Reading #1 – Genesis 49
Reading #2 – Psalms 31
Reading #3 – Proverbs 17
Reading #4 – Daniel 1
Reading #5 – Romans 4
Genesis 49 – Israel’s Prophecy Concerning His Sons. In the closing days of Isreal’s physical life, he called his 12 sons to bless them commensurate with their actions. Reuben was the firstborn son who lost his preeminent position because of his sinful actions (3-4). Simeon and Levi attacked the Shechemites and plundered them when they were too weak to defend themselves and called it “justifiable” (5-7). From Judah would come the royal scepter of the nation Israel as well as the Messiah or the Christ (9-11). Zebulun would be a seafaring tribe. Issachar would bend his back or become a slave when he found the best place to lay down (14-15). Dan would judge his people but Israel would not listen to his judgment (17-18). Joseph, although the 2nd youngest, would rise to be the “1stborn” because he was faithful when there was no reason to be faithful. Because he chose to honor the G_d of his father Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham, he rose to be the governor of the land and the “stone which the builder’s rejected” (22-26, Psalms 118:22-23). The troubles that the nation would endure all had their roots in their previous actions (28). Jacob/Israel wanted to be buried in the plot of ground that Abraham purchased (29-30).
Psalms 31 – A Psalm of Complaint and of Praise. The Psalmist David understood G_d’s laws and he loved the G_d of the Universe. The problem is that David didn’t do everything exactly in line with the word of G_d. Like us, David made mistakes in judgment which would cause him problems. The thing is, there is a concept that must be understood and that is, “trusting G_d in and through the process of life”. Trusting G_d is not just when things are going good when the wind is at our backs, and/or when we are feeling good. Trusting G_d is “in season and out” (1-2, 2 Timothy 4:2). Mankind, unlike G_d, is fickle in that he/she will serve G_d when it suits them and walk away when it doesn’t suit them but we are called to serve G_d in all of the seasons of our life. When we put our trust in Him, He will not abandon us when the storms start to over-flow our life (3-5). When iniquity is found in us, we will pay a price for it just like David did. Unfortunately, iniquity or sin tears at the moral fabric of our lives, and the Devil will always use it against us (10-11).
Proverbs 17 – Contrast the Upright and the Wicked. The two characters in this play, Wicked and upright, show their characteristics by their actions. “Upright” adheres to the words of the LORD and makes every effort to please the LORD. “Wicked”, lives by his wits and fails miserably (2). Joseph was the embodiment of “Upright” and though treated badly by his brothers and sold into Egypt where he faced certain death instead, rose to the top like cream. Joseph was faithful in prison and in the home of Potipher. Wicked, like Rueben, always seeks his/her priorities without considering the ramifications of his/her actions (3-4). When Wicked is given room, he/she will always seek to take more room and will cause problems for his/her family, city, state, and nation (14).
Daniel 1 – The Choice Young Men. At the start of the exile around 590, king Jehoiakim was taken into exile along with the treasures of the temple (1-2); this was just the beginning of the exile. Later, some of the sons of the king were also taken into captivity among them Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. These men would be groomed to assist the king and so they were trained in the ways of the Babylonians (3-7). Daniel would not surrender his integrity and wanted to live under the laws of his G_d as he had done since his birth (8). The palace official was not easily convinced this would be a good idea until Daniel proposed the plan “if you find me at the end of 10 days to not be in better condition then the men who at the choice meats, then Daniel would relent and follow the palace official’s ordinances (9-13). At the end of 10 days, Daniel and his brothers did look better than the other men so the choice meats were removed from the Hebrews. Daniel and his brothers were presented to the king and were found to have a keen sense of wisdom and understanding beyond what the other men possessed and so they were hired in the court of Nebuchadnezzar (19-20).
Romans 4 – Old Testament Faith. In the Old Testament, characters like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were promised things by G_d. The problem is, they did not see the outcome or the “gift come to life” but that did not stop them from holding onto G_d’s hand. Abraham had two sons Isaac (promised child) and Ishmael. Isaac had two sons Jacob and Esau. Jacob had 12 sons. Each of these three gentlemen, although trusting G_d, sought to help Him make the promise come true. Abraham listened to Sarai when she suggested that maybe G_d wanted him to marry Hagar as a rival wife. Isaac’s wife Rebecca was told about the two sons in her womb and how the older would serve the younger so she favored Jacob and it would cause problems between the two boys and would play out until the end of Isaac’s life. Jacob went back to Haran and that was where the problems started and how he grew in his studies on how to be “deceptive”. Each of these men would receive their reward despite their foolishness. Salvation is taking us from one place and moving us to another. In the same way, when we are forgiven and healed, the sin that bound us no longer holds us and this is done not because G_d owes to us but because of His promise (4-5).