Today’s Bible reading: Genesis 46, 47; Matthew 15:1-28; Psalms 19:1-14; Proverbs 4:14-19
Today we see God comfort and encourage Jacob as he travels to Egypt. Jacob is very old at this point and it must be very difficult for him to move his entire life and family hundreds of miles. So God gives him some comforting words (Genesis 46:3). God reminds Jacob that He is the God of his ancestors. Then God tells Jacob that He (God) will be with Jacob in Egypt. Our God is a loving God who never leaves us alone. He is always with us. Finally God makes a promise to Jacob. God promises that He will bring Jacob back to Canaan in the future.
Jacob must have been assured that moving to Egypt is the right thing to do after hearing from God. This is a good reminder to all of us. We shouldn’t just do something because we want to do it. We should do it because it is God’s will. Of course God will be with us no matter what we do. But if we do something that is not in God’s will we will just delay God’s blessing. There is no reason to move quickly through this life. We have all of eternity to live. We want everything now. But God moves at a slower pace.
If we recall the behavior of Abraham and Issac (Jacob’s grandfather and father) we remember that they had some problems telling the truth. But Joseph insists that his family tell Pharaoh the truth about their occupation. The reason for this is two-fold. First, Joseph knew that God wants His people to always be honest. But also, there was a more practical reason. The Egyptians did not respect farmers and shepherds. They didn’t want to mix with them. By keeping his family separate from the Egyptians, Joseph is trying to keep his family spiritually pure as it would be unlikely they would intermarry with the locals. Intermarrying was forbidden because it would dilute the people’s love and acknowledgement of the One True God.
Joseph certainly understood God and lived to serve him. Because of this, his dysfunctional family was saved from the severe famine. One person in a family can have a big impact. If you are the only believer in your family… if you are the only one who is trying to do God’s will… don’t despair or feel like you are alone. God notices. He is with you. He will use you to bless your family.
Jesus debunks the notion of man-made traditions in Matthew today. The Pharisees had all these rules about behavior that they thought made someone right with God and they criticize Jesus because His disciples don’t follow these rules. But Jesus turns their argument right around onto them by pointing out their hypocrisy and lack of understanding of God’s word (they only had what we call the Old Testament back then).
Jesus raises a very important point in Matthew 15:11. It is not what goes into our mouth that defiles us. But it is the words that come out of us that defile us. It doesn’t matter what we eat. What matters is what we say. The words we say reflect our heart. If our words are selfish, mean, untrue, vulgar, etc that simply means that our heart is the same.
Psalm 19 reminds us that God’s instructions to us are perfect, trustworthy, and right. We also read that there are many sins that we commit that we are unaware of. It is the willful sinning that is detestable to God. We can see much of this in our society today. People know what God’s word says even if they aren’t believers. But they don’t care. They do what they want. Sadly they will come to find that this is a mistake. The other ramification is that it removes God’s blessing from society as a whole so we all end up suffering and missing out on God’s blessing.
Proverbs admonishes us too avoid and turn away from the path of evil. Don’t even go there. We saw earlier today that God moves at a slower pace than we do. When we move too quickly we run the risk of making mistakes. Its better to slow down so we can make wise choices.