What is Speaking in Tongues According to the Bible?

The concept of tongues can be quite confusing today, with some churches presenting the belief that a person saying things that most present can’t understand is the Biblical concept of speaking in tongues. Other churches teach there is no such thing as speaking in tongues, and still others teach other variations of the concept. So what does the Bible actually say about it?

Read moreWhat is Speaking in Tongues According to the Bible?

Left Behind?

The concept of the rapture is an interesting one. It is Biblically based, but the popularised concept in the “Left Behind” series, isn’t really Biblically correct at all. If anything, it’s backwards.

I’ve been studying this a bit, and the key things to the rapture concept seem to me to be, the saved will be taken with no warning and the sinners left behind on earth.

That doesn’t seem to line up with what the Bible says though.

To start with, the Bible doesn’t indicate that there will be no warning. Only that no one knows the time.

Have a look at Matthew 24:42-44

42“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

Also Luke 12:39-40

39But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

2 Peter 3:10

10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

Revelation 3:3

3Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

Note that the references to coming like a thief are always the reference to time, no more. Lets look at how the Bible shows the second coming of Christ.

1 Thessalonians 4:16

16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

Luke 17:24

24For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other.

Matthew 24:30-31

30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Revelation 1:7

7 Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.

Got all those? Ok, lets also look at Acts 1:7-11, when Christ ascended to heaven.

7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.

So, from all of these verses, its pretty clear that when Christ returns, it will be very visual, very audible, and impossible to miss. Acts 1:11 in particular should be noted, that the SAME Jesus that left the earth will return in like manner. He didn’t just vanish, he was taken up through the clouds out of their sight as they watched. In Revelation 1:7, even those that pierced him, those that aren’t saved will see him. That doesn’t line up at all with people just vanishing.

I haven’t really said anything about the rapture concept itself yet Biblically though, so lets look at that.

Matthew 24:36-41

36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. 37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.

Also see Luke 17:26-28

26Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.

28“It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building.

Luke 17:34-36

34I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. 35Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.”
36Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.

Okay, it sounds like there could be maybe something to it? Note the references to Noah and the days of Noah, also to Lot. Lets look at Noah and the flood shall we? Genesis 7:21-23

21 Every living thing that moved on the earth perished—birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. 22 Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. 23 Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; men and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds of the air were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.

Particularly note the last part, only Noah was left. Does that sound like the language used in the other verses above? Similar, when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, as Lot and his family fled, it was only Lot and his daughters who were left. Note that in none of these verses does it say left behind, as though it is a bad thing, they simply say some people were left. In Matthew 13:24-30 Jesus told the parable of the weeds which explains it exactly.

24Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

27“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’

28‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

29” ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them.

30Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.‘ “

We don’t need to try and explain this parable, in Matthew 13:36-43, Jesus explains it to the disciples and it is recorded for us.

36Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”

37He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.

40As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

So, when Christ returns, it’s not the saved that will be taken. Like the weeds, the evil will be gathered up and destroyed, leaving behind those that are saved. With the knowledge of this parable and it’s explanation, it is pretty clear that in the above verses about some people being taken and some left, that it isn’t the righteous being taken, but rather, like during the flood, it is the evil that are taken and destroyed, and the righteous that remain, or that are left, like Noah and his family. I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer to be left!

Exodus Chapter 18 to 34 (Ten Commandments)

This part of Exodus is largely based around God’s Ten Commandments, and has some really good life advice in general.

In chapter 18, Jethro, Moses’ father in law and the priest of Midian comes to visit after hearing everything that God is doing with the Israelites. In verses 13 to 26, after seeing how Moses is handling the peoples disputes between each other, he has some advice which is valid for pretty much every walk of life, especially those running a business or managing people.

13 The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. 14 When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?”

15 Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. 16 Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and laws.”

17 Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. 18 You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. 19 Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. 20 Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform. 21 But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22 Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. 23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.” Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you.

24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. 25 He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 26 They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.

Delegation! Or from my business perspective, outsourcing. I don’t have any real insight to share about this section, it’s just something that really stood out to me at the moment as my business is growing and is keeping me extremely busy. I’ve recently started working with a graphic designer on most of the new graphics work that comes in to reduce my load so I have more time to spend on every other area, including business development which is something I haven’t been able to work on in a while, though I have been wanting to quite a lot.

In chapter 19, the Israelites have reached Sinai, then chapters 20 goes through the Ten Commandments. The end of chapter 20 through chapters 21, 22 and 23 elaborate on what each of the commandments means. After the casting of the golden calf in chapter 32, when Moses throws down the stones the commandments are written on and breaks them, we then get another look at the commandments in chapter 34. Considering the vast majority of Christian denominations now worship on the first day rather than the seventh, these chapters are of particular interest to me. Lets go through and look at each commandment briefly.

Commandment 1

2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

This commandment is first mentioned in Exodus 20:2-3 as above. It is then elaborated on in Exodus 20:22-23 and referred to briefly in chapter 23:32-33 when referring to the gods of other lands.

22 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites this: ‘You have seen for yourselves that I have spoken to you from heaven: 23 Do not make any gods to be alongside me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold.

Exodus 23:13

13 “Be careful to do everything I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips.

Exodus 23:32-33

32Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods. 33 Do not let them live in your land, or they will cause you to sin against me, because the worship of their gods will certainly be a snare to you.”

Jump across to chapter 34:14-16

14 Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

15 “Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices. 16 And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same.

Commandment 2

4 “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments.

The first mention of this one is in Exodus 20:4-6, followed by Exodus 20:22-23

22 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites this: ‘You have seen for yourselves that I have spoken to you from heaven: 23 Do not make any gods to be alongside me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold.

And in Exodus 34:17

17 “Do not make cast idols.

Commandment 3

7 “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

The only mention I found in this section is in Exodus 20:7.

Commandment 4

8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

The first mention within the commandments about keeping the Sabbath day is here in Exodus 20:8-11. Following this, it is then elaborated on multiple times. First in Exodus 23:10-12.

10 “For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops, 11 but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what they leave. Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.

12 “Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest and the slave born in your household, and the alien as well, may be refreshed.

Then in Exodus 31:12-17

12 Then the LORD said to Moses, 13 “Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the LORD, who makes you holy.

14 ” ‘Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; whoever does any work on that day must be cut off from his people. 15 For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death. 16 The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. 17 It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested.’ ”

Again in Exodus 34:21

21 “Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest.

And in Exodus 35:1-2

1 Moses assembled the whole Israelite community and said to them, “These are the things the LORD has commanded you to do: 2 For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it must be put to death.

In Exodus 25 when Moses tells the Israelites what the Lord has commanded, keeping the Sabbath day is the only commandment recorded here as being mentioned.

The Sabbath day commandment is also an elaboration on Genesis 2:2-3

2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

Commandment 5

12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

The only recorded mention of this one in this section is in Exodus 20:12

Commandment 6

13 “You shall not murder.

The first mention of this one is in Exodus 20:13 and the next mention is an elaboration in Exodus 21:12-27

12 “Anyone who strikes a man and kills him shall surely be put to death. 13 However, if he does not do it intentionally, but God lets it happen, he is to flee to a place I will designate. 14 But if a man schemes and kills another man deliberately, take him away from my altar and put him to death.

15 “Anyone who attacks his father or his mother must be put to death.

16 “Anyone who kidnaps another and either sells him or still has him when he is caught must be put to death.

17 “Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.

18 “If men quarrel and one hits the other with a stone or with his fist and he does not die but is confined to bed, 19 the one who struck the blow will not be held responsible if the other gets up and walks around outside with his staff; however, he must pay the injured man for the loss of his time and see that he is completely healed.

20 “If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, 21 but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.

22 “If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. 23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

26 “If a man hits a manservant or maidservant in the eye and destroys it, he must let the servant go free to compensate for the eye. 27 And if he knocks out the tooth of a manservant or maidservant, he must let the servant go free to compensate for the tooth.

Commandment 7

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

The first mention is in Exodus 20:14 and does not get mentioned again in this section that I found except for related verses on social responsibility in Exodus 22:16-22

16 “If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride-price, and she shall be his wife. 17 If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he must still pay the bride-price for virgins.

18 “Do not allow a sorceress to live.

19 “Anyone who has sexual relations with an animal must be put to death.

20 “Whoever sacrifices to any god other than the LORD must be destroyed. [l]

21 “Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt.

22 “Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. 23 If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. 24 My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless.

Commandment 8

15 “You shall not steal.

The first mention is here in Exodus 20:15 and it is elaborated on in Exodus 22:1-12

1 “If a man steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it, he must pay back five head of cattle for the ox and four sheep for the sheep.

2 “If a thief is caught breaking in and is struck so that he dies, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed; 3 but if it happens after sunrise, he is guilty of bloodshed.
“A thief must certainly make restitution, but if he has nothing, he must be sold to pay for his theft.

4 “If the stolen animal is found alive in his possession—whether ox or donkey or sheep—he must pay back double.

5 “If a man grazes his livestock in a field or vineyard and lets them stray and they graze in another man’s field, he must make restitution from the best of his own field or vineyard.

6 “If a fire breaks out and spreads into thornbushes so that it burns shocks of grain or standing grain or the whole field, the one who started the fire must make restitution.

7 “If a man gives his neighbor silver or goods for safekeeping and they are stolen from the neighbor’s house, the thief, if he is caught, must pay back double. 8 But if the thief is not found, the owner of the house must appear before the judges to determine whether he has laid his hands on the other man’s property. 9guilty must pay back double to his neighbor. In all cases of illegal possession of an ox, a donkey, a sheep, a garment, or any other lost property about which somebody says, ‘This is mine,’ both parties are to bring their cases before the judges. The one whom the judges declare

10 “If a man gives a donkey, an ox, a sheep or any other animal to his neighbor for safekeeping and it dies or is injured or is taken away while no one is looking, 11 the issue between them will be settled by the taking of an oath before the LORD that the neighbor did not lay hands on the other person’s property. The owner is to accept this, and no restitution is required. 12 But if the animal was stolen from the neighbor, he must make restitution to the owner.

Commandment 9

16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

First mentioned in Exodus 20:16 and then elaborated on in Exodus 23:1-8

1 “Do not spread false reports. Do not help a wicked man by being a malicious witness.

2 “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd, 3 and do not show favoritism to a poor man in his lawsuit.

4 “If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to take it back to him. 5 If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help him with it.

6 “Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits. 7 Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty.

8 “Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and twists the words of the righteous.

Commandment 10

17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

The only mention I found in this section is in Exodus 20:17 as above.

What’s my point?

What I’m trying to point out here is that the 4th commandment, keeping the Sabbath day is mentioned equally as many times as the 1st commandment, to have no other gods.

It was also mentioned first in the Bible in Genesis 2:2-3. It is also mentioned later in the Bible, but that is for another time. For now though, my question becomes, if keeping the Sabbath day is emphasised as much as having no other gods, then why isn’t it kept by so many people? It was changed to Sunday when Rome adopted Christianity as the state religion. It was changed to Sunday to keep all of the sun worshippers happy who worshipped on, thats right, Sunday. It was an attempt at merging them together so that there would not be religious divisions in the state. It was also the birth of Roman Catholicism.

If God set a day aside to worship, then what right does man have to change the day? It’s like organising a date to go do something with a friend, girlfriend, a work meeting etc, and then turning up a day late. Chances are, the person or people you were meeting won’t still be waiting and they won’t be too happy about it.

Now God is a little different, and there is no reason that we can’t worship Him whenever we want or feel the need to. I see nothing inherently wrong with worshipping Him on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. However, Saturday is the day that God made holy, that he set aside as a day of rest and to worship Him. He emphasised it very clearly in His commandments and elaborated on it considerably. So who are we to say that Sunday is better for us?

Books I’ve Read in 2009

I’ve decided to keep a list of the books I’ve read this year. Mainly because I was aiming to read 52 books. Well, I’m about 4 books behind so far and I think that’s going to get worse, but we’ll see. So here’s my list.

  1. The Crooked Letter by Sean Williams. Finished on 06/02/2009.
  2. Genesis – The Bible. Finished on 10/02/2009.
  3. Exodus – The Bible. Finished on 14/02/2009.
  4. Leviticus – The Bible. Finished on 17/02/2009.
  5. NightPeople by Anthony Eaton. Finished on 20/02/2009.
  6. Numbers – The Bible. Finished on 21/02/2009.
  7. Deuteronomy – The Bible. Finished on 26/02/2009.
  8. Joshua – The Bible. Finished on 28/02/2009.
  9. Judges – The Bible. Finished on 04/03/2009.
  10. Ruth – The Bible. Finished on 04/03/2009.
  11. 1 Samuel – The Bible. Finished on 09/03/2009.
  12. 2 Samuel – The Bible. Finished on 13/03/2009.
  13. 1 Kings – The Bible. Finished on 16/03/2009.
  14. The Blood Debt by Sean Williams. Finished on 17/03/2009.
  15. 2 Kings – The Bible. Finished on 21/03/2009.
  16. 1 Chronicles – The Bible. Finished on 29/03/2009.
  17. 2 Chronicles – The Bible. Finished on 08/04/2009.
  18. Ezra – The Bible. Finished on 16/04/2009.
  19. Nehemiah – The Bible. Finished on 21/04/2009.
  20. Esther – The Bible. Finished on 25/04/2009.
  21. Job – The Bible. Finished on 29/04/2009.
  22. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. Finished on 12/05/2009.
  23. Psalms – The Bible. Finished on 15/05/2009.
  24. Proverbs – The Bible. Finished on 18/05/2009.
  25. Ecclesiastes – The Bible. Finished on 19/05/2009.
  26. Song of Songs – The Bible. Finished on 20/05/2009.
  27. Isaiah – The Bible. Finished on 02/06/2009.
  28. John – The Bible. Finished on 09/06/2009.
  29. Matthew – The Bible. Finished on 15/06/2009.
  30. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer. Finished on 15/06/2009.
  31. Mark – The Bible. Finished.
  32. Luke – The Bible. Finished.
  33. Acts – The Bible. Finished on 06/08/2009.
  34. Across The Face of The World by Russel Kirkpatrick.  Finished on 01/08/2009.
  35. Romans – The Bible. Currently Reading.
  36. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer – Currently Reading.

Genesis Chapters 48 to 50

Chapter’s 48 to 50 of Genesis are where we get to the end of the recount of Joseph’s life and the end of the book of Genesis.
The life of Joseph is quite well known, but this is where it gets a bit less known.

In chapter 48, we get the second mention of Joseph’s sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. Jacob (Israel) considers them to be his own sons (Chapter 48:5), and shows his continued favouritism of Joseph, the first son of his wife Rachel by effectively giving Joseph’s family a double share in the inheritence.

Interestingly as well, Jacob gave his blessing to the younger son, Ephraim first, and the older second (48:14-18) which is unusual, however it does follow the precedent set by Abraham, who blessed Isaac over Ishmael, Isaac who blessed Jacob over Esau, and even Jacob’s own, earlier blessing of Joseph over Reuben.
In chapter 49, we see Jacob on his death bed and he blesses all of his 12 sons, with some very interesting things. The blessings all reflect the sons well, and their transgressions.

Reuben, the eldest who all through his life is seen as honourable and is the only one that does not want to kill Joseph when they were plotting early in his life. However, one of his earlier transgressions caught up to him here (Chapter 49:3-4).

Similarly, Simeon and Levi are caught up with as well and their blessing reflects their earlier slaughter of the town where their sister Dinah was raped by Shechem.

Judah gets the first blessing that is entirely positive, and it is pretty clear here why Judah ultimately separates itself from the other tribes of Israel (Chapter 48:8-12):

8 “Judah, your brothers will praise you;
your hand will be on the neck of your enemies;
your father’s sons will bow down to you.

9 You are a lion’s cub, O Judah;
you return from the prey, my son.
Like a lion he crouches and lies down,
like a lioness-who dares to rouse him?

10 The scepter will not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until he comes to whom it belongs
and the obedience of the nations is his.

11 He will tether his donkey to a vine,
his colt to the choicest branch;
he will wash his garments in wine,
his robes in the blood of grapes.

12 His eyes will be darker than wine,
his teeth whiter than milk.

The remaining blessings are fairly straight forward and are largely neither bad or extremely good.
For example, in verse 19, “Gad will be attacked by a band of raiders, but he will attack them at their heels.”, similarly in verse 20, “Asher’s food will be rich; he will provide delicacies fit for a king”.

When we get to Joseph though it is a very long blessing that reflects Joseph’s past as well as Jacob’s favouritism of him, blessing him as the prince among his brothers (verse 26).

I find the blessing that Benjamin receives to be an interesting one as there is not much mention of Benjamin and his behaviour at all up to this point, in verse 27:

27 “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;
in the morning he devours the prey,
in the evening he divides the plunder.”

It’s an interesting one isn’t it? Especially considering how little we really know about him.
After his blessings are given, Jacob explains that he wants to be buried in the same field and cave that was bought from the Hittites to bury Sarah, and subsequently, Abraham, Isaac, Rebekah and Leah were also buried there, then Jacob died (Chapter 49:29-33).

Now in chapter 50, we get an insight into how influential and high up Joseph really was. It’s mentioned earlier that Joseph was the second to only Pharaoh, but it doesn’t really go into it any more than that.
In chapter 50 verse 2, Joseph has his father embalmed in the same way as the Pharaoh’s, taking the full 40 days as well for the embalming process. Now, in verse 3, not only did Joseph and the rest of the family of Israel mourn, but the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days. Seventy days!

To my understanding, the mourning period of a dead Pharaoh was seventy two days, which means the Egyptians themselves afforded Jacob near Pharaoh status in his death, which is appropriate considering his position as the immediate patriarch of Israel.

If the period of mourning for his father was not enough to solidify just how important Joseph had become in Egypt, look at what happens next in 50:5-11:

5 ‘My father made me swear an oath and said, “I am about to die; bury me in the tomb I dug for myself in the land of Canaan.” Now let me go up and bury my father; then I will return.’ “

6 Pharaoh said, “Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear to do.”

7 So Joseph went up to bury his father. All Pharaoh’s officials accompanied him-the dignitaries of his court and all the dignitaries of Egypt– 8 besides all the members of Joseph’s household and his brothers and those belonging to his father’s household. Only their children and their flocks and herds were left in Goshen. 9 Chariots and horsemen also went up with him. It was a very large company.

10 When they reached the threshing floor of Atad, near the Jordan, they lamented loudly and bitterly; and there Joseph observed a seven-day period of mourning for his father. 11 When the Canaanites who lived there saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “The Egyptians are holding a solemn ceremony of mourning.” That is why that place near the Jordan is called Abel Mizraim.

So, not only did Jacob’s family attend his funeral back in Canaan, but all of the Egyptian dignitaries, both from the court of Pharaoh and the rest of Egypt went as well as numerous chariots and horsemen! Getting from Egypt to the burial site would have been a bit of a hike, so for that many of Egypts high ranking people to be attending, the importance of Joseph to Egypt, must have been absolutely enormous. Then, after already having a seventy day mourning period in Egypt, another seven days of mourning are spent at the burial site! So, the period of mourning actually in total, exceeded that of a Pharaoh!

The rest of chapter 50, the rest of Genesis, summarises the remainder of Joseph’s life after the burial of Jacob. This is where the forgiveness of his brothers for their evil acts becomes evident, in verse 20 “…you intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

From verse 23 to 26, Joseph meets his grand children and, interesting it sounds like he dies before his older brothers as in verse 24 he speaks to his brothers. There is no mention of whether he only speaks to some of them or all. In verse 26, Joseph died at one hundred and ten and was embalmed and buried in Egypt, however, before he died he made his brothers swear an oath to take his bones from Egypt when God took them back to the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

I’m curious to find out whether or not the oath was upheld. I’ve started reading Exodus now, and it was a good four hundred years before they left Egypt, so his brothers would not have been around to uphold it, but did their descendents?

I quite like reading all of the little other things like this and picking up more of the surrounding story than is widely known!

Genesis Chapters 38 to 47

This section of Genesis largely goes over Joseph’s time in Egypt. Chapter 38 is the recount of Judah, his wife, sons and daughter in law. 39 to 47 are then the majority of Joseph’s time in Egypt, starting with Potiphar in chapter 39 and going from there.

There was one thing in this section that particularly jumped out at me.

In chapter 47, after the famine becomes more severe and the people of Egypt and the surrounding areas start to come to Joseph for the food he had collected over the 7 years leading up to the famine.

Something I think we often don’t realise is just how much forward planning went into this, there wasn’t just 7 years worth of food stored up, there was provision to maintain the food store in the event of future famines.

Let’s look at it, Genesis 47:13-15:

13 There was no food, however, in the whole region because the famine was severe; both Egypt and Canaan wasted away because of the famine. 14 Joseph collected all the money that was to be found in Egypt and Canaan in payment for the grain they were buying, and he brought it to Pharaoh’s palace. 15 When the money of the people of Egypt and Canaan was gone, all Egypt came to Joseph and said, “Give us food. Why should we die before your eyes? Our money is used up.”

So, Joseph not only required the outsiders to pay for grain as shown when his brothers come to buy food over the previous chapters, but Egyptians are made to pay as well. What happens after they can no longer afford to pay though as in verse 15? Lets go on to verses 16 and 17:

16 “Then bring your livestock,” said Joseph. “I will sell you food in exchange for your livestock, since your money is gone.” 17 So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and he gave them food in exchange for their horses, their sheep and goats, their cattle and donkeys. And he brought them through that year with food in exchange for all their livestock.

So, Joseph got them through another year of the famine by requiring livestock as payment. He did not handout the grain for free. In verse 18 is where it starts to get really interesting:

18 When that year was over, they came to him the following year and said, “We cannot hide from our lord the fact that since our money is gone and our livestock belongs to you, there is nothing left for our lord except our bodies and our land. 19 Why should we perish before your eyes—we and our land as well? Buy us and our land in exchange for food, and we with our land will be in bondage to Pharaoh. Give us seed so that we may live and not die, and that the land may not become desolate.”

In verse 18 and continued in 19, we see the Egyptian people becoming desperate for food, and with nothing left but their land and themselves, the exchange them both for food and, did you notice that last bit? For seed, an indication that they want the grain not just for food production now, so that the land may not become desolate.

20 So Joseph bought all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh. The Egyptians, one and all, sold their fields, because the famine was too severe for them. The land became Pharaoh’s, 21 and Joseph reduced the people to servitude, from one end of Egypt to the other.

We are nearing the end of the famine here, and this is where the plan now comes into effect in verse 23:

23 Joseph said to the people, “Now that I have bought you and your land today for Pharaoh, here is seed for you so you can plant the ground. 24 But when the crop comes in, give a fifth of it to Pharaoh. The other four-fifths you may keep as seed for the fields and as food for yourselves and your households and your children.”

25 “You have saved our lives,” they said. “May we find favor in the eyes of our lord; we will be in bondage to Pharaoh.”

26 So Joseph established it as a law concerning land in Egypt—still in force today—that a fifth of the produce belongs to Pharaoh. It was only the land of the priests that did not become Pharaoh’s.

So, in effect, God through Joseph ensured that Egypt would never starve, as long as the land remained the property of Pharaoh and the laws remained intact. The people allowed to maintain and plant the fields and keep four fifths of the grain for replanting and food, but one fifth had to go to Pharaoh. There is no direct mention of it, but this much grain would ensure that in any time of famine for Egypt, there would always be grain for food and seed to replant the fields.

I skipped over verse 22, but it in effect explains the end of verse 26. The priests did not need to sell their land to Pharaoh as Pharaoh provided them with a regular allotment which was sufficient for their needs.

Genesis Chapters 23 to 37

In the 14 chapters of Genesis that I went through this morning, I again noticed a few things I hadn’t picked up on before that I would like to share.

The first thing is that, after Jacob’s 14 years of working for Laban to be allowed to marry his daughter Rachel, after being deceived into marrying Leah, Jacob had 12 sons. However, while we often hear that 10 of them were Leah’s and only two Rachel’s, this isn’t the case. Only 6 of them were Leah’s son’s and two Rachel’s. The other 4 are from both Leah’s and Rachel’s maidservants – 2 belonging to each. This was the result of a constant rivalry and jealousy between the sisters. The full story runs from Genesis 29:31 through to 30:24 and with the final son of Rachel, Benjamin, is in chapter 35:18. The summary of who had what sons runs from chapter 35:23-26.

The next little thing I noticed is that when Rachel gave birth to Benjamin, she named him Ben-Oni, which I believe means “Son of my trouble”. After she died giving birth to him though, Jacob renamed him Benjamin, “Son of my right hand”. This is in chapter 35:18.

I also didn’t realise previously that when Jacob wrestled with God, God gave him the name Israel, which was subsequently what his descendants called themselves, broken down into the 12 tribes of Israel – named after each of Jacob’s (Israel’s) 12 sons.

Now, I’m going through these as I remember them, not in the order they are written in the Bible. So lets jump back to chapter 34. This whole chapter is an interesting story that I don’t think is known too well, but I suspect could have been the start of, or involved in the start of the ongoing disagreements and fighting between the Israelites and the Canaanites.

In chapter 34:30, Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me a stench to the Canaanites and Perizzites, the people living in this land. We are few in number and if they join forces against me, I and my household will be destroyed. NIV. This is after the two brothers (Simeon and Levi) went into the city and killed every male they found for the rape of their little sister (Dinah) by Shechem, the son of Hamor the Hivite who ruled the area.

Genesis to Chapter 23

I’ve been reading Genesis in the Bible over the past couple days and having a bit more of a look at it. I’ve read it before, but so far, I’m up to chapter 23 and I’ve already noticed some interesting things that I hadn’t realised before, including a life lesson.

In chapter 4 from verse 17 through to 22, we get introduced to the immediate decendants of Cain. According to verse 17, Cain’s first son was named Enoch. Going down four more generations, Lamech is born, a direct descendant of Cain.

Go over to chapter 5 and we look further at the immediate descendants of Adam’s son Seth. His first son was named Enosh, remarkable similar to Enoch. To my understanding they are both derived from the word Enos which I believe means man. Head down a few generations and we have Jared who’s son is named Enoch. This is the Enoch that walked with God and was the father of the oldest man to live, Methuselah. Now, Methuselah had a son named…Lamech.

I may be the only one that finds it interesting that the only two Enoch’s and only two Lamech’s mentioned in the Bible are so closely related, but hey, I find little things like that interesting.

Another thing I noticed is that when Lot and his family flee Sodom, his wife was not turned into a pillar of salt whilst fleeing from a burning city, as is stereotypically presented. In actuality, the destruction of Sodom did not even begin until Lot and his family reached the town of Zoar. Hurry, escape there. For I cannot do anything until you arrive there. From Genesis 19:22 NKJV. It goes on (NKJV):

18 Then Lot said to them, “Please, no, my lords! 19 Indeed now, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have increased your mercy which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, lest some evil overtake me and I die. 20 See now, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one; please let me escape there (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live.”
21 And he said to him, “See, I have favored you concerning this thing also, in that I will not overthrow this city for which you have spoken. 22 Hurry, escape there. For I cannot do anything until you arrive there.”
Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.
23 The sun had risen upon the earth when Lot entered Zoar. 24 Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens. 25 So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.

Looking at verses 23 and 24 here, it’s clear that Lot and his family had already reached Zoar before Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. It is not until verse 26 that Lot’s wife looks back at the destruction and is turned to a pillar of salt. But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. From Genesis 19:26 NKJV.

Further on, Lot and his daughters continue, fleeing to the mountains. However, it makes no sense that Lot’s wife could have been turned to salt prior to reaching Zoar, aside from it being out of chronological order, it was in the early hours of the morning (verse 15) that they fled, there would not have been much to see or anything to draw attention back until the sun had risen upon the earth (verse 23) and fire came down on the cities (verse 24).

The life lesson I mentioned earlier on is one that is fairly common sense really, but it’s something that we don’t often think about, and in today’s society, it’s even easier than back then to find it happening, especially given how much easier it is to keep in contact with people from all walks of life.

In Genesis chapter 19 from verse 30 through to the end of the chapter, we read about the deception of Lot by his daughters where they get him drunk in order to get themselves pregnant. The justification they give is that it is to continue the family line (verse 32).

Lot’s daughters pretty much grew up in Sodom, and Lot spent much of his life there. The influences of the people of the city had to have rubbed off on them. This ties in well with a sermon by Herb Larson that I was listening to earlier this afternoon where he compared our social interactions and environments to hypothermia.

As your extremities, your fingers and toes start to get extremely cold they sting. Similarly, when you first find yourself in a situation you find disagreeable. Such as a co-worker letting rip a string of profanities, or even just one or two dropped here and there. Initially they may offend you. After a while, your extremities go numb to the pain. Similarly you get used to and are no longer offended by the language. Soon, the stinging moves up your arms and legs and eventually goes numb there too. This can easily be compared to moving from just hearing your co-workers or friends swearing regularly to you doing it as well. Initially you don’t feel right doing so, but as you keep going you get over it and there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with it anymore. Lot and his family were saved from the destruction of Sodom because they were the only righteous people in the city. Ultimately though, the constant, consistent influence of the people within the city had taken it’s toll though, just like it will with us if we aren’t careful.

Now of course, that’s not to say we shouldn’t hang out with friends that might drink excessively, do drugs, etc, but we do need to make sure that they are not the only people we spend all our time with and that there are other influences in our lives that don’t have the same afflictions, especially remembering to keep a tight relationship with God. After all, what better influence is there than Him?