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.
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.
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.
Christ’s invitation to earn blessing through human service is open to all irrespective of any past misdeed. We learn from David-Bathsheba relationship that earned blessing and incurred punishment are parallel promises from God. They can coexist, do not offset each other, and are fulfilled at his choosing. David incurred severe punishment from seducing Bathsheba into adultery, murdering her husband to cover up the affair, and overall for covetousness. The punishment was fulfilled but did not interfere with David’s earned blessing: an inheritance from God’s promise to Abraham to father the ancestral lineage of the Messiah and a direct promise to David that his offspring will succeed him as king of Israel. Both promises were fulfilled through Solomon, a son to David-Bathsheba marriage.
David’s interactions with Bathsheba resulted in both severe punishment and fulfillment of previously earned blessing for David. As we discuss in a previous bible study under Seduction Covetousness Displeases God, David’s sin in the affair with Bathsheba consists of seduction, adultery, murder, and covetousness. He incurred severe punishment from the sin as Prophet Nathan announced to him: the child of the affair will die, a person close to David will sleep with his wives in broad daylight, and calamity will befall him from his household. All the promises were fulfilled.
However, as events representing fulfillment of the punishment unfolded in his life; other events that represent fulfillment of David’s earned blessing occurred in parallel and unaffected by the punishment. First, he inherited blessing from God’s promise to Abraham that was passed to David through several generations via his grandfather Obed and father Jesse. Second, God promised David directly that his offspring will succeed him as king of Israel: “When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom” [2 Samuel 7:12]. God fulfilled both promises through Solomon, a son of David and Bathsheba conceived after their marriage.
The blessings did not buy him out of the punishment, nor did the punishment diminish his blessing in any way.
This is the second of a two-part study from the genealogy of Jesus, to examine the lives of a number of individuals that would have been considered unsuitable based on ordinary standards of current society. Because God selected each of them to be part of the lineage of Christ, we can draw lessons from their lives regarding his purpose for human interactions and relationships. We select four persons—Perez, Boaz, Obed, and Solomon—because the bible provides additional information to enable an understanding of their lives and, potentially, their inclusion in the genealogy. We discussed Perez and Boaz in Part 1. This session looks at Obed and Solomon.
PEREZ, SON OF JUDAH We learned in Part 1 that Perez was a fulfillment of God’s blessing for Judah that was passed to him from Abraham through Isaac and Jacob. Furthermore, Judah earned blessing by offering to sacrifice himself for his junior brother Benjamin. We noted he may have also incurred punishment later for marrying a Canaanite or going to bed with a woman he thought was a prostitute that turned out to be his daughter-in-law. However, any punishment he incurred had no effect on his blessing. The blessing was fulfilled in Perez, a grandfather along the lineage of Christ.
BOAZ, SON OF SALMON AND RAHAB Also, we learned that Boaz was a fulfillment of God’s blessing for Rahab, the prostitute that harbored two Israeli spies in Jericho. Rahab earned blessing because she feared God and protected people she believed were on a mission for him notwithstanding their mission included spying on her people. Any punishment she incurred for prostitution had no effect on her blessing. The blessing was fulfilled in Boaz, a grandfather along the lineage of Christ.
TWO-PART STUDY From the genealogy of Jesus, we examine the lives of a number of individuals who would have been considered unsuitable based on ordinary standards of current society, yet God granted each of them the special favor of being identified as a grandfather along the lineage of our Lord Jesus. We select four persons for the study—Perez, Boaz, Obed, and Solomon—because the bible provides additional information to enable an understanding of their lives. We discuss Perez and Boaz in this session. Obed and Solomon will be discussed in Part 2 of the study.
EARNED BLESSING AND INCURRED PUNISHMENTWe learn based on the study that one can earn blessings even if he/she has previously incurred punishment. Earned blessing and incurred punishment are parallel promises from God. An earned blessing remains effective until fulfilled, irrespective of any other occurrence in the person’s life. Similarly, incurred punishment would remain effective until fulfilled, unless forgiven upon true repentance by the sinner. In any case, incurred punishment does not prevent earning blessing; it does offset, and is not offset by, earned blessing.
GOD DOES NOT NEED PERFECTION Therefore, a person does not need to be perfect to find favor with God. One could earn blessings or experience fulfillment of earned blessings even with incurred punishment in his/her past. The examples in this study provide evidence that all are invited to seek opportunities for blessing. Imperfection does not present insurmountable obstacle against earning blessing.
Has God called you to provide a service? Your responsibilities under the mission include making yourself acceptable to the potential beneficiaries so they can accept what you provide in line with God’s desire for their lives. We learn about this in a study of David’s interactions with the people of Israel after he was confirmed king over the tribe of Judah.
King in Hebron
After the death of Saul, David returned to Israel from Philistine city of Ziklag where he lived as refugee. He settled in Hebron, a city in Judah. The people of Judah confirmed him king over them. Recall that God had anointed David to succeed Saul as king of Israel. David therefore could not have been satisfied with being king of only Judah, one of twelve tribes of Israel because this was not what his assignment was.
Forgiveness without repentance could result in an “eating with the devil” relationship, in which one would use a proverbial long spoon in readiness to run away at any appearance of provocation. God can see through your heart to know if you have repented. However, a fellow human being may need a physical manifestation of your repentance to truly forgive.
Joseph Seeks True Forgiveness
Joseph sought and found true forgiveness for his senior brothers. Recall that his brothers met him in Egypt approximately 20 years after they sold him to slavery. He was a powerful man, the administrative head of all Egypt. His brothers did not recognize him. He recognized them but did not reveal himself. Instead, he subjected them to several tests to verify their repentance.