Joseph: In the Context of the Big Story of Genesis – John Lennox

This session puts Joseph’s life in the context of the story of Genesis. The book of Genesis begins with the creation of the universe and ends with Joseph’s family, the young nation of Israel, settling in Egypt. How does the life of Joseph fit into such a sprawling story? John Lennox investigates.

VIDEO by FOCL Online

Reclame

Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem fulfills a 700 year old prophecy

Photo credit www.wtv-zone.com –

Where the Messiah would be born.

But as for you Bethlehem, Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from You one will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from everlasting. (Micah 5:1 in the Hebrew Scriptures; in most English translations it is Micah 5:2)

Photo credit www.flickr.com Map of the journey of Mary and Joseph
from Nazareth to Bethlehem is about 90 miles as the crow flies
but walking it is more like 90 miles
through winding mountain trails and probably took about a week.

This passage, written around 700 B.C., has been recognized by traditional Jewish sources to indicate that the Messiah would be from Bethlehem.

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1-7) Bethlehem Photo below – credit www.polmontold.org.uk

Critics have said that Mary and Joseph arranged to have Jesus born there to fulfill the prophecy, but the historical events of that day refute that. Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth but had to return to Bethlehem to meet the requirements of the census. Joseph (as well as Mary) was from the lineage of King David (Matthew 1:1-17) and that place of family origin is where the count needed to be taken. Interestingly, a petition for tax relief from the Jewish people to Caesar postponed the taking of the census for a period of time, which „allowed” Mary to come to full term and give birth to Jesus while still in Bethlehem. These were not circumstances she could have planned herself.

You can read the entire article here at Jews for Jesus –  A look at one of the predictions of the Messiah’s coming in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus

Photo credit Wikipedia

1. The Decree of Augustus Caesar and the Birth of Christ
(Luke 2:1-7)

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should beregistered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem,because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

2. The First Visitors – Shepherds (Luke 2:8-20)

8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. (Photo credit ruthiedean.com)

3. The Second Visitors – Magi (Mat 2:1-12)

2 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been bornking of the Jews? For we saw his star when it roseand have come to worship him.”3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” 9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. (Photo credit www.asiantribune.com)

Bethlehem: City Location

Modern Bethlehem is an agricultural market and trade center closely linked to nearby Jerusalem. It lies at a distance of 10 kms (6 miles) to the south of the Old City of Jerusalem. It is situated on a mountainous site, 777 meters (2600 feet) above the level of the Mediterranean Sea and overlooks its surroundings. Its surface resembles the shape of a semi circle.  From the west, the town of Bethlehem is bounded by the town of Beit Jala and from the east by the town of Beit Sahour. From the north it is bordered by Jerusalem and the village of Sur Bahir and from the south by Solomon’s Pools and the villages of al-Khader and Artas. Forty thousand people live in the administrative limits of the municipality of Bethlehem and five thousand people in the old center of the town. As a symbol of the increased intermingling of the region’s people, beside Arabic, the native language, English is widely spoken. French, German and Spanish are spoken too. (Source)

The city of Bethlehem (or House of Bread) lies within the territory assigned to the tribe of Judah. It lies in the midst of what was a fertile country, about six miles south by west from Jerusalem. The ancient city was beautifully situated on a commanding ridge, 2700 feet above the level of the sea. The hills around it were terraced, and clothed with vines, fig trees, and almonds, and the surrounding valleys yielded luxuriant harvests of grain. Jacob buried Rachel near its gate, and it was the home of Ruth and the birthplace of David, and ” David’s greater son ” the Lord Jesus Christ. Its population was small in the days of the Saviour, but at present is about 3000, nearly all the inhabitants being Christians. It is said to be one of the cleanest and neatest towns in Israel. St. Jerome lived there for more than thirty years, and there made his famous translation of the Bible into the Latin language. – Ancient Geography (PHOTO credit Photobucket.com)

Bethlehem in Easton’s Bible Dictionary house of bread. (1.) A city in the „hill country” of Judah. It was originally called Ephrath (Gen. 35:16, 19; 48:7; Ruth 4:11). It was also called Beth-lehem Ephratah (Micah 5:2), Beth-lehem-judah (1 Sam. 17:12), and „the city of David” (Luke 2:4). It is first noticed in Scripture as the place where Rachel died and was buried „by the wayside,” directly to the north of the city (Gen. 48:7). The valley to the east was the scene of the story of Ruth the Moabitess. There are the fields in which she gleaned, and the path by which she and Naomi returned to the town. Here was David’s birth-place, and here also, in after years, he was anointed as king by Samuel (1 Sam. 16:4-13); and it was from the well of Bethlehem that three of his heroes brought water for him at the risk of their lives when he was in the cave of Adullam (2 Sam. 23:13-17). But it was distinguished above every other city as the birth-place of „Him whose goings forth have been of old” (Matt. 2:6; comp. Micah 5:2). Afterwards Herod, „when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men,” sent and slew „all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under” (Matt. 2:16, 18; Jer. 31:15).

Bethlehem bears the modern name of Beit-Lahm, i.e., „house of flesh.” It is about 5 miles south of Jerusalem, standing at an elevation of about 2,550 feet above the sea, thus 100 feet higher than Jerusalem. There is a church still existing, built by Constantine the Great (A.D. 330), called the „Church of the Nativity,” over a grotto or cave called the „holy crypt,” and said to be the „stable” in which Jesus was born. This is perhaps the oldest existing Christian church in the world. Close to it is another grotto, where Jerome the Latin father is said to have spent thirty years of his life in translating the Scriptures into Latin. (See VERSION ¯T0003768.) (2.) A city of Zebulun, mentioned only in Josh. 19:15. Now Beit-Lahm, a ruined village about 6 miles west- north-west of Nazareth.
http://www.bible-history.com/eastons/B/Bethlehem/

Photo credit http://news.bbc.co.uk

Bethlehem in the Bible Encyclopedia – ISBE beth’-le-hem (bethlechem; Baithleem, or Bethleem, „house of David,” or possibly „the house of Lakhmu,” an Assyrian deity): I. Bethlehem Judah: Bethlehem Judah, or EPHRATH or EPHRATHAH (which see) is now Beit Lahm (Arabic = „house of meat”), a town of upward of 10,000 inhabitants, 5 miles South of Jerusalem and 2,350 ft. above sea level. It occupies an outstanding position upon a spur running East from the watershed with deep valleys to the Northeast and South It is just off the main road to Hebron and the south, but upon the highroad to Tekoa and En- gedi. The position is one of natural strength; it was occupied by a garrison of the Philistines in the days of David (2 Sam 23:14; 1 Ch 11:16) and was fortified by Rehoboam (2 Ch 11:6).

The surrounding country is fertile, cornfields, fig and olive yards and vineyards abound. Bethlehem is not naturally well supplied with water, the nearest spring is 800 yds. to the Southeast, but for many centuries the „low level aqueduct” from „Solomon’s Pools” in the ArTas valley, which has here been tunneled through the hill, has been tapped by the inhabitants; there are also many rock-cut cisterns. 1. Early History: In 1 Ch 2:51 Salma, the son of Caleb, is described as the „father of Bethlehem.” In Gen 35:19; 48:7 it is recorded that Rachel „was buried in the way to Ephrath (the same is Beth-lehem).” Tradition points out the site of Rachel’s tomb near where the road to Bethlehem leaves the main road. The Levites of the events of Jdg 17; 19 were Bethlehemites. In the list of the towns of Judah the name Bethlehem occurs, in the Septuagint version only in Josh 15:57. 2.

David the Bethlehemite: Ruth, famous chiefly as the ancestress of David, and of the Messiah, settled in Bethlehem with her second husband Boaz, and it is noticeable that from her new home she could view the mountains of Moab, her native land. David himself „was the son of that Ephrathite of Bethlehem-judah, whose name was Jesse” (1 Sam 17:12). To Bethlehem came Samuel to anoint a successor to unworthy Saul (1 Sam 16:4): „David went to and fro from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem” (1 Sam 17:15). David’s „three mighty men” „brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Beth-lehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David” (2 Sam 23:14,16). Tradition still points out the well. From this town came those famous „sons of Zeruiah,” David’s nephews, whose loyalty and whose ruthless cruelty became at once a protection and a menace to their royal relative: in 2 Sam 2:32 it is mentioned that one of them, Asahel, was buried „in the sepulchre of his father, which was in Bethlehem.” 3. Later Bible History: After the time of David, Bethlehem would appear to have sunk into insignificance. But its future fame is pointed at by Micah (5:2): „But thou, Beth-lehem Ephrathah, which art little to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall one come forth …  http://www.bible-history.com/isbe/B/BETHLEHEM/

Photo credit scripture-for-today.blogspot.com

Bethlehem in Scripture 

1 Chronicles 11:18 Then the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate and took it and brought it to David. But David would not drink it. He poured it out to the Lord.

1 Chronicles 2:51 Salma the father of Bethlehem, Hareph the father of Bethgader.

1 Chronicles 4:4 and Penuel fathered Gedor, and Ezer fathered Hushah. These were the sons of Hur, the firstborn of Ephrathah, the father of Bethlehem.

Luke 2:15   When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”

Luke 2:4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,

Matthew 2:16  Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.

Matthew 2:6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Micah 5:2 But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.

Ruth 1:22  So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.

Ruth 4:11  Then all the people who were at the gate and the elders said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you act worthily in Ephrathah and be renowned in Bethlehem.

~~~~~~~~~~

Bethlehem (Ephrath) (in Judah): Belt Lahm. associated with Rachel, Gen. 35. 19 (cf. Matt. 2. 18); in Judah, Judg. 17.7; home of Ruth, Ruth 1. 1 &c.; of David, 1 Sam. 17. 2; 2. Sam. 23. 15; Mic. 5. 2; Ezr. 2. 21; Neh. 7. 26; birth-place of Jesus, Matt. 2. lff.; Luke 2. 4 (cf. John 7. 42)

  • Genesis 35:19 – So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem),
  • Matthew 2:18 – “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”
  • Judges 17:7 – Now there was a young man of Bethlehem in Judah, of the family of Judah, who was a Levite, and he sojourned there.
  • Ruth 1:1 – In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man ofBethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons.
  • 1 Samuel 17:2 – And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered, and encamped in the Valley of Elah, and drew up in line of battle against the Philistines.
  • 2 Samuel 23:15 – And David said longingly, “Oh, that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem that is by the gate!” 
  • Micah 5:2 – But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
    from you shall come forth for me
    one who is to be ruler in Israel,
    whose coming forth is from of old,
    from ancient days.
  • Ezra 2:21 – The sons of Bethlehem, 123.
  • Nehemiah 7:26 – The men of Bethlehem and Netophah, 188.
  • Matthew 2:1 – Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem.
  • Luke 2:4 – And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,
  • John 7:42 – Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?”

SOURCE: http://www.bible-history.com/

orasul betleem

Photo credit www.homeofourfathers.com

 History of Bethlehem

Three thousand years before the birth of Christ, Bethlehem was already known as a Canaanite settlement. Canaanite tribes who settled in Palestine, built small cities surrounded by walls for protection against the attacks of raiders. One of these cities was Beit Lahama known today as Bethlehem. So, the word Bethlehem is derived from Lahmo the Chaldean god of fertility, which was adopted by the Canaanites as Lahama. In accordance with the Canaanite practice of building temples to their gods, they built a temple for Lahama on the present mount of the Nativity which overlooks the fertile valleys of the region. Walls, ramparts and other structures in different sites in Bethlehem clearly establish its Canaanite origin 3000 years before the birth of Jesus.

Bethlehem was mentioned around 1350 BC in the Tell al-Amarna letters, from the Egyptian governor of Palestine to the Pharaoh Amenhotep III. It was depicted as an important staging and rest stop for travelers from Syria and Palestine going to Egypt. The letters also signify that it was a border city of mid-Palestine and an outpost looking out towards the desert. The Philistines had a garrison stationed in Bethlehem because it was a strong strategic point. They entered the land of the Canaanites, mingled with its people and settled in the southern coasts between Jaffa and Gaza. The Philistines had achieved military supremacy over the greater part of the country around 1200 BC, and called it Palestine.

The narrative of the Old Testament mentions Bethlehem in the first book of the Bible when Jacob, son of Abraham, and his family were journeying to the city of Hebron passing by Bethlehem (Ephrata) (Genesis 35: 16-19). There, his wife Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin, and he buried her by the side of the Bethlehem Road where her tomb has been a shrine to this day: „And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem.” In that time, Bethlehem was a small, walled town erected on a hill in the northern part of the present town of Bethlehem. The name of Bethlehem (Ephrata) „the fruitful” itself suggests a pastoral and agricultural life. The tale of Ruth, the Moabite, and Boaz suggests an atmosphere of idyllic rusticity that is still obvious today (Ruth 2-4). Ruth’s grandson was King David of whose lineage Christ was born.

A decree of Caesar Augustus, ordering the taking of a census in all the provinces of the Roman Empire, brought Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, thus fulfilling the prophecy of Micah, spoken 750 years before: „And thou, Bethlehem Ephrata, art a little one among the thousands of Juda: out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be the ruler of his people”(Mikha 5:2). When Jesus was born in Bethlehem,  Herod the Great was a vassal of Rome and in 6 AD Palestine was incorporated in the imperial province of Syria.  Emperor Hadrian in 135 AD profaned the sanctity of the Grotto of the Nativity and turned it into a pagan shrine.

From Hadrian’s time until the reign of Constantine, the population worshipped Adonis in the cave where the infant Jesus was born. Palestine, consequently, was officially pagan as was the whole Roman empire until 313 when Constantine proclaimed Christianity as the religion of the state. In the year 325 the Bishop of Jerusalem, St. Maccarius, took the opportunity of acquainting the Emperor Constantine with the neglected condition of the Holy Places in his diocese. Thus, the Emperor ordered the construction, at public expense, of monumental churches to commemorate the three principal events of Jesus’ life: Nativity, Crucifixion and Resurrection. One of these was a church enshrining the scene of the Nativity. Christian traditions were so clear and deeply rooted that there was no problem in locating the correct place. Among the trees, not far from the village, was a cave which the local people and their parents had known for generations to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ. The cave was made the center of a scheme for the church and work began the following year (326 AD)

Toward the end of the 4th century, Bethlehem became a very important center of monastic life. In 384 AD St. Jerome arrived from Rome with a group of pilgrims. He came to Bethlehem to continue his work in the atmosphere of monastic life. He devoted himself to the tremendous task with which Pope St. Damasus had entrusted him, namely to review all old Latin translations of the Bible and produce a new version, the Vulgate, based on original Hebrew and Greek texts. Two Roman ladies of noble origin, St. Paula and her daughter Eustochium moved to Bethlehem in 386 to lead an ascetic life along with St. Jerome. They founded the earliest monastic community in Bethlehem which has lasted, with some interruption, to this day. Paula used her riches to build a hospice for pilgrims and two monasteries, one for St. Jerome and his followers, and the other for herself and the nuns.

When the Roman empire was divided in 395 into two empires, eastern and western, Palestine was attached to Byzantium, the eastern part. In the following years the life of the Latin-speaking communities of Bethlehem faded from view, eclipsed by the growth and more spectacular austerities of an eastern monasticism. As a result, the town of Bethlehem prospered and its population increased with the spread of churches, monasteries, and convents in Bethlehem itself, and the surrounding areas.  In AD 527 Justinian became Emperor in Constantinople. Under his reign Palestine witnessed a time of prosperity and expansion for its churches and for monasticism. Afterwards, in 529, the Samaritans rebelled against the Byzantine state and overran the country, plundering and destroying as they went. Churches and monasteries, towns and villages were all pillaged or gutted by fire. The walls of Bethlehem and its main church were destroyed. The revolt was soon quelled. At the same time the church was rebuilt in a grand style. The town wall and the defenses of the monasteries were repaired.

A few years later (614) the country was invaded by the Persians. According to an oral tradition, they did not cause any damage to the Church of the Nativity because they saw the pictures of the three Magi dressed as Persians, carrying gifts to Christ at his birth. Outside and above the roof of the narthex, the gable end overlooking the atrium was decorated with a mosaic scene of the birth of Christ with his mother holding the Child to her breast. In 637, soon after his entry into Jerusalem, the Muslim Caliph ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab visited Bethlehem. The relations between ‘Umar and the ecclesiastical authorities were friendly and a written agreement was granted to the Patriarch Sofronious. The tolerant policy was maintained by Umar’s successors till 1009. In that year a fanatic Caliph, al-Hakim, the one who had destroyed the Holy Sepulcher, declared a real persecution against Christians. However, Bethlehem was once more spared because al-Hakim wished to continue receiving the tribute Christians had been paying since Umar’s day.

The conquest of Palestine by the Crusaders in the year 1099 began a new chapter in the history of Bethlehem. Within a short time the Franks took over from the local clergy and installed a community of Augustinian canons under a prior who conducted services in the Latin language. The Crusaders reconstructed the town and made it a fortified outpost. They remained for about two centuries during which the town of Bethlehem prospered. Some of them intermarried with the local people and settled down. The 12th century opened Bethlehem to European social and ecclesiastical influences to an unprecedented extent. From every country, pilgrims could now visit the Holy Places bringing with them offerings to the church and prosperity to the merchants whose shops were built in front of it. In 1100, the Crusader King Baldwin succeeded in having Pope Pascal II establish a bishopric in Bethlehem.

In 1187, Saladin the Ayyubite captured Bethlehem. Although the Church of the Nativity was unharmed, the relations with the West were abruptly cut off, and the Latin Bishop and Canons were forced to leave. The life of the local people was seriously affected by the expulsion of the Latin community and the temporary interruption of the stream of western pilgrims on which the Bethlehemites primarily depended. However, because of two treaties, one signed by emperor Frederick II and Malek el-Kamel, sultan of Egypt, and the second by the king of Navarre and the Sultan of Damascus, Bethlehem was in Christian hands from 1229 to 1244. The Canons of St. Augustine could return to their convent and the Basilica was once more opened to the Christian world.

In 1250, the Ayyubid Dynasty was replaced in Egypt by Circassian Mamlukes, and the accession of the fanatical Sultan Rukn ed-Din Beibars brought an end to the tradition of tolerance that helped safeguard the Holy places. In 1263, Beibars ordered the dismantling of the towers and walls of Bethlehem. The church itself was not damaged, which gave rise to a legend that a serpent bit the marbles and cracked them, so that the Sultan could not take them to Cairo, as he wished. However, the Christians were banished from Bethlehem.

In the following century, western influences were reinforced; monks from the order of the Franciscan Friars Minor were established in Bethlehem in the old Augustinian priory, where they still reside.  The Franciscan Fathers had acquired possession of the grotto in 1347 and also, the right to administer the Basilica and to care for its maintenance. The Franciscan Custos, Giovanni, obtained from the Sultan Qaita Bey consent to renovate the roof of the Church of the Nativity. A few years later European influences at Bethlehem were set back by the expulsion of the Catholic Latin clergy for the second time.

With the Turkish occupation in 1517, the period of conflict between the Franciscans and the Greeks for the possession of the Sanctuaries began. Consequently, the Basilica passed from the Franciscans to the Greeks according to the favor enjoyed at the Sublime Porte (Ottoman Caliph) by the nation which supported the communities (Catholics or Orthodox). Under the Turkish regime the question of ownership and rights in the Holy Places took on an increasingly political and even international dimension. The first question in the dispute between France and Russia was concerned with the possession of the key to the main doors of the Basilica. The second was concerned with the mysterious removal, one night in the year 1847, of a silver star bearing a Latin inscription, which was put into a slab of marble beneath the altar of the Nativity. However, between the 17th and 18th centuries Bethlehem was on the verge of modern times. Long and continuous contact by the local people with travelers from Western Christendom had familiarized them with the manners and tastes of Western countries, and improved their economic condition.

Palestine was under Egyptian rule for ten years beginning in 1831. However, during this period, robbery and violence were too common, and the murder of a favorite of Ibrahim Pasha in 1834, resulted in the destruction of the Moslem quarter of the town and the disarming of the whole population. By 1841 Bethlehem was again under Turkish rule. The result was unemployment, oppression, compulsory military service and heavy taxes imposed on the inhabitants. This oppressive situation forced the people of Bethlehem to emigrate abroad, especially to the Americas, to earn a living and improve their life-style. By the end of the 19th century, several European missionaries came to Bethlehem and built schools.

The Turkish rule ended in 1917, and Palestine was placed under the British Mandate. At that time, the inhabitants of Bethlehem numbered about 8000. When the British withdrew from Palestine in 1948 the population of Bethlehem was 11,696. Wars between Arabs and Jews continued and the latter occupied most of Palestine and declared their state ‘Israel’. The town of Bethlehem remained unoccupied and towards the end of 1948, the union of the eastern part of Palestine and Trans-Jordan was declared under the name of the Hashemite  Kingdom of Jordan. A second war between the Arabs and Israelis broke out in 1967, and the latter occupied the remainder of Palestine including Bethlehem. Bethlehem remained under the Israeli occupation until December 22, 1995 when the Palestinian Authority took over in compliance with the Oslo Accord of 1993.

In September 1993 Israel and the PLO signed the Oslo Accord. Among its provisions, the accord called for a five-year interim period of Palestinian Autonomy in the West Bank and Gaza at the end of which the final status of the occupied territories will be decided. However, the implementation of the accord met setbacks resulting from the intransigence of the Israeli extremists.

 

Dr. Jerry Vines – Return to Holiness

South Fulton Baptist Church „Return to Holiness” Revival with guest speaker Dr Jerry Vines. The message begins at the  11:30 minute mark.

Dr. Vines: We’re going to be taking a look at  a man whom nothing bad is said in the Scripture. Of course, we know that he was a sinner that needed the saving grace of God, and yet, he is the most Christ like man in the Old Testament. And he is a man who calls us to holiness and I want us to talk about him for a little while this evening.

TEXT – Genesis 37:15-19 and several other chapters

15 And a certain man found him, and, behold, he was wandering in the field: and the man asked him, saying, What seekest thou?
16 And he said, I seek my brethren: tell me, I pray thee, where they feed their flocks.
17 And the man said, They are departed hence; for I heard them say, Let us go to Dothan. And Joseph went after his brethren, and found them in Dothan.
18 And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him.
19 And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh.

Wednesday Night Dr.Jerry Vines-2013 from South Fulton Baptist Church on Vimeo.

Consequences of sin – Joseph’s story

Read also:

  1. Jacob – (1) father of Israel (and of Joseph) (Chart of the 12 tribes of Israel)
  2. The Story of Jacob (2) the Father of Israel) Genesis 25-33 (D A Carson on Jacob)

God forgives sin.  Besides the danger of becoming enslaved to our sin (Romans 6:16) and finding ourselves  separated from God (Isaiah 59:2), there are also some personal and physical consequences that we will suffer for our sinful actions even though God has forgiven our sin. (Photo on right wikipedia)

You can read the Bible’s story of Joseph in the book of Genesis in chapters 37-50.

Some of the consequences of the sin Joseph’s brothers committed when they sold him into slavery:

  • Their sin was constantly before them-the brother they were so jealous of and wanted to forget about was in their mind daily as their father Jacob’s unceasing grief did not abate. They also feared, lest anything should happen to the youngest son Benjamin, whom Jacob now loved and favored.
  • Uncertainty- They always wondered whether God was punishing them for what they had done to Joseph.
  • Physical hardship- They had to make the approx 250 mile trek to Egypt on foot  (that Joseph made as a slave) 6 times  (3 trips) with little provisions.  See Map 2)

Joseph was the 11th son born to Jacob (also called Israel) and Rachel(who died in childbirth when Benjamin, the 12th, and youngest son was born.Gen 37:2 states that Joseph brings a bad report to his father about his brothers, then we read how Jacob favors Joseph by making him a coat of many colors, and thirdly Joseph has special dreams (Genesis 39:5-11). All 3 factors lead to conflict in the family and the unbridled jealousy of his brothers leads to plans for murder.

„The final episode (Genesis 37:31-35) shows the desperate brothers concocting yet another scheme  to be rid of Joseph. Their plan to dispose of Joseph ended in a fiasco, now their plan to erase his memory from the family, by faking his death, fails miserably. In a powerfully ironic twist, although Jacob is deceived by the sight of Joseph’s special coat stained with goat’s blood, his unceasing grieving means that the brothers can never forget Joseph and his exalted position in the family”. (Biblica P. 125)

Although the brothers planned to kill Joseph, in the end, due to the influence of his older brothers Reuben and Judah, they decide instead to sell him to passing Ishmaelite/Midianite traders.

If being sold into slavery by your own brothers isn’t bad enough, look at the long road Joseph had to walk on foot in order to get to Egypt. (I have seen the distance between Dothan, Israel and Heliopolis or Cairo Egypt to be estimated at about 240 to 280 miles depending on the old (spice) routes taken by caravans back then.

So, imagine being threatened by death from the hands of your own brothers, then being sold into slavery and then walking on foot through desert land, more than 250 miles to Egypt, and all this at the tender age of 17.

Map scanned from Biblica – The Bible Atlas. For a more detailed report on Joseph’s life click here.

And it doesn’t end there. Joseph is purchased by a wealthy man called Potiphar who was captain of the guards for Pharaoh. There Joseph prospered and found favor with Potiphar until Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him continuously. Joseph refused  the temptation on the grounds that it would be a sin against God. Potiphar’s wife framed Joseph with her household and Joseph was imprisoned. He spent 2 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Even in prison Joseph found favor with the warden and he interpreted Pharaoh’s baker and cupbearer’s dreams accurately. When the Pharaoh had a troubling dream, the cup bearer remembered Joseph’s correct interpretation of his dream and recommended Joseph to Pharaoh.  Joseph prophetically interpreted Pharaoh’s dream from God and 13 years after Joseph was sold into captivity by his brothers(and at the age of 30), Pharaoh makes Joseph Prime Minister, gives him his signet ring which made him second in command after Pharaoh and Joseph starts to gather the harvests in storehouses for 7 years as he prepares for the 7 lean years of famine to come (from Pharaoh’s dream).

Joseph then married Pharaoh’s priest’s daughter Asenath and had 2 sons-Manasseh and Ephraim. During the famine Joseph becomes the savior of the world with his surplus of stored grain. The famine reaches his father Jacob in Canaan, and Jacob is forced to send his sons to Egypt to buy food.

The brothers have 3 encounters with Joseph (read Genesis 42-45) before Joseph reveals to his brothers his true identity(Genesis 45:1-3).

The troubled and divided family is finally reunited in Egypt (Goshen in the northeastern Nile delta). With the family of Jacob/Israel safely in Egypt, the stage is set for the story of Israel in the book of Exodus.

Joseph’s brothers made 3 (round) trips, traveling the approx. 250 miles trek that Joseph was forced to take when they sold him into slavery. (Map scanned from Biblica – The Bible Atlas)

Voddie Baucham – God’s will vs. my will

https://i2.wp.com/thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/files/2012/06/voddie-baucham.jpg

at Southern Baptist University, September 2010

Our preoccupation with wealth, prestige and power shapes the way we view the Scriptures. It causes us to see things that are not there and to miss things that ought to scream at us.

When it comes to sexual temptation- FLEE!

When it comes to sexual temptation, the only way to get out of it- the prompting- and you know what is the general guideline for sexual temptation? God says, „Flee fornication!” 

1 Corinthians 6:18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.

Flee- you know what’s ‘flee’? Run! Like Joseph. Joseph fled from Potiphar’s wife. You know, this guy Potiphar, he’s a high ranking officer of Pharaoh. Potiphar can have any woman he wants. He had nobility, he was a high ranking official and he has all the women he wants for his harem. But, for his wife he would choose the very best and she was probably very beautiful. And that’s why when she tried to seduce Joseph, Joseph ran. There were no commandments because Joseph lived before the commandments. But, Joseph knew how to face sexual temptation. This is one temptation you don’t stand there saying, „Come on.. I’ll fight you in Jesus name.” No, just run, flee.

Flee means- you are driving along and you meet an old friend, someone you had been attracted to last time or whatever and she says, „Will you give me a lift?” And you say, „No, because… testimony… people see me and…you know, you understand…. here’s some money for a taxi. Flee, flee. In my case, I don’t counsel the opposite sex and because I don’t, I can tell all my (assistant) pastors, „Don’t counsel the opposite sex.” Our church has invested heavily in the training of female counselors  and these ladies are trained by me, the guidelines are set by me and they counsel the ladies of the church.  Because problems start with good intentions.

The problem is that you are not fleeing. There is something unique about sexual sin. It affects your body. The Bible tells you that this sin will affect your body, the other sins won’t. Is it your health? Will you age so much faster? I do not know, but I do know it will affect your body. I remember some years ago, I noticed a counselor in our church, he was very popular, ladies were coming to him to be counseled. So, I talked to the wife and told her: watch him. We don’t allow guys to counsel women, but, sometimes situations are such…  that we are flexible. But, keep an eye on your husband. She said, „You know what pastor? I trust my husband.” You know what, I said, „I don’t want my wife to trust me in this area.” Why? Because I am red blooded. I’m a man. I don’t want my wife to trust me in this area. No, no, no.

You know why? Because evreything starts out innocently. A little flirtation, a little attraction. The guy really wants to counsel the girl. The forces of attraction are very strong. So, the best thing is not to trust yourself in this area. PUT NO CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH. You need to understand why people fall into sin. It works like this in the cycle:

  1. First of all temptation comes. It can come in a talk, or something you saw, something you remembered,
  2. Then, before it becomes sin, this always happens. The in between is this: Confidence in the flesh (I can handle this). The apostle Paul says in Philippians 3, „Put no confidence in the flesh.” We must not trust in this area. For example, take a boy, your computer is outside the room (or on his cellphone). The boy says, „you don’t trust me dad?” Tell him, „I trust you, I just don’t trust your flesh.” That’s a smart dad. Because I don’t trust my own flesh. When you don’t trust your flesh you are safe. The moment you say, „I can handle this, I can watch this show, no problem,” and you may mean it but, you are putting confidence in the flesh. And your flesh will always bring you to the dark side. You think: Oh, it’s getting late and an attractive girl like her should not be going home alone. I think I’ll take her back. Innocent, alright? I can handle this. Or I’ll just open this email. You know, there’s some suggestive photos but the website is okay. Or this movie, there’s some good elements… I can handle this. It starts with confidence in the flesh. You’re smart if you learn to run like Joseph. And you know something? (In the end) God could trust him to rule. Does that mean poor Joseph was repressed for the rest of his life? No, he had a lovely wife, had children, had double fruitfulness. He enjoyed married life and best of all, he was able to have a clear conscience.
  3. If you have utter confidence in the flesh you fall into sin, indulgence.
  4. And the prompt of sin is guilt. In guilt you have new resolutions. „From now on, I’ll never turn on the computer. From now on, I’ll never look at the opposite sex. From now on, I won’t even talk to the opposite sex.” You know, some extreme stupidity. „From now on, never again, never again…” When the devil hears that, the devil says, „Good!” Resolutions don’t work because they presume on man’s strength. The more you distrust in yourself in this matter, the better it is for you.  Once you have these guilt resolution, you have a propensity for fresh temptations.

The way Jesus broke this is He counseled a woman, He ministered a woman caught in adultery. She wasn’t a prostitute. She was caught in adultery and what did Jesus tell her? „I don’t condemn you. Go and sin no more.” The church has it backwards. The church says, „Go and sin no more first, then we won’t condemn you.” In other words, Jesus gave her the gift of no condemnation and that became an empowerment to go and sin no more.

Addiction to pornography has destroyed countless lives and marriages, even in the church. What is at the root of this addiction, and how can this and all destructive addictions be truly broken once and for all? Joseph Prince tackles these questions head-on and shows from God’s Word how only God’s grace and gift of no condemnation can truly set one free. Listen to this life-changing message today, and allow God’s grace to deliver, lead and empower you to experience victory over condemnation and every destructive habit in your life!

Uploaded by  on Jun 1, 2011

Loran Livingston – Why do righteous people experience illness and suffering? And what of –> word of faith?

Thanks to Cornel Ilioi who first noted Pastor Livinston’s sermons and thus recommended him to us. Loran Livingston is Pastor of Central Church of God in Charlotte, North Carolina. Link to Loran Livingston podcast here.

Pastor Loran Livingstone, These are Sermon notes from the April 1,2012 Sunday morning message. You can view it here or listen to audio,  or you can click here if that page no longer displays this sermon.

Text: James 5:10-11

My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. 11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.

„The end intended by the Lord”. You see, in your life right now the Lord has an intended, planned end. As you read the Book of Job, you see that what God had in store for Job at the end was more than a man could express or comprehend. So, here we stand today, blessed by the reading of the oldest book in the Bible, Job and God decided with the very first book to deal with persecution, loss, sickness, discouragement. That’s the first thing God said to us, pen on paper in Scripture: That you will suffer, but, God has an intended end and that end is better than you can imagine.

I would imagine that if you have never read the entire Book of Job you have heard about it. You’ve heard about the patience of Job. You’ve heard about his losses. I guess what I cannot really grasp, this righteous man, and the Bible says he was. He’s even mentioned in the Book of Jeremiah with Noah and Daniel as 3 of God’s choices of righteous, obedient servants. So, here’s a righteous man; there’s none like him in the entire world, the Bible said, God even said that, who is losing everything he had. Amazingly, he survives- without a Bible, without spiritual friends to pray with, without a church to attend, without christian music playing in the background. He had nothing. But, the grace of God brought him through it.

The thoughtfulness, the mercy, the grace of God intended for a man to come out of an indescribable tragedy or series of tragedies with a thankful heart and a stronger faith. Now, of course you know how people are. These 3 companions of Job said, „Job, the bottom line is we think we understand God and we know that God doesn’t punish people for nothing. There must be some sin in your life.

May I say to you that if you ever go through something, there will be those who will say, „They’re getting payback because God is a just God.” You better hope that He is a long suffering and just God. „God would not afflict the sinless,” they said, because they had a limited understanding of God Himself. Now, one of the Scriptures that I use so often is this, „His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts.” You cannot figure God out. I don’t care how much of the Word you have memorized, you cannot comprehend, nor will you ever be able to figure God’s ways. And so, it behooves all of us to be careful when we pass a judgement on somebody that is going through something, because our time is coming. Right?

Let me say that in a different way. We would do well to leave the reasons for one’s suffering up to God and not to think that because we are Scripture-holics that we can go to a certain category of suffering and say, „That’s why they’re going through this… payback has come!” Even Jesus said one day, Son of God… raised the dead… and this is what He said in John 5:30 „I can of myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and my judgement is righteous, because I do not seek my own will but the will of the Father who sent Me„. He said, „As I hear, I judge”. Hear what? There is a voice from heaven. There’s God’s voice, the Father’s voice. He wasn’t saying, „As I hear people…give their opinion, I make a judgement”. No, no. This voice that He heard, came from above. And He said: When I listen to that voice, my judgement is righteous. You can’t just look at circumstances in a person’s life and conclude why things are happening. That is why we are taught to pray without ceasing and to seek the face of the Lord because the Holy Spirit speaks to us. I believe He impresses us with things.

If God’s people, instead of coming up to someone whose heart is broken, whose life is all to pieces and telling them, „Is there any sin in your life?….” Now, I have to be honest with you. That would truly aggravate me. And you can call it… well we gotta cover all the bases… Well, are you kidding me? „Well, is there any sin in your life?” „Of course there is, you … person!”  „No, no, no Pastor, I mean known sin”.  Well, how can you not know a sin? How can you be doing something that violates God and not know it? The Holy Spirit is the one that tells you what to do and what not to do. „Is there any sin in your life?” „Brother, you better be careful, you’re moving into some territory of authority that you are not capable of handling.” „Is there any sin? God does not judge people who are sinless.”

I have to be very honest with you. I have grown in the Lord over the years and I have changed some of the things that I used to thing were right. You know, we’re still very guilty in the church of not knowing how to handle somebody else’s problems, so we try to make it a spiritual thing and be done with it. Somebody says, „I went to the doctor today and I found out that I have a spot on my lung. Since we don’t know what to do with that, or what to say, we say, „Oh that’s the devil and I rebuke the…, just grab my hand and we go into a tirade and we rebuke the devil and cast him out. And he will not have authority in this situation and you will live and not die!”  And of course, that’s just a way of saying, „Ooh, I don’t know how to handle this, so I’ll throw it over in the spiritual camp and I will divest myself of any personal responsibility and just give it to Jesus”.

God’s sovereignty

And, a lot of times we speak against and tirade against something that God Himself has allowed. Ooh, now I know exactly where to go with this. You know, you need to be very careful (in) how you handle those kinds of things. Please remember, the devil can do nothing without God’s permission. „Well, the devil has attacked my family. You all pray that God will make him stop.” He (the devil) couldn’t have attacked your family if God had not given him permission to do so. Now, I didn’t expect to get a rousing response to all of that because we still want to live in that place of denial where God wouldn’t allow us to suffer. Suffering only comes from the enemy. Well, it doesn’t, ladies and gentlemen.

So all of these super spiritual faith-word, faith filled tirades against a circumstance in someone’s life do not serve for the better at all. What we should be saying is, „Let’s pray about this together. Let me hold you up in prayer. I don’t know the source of this. I  don’t know the end of this, neither do you. But, if we stay before God  and let God bring it to the intended end, you will see that the Lord is very gracious and  merciful in your life.  Instead of trying to erase pain and remove discomfort, we ought to be diving in the middle of it and saying: God is sovereign. God  is doing a work.  This is the work of the Lord. We will not speak against it . We will receive it by faith and we will do  what God has called us to do and that is- worship, praise and pray. I lift up holy hands to a God I cannot understand, but trust and I will say: You are Lord, You are God  and You are sovereign and I will serve You no matter what comes my way! „. Don’t make quick judgements about someone’s suffering, not even yours. 

I think that enough time has passed, that the Lord will allow me to deal with this again. Every time we have a problem come our way, we immediately think of what we did in the past and now it has come to bite us in our life. Every time discomfort or tragedy, or pain or bad reports come our way, our immediate action is to say, „I knew it. Here it comes. It was 39 years ago, but I knew that sooner or later I have to pay for it. And, the Bible teaches us, our Lord taught us: You can’t even judge your own condition or the problem you’re going through, you don’t even comprehend. This is the Lord’s work. So, not only are we warned not to judge why someone else is suffering, but we’re told not to judge our own suffering because God is in control of our lives.

If He’s in control of my life, it means that the point where He forgave me cleansed me. I am no longer held accountable for what I did, when the bloof of Jesus covered it and I was forgiven of it. I don’t care if you had 30 abortions, I don’t care if you killed a dozen people, I just don’t care. If the blood of Jesus has been applied to your life, if you’ve asked for forgiveness, if by faith you’ve received Him, it’s all erased. It’s all forgotten. It’s all thrown into the sea of God’s forgetfulness and don’t let the devil… much more than that, don’t let yourself always be dredging up what God forgave and trying to figure out why you’re suffering now.

You are suffering now because God loves you. You are suffering because God has an intended end for your life. You are suffering because where you are now is just not good enough for where God wants you to be. You are suffering because you are going to see the mercy of the Lord. You will suffer so you will see the faithfulness of God. You are suffering so when everybody else has been shooed into a corner and doesn’t have anything else to say, the Lord will have the last word and He will say: „I bought you and I keep you and I’m taking you all the way to heaven.

Word of faith theological crisis

At some point in your life, you’re gonna have a theological crisis. Oh, my Lord, the roads are strewn with Word of Faith people who said: This won’t happen and we won’t receive that and I will live and that won’t…  Well, there’s just a whole pile of them laying back there and they’re all stunned saying, „What happened? We thought we knew. We used our authority”. But they had a theological crisis. What they thought about the Bible did not measure up with the sovereignty of the Lord.

Abraham’s theological crisis

There was Abraham. God says to Him, not through Scriptures now, there was no Bible. He speaks to him. „Was it audibly pastor?” „I really don’t know. I know He spoke to him. That’s all that needs to be said”. And He told him, „Kill your son”. And, immediately Abraham had a theological crisis because God said to Noah, many, many years before that, when they came off the ark, „Whoever kills, must be killed”. That’s capital punishment. „Whoever takes the life of a man, his life must be taken, also.”  Now, here’s God telling this man of faith, „Kill your son”. I call that a theological crisis. I call that a conflict of what you’ve heard and known with what you are now hearing from God. How would you resolve that? You have to cause it’s in the Bible. What would you do with that? There’s nothing you can do except say,” Abraham trusted what God said and knew that at some point the theological crisis would work itself out and God never contradicts Himself, but He does things in a process that makes Him look like He contradicts Himself. And if you dwell on that you will confuse yourself and get defeated. But, if you will let  God be God and finish what He starts, you will glory in the Lord”.

Joseph’s theological crisis

How about Joseph? Now, you talk about a theological crisis? His great grandfather was Abraham. Now, after Abraham saw the goodness of the Lord and went through his and got it all worked out, he taught his grandson and his great grandson these kinds of things: If you honor and obey God, God will honor and bless you. So, here’s Joseph (thinking): I already know how God works.I’ve been taught well. My ancestors, my forefather, my great granddaddy… if anybody should know, great granddaddy Abraham should know, about great faith and trust in God… If you honor and obey God, God will bless you. And He did, and Joseph went to prison. What are you going to say about that? He honored God, he obeyed God, he ran from sin, he ran from adultery, he ran from everything that was displeasing to God and ended up in prison. Now, brother, when you’re lying in a jail cell after you’ve done the right thing and you’ve done all the good things and you are in a jail cell, separated from your family and nobody knows where you are and you don’t know if you’re gonna live till the sun comes up, I call that a theological crisis.

But, the Lord had an intended end. The Lord was in jail with him. The Lord sat with him, with His arm around him when he was confused, trying to figure it out. The Lord was there listening when Joseph said, „I did the right thing! I did everything I was supposed to do! How did I end up here?!” And the Lord sat there and listened to him and the Lord showed him later that if you’ll just wait patiently, if you’ll have faith in God, you’ll end up in a bigger, better place than you thought you would.

It doesn’t stop there. You talk about a theological crisis? Some of you are going through it right now, cause you had it all fixed, biblically. Didn’t you? You were taught well by very unscriptural people. You were taught well by people who knew the religion, who knew the dogma. You know I hate … Should I say this Lord? You know, it’s just between me and God.

I spoke recently at a place and when I left someone grabbed my hand and said, „Wow! You sound like a Reformed Pastor today!” Well, of course that means that you sound like a calvinist. I wanted to say, „That’s what you heard? You heard something that verifies your dogma and doctrine? You didn’t hear me talking about Jesus? Shame on you if you are that way; if when you hear a Gospel message you think, „Uha, I know that doctrine, that’s Calvin. Oh, I know that doctrine, that’s arminianism.” You need help!  Because the whole point of the Holy Spirit working in us is to get us out of that denominational junk and get us into a walk by faith Jesus.

The theological crisis of the 12 disciples

You talk about a crisis. Here are these 12 disciples. Jesus says to the people, „Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you don’t belong to me.” The Bible says, many of His disciples went away. Then He turned to His and said, „Are you going too?” Well, now here’s the theological crisis: Drink blood? From the earliest days of the Old Testament, Jews were taught- Don’t drink it. Even in the New Testament they were taught- Don’t drink blood and above everything- Don’t eat human flesh. That’s cannibalism. So, they had this instilled in them that you don’t touch, you don’t drink blood, you don’t eat anything that’s strangled and Jesus turns around and messes everything up and says, „If you’re gonna follow me, you’re gonna have to drink my blood. You gotta eat my flesh.

Theological crisis. Peter says, „Are you kidding us, Lord? People are leaving. The whole ministry’s just died. Jesus said, „What about you? Are you leaving too?” and Peter spoke up and said, „Where would we go? You alone have the words of eternal life?” Notice what he didn’t say, ” Where would we go cause You can walk on water? Where would we go, You raise the dead. Where would we go, you’re a miracle worker.  Where would we go, you’re the man.” But he said, „Where would we go, because you are the only one that can give us words. Speak to us! Give us a voice and lead us into eternal life and that’s how we ought to be living today.”

With the knowledge of the Holy Scripture, we ought to be walking by faith and listening to the Holy Spirit even when our faith seems to be coming apart and our lives seem to contradict what we’ve learned. We have to be able to live on the words of eternal life cause God’s not finished yet. The intended end has not arrived, as yet.

Here’s another theological crisis. Job was so conscientious. Do you know that the Bible says he didn’t lust, he didn’t lie, he didn’t steal, he treated his servants right, he did not worship false gods, he didn’t commit adultery, he didn’t do anything wrong and every day he got up and offered a sacrifice unto God on behalf of his children and then one day a tornado came and blew the house down and killed all his children. Theological crisis. I did everything I was supposed to do and then this happens? Yeah, because God’s intended end was not yet. I just wanna tell you that if you are in that dilemma, if you’ll just hang on, it will all work out and you will find out God was telling the truth all the time.

Here’s what I learned in my own life and my theology has changed. If you would have seen me 30 years ago, when I had thicker, darker, longer hair, man I looked like a Pentecostal evangelist of God. And I had preached sermons on joy: The reason you don’t have it is because you don’t claim it. And the reason you don’t have it is because you just decided not to have it. WOW it’s joy, you can live every day with joy! Joy, joy, joy unspeakable and full of glory. I feel joy up in here. Joy, joy, joy. People can have joy if they want it!

Nope, there have been lots of time when I have not had joy. LOTS OF TIMES. I could not find a trace of spirituality or joy in my life. And you gotta live long enough, and thank God He lets us live long enough, cause there’s nothing more dangerous than a young preacher who’s never been through a crisis, who’s never had to bury a family member, who’s never had to go through cancer, who hasn’t seen babies die… But, you get to a point in your life where you say honestly, before God that you don’t have joy. I ain’t having fun. And what about those bold statements like, „God doesn’t want you to be sick?” I now believe, today, that God uses physical infirmity to mature me. I’ve known too many sick saints who won more people to Jesus on a hospital bed. Sick saints, broke saints, discouraged saints, heartbroken saints that won more people to Jesus and encouraged more brothers and sisters than many of us who haven’t been through it. Oh, I believe it now! Because God is sovereign and God will take whatever He desires and sees necessary and do it in your life, not only to work out the self confidence, but the arrogance of your faith, but to be able to build up the brotherhood and edify the church.

Oh, I used to say, „And nothing, shall by any means harm you. You can take up serpents and you can drink any deadly thing and I shall speak with new tongues, but I especially like that one „and nothing shall by any means hurt you”. I’ve been hurt. I’ve been hurt a lot. God’s people hurt. Do you understand me? There’s pain in the body of Christ. There’s pain in the saintliest of homes. There’s pain and agony where every member of the house is filled with the Holy Spirit and living by faith. There’s pain. When Shannon was giving prayer request and that brother from our church who lost 5 family members, do you think he’s having fun? Do you think he has joy? Do you think he’s not hurt?

Ladies and gentlemen, there comes a time when you have to take your theology and drop it the way Moses dropped the tablets of the law and realize that’s not just for you to carry around and give pat answers about everything that happens in life. No, you are to hear form God. The Spirit of the Lord can speak to you and when He does, He will coincide and affirm this written word, and when God finishes, you will see that the intended end He designed was the most marvelous thing. And you had to go through the loss and through the pain to get there. That’s why God taught us to praise Him for everything. In everything give thanks because God is taking us to an intended end.

James 5:11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.

When you get to the end and you thought you couldn’t make it, you find out that it was God’s compassion and God’s mercy that kept you, that will keep you. That’s the intended end of the Lord.

I want to end with this: When you’re in that… well, there sits Tony right there, Hazel had her first chemo treatment on Thursday. Now that’s a praying woman. Kind, compassionate… she’s laying in the house… surgery, chemo, may lose her hair. Tell me: Why?  What’s going on? Why wouldn’t God have done that when she was 28, so she could live a long time and tell about it? Because only God knows His ways and He has an intended end for Hazel and for you and for you sir. I see you, Ron. I pray for you every night before I go to bed. I know you’re fighting this cancer thing, but I want you to know. I want you to hear it today and I want you to hear it in the house of God: God has an intended end. This is not punishment, this is a blessing from the Lord, so you can find out how merciful and compassionate God really is.

I want to close with this because we have instructions about what we should do while we are going through this. 1 Peter 4:19 „Therefore, let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator„.  Did you hear me? It’s the will of God… meaning, „I don’t care what I’m going through Lord, I am yours and you’re mine. I don’t have an answer, I don’t have any strength, I don’t know what to do next, but I’m yours and you’re mine. I commit my soul to You. You have me, you got me, take all of me. I’m not gonna back up, I’m not gonna quit. I’m not gonna second guess myself. I’m committed to letting you keep me „. And I’m gonna do it by „doing good” (1 Peter 4:19) I may feel bad, but, I’m gonna do good. I’m just gonna do the right thing. I’m gonna do good things. I’m gonna bless people. I’m gonna serve people. I’m gonna serve the Lord.  I’m gonna keep it up. I will not quit. As to a faithful Creator. Creator? Yup, he-s the one that put you together, designed you, numbered your days, gives you life and breath. He created me! I’m the workmanship of His hands. So what He created, He’s not gonna destroy. I’m a new creation in Christ Jesus and He is faithful. Faithful Creator. What does that mean? If He loved me enough to create me, in Christ Jesus, He will be faithful enough to finish what He started. He’ll take me to the intended end.

Iosif, fiul lui Iacov

Articole despre Iosif:

Joseph, the foreshadow of the Savior

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Consequences of sin – Joseph’s story

God forgives sin.  Besides the danger of becoming enslaved to our sin (Romans 6:16) and finding ourselves  separated from God (Isaiah 59:2), there are also some personal and physical consequences that we will suffer for our sinful actions even though God has forgiven our sin.

You can read the Bible’s story of Joseph in the book of Genesis in chapters 37-50.

Some of the consequences of the sin Joseph’s brothers committed when they sold him into slavery:

  • Their sin was constantly before them-the brother they were so jealous of and wanted to forget about was in their mind daily as their father Jacob’s unceasing grief did not abate. They also feared, lest anything should happen to the youngest son Benjamin, whom Jacob now loved and favored.
  • Uncertainty- They always wondered whether God was punishing them for what they had done to Joseph.
  • Physical hardship- They had to make the approx 250 mile trek to Egypt on foot  (that Joseph made as a slave) 6 times  (3 trips) with little provisions.  See Map 2)

Joseph was the 11th son born to Jacob (also called Israel) and Rachel(who died in childbirth when Benjamin, the 12th, and youngest son was born.Gen 37:2 states that Joseph brings a bad report to his father about his brothers, then we read how Jacob favors Joseph by making him a coat of many colors, and thirdly Joseph has special dreams (Genesis 39:5-11). All 3 factors lead to conflict in the family and the unbridled jealousy of his brothers leads to plans for murder.

„The final episode (Genesis 37:31-35) shows the desperate brothers concocting yet another scheme  to be rid of Joseph. Their plan to dispose of Joseph ended in a fiasco, now their plan to erase his memory from the family, by faking his death, fails miserably. In a powerfully ironic twist, although Jacob is deceived by the sight of Joseph’s special coat stained with goat’s blood, his unceasing grieving means that the brothers can never forget Joseph and his exalted position in the family”. (Biblica P. 125)

Although the brothers planned to kill Joseph, in the end, due to the influence of his older brothers Reuben and Judah, they decide instead to sell him to passing Ishmaelite/Midianite traders.

If being sold into slavery by your own brothers isn’t bad enough, look at the long road Joseph had to walk on foot in order to get to Egypt. (I have seen the distance between Dothan, Israel and Heliopolis or Cairo Egypt to be estimated at about 240 to 280 miles depending on the old (spice) routes taken by caravans back then.

So, imagine being threatened by death from the hands of your own brothers, then being sold into slavery and then walking on foot through desert land, more than 250 miles to Egypt, and all this at the tender age of 17.

Map scanned from Biblica – The Bible Atlas. For a more detailed report on Joseph’s life click here.

And it doesn’t end there. Joseph is purchased by a wealthy man called Potiphar who was captain of the guards for Pharaoh. There Joseph prospered and found favor with Potiphar until Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him continuously. Joseph refused  the temptation on the grounds that it would be a sin against God. Potiphar’s wife framed Joseph with her household and Joseph was imprisoned. He spent 2 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Even in prison Joseph found favor with the warden and he interpreted Pharaoh’s baker and cupbearer’s dreams accurately. When the Pharaoh had a troubling dream, the cup bearer remembered Joseph’s correct interpretation of his dream and recommended Joseph to Pharaoh.  Joseph prophetically interpreted Pharaoh’s dream from God and 13 years after Joseph was sold into captivity by his brothers(and at the age of 30), Pharaoh makes Joseph Prime Minister, gives him his signet ring which made him second in command after Pharaoh and Joseph starts to gather the harvests in storehouses for 7 years as he prepares for the 7 lean years of famine to come (from Pharaoh’s dream).

Joseph then married Pharaoh’s priest’s daughter Asenath and had 2 sons-Manasseh and Ephraim. During the famine Joseph becomes the savior of the world with his surplus of stored grain. The famine reaches his father Jacob in Canaan, and Jacob is forced to send his sons to Egypt to buy food.

The brothers have 3 encounters with Joseph (read Genesis 42-45) before Joseph reveals to his brothers his true identity(Genesis 45:1-3).

The troubled and divided family is finally reunited in Egypt (Goshen in the northeastern Nile delta). With the family of Jacob/Israel safely in Egypt, the stage is set for the story of Israel in the book of Exodus.

Joseph’s brothers made 3 (round) trips, traveling the approx. 250 miles trek that Joseph was forced to take when they sold him into slavery. (Map scanned from Biblica – The Bible Atlas)

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