Tag: Joseph

Jacob Polygamy Germinates Family Tragedy

Joseph Victim of Father’s Polygamy

Jacob’s family interactions highlight inability of a man to love multiple women equally and potential to extend unequal love to the children and, thus, jeopardize positive family relationships. His unequal love for wives and children led to hatred of Joseph by older brothers and a tragic event in the family. Joseph’s brothers plotted to kill him in Dothan as he visited to check on them and their flock. However, kindly interventions by Reuben and Judah changed his sentence from death to enslavement and thus launched him onto his Egypt mission.

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The life of Joseph, the 11th son of Jacob (also known as Israel), illustrates potential tragic family interactions resulting from polygamy as well as God’s grace in using an adversity to launch a positive change in a person’s life.

Joseph in dry well
Joseph pleads for mercy into a well
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His life story begins with interactions with senior brothers (half-brothers, from the same father but different mothers) that hated him: partly because they believed he “stole” their father’s love and partly a manifestation of intra-family rivalry passed to them from their mothers. The hatred culminated in a tragic event that could have ended his life. However, the tragedy triggered a sequence of events in Joseph’s life that ultimately led him to the highest administrative position in Egypt. There he had an opportunity to retaliate against his brothers. However, he did not retaliate. Instead, he put them through tests to verify their repentance so he could forgive and reconcile with them. By doing so he cleared the way for fulfillment of God’s promise to their fathers (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) to lead them to a foreign land where they will multiply and prosper before returning to the Promised Land.

In a previous bible study under Joseph Called to Mission, we focus on Joseph’s life as an illustration that God could use adversity to bring about a positive change for a person. Joseph’s mission to Egypt started with his tragic experience in Canaan: almost like burning part of a rocket to launch it into higher orbit. His brothers first threw him into a dry well, where he languished until they changed their mind about killing him and instead sold him as slave to merchants travelling to Egypt. That is, God used the adversity brought to Joseph by his brothers to “launch” him into his Egypt mission.

The current bible study focuses on understanding the tragic events among Jacob’s family in Canaan as the product of seeds of discord that Jacob sowed inadvertently through polygamy.

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Mary and Joseph Unity in Parenting

Mary-Joseph Example for Husband-Wife Ministry

Mary and Joseph interactions during the childhood of Jesus illustrate unity in understanding and performing parenting responsibilities. Their overnight escape to Egypt, return to Israel several years later, and diversion to Galilee instead of Judea were each based on revelations Joseph received in a dream and communicated to his wife. Other examples include their consistent annual trip to Jerusalem to participate in Passover festival for at least twelve years as the child developed. Their love for each other and love of God led to unity in parenting applicable today to other kinds of husband-wife ministry.

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In the first of this two-part study on Mary and Joseph as a couple (Love Prepares Home for God’s Intervention), we noted that they relied on their love for each other to deal with human challenges they faced as part of their call to become parents of the Messiah. We concluded that love prepared their heart to receive and execute the call and may well have been the reason they were chosen.

Growing in Nazareth
Growing up in Nazareth
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In this second part of the study, we discuss another benefit of their love, that is, unity in understanding and performing parenting responsibilities. Examples illustrating their “unity in parenting” are evident in two sets of events that occurred during the childhood of Jesus. One set was in connection with the flight to Egypt and back to Israel. The other is in relation to their annual participation in the Passover festival. In all the events, their love for each other and love of God led to consistent understanding of their parenting roles and performing their responsibilities based on the understanding.

Their interactions can be understood better by considering parenting as a husband-wife ministry. God called Mary and Joseph to the ministry of parenting the Messiah. Initially, Mary was the primary (or “first primary”) in the ministry and Joseph was the supporter (or “second primary”). Mary’s responsibility at the initial stage was to carry the pregnancy and Joseph’s was to support her wholeheartedly so together they nurtured the unborn child through birth. However, their roles switched after the child was born.

Angel instructs Joseph
Angel instructs Joseph
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God recognized Joseph as the family leader, communicated child care instructions to him, and thereby charged him with leading the husband-wife team to implement the instructions. They remained united in implementing the instructions, completing each task successfully without any indication of disagreement. Also, their performance indicates they communicated effectively to determine steps toward completing the instructions. Love of each other and love of God led to effective communication, understanding their responsibilities, and performing the responsibilities to accomplish the objective.

If parenting is a husband-wife ministry, then other kinds of husband-wife ministry can benefit from the parenting experience of Mary and Joseph. In every case, unity in ministry based on love of each other and love of God will lead to understanding and recognizing responsibilities and performing them seamlessly to accomplish the objectives of the ministry. Furthermore, we note their unity in parenting led to fulfilling God’s purpose for the child as prophesied through the Scriptures: “Out of Egypt I called My Son” [Matthew 2:15] and “He shall be called a Nazarene” [Matthew 2:23]. In the same way, unity in ministry will lead to a husband-wife team fulfilling God’s purpose for their ministry.

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Love Prepares Home for God’s Intervention

Mary-Joseph Example
Marital Commitment Founded on Love

Mary and Joseph relied on love to deal with human challenges they faced as part of their call to become parents of the Messiah. Mary was concerned about potential effects of the pregnancy on her relationship with Joseph. She surrendered her concerns to God. Joseph, on his part, was aware of Mary’s extraneous pregnancy but determined to protect her from public disgrace in the event of terminating the engagement in obedience to Jewish law. However, God sent him an angel to explain Mary’s pregnancy. Their love for each other prepared their heart to receive and execute their unique call and may well have been the reason they were chosen.

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This study focuses on Mary and Joseph as a couple, using events from their life to seek better understanding of God’s purpose for husband-wife interactions and relationships. They were engaged to be married when God called them to host the Messiah as his human parents. They prevailed over the human challenges of their call because of strong marital commitment founded on love and relying on the faith of God to overcome difficulties.

Town of Nazareth
Town of Nazareth
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The call came to Mary first. Angel Gabriel appeared to her in the town of Nazareth and informed her in a live human conversation that she will conceive of the Messiah through the power of the Holy Spirit. Her request for clarification reveals she was concerned about potential effects on her human relationships, especially with her fiancé Joseph. In her loyalty to human commitments, she asked for human understanding. However, after the angel explained the conception will be through the power of God, whereby “nothing will be impossible” [Luke 1:37], she obeyed and submitted her concerns wholeheartedly to God.

Joseph's Angel Dream
Joseph’s Angel Dream
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Joseph received his call as he considered his options for responding to his fiancée’s inexplicable pregnancy. He was loyal to a Jewish law that required him to terminate the engagement. However, he was concerned about her and wanted to protect her from public disgrace. Then an angel of God informed him in a dream that “what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” [Matthew 1:20]. Furthermore, the angel informed Joseph he will be the human father of the Son of God that was conceived in Mary. The dream was sufficient for Joseph. He took Mary home to be his wife.

Through the concern she raised with the angel, Mary showed her love for Joseph and commitment to their engagement. Joseph, on his part, showed his love by seeking to protect Mary even if he had to obey the Jewish law. Both surrendered their concerns to God in complete obedience as soon as they recognized the call. Their love for each other determined their choices in a difficult challenge. Their faith of God gave them peace that their concerns will be resolved right. We discuss the events of their call to reach a conclusion that they were chosen because of their love for each other.

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Temptation through Adversity

Understanding Adversity—Lesson from Job

The experience of Job indicates that recognizing adversity as an attack from the devil is an important step in seeking God’s guidance and direction and ultimately defeating the adversity and the temptation that it represents. If a person lives in the image of God, representing God among other people and fulfilling his/her responsibilities as God’s provider assistant, then an adversity in the person’s life is more likely a temptation instead of punishment for wrongdoing. We learn from Job’s experience that the appropriate response is to declare war against the devil by renewing your commitment to worship and serve God.

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We begin a bible study series on Responding to Adversity, with intention to study events and personalities described in the bible to gain insight into what a Christian should do when facing adversity. The current study examines the temptation of Job to expand understanding of the nature of adversity. Job was an upright, blameless, and successful man: “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil” [Job 1:1]. Yet, he suddenly came under a storm of adversity that included losing his children and every earthly possession.

Lost all in quick succession
Lost all in quick succession
The Glory Story | freebibleimages.org

Job’s experience indicates adversity may befall anyone, even a person that has done nothing wrong. His adversity was a temptation whereby the devil attempted to pull him away from God by destroying his earthly comfort and happiness: “But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face” [Job 1:11]. God permitted the devil to tempt Job within a wide but limited scope: “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person” [Job 1:12]. Therefore, we learn from this account that God protects us from temptation but may permit the devil to tempt a person. The devil may in that case choose how to tempt the person. He chose to rain adversity on Job in the study example.

Recognizing adversity as temptation will affect how a person responds. Because Job was upright and blameless, he most likely recognized the adversity as temptation and, thus responded by focusing on his relationship with God and leaving it all with him in prayer [Job 1:21]: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Also, we have encountered previous studies that showed adversity as a springboard to launch a person onto another phase of life with opportunities of great significance. Notable examples include the experience of Joseph in Joseph Called to Mission and Ruth in Ruth Joins Naomi, among several others. There also are cases of adversity befalling a person as punishment for wrongdoing: a possible example being the revolt in David’s family during his reign as king of Israel in Absalom Rises Against His Father David.

Surrender at feet of God
Surrender at feet of God
The Glory Story | freebibleimages.org

This study focuses on the experience of Job to learn that adversity may befall a person as temptation at pulling the person away from God. Recognizing the adversity as such will help fortify the person to respond by relying more on his/her relationship with God. A person that lives in the image of God (e.g., Job’s reputation as upright and blameless) will more likely recognize an adversity as temptation, instead of punishment for some wrongdoing. Thus, he/she will be better prepared to respond positively.

 

 

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Receiving Message from God through Parent

God may alert a child to an opportunity by prompting the child’s parent to pass the information as parental instruction, advice, or request. The information could be delivered as part of normal parent-child interaction with neither the parent nor child recognizing at the time that the information is a special message from God to the child. The child will receive the message and progress toward the opportunity if he/she has a habit of listening to the parent with intent to understand and implement the parent’s information.

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This study concludes a series on understanding that God sends messages to children through their parents. We examine information based on four previous sessions to understand what a parent and child need to do to ensure God’s messages to the child through the parent are delivered and received effectively. Each message could present an opportunity for the child to encounter a life experience or accomplish a specific objective. Therefore, the child needs to receive the message effectively in order to preserve such opportunity. The examples used in the sessions appear well suited for the study as they include information to enable understanding how the parent and child in each case communicated effectively.

Wandering in wilderness for brothers
Wandering in wilderness for brothers
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Based on information from Joseph Called to Mission and David Called to Mission, we learn that God may direct a person toward an opportunity by positioning a need in his/her path. The person will encounter the opportunity if he/she recognizes the need, commits to providing service to address the need, and perseveres. In the case of Joseph, for example, the opportunity was his call to undertake a special mission to Egypt. For David, the opportunity was to confront Goliath.

Also, we learn from the two examples that God may often position a need in the path of a child by prompting the child’s parent to pass information to her/him. He may provide the information to the parent clearly so the parent is aware the information is from God and is for the child. For example, Eli was aware that God wanted to speak to Samuel.

Father sends son on errand
Father sends son on errand
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Alternatively, God may prompt the parent one way or the other to deliver information to a child without the parent being aware of the prompting. The parent passes the information to the child as part of normal parent-child interaction but neither the parent nor the child recognizes at the time that the information has been prompted by God. This category of messaging a child through the parent is important because of being channeled through normal parent-child interaction. One example is Joseph’s father sending him on an errand that became God’s call to Joseph to undertake a mission to Egypt. In another, David’s father sent him on an errand that became God’s call to David to confront with Goliath.

The information could be passed in the form of parental instruction, advice, request, or any other form of parent-child interaction. This bible study focuses on understanding the behavior, attitude, or habit of a child or parent that affects the effectiveness of passing and implementing such information in order to encounter the opportunity that God is presenting to the child through the information.

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Joseph Called to Mission—Messaging Child through Parent

Joseph’s father sent him on an errand to check on his brothers and the flock and report their conditions back to him. However, the errand happened to be God’s call to Joseph to undertake a special mission to Egypt: to prepare a sanctuary for the young nation of Israel to survive a severe famine, prosper, and multiply into a great nation. Neither Joseph nor his father recognized the call at the time. God delivered the message by prompting his father to send him on the fateful errand. Also, we learn that God may allow adversity as a channel for effecting a positive change for a person. The person will be in better position to realize the change by remaining steadfast in living in the image of God despite hurting from the adversity.

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We continue our study series on parent child relationships focused initially on understanding that God sends messages to children through their parents. In previous sessions, we looked at examples in which the message was clear to the parent. In the Call of Samuel, for example, Eli eventually understood that God wanted to speak to Samuel and instructed him on how to respond. Similarly, each of the examples under Instruction to Parent for Child looked at a clear instruction to a parent to implement something for a child. The current study, in contrast, looks at an example in which the message was delivered as part of normal parent-child interaction with neither the parent nor the child knowing at the time that this was a message from God. We recognize the message today because of the benefit of hindsight based on accounts in the bible.

The example is drawn from the life of Joseph, the eleventh son of Jacob (also known as Israel). His father sent him on what appeared like an ordinary errand to go and check on his senior brothers tending flock in the field.

Jacob family moves to Egypt
Jacob family moves to Egypt
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However, later events indicate that God used the errand to call Joseph to a mission to Egypt: to prepare a sanctuary for the young family of Israel to survive a severe famine and grow and prosper to become the nation that God promised their ancestors. The example provides opportunity to learn the importance of clarity of parental communication and a child listening to a parent with intent to understand and implement the parent’s information. Furthermore, we learn from Joseph’s interactions with his brothers and other people that God may allow adversity as a channel for effecting a positive change for a person. Also, Joseph’s behavior during the adversity help us understand that such person will be in better position to realize the change by remaining steadfast in living in the image of God despite hurting from the adversity.

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Keeping Watch by Living in the Image of God



KEEPING WATCH FOR GOD’S FINAL JUDGMENT means always living according to the mission for which he created humankind. God creates every person to convey his image and compassion in human interactions and relationships. He will determine who has fulfilled the mission and at time of final judgment will instantaneously separate them to inherit eternal life in his kingdom. The rest he will condemn to eternal punishment. This bible study discusses Christ’s teaching about keeping watch to be prepared for final judgment by living in the image of God always.

Keeping Watch bible study leaders Goodluck and Oby Ofoegbu
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Christ Teaching on Living in God Perpetually

Christ taught us through his disciples to be ready at all times for God’s final judgment. He explained the judgment will occur instantaneously everywhere: God will separate the righteous (people that he has judged to have lived according to his purpose) from the wicked (people that he has judged to have not lived according to his purpose). No one knows the day or the hour: “…not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” [Matthew 24:36]. Christ used parables to explain that being ready for the final judgment means living in the image of God perpetually.

Sermon on the Mount
The Sermon on the Mount. wikipedia.org

LIVING IN THE IMAGE OF GOD He had in previous interactions explained the meaning of living in the image of God through formal teaching in the Sermon on the Mount (This_Link), parables such as the Good Samaritan (This_Link), and demonstration of human service such as in feeding a crowd of thousands (This_Link). As we discussed in previous bible studies (e.g., This_Link and This_Link), living in the image of God implies representing God in every human interaction such that your actions and words radiate Godliness and provide opportunities for other people to feel God. Furthermore, you fulfill your responsibilities as God’s provider assistant, willingly and gracefully providing service to benefit others when God places a need in your path, or accepting service provided by others with heart-felt appreciation and happiness. Those that God judges to have lived in his image will inherit eternal life in his kingdom. In contrast, those that he judges to have lived a different kind of life will be condemned to eternal punishment.

READY FOR JUDGMENT In this bible study, we focus on understanding what a person needs to do in order to be ready for final judgment. Being ready means living a life that pleases God. We examine Christ’s teaching in the parable of the Faithful and Wise Servant [Matthew 24:45-51] and the parable of the Ten Virgins [Matthew 25:1-13] to understand the meaning of “being ready” or “keeping watch” in the context of human interactions and relationships.

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