death. I believe Jacob saw that Joseph had really “fathered” him in some sense, and when he

embraced this fact in humility, it made him able to become a father to Joseph He even came to the point of being able to

bring a needed correction to his favorite son.

Our chapter opens with Jacob near the end of his life. He has been reunited with Joseph for seventeen years, and the

famine is the stuff of history at this point.

1 Some time later Joseph was told, “Your father is ill.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim along with him.
2 When Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel rallied his strength and sat up on the bed.

Notice in the following verses that Jacob is going back here to the promise of Bethel, the promise that his seed will

inherit Canaan. He surely knows his descendants will while away four centuries in Egypt before it is fulfilled, but he’s sure it

will eventually happen. Because he is sure it will be fulfilled, he makes arrangements for Joseph to be rewarded for being the

family’s redeemer. He specifies that when the land is divided up, Joseph’s son’s will receive full tribal portions.

3 Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and there he blessed me
4 and said to me, `I am going to make you fruitful and will increase your numbers. I will make you a community of peoples, and I will give this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you.’
5 “Now then, your two sons born to you in Egypt before I came to you here will be reckoned as mine; Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine.
6 Any children born to you after them will be yours; in the territory they inherit they will be reckoned under the names of their brothers.

Now we have a verse that seems out of place:

7 As I was returning from Paddan, to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan while we were still on the way, a little distance from Ephrath. So I buried her there beside the road to Ephrath” (that is, Bethlehem).

You may have to read the rest of this chapter to see this, but I believe this odd subject is brought up here because he

has just rewarded Joseph for standing in the gap and resisting the curse. Then he brings up how he himself had yielded to

inbelief with the result that he lost Rachel, “permanently”. Jacob was deprived of Joseph, “temporarily”, because of his own

sin, and Joseph turned the loss into the redemption of his household. Jacob had not been so faithful. He had failed to trust

the Lord to protect him from Laban. Consequently, he had lost Joseph’s mother, his beloved Rachel.

Genesis 48:
5 “Now then, your two sons born to you in Egypt before I came to you here will be reckoned as
mine; Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine.

Then, after telling Joseph of his intentions, Jacob actually begins to meet with and bless his


8When Israel saw the sons of Joseph, he asked, “Who are these?”

Do you remember that Isaac’s eyesight was failing in his old age? Remember also that Isaac

asked Jacob as he entered his tent with his “venison”, “Who is it?” Also remember that the subject of

that visit was the decision as to whom would receive the rights of firstborn. Watch as Jacob embraces

his near blindness and relies on his spiritual eyes instead of his nearly useless physical eyes. This is

certainly not the old Jacob!

9″They are the sons God has given me here,” Joseph said to his father. Then Israel said, “Bring them
to me so I may bless them.”
10 Now Israel’s eyes were failing because of old age, and he could hardly see. So Joseph brought his
sons close to him, and his father kissed them and embraced them.

Remember Isaac embracing and kissing Jacob?

11 Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to
see your children too.”
12 Then Joseph removed them from Israel’s knees and bowed down with his face to the ground.
13 And Joseph took both of them, Ephraim on his right toward Israel’s left hand and Manasseh on
his left toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them close to him.
14 But Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim’s head, though he was the younger,
and crossing his arms, he put his left hand on Manasseh’s head, even though Manasseh was the
15 Then he blessed Joseph and said, “May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac
walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day,
16 the Angel who has delivered me from all harm –may he bless these boys. May they be called by
my name and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and may they increase greatly upon the
17 When Joseph saw his father placing his right hand on Ephraim’s head he was displeased; so he
took hold of his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head.
18 Joseph said to him, “No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”
19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He too will become a people, and he
too will become great. Nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants
will become a group of nations.”
20 He blessed them that day and said, “In your name will Israel pronounce this blessing: `May God
make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.'” So he put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh.

Jacob “crosses” his arms. He embraces the cross by recognizing that his and his son’s

preferences are hardly significant considerations. He has heard the voice of God and he will obey it

even if it displeases his greatest earthly love, his son Joseph!

Ironically, Joseph makes the same two mistakes his ancestors had repeatedly made:

1./ He believed that altering God’s will was possible and that he could impose his own will and determine how and who God

would bless.

2./ He believed that altering God’s will was potentially a desirable thing.

An Alabama sage once said: “God is good two ways: He’s good like Michael Jordan, and He’s good like Mother


As we said before, God is not an impersonal force, such as gravity. It is not possible to use and direct his power at

will. Though He be invisible, He is still more personal than any visible creature. He has His own “opinions” as to how things

should proceed, and we may not move “the Father’s Hand” by simply moving our father’s hand. Opposing Him is as useless

as trying to guard Michael Jordan on a basketball court. Michael is “good”, in the sense of proficient.

Also, God is good. We can trust His decisions to be the best decisions, and the ones we would make, if we had the

advantages of His insight. He is good like Mother Teresa was good, which morally good.

But here, for one moment, Joseph tries to “wrestle” the “wrestler”. And the “wrestler” defeats him by submitting

simply and gladly, to the whisper of the God Who has, at long last, conquered him. In her last days, Israel, who has been a

stiff-necked heifer for a long time, will have her heart changed and she will be used to deliver those who stood in the gap to

see her delivered, even as Jacob here blesses the son who had delivered him, by resisting him.

Hebrews 11:21 offers this Divine view of a Spiritual Kodak Moment:

By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.

He is dying, with faith; he is blessing, with faith; and he is worshiping, in faith.

Back now to Genesis 48:

21 Then Israel said to Joseph, “I am about to die, but God will be with you and take you back to the
land of your fathers.
22And to you, as one who is over your brothers, I give the ridge of land I took from the Amorites
with my sword and my bow.”

As we noted earlier, the Infallible Word of God gives Abraham credit for buying the piece of land Jacob purchased

near Shechem, (Acts 7:16). Jacob actually made the transaction, but in the truest sense, which is the spiritual sense, his

grandfather Abraham had “caused” him to stumble, we are told, by Stephen, 2000 years after the fact. The above verse is

even more incredible, for Jacob here, in his own life time, and with his own mouth, takes the blame for a sin he had caused

Simeon and Levi to commit! In the above verse, “ridge of land” is the Hebrew word, “Shechem”. There is no reference in all

the Word of God or in any oral tradition to Jacob taking up either sword or bow against anyone. He here remembers the

tragedy of what happened at Shechem and he sees clearly he was responsible for it. I believe he also knows in his heart that

this was his “Waterloo”, and Shechem was the place where he both incurred and transmitted the part of the generational

curse he was responsible for breaking.

I believe he also senses Joseph’s complete triumph over the generational curse. And though “what’s done is done”,

and the territory of Shechem referred to by Israel is his by right of conquest, he knows it is essential to any sense of justice

that neither Simeon’s nor Levi’s descendants benefit from their father’s duplicity. Justice will be best served if Joseph’s seed

receives the “reward” of the sins of Simeon and Levi. It is only just that the one who resisted giving in to the generational

curse will receives the anticipated reward of those who gave in to its dark power.

Jacob does this, not just to reward Joseph’s tribes, but also to protect Simeon and Levi’s tribes. For them to take

their sustenance from land their father’s gained by homicide would invoke a curse on them for all time. They would believe

that ill-gotten gains were sweet, and would be tempted to believe that “crime pays” after all. If one receives a “blessing” or a

benefit of some kind as a “reward” for his sin, he is hardened in his sin. This concept, which I call “the hardening of

blessing”, will become terribly important for the tribes of Israel as they attempt to return from Egypt four centuries after they

went down to Egypt.


An undercurrent in the early life of Israel the Man will become a crushing torrent in the history of Israel the Nation.

It is the principle that if a person is blessed while his heart is hard, he thinks that he himself and his prous, self-reliant

attitude, is responsible for causing the blessing he received. The Lord clearly showed Jacob that He Himself had

caused the young of the flocks to be born the color desired by Jacob. But because Jacob had striven faithlessly to make it

happen by manipulating peeled tree limbs, he couldn’t get past the idea that he, in his spirit of pride and self-reliance, had

caused it to happen. When God Sovereignly saved him from Laban’s murderous intentions, it didn’t click for Jacob. He still

seemed to have believed that his deceptive flight from Laban’s household had saved him. When God dramatically changed

Esau’s heart toward Jacob, Jacob surely believed he had been only temporarily pacified him with the enormous gifts (bribes!)

he had given his brother. This of course, “necessitated” his lying to Esau about his plans to follow him to Seir. The blessings

of the Lord hardened Jacob’s heart till the curse was confirmed in his own life, and handed down to unbroken to his


But, Praise the Name of the Lord forever, God “pulled Jacob out”, and softened hie heart by a process that included

the apparent death of the son he had designated his “firstborn”. It was too late for him to undo the life he had lived, and the

curse would still be passed on to his descendants. But it seems that there was some abating of its strength because

of the righteous acts of Jacob in Egypt, especially with regard to Ephraim and Mannessah.

My point is that there is a great mystery in the very unattractive statement: “And God hardened Pharoah’s heart”.

When we read this, we tend to envision a ham fisted Deity putting poor old Pharoah in some kind of trance that really takes

away his free will and makes him play the role of “arch villain”! God didn’t hypnotize Pharoah, He gave Pharoah the things

he asked for, while he was not giving his heart in allegiance to the Lord in return.

Nine plagues descended, and then were removed, without requiring Pharoah to “come to the cross”. Pharoah, like

Everyman, knows in his heart he is in a contest to determine Lordship. He sometimes pretends to repent when a plague

descends, without really doing so. He thinks he’s fooling, and controlling, the God Who Is. God gives him what he wants, by

which He knows He will harden the man’s heart. God is completely in control, and yet, far from impinging on Pharoah’s free

will, He’s showing the world what giving a man complete liberty will do to him.

In Abraham and his seed, most especially Jacob, we saw the tragedies and the triumphs that resulted when God gave

a clan freedom, and yet “hemmed them in” on every side. Jacob’s ultimate softening had to do with the apparent death of his

firstborn son designate, Joseph.

Notice the following:.
Exodus 3:
22 Then say to Pharaoh, `This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son,
23 and I told you, “Let my son go, so he may worship me.” But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.

Jacob’s refusal to submit resulted in Joseph being “buried” in Egypt. Pharoah will have the same experience, with a

different result. Three different times the Lord says “I will gain glory through Pharoah”. For the Lord to be “glorified”, it is

only necessary for it to be revealed Who He is. Pharoah and Jacob were both used to show us Who He is, only in different