God Introduces His Ways: Bible Talks On Genesis

Table of Contents

1. In the Beginning
2. Creation
3. Light and Life
4. The Creation of Man
5. God’s Rest
6. Doubting and Temptation
7. Hiding From God’s Presence
8. Driven From the Garden
9. Cain and Abel
10. Sin Found Out
11. Warning and Provision
12. Instruction for Safety
13. Safety With the Lord
14. Deliverance From the Flood
15. His Goodness and Blessing
16. God’s Promises
17. Man’s Pride Confounded
18. Instruction and Obedience
19. Travelers and Pilgrims
20. The Path of Obedience
21. Abram’s Restoration
22. The Path of Obedience
23. Deliverance From Pits of Sin
24. Restoration and Victory
25. Our Shield and Reward
26. The Future of the People of God
27. Sowing and Reaping
28. Walking Perfectly Before God
29. Obedience and Kindness
30. The Ways and Counsels of God
31. Intercession and Separation
32. Reaping What Is Sown
33. Our Eyes on the Lord
34. The Well of Living Water
35. Obedience and Faith Tested
36. The Lord Will Provide
37. Strangers and Pilgrims
38. Gathering a Bride for Christ
39. The Lord’s Guidance
40. Waiting on the Lord
41. A Decision to Make
42. Watching and Waiting
43. Faith and Service
44. God’s Sure Promises
45. Blessing and Joy in the Lord
46. Keeping Good Company
47. Grace Over-Abounding Sin
48. The Fulfillment of God’s Word
49. Learning in the School of God
50. Sovereign Grace of God
51. Grace Magnified in Failure
52. Restoration
53. Fellowship and Remembrance
54. The Lord First
55. Alone With God
56. The Blessing of the Lord
57. Guided of the Lord
58. Walking in His Ways
59. God’s Faithfulness to Restore
60. God’s Promises Remembered
61. Godliness in Youth
62. Obedience to the Father
63. Suffering and Joy in Obedience
64. Conscience and Confession
65. God Behind the Scenes
66. Favor Through the Blood
67. Accepting or Rejecting Christ
68. The Word of God
69. Food for the Hungry Soul
70. Rejection and Repentance
71. His Perfect Wisdom
72. Blessing to Ruined Sinners
73. Repentance Through Kindness
74. The Lord’s Love Revealed
75. Assurance and Guidance
76. A Future Time of Blessing
77. God’s Purposes in Grace
78. Unchanging and Everlasting Love
79. Promises of Blessing

In the Beginning

Genesis 1:1-4
The Bible is not like any other book. All other books are written by men, and some of them are true, but many others are not. However, the Bible is God’s Word, and although God used men to write it, they did not write just what they wanted to, but wrote exactly what God told them. “The prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). Men have written many books about how this world began, but they only suppose things. These are called theories. What God has told us in the Bible is true, and we must, therefore, believe it. As we grow older, we find there are many things we cannot understand. God has given us the answer to some of these questions in His word, and we can thank Him for it. Other things God has not told us because it is not good for us to know. “The secret things be­long unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever” (Deuteronomy 29:29).
Creation of Heaven and Earth
The first verse tells us how the Heaven and the Earth began. “In the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth.” God is the only One who can create anything, that is, make things out of nothing, and Ephesians 3:9 tells us that God created all things by the Lord Jesus Christ. Again, in John 1:3, “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.”
Both the Heaven and the Earth were created perfect, for God always makes things perfect, until sin spoils them. Now in verse 2 we read, “The earth was without form and void.” It had been spoiled. Perhaps many, many thousands of years had rolled by since God created it, and somehow it had been spoiled. God has not told us how, for it is one of His secrets. What God has told us in the rest of the chapter is how in six days He made everything necessary and beautiful, and then created Adam to live on the earth and enjoy it.
Light
On the first day, “God said, Let there be light and there was light” (verse 3). “God is Light,” but the sad thing is that since sin has come into the world, “Men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). When the light from God shines into our hearts, it first shows us how sinful we are in His presence. Then God also tells us the way we can be made the children of Light, being made perfectly suitable for His presence by “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son (which) cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Have you taken the Lord Jesus as your own personal Saviour? If so, you are one of the “children of light.”
Further Meditation
1. How is the Bible different from all other books?
2. Why is light a good way to describe God’s holy character?
3. A readable commentary that presents many of the figures of Christ found in Genesis is Genesis: The Book of Beginnings by G. C. Willis.

Creation

Genesis 1:4-13
Then God divided (separated) the light from the darkness, making the day and the night. Each night is followed by another day, but when time comes to an end, as it will someday, there will be eternal day for the saved ones, and eternal night for the lost. Remember the sepa­ration will be eternal. Will it be eternal day with Jesus in Heaven, or eternal night in Hell for you? If you have accepted the Lord Jesus as your Saviour, you can gladly answer that you know you will be with Him in Heaven. If not, it is just as certain that you will be in that awful place of judgment.
On the second day God made a firma­ment which He called Heaven, and it separated the water in the clouds above from the water on earth. There are three heavens mentioned in the Bible. The first heaven is where the clouds are, and where the birds fly. The sun, moon, and stars are in the second heaven. The third heaven is where God dwells (2 Corinthians 12:2).
The Dry Land
God made the dry land appear on the third day. Up to this time all the earth was under water, but when the dry land appeared, God set the bounds of the seas (or oceans, Proverbs 8:29). How easily God could make the waters cover the earth again, as He did at the time of the flood. They are kept in their place by His mighty power, and He has promised they will never cover the earth again. Think of the majesty and greatness of God, and then of how wonderful it is that He thinks about us, who are so small and helpless, and loved us enough to send His Son to die for us.
God also made the grass, the vege­tables, the trees, and all kinds of plant life on the third day. Each one has its seed, or seeds, in it, from which to grow new plants. Men can make won­derful things, but they cannot make life. They cannot make a single seed, or give life to the tiniest insect. Life is entirely in the hands of God, and this is one secret men will never be able to find out. When God sent the plague of lice in Egypt, even the heathen magicians had to say, “This is the finger of God” (Exodus 8:19).
We always reap what we sow, too, for a pumpkin seed will always grow pumpkins, and turnip seeds will always grow turnips. This can be applied to our lives, too (Galatians 6:7). If we are disobedient to our parents, we may have children someday who will be disobedient to us. There is also a brighter side to it, for if we live to please the Lord, we will reap a good harvest in having His blessing on our lives. Which kind of seed are you sowing?
Further Meditation
1. What are the three heavens mentioned in the Bible?
2. How did king David both “reap” for his disobedience and for his obedience?
3. If you are meditating on the subject of reaping and sowing, you may enjoy related thoughts in the booklet God’s Grace and God’s Government by P. Wilson.

Light and Life

Genesis 1:14-25
God made great lights, the sun, moon, and stars, on the fourth day. Men have made some wonderful searchlights which will shine for about a hundred miles, and we have many bright lights in our homes, but the sun which God has put in the sky is about 93 million miles away, and yet it lights up the whole world, and makes our electric lights look like nothing. Not only does the sun give light, but its rays are so warm in the summer time, that we are glad to get into the shade to keep cool. We could not live without the sun, for nothing would grow without sunshine.
The moon hasn’t any light of its own, but during the night it reflects like a mirror the light from the sun to that part of the world which is in darkness. It reminds us of how we who are saved should reflect the light of Christ to this world that is dark because of sin. Sometimes the earth comes between, and makes an eclipse of the moon. So we have to be careful that the sinful things of this world don’t come between us and the Lord, and keep us from shining for Him.
The Fifth and Sixth Days of Creation
On the fifth day God made birds to fly in the sky and fish to swim in the sea. Isn’t it wonderful to think of so many different kinds of great and small fishes that swim in the water. The great whales down to the tiny sardines were all created by the word of God. Some of them swim in very deep water, others in shallow brooks. Some are in salt water, others in fresh, but God has given to each one a body suited to where He has placed them. A fish could not live on the dry land, nor could a man live under the water. Then there are all the beauti­ful birds with their lovely feathers and pretty colors, right down to the sparrow that is so common. Some of them have lovely songs, and others do not sing at all. Often the birds that are not so beautiful to look at have the sweetest song. Not only did God create these wonderful fishes and birds but He sustains them, that is, He keeps them living. “By Him (Christ) all things consist” (Colossians 1:17). When we look at all these wonderful creatures, we know that God takes His pleasure in them too.
The sixth day was the last day of creation. Each day was a day of twenty four hours, because God has told us, “The evening and the morning were the sixth day” (verse 31), and each day was the same. On the sixth day God made all kinds of cattle, animals, and creeping things. There were lions, bears, and all other kinds of animals, but they were not wild until after sin came into the world. What a wonder­ful scene it was, fresh from the hand of God, without a groan or such a thing as fear or death. All that was needed to make creation complete was man, who was to be placed over it all as its head.
Further Meditation
1. How should we who are saved be like the moon?
2. Consider what will happen to the animals after the Lord Jesus begins to openly reign as king over everyone on the earth. Isaiah 11:5-9 describes what will happen. How does this compare with what was happening in the garden of Eden during the time described in Genesis 1?
3. If you love learning about the amazing creatures that God has created, you will probably enjoy The Wonders of God’s Creation by S. R. Gill.

The Creation of Man

Genesis 1:26-31
And God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (verse 26). Our verse begins with two wonderful words, “Let us.” This means that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, purposed together for the creation of man. He was to be created in the image of God, because he was to repre­sent God on the earth as the head of all creation, of all the animals, the birds, the fishes, and the little insects. Then, too, Adam was to be morally after the likeness of God. Of course he did not yet have the knowledge of good and evil. He was innocent.
What a wonderful scene it was, with everything fresh from the hand of God and all very good.
Life Comes From God
Man’s life, or breath, came directly from God, for “God ... breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). When cows, horses, and all other animals die, that is the end of them, and some people will tell you that when you die, that is the end of you, just the same as animals, but God says, “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). It is better to believe God than man, isn’t it? The Bible is God’s word and it tells us the truth. If you know the Lord Jesus as your Saviour, there is no judgment for you, for the Lord Jesus bore your judgment on the cross, so that when you die you will be “absent from the body ... present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). Your body will be put in the ground and go back to dust again, but your spirit will go to be with the Lord, and be happy there with Him until He comes and gives the shout in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Then your body will come up out of the ground and will be changed into a body just like Christ’s, and you will be with Him forever.
If the one who reads this is unsaved, then, when you die, your body will go into the ground too, but your spirit will go to the prison-house of the lost (1 Peter 3:19), to wait there in tor­ment until the resurrection of the wicked dead, which will be about a thousand years after the first resurrection (Revelation 20:5). The first resurrection takes place when the Lord Jesus comes for His own. Yes, your body will come up out of the ground, even if it has gone back to dust again, and you will stand before God to be cast into the lake of fire to suffer there forever (Revelation 20:10). God warns us of these things because He loves us. Don’t listen to those who tell you that there is no hell for God says there is. But God has provided a way of escape, and if you will come to the Lord Jesus just as you are, He will save you. Come now.
Further Meditation
1. Why was man created in the image of God?
2. Are there other creatures that the Bible tells us were created directly by the breath of God being breathed into them? What does this tell you about God’s relationship to mankind?
3. If you really want to dive deeper into the essential subject of life and death you might enjoy listening to the audio CD Preliminary Considerations on the Nature of Life and Death by D. Rule.

God’s Rest

Genesis 2
After man was created, God looked over all that He had made and said it was very good. Then on the seventh day God rested. Everything was beautiful and peaceful. But now sin has spoiled everything, and there will not be any lasting peace on earth until God makes “a new heav­en and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13). We who are saved have peace in our hearts now, and when we get to heaven, we will be in God’s rest forever. If anyone who reads this is unsaved, there will not be any rest for you, unless you accept Christ as your Saviour. “There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked” (Isaiah 57:21).
The Sabbath
The Sabbath (the seventh day) was God’s promise of rest on the earth, but sin soon spoiled it. Man never could, and never will, obtain rest by his own obedience. The Lord Jesus, the obedi­ent One, died in order that blessing might come to fallen man. The Sab­bath is for God’s earthly people, and when the Lord Jesus reigns over the earth in a coming day, the Sabbath will be kept again. But we are a heavenly people, and our rest is in heaven, not on the earth. We keep the first day of the week (Sunday) just as the early disciples did (Acts 20:7). It is the Lord’s Day, (Revelation 1:10) and we should try to spend it in a special way for the Lord and not for our own pleasure. Perhaps there is some little friend we could bring with us to Sunday School, or some sick person whom we could visit, and tell them about the Lord Jesus.
The Garden
God planted a beautiful garden where Adam was to live, and filled it with lovely fruit trees, flowers, and vege­tables. A great river flowed through the garden to water it. There was everything in it to make Adam happy. Adam could eat of the fruit of any of the trees but the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and God said he must not eat of that one, for if he did, he would surely die (verse 17). Adam had only one command to keep, and he could fully enjoy everything in the garden.
Then God brought all the animals to Adam for him to name them. Lions, bears, cows, horses, and all the other creatures — Adam gave them all their names.
But Adam was alone, so God made a wife for him to be his companion and helpmeet. He put Adam into a deep sleep, and took out one of his ribs, from which He made Eve to be his bride. Now Adam had someone with whom he could enjoy everything God had made for them. This would remind us of what the Lord Jesus passed through on the cross. The deep sleep tells us of His death for us. He gave Himself, in order that He might have a bride, which is made up of all those who accept the Lord Jesus as their Saviour.
Further Meditation
1. For whom is the Sabbath?
2. What are some ways that you could freely serve the Lord on the Lord’s Day? What does it mean to devote that day to Him?
3. You might find some help in understanding the specialness of the Lord’s Day without thinking of it as the Christian Sabbath if you read the booklet The Lord’s Day: Do You Devote It to Him? by A. H. Rule.

Doubting and Temptation

Genesis 3:1-6
Adam and Eve were enjoying the beautiful garden together, and how happy they must have been. But the happiness did not last long. They chose to listen to the voice of the serpent (Satan) rather than to the voice of God. God provided everything for them and had given them such wonderful things, while the serpent had not done anything for them. So why should they listen to him? But they did!
How cleverly the serpent asked his question, “Yea hath God said?” He first put a doubt into Eve’s mind by questioning whether God had really spoken. This is always the way Satan begins. He wants you to doubt the Bible, the Word of God, and if he can get you doubting, he will be able to ruin you, as he did Eve. The Christian needs an armor for his spiritual battles, and we are told, “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (Ephesians 6:16). Never let one doubt enter your mind as to the truth of the Word of God, or Satan’s fiery darts will get in.
Eve Replies in Doubt
Then Eve replied to the serpent by saying, “God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” We can notice two mistakes in her reply. First she added to God’s Word. God hadn’t told them not to touch it, but unbelief adds to God’s Word, as well as taking away from it. Then Eve also said “Lest ye die,” which shows there was a doubt in her mind. But God’s Word was definite, “Ye shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17). The serpent saw that she was doubting, and he said, “Ye shall not surely die.” He flatly contradicted what God said.
Satan’s Deception
Satan had his bait all ready, just like a fisherman, so that when they grabbed at it, they would be caught with his hook. He told them they would “be as gods, knowing good and evil.” But he only told them part of the truth, for although they got the knowledge of good and evil (a conscience) when they ate of the fruit, they received a fallen nature, wanting to do evil, and without the power to do good.
Eve listened to Satan, and disobeyed God. She saw that the tree was good for food, pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise. It all looked good, except for one thing — it was disobedience to God. So dear children, the world with its bright lights, its sinful pleasures, and its fa­mous men and women looks very attractive. But stop a moment. It is Satan who has fixed up the world to take your young hearts away from the Lord, and “What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul” (Mark 8:36). If you listen to the voice of God through His Word, you will have the victory over these temptations. “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4).
Further Meditation
1. What were two mistakes Eve made in her reply to the serpent?
2. How did Joseph respond when he was tempted by Potiphar’s wife? How did his problems get bigger at first? How did his obedience turn out in the end?
3. The Problem of Lust by W. MacDonald is a clear and simple brochure related to the topic of temptation and might be helpful to you.

Hiding From God’s Presence

Genesis 3:7-15
As soon as Adam and Eve had taken the fruit, their eyes were opened, and the conscience which they received by their sinful act made them feel their nakedness. So they made aprons out of fig leaves to cover themselves. This is just like men and women today, who try to cover their sins by their own good works, but although such things may look very good in their own eyes, and perhaps in the eyes of others, we know that nothing we can do will put away one sin from the presence of God. “The wages of sin is death,” and God was about to teach them that the only way they could stand in His presence, was in a covering which He Himself provided through the death of another, a substitute.
God Seeking His Fallen Creature
While clothed in these fig leaf-aprons they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden, and they hid among the trees. They were afraid of God, and their aprons did not make them suitable for His presence, and they knew it. Are you hiding from God? Do you feel like running away when someone asks you if you are saved? It is because you are a sin­ner and need the robe of righteousness which God has provided through the death of His Son. “He hath made Him (Christ) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the right­eousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
But God loved His fallen creature, and He began to seek him. Isn’t it wonderful, that the first words God spoke to Adam after his fall were, “Where art thou?” And God has been seeking man ever since, even though men continue to run away and hide from Him. If you are unsaved, God is seeking you and wants to save you.
Blame and Responsibility
God asked Adam some questions be­cause He wanted him to confess his sin, but Adam blamed his wife for it. Perhaps you are trying to blame some­one else, or even worse, you may be blaming God as many people do today. But remember this, putting the blame on someone else will not take away the dark stain of sin. Stop blaming others at once, and come to God as a guilty sinner, and you will have all your sins removed. “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Then you will not be thinking of who is to blame, but your heart will be filled with thank­fulness to God for what He has done for you.
Eve was like her husband, and she blamed the Serpent (Satan). God then cursed the Serpent for what he had done, but He allowed Adam and Eve to hear the wonderful promise that the Seed of woman would bruise the Ser­pent’s head. The Lord Jesus who was born of a virgin was the promised Seed, and when He died on the cross, He defeated all Satan’s power. Satan is a real person, with real power, but for the believer he is a defeated enemy who cannot harm us as long as we walk in obedience to the Word of God. Soon we will be completely delivered from his power when the Lord Jesus comes and takes us to be forever with Himself.
Further Meditation
1. Why did Adam and Eve hide from God among the trees?
2. I suppose that Adam and Eve thought the fig leaves would help them hide their sin from God in some way, but that was obviously foolish. How did other Bible men and women try to cover up their sin? What, for example, did Jacob’s sons do to hide their evil ways with Joseph?
3. You can find lots more on the subject of trying to hide ourselves from God by searching bibletruthlibrary.org. One article entitled Fig Leaves, from Things New and Old, would be a good place to start. You can find it by typing the article number 50451 into the library search box.

Driven From the Garden

Genesis 3:16-24
After letting Adam and Eve hear the wonderful promise of a coming Redeemer (the promised Seed), then God told them the sad results of their sin. They were to have sorrow, suffering and hard work during their lives, with death at the end. It became a groaning creation, and even the animal creation has had to share in the suffering. God also cursed the ground for Adam’s sake, and all the thorns and thistles we see are the results of this curse. We cannot help but think of the crown of thorns which wicked men placed on the head of the Lord Jesus, when He was made a curse for us. Yes, He died on the cross to put our sins away, and bring us into even greater blessing than if Adam had never sinned at all.
Then God clothed Adam and Eve with coats of skins, and in order to get these skins, the animal must be killed. This pointed on to the Lord Jesus, who died for us, that we might be clothed in a robe of righteousness suited to the presence of God. Any other robe or covering that a sinner can have is only “filthy rags” before God (Isaiah 61:10 and Isaiah 64:6).
The Tree of Life
If God had allowed them to eat of the tree of life and live forever in this world, it would have been terrible. So He drove them out of the garden and would not let them return. But God had something much better in His purposes of grace. In Revelation 22 we read about a new scene, and all in that city can eat of the tree of life, for “there shall be no more curse.” The ones who enter there “have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:14).
God placed Cherubim and a flaming sword at the entrance to the garden to keep the way of the tree of life. These are types or symbols to bring certain things before our minds. Now God uses a great many types in His Word, but He does not want us to form our own opinion about what they mean, or we might make some bad mistakes. The meanings of these types are found in the Bible if we read it carefully and prayerfully. The Cherubim speak to us of God’s right­eousness in the government of this world. God must act in righteousness and punish sin. We deserved the pun­ishment, but the “flaming sword” of God’s judgment fell on the Lord Jesus at the cross (see Zechariah 13:7), and He bore all the sins of those who believe, and now we can sing:
Death and judgment are behind us
Grace and Glory are before
All the billows rolled o’er Jesus
There they spent their utmost power.
Dear young reader, can you say that Jesus bore your judgment? For if He did not bear it for you, then you must bear it yourself in Hell forever. You will be kept out of the heavenly city, where only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life can enter.
Further Meditation
1. Why did God drive Adam and Eve out of the garden?
2. Why would it have been terrible for God to have let Adam and Eve eat fruit from the tree of life? Why would it be terrible for Him to let one sinner with one stain of sin into heaven?
3. The cherubim mentioned in this chapter are one of a group of angels. You can find out lots more of what the Bible has to say about angels in the pamphlet Angels by J. Williams.

Cain and Abel

Genesis 4:1-8
God gave Adam and Eve two sons, whom they named Cain and Abel. I am sure they loved their boys, and told them of how sin came into the world by their dis­obedience and then of how God clothed them in the coats of skins. No doubt Cain and Abel both knew the story well, but what a great difference there was between the way they received it. Abel believed it, for he knew that he was a sinner, and he saw that the death of another must come between himself and God, or he could not be accepted. Cain was careless about it and thought that the works of his own hands were good enough to be presented to a holy God.
Fitness of Offerings
So they both brought their offerings to the Lord. Cain brought his first. It was the fruit of the ground which God had cursed, and there was no blood shed. How could God accept such an offering from Cain in his sins? He could not. Then Abel brought his offering, and what a difference! He brought “the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof.” He acknowledged that death was what he deserved, but the little animal died in his place, and God accepted him and his offering.
Sometimes we hear people say that God accepted Abel because he was good, and rejected Cain because he was bad. No, boys and girls, they were both bad sinners, but Abel was ac­cepted because his sacrifice answered to God for his sins, and pointed on to the Lord Jesus, the Lamb of God. These two brothers had the same opportunities of hearing the right way. Perhaps you have a Christian father and mother who have often pointed you to Christ. Have you accepted Him as the One who died for your sins? Knowing the way will not save you. You must come yourself.
One Offering Rejected
When Cain’s offering was rejected, he was very angry. Many people today get very angry when you tell them that their own works will not fit them for the presence of God, and that they need Christ as their Saviour. They don’t like to hear about the blood of Christ. God told Cain “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?” The way was still open for him to bring a sacrifice which God could accept, but he would not. And the way is still open for you, unsaved one. “Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts” (Hebrews 4:7).
Cain was first envious of his brother, then he began to hate him, and this led to murder. Oh, boys and girls, let us be careful of envy and jealousy. If you are saved, you can ask the Lord Jesus to help you not to envy others. If you find those feelings in your heart, you should pray for the friends you envy, and ask God for grace to be specially kind to them. You will then soon get the victory and love them, but if you don’t do this, you will get away from the Lord in your soul and end up by doing something very naughty.
Further Meditation
1. Why did God accept Abel’s offering and not Cain’s?
2. Jealousy and anger can lead to many other sins. How was anger a major part of Saul’s life? What damage did it cause?
3. The book Plain Papers For Young Believers by A. T. Schofield has a helpful chapter on the subject of anger. The article is also freely available at bibletruthlibrary.org and can be found in a library search for article number 53629.

Sin Found Out

Genesis 4:9-26
One day when Cain was out in the field with Abel his brother, he became so angry that he killed him. What a terrible thing to do! He did not seem to realize that God was watching him, but let us remember He sees everything we do. You may be able to hide things from others, and perhaps from your parents, but you cannot hide anything from God.
For He sees what we do,
And He hears what we say,
My Lord is watching
All the time, time, time.
And although God sees and hears everything, He loves us. He does not love our sins, but He loves us and wants to cleanse us from all our sins.
After Cain murdered his brother, the Lord asked him where Abel was. Cain replied, “I know not: am I my brother’s keeper?” This was a lie to God, for he did know where his brother was. He had killed Abel, and he tried to cover up his sin by telling a lie. Have you ever done something you knew to be wrong and then tried to cover it up by telling a lie? You often end up by telling two or three lies! When you do one wrong thing, then Satan tries to catch you in his net and lead you on in a sinful path. Only the Lord Jesus can set you free, and He will, if you come to Him telling Him “all the truth.” Here is a good verse to remember at all times, “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). Don’t try to cover things up, children; confess them at once.
Cain’s Punishment
God told Cain that he was to be a fugitive and a vagabond (a wanderer) in the earth. Cain did not like the punishment, and he was very sorry about it, but not for his sin. Many people today are much like Cain. They are very sorry when they are found out, and even cry when they are pun­ished, but they have never really re­pented before God. Dear young reader, have you ever taken your place as a guilty sinner before God? This is true repentance, and the moment you do this, and trust in the work the Lord Jesus has done for you, you will be saved.
Then Cain went out from the pres­ence of the Lord and built a city. He was trying to make himself happy away from God. This is just exactly what the world is today. It has so many attractions for your young heart, to make you forget the Lord in a whirl of pleasure and excitement. In the city which Cain built, there were harps and organs and all kinds of beautiful things made from brass and iron, but let us not forget where it was. It was “out from the presence of the Lord.” It is the same world today, and Satan is its god and prince. Just as Cain’s city was later destroyed by a flood, so there is a day near at hand when this poor world will be burned up. Here are two verses for us to consider. “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth ... But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19-20).
Further Meditation
1. What punishment did God give for Cain’s sin?
2. Why is lying such a serious thing to God? You can find one example of how God dealt with lying in Acts 5. What made the punishment so severe on that occasion.
3. You might find additional help on this story from the Audio CD Adam, Cain and Abel, Enoch and Noah: From Notes on Genesis, Genesis 3-5 by C. H. Mackintosh.

Warning and Provision

Genesis 6:1-13
We did not have a chapter on the fifth chapter, because it is mostly names. How­ever we might just say this: when you are reading your Bible each day, as we hope you do, you should always take time to read over these names. God has put them down in His Word for a pur­pose, and it shows us that He knows our names, and that He takes notice of little things in our lives. Among all the others, He tells us that “Enoch walked with God.” That is, Enoch lived to please God, and instead of dying as all the others did, God took him to heaven without death. This reminds us of the time when the Lord Jesus will come (it is very soon!), and He will take all those who are trusting in Him, up to heaven without death (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). Are you ready for that moment?
Wickedness of Man Great in the Earth
Men and women had been living on the earth for over one thousand five hundred years, and instead of getting any better, they were becoming worse and worse. God looked down, and He has told us just how bad things really were. He saw “that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Your heart and mine are just as bad as this, and there is only one thing that can cleanse them. It is the precious blood of Christ.
“And the Lord said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man.” God was patient for many years, and the time was drawing near when He must act in judgment. Dear young reader, are you saved? Do not trifle with His goodness any longer, lest He should have to say that His Spirit would not strive with you anymore. What a solemn thing that would be! If your sins are troubling you now, it is be­cause God’s Spirit is striving to bring you to the knowledge of Christ as your own precious Saviour. Open your heart to the Lord Jesus today and you will be saved. Tomorrow may be too late.
Warnings of Destruction
God said that He would destroy the earth with a flood of water. All the fine things, with the harps and the organs of Cain’s city, and all the places of pleasure, with the great men who had built them, were to be buried under the waters of the flood. Judgment was written on them all. But there was one man who had faith. It was Noah. He walked with God, and he believed God. God told Noah to build an ark to shelter himself and all who would enter it from the coming storm, and he did exactly as God told him.
Noah did not follow the crowd, or he, too, would have perished in the flood. I suppose the others told him he was foolish, but he did not listen to them, for he believed God. He preached and warned them, but they would not listen to his message, and the only ones who entered the ark with him were seven others of his own family. Dear young reader, don’t follow the crowd. They may laugh at you in school, and tell you that you should have a good time with them, but don’t forget that the crowd are going down the broad road to judgment.
Further Meditation
1. Why did God decide to destroy the earth?
2. Noah resisted what you might call peer pressure. All those around him were opposed to what God had to say. How did Daniel do the same thing?
3. Living in a godly way when others are opposed to godliness is a real challenge. You might find the pamphlet The Blessedness of Godliness: A Meditation on Psalm 1 by G. V. Wigram an encouragement to you if you have a desire to resist evil and follow holiness.

Instruction for Safety

Genesis 6:14-22
Noah was not left to make his own plans for the ark which God told him to build. God gave him all the instructions he needed as to the size, the number of stories, and also that it was to have only one window and one door. In fact God even told him what kind of wood to use, as well as about the pitch with which he was to cover it within and without. Many people try to make their own plans for salvation, such as good works, prayers, going to church, and many other ways which they think are good enough. But they do not want to come in God’s way. The Lord Jesus Christ and His work are the only “ark” of safety from coming judgment.
The Ark
This ark was a tremendous boat, as large as the great vessels that sail the ocean today. There was room for all who would enter, but there was only one door. The only door of salvation now is the Lord Jesus who said, “I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved” (John 10:9). After they entered there was only one window by which they could look out, and it was in the top so they could look up. Some of our readers know the Lord Jesus as their Saviour, and there is a lesson for us here. In all our diffi­culties and trials, let us learn to look up to the Lord in prayer. He is able and willing to help us in every time of need.
The wood and the black pitch would remind us of how the Lord Jesus died on the cross for us, and so whether we looked at the ark from the inside or outside, we would think of the Lord Jesus going through death, in order that we might be saved. Noah was to bring all kinds of food into the ark, and we who are “safe in Christ,” find the food that is necessary for our new nature in the Bible. This is why we should read the Word each day, to make us “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).
Unsaved Helpers
Perhaps in building this great ark Noah had the help of some others who did not come into it when the flood came. They might have been good carpenters, and willing helpers, but the ark would not do them any good unless they took shelter inside. There are many boys and girls who are much like this. They come regularly to Sunday School, and even help in it by giving out the hymn books, and doing other things, but they have never accepted the Lord Jesus as their own personal Saviour. They can tell all about Him, and even tell others how to be saved, but like Noah’s helpers, they refuse to come to Christ themselves. Are you one of these helpers who cannot say you are saved yourself? The Lord Jesus is waiting to save you, but if you put it off, you may find yourself outside the door, and there will not be any way of escape for you then. God’s judgments will fall on you, and you will have to spend eternity in outer darkness, away from God forever.
Further Meditation
1. What do the wood and black pitch used to build the ark remind us of?
2. There are several different types of arks mentioned in the Bible. Besides Noah’s ark, what other arks can you think of? What do each of them represent?
3. You might enjoy handing out the gospel tract Noah’s Carpenters that presents the warning mentioned in this meditation.

Safety With the Lord

Genesis 7
God waited in patience for one hundred and twenty years since warning that the flood was coming, but apart from Noah and his house, men went on as carelessly as ever. Then the time came that the flood must come, and the Lord said to Noah, “Come thou and all thy house into the ark.” The Lord did not say “Go,” but “Come,” for He was to be in the ark with Noah and his household. Some of our readers are the children of Christian parents, and they have often told you of the Lord Jesus because they earnestly desire that each one in their family should be safe from the coming judgment. Don’t turn a deaf ear to their loving entreaties, or you will wake up someday to find that the door is shut with you on the outside. Come to Jesus today.
Gathered Into the Ark
Noah then gathered all the animals, the birds, and the creeping things into the ark as God told him. Then he and his wife, with his three sons and their wives went into the ark, while God waited for seven days more. Oh, the patience of God! Noah did not shut the door himself; it was the Lord who shut him in. He is the One who “shutteth, and no man openeth” (Revelation 3:7) and how solemn for those who were on the outside. There was no second chance for them. It was too late.
Too Late for Deliverance
Then it began to rain, and the waters rose up from beneath too. I suppose the people got out of their homes, both the rich and poor together, and began to climb the hills. The ones who had their houses on the hilltops would think they were safe, but the water rose higher and higher until soon they had to join the crowd and try to climb the great mountains. But it was no use, for the water soon covered even the highest mountains, and they all perished except those who were in the ark. Perhaps many of the young people had great plans about the good time they were going to have, or the fine homes they expected to build, but their lifeless bodies were soon floating on the waters and their souls were lost forever.
How often they would wish they had taken shelter in the ark, as they saw the waters rising! I suppose they had often laughed at Noah as they watched him building, and heard him preaching, but the laughing was all gone then. They realized that Noah was right, and they were all wrong. They may have told Noah that there had never been a flood before, and that it was “contrary to all the laws of Nature.” But God made these laws of Nature, and He can break them. Be careful of men’s foolish arguments. Every Word of God is going to be fulfilled, and He has said that this world is going to be destroyed by fire the next time. He has told us, too, that the Lord Jesus is coming beforehand to take those who are trusting in Him safely home to heaven. Do not delay one moment longer. “Be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh” (Matthew 24:44).
Further Meditation
1. Why did the Lord tell Noah to “Come,” into the ark instead of “Go”?
2. What was the attitude that Lot’s children had when they were warned that judgment was coming? What are some of the reasons people don’t take God’s warnings of coming judgment very seriously?
3. Judgment is a subject worth taking as seriously as God does. When we really understand it, we can better appreciate God’s holiness. You can find a nice overview of the subject of judgment in the booklet The Four Judgments by A. H. Burton.

Deliverance From the Flood

Genesis 8
Even during the darkest days the child of God can look forward to a bright future, and so after this terrible judgment God had blessing in store for those inside the ark. The rain stopped, and the waters began to go down, until the tops of the mountains were seen.
Then Noah sent out a raven, and this unclean bird flew around and probably fed on the carcasses of those who had perished in the flood. It would remind us of our old sinful nature which feeds on what is unclean and evil. Even though the raven had been in the ark, its nature was not changed, and when let go, it went back to its old habits. Being in the company of true Christians does not change or improve man’s sinful heart. We need a new nature from God, and this is received when one is born again. The Lord Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).
The Dove Sent Out
The dove, which speaks to us of the new nature, was sent out next. Finding no rest for her feet, she returned to the ark. Nor is there any resting place for our new nature in this poor world, but we can find all we need in our “ark” which is Christ. After seven days, Noah sent the dove out again, and when she returned in the evening, she brought back an olive leaf, pulled from a living tree. The next time Noah let out the dove, it did not return, for new life was springing up out of the earth, and this the dove could enjoy. Dear young reader, do you enjoy the things of the Lord? If not, it is be­cause you need to be born again.
Offering a Sacrifice
When the face of the ground was dry, God told Noah to go out of the ark, taking all the animals, birds, and creeping things with him. Noah was very thankful to the Lord for this won­derful deliverance, and so the very first thing he did was to build an altar and offer a sacrifice to the Lord. Like Abel, he acknowledged that the only way he could approach God was through the death of another. The Lord Jesus has delivered us from some­thing more terrible than the flood of water. He has saved us from the lake of fire by His death for us, and we should thank Him over and over again for all that He has done. Many of those who love Him gather around His table each Lord’s Day to break the bread and drink the cup in remem­brance of His death. He has asked us to do this, and we delight to show our thankfulness in this way.
God promised that He would not destroy every living thing again as He had done in the flood. It was because of Noah’s sacrifice that He made this promise, and it is because of the death of the Lord Jesus that God goes on patiently with this world now. When He does act in judgment again, there will be thousands upon thousands who will be delivered and brought into blessing, because of the work accomplished on Calvary’s cross. Can you say that you are “safe in Christ” from coming judgment?
Further Meditation
1. What was the first thing Noah did when he left the ark?
2. What bird is used in Mark 1 to symbolize the Spirit of God’s coming on the man Christ Jesus? Why?
3. You would probably find the article on the dove in the Concise Bible Dictionary by G. Morrish to be helpful in meditating on this subject. You would find the dictionary a big help in your study of God’s Word. You can find a copy online in the reference section of bibletruthlibrary.org.

His Goodness and Blessing

Genesis 9:1-7
Judgment is God’s “strange work,” for He delights in blessing. Noah and his family were saved from the terrible waters of the flood by taking shelter in the ark, and now we read these beau­tiful words, “And God blessed Noah and his sons.”
No doubt many of our readers can say they are “saved” because they have put their trust in the Lord Jesus as their own personal Saviour. What a grand thing this is! But, dear young folks, do you want His blessing in your life? Of course you do, for “the bless­ing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and He addeth no sorrow with it” (Proverbs 10:22). The only way to have His blessing is to walk in obedience to His Word. Many dear Christians have a great deal of sorrow in their lives because they walk in paths of their own choosing. Ask the Lord to help you to please Him day by day, and you will have a happy, useful life with His blessing.
Mankind and Animals
God has put the fear of mankind up­on all the animals, birds, fishes, and creeping things. He has enabled men to tame many such animals as the horse, the mule, and the camel, and make them very useful servants, whereas there are many wild animals which, even though tamed, will not serve us. In spite of man’s sinfulness, and even hatred of God, He has given us abundant proof of His goodness, and of His care for His creatures. “Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the chil­dren of men!” (Psalms 107:21). Let us remember to thank Him for His many blessings to us.
God told Noah that “every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you.” There are some who say that it is wrong to eat meat, but God’s word assures us that we can eat and enjoy it. “Every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be re­ceived with thanksgiving” (1 Timothy 4:4). We must not forget, however, that it is wrong to eat blood, (Genesis 9:4) and this command is repeated in the New Testament (Acts 15:29). The life is in the blood, and the shedding of the animal’s blood should tell us that life for us is through death. We were dead in sins, but the Lord Jesus has died for us, shedding His own precious blood, that we might live through Him.
The Prince of Life a Substitute for Sinners
When any man killed another, he himself was to be put to death. He was a murderer. Now this world has mur­dered the Son of God, and must answer to God for it. Peter brought this fact before the Jews in Jerusalem. He said, “Ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of life” (Acts 3:14-15).
Dear young reader, you have your part in that awful act if you are still rejecting Him in your heart. You are just as guilty before God as the men who cried “Away with Him,” unless you have owned your guilt before God, and taken His Son as your Saviour. Death, and after death, judgment, are before you at this very moment, unless you have a Substitute, whom you can say has died in your place. Wonder of wonders, the One whom we murdered, Jesus the Son of God, died as a Substitute for sinners! Can you say, “He died for me”?
Further Meditation
1. Why is it wrong to eat blood?
2. There is a mention later in the book of Genesis when the Lord Jesus ate meat. Can you find it? You won’t find His name in the verse, but Hebrews 13:2 should give you the hint you need to find the story in Genesis.
3. You might enjoy a simple little article from Wonders of God’s Creation: Volume 1 by S. R. Gill entitled “What Happens When We Eat?” We are certainly fearfully and wonderfully made.

God’s Promises

Genesis 9:8-29
God promised that He would never destroy the earth again with a flood, and as a token of His promise, He has put the rainbow in the clouds. What a beautiful sight it is to see the rainbow stretching across the sky after, or during, a rainfall in the late afternoon! The sun shining on the raindrops makes all the lovely colors which we admire, and it looks so ma­jestic in the dark clouds above us. Let us remember when we see it, that it is to tell us, as a message from God, that He never forgets His promises — no, never. He has made a great many pro­mises in His Word to cheer the hearts of those who belong to Him. Here is one which has given assurance to many a doubting soul. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: and I give unto them eter­nal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand” (John 10:27-28). Could we have any better assurance than the Word of God on which to rest our souls? If you, dear reader, are trusting in the Lord Jesus as your Saviour, don’t allow Satan to put a doubt in your mind as to your eternal security.
Judgment on the Earth
Although the earth will not be de­stroyed by water again, God has told us that it will be destroyed by fire the next time. “The earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). The world is guiltier now than in the days of Noah, because it has crucified the Son of God, but in longsuffering patience God is still waiting for boys and girls, and men and women, to accept Christ as their Saviour before the judgment falls. Dear young reader, are you saved? Now is God’s time. Tomorrow may be too late, for the Lord Jesus is com­ing very soon, and then the door of grace will be closed forever.
Noah’s Failure
We now come to a very sad page in Noah’s life, which should be a warn­ing to us. None of us ever come to a point in our Christian life when we can settle down and say we are out of danger. No, the great enemy of our souls, Satan, is always busy seeking to trip us up, and lead us into paths of sin.
Noah planted a vineyard. There was nothing wrong in this, but the wrong came in when he used the fruit of it for a bad purpose. It is quite right for us to be engaged in our school work, or in business, but let us be care­ful that we do not let these things get such a hold on us, that they rob us of our joy in the Lord. So it was with Noah, for he became drunk with the wine of his vineyard, to his shame and disgrace before his sons, but how much more before God. Now we all know it is very wrong to be drunk with wine, but if we allow anything to fill our minds and hearts so that we have no time for the Lord’s things, it can make us “drunk” too.
What a beautiful example of “love covering a multitude of sins” is seen in the action of Shem and Japheth. When they heard of their father’s sin, they covered his nakedness, instead of talking about it as Ham did. Let us treat the failure of others in this way, and pray for them. God has graciously forgiven all our sins, and we are to show the same grace to our brethren.
Further Meditation
1. What did God give as a token of His promise never to destroy the earth with a flood again?
2. God has always been faithful to His promises. What promises did He make to Abraham? How are we shown by Scripture that God has kept them?
3. You might find it encouraging to read The Bible Promise Book edited by K. Abraham. It presents sets of Scriptures organized into 67 important themes. Our faith is fed by meditating on God’s faithfulness.

Man’s Pride Confounded

Genesis 11:1-30
Before going on with the eleventh chapter, we will just notice a couple of things in the tenth. The names given in it are of great interest to those who study the Word of God, for they tell us where the families of Noah’s sons settled after the flood. This gives us the key to some very important prophecies in other parts of the Bible, for it is all linked together according to the perfect wisdom of God. The Jews are the descendants of Shem, the Gentiles of Japheth, and Egyptians and other African peoples are from Ham.
The Tower of Babel
“And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech” (Genesis 11:1). Think of how nice it would be if everyone still spoke the same language! It would save so much trouble, and even war, if they did, but every blessing which depended on man’s faithfulness has been lost. Man’s course has always been one of departure from God, thus bringing God’s judgment upon him. The blessings we enjoy in the world today are the result of God’s patient grace to His creature, for we de­serve His righteous judgment.
These men in their pride decided to build a tower whose top would reach to heaven, perhaps thinking they could take shelter in it if there were another flood, although God had promised there would not be another one. However they started to build. Their tower must have looked very grand, and the bricks were well baked. It was getting higher each day! But what kind of mortar were they using? It was slime, which was really a black asphalt. This would remind us of our black, sinful hearts which the Bible says are, “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). The whole building was held together by the “black mortar” of sinful man and his efforts, and was doomed to failure. All men’s plans to reach heaven, or to escape judgment by their own works, are useless. God’s salvation is by grace, and not of works (see Ephesians 2:8-9).
God’s Building
In contrast to this tower that the children of men were building, we are told in 1 Peter 2 about a building that God is making. It is composed of all true believers, who are “living stones” in this wonderful structure. The Lord Jesus Christ is the only foundation, and the Corner Stone, and when any boy or girl accepts Him as his or her Saviour, God builds them as “living stones” into His building. All who are part of this building will surely reach heaven and spend eternity there with the Lord Jesus. Dear reader, do not try to get there by your own efforts, for you cannot. Accept the Lord Jesus as your Saviour today.
God came down to see the city and the tower which the children of men were building. Remember, boys and girls, that God knows all about your plans too, and the motive behind every action. Are you leaving Him out of your life, or do you try to please Him day by day? These men were trying to work out their own plans without any thought of God, but they came to a sad end. God made them all speak different languages, and they could not understand one another; they left their building, and were scattered over the face of the earth. In spite of it all, God is still working in grace, and is saving the souls of men and women “out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (Revelation 5:9).
Further Meditation
1. What does the black mortar used to build the tower represent to us?
2. Why does God use a symbol like “living stones” to describe Christians who are currently being added to His house? How do stones get shaped by the master builder?
3. There’s a wonderful and simple meditation entitled The Tower of Babel—Genesis 11 found in God’s Wonderful Stories: Volume 2 by Grandma Smith.

Instruction and Obedience

Genesis 11:31-12:5
We now come to a very interesting story in God’s blessed book. It is about Abram. God has told us a great deal about some people, whereas others are only men­tioned by name. The Bible is not a history book, and there is always a divine purpose in everything God has been pleased to write down for us. “Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
Instructions for Abram’s Journey
Abram was a man of faith. When we have faith in God, it simply means that we believe exactly what God has said, because He has said it. And faith always shows itself in works — other­wise it would be dead faith. The Lord appeared to Abram and told him to leave his country, his kindred, and his father’s house, and come into a land that He would show him. This was a hard thing for Abram to do, and the Lord knows just how difficult it is for you to take a stand for Him, too, dear boys and girls. Ask Him to help you and He will. We often sing to­gether,
Ask the Saviour to help you,
Comfort, strengthen and keep you,
He is willing to aid you,
He will carry you through.
Abram’s father, whose name was Terah, decided to go along with him for at least part of the way. One day they began their long journey. Traveling was very slow and difficult in those days. There were four of them in the company: Abram and his wife, his father Terah, and his nephew Lot. They intended to go all the way to Canaan, which was the place where the Lord wanted Abram to live. How­ever while they were traveling along they came to a very nice place, named Haran, and they decided to live there. Perhaps Abram’s father persuaded him that it was better than Canaan, for Abram seemed to forget that God had told him to go to the land HE would show him. God wanted him in Canaan, not Haran, no matter how much better it seemed in Haran.
Partial Obedience
Abram was only partially obedient, for although he left his own country, and his kindred, he did not leave his father’s house, for his father was with him, nor did he come into the land which God was to show him. He stop­ped short of the path of full obedience to the Word of God. Dear boys and girls, are we not often like Abram, and choose our own path in some things? God could not bless Abram in Haran, and he had to bring a great sorrow into his life to make him realize his mistake. His father died there, and how keenly Abram must have felt it. Often sorrows come into our lives, too, but God allows them for our blessing if we take them from His hand. “For He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men” (Lamentations 3:33).
The Lord used this trial in Abram’s life to exercise him, and soon he gather­ed everything together and set out again for the Land of Canaan. This time he did not stop by the way how­ever; he continued on his journey until he arrived in Canaan. The Word of God, and His promises of blessing were before his soul and cheered him in the path. We, too, have “exceeding great and precious promises” (2 Peter 1:4), which encourage our hearts as we pass through this dark scene on our way to Glory.
Further Meditation
1. What did the Lord tell Abram to do when He appeared to him?
2. Why is Abraham called the “father” of faith? What would it be like to travel to a strange country that you had never seen pictures of, had no place to live in, and no job waiting for you when you arrived?
3. You might enjoy reading the simple and faith-stirring account of Abraham’s life found in the book Abraham: The Friend of God by H. Smith.

Travelers and Pilgrims

Genesis 12:6-9
When Abram finally reached the land of Canaan, he found the Canaanites were in it. Yes, there were enemies who would like to have hindered him from possessing what God had promised him. We, too, will find many enemies in the path of faith, who will try to keep us from en­joying the blessings which belong to all those who know the Lord Jesus as their own personal Saviour.
Perhaps he might have felt a little discouraged when he found these Ca­naanites in the land, but just at that moment the Lord appeared and en­couraged him with the words, “Unto thy seed will I give this land” (verse 7). When you feel discouraged, dear young believer, just think of one of God’s precious promises from His Word, and it will cheer your heart.
As soon as Abram had received this promise from the Lord, he built an altar to worship. Although we do not wor­ship at altars made of stone today as Abram did, we know the Lord was pleased when Abram built this altar, because God was not fully known at that time. He had only partially re­vealed Himself, and it was not until the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, came into the world that God became fully known. All the glory of God shone out in the face of Jesus Christ (see 2 Corinthians 4:6). Now we do not need altars made of stone at which to worship God, for the Lord Jesus said, “The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him” (John 4:23). We can now come right into His very presence by faith, and thank Him for all He has done for us, asking Him, too, for the things we need.
Bethel
After this Abram moved to another place near Bethel, where he pitched his tent and built an altar. Many of these names have meanings which are very interesting. Bethel means “the house of God.” It is nice to be near the place of meeting where the Lord has placed His name. “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst” (Matthew 18:20). Even boys and girls will find much blessing for their souls by coming regularly to the meetings.
Abram had his tent as well as his altar. I don’t suppose any of you live in a tent, but perhaps you have slept in one when you were on a journey, or for a short time during the nice weather. Tents are not permanent dwelling places, being used mostly by travellers, and Abram was a traveller — a pilgrim. If you belong to the Lord Jesus, and can say you are redeemed by His precious blood, you are travellers too. Yes, we who are saved are on our way to the Glory Land, and we don’t expect to stay in this poor, sad world very long. We don’t want to build a mansion here, for we are soon going to leave it all behind when the Lord Jesus comes for His own.
On the east side of Abram’s tent and altar was a place named Hai. The word Hai means “a heap,” and that is just what this world and all its pleasures really are — only a heap of rubbish. It has no real or lasting happiness to offer you. Why not come to Christ? He longs to bless and save you, and then someday He will take you to His bright home above. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).
Further Meditation
1. What did Abram do as soon as he received the promise of Canaan from the Lord?
2. When a traveler packs his bags for a trip, what kinds of things are almost never important enough to take along? What are some of the things we would leave out of our lives if we truly realized we were on our way to heaven?
3. If you are meditating on how the Lord wants you to be a pilgrim you would find some help in the book Faithful Follower: Practical Meditations on the Life of Caleb by J. N. Hyland?

The Path of Obedience

Genesis 12:10
After Abram had been in Canaan for a short time, God allowed a time of famine to come. The crops were poor, and there was very little food to eat, nor was there any pasture for his cattle. What was Abram to do? God had told him to come into that land, and had promised to bless him in it, and he must have wondered why God sent the famine. I suppose many questions came into his mind and troubled him. God was testing his faith.
Let us pause for a moment and apply this to our own lives. Many of our readers know the Lord Jesus as their own personal Saviour, and we rejoice in the knowledge that we are the chil­dren of God by simple faith in Him. Then someday trials and troubles come upon us. Satan whispers in our ears and says, “Why does God allow these things if He really loves you?” He tells us that the path of following the Lord is too hard, and that we should go after at least some of the pleasures of the world. Are we going to listen to his lies, or choose the path of obedience to the Lord?
Trials of Faith
These are trials of faith, and God allows them to test us. It is easy to go on with other Christians when every­thing runs smoothly, but when diffi­culties come, we need to approach the throne of grace for help from above. God has told us to expect suffering in this world, and we should count it a privilege when we think of what Christ has suffered for us. “Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Philippians 1:29).
Abram’s Bad Decision
Alas for poor Abram! He made a bad decision. He did not act in obedi­ence to God, but chose His own path. He went down into Egypt. Egypt was the center of the world’s glory and wealth at that time. There wasn’t any famine there, and he thought he would have plenty of everything he wanted. The two things that were really most important he did not, and could not, have there.
He had to fit in with Egypt’s ways, and his tent and altar had no place in that land. Wealth and pleasure were of primary importance in Egypt, and Abram soon found himself doing the same things as the others around him. Yes, he was just like a man of the world, when he should have been a man of faith in Canaan.
Dear young reader, are you going after this poor world as if you were going to stay here forever? You would soon see the emptiness of it all if you caught a glimpse of the glory where Jesus dwells.
One day I was walking down the street, and watching the sun as it set in all its beauty in the western sky. After looking at it for a few moments, I turned to see something in a store window, but the glory of the setting sun had made everything look hazy and dim.
Now we want to tell you about “a light above the brightness of the sun” which we can look upon by faith. It is the glory of God shining in the face of Jesus Christ, and when we have this before our souls, it makes all the plea­sures of this poor world look dim.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
Further Meditation
1. What two important things did Abram have to leave behind to go into Egypt?
2. What is it that makes what Satan offers to us in his world so exciting? What are some of the things that Solomon tried to see if they would bring happiness? You’ll find many of them described in the book of Ecclesiastes.
3. The simple little leaflet Not of the World by J. N. Darby is full of quotes that would a be a real encouragement to anyone who reads and meditates on them.

Abram’s Restoration

Genesis 12:11-13:2
When Abram was about to enter Egypt, he told his wife to say that she was his sister. Why did he not want to tell that she was his wife? It was because he was afraid they would kill him if he acknowledged it. He had the fear of man instead of the fear of God before him. Egypt would not want him if he acknowledged his proper relationship to Sarai, nor will the world want the Christian who admits that he belongs to Christ, and speaks about Him and His love.
However God had His eye on Abram, and intervened to bring about his restoration. Very often when we go into the world, we bring trouble upon them as well as upon ourselves. When Jonah fled from the presence of the Lord, the Lord sent a terrible storm on the sea, and all the men in the ship with him were in trouble as well as Jonah. Here in our chapter, too, God plagued the house of Pharaoh for taking Abram’s wife. When you try to go on with the world, you only spoil their pleasure, and make yourself unhappy, too, because your conscience will condemn you. You will always be miserable in such a path, for the things of God cannot mix with the things of the world.
Dishonor to His Name
Finally Pharaoh found out that Abram had told him a lie and that Sarai was his wife. He called for him and rebuked him for it. It is a bad thing when the world has to rebuke us because we do not act like the children of God. It is very dishonoring to the Lord and must have been a humbling experience for Abram.
A young man once took his friend to a place of pleasure, where he knew he should not go as a Christian. When there, he began to speak to her about the way of salvation. She immediately turned to him and asked, “Are you a Christian?” “Yes” he replied. “Well” she said, “then what are you doing here?” When we confess Christ, we always find the right kind of company, but it is always best to confess His name first, instead of going places where we should not be as God’s chil­dren, thereby bringing dishonor on His name.
Back to Canaan
Abram soon found that his place was in Canaan, and he “went up out of Egypt.” Lot, too, came up with him, but he was apparently just following Abram and not walking in his own faith. Are you following other Christians, or are you following the Lord? Is He really the Object before your soul? Others may fail in the path as Abram did, but He never changes. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
There was no real progress of soul as long as Abram was in Egypt, though he became very rich “in cattle, in silver, and in gold.” Such things as these had not attracted his heart while in Canaan, for there he had his tent and his altar and, above all, the Lord’s presence and blessing. The Lord had not appeared to him while in Egypt. There are two kinds of riches spoken of in the Word of God. In Canaan, Abram was “rich in faith.” He had “the true riches” (Luke 16:11), and “he looked for a city which hath founda­tions, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10). In Egypt, he had acquired what God calls “un­certain riches” (1 Timothy 6:17). Which of the two are you seeking? Only “the true riches” will abide; the other soon passes away.
Further Meditation
1. Why did Pharaoh rebuke Abram?
2. What are some of the riches that Ephesians 1 describes which have been given to the Christian? What makes these “certain” riches? What makes what the world offers “uncertain” riches?
3. Though it’s a pretty long book, Unsearchable Riches by E. Dennett is well worth reading. It presents the Lord Jesus Christ in many of His different characters such as Saviour, Advocate and Example. You’ll get one long feast for your soul in meditating on the Person it presents.

The Path of Obedience

Genesis 13:3-18
Abram returned to the very place in Canaan where he had had his tent and his altar at the first. It would not do for him to stop at some other place, because the Lord had appeared to him there before, and un­doubtedly that was where He wanted him to be. It is always best to be in the place where the Lord wants us. There Abram called on the name of the Lord. If we want to have confidence that He hears our prayers, it is necessary to walk in the path of obedience to Him.
A Quarrel Between Lot and Abram
Shortly after Abram and Lot had settled quietly in the land, a quarrel began between their herdsmen. They had become so rich when in Egypt that now they could not dwell together in Canaan. How easily riches can become a snare if we set our hearts upon them! God has a reason, too, in telling us that the Canaanite and the Perizzite were then in the land, for it is a sad thing when the world sees the children of God quarreling. Lot didn’t seem to feel badly about it, nor about the dis­honor to the Lord’s name by such actions. Abram, on the other hand, was much concerned about it, and said to him, “Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee ... for we be brethren.” He did not want to quarrel because Lot was his brother’s son, and he knew such things did not please the Lord.
Abram soon found the best way to settle it. He told Lot that he could take first choice of the land, and that he would take what was left. How kind this was! When you see a quarrel starting, dear children, do you give in to your friends as Abram did, and let them have first choice? This would surely please the Lord, and when we think of all He has done for us, and of how He forgave us when we deserved to be punished, we should forgive others too. “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath for­given you” (Ephesians 4:32).
The Test of Lot’s Heart
Up to this time Lot had followed all Abram’s movements, but he had never really followed the Lord for himself. Now the test came. He must act for himself, and when he did, we soon discover where his heart was. He looked toward the well-watered plains of Sodom, and said they were like the land of Egypt. His heart was still in Egypt, and he was quite ready to pitch his tent toward the wicked city of Sodom.
This world in which we live is filled with wickedness and sin too. It has crucified the Son of God, and like Sodom, God’s righteous judgment is hanging over it. Those who know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour are safe from this judgment, and someday He will come and call His own to be with Him forever. Dear young reader, are you ready to meet Him?
After Lot departed, the Lord appeared to Abram, and promised to give him the land. He told him to walk through it, for He wanted him to see all that belonged to him. Abram then moved to the plain of Mamre.
The believer’s blessings now are spiritual ones, for we are “blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). God wants us to read His Word so that we may know the many blessings which belong to us in Christ. Do you read it each day?
Further Meditation
1. What was the best way to settle the dispute between Abram and Lot?
2. At some point we all have to live by our own faith and not coast along counting on someone else to make spiritual decisions for us. That moment of truth came for Rehoboam in his life. How did he respond?
3. An excellent pamphlet that teaches practical lessons from the life of Lot can be found in Lessons From the Lives of Abraham and Lot, Four Essential Things Missing in Lot’s Life by B. Anstey.

Deliverance From Pits of Sin

Genesis 14:1-16
In our chapter God tells us of a battle which took place in the vale of Siddim. This valley was full of slime-pits, and it would remind us of the character of this poor, sinful world which is filled with snares and pitfalls of all kinds. Oh how many dear boys and girls are caught in the slippery paths of sin and fall there, just as the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fell in the valley of Siddim. No doubt these kings thought they could get safely through the valley. They thought they could escape the slime-pits, but they could not, and they fell there. This should be a solemn warning to us, for we are sometimes very self-confident, and think we are safe, even at times when we are in great danger. God’s Word has marked out the right path through this dark world, and we are only safe when walking in obedience to Him.
“O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23).
“In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:6).
Brought Out of a Horrible Pit
Let us remember the necessity of the daily reading of the Word and prayer, for one wrong act leads to another, and it is much easier to get into the “slime­-pits” than to get out of them. The Scriptures tell us, “Whosoever commit­teth sin is the servant of sin” (John 8:34). No true child of God can ever be lost, but Satan knows how to trip us up, and we should hearken to the warnings God has given us in His Word.
Perhaps some of our young readers are unsaved and have fallen in the snares of sin, and you know you cannot deliver yourself. We have good news for you! The Lord can deliver you. Yes, He is able and willing to do it — wondrous Saviour! David the king speaks of this blessed fact in Psalm 40. “He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And He put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God.” The Lord will do all this, and more, for any sinner who calls upon Him. The Rock upon whom we are set is Christ, and the song is unto Him who has redeemed us. Will you let Him save you today?
Satisfaction in Him
Lot dwelt in Sodom, and so he had his sad part in this great battle. Yes, if we try to fit in with, and find our portion in this Sodom world, we will have to share its sorrows. Abram was outside of all these worldly battles and struggles, for the Lord was the portion of his inheritance. He did not need to seek after the “well watered plains” of Sodom. He was truly satisfied with his tent and altar, because he had the promises of God. “He looked for a city which hath foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10).
Those of us who are saved have all we need in Christ. We are passing through this world it is true, but our home is with Christ in glory. If we have learned to find our satisfaction in Him, we will soon find that the vanities of this dark scene are no better than the boasted treasures of Sodom. May our hearts be able to say like one of old, “I have Christ, what want I more!”
Further Meditation
1. What was dangerous about the Vale of Siddim?
2. Reading God’s Word can help keep us out of the “slime-pits.” What are some ways that the Lord uses His Word to direct our steps? You’ll find several in Psalm 119.
3. An excellent encouragement to prayerfully read God’s Word is the booklet The Bible: Its Sufficiency and Supremacy by C. H. Mackintosh.

Restoration and Victory

Genesis 14:17-24
Poor Lot lost everything and was carried captive himself. How little he realized, when he “pitched his tent toward Sodom,” that such a sorrow was going to come upon him and his family! And we our­selves are only safe when we walk in obedience to God and His Word.
God loved Lot in spite of his failure and undertook for his restoration. Abram, who was in communion with the mind of God, loved his nephew Lot too. He felt for him in his sorrow and made plans to help him. He might have said, “It serves him right,” especially after the quarrel there had been between their herdsmen a short time before, but Divine love does not act that way. Divine love forgives and still loves. Surely this is the way God has acted with us. “He hath not dealt with us after our sins” (Psalm 103:10). If God gave us what we deserved, it would be eternal judgment, but He has for­given us frankly and fully. We should always act the same way with others and forgive them no matter how badly they treat us.
Temptation After Victory
Abram did not love in word only, but in deed and in truth (1 John 3:18). He went to Lot’s assistance at once, putting his own life in danger to do it. He recovered not only Lot and all his goods, but he recovered others, too, and came back in triumph. We are just as sure to have victory when we are doing the will of God as we are sure to have defeat when we are not.
After such a fine victory, a great temptation soon confronted Abram, for when we are able to do something for the Lord, Satan often tries to rob us of the blessing by getting our eyes off the Lord. We need strength from above after the victory, as well as be­fore it. Melchizedek, the priest of the Most High God, came to meet him with bread and wine. Then he blessed Abram in the name of the Most High God, which is the title which the Lord will take when He reigns over the earth in a soon-coming day. He will be the “Possessor of heaven and earth” then, but as yet He has not taken possession of His inheritance. Abram believed this in faith, owning His claims by giving tithes to Him of all he possessed.
Refusing the Gifts of the World
Having received the bread and wine, and the blessing of the Most High God, he was prepared to refuse what the king of Sodom was about to offer him. The king of Sodom told him to keep all he had recovered except the people. Abram had never wanted to live in the wicked city of Sodom, but now the temptation before him was just this — did he want any of the riches of Sodom when they were offered to him?
He had never sought after those things, but this was a more difficult decision to make when they were offered to him. However his mind was made up — he refused them completely. He would not receive even a thread or a shoelatchet from the king of Sodom. Only faith in God can enable us to make such decisions for the Lord’s glory.
There is something very beautiful in the way Abram acted here. While he refused for himself, he did not refuse for the young men with him who had eaten of Sodom’s food. However he gave them the example of his own faith, which should have been a word to them. May our lives be an example to others too!
Further Meditation
1. How did Abram love Lot in deed and in truth?
2. Mechizedek is a wonderful figure of the Lord Jesus Christ. He’s mentioned in Hebrews 7 where the writer draws attention to what makes the Lord Jesus so excellent. How does the Spirit of God use this Old Testament story to teach a New Testament lesson?
3. If you’ve never read Notes on the Pentateuch by C. H. Mackintosh, you would find it a real treat for your soul. It would take a really long time to read through the 1,964 pages that make up the set of 6 books on the Pentateuch, but I’m sure if you read all the way through, you would never regret it. You can find the same material for free by browsing the writings of C. H. Mackintosh in the Authors section of bibletruthlibrary.org.

Our Shield and Reward

Genesis 15:1-12
After Abram had made such a grand decision — refusing all the king of Sodom had to offer — then the Lord appeared to him with these beautiful words, “Fear not, Abram: I am thy Shield and thy exceeding great Reward.”
How often we find these sweet words in the Scriptures, “Fear not.” If you are unsaved, dear young reader, this message is not for you. God does not say “Fear not” to you, but rather warns you of coming judgment. Will you take the Lord Jesus as your own per­sonal Saviour? Then His perfect love will cast out all your fears (1 John 4:18)? At Calvary all God’s righteous judgment against sin has been fully met, in order that poor sinners such as we might be brought into bless­ing. Abram’s faith looked forward to the cross — we can look back to it as a finished work.
The Lord Our Reward
God also said, “I am thy Shield,” and if God undertakes our cause, and pro­mises to protect us, all is well. If we know that God is for us, what a won­drous Shield we have! And He is our Reward too! Sodom’s king offered re­wards to Abram, and Belshazzar offered rewards to Daniel; the world will offer many rewards to you, too, dear boys and girls, if you go after them. May we be like Abram and Daniel, refusing them because the Lord Himself is our Reward. Then we can say like Paul, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). Could we have any better reward than this? An “exceeding great Reward” indeed!
Abram longed for a son, to be the heir of all God had promised him, and so he asked the Lord about it. What a beautiful reply he received from Him: “Look now toward heaven.” Oh, that in all our difficulties and problems, we, too, would learn to look toward heaven! Yes, we can ask the Lord’s help at any time, for He knows our needs.
What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear,
What a privilege to carry,
Everything to God in prayer.
God’s Covenant to Abram
God then promised Abram that his seed should be as the stars of heaven, and Abram believed it. Yes, that is faith! It means that we believe what God says, even though we cannot understand. If we could understand all of God’s ways, it would not require faith.
In making this covenant or promise of blessing, it had to be confirmed by means of death. The only way in which a righteous God can bless sinful man, is through the death of a Substitute, and so the death of these animals pointed on to the one perfect Sacrifice — the Lord Jesus who died for us on Calvary. The fowls of the air which would have come down on the carcasses, tell us of Satan (“the prince of the power of the air”), who has al­ways tried to hinder the purposes of God. In the energy of faith, Abram drove them away.
“A deep sleep ... and an horror of great darkness” fell upon him while the sun was going down. Abram was made to feel the solemnity of having to do with God. We are living in careless days, when we see very little real exercise before God. People think much too casually about sin, and its horribleness to a holy God. If you have never felt your sins, our prayer is that you may feel them now, until you cry out “God be merciful to me a sinner.”
Further Meditation
1. What was the Lord’s reply to Abram’s question about a son?
2. We are told to fear God, but then we are repeatedly told to “fear not”. What is the difference between the two kinds of “fearing”?
3. The pamphlet Fear Not by H. H. Snell would no doubt be a real encouragement to any believer.

The Future of the People of God

Genesis 15:13-21
Only God can foretell the future with assurance! Here we find Him telling Abram what was going to happen to his nation hundreds of years later. It is foretold with marvelous accuracy, and yet in a very few words. Everything is known to God, and how foolish it is to try to hide anything from Him. Every movement in our little lives only accomplishes His purposes, and if we belong to the Lord, He makes all things work together for our good.
Notice the words, “The iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.” God never judges until evil comes to its height. He is a patient and longsuffering God, delighting in mercy, but He cannot allow sin to go on forever. This world is rapidly getting worse. Boys and girls are doing things they would never have thought about in years gone by. They do not want restraint from their parents, nor their teachers, nor anyone else. They have no fear of God before their eyes. They want their own way — little realizing that they are just hurrying on the awful day of judgment which is soon to come upon this dark scene. After the Lord has come, and taken His own to heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18), man’s evil will “reach unto heaven” (Revelation 18:5). Then “there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation” (Daniel 12:1). Dear young reader, will you not listen to the warning, and “Flee from the wrath to come” (Matthew 3:7)? You may go on for months, and even years, in your sins, having your good time (so-called), but remember judgment is coming. The only way of escape is through Christ. “Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts” (Hebrews 4:7). This may be your last opportunity to be saved. Will you come to Him now?
The Smoking Furnace and Burning Lamp
After God had told Abram about what was to come upon his nation in the future, Abram saw two things; a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp. The smoking furnace speaks of afflic­tion and trial, while the burning lamp tells us of the light of God’s Word shining on our path, bringing encour­agement to our hearts even in the trials. Abram’s nation (Israel) had many times of affliction, but God was ever faithful and brought deliverance. But who endured “the furnace” like the Lord Jesus Himself, when He was for­saken of God on the cross? And now the “burning lamp” of His Word brings the message of blessing to us. Even in all your difficulties, dear boys and girls, let the precious light of God’s Word shine upon your path, and give you guidance and cheer.
“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105).
God then made a covenant to give the land of Canaan, which is now known as the land of Israel, to Abram’s seed. It is their land, and it will be the center of earthly glory and blessing, when the kingdom of Christ is set up on earth. This time is drawing near, and God is beginning to put a desire into the hearts of the Jews to return to their land. They are, however, going back in unbelief, and will not be blessed until they repent of their great sin in crucifying their Messiah. We should not despise the Jews, for they are still the people of God. They are a scattered and suffering people today because of their rejection of Christ.
Further Meditation
1. What do the smoking furnace and burning lamp represent?
2. The affliction and trial for the Lord’s earthly people Israel in a future day will be incredibly intense. That period of time will be known as the tribulation.
3. You’d probably find Future Events by R. A. Huebner to require quite a bit of effort to study. However it contains an important chapter on The Great Tribulation and would undoubtedly give you a much deeper understanding of that coming time of trial for God’s people.

Sowing and Reaping

Genesis 16
God had made a wonderful promise to Abram. He told him that his seed would be as the stars of heaven, and that He would give them the land of Canaan for their pos­session. But as yet Abram did not have a son to be the heir of all these prom­ises, and he became impatient. He wanted to see God’s promise fulfilled at once and could not wait God’s time. His wife Sarai was not a true helpmeet in this either, and she gave him bad advice. Instead of turning to the Lord, Abram listened to her, and took things into his own hands. How often we, too, are impatient, and because we do not get the answer to our prayers all at once, we think we must act ourselves, instead of waiting on the Lord. We will always find that the result is the same as it was with Abram — we only hinder the bless­ing God has for us.
Responsibility and Restoration
When Sarai began to see the results of her sin, and was despised by Hagar, she places the blame on her husband. She says, “My wrong be upon thee.” Then she tried to get out of the diffi­culty by dealing unkindly with Hagar, so that she left her and went into the wilderness. Did you ever try to get out of a difficulty by acting proudly and putting the blame on someone else? When we act in that way, without own­ing our failure to the Lord, He has to lay His hand upon us still further, until there is true restoration to Him. So here, the Lord sent Hagar back to Abram and Sarai, thus allowing them to feel the full result of what they had done. He did not bring deliverance until many years later, when there had been full restoration of soul.
Thus God allowed Abram and Sarai to reap what they had sown. His Word solemnly declares, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). If we walk in disobe­dience to the Word of God, we are sowing to the flesh, and the reaping time is not pleasant. May the Lord help you, dear children, to be careful how you sow, for the “sowing” is done mostly in your young days. If you sow good seed, setting out with purpose of heart to follow the Lord, you will have His blessing on your life. If you follow after this poor, empty world, and sow your “wild oats,” be assured that you will reap the same.
Thou God Seest Me
There was one thing that Hagar learned when she was in the wilderness, after she had run away from Sarai. It is summed up in four little words, “Thou God seest me.” I hope every­one who reads these lines has memo­rized this little text. The eye of God rests upon us no matter where we go. He sees and knows all we have ever done, and yet in spite of it all He loves us. He has undertaken the whole of the sinner’s case, and at Calvary’s cross, the Lord Jesus “bare our sins in His own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24). What rest of conscience it gives to the one who believes, to know that although God knows all about us, yet the work of His Son has made it possible for Him to say, “Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Hebrews 10:17).
Further Meditation
1. What did Sarai do when she began to see the results of her sin?
2. Impatience can cause huge problems in our lives. In 1 Samuel 15, King Saul runs into serious problems when he fails to wait patiently for the Lord. How long did he wait? Who did he think he was waiting for? What was his attitude about his failure?
3. You might find the simple booklet Power in Patience: Leaning Upon Our Beloved by F. C. Blount to be a real encouragement to your soul as you study the subject of patience.

Walking Perfectly Before God

Genesis 17:1-14
God did not give Abram up even though he had failed. If He gave us up when we fail, where would any of us be? Even though He has to let us feel the results of our mis­takes, yet His love never changes.
God said to Abram, “Walk before Me, and be thou perfect.” Abram had not been walking before God when he became the father of Ishmael. It is so easy for any of us to walk before others, trying to please them instead of putting the Lord first. God would have us to be conscious of being in His presence at all times.
In the Presence of God
Some years ago there was a young man who really loved the Lord Jesus, and tried to please Him at his work. The other men did not like his quiet, living testimony day by day and tried to get him to do things which would spoil it. One day a number of them made a circle around him, and then when he could not get away, they told one of their bad stories. Then they all started to laugh, but he did not join with them in their sinful laughter. He knew the Scrip­ture which says, “Fools make a mock at sin,” and so he remained quiet and sober. At last one of the men said, “Laugh, John.” His simple reply was, “Men, I live in the presence of God.” This made them all ashamed, and they soon left him. They did not want to be in the presence of God. If you are un­saved, dear reader, you, too, are afraid of meeting God, but if you will come to Him now, just as you are, He will save you, and His perfect love will cast out all fear.
When God spoke, Abram fell on his face before Him. There is always a reverence which is appropriate when we are in the presence of God. That is why we should close our eyes, and if possible, kneel down when we talk to God in prayer. It is very displeasing to the Lord to talk or whisper during prayer at Sunday School, in meetings, or at any time when others are praying.
The True Meaning of Ordinances
In order to confirm His covenant, God told Abram, now called Abraham, that every man child was to be circumcised. Circumcision was the sign of death, and it was to keep fresh in the mind of Abraham as well as his children after him, that the only ground of blessing was, and still is, through death. All this pointed on to the death of Christ. The children of Israel soon began to give great impor­tance to circumcision as an ordinance but lost its true meaning. Then God had to say that their “circumcision is made uncircumcision” (Romans 2:25). It became only an empty form to them.
Professing Christendom has done much the same today with the two Christian ordinances, baptism and the Lord’s supper. God’s Word makes it very clear that these ordinances cannot save anyone’s soul. They cannot give life to one who is “dead in trespasses and sins.” Only faith in Christ and His finished work can do that. Nor are they necessary to salvation, for the thief on the cross went to be with the Lord, even though he was never baptiz­ed. Many dear Christians, too, have never partaken of the Lord’s supper. These ordinances are, however, precious Christian privileges, when their true meaning is laid hold of by faith from God’s blessed Word. If you are not saved, dear young reader, remember that nothing but living faith in Christ can save you.
Further Meditation
1. How did God confirm His covenant with Abraham?
2. What does the act of circumcision represent in a spiritual sense? What does “uncircumcised in the heart” mean in Jeremiah 9:26?
3. If you’re looking to learn a little about circumcision, then the article in the Concise Bible Dictionary by G. Morrish is a good place to start. You can read it at bibletruthlibrary.org by doing a library search for Article Number 80698.

Obedience and Kindness

Genesis 17:15-18:4
God told Abraham and Sarah that He would give them a son to be the promised heir. This seemed like an impos­sibility in their old age, but “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). He asked God that Ishmael might live before Him, but this was not a prayer of faith. Sometimes we, too, ask God for things which are not for our good, and if we persist, He may let us have them to our own sorrow. So it was here, for Ishmael did live, and his descendants were the continual enemies of the people of God. When making requests in prayer, we should always say “if it be Thy will,” because God knows what is best for us.
In spite of Abraham’s failure, God was faithful. He fulfilled His promise in His own time and gave them a son.
At the end of our chapter we see beau­tiful obedience on the part of Abraham, for although we all fail in some things, God takes knowledge of what is done for Him. Abraham and all his house­hold were circumcised “the selfsame day” in which God spoke to him. Too often we are very slow in doing what the Lord has asked us to do. If there is something, dear young Christian, which you know the Lord wants you to do, ask Him for strength to do it now. Delay is always dangerous and a hin­drance to blessing.
Courtesy Shown to Strangers
The eighteenth chapter opens with a very beautiful scene. It was a very hot day, and Abraham was sitting in his tent door when three men came near.
He ran to meet them and bowed him­self. This was real courtesy, and God has put it in His Word to show us that it was pleasing to Him. We are told to “be courteous” (1 Peter 3:8), and we should always act kindly to others. It is never right to be rude and thought­less.
We are living in days when many often forget those little acts of kindness which God wants to see in His children. Never mind whether others are courteous to you; you can be courteous to them just to please the Lord Jesus who died for you. So many children say they are saved, but it often saddens our hearts to hear them answer­ing back and being bold to their parents, their teachers at school, and to others much older than themselves. When we have really accepted the Lord Jesus as our Saviour, we should be careful to show it out in our lives day by day. God wants reality, not just lip profes­sion.
These three men were strangers to Abraham. He did not recognize at first that one was the Lord, and the other two were angels. However he wel­comed them and showed them true hos­pitality. He invited them to rest under the trees and got water for them to wash their hot feet. People did not travel in fine cars in those days and had to walk long distances in the scorching sun. How they must have appreciated Abraham’s thoughtfulness and the welcome he gave them. God takes more notice of the little things we do for Him, than we are inclined to think. When someone comes to your home, do you try to welcome them, and do little acts of kindness for them? The Lord will fully reward you if you do such things “as unto the Lord,” even if they forget to thank you. “Let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).
Further Meditation
1. What did Abraham do when the three men came near?
2. We often think of hospitality as inviting our friends over to have a good time doing things we both enjoy. Can you contrast this with the kind of hospitality that Abraham showed?
3. The Institution of Marriage by P. Wilson has an excellent chapter entitled Bethany that gives some helpful instruction about hospitality.

The Ways and Counsels of God

Genesis 18:5-19
What a lovely meal Abraham provided for the three men who came to his tent door! Perhaps you never thought God takes knowledge of what we serve for our guests, but He does! Abraham and Sarah both had their part, as well as one of Abraham’s young men, in preparing the cakes, the meat which was so “tender and good,” along with the butter and milk too! Wouldn’t you like to have helped in preparing that lovely meal for those three men, who were really the Lord and two angels? What a privilege it was! But I hear some people saying, “The Lord never came to my house, nor angels either!” Well, they haven’t come in a way that you could see them — that’s true — but we have a nice verse for you. “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me” (Matthew 25:40). When you help mother prepare the dinner, you can do it as if you were really doing it for the Lord! That would make you want to do it well, would it not?
Sarah’s Unbelief
The Lord again promised that Sarah was going to have a son. When Sarah heard this, she laughed. She did not think it was possible. The Lord heard her and asked why she had laughed. Sarah then denied it and said she had not laughed. Abram had laughed with pleasure in the seventeenth verse of the previous chapter, but Sarah laughed be­cause of unbelief. The Lord knows the very reason why we do things!
At last the three men set out for Sodom, and Abraham accompanied them. It is just another little reminder of the kind of hospitality Abraham showed his guests.
Many years ago a dear servant of God had been holding meetings in a certain place. There was a young man in the home who always managed to stay out of sight. He did not want to be spoken to about his soul, though it was evident he was under deep exer­cise. On the night of the last meeting he went quietly to his room and accept­ed Christ as his Saviour. Can you guess what was the first result seen in his life? Well, it was just this. Early the next morning, the preacher had to take the train for home, and who should offer to carry his bags to the station but this very young man who had been avoid­ing him! Yes, he now wanted to be in his company, and like Abraham he helped “to bring him on his way.”
God’s Purposes in His Word
Would God hide His purposes from Abraham? No! That is why God has given us His Word. He has told us about all His counsels, though unsaved men cannot understand them. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolish­ness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually dis­cerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Don’t expect your unsaved friends to understand the Bible. It is not until we have accepted the Lord Jesus as our Saviour that we have the Holy Spirit of God indwelling us to teach us its meaning.
Abraham was a strict father, though he was a loving one too (Genesis 22:2). God said of him, “He will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord.” He did not allow his children to do as they liked. He made them obey because he loved them, and he knew that true happiness was the result of obedi­ence.
Further Meditation
1. Why did Sarah laugh when she heard the Lord’s promise that she would have a son?
2. Serving others is a huge privilege for every believer. Often that service comes without thanks or encouragement from other people. How did Ruth serve in a simple way without trying to attract attention to herself? What were some of the results?
3. You would no doubt enjoy and benefit from reading the pamphlet Christian Service by W. J. Prost.

Intercession and Separation

Genesis 18:20-19:3
Sodom and Gomorrah were exceedingly wicked cities, where men and women lived careless lives without any thought of God. They little realized that judgment was soon going to fall upon them. And are there not many people today just like them? How many go on in their sins from day to day as if they would never have to answer to God at all. What an awful day it will be for them when God judges this world in righteousness. Then only those who have been redeemed with the precious blood of Christ will escape the judgment.
Abraham As Intercessor
Abraham became an intercessor, pleading for Sodom, where Lot lived. Although he knew that the Judge of all the earth would do right, he also knew that God delighted in blessing. Would He destroy the city if there were fifty righteous people in it? No, God said He would not destroy it if there were only fifty righteous people in that great city. Abraham then asked God if He would spare it if there were but forty-five. But there were not even forty-five! Abraham continued asking, reducing the number each time. What if there were only forty — or thirty — or twenty? What if there were only ten? No, not even ten people could be found who feared God and were accounted right­eous in that mighty city! Abraham then stopped pleading, and the three men went on toward Sodom. Dear young reader, if you are saved and are praying for others, keep on praying. Perhaps God would have spared those cities if Abraham had continued asking, but Abraham’s faith apparently weakened, and he stopped asking. What an encouragement to pray we find in Colossians 4:2, “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanks­giving.” Yes, dear Christian “continue.”
Only two out of the three men went as far as Sodom. The Lord was not among them when they reached there.
Strangers and Pilgrims in the World
Just two angels came to the gate and whom should they find sitting there but Lot. He had advanced to quite a high position in Sodom, even though his righteous soul was vexed from day to day with their unlawful deeds. How ­sad it is to see one of God’s children trying to get to the top in this world which has crucified God’s beloved Son. God said to Jeremiah, “Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not” (Jeremiah 45:5). We should be like Abraham who was a stranger and a pilgrim in the land of promise. The believer’s place of exaltation is in heaven, and we shall reign with Christ when He reigns in righteousness in a soon-coming day.
Lot invited the angels to his home in Sodom, and tried to make them wel­come, but his efforts were rather un­successful. When they had arrived at Abraham’s tent door, he had been able to make them feel welcome, but Lot’s house in Sodom had the stamp of the world upon it. Lot’s wife, and his daughters did not join in the welcome, nor did they help in the preparation of the “feast.” They were not accustomed to such visitors, nor were they at all “at home” in their presence. Poor Lot tried to do all he could for them, for at heart he was a righteous man, though most unhappy in his position. What a sad picture of a worldly Christian home! In such a home there is never any happy unity, but a kind of uncom­fortable feeling when someone calls to talk about Christ. If you, dear reader, want to have a happy Christian home, begin now by choosing Christian friends who want to follow the Lord.
Further Meditation
1. Who did the two angels find sitting in the gate of Sodom?
2. God gives many encouragements to pray in the Scriptures. One of the dramatic answers to prayer occurs in Exodus 14. How did the Lord answer prayer on that occasion.
3. You can find many of the important fundamentals of prayer given in the pamphlet Prayer: An Introduction by N. Simon.

Reaping What Is Sown

Genesis 19:4-22
Poor Lot tried in vain to make his visitors welcome. He was utterly powerless to change things in his home, much as he would have liked to have done so. The men of Sodom knew that Lot was not accustomed to that kind of company, and they came to see who the men were. How different from the peacefulness of Abraham’s tent! Nor did the Sodomites usually find Lot’s door shut against them. It was usually open to them, and they did not like being kept out. Lot was willing to pay an awful price to have peace in his home. Yes, he was willing to give his daughters to be companions of those wicked men, but the angels intervened and hindered, causing blindness to fall upon those about the door. It is a sad, sad story which should be a warning to all our young readers. It is but a fresh proof of the truth of God’s Word which says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). Lot was reaping just what he had sown when he pitched his tent toward Sodom.
A Good Testimony Before the World
The angels then delivered their mess­age to Lot and his family. They gave Lot the privilege of inviting his sons, his sons-in-law, and his daughters to find a place of safety outside of Sodom. He then went to their homes to tell them, but he seemed as one that mocked. There was no power in his words, be­cause he didn’t live it before them. You will find, dear boys and girls, that if you want others to listen when you speak to them about Christ, you will have to act like a Christian before them. Your friends won’t take your message seriously unless you do. No, Lot’s sons-in-law and his married daughters would not leave Sodom. They perished in it, and it was Lot who had brought them there — how solemn!
Even Lot himself, with his wife, and two daughters who were still at home, were slow to get out of the doomed city. The angels had to pull them out! They evidently did not like to think of losing all they had gathered together there, but leave it they must. Every­thing was going to be destroyed, just as all the boasted treasures and vanities of this present world are going to be burned up very soon. Let us take warning from this and not try to build our hopes here. We will have to leave it all someday, and only what has been done according to the will of God will abide, and nothing else. If the one who reads these lines is unsaved, you will not only lose all you have gathered to­gether in this world, but you will lose your own soul too. Oh, will you not come to the Saviour this very moment, accepting His work on Calvary as that which can put away all your sins? COME NOW.
Obedience
Lot requested that he might go to Zoar for refuge. He still wanted to live in a “city” instead of in a tent like Abraham, and so his desire was granted, but surely sorrow followed him there too. If we are insistent in going after the things of the world, even in a small way (for Zoar was a little city), we may get our desire, but how can the Lord bless such decisions?
Our salvation depends only upon simple faith in the precious blood of Christ, but our happiness depends on obedience. So here, the angels told Lot they could not do anything until he was safely out of Sodom, but his choice of Zoar brought him plenty of sorrow.
Further Meditation
1. Why were Lot’s words of safety without power to his family?
2. The Bible uses the expression “world” in several different ways. This chapter refers to one of them. John 3:16 refers to a second way of talking about the world. Acts 17:24 gives a third way of referring to the world. Can you distinguish between each of these ways of talking about the world?
3. A more difficult-to-read but highly valuable booklet for your study of the “world” in Scripture is What Is the World and What Is Its End? by J. N. Darby.

Our Eyes on the Lord

Genesis 19:23-20:18
Although Lot’s wife got out of Sodom, her heart was still there. The angels had said, “Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain,” but she looked back and became a pillar of salt. She became a constant reminder of the fact that there must be real faith if there is to be real salvation. Your father and mother, dear children, may bring you up in separation from the world, but unless you have to do with God yourself, and accept the Lord Jesus as your own personal Saviour, you, too, may “look back” and be lost forever.
The Judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah
God rained fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah. The sun had risen brightly that morning, and many of the people there had probably made their plans for the day, but they were never carried out. God’s judgment brought a sad and unexpected end to everything. And are we not living in similar days when people make their plans and leave God out? They want to forget about coming judgment, and when they cannot forget it, they deny it. May we plead with you, dear reader, not to follow the crowd that is going down the broad road? God has told us that the broad road leads to hell, and He is calling you to “Escape for thy life” because He wants to save you for eter­nal glory. He will give you the assur­ance of His own Word that there is no condemnation (or judgment) for you, if you will accept His beloved Son as your own Saviour. You will have eternal life, and a home above, if you will just come to Him.
The last we hear of poor Lot is very sad and disgraceful to say the least. As you read these lines, perhaps you still have life before you if the Lord does not come. May He help us all to take warn­ing from Lot’s course, for if we go after the world, who can tell how our lives will end. None of us would like them to end as Lot’s did, would we?
Again Abraham went down toward the south country, and in that place he got his eyes off the Lord. He had the fear of man before him, and that always brings a snare. He should have learned that lesson long ago in the land of Egypt, but how often we have to learn the same lessons over and over again.
Uprightness and Honesty
There is another thing here too. Abraham told the truth to hide the truth. It is so easy to do that and a very deceitful kind of lie indeed. Abraham said of his wife, “she is my sister,” and while this was true, it was deception, for she was really his wife. Let us learn to be open and above board in all things, for the secrets are all going to come out someday, and God wants uprightness. “All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:13).
God graciously intervened on Abraham’s behalf, and spared him the full results of his sin, but he let Abimelech rebuke him. It is a bad thing when the world has to rebuke us. Be careful, dear boys and girls, that you don’t do anything so that your friends have to say, “I didn’t think a Christian would do that.” It is very displeasing to the Lord. God told Abimelech that Abraham was a prophet and that he would pray for him. How gracious this was, for it shows that in spite of our failure, God is patient and never disowns His children, though He does not belittle our sin. Salvation is always “by grace” and grace alone!
Further Meditation
1. Why did Lot’s wife become a pillar of salt?
2. What does “tell the truth to hide the truth” mean? How is it possible to do the same thing? Why is this a form of dishonesty?
3. If you’ve never read The Bible Promise Book edited by K. Abraham, you might find that you enjoy the verses collected together on the subject of honesty.

The Well of Living Water

Genesis 21
At last the time came for the promised son to be born. Abraham had waited fourteen years, before God fulfilled His promise in giving them Isaac. The birth of Isaac gave rise to difficulties with Hagar and Ishmael — difficulties which Abraham had made for himself when he acted in unbelief many years before. Hagar and Ishmael mocked at the feast which was made for Isaac, till at last Sarah asked Abraham to send them away. This was a hard thing for Abraham to do, but the Lord told him to do as Sarah requested. It is always difficult to take a firm stand, and judge the activities of the old nature, but it must be done if there is to be blessing.
The sending away of Hagar has a typical meaning too. It is one of the interesting pictures of the Old Testament which God has given for our instruction. Hagar was a slave, and she pictures to us the law to which we were in bondage, but when Christ (the promised seed) came, we were set free from the law. The law was God’s perfect rule of life for man, but we have all broken it. In Christ we have been delivered from the curse of a broken law and are now “under grace” (see Galatians 4:22-31). Like Hagar, the law has been “sent away,” or set aside, while “grace reigns.”
God blessed Abraham in all that he did, and even Abimelech recognized this. The world watches those of us who are Christians, far more closely than we are apt to think. This should make us very careful that we do not hide our light, but rather let it shine.
You in your small corner,
And I in mine.
The Well of the Oath
Abimelech’s servants violently took away Abraham’s well of water, and then shortly after this Abimelech wished to enter into a covenant with Abraham. Abraham was willing to make the covenant on one condition only — the well of water must be returned to him. Dear young believer, we, too, have a “well of water” in Christ — a place of refreshment for our thirsty souls which the enemy will take away with violence, if he can. Let us be careful not to make any “covenants” to “dwell” with those who would rob us of our joy in the Lord. Perhaps they may not intend to do it, and like Abimelech they are ignorant of it, but nevertheless Abraham did not make his covenant until the well was returned to him.
The covenant which was made was founded on Abraham’s giving seven ewe lambs, which would tell us of the per­fection of the work of Christ, God’s Lamb. It is only through His finished work on Calvary that we have posses­sion of our well of living water. The Lord Jesus said, “The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).
Abraham planted a tree (margin) there. This tree would be a constant reminder of the seven ewe lambs, and of the covenant made there, for God would never have us forget the cost of our redemption. It was in that place, too, that Abraham called on the name of the Lord. The work finished on Calvary’s tree is the groundwork of all true worship. He called the place Beer­sheba (the well of the oath), and so we now have God’s own pledge that we have everlasting life through faith in His Son.
Further Meditation
1. What does Hagar picture to us?
2. How does our enemy try to take away our “well of water” in Christ? How do we resist his efforts?
3. In the pamphlet, Satan’s Operations on the Lord’s People by B. Anstey, there’s a nice and simple description of how the Word of God has described Satan’s tactics for us.

Obedience and Faith Tested

Genesis 22:1-6
We have now come to one of the most beautiful stories in the Old Testament. God had fulfilled His promise and given Abraham a son whom he loved very dearly. Undoubt­edly he did all he could to make Isaac happy, and I am sure they were always together, while Abraham told his son all about the true God and His prom­ises of blessing. Little Isaac learned to trust in God as his father did, with a real living faith.
Faith in Testing
One day a great test came to Abraham. God asked him to do some­thing very, very hard. He told him to take Isaac and go into a land a long way off and build an altar there on which he was to offer up his only son for a burnt offering. How could he do such a thing, and why did God ask him to do it? Abraham did not stop to con­sider such questions. He knew that God would never ask him to do any­thing which was not for his good, because God loved and cared for him.
Therefore, the next morning he and Isaac arose very early and started out. Abraham did not delay because he knew that the longer he waited the harder it would become. Don’t we often miss the path because we delay? We try to persuade ourselves that there is an easier way than just simple obedience, but the longer we wait the more confused things become. Let us learn to “obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29) and to obey at once.
Going Forth in Faith
Abraham was not left to choose the mountain he wished. His offering was to be made on the one which God told him of, and no other mountain would do. Moreover he had to walk for three days before God showed him where it was. He could not see it from his tent door; he had to “go forth” in faith in order to find it. God only gives us light for one step at a time, and when we take that step, He gives us more. Abraham did not do the work of the Lord negligently (Jeremiah 48:10, margin). He had everything prepared; the ass saddled, and the fire and wood were ready when the journey was started. Sometimes Christians forget, or neglect, to take their Bibles and hymn books with them when they go to the meeting place. We should always put forth every effort to do the Lord’s work to the very best of our ability.
When Abraham saw the place afar off, he left the two servants with the ass, while he went on with his son. This last part of the journey was the most difficult as Abraham and Isaac “went both of them together.” What a beau­tiful picture of God the Father, and Christ the Son, going on to the cross. How the Father’s heart found infinite joy in every footstep of that Blessed One as He went on to Calvary, there to finish the work He had given Him to do.
Further Meditation
1. Why didn’t Abraham question God’s instruction to offer his only son for a burnt offering?
2. Faith always obeys God’s clear instructions in His Word instead of arguing that they don’t make sense. What were the arguments against David’s fighting with Goliath in 1 Samuel 17? How do David’s words show how faith was active in his response?
3. The short book Abraham and the Life of Faith by C. E. Lunden would likely be a real encouragement to you in meditating on what it takes to live the life of faith.

The Lord Will Provide

Genesis 22:7-24
While Abraham and Isaac were traveling on together, Isaac asked a question. He saw that his father had the fire and the knife, and he himself was carrying the wood, but he asked, “Where is the Lamb for a burnt offering?” How this question must have touched Abraham’s heart, but his faith was unshaken as his beautiful reply shows us. He said, “My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering.” Isaac accepted the answer in per­fect confidence, and they both went on quietly together. Surely this would remind us of the garden of Gethsemane. There we hear God’s Son saying, “O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39). If that cup of judgment had passed from Him, we would have all been lost eter­nally. He only could bear it for us, and so in obedience to His Father’s will, He took that cup, which we had filled with our sins, and drank it to the last dark drop. He bore all the judgment for those who believe, and there is none left for us because He said, “It is finished.” If the reader of these lines is unsaved, why not bow before Him now and thank Him for the work of redemption He has finished for you?
A Way of Escape
At last Abraham and Isaac came to the place of which God had told them. Abraham built the altar, set the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son upon it. Then with unfaltering faith he took the knife to slay his son, but just at that moment God called to him from heaven saying, “Abraham, Abraham ... Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from Me.” God was faithful and made a way of escape for Abraham in the temptation (see 1 Corinthians 10:13). The knife did not fall on Isaac, for a substitute was provided. Yes, there was a ram near which Abraham took and offered up in the stead of his son. Every type falls short of the perfection of the work of Christ, for there was no sub­stitute to take His place. He was the Substitute Himself, and the sword did fall upon Him. He was the Lamb of God’s own providing, and He could not escape as Isaac did, or we would be lost eternally. No one else could be a sac­rifice for sin but He, and so He died that we might live.
God’s Provision and Promise
Abraham then called the place “Jehovah-Jireh,” which means, “The Lord will provide.” It was in this very place (Mount Moriah) that Solomon’s temple was built. This shows us that the ground of all worship is always and only founded upon the finished work of Christ, which Abraham’s sacrifice typ­ified. The only right way of coming into the presence of God is given us in Hebrews 10:19, “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.”
God appeared to Abraham the second time making the promise that, “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” This word, “thy seed,” refers to Christ through whom all nations will receive blessing. In the Old Testament God dealt particularly with Israel, but since the work of redemption is complet­ed, the gospel can be preached to “whosoever will.” After this Abraham returned to Beersheba (the well of the oath). Now we, too, can “Draw water out of the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3), for all our blessings come to us through Christ.
Further Meditation
1. How did God make a way of escape for Abraham?
2. The Lord Jesus being made a Substitute for us is one of the fabulous truths of Scripture. How does the cleansing of the leper in Leviticus 14 present that truth beautifully?
3. The pamphlet The Divine Ground of Gathering by J. Brereton makes an interesting application of this same story from Genesis 22. You would no doubt find it simple and profitable reading.

Strangers and Pilgrims

Genesis 23
At last Sarah died. She was a hundred and twenty-seven years old, but no matter how long we live, unless the Lord Jesus should come for His own during our lifetime, we must die. Of course we who belong to Him do not look for death, but we are expecting the Lord to come at any moment and take us to be with Himself.
Are you ready if called away suddenly? Do not put off the question of your soul’s salvation one moment longer, for you cannot tell when your turn will come. Death may overtake you unexpectedly, or the Lord might come today. “Prepare to meet thy God” (Amos 4:12).
Willing to Wait God’s Time
Abraham was only a stranger and a pilgrim in the land of Canaan, but he had laid hold of God’s promise that the land was to be his, and his children’s after him. He knew, too, that God was the God of resurrection, and so he wanted Sarah buried in the land of promise. Notice the words, “And Abraham stood up from before his dead.” He did not sorrow as those who have no hope. If the reader of these lines has lost a loved one who has died in Christ, do not allow the sorrow to crush you. It is quite right to feel it, for the Lord Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus; but it is wrong to get under it so much that we cannot “stand up” as Abraham did.
However Abraham was willing to wait God’s time for the possession of the land, and until that time he acknowl­edges his strangership by purchasing a burying place for Sarah. The sons of Heth would have given him one, but he would rather buy it than take it from their hands without charge. He did not want or need anything from the world in his path of faith. He was beautifully courteous in his refusal, as well as business-like in his dealings with them. It is never right to be ungrateful or discourteous to anyone, either in the world or to Christians. Nor is it pleas­ing to the Lord to be careless in our or­dinary business dealings. We should carry on everything in such a way that if we were taken suddenly in death, or if the Lord should come, all our business affairs would be in order and all our debts paid. Even boys and girls can learn to do things in this way. It will save you many a trouble in life if you do, as well as being honoring to the Lord who has given us instruction as to these things in His Word.
“Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men” (2 Corinthians 8:21).
“Owe no man anything, but to love one another” (Romans 13:8).
Heirs Together
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were all buried in the field which Abraham pur­chased at this time; for they were “heirs together of the same promise,” looking “for a city which hath foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God” (Hebrews 11:9-10). We who know the Lord Jesus as our own personal Saviour can look forward with joyful assurance to our home above. Abraham had living faith in God, but he did not have the wonderful things revealed to him that are now written for our com­fort in God’s blessed Word. Here is an assuring verse for the children of God, “We know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1).
Further Meditation
1. Why did Abraham want Sarah to be buried in the land of promise?
2. What was so honorable about how Abraham handled the purchase of land for Sarah’s burying place? Shouldn’t people always get the best deal they can possibly get?
3. You might enjoy the short article on the subject of being a good steward of the finances given to us entitled Faithful in That Which Is Least by W. W. Fereday. You can find it at bibletruthlibrary.org by doing a Library Search for 56335.

Gathering a Bride for Christ

Genesis 24:1-11
In figure, Isaac had passed through death on the altar on Mount Moriah and had come forth again in resurrection (see Hebrews 11:19). Then his father Abraham sent Eliezer, his servant, into a far country to get a bride for him. Eliezer speaks to us of the Holy Spirit of God, who has come down since Christ has gone back as the One who has died and risen again. The Holy Spirit is now gather­ing out of the world a bride for Christ, bringing them from a “far country” to the Father’s house above.
Perhaps some of our young readers wonder what we mean by the “bride of Christ,” and we want everyone to understand our “Bible talks.” It is just this way! When anyone takes the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour, the Holy Spirit of God, the third person of the Trinity, comes to indwell them (see Ephesians 1:13; 1 Corinthians 6:19.) They then become part of the true church of God, the body of Christ, and when the Lord Jesus comes for His own as the Bride­groom (Matthew 25:6), they will be caught up to meet Him. The marriage will then take place in Heaven (Revelation 19:7), just as Isaac’s marriage took place when Rebekah reached Canaan.
A Bride for Isaac
Now to go on with this very interest­ing story. Abraham made his servant promise to go all the way to Mesopota­mia where he was to choose the bride and bring her back. Eliezer started out on his long journey, taking everything that was necessary to persuade the bride-to-be of the wealth and glory of Isaac, so that she would be willing to come. Thus when the Spirit of God be­gins to work in a sinner’s heart, He brings before the soul all that Christ has done, and the future glory with Christ for the one who believes. He meets him, too, at the “well,” using the water of the Word for the sinner’s blessing. This was the way the Lord did with the woman at Sychar’s well in John 4, telling her of the gift of God and giving her far more than He had asked from her. He had requested a drink of water from Jacob’s well, but He gave her a drink of the “living water.” Dear young reader, the Spirit of God longs to give you a drink of the “living water” too. When you accept the Lord Jesus as your own Saviour, you will find the truth of the words, “The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).
Guided by the Word
The Word of God has many interesting lessons for us, and just as we learn many things from pictures, so God uses “word pictures” in the Bible to teach us. Let us look at this story before us in a very practical way. These chapters are written for young people, and we all like to have friends. Our problem is this, who are the right friends to choose, and perhaps harder still, where will we find them? Since Eliezer was trying to find a bride for Isaac (who in our “picture” would speak of Christ), his experiences will surely be helpful to those of us who want to choose a friend or friends to please Him too.
Eliezer knew the right place to find the one for Isaac. It was by the well of water, in the very place where Abraham had told him to go. Abraham would speak to us of God our Father whose Word should ever be our guide. We can never expect to find the right one in the path of disobedience, nor by the “broken cisterns” of this poor world.
Further Meditation
1. What does Eliezer speak to us of?
2. Having friends that encourage us to follow the Lord Jesus can have a huge, positive impact on our Christian testimony. What are the characteristics of a good friend? You can find many of them by searching for the word “friend” in the book of Proverbs. You’ll find a lot of useful instruction there.
3. You’ll find a more extensive discussion of this chapter, along with some excellent gospel messages, in the short book The Call of the Bride by W. T. P. Wolston.

The Lord’s Guidance

Genesis 24:11-16
We have followed the pathway of Abraham’s servant to the side of the well, and as we remarked before, he was then in the right place to choose a bride for Isaac. Water in the Scriptures often speaks to us of God’s Word (see Ephesians 5:26) and so we can see in this a picture of one who is walking in obedience. While patiently waiting on the Lord, Eliezer prayed and asked His guidance that the decisions which he was about to make might be the right ones. How many serious mis­takes would be avoided if we always made our decisions in this way.
Led of the Lord
The Lord surely guided Eliezer most remarkably, and the story abounds with little details which are full of in­struction for us as young people. Rebe­kah was thoughtful and kind. It could be said of her as of the one described in Proverbs 31, “In her tongue is the law of kindness.” Children of God who want to please the Lord are not thought­less of the needs of others, nor are they selfish and always thinking of themselves first, nor are they lazy. Eliezer knew all this, and so he asked the Lord that He would lead him to the one who, when asked for a drink, would say, “Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also.” He knew, too, that only the Lord could guide him aright, and he was content to wait on Him.
Eliezer wasn’t long in getting an an­swer to his prayer. But perhaps some of our readers are saying that they do not get such a ready answer to their pray­ers. Let us draw your attention to some­thing very beautiful in Eliezer’s attitude before he ever came to the well at all. He had said to Abraham, “Peradventure the woman will not be willing to follow me unto this land: must I needs bring thy son unto the land from whence thou camest?” and Abraham had replied “Beware thou that thou bring not my son thither again.” If he could not get a bride for Isaac in the path of obedience, he was to come back through the wilderness alone, and this he was content to do. What lovely faith! God has been pleased to record it for our encouragement. He knows the difficulties of the way and takes notice of all we do for Him — even when we suffer rather than dis­obey. Abraham’s word was definite, “Beware thou that thou bring not my son thither again.” How can a Christian expect the blessing of the Lord, if he or she goes back into the world, out of which God has saved us, to get a life companion. It is a dangerous course to pursue.
The Lord Looketh on the Heart
Rebekah then came to the well, and she was “very fair to look upon,” but this was not the deciding factor in Eliezer’s choice. There were much deeper considerations than these, and we do well to bear in mind the Scrip­ture which says, “Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised” (Proverbs 31:30). Eliezer knew that “the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7), and he awaited His guidance.
Before closing our little chapter we would like to remark that the primary meaning of this story is that the Spirit of God, like Eliezer, has come down into this world to get a bride for Christ. All who are truly saved form part of that bride, and if the one who reads these lines is unsaved, our desire is that you might listen to the pleadings of the Spirit of God with your soul and accept Christ as your Saviour NOW.
Further Meditation
1. What was Eliezer to do if he could not get a bride for Isaac in the path of obedience?
2. Selfishness is a huge problem for many. Why was it so impressive that Rebekah would draw water not only for the man but for his camels as well? If you were diligent, you might be able to calculate a reasonable guess of how many buckets of water one would have to pull up out of the well to give water to those camels. Compare that to the amount of work it would require to set the table or open the door for someone.
3. The book Another Hive of Busy Bees by B. Soderholm contains an excellent and simple story that teaches the lesson to be unselfish. You might find it helpful in developing your thoughts on the subject of selfless service to others.

Waiting on the Lord

Genesis 24:17-27
We can still learn a great deal from this remarkable story. The courteous manner in which Eliezer requested a drink is very instructive: “Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher.” He was not bold and demanding, for if we expect to find a friend with real Christian character­istics, we must act in a thoughtful and considerate way ourselves. So here, Eliezer soon found a ready willingness on the part of Rebekah; and he knew that she was the one the Lord had chosen for Isaac. She drew water for all his camels, and this was not a small task, for Eliezer had ten camels!
Well might he wonder, and yet our God is a God of wonders! One “who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). It wasn’t long until Rebekah was rewarded for her kindness, and surely Eliezer was rewarded for waiting on the Lord. His promise is ever the same, “Them that honor Me I will honor” (1 Samuel 2:30), but we cannot expect to be honored, if we do not honor the Lord first. “In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:6).
Confessing His Name
Before Eliezer did one thing more, he asked Rebekah a most important ques­tion. He said, “whose daughter art thou? tell me, I pray thee.” Too many young Christians leave this important question until later on, and sometimes, sad to say, they never ask it. They want “just a little friendship” and can go on for a long time having a so-called good time without saying, “Whose daughter art thou?” or in other words, “Are you a child of God by faith in Christ Jesus?” It was foremost, however, in the mind of Eliezer, and Rebekah readily replied that she was the daughter of Bethuel. Yes, she gladly admitted that she was one of Eliezer’s master’s brethren. It wasn’t a half-hearted, indefinite con­fession, like so many in our day, caus­ing us to wonder if they are really the Lord’s. One who really belongs to the Lord can confess His Name clearly and definitely and is glad to do so.
Piety at Home
Another lovely thing about Rebekah is the way she speaks of the hospitality of her parents’ home, though not in­viting Eliezer herself. She was learning these things in the happy circle of her own family. Yes, there was room for the man and his camels, and soon her brother came out and invited him in. Everything was so beautifully proper in its place, and this was more evidence that it was not just an empty thing with Rebekah. Any boy or girl can be nice when they are out, but it is the home life that tells, and Eliezer was going to see her actions at home. “Let them learn first to show piety (god­liness) at home” (1 Timothy 5:4), is a good word for us all.
Eliezer had learned to take every­thing from the Lord, and to thank Him for His blessings, and he bowed his head right at the well and worshipped. Then he began to talk about the Lord too. There is not much danger of getting into bad company when we talk about the Lord, and it is a fine thing to make this the subject of our conversation. Eliezer was making decisions in his heart, and Rebekah in hers, but there was ample evidence on both sides of an ardent desire to do the will of the Lord.
Further Meditation
1. How did Eliezer know that Rebekah was the one the Lord had chosen for Isaac?
2. A bold confession of Christ early in our Christian life can keep us from many troubles later on. What happened to Peter when he tried to enter the high priest’s palace the night before the Lord was crucified?
3. It sometimes requires a lot of courage to stand up for the Lord when others are opposed to Him. You can find many examples of courageous believers who were strengthened not to deny Him in Miller’s Church History by A. Miller.

A Decision to Make

Genesis 24:28-60
Rebekah then went home and told everything to her mother. It is a fine thing when children learn to tell things to their parents. “Honor thy father and mother” (Ephesians 6:2) is still God’s order and cannot be disobeyed without bringing down His hand in discipline.
Eliezer awaited the invitation from Rebekah’s brother Laban, and what a hearty invitation it was, “Come in, thou blessed of the Lord.” Every kindness was shown to him, his servants, and his camels, and very soon a nice meal was ready for them. Eliezer would not eat, however, until he had told his errand. Everything was open and aboveboard, and there was no false impression left. He did not say one thing and mean another. It is nice to see this straightforwardness of charac­ter in the children of God, and it surely is honoring to the Lord. Nor was Eliezer out to see what he could get from his friends. Too many young people want to get as good a time as they can and do not deliver their message fairly as Eliezer did. God delights in uprightness, and so the whole matter was clearly stated in the presence of Rebekah’s parents. How much happier the parents felt about it, although the decision was left entirely to her, and they acknowl­edged that it was of the Lord.
The Lord Acknowledged
Again Eliezer bowed his head and worshipped. He acknowledged the Lord in all his ways, and surely He directed him. He gave jewels of gold and silver and raiment to Rebekah, as well as precious gifts to her brother and mother.
At last, when everything had been talked over, he relaxed and enjoyed himself, eating of the meal which had been prepared for him and his servants.
Having considered this touching story in its practical application to us as young Christians, let us now look at its primary meaning. Eliezer, as we re­marked in a previous chapter, speaks to us of the Spirit of God who is now in this world, pleading with sinners to leave this “far country” and come to Christ. There is a place in His bright home above for all who will come.
The Decision Made
After Rebekah had heard all about Isaac’s wealth and what would be hers as his bride, she was asked to make her decision. Her father and mother might have hindered her, but she must decide for herself. Eliezer wanted her to go at once, and the question is put plainly to her, “Wilt thou go with this man?” Dear reader, the question is being put plainly to you too, if you are still unsaved, “Will you accept Christ as your Saviour and start out for a Better Land?” Just as Eliezer, Abra­ham’s servant, was going to accompany Rebekah all the way back to Canaan if she was willing to go, so the Spirit of God will abide with the be­liever forever, taking him all the way to glory. Rebekah’s answer was de­finite. She said, “I will go.” Have you made your decision? If not, why not do so now? Do not delay — not even a few days, as Rebe­kah’s mother and brother suggested she should, but decide for Christ NOW.
Jesus for your choice is waiting;
Tarry not, at once decide.
While the Spirit now is striving,
Yield and seek the Saviour’s side.
Further Meditation
1. What did Eliezer need to do before he could eat with Rebekah’s family?
2. Rebekah had never met Isaac, so her decision was a huge step of faith. Who, if either of them, had the easier trip of faith to Israel, Rebekah or Ruth?
3. Faith is essential for the life of every believer. A simple pamphlet that will really help you in your life of faith is Faith by H. P. Barker. It contains many simple illustrations to help you grasp the difference between faith and feelings.

Watching and Waiting

Genesis 24:61-25:18
Rebekah started out at once on the long journey across the desert. She was on her way to meet Isaac, and the whole journey is passed over by the inspired writer in a few words: she “followed the man.” She did not have to make the journey in her own strength, for the camels carried her, and the “man” guided her safely through the dangers of the wilderness. The way to Glory will not seem so long and hard to those of us who belong to the Lord, if we, too, follow the guidance of the Spirit of God through the Word.
Waiting in Faith to Meet the Lord
Isaac came out to meet her in the field, and so the Lord will soon come for us, for we who are saved are the bride of Christ. Rebekah was watching as well as waiting to see Isaac and was glad to alight from her camel and go to meet him. Are we, dear young believers, watching and waiting for the Lord to come at any moment? Are we willing to leave our “camels” and all that connects us with this wilderness world and go out to meet Him?
How wonderfully the story ends! Isaac himself escorted her to his mother’s tent, and she became his wife, and he loved her. Surely this speaks to us of the love of Christ, and when He takes us to His home above, we shall still be, as we are now, the ob­jects of His love forever. Nothing can separate us from that love which passes knowledge. Can the reader of this little paper say, “The Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20)?
Abraham gave all he had to Isaac, the promised heir, and we know, too, that God the Father has put all into His Son’s hands, who will in the coming day share it with His bride (the church) as Isaac did with Rebekah his wife.
At last Abraham’s long life ended, and he too was buried in the field he had purchased. He had been a stranger and a pilgrim, looking for the fulfill­ment of God’s promise — the possession of Canaan. However he “received not the promise” (Hebrews 11:9) as to earthly blessing, but he died in faith and will have something better — a heavenly portion. Like Sarah he was buried in Canaan, because he knew that God was the God of resurrection, and that He had not forgotten His promises.
Living in the Sense of God’s Presence
Isaac was a man of faith too, and God blessed him. He dwelt by the well Lahairoi. This was the place where he had met Rebekah when she came back with Eliezer, and it means “the well of Him that liveth and seeth.” How good for us as young people when we learn to live in the sense of God’s presence, and in the enjoyment of our relationship to Christ as His espoused bride.
To all outward appearances Ishmael did not seem to have anything like the troubles that Isaac did, but God passes over his life, as well as the lives of his family in a very few words. Ishmael, as far as we know, was not a man of faith, and his life was of little importance in the eyes of God. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him [God]” (He­brews 11:6). Dear young reader, how does your life appear before God? Have you a real living faith in the Lord Jesus, so that you can say, “I know whom I have believed” (2 Timothy 1:12)?
Further Meditation
1. What did Rebekah do when she saw Isaac come out to meet her in the field?
2. Living with a quiet sense of the Lord’s providing for us and not allowing sin in our lives are at the heart of communion. What are some of the indications that Abraham had enjoyed that communion in his life?
3. You would no doubt enjoy the simple booklet Communion With God: What Is It? by C. H. Mackintosh.

Faith and Service

Genesis 25:11, 19-23
Let us stand, as Isaac did, by the well of “Him that liveth and seeth” and look out on life from there. It is of all importance that we have the right point of view when look­ing at things. Yes, we need God’s view­point, for He sees all that we do, hears all that we say, and even knows our very thoughts. He is recording our lives too, and “Only what’s done for Christ will last.” How about those big plans to make a name for ourselves or to find a resting-place in this world where He was the rejected One? How will they appear in the presence of Him who was once crucified and cast out by sin­ful men?
Serving the Lord
Life is so short, and the Lord’s com­ing is near — very near. We have only a little time to live for Him who died for us and rose again. The fields are “white already to harvest” (John 4:35), and the laborers are few. Many who should have been serving the Lord are either taken up with the cares of this world, or discouraged, for if there ever was a time when Satan was making an assault on the children of God, it is today. He has his traps laid, with the camouflaging so well arranged that things look very attractive, and there are few who choose the safe, though unpopular, path of obedience to God and His Word.
As you read this, you probably have your health and energy, and how nice it would be if you used them for the Lord, owning His claims over your life. There are open doors on every hand. There are people who have never heard the Gospel even in our own lands. There are old people, too, who would appreciate a visit, with a few kindly words and a smile from someone who is young, and this may give an opportu­nity to speak to them about our preci­ous Saviour and His love. There are young people who are looking for en­couragement, who long to find some other young person who wants to follow the Lord, and though we cannot do anything in our own strength, the One “who liveth and seeth” is able not only to show us the right path but will en­able us to walk in it. May the Lord grant blessing on our “meditations by the well” (Genesis 24:62-63) and give us the grace, not only to be hearers of the Word, but doers also.
God Knows
Isaac asked the Lord for a son to be the heir of all He had promised him, and the Lord heard his prayer. Rebekah had twins, and it is sweet to notice the simplicity of her faith in it all. When there was something she could not un­derstand, she “went to inquire of the Lord.” What a privilege we have as children of God to be able to look to Him in all our difficulties and problems. God’s answer, too, was one which only faith could lay hold of. How could it be known beforehand that “the elder shall serve the younger”? This is one of the great problems of unbelief but one of the simple things to faith. God knows — yes, He knows everything, past, present, and future, for they are all the same to Him who can “call those things that be not as though they were” (Romans 4:17). There are several instances in the Bible where God has told us the names of men, and what they would do, hundreds of years be­fore they were born. It will quiet our fears, and settle our problems as be­lievers, if we always keep these two words in our hearts and memories: God knows.
Further Meditation
1. What did Rebekah do when she could not understand something?
2. How can you serve the Lord today? This chapter suggests many quiet, unobtrusive ways to take God’s Word, comfort and love to others. What might be the way that He wants you to serve?
3. One simple, unseen and easily neglected service to the Lord’s people is prayer. You would be refreshed and stirred up by reading the brief and simple booklet Epaphras: The Service of Prayer by C. H. Mackintosh.

God’s Sure Promises

Genesis 25:24-26:6
At last the two sons were born, Esau being the first­born and Jacob the young­er. Esau was a man of the field, and Isaac loved him because of his venison. Are we not like Isaac in this way quite often? We love people, not because of their faith, or devotedness to the Lord, but because of what they do for us. It reminds one of the Scripture, “A gift doth blind the eyes” (Deuteronomy 16:19). We need to have the single eye so that we can appreciate the kindness of others, without allowing it to blind our eyes to what we should see for the Lord’s glory.
Jacob had his failures and God has faithfully told us about them. Let us remember that although God has re­corded the failures of His people, He does it to warn us and does not excuse them. Even godly men can fail, and fail badly, when they are not watchful. Jacob was a schemer. He always had a plan of his own ready and could not wait God’s time. Don’t we often scheme like this too, making our own plans because we do not want to wait on the Lord? Such plans, when we leave the Lord out, will always bring sorrow, though at first they may seem to pros­per. God had said that Esau, the older, should serve Jacob, the younger, but Jacob thought he had to do something to make God’s promise sure. He made his own arrangements and bought Esau’s birthright. Of course Esau should never have sold it, but two wrongs never make a right, and Jacob found this out later to his sorrow.
The Birthright
Let us look a little more carefully at Esau’s act. He had a birthright. He was the firstborn, and he should not have sold his birthright for a mess of pottage. And you, too, dear reader, have a birthright. You have been born in a Christian land where we have an open Bible, and perhaps you have Christian parents too. Salvation is offered to you, and this is your birthright. Are you despising it? Are you saying as Esau, “Behold I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?” Do not sell it; do not despise it. If you do, you will come to the time, as Esau did, when many tears will not bring it back, and you will realize that it is too late. Think of the “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:30) that will be yours forever if you reject Christ as your Saviour. You may get a few short moments of pleasure in this sinful world in return for selling it, but what is that in view of eternity?
There had been a famine in Abra­ham’s day, and now there is another one to try Isaac. He started to go down into Egypt, but the Lord graciously in­tervened, hindering him from going all the way. How sweet were the words spoken by the Lord, “Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee.” God had not forgotten His promises in spite of the famine. When­ever God asks His children to walk in a path of faith, He sustains them if they look to Him in dependence. It is always easier, however, to get away, than to get back, and sometimes God has to use unpleasant circumstances to bring us into the place where He would have us. We shall see this in Isaac’s experiences in Gerar.
Further Meditation
1. How did Jacob try to make God’s promise sure?
2. Not valuing the rich treasures that God has prepared for us can be a real problem for us just like it was for Esau. What are some of the rich treasures that God has given to you? You can find a few of them in Hebrews 10.
3. We all benefit from meditating on God’s gifts to us. One excellent pamphlet on the subject is Seven Present Blessings Through the Death of Christ by H. H. Snell. It develops some of the rich blessings found in Hebrews 10 and other places in Scripture.

Blessing and Joy in the Lord

Genesis 26:7-18
Isaac failed in the same way as his father had done when among the Philistines many years before. Whenever any one of us tries to go on with the world, we, too, deny our proper relationship to Christ, just as Isaac denied Rebekah his wife in our chapter. We find, however, if true Christians, that we cannot go on this way indefinitely. It must come out. A real believer can never deny Christ from his heart, and so here Abimelech saw Isaac enjoying his wife’s company. He truly loved her in spite of his lip denial, just as Peter loved his Lord although his lips denied Him. God used Abimelech to rebuke Isaac for the lie he had told, and surely this was a humbling experience. May the Lord help us to walk in such a way that we do not bring dishonor on His blessed name.
Isaac had planned to go down into Egypt to escape the famine, but when he listened to the voice of the Lord, and remained in the land, the Lord blessed him. He had his testing and trial, dis­covering his own weakness, but God was faithful and gave him a won­derful harvest. He could never have expected to reap an hundredfold in Egypt. Egypt, which speaks to us of this world in its glory, is a poor place to go to get out of trouble. Isaac proved that the path of obedience was the best.
Wells of Joy in the Lord
The Lord’s blessing upon Isaac made him the object of the envy of the Philis­tines. When the Lord is blessing one of His children, the enemy often brings on a special attack, and we need to be on guard. When Job was prospering so wonderfully, Satan was preparing his great assault. When Peter was on the mount, he made one of his worst blund­ers and would have put the Lord on the level of Moses and Elias. Here, too, when Isaac had increased in wealth and been blessed so richly, he neglect­ed to look after the wells his father Abraham had digged, and the Philis­tines had filled them up with earth. Many of our young readers have Christian fathers and mothers who have digged “wells.” Yes, they have taught us the truth from childhood, and the Philistines, who typify the flesh, have been filling up these wells while we have been resting on our oars and thinking all is well. We need to be on our guard all the time, for there will always be warfare as long as we are in this world, and Satan knows our unguarded points. He wants to rob us of our “wells” — our joy in the Lord — and then he can lead us still farther away from Him. If we are not finding our happiness in Christ, we will assur­edly be seeking it elsewhere, because we all want happiness. No one wants to be miserable!
At last Abimelech asked Isaac to leave, because he said, “Thou art much mightier than we.” Yes, we read in 1 John 4:4, “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world,” and the world knows it! Let us draw on our blessed source of strength in Christ, and we will have the victory. In the energy of faith Isaac digged again his father’s wells, which the Philistines had filled up and called them by the same names as his father had called them. The great tendency today is to say that times have changed and to try to make the truth more popular by calling things by different names. God’s truth does not change with man’s changing ideas. “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My Words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).
Further Meditation
1. What happened when Isaac neglected to look after the wells Abraham dug?
2. The Philistines in this chapter are mentioned as one of the enemies of the Lord’s people who represent the flesh. What are some of the things they did in the book of 1 Samuel to disrupt the Lord’s people?
3. The flesh is one of the believer’s greatest enemies. An excellent pamphlet that presents God’s way of dealing with the flesh as well as with the world and with the devil is found in The Christian’s Three Enemies: God’s Way of Victory Over Them by B. Anstey.

Keeping Good Company

Genesis 26:19-35
After Isaac had digged out all his father’s wells, then his servants dug another one — a well of springing water. There is progress here. We cannot stand still in the things of God, for if we are not growing in our souls, we are sure to go backward. The new well is a special cause of con­tention. How the enemy hates to see the children of God making progress! Notice they say, “The water is ours,” not “The well is ours.” Unsaved people do not want Christ, the Source from which all blessings flow, but they like to get the blessings. No doubt there could have been more energy display­ed on the part of Isaac, in contending for these wells, for God had said, “So­journ in this land, and I will  ...  bless thee.” However the Lord graciously undertook for him, allowing him to have other wells until he finally got back to Beersheba. There a covenant was made, as Abimelech had made with Abraham previously, to have peaceful possession of that part of the land. May the Lord give us the energy of faith to go on possessing more of what is ours in Christ, even though there are “many adversaries.”
It is a good thing indeed when others see in us as Abimelech observed about Isaac, that the Lord was with him even though they hated him. If we walk honorably and blamelessly, but do not confess Christ, we escape His re­proach; or if we talk well but walk badly, we bring reproach on His Name. God would have us to talk of Christ, and walk to please Him too; then we will bear His reproach, and bring honor to His worthy Name.
Companionship
When Esau was forty years old, he took a wife of the daughters of the land. We often read of periods of forty days, and forty years in the Bible. The children of Israel spent forty years in the wilderness; Moses spent forty years in Pharaoh’s court, forty years on the backside of the desert, and forty days on the mount. Other cases could be given too. It is always looked upon as a period of testing, and so here we can see the true state of Esau’s heart. Dear young Christian, weigh this statement well, and even the younger folks can remember it when they grow older: “The partner you choose for life will show your state of soul more than any­thing else.” If you walk with God, He will lead you to the right one, for be assured it will mold your whole life for good or bad to a tremendous de­gree. No wonder Esau’s choice to marry wives from among the idolatrous people of the land was a grief of mind to his father and mother.
If you belong to the Lord, dear reader, be careful of the company you keep. There is a good verse in Psalm 119:63 for us all to remember, “I am a companion of all them that fear Thee, and of them that keep Thy precepts.” Our intentions may be ever so good, but we are only safe as we “cleave to the Lord with purpose of heart” and learn to walk in the path of obedience day by day. Then when the time of decision comes, we will be able to say like Abraham’s servant, “I being in the way, the Lord led me to the house of my master’s brethren” (Genesis 24:27).
Further Meditation
1. How did the Lord graciously undertake for Isaac?
2. A companion for life can have a huge impact on our spiritual lives. How did a bad companion affect Ahab? How did a good wife encourage Aquila?
3. The pamphlet Companionship in Courtship and Marriage: Part 2 by B. Anstey gives a wonderful encouragement to allowing the Lord to make the choice of our life’s companion.

Grace Over-Abounding Sin

Genesis 27:1-27
Isaac’s spiritual, as well as his physical sight, became dim in his old age, for we will always find that if there is any unjudged sin in our lives when we are young, it will become more apparent as we grow older. Isaac had loved venison, and loved Esau because of his venison, for many long years but now this fleshly desire almost caused him to make a great mistake. In fact, he would have missed the mind of God entirely if God had not come in and prevented it. The way in which God came in was surely very humbling to Isaac, but it reminds us once again of the faithfulness and grace of God in spite of all our failures.
Grace Abounds
Isaac asked Esau to make him savoury meat, and said that he would then bless him before he died. He seemed to forget how God had ordained that the blessing was to rest on Jacob his younger son and not on Esau (see Genesis 25:23). Jacob as usual planned and schemed, and this time his mother was with him in it. God would have seen to it that Jacob re­ceived the promised blessing in His own time, and it was not necessary for Jacob to deceive his poor old father to get it. There was nothing of faith in such an act, and we need hardly say that both Rebekah and Jacob had to reap bitterly for it. God overruled their plan, however, even though He did not, and could not, approve of it. In fact, this is the whole message of the Bible from cover to cover. It is where sin abounded that grace did much more abound (Romans 5:20). Man’s record has always been one of sin — yes, sin abounding, while God’s record has al­ways been one of grace over-abound­ing all mankind’s sin. Surely no one but God could write such a book as the Bible, telling of His own divine love rising to its highest peak at the cross of Calvary, even when the heart of man came out at its worst. Yes, when man did his worst, then God did His best!
Blessing in the Path of Obedience
Jacob should not have told a lie even though his mother told him to do it. In this instance, he should have obeyed God first, for His Word says, “Lying lips are abomination to the Lord” (Proverbs 12:22). She told him to get a kid of the goats, and she would make the savoury meat which his father wanted. Then she put skins on Jacob’s hands and neck so that he would feel like his hairy brother Esau, and cloth­ing him in Esau’s hunting suit, she sent him in to his father to get the blessing. How one lie leads to another and one deception to another! How much better to walk in “the paths of uprightness” and leave all the results with God, but Jacob told one lie after another and, strangely enough, he seemed to get what he wanted. But he only seemed to, for he reaped the results of this all his life. He was deceived by his uncle Laban many times — not just once — and then when he was old, his own sons deceived and lied to him. True, he got the blessing, but he would have got it without all this sorrow if he had waited God’s time.
These things may well be a lesson to us, for we are much like Jacob at times. We have plans of our own, and although we may not go as far as he did in deception, we sometimes try to get the blessing in a path of disobedi­ence. Remember, dear young reader, that the path of obedience is the path of happiness. God often tests His chil­dren’s faith, but He will always prove Himself worthy of all our trust.
Further Meditation
1. What did Jacob’s mother tell him to do for him to get the blessing from his father?
2. How did the types of lies that started in the life of Abraham grow in the life of Isaac and become even more elaborate in the life of Jacob?
3. In Twig the Collie by C. Massey, one of the two main characters digs himself a deeper and deeper hole with his lies. They all begin to unravel toward the end of the story and present a clear warning against lying lips that is healthy to hear. Besides that, there are many other important lessons in the book that make it well worthwhile.

The Fulfillment of God’s Word

Genesis 27:28-46
We should notice here that the blessing Jacob received from his father was an earthly blessing and tells us of what is in store for the nation of Israel in a coming day. This promise and many others will have a full fulfillment when the Lord Jesus Christ reigns in power over the earth in a coming day. Jerusalem will then be the center of earthly glory and blessing. Moreover it is true even now that God blesses the nations which befriend the Jews, and curses those who persecute them. We might mention, however, that the blessings of those who are saved during this present period of grace, which began at the day of Pentecost and will end when the Lord Jesus calls His own to meet Him in the air, are heavenly blessings. We should not expect “the fatness of the earth.” God has only promised us food and raiment (1 Timothy 6:8), although He often exceeds His promises, blessing us even in temporal things far beyond this.
Failure Overruled
After Jacob had received the bless­ing of the firstborn, then Esau came in from hunting, made his savoury meat, and brought it to Isaac his father. Poor Isaac! No wonder he “trembled very exceedingly,” but God in His good­ness seemed to reveal to him that He had overruled his failure, and he said to Esau, “I have eaten of all before thou camest, and have blessed him [Jacob] yea, and he shall be blessed.”
Esau then broke down and cried. He had sold his birthright some years before, and now it was too late to get it back. What a day of weeping it will be for those who have sold their “birthright” and rejected Christ, when they find the door of mercy shut, and shut forever. Here Esau received a measure of blessing, but if you are unsaved, dear reader, there will be no blessing for you — never, never, never. Oh, do come to Christ today.
Contention Between Esau and Jacob
Esau’s descendants are the Edomites, and Isaac’s prophecy is now being fulfilled, “By thy sword shalt thou live  ...  and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck.” The Jews are the descendants of Jacob, and they are suffering at the hands of their enemies today, but things will change before long, for the Lord’s coming is near, and after that, He will take up His people (the Jews) again and Jacob shall rule. Nothing can hinder the fulfillment of God’s Word, dear children. Men may say that the Bible is outdated and untrue, but let us assure you that it will be fulfilled to the very letter when all the books written by men have been burned up. “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My Words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).
Bitter hatred and murder filled Esau’s heart, and he said he would kill Jacob as soon as his father had died. Re­bekah, who had had her part in de­ceiving Isaac, then told Jacob to go down to Laban, his uncle, and remain there until Esau’s anger had passed over. God was over these circum­stances, and Rebekah had to reap what she had sown with sorrow, for Jacob did not return home again until after her death, and so she never saw him again. She told him to stay for only a few days, but he did not return for twenty long years.
Further Meditation
1. What did Esau do after he found out Isaac had blessed Jacob?
2. Our actions have long-lasting consequences for bad but also for good. What were the results of Caleb’s decision not to complain against his fellow Israelites when he was forced to go through the wilderness with them for nearly 40 extra years?
3. The Patriarchs by J. G. Bellett is a lengthy book but packed with very sweet meditations on the beauty of the Lord’s ways with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and others in the book of Genesis. If you’ve never read it, then you’re in for a treat. You can read it for free by going to bibletruthlibrary.org and selecting Bellett from the Authors section. You’ll then get a selection of his books and can select the one entitled The Patriarchs.

Learning in the School of God

Genesis 28:1-12
The life of Jacob is one of the most interesting records of the grace of God to be found in the Bible. God has been pleased to tell us a great deal about poor Jacob, and more than that, God calls Himself the God of Jacob more often than the God of either Abraham or Isaac. Every time we read about God being the God of Jacob, it tells us of His grace that blesses in spite of all our failure.
The Path of Faith and Obedience
Isaac told Jacob not to take a wife of the daughters of the land, but to choose one of his own kindred — that is of the family of faith. No doubt your father and mother have been telling you that you should not take a life partner from the unsaved people around, whom you meet day by day. Perhaps you are inclined to think that such a path is difficult and that there are few to choose from. Jacob found this too, and he had to go a long way to get his wife, and things were any­thing but easy. The path of faith is not easy. It is a rough path, but there is always blessing at the end. Jacob obeyed his father and mother in this matter. Are you going to do the same, dear young Christian?
Esau, on the other hand, was very willful in his disobedience and refused to hearken to the voice of his parents. Even though he knew that they did not want him to choose a wife of the daughters of the land, he went out and married one of them. He would have liked to receive the blessing from his father, but he surely did not honor his parents as God says we should.
Jacob was a man of faith, but he had a great deal to learn in the school of God. Perhaps some of our readers are wondering what the school of God is, for you did not know He had one. Yes, God has a school, and the moment we are saved we enter it. He has many things to teach us, and being very patient, He will never expel us from His school; nor can we ever gradu­ate as long as we are in this world, for there are many things to learn, and it takes a lifetime to learn them.
Fresh Reminders of Love and Grace
Jacob started out from Beersheba and went toward Haran, and while he was traveling along, the sun set and the darkness overtook him. How many a young Christian who goes on well for a time, comes to a place like Jacob where the sun sets and he lays down to sleep. Jacob had stones for his pillow! Such is the path of one who is going on with unconfessed sin in his life as Jacob was. There is no comfort in such a course for the pillows are made of stones!
God sometimes speaks in dreams, though we have to test even our dreams by the word of God. Here God spoke to Jacob through a dream, and what wonderful promises He made to him. When we are getting away from the Lord, how often He sends us some fresh reminder of His love and grace in order to recall our wandering hearts and feet. The ladder stretched up to heaven which Jacob saw with angels of God ascending and descending up­on it, points on to the time when Christ will reign in power. Then the heavenly Jerusalem will be over the earthly Jerusalem, and the redeemed in heaven will reign with Christ carrying out His righteous government in the earth in­stead of the angels who are now God’s “ministering spirits” (see Hebrews 1:14; 2:5-7; 1 Corinthians 6:2-3).
Further Meditation
1. In what way did Esau disobey his parents?
2. Why can we be thankful that the Lord doesn’t make it easy for us when we are going our own way and rejecting His direction for our life? What would happen to us if He didn’t act to stop us?
3. Thinking about Jacob’s life reminds us of how important it is to obey. Obedience and Submission: Healing Principles by J. H. Smith is an excellent pamphlet for laying out the simple and essential value of obedience to God and the authority He has placed in our lives.

Sovereign Grace of God

Genesis 28:13-29:26
While Jacob was dreaming he saw the Lord standing at the top of the ladder, and He said to him, “I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac.” He then promised to bless Jacob adding that “in thy Seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” The promised Seed was Christ who will bring bless­ing to all nations. God said also that He would not leave Jacob until all His promises were fulfilled. The descen­dants of Jacob (the Jews) are suffering today, but God has not forgotten these oft-repeated promises and will fulfill them in His own time which is now drawing near.
All Owed to God
When Jacob wakened from his sleep, he was afraid. His unconfessed sin made him fear the presence of God and call it a dreadful place. Then he took the stones and made a pillar, over the top of which he poured oil saying that that was to be God’s house. He owned in this way that worship was due to the Lord, but his faith was weak, and he began to bargain with God. He said, “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and rai­ment to put on, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God.” Jacob said that he would do certain things for God if God would do certain things for him. God had already promised to do these very things for Jacob, not because Jacob deserved them, but be­cause of His own sovereign grace. He had said, “I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again to this land,” but Jacob adds his “IF” to it all. When God speaks, we never need to add our “if” to His Word, but Jacob was still a schemer. He had bargained with Esau for his birthright, deceived his father to get the blessing, and he even tried to bargain with God.
Jacob then said that he would give God a tenth, but we should give Him more than that, for we are only stew­ards of all the Lord has given us. Nor should we give to Him on certain con­ditions which we choose to make our­selves. We owe all to Him because of His sovereign grace to us when we deserved nothing but judgment.
Reaping What Is Sown
At last Jacob arrived at Haran where his uncle Laban lived. He stood by a well of water where the shepherds watered their flocks and made en­quiries as to where he could find Laban. While he was speaking, Laban’s daughter Rachel came to the well with her father’s sheep. The women, however, were in the habit of waiting until the rest of the shepherds gathered together and then they watered their sheep, be­cause they were unable to roll away the stone themselves. Jacob, therefore, rolled back the stone, watered the sheep, and introduced himself to Rachel as her father’s sister’s son. He was then welcomed to Laban’s house, and after being there for a month, Laban offered to give him wages if he would work for him. Jacob said he would work seven years for him if he could have Rachel for his wife, so this was agreed upon. However, Jacob’s reaping time must come, and he was deceived by his uncle, just as he had deceived his own father Isaac. After serving the seven years for Rachel, Laban gave him Leah. Let us remind ourselves once again, dear children, that God’s Word is still true. “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).
Further Meditation
1. Why was Jacob afraid when he awoke from his sleep?
2. See if you can find the proverb that tells you about the wicked fleeing and the righteous being bold like a lion. Once you’ve found it, can you relate it carefully to the part of Jacob’s life described in this chapter?
3. You can find lots more about the life of Jacob if you are willing to dig a little bit more deeply into it. Search bibletruthlibrary.org by selecting the author W. Kelly and then go to the page with the titles of his various books. That will lead you to a book entitled Jacob with 26 chapters that develop the life of the patriarch in detail.

Grace Magnified in Failure

Genesis 29:27-31:12
Laban told Jacob that if he would serve him another seven years, he could have Rachel for his wife. God does not approve of a man having more than one wife, but in the Old Testament, before God had given a full revelation of Himself, He allowed it, though He never ap­proved of it. This He showed in the beginning when He made one wife for Adam, saying at that time that a man was to “leave his father and his mother, and  ...  cleave unto his wife” (Genesis 2:24). God always shows His pur­poses in the beginning of a thing when He sets it up, then bearing in patience with the failure when things fall into decline. Everything that has been com­mitted to man in responsibility has ended in failure and ruin, but this only tends to magnify the grace of God.
God was good to Leah in spite of the fact that Jacob did not love her as he should have, and God gave her many sons.
Jacob went on with his scheming, and since he was the head of his home, his whole household took on the same character. How careful this should make us as parents, for our children will copy our actions much more than we are inclined to think. Jacob’s way of doing things could never have God’s approval, but God overruled and ac­complished His own purposes in spite of Jacob’s failure. Then, too, it shows us that in the coming day when the twelve tribes will be brought into bless­ing on the earth, it will be all of grace. Not one of us who are reading this little book will get to heaven because of any good in ourselves. We will be praising and thanking God through all eternity that it was only His grace and goodness that brought us there at all, for we deserved nothing but judgment.
God’s Goodness and Blessing
in Spite of Failure
Laban had to admit that God had blessed him for Jacob’s sake. Even though Jacob was such a failure, God proved Himself to be a God of perfect goodness and protected him. He then put the desire in Jacob’s heart to return to the land of Canaan, for that was the land of promised blessing. God used very unusual circumstances to bring Jacob back. When we are not walk­ing quietly with God as Abraham had been, then God has to use the “bit and bridle” (Psalm 32:9), bringing unpleasant events into our lives in order to make us to go where He wants us. How much better to let Him speak to us through His Word, than to make it nec­essary for God to guide us like “horses and mules!”
When Laban saw that Jacob was get­ting together so many possessions, he was not favorable toward him as be­fore. Jacob then told his wives that the Lord had told him to return to his country, telling them, too, how Laban their father had deceived him and changed his wages ten times. He did not, however, mention how he had de­ceived his own father, for as yet there had not been any self judgment, nor any real sense of his guilt. He was only out to protect his own interests. It makes one think of the verse, “The foolishness of man perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth against the Lord” (Proverbs 19:3). Dear boys and girls, how often we do things we know are wrong, and then when trouble comes, we say that we do not know why the Lord is allowing it. If we want God to bless us, we must walk in obedience to His Word.
Further Meditation
1. What happened to Jacob’s household as a result of his continued scheming?
2. Just as Jacob got deceived because he himself was a deceiver, we, too, often experience the same kind of trouble that we cause. How did David experience God’s government for the adultery and murder that he had done?
3. We can be so thankful that the Lord shows grace as well as judgment. You would no doubt enjoy the combination of the two if you were to read God’s Grace and God’s Government by P. Wilson.

Restoration

Genesis 31:13-42
God called Himself “the God of Bethel.” He brought Jacob right back to the point where he had gone to sleep and when the sun had set upon him. If we wander away from the Lord, we have to go back to the point of departure before there can be restoration. Bethel means the house of God, and when we get away from the place where the Lord has placed His Name, there is sure to be failure come in. When David had sinned, he could say, “He [the Lord] restoreth my soul” (Psalm 23:3), and this the Lord is willing to do for any of His erring children.
The Necessary Steps to Restoration
There are three things we should notice here, as they are the necessary steps to restoration. First, there must be an awakening in the conscience as to where we are, and this is the result of letting God speak to us as He did to Jacob, only that He now speaks to us through His Word.
Then the next thing was, “Get thee out of this land.” We that are children of God by faith in Christ Jesus should get out, and stay out, of anything that is not pleasing to the Lord. We have to “cease to do evil” before we can “learn to do well” (Isaiah 1:16-17). If you are connected with something which you know to be dis­pleasing to the Lord, then the word to Jacob is for you too, “Get thee out  ... ”
The third step for Jacob was, “Re­turn unto the land of thy kindred.” God was calling him to get out of Haran because He wanted to bring him to a better land — the land of Canaan, and so the reason He calls us to give up the things of this world is because we are going to a Better Land above. We who are saved are part of the family of faith, and we should choose their company (“our kindred”) even as we shall share it forever in the glory with Christ.
Strangers in This World
Rachel and Leah realized, like Jacob, that there was no part for them in Haran. They said, “Are we not counted  ...  as strangers?” It is a good thing when even young believers learn that we are strangers in this world. If we do not learn it by walking in the love of God, then He has to allow trials, and teach us the hard way. So here, after God had allowed a few difficulties to arise, then Rachel and Leah said, “Whatsoever God hath said unto thee, do.” It sometimes takes a long time for us to be made willing to obey the voice of God.
At last they started off on their jour­ney, but it certainly was not the right thing for them to “steal away” without even saying “good-bye.” Some­times we do a right thing, but we do it in the wrong way. If we have to part company with some friend who is hin­dering us from pleasing the Lord, we should be courteous about it, and tell them why we are doing it. These little things in the Christian’s life (which many of us forget) are very important and are honoring to the Lord. Rachel was very wrong in stealing the images from her father too, but our consciences can become very lax and careless about many things when we are away from the Lord in our souls.
Laban then pursued after Jacob, in­tending to do him harm, but the Lord overruled and told him not to. Laban told Jacob that he should not have gone away secretly, and Jacob admitted that he had the fear of man in his heart which made him afraid. How much better if he had had the fear of the Lord which is the beginning of wisdom!
Further Meditation
1. Why did God call Jacob out of Haran?
2. God is continually at work for our blessing. There is no moment of any day that He isn’t doing exactly what is needed for our true joy. How did the Lord use Laban’s pursuit of Jacob to do Jacob good?
3. The book God’s Restoring Grace by W. T. P. Wolston provides a simple and brief introduction to the wonderful subject of how the Lord reaches down and works to restore our souls when we have wandered away from the Good Shepherd.

Fellowship and Remembrance

Genesis 31:43-55
How wonderfully we can trace the overruling goodness of God in caring for His poor, failing child Jacob. Surely this should strengthen our hearts and give us to realize that the Lord never changes in His love for His people. It is good for us to look back from time to time and trace the goodness of God in our lives and then to thank Him. Then we can raise our “Mizpah” like Jacob and say, “The Lord watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another.” We know He will watch over us and care for us all along the way. There is a word here for any of our dear young people who are leaving home to go to school or to work. You can count on His loving care for yourself, and for your loved ones, while you are sep­arated from them. Let us remember also that the Lord watches us, and we need to walk before Him if we are going to have His blessing.
Just a little word before we leave this touching scene. Jacob “offered sacrifice upon the mount, and called his brethren to eat bread” before they parted. How happy it would make your parents and loved ones if, before you parted and left them for your path in life, they had the assurance that you were truly saved — that the one Perfect Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary had put your sins away. What an immense blessing it would be, both to yourself and to them, knowing that while you are “absent one from an­other” there would be a meeting day coming, and if not here on earth, it would be in the glory above.
Remembering the Lord in His Death
Then too, “they did eat bread” be­fore they parted, and surely this would bring to our minds how the early dis­ciples met together on the first day of the week to “break bread” (Acts 20:7). They did this in answer to the Lord’s dying request to His own, “This do in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19). Per­haps your parents know that you are under the shelter of the precious blood of Christ, and no doubt this has made them very happy, but have you stopped there? If you have, you are missing a great deal, for the Lord Jesus who gave Himself for you has asked His own to remember Him till He comes (1 Corinthians 11:26). Can we deny Him the desire of His heart? You cannot tell what joy it will give the Lord, as well as to the hearts of your loved ones, to know that you are both sheltered by “the Sacrifice” and “eating the bread” (saved, and remembering the Lord in His death) until it is true in your own life. Do not do it just to please others — no, never — but how much happier the parting would be if you were truly seeking to please the Lord in this, as well as in all you do. So here, after this had taken place, “Laban rose up and kissed his sons and his daughters and blessed them: and Laban departed, and returned to his place.” As far as we know from the Scriptures, he never saw them again, but no doubt that what took place there at Mizpah would often come back to his mind, and com­fort his heart, as well as the hearts of his children.
Lo! our Saviour never slumbers,
Ever watchful is His care;
Though we cannot boast of numbers,
In His strength secure we are.
Sweet their portion,
Who our Saviour’s kindness share.
Further Meditation
1. What did Jacob do before he departed?
2. Jacob and Laban had this one last opportunity to “eat bread” together. Why does the Lord want us to remember Him often, such as every first day of the week?
3. If you’ve been thinking on the subject of remembering the Lord, you might find listening to the Audio CD The Lord’s Table, the Lord’s Supper, and the Camp by J. N. Hyland a help in getting the subject clear in your soul.

The Lord First

Genesis 32:1-20
Jacob started out again on his way to return to Canaan. It was not, however, going to be an easy path, for when we are away from the Lord, the way back is sometimes quite difficult, though there is blessing at the end. Here the angels of God met him. God was still caring for His wayward child and leading him step by step to the place where He would have him. But Jacob had to meet his brother Esau, whom he had treated so badly, and this made him very un­easy. If you have wronged someone, dear reader, be assured you will never be happy in your soul until the matter is cleared up. This long period of twenty years did not change it, and Jacob, conscious of his guilt and for­getting the unchanging grace of God, speaks of Esau as “my lord.” Yes, he was afraid of Esau, for we always lose the enjoyment of our standing in grace when we allow such things as Jacob did in our own lives. We will be afraid of the world, if we do not walk to please the Lord. “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1). If we want to have that holy bold­ness before God and men, we must learn to judge anything in our lives that is displeasing to the Lord and walk uprightly before Him. When we try to cover things up, or pass over them lightly, we will soon find the truth of God’s Word, “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).
Fearing God Over Man
Jacob had never really been before God about what he had done, and in his usual scheming way he decided to send a present to Esau in order to find favor in his sight. He got everything well arranged, but he was still “greatly afraid and distressed.” It is always that way when we try to settle things in our own way without a full confes­sion before the Lord. Two wrongs never make a right, and it is useless to try to undo our mistakes in any other way than God’s way, which is to get into His presence admitting all to Him.
After Jacob had made all his plans, he then asked God to bless them. How often we do the same thing! He should have prayed first, and then the Lord would have shown him what to do, taking away his fear of Esau too. He knew God as the God of Abraham and Isaac — blessed fact — but He was also the God of Jacob, though Jacob did not lay hold of that. He was thinking of himself and his own unworthiness, and although he spoke of God’s promises in his prayer, he did not confide in them. He feared Esau more than he feared God. So it is when we are away from the Lord, for we have our eyes on self and on the difficulties instead of just trusting the God of all grace.
Living for Him
What a large present of goats, rams, camels, cows and other animals he was going to give Esau, but in the past twenty years of Jacob’s life we never read of him giving one thing to the Lord. Surely this should be a les­son for us. Are you, dear reader, start­ing out in life thinking entirely of your own interests? If the Lord leaves you here, are you going to have to look back on twenty, or perhaps more, wasted years? If you are really one of His own, you can never be lost, and His grace will follow you as it did Jacob, but if you want to have a use­ful life for the Lord Jesus who has done so much for you, then begin today to live for Him. You will never regret having put the Lord first.
Further Meditation
1. Why was Jacob afraid of Esau?
2. What does it mean to “live in the fear of man”? How does this get us into trouble?
3. You can find a nice, simple quote on “the fear of God” by going to bibletruthlibrary.org and doing a Library Search for Article Number 88248.

Alone With God

Genesis 32:21-24
How do you like to be alone with God, dear reader? No doubt if you are unsaved, it would make you very afraid, and Satan, the enemy of our souls, will do all he can to keep you from it. He will try to keep you so busy with other things such as school, work, or pleasure, that you will not have any time to think about etern­ity. Your sins make you fear the presence of God, and Satan knows that if you feel how awful they are in God’s sight, you will never rest until you know that they are gone. In spite of your busy life, we would ask you, dear unsaved reader, to get quietly before God on your knees right now. You will find that although He hates your sins, He loves you, and in love He has provided salvation for lost sinners. His Word declares that “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). When you have received Him as your Saviour, then you will know that your sins are gone, and you will be able to rejoice in His presence and feel at home on your knees before Him.
Wrestling With the Lord
In our chapter we find that after Jacob had sent his wives and all that he had over the brook Jabbok, he himself was left alone, and yet he was not alone, for “there wrestled a man with him until the break of day.” An unsaved person, as we have remarked, is afraid of the presence of God, but it is also sadly true that even a believer, if careless in his ways, will feel uneasy when alone with God. Sin always makes cowards of us, and Jacob, though a man of faith, had unconfessed sin in his life which made him very unhappy.
Perhaps some of our readers may be wondering why the Lord wrestled with Jacob. Now Jacob had been away from the Lord in his soul for twenty years, and God was working in His own way to bring him back. God’s way of restoring him was not an easy one, for often the Lord has to deal very sternly with His own in order to bring them back to Himself, but it is always in love. It is “whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth” (Hebrews 12:6). He loves His children too well to allow them to go on in their own ways, and if the Lord is allowing trouble in your life, dear reader, it is because He loves you just as He loved Jacob through all those twenty years of failure. He was wrestling with Jacob in order to bring the “break of day” into his life. Long before this the sun had set upon him and he had laid down to sleep, but here at last the sun arose, and the day broke upon him.
The Full Joy of Salvation
If the one who reads these lines is away from the Lord, there is a message for you in our chapter. Do not go on one moment longer without getting alone in your room with God. He wants to wrestle with you, and bring “the break of day” into your life. Will you, too, be in earnest and “wrestle in prayer” with God, admitting all that has come in? Hide nothing, for He knows it all. He loves you and wants you to have the joy of His salvation. He wants your joy to be full, and it cannot be while you are going after the empty and sinful pleasures of this poor world. One who is saved is spoiled for this world, because he has changed his citizenship. He belongs to Heaven, and his home is there.
Further Meditation
1. What happened to Jacob after he sent his wives and all that he had over the brook Jabbok?
2. The king Manasseh had a very wicked life. However, the Lord used some extreme circumstances in his life to eventually bring him to repentance. What did the Lord use to restore Manasseh?
3. The simple pamphlet Repentance by H. P. Barker is a wonderul introduction to that vital subject.

The Blessing of the Lord

Genesis 32:25-32
When the day began to break, Jacob asked the Lord to bless him. For a long time he had been taking things into his own hands, trying to work out his own plans, but now at last he seeks blessing from the Lord. How good to know that “The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and He addeth no sorrow with it” (Proverbs 10:22). Too often we try to get blessing in paths of our own choosing, and the Lord has to allow something like this wrestling with Jacob to make us see that His ways are best for us.
Worship and Fellowship
Jacob’s thigh went out of joint while wrestling, and for the rest of his life he was lame — he “halted upon his thigh.” However, there is something very beautiful in what God tells us about him in Hebrews 11:21. “By faith Jacob when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worship­ped, leaning upon the top of his staff.” Jacob never forgot what happened at Peniel, for it taught him dependence, and he had to lean on the top of his staff; but in that position he could be what he never had been in Padan-aram — a worshipper.
Peniel means “the face of God,” and there are two important points here which we should notice. First Jacob had to get to Peniel before he could get to Bethel. When a believer has left the assembly where the Lord has placed His Name, it often takes some time for him to get back, and he must be restored in soul to the Lord — must be before “the face of God” alone, before he can get back with the Lord’s people (at Bethel, the house of God) in happy fellowship again.
God Made Known
This brings us to the second point. Jacob asked the Lord to tell him His Name, but the Lord did not do so, though He did bless him, saying that Jacob’s name was to be called Israel (a prince). Jacob was not yet in the place where God could make Himself known to him, and though the daybreak came, and a blessing with it, there were still some lessons to be learned of God’s abundant grace, and of the wretchedness of self, before God could tell Jacob His own Name. It is well to have these things clearly before us, for God delights to bless His people, but we often hinder the blessing by thinking more of our own honor than of God’s glory, which must always come first in all His ways.
No doubt after Jacob had met Esau, he would say something similar to the lines written by a dear sister in the Lord many years ago.
He was better to me than all my hopes;
He was better than all my fears;
He made a bridge of my broken works,
And a rainbow of my tears.
Poor Jacob’s heart had been filled with doubts and fears as he thought of meeting his brother Esau, but how wonderful is the grace of God. No one can do any harm to His people, or even speak an unkind word to them unless the Lord allows it. He can make even our enemies to be at peace with us when our ways please Him (Proverbs 16:7), or He can stir up adversaries if there is a needs-be (1 Kings 11:14, 23). It is all as He sees best, and the great thing for us to do is to be exercised that our ways are pleasing to the Lord and then to confidently leave all in His hands.
Further Meditation
1. What did Jacob learn from what happened at Peniel?
2. Simple dependence on the Lord is a wonderful lesson to learn. The Lord Jesus as a man showed a wonderful dependence on God His Father. How does the story in Luke 4 showcase the Lord’s complete dependence?
3. You might find the short article Dependence by F. G. Burkitt found at bibletruthlibrary.org to be quite helpful to you. You can navigate to the page for that author and then select this article taken from Christian Truth.

Guided of the Lord

Genesis 33
Instead of Esau harming Jacob, he embraced and kissed him, removing all Jacob’s fears at once. It was God who disposed Esau to be so kind, for there has been bitter hatred between Jacob’s descendants (the Jews) and Esau’s descendants (the Edomites) ever since. It reminds one of that verse, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: He turneth it whithersoever He will” (Proverbs 21:1). God brought Daniel into favor and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs, just as here He brought Jacob into favor with Esau. Let us learn as young Christians to bring all our difficulties to the Lord, trusting Him to do what seems impossible, for there is nothing too hard for the Lord.
All of Grace
As we have remarked previously, Jacob still had some lessons to learn, and he did not see that all was of grace. He called Esau “my lord,” for­getting, at least for the time, that the promised blessing rested on himself, not because he deserved it, but because “the gifts and calling of God are with­out repentance” (Romans 11:29). God had said, “The elder [Esau) shall serve the younger [Jacob]” (Romans 9:12), and His purposes of sovereign grace were going to stand in spite of all Jacob’s failure. Esau would have welcomed Jacob to Mount Seir, his own dwell­ing place, but God was leading him step by step to Bethel. Once again Jacob’s deceitful character is seen, for he told his brother a lie in saying that he was going to Mount Seir, for it is quite apparent he had no thought of doing so. This should remind us that God knows the very thoughts of our hearts and hears everything we say. It is never right to tell a lie, even though it may seem to get us out of trouble. “Lying lips are abomination to the Lord” (Proverbs 12:22).
Gathered With Others
At last Jacob got to Canaan, though not yet to Bethel. When in Shechem he would have settled down, for he bought a piece of land on which to pitch his tent. He made an altar there and called it El-Elohe-Israel, which means God, the God of Israel. He was making some progress but would worship as an individual, instead of in Bethel, the house of God. He was like many dear Christians today who are satisfied to stay at home and read their Bible, or listen to the radio, instead of being exercised to go, if possible, and meet with those who are gathered to­gether to the name of the Lord Jesus. There we can remember Him in His death, as well as attend the Bible read­ing and the prayer meeting. And let us not forget the Sunday school and the Gospel meeting, too, where we can “strive together for the faith of the Gospel” (Philippians 1:27) according to the Word of God. It is a fine thing to read your Bible at home, but the truth of God will never make us self-centered. It will lead us rather to gather with others who “call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22).
If Jacob had been walking as he should, the Lord could have guided him with His eye, but sad to say He had to use the “bit and bridle” and guide him the hard way (Psalm 32:8-9). Much better, however, that the Lord should use the bit and bridle, than that He should leave us to our own willful ways.
The hand our many sins had pierced,
Is now our guard and guide.
Further Meditation
1. How did Esau and Jacob treat each other when they met?
2. What does it mean when we say that the Lord is using the “bit and bridle” to guide us instead of His “eye”?
3. You would no doubt be encouraged if you listened to the Audio CD Hear, Learn, Keep, Do & Divine Guidance by C. H. Mackintosh.

Walking in His Ways

Genesis 34:1-35:1
What a sad picture we see in the thirty-fourth chapter! Poor scheming and planning Jacob got into plenty of trouble with his family. No doubt there are lessons for us all here, and since most of our readers are children and young people, it will help you a great deal to learn them now, for if you do, you will be spared many a sorrow. If you are truly saved, the Lord will bring you safely home to glory, but if you choose to walk in willful ways, He will have to bring you by a hard way as He did Jacob. How much happier it would be to walk in His ways and take Him into all your plans, asking His guidance, and seek­ing His help. It is becoming harder to be faithful, for the world holds out so many attractions, but they will soon leave you alone if you try to follow Christ. Remember, however, that you are not alone, for the Lord does not call upon us to go out from the world’s company, but to “come out,” showing that He is outside, too, and He will be our Friend and Companion — yes, a Father to us in such a position (2 Corinthians 6:17-18). He will also lead us to true companions, though perhaps few in number, who fear the Lord and walk in His ways (Psalm 119:63).
Blameless and Without Rebuke
Jacob and his family were ready to settle down and dwell with these Hivites, marrying with them too, but God did not allow it. However, the means which He used to prevent it and make them move on to Bethel were very sad and dishonoring to His Name. It was only the goodness and grace of God which kept the nations around from cutting them off. It is a bad thing when the evil things which our enemies say about us are true; but it is all right as long as their evil reports are false. Many of our troubles as Christians come from our mean, in­considerate, and thoughtless ways. How different it was with Daniel. Even his enemies had to admit that there was no error or fault in him except that he trusted in the Lord. May this be true of us! Let us be sure that those at school or at work cannot say that we are unfair, discourteous, or mean. If they hate us because we are true to Christ and confess His Name, then God tells us to “rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven” (Matthew 5:12).
Full Obedience
“And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother.” Jacob had built an altar in a city of Shechem, but God wanted him in Bethel. Don’t we often do things which we know to be wrong and then try to quiet our consciences by thinking that as long as we are regular at the meetings, everything will be all right? We are something like Jacob, trying to content ourselves in a place like Shechem, when we know God wants full obedience. And yet how gracious of the Lord to speak to Jacob at this time. Oh, that we were more willing to hear His voice, for He speaks to us even when we are careless in our ways.
God not only wanted Jacob to go up to Bethel but to dwell there. He reminded him, too, of how He had ap­peared to him there twenty years previously, for God had not changed even though Jacob had.
Further Meditation
1. What did God tell Jacob to do in Bethel?
2. How does God sometimes uproot us from where we feel comfortable to get us to move closer to Himself? What did God use in Moses’ life to get him to leave the court of Pharaoh?
3. You can find out more about the meaning of Bethel by looking it up in the Concise Bible Dictionary by G. Morrish.

God’s Faithfulness to Restore

Genesis 35:1-8
God reminded Jacob of the cause of his troubles. Why had he fled from his brother Esau? It was because he had deceived his father, and no doubt he remembered all that had happened at that time, and then of how God had appeared to him at Bethel as he slept on his pillow of stones. He would think of all the wondrous promises which God had made there, and of how he had added his “if” to them all. But God had been faithful all through those long years, even though Jacob had been most un­faithful.
Departing From Iniquity
There is nothing like a sense of the grace of God to make us feel our own failure, and so here as soon as Jacob thought of Bethel, he started to set his house in order. He did not think of the strange gods in his house, and the soiled garments they were wearing, until he thought of going to Bethel ­the house of God. It is a blessed thing to be in a Christian home and to be among the people of God, but it should make us think of that verse “Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Timothy 2:19). We do not worship strange gods in these lands, as they do in heathen countries, but we may allow other things to come between us and the Lord. Friends, school, sports, pleasure, or anything to which we give first place in our hearts instead of the Lord can become a “strange god.” Yes, even things that are right in their place can become idols to us if we are not careful. The result of this is that we become “un­clean” or defiled with things here. Because of this Jacob told his house­hold to change their garments. We have to change our associations of life when we find they are a hindrance to our getting to Bethel and dwelling there according to the mind of God.
God’s Preservation and Care
For the first time in many years Jacob spoke of the goodness of God to his family. He takes his stand faithfully before them, telling of how God had heard his cry and answer­ed him in the day of his distress. The result is seen at once in his home. They gave up all their strange gods and their earrings too!
Perhaps your parents have spoken to you of the conduct and dress which is becoming to a Christian — I trust they have. Are you willing to give up anything and everything which is not pleasing to the Lord? Are you willing to do as Jacob did, and bury such things out of sight? Jacob hid them under an oak tree, and leav­ing them all behind, he journeyed on. Paul had things in his life which he once counted “gain,” but after he was saved, the knowledge of Christ made him say, “What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ” (Philippians 3:7). He had a new object in life — Christ.
Jacob’s family had acted very badly with those at Shechem, but God was gracious to him and kept the cities around from harming him as he jour­neyed to Bethel. As soon as he arrived there, he built an altar to God — the God of Bethel, reminding himself once again of how God had preserved and cared for him. We should never tire of thinking about what the Lord has done for us, and when we get to glory, we shall sing of the blood that re­deemed us for all eternity. Will you be there to join in that song?
Further Meditation
1. What did Jacob do as soon as he thought of Bethel?
2. Clothing in the Word of God is symbolic. What does it represent?
3. The Call of the Bride by W. T. P. Wolston contains a chapter entitled The Bride’s Raiment that you would probably find interesting on this subject of clothing.

God’s Promises Remembered

Genesis 35:9-36:43
God appeared to Jacob at Bethel, telling him again that his name was to be Israel, which means, a prince. God delights to change our names! My name was once Sinner (1 Timothy 1:15), but now it has been changed to Saint (Romans 1:7), be­cause the Lord saved me. Has He changed your name, dear reader? God had not told His own name when He wrestled with Jacob at Peniel, but when Jacob arrived at Bethel, He did. He said, “I am God Almighty.” We might say, before going further, that God has made Himself known by dif­ferent names in the different dispensa­tions. A dispensation is a certain period of time in which God has acted in a certain way. For example, the dis­pensation of law began when the law was given at Mount Sinai, and ended when the Lord Jesus died at Calvary in order to redeem helpless sinners from its curse, for all had broken it. The patriarchs — Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — knew God as “Almighty.” God made Himself known as “Jehovah” to the children of Israel when He brought them out of Egypt. Now we who are saved know God as our “Father,” and when the kingdom of Christ is set up on earth during the millennium, God will be known as the “most High.”
Joy in the Finished Work
Jacob, after listening afresh to God’s wonderful promises of blessing, set up a pillar of stone. He never wanted to forget those promises again, as he had for so long in the past. He then poured a drink offering over it. We all know that offerings had an important place in Old Testament times. They all pointed on to the one perfect sacrifice of Christ on Calvary, and each of the different offerings, such as the burnt offering, the sin offering, and here the drink offering, all tell us of the varied aspects of His work. The drink offer­ing tells us of the joy we find in think­ing of His finished work, and the oil poured upon it reminds us that it is by the Spirit of God, who now indwells all believers, that we find this joy (Romans 5:5). Unsaved people do not find any joy in thinking of the work of Calvary because they have never been born again by the Spirit of God.
Blessing in a Coming Day
When Rachel had given birth to Ben­jamin she died. She called him Ben­oni, which means the son of my sorrow, but his father called him Benjamin, meaning the son of my right hand. This tells us of the Lord Jesus, who will bring blessing to Israel, and through whom all the promises can be fulfilled. The children of Israel, like Rachel, have been set aside for the time, but in a coming day they will be brought into blessing through Christ — the Son at God’s right hand.
We will just make a few remarks about the thirty-sixth chapter. While Jacob and his family were still strangers and pilgrims, Esau and his family were establishing themselves in Mount Seir, and prospering. So it is today. The boy or girl who desires to be faithful to the Lord may not get along so well in this world as the un­saved. The world will never want a faithful testimony to Christ, for it is still the same as when it crucified Him. It hates those who confess His blessed name boldly (1 John 3:13). Esau and his descendants prospered for a time, but when God brings his earthly people Israel into blessing during the millennium, Esau’s people will be cut off entirely (Obadiah 1:18).
Further Meditation
1. Why did Jacob set up a pillar of stone after he heard the promises of God’s blessing?
2. Joy in the finished work of the Lord Jesus should characterize all of God’s people. Exodus 15 gives one description of that joy. How did the people thank the Lord for their deliverance?
3. You might find the pamphlet Joy by D. F. Rule an encouragement that sparks your thinking on this happy subject.

Godliness in Youth

Genesis 37:1-4
The first verse of our chapter stands out in marked contrast with the thirty-sixth chapter. Jacob was still a stranger in the land. Let us learn, dear young people, to look at things in the light of eternity, and not as they appear now. Even though the ungodly may prosper now, we know that God’s righteous judgment is hang­ing over this poor Christless world, and why should we heap together treasures in the last days (James 5:3)? They are all going to be destroyed very soon, and only what is of Christ will abide. “The things which are seen are tem­poral; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).
We now begin the history of Joseph. He is one of the most beautiful types of Christ in the Bible, and we need hardly remark that this is the reason God has given us the story of his life in such detail. It is so interesting that even the smallest child can enjoy it, while the oldest believer always finds something new and precious in it.
Temptation in Youth
Joseph was seventeen years old when we begin to read about him. As we look back over the years, we can think of a good many boys and girls whom we have known, who were very regular attendants at Sunday school. They answered the Bible questions, and even spoke nicely about the Lord, until they were about sixteen or seventeen. Then they missed the Sunday school a few times, then quite often, and soon they were seldom, if ever, there. They were too old for that — so they thought! They were wiser than their parents (at least they con­sidered themselves so), and they missed many of the meetings. They dropped off the prayer meetings and the Bible readings, and only came once on Lord’s day. Even at that meeting it took very little to keep them away. They found many friends in the world, but very few, if any, were true children of God. Yes, dear young people, six­teen or seventeen is a very decisive age. The world will make a great bid for you just then. Unless you are like the strong young men (or women) of 1 John 2:14, with the Word of God abiding in you, you will not be able to overcome these temptations of the wicked one.
How refreshing, on the other hand, to read of a young man like Joseph, who at the age of seventeen was obedient to his father, and was seeking to please the Lord. God could use an instrument like that, and He did use him in a most remarkable way. What a need there is today of earnest, godly, young men who are willing to give up the world for Christ. Perhaps you will have to stand alone if you choose such a path; Joseph did, and yet he was not alone, for the Lord was with him.
Delight Found in Christ
Joseph’s father had a special love for him because of his obedience, and he made him a coat of many colors. Joseph was a type of Christ, and we think of the many glories of Christ and of how God His Father always found His delight in Him. He would have us to find our delight in Christ too, but just as Joseph’s brethren hated him, so the Lord Jesus was hated without a cause by his brethren the Jews. “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name” (John 1:11-12). Have you received Him into your heart?
Further Meditation
1. What made Joseph an instrument God could use?
2. Who else in Scripture stood alone, or nearly alone, when they were young in order to honor God?
3. Young Men of Scripture by W. T. P. Wolston contains the story of Joseph and of other young men who lived to please the Lord. You would probably get real benefit for your soul in reading it.

Obedience to the Father

Genesis 37:5-22
Joseph dreamed a most remarkable dream. He dreamed that he was binding sheaves in the field, and that his sheaf arose and stood up while his brother’s sheaves bowed down to his. Then he dreamed again that the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed to him. This made his brothers envy and hate him still more, for they could not help but feel the truth of what he had dreamed. So the Lord Jesus was particularly hated by His brethren the Jews, when He told them of His kingdom and glory and warned them that there was a day com­ing when they would have to acknowl­edge it (Matthew 26:64). Although the nation still abides in unbelief, what a wonderful time it will be when that One whom they rejected comes in power to set up His kingdom at Jerusalem. They will gladly bow down to Him in that day; in fact, all shall bow before Him then, even the lost who will be cast into the lake of fire (Philippians 2:10). May the Lord lead any unsaved one who is reading this paper to bow the knee now, and own Him as Lord while it is still the day of His grace. If you do, you will be saved (Romans 10:9), but those who bow at the great white throne judgment will not find any mercy there.
A Willing and Obedient Son
One day Joseph’s father asked him to go and see how his brothers were, and his immediate reply was, “Here am I.” He was a willing and obedient son. In this day of disobedience to parents, it is good to see some children who want to obey the Scripture which says, “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well-pleasing unto the Lord” (Colossians 3:20).
What a beautiful picture we can see in all this of the Lord Jesus, who, at the Father’s word, came down to this ruined world — sent by God His Father in love to poor sinners. He was always willing to do His Father’s will, even to dying on the cross.
Joseph set out to find his brothers who were wandering away from him. At last he found them in Dothan after seeking them for some time. This re­minds us of the Lord who is seeking sinners, even though they are wander­ing farther and farther away from Him. When Joseph’s brothers saw him afar off, even while he was coming to them in love, they were planning to kill him. This makes us think of the Jews when the Lord Jesus was here on earth; for though He went about doing good, healing the sick, and raising the dead, they hated Him and sought to kill Him.
No Man Can Serve Two Masters
We know that the Jews really did kill the Lord Jesus, but in Joseph’s case God graciously intervened, delivering him from death. Reuben suggested that they put Joseph in a pit, hoping to be able to get him out of their hands so he could send him back to his father. Reuben was like a Christian who is in bad company, trying to please his un­saved friends, and please the Lord too. Of course we know that this cannot be done, for the Scripture says, “No man can serve two masters” (Luke 16:13). We must take a clear stand for the Lord or we will be in trouble all the time. A Christian who is trying to be good friends with the world is a most un­happy person, for he is sure to have a bad conscience, and what is more solemn still, the Word of God says, “whosoever  ...  will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4).
Further Meditation
1. What did Joseph dream?
2. An obedient child is a delight to his parents. How many verses from the book of Proverbs can you find that refer to the obedient or disobedient son?
3. You might find the booklet Obedience: The Saint’s Liberty by J. N. Darby a real eyeopener if your mind has been subtly trained to think of obedience as bondage.

Suffering and Joy in Obedience

Genesis 37:23-28
Joseph’s brothers took away his coat of many colors and then cast him into an empty pit. Poor Joseph! He had been obedi­ent, and yet he had to suffer. Yes, chil­dren, we often have to suffer if we are obedient to God and His Word, but Peter tells us “if ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye” (1 Peter 4:14). I would much rather have been Joseph with all his suffering than one of his wicked brethren. Their time of suf­fering came later. There is always an inward happiness in pleasing the Lord, but there is nothing more miserable than a bad conscience like Joseph’s brethren had until they finally confessed their sin. Far, far better to suffer than to yield to Satan’s temptations and have a bad conscience and a blighted life.
The Perfect Example of Obedience
We need hardly say that the Lord Jesus, of whom Joseph was a type, is a perfect example of obedience. The Jews sought to rob Him of His coat of many colors — His glories — but He went on patiently doing His Father’s will in spite of all the suffering He had to pass through. Who suffered as He did? And yet in the midst of it all He “rejoiced in spirit” (Luke 10:21), because He found His greatest joy in doing what pleased His Father. Then at the end of His per­fect life they took and nailed Him to the cross — not only in a pit like Joseph — and did every horrible thing they could to Him as He hung there. They spit in His face, crowned Him with thorns, and finally offered Him vinegar to drink, yet He endured it all and said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). What wonderful love He had, even for His enemies who hated Him without a cause.
Oh day of man’s dishonor,
When for thy grace supreme,
He sought to mar Thine honor,
Thy glory turn to shame.
Religion Without Christ
After Joseph’s brothers had cast him into the pit, they sat down to eat bread. How little they cared for him although he had not done them any harm, but rather showed kindness to them. In this, too, they were like the Jews, who, after crucifying Christ their Messiah, could sit down to eat the passover. Little did they realize the emptiness of the form, without Christ the true Pass­over, and yet how many there are today who go on with ceremonies and even eat the Lord’s supper while re­jecting Him in their hearts. Surely they are bringing condemnation on them­selves by such an act. There is nothing more blinding than religion without Christ, and I want to warn you against the empty formal­ism of the present day. It is hateful to God, as He said to Israel of old, “I hate, I despise your feast days” (Amos 5:21). God wants truth in the inward parts, and nothing that a sinner can do has any value in the sight of God if he is rejecting Christ in his heart.
While Joseph’s brothers were eating bread, a company of Ishmaelites came along, and his brothers sold him to them for twenty pieces of silver. The Lord Jesus, many years later, was sold for thirty pieces of silver “that in all things He might have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:18). Poor Joseph was then carried down into Egypt, just as the Lord was sold and delivered into the hands of the Gentiles.
Further Meditation
1. What did Joseph’s brothers do after they cast him into the pit?
2. No one naturally delights in suffering. However, in a world of sin it is rather common. Where in the New Testament is a Christian guaranteed that they will experience persecution, a form of suffering?
3. The pamphlet Joy in Suffering by R. Elliott provides some real refreshment for those who are going through difficult times for the Lord.

Conscience and Confession

Genesis 37:29-38:30
Reuben did not have the courage to rebuke his brothers for their evil ways. He would rather do what he knew to be wrong than “make bad friends.” How often we find young people like this, and it is so sad, for to be a friend of the world is to be the enemy of God. When Reuben came to the pit, he found that Joseph was gone, and he rent his clothes with grief. In­stead of confessing his sin as he should have done, he joined with his brothers to make a plan whereby they could hide their wicked act. They did not realize that “he that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). Although they hid their sin from their poor old father, for the time being at least, they did not, and could not, hide it from God.
The Folly of Deceit and Disobedience
Their plan seemed to work out well enough, and they were able to deceive their father, but God has said, “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). And though they kept their secret for a long time, God brought it out eventually. How foolish to try to hide anything from God! And yet how many dear young people right now are trying to deceive their parents and other Chris­tians. You may laugh, and try to “pass it off” as they say, but perhaps as you read these lines, your conscience is troubling you and making you miser­able. Remember what the Lord said to Saul of Tarsus, who was fighting against the accusings of his conscience: “It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” And it is hard! How often it is just pride that keeps us from an open confession, and we remain miserable for months and even years just like Joseph’s brothers.
Then there is another lesson for us in this sad event. Many, many years before this took place, Jacob had de­ceived his own father, and here his sons did the very same thing to him. How keenly he felt it as he wept and mourned, refusing to be comforted. If you, dear young reader, are deceiving your parents, have it out with the Lord and with them right now, or you, too, will reap it, if the Lord leaves us here. Oh, the folly of trying to go on in dis­obedience to God and His Word! The law of the Medes and Persians might alter, but God’s Word never will. He has said, “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).
Every Knee Shall Bow
We spoke earlier of how Joseph’s coat of many colors spoke of the many glories of Christ, and here they took and dipped it in the blood of a kid of the goats. This reminds us of how the Jews put the Lord Jesus to death and trampled all His glory in the dust. How little Joseph’s brothers realized that they were going to have to bow before him as he had dreamed, and that Joseph was going to have a glorious place in spite of all their wicked schemes. So God has decreed that every knee shall bow to His Son (Philippians 2:10). If you bow now, dear reader, you will be saved, but if you refuse, you will bow at the great white throne judgment and be lost forever.
While Joseph was the rejected one, Judah fell into sin and shame, and so today the Jews, having rejected Christ, have a still darker history. The Jews, like Judah, not willing to own their own guilt, would try to place the blame on others. How wonderful in view of all this to see the grace of God, for the scarlet thread on the hand of Zara reminds us of redemption — the only foundation of blessing for either Jew or Gentile.
Further Meditation
1. What happened when Reuben went back to the pit where he and his brothers left Joseph?
2. Jacob had deceived his father and had not yet reached full repentance. But the Lord had faithfully worked in his life. How many times had Jacob been deceived by others? How does he react differently on this occasion compared to earlier ones?
3. If you are pondering the issues of discipline in Jacob’s life, or in your own, you might find help reading Discipline: Jacob by W. Kelly. You can find it at bibletruthlibrary.org by doing a Library Search for 65686.

God Behind the Scenes

Genesis 39
When the Ishmaelites arrived in Egypt with Joseph, they sold him to Potiphar, the captain of the guard, as a slave. In spite of the unpleasant situation in which he was found, the Lord was with him. No doubt Joseph wondered why all that sorrow had been allowed to come into his life, and yet the Lord did not tell him. We, too, might wonder why we have certain sorrows in our lives, and may ask the reason for them, but we shall understand someday. Although Joseph did not know in this world, how wonderful that he will discover up there that in all that happened to him, he was a type of the Lord Jesus in His death and exaltation.
A Watchful Enemy
Even Potiphar saw that the Lord was with Joseph, and he put everything into his hand. How he was trusted! But just when things seemed to be going well again, Satan was laying a snare for his feet. We have a very watchful enemy who is more than a match for any of us, and who is trying to trip us up at every turn. Joseph’s heart was steadfast, however, for he was walking in the fear of God. When he was tempted to sin, his answer was, “How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” If we always looked at things in the light of God’s presence, we would act quite differently sometimes.
If the one who reads these lines is unsaved, let us warn you that sin must meet an awful judgment from the hand of God. We who are saved know that our sins were judged at the cross, for the Lord Jesus bore all the punishment which we deserved, but those who re­ject Christ will have to bear the full wrath of God against sin forever in the lake of fire — how solemn! Dear reader, come to Christ now, before the door of grace closes.
Suffering for Uprightness
Poor Joseph had to suffer for his up­rightness. Potiphar’s wife falsely ac­cused him, and he was cast into prison. Everything seemed to go wrong for him, but we cannot fail to notice how his faith in God was unshaken by all he passed through. Sometimes we have to suffer for righteousness sake, but if so, the comfort is, “happy are ye” (1 Peter 3:14), and so there was much blessing in store for Joseph, although for the time being he had to suffer. Only a true be­liever can walk in the path of faith, for our hearts are sustained in it by “look­ing unto Jesus.”
The fortieth chapter is very interest­ing indeed and shows us an important thing: God works behind the scenes. No matter where we are, God sees us and accomplishes His own plans and purposes for the blessing of His own. God had His eye upon Joseph behind those prison walls, and He allowed two men to be cast into prison with him. The anger of Pharaoh was thus used of God, as His Word tells us, “Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee: the re­mainder of wrath shalt Thou restrain” (Psalms 76:10). If someone gets angry at you, dear young reader, just take it from the Lord. He has allowed it for your good and blessing, just as Pharaoh’s anger was used to cause him to hear about Joseph. He will under­take your case if you leave it with Him, for “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
Further Meditation
1. What did the Ishmaelites do with Joseph when they arrived in Egypt?
2. Having someone angry with you can be distressing. Sometimes we have done wrong things that lead to the anger. However Joseph was truly innocent, and yet his situation seemed to be getting worse. In fact it was 22 years between when his brothers threw him into the pit until they were restored to him. Can you find the verses that show that long wait? What discouragements did he have to suffer before the restoration?
3. Joseph truly lived for Christ in spite of all the trouble he experienced. As a result, we can learn a lot about the Lord Jesus from Joseph’s example. Joseph: A Fruitful Bough by C. Knapp gives an easy to read and reasonable short overview of Joseph as a figure of Christ in many of the incidents in his life.

Favor Through the Blood

Genesis 40:1-19
Pharaoh had put his chief butler and his chief baker into the prison where Joseph was, and the captain of the guard put them under his charge. One night they each had a dream. In the morning Joseph saw that they were sad, and he asked them why it was. We might say that all our dreams are not messages from the Lord, but sometimes He speaks in that way (Job 33:14-17), and we should be willing to listen to His voice, if what we dream is according to His Word. His Word is always the sure test for every­thing. The chief butler dreamed that there was a vine with three branches which budded, blossomed, and brought forth ripe grapes. He then took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup and gave him to drink. Joseph told him the meaning of his dream, but said that the interpretation was from God and not by his own wisdom. He told him that in three days he would be taken out of the prison, and brought into favor in Pharaoh’s court again.
Remembering the Lord
This interpretation made the butler very happy, and it would remind us of a sinner who sees the blessing that is brought to him through Christ, the true vine (John 15:1). The grapes pressed into Pharaoh’s cup would tell us of all the Lord Jesus endured for us at Calvary when He bore the crushing load of our sins, shedding His precious blood to put them away forever. When the butler put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand, he was accepted, and so when a sinner approaches God through the shed blood of Christ, he is sure to be accepted. There is no other way.
Joseph then asked the butler not to forget him. He said, “Think on me when it shall be well with thee,” but we read in the last verse of our chapter, “Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him.” It is sad when we forget the kindness of others, but much worse when we forget God’s kind­ness to us. Perhaps the one who reads these lines is a true believer, and knows that the blood of Christ has put away his sins and brought him into blessing. Now that it is well with you, do you not hear the Lord Jesus saying to you, “Remember Me”? Are you going to be like the butler and forget Him, or are you remembering Him in His death, till He comes? We can talk about being thankful to the Lord for all He has done for us, but our lives show how much we really appreciate His love. What does your life and mine show, dear reader? Are we living for His glory day by day?
Brought Into Favor
The chief baker then told his dream to Joseph also, thinking there would be a good interpretation to his as there had been to the chief butler’s. How different it was! He dreamed that he had three white baskets on his head, and in the top one there were all kinds of bake-meats for Pharaoh. Then the birds came along and ate them up. Joseph told him that within three days he would be brought out of the prison, but instead of being restored into Pharaoh’s favor, he would be hung upon a tree, and the birds would eat his flesh. Perhaps the baker thought he was just as good as the butler, but they were both guilty in the eyes of Pharaoh, and it was not a question of one being better than the other but of what they presented to him in order to be brought into his favor again. We shall notice a little more about this in the next chapter.
Further Meditation
1. How did Joseph interpret the chief butler’s dream?
2. What right do we have for God to look on us favorably? Does our answer change after we come to know the Lord Jesus as our Saviour? Can we increase God’s love and favor toward us by living a better Christian life? What verses can you give to show your answer comes from Scripture?
3. If you really want to take a deep dive into the basis for your being accepted into God’s favor, then you might consider reading Justification and Acceptance With God by A. C. Ord. You won’t find it very light reading, but you will find it contains a very solid foundation for the Biblical teaching about our standing before God.

Accepting or Rejecting Christ

Genesis 40:19-41:1
The bakemeats which the baker had prepared for Pharaoh, in his dream, would remind us of the good works which a sinner might try to do for God. It was no doubt a good deal of hard work to prepare this tasty food, and it looked lovely in the nice white basket, but it did not bring him into favor with Pharaoh. The good works of a sinner may look very fine in the eyes of others too, but God says, “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). The very best that you can do, if you are unsaved, is just like filthy rags in the presence of God. It is like Adam’s fig-leaf apron — utterly useless to make you prepared to stand before Him. But why was the butler accepted while the baker was rejected? The answer is very simple. He did not bring anything of his own work. He simply put into Pharaoh’s hand that which spoke of the shed blood of Christ — that was all. Nothing else would do, and nothing else will do for you, and let us assure you now that if you reject God’s way of salvation, there are death and judgment before you, just as there was death before the baker in spite of all his fine baking for Pharaoh. Perhaps you are saying, “Well, I’ll take my chance,” but there is no chance about it. If you reject Christ, there is certain judgment before you; if you accept Him, you will be saved forever. Joseph’s word came true, and so will every Word of the Bible, for it abides forever.
Saved by Grace
Before we pass on let us make it very clear that it is not anything which we can do that saves our souls. There are so many today who depend on good works, character building, going to church, prayers, penance, and the like, but one passage of God’s Word settles the matter once and for all, “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Just take your place as a sinner before God, and let the words of the little hymn be the true expression of your heart NOW.
Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee,
Oh! Lamb of God, I come.
The Lord Jesus to Reign
Two full years rolled by and Joseph was still in prison. The butler had for­gotten all about him, but the Lord still had His eye on His devoted servant. His dreams were soon to be fulfilled, and he was to be lord of Egypt in spite of all the hatred of his brethren, and the wrong treatment of the Egyptians. So, too, it is almost two thousand years since the Lord Jesus was rejected by this world, both the Jews and Gentiles sharing in the guilt, but God is soon going to manifest Him as Lord of all. God has not forgotten what this world did to His Son, and He will see to it that He is honored when His time comes. That time is getting very near, and the world is becoming rapidly worse. Men are trying to forget about the One whom they crucified, and they are “treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Romans 2:5).
Before God’s judgments fall, the Lord Jesus will come and take His own to glory (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18), and then, after seven years of terrible tribulation, the cry will be made, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).
Further Meditation
1. What do the bakemeats prepared by the chief baker for Pharaoh represent to us?
2. Grace is a wonderfully simple plan of God that is terribly hard to grasp for the natural heart. What does Ephesians 2:7-9 tell us is true of grace?
3. Many people read gospel papers quickly with little thought for anything other than the story they are reading. However you might find real refreshment for your soul by reading a volume such as Echoes of Grace: “Under the Blood”. It’s a collection of gospel stories that presents the way of salvation, but it includes many that present grace. Read it with soul hunger, and you’ll find lots of soul food.

The Word of God

Genesis 41:2-32
Pharaoh dreamed that he saw seven well-fed cows feeding in a meadow. Then soon after, he saw seven other thin ones come up out of the river, and they ate up the fat ones. Then he had another dream in which he saw seven good full ears of corn, followed by seven thin ears which sprang up and devoured the full ones. He was greatly troubled by the dreams, and he asked the wise men of Egypt to interpret them for him. These wise men were, no doubt, very useful to him in explaining other things, but they could not understand the ways of God. It is always so, for the Bible says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). If a man does not have the fear of God in his heart — if he is not truly born again — we can­not expect him to understand the Bible or the things of God. “The natural man (or the unsaved boy or girl) receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
Remember this at school. You may have many clever teachers and student friends, but do not expect them to explain or understand the Bible if they are not saved. If they tell you that some of the things in the Bible are foolish and untrue, do not be surprised. Their very ignorance about divine things is only a fresh proof of the truth of God’s Word which tells us that they cannot understand it until they are saved. Never allow anyone to disturb your confidence in the Bible. If the teacher tells you something con­trary to it, do not believe him. True science will always prove the Bible to be true, but many of the things taught in schools today are only theories — or suppositions. You may not always understand the Bible but always be­lieve it. It is God’s Word, and God cannot lie.
Honor Belongs to God
When the wise men were unable to explain Pharaoh’s dream, then the butler remembered his mistake. He had forgotten Joseph. A Christian may drift away from the Lord, but, like the butler, he is reminded of his fault sooner or later, and brought back. The butler re­membered how Joseph’s word had come true. Yes, what Joseph said was by the Word of the Lord, and so it must come true.
Then Pharaoh called for Joseph to tell him the meaning of his dream. Joseph, however, would not take any honor to himself, but said, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” Honor belongs to God, and we should always, like Joseph, make sure that He is given all the glory. Sometimes the world would like to honor us, but we have to watch against anything that exalts man instead of God.
Joseph then began to tell Pharaoh the meaning of what he had dreamed. There were to be seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine.
Let us just give a little practical word here. Some of our young readers have good jobs, and plenty of money, but remember it will not always be that way. If the Lord does not come, there will be a time of shortage, and we should not be wasteful with what we have. If we use it for the Lord, He will repay us well, but if we are wasteful and extravagant with food, clothes, and other things, there will be a time of need when we shall wish we had been more careful.
Further Meditation
1. Who told Pharaoh to call Joseph to interpret his dream?
2. Today there are many sports, business and entertainment figures who brag continually about themselves. Joseph was able to do something far more unique than an artful dunk or a beautiful smile. Compare what he had to say with some of the popular modern leaders.
3. If you are finding refreshment for your soul in studying the life of Joseph, you would really enjoy listening to the CD Audio Album Joseph: Revealer of Secrets, Saviour of the World by H. Smith.

Food for the Hungry Soul

Genesis 41:33-57
Joseph told Pharaoh that the extra corn which could not be eaten during the years of plenty should be laid up in storehouses, ready to use during the years of famine which were to follow. God was work­ing in His own way to bring Joseph’s brothers to confess their guilt and fulfill Joseph’s dreams, as well as to provide the needed food to keep people from starvation.
Pharaoh saw at once that this plan was an excellent one, and he honored Joseph greatly, making him ruler over all Egypt. Joseph was driven through the streets of the city in a chariot, and everyone was forced to “bow the knee” to him. How wonderfully God rewarded him for all he had endured, for we may be sure He never fails to honor those who honor Him (1 Samuel 2:30). This exalted place given to Joseph was a shadow of the place which the Lord Jesus will have in a soon-coming day. He was obedient unto death, and God will give Him the very highest place of honor, and all will be forced to bow the knee to Him owning Him as Lord (Philippians 2:8-11). Those who own Him as their Lord now are saved. Have you con­fessed Him as your Lord and Saviour, dear reader?
The Body of Christ
Pharaoh called Joseph Zaphnath­paaneah, which means a revealer of secrets, and then he gave him a Gentile woman to be his wife. This reminds us of God’s great secret, hidden down through the ages, which has now been revealed. It was hidden in God (Ephesians 3:9) until Christ, like Joseph, was re­jected by His brethren (the Jews). Then the secret came out, and we find it in Ephesians 3:3-6. The Gentiles are now being brought in as part of the one body, and Christ is going to have a bride. Most of our young readers are Gentiles, but perhaps some are Jews, and we might say that although God is particularly working among the Gentiles, still the message is to “whosoever will.” When anyone believes the gospel, he ceases to be either a Jew or a Gentile in the eyes of God, and becomes part of the church of God which is composed of all true believers. When the last one is saved, the body of Christ (the church) will be completed, and the Lord will come and take His own to heaven. The church is the bride of Christ, and the marriage will take place in heaven (Revelation 19:7) between the time He comes for His own (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) and the time (at least seven years later) when He comes back with them to set up His kingdom on earth (Jude 14).
The Bread of Life
At last the time of famine came. “Where can we get bread to eat?” was the question everywhere. They went to Pharaoh, but he said, “Go to Joseph.” Surely everyone who is unsaved is in need of Christ, the bread of life, and we would send out a similar message, “Go to Jesus.” He will meet all your need, just as Joseph was able to meet the need of those starving ones. There was plenty for all who came to him from every land, but they had to pay for their corn, whereas the gospel is free. You can “Buy... without money and without price” (Isaiah 55:1). Come now, and find food for your hungry soul. The Lord Jesus is waiting to bless and save you today.
Further Meditation
1. How did Pharaoh honor Joseph for interpreting his dream and coming up with a plan to prepare for the famine to come?
2. What other well-known Jews in the Old Testament had Gentile wives?
3. You might enjoy a wonderful and simple presentation of the church as the bride of Christ in the pamphlet The Church: The Bride of Christ by H. E. Hayhoe.

Rejection and Repentance

Genesis 42:1-24
Far away in the land of Canaan there was a starving family, and the message reached them that there was corn in Egypt. Jacob their father then sent his sons down to buy some food, and after a long, tiresome journey they arrived in the land. They went to Joseph, who was then the governor, and bowed down to him with their faces to the earth. They did not, however, know that it was Joseph their brother, for he did not make himself known to them. He talked to them in the Egyptian language and began at once to question them as to where they came from, and about their father, their brother, and other things. We know that in a similar way, when the Lord Jesus returns to Jerusalem to put down His enemies, the Jews will not know Him, and they will ask, “What are these wounds in thine hands?” (Zechariah 13:6). He will then reveal Himself to them, as Joseph did to his brothers a little later, and they will mourn in repentance because of their great sin in rejecting and crucifying Him.
Tribulation Before Confession
Joseph was trying on this occasion to bring his brothers to repentance, and he spoke roughly to them, and so we know that the Jews will have to pass through a terrible time of tribulation before they finally confess their sin. The Lord will indeed have to “deal roughly” with them during those seven years of Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30:7).
Joseph accused them of being spies, and said they had come to see the barrenness of the land. They replied saying that they were true men. We know, however, that they were not true men, for they had lied to their father when they sold Joseph. He then put them all in prison for three days. After that he said that he would keep one of them, their brother Simeon, and let the rest go back home to their father with the necessary corn which they had come to buy. The next time they came they were to bring their younger brother Benjamin, and in this way Joseph said he would prove the truth of their story. Since Joseph was speaking to them through an interpreter, they did not know he could understand what they were saying as they talked among themselves about their guilt in having sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites long ago. It is always well to remember that God hears everything we say and knows all about us. Think of the many years during which Joseph’s brothers had carried a bad conscience and how un­happy it made them. A bad conscience is a miserable companion, isn’t it?
Repentance and Blessing
In spite of all their sin, Joseph loved his brothers and wept secretly for them. How this reminds us of the Lord Jesus weeping over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41). He longed to bless those sinful people, but they would not have Him. If you are unsaved, dear reader, God is grieved over your rejection of Christ and waits to save you. Just as Joseph bound Simeon and kept him in prison to make sure that his brothers would all return, so the Lord often brings sor­row into people’s lives in order to make them turn to Him in true repent­ance. When Simeon’s brothers did come back, how wonderfully Joseph blessed them, and when a sinner turns to the Lord in repentance, He blesses him abundantly too, both for time and eternity. “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Further Meditation
1. Did Joseph’s brothers recognize him when they came down to Egypt?
2. The Lord doesn’t willingly make the lives of His people difficult. However He does allow pain when He needs to in order to help us grow. How did Job respond to the difficulties in his life at first? How did his response change over the course of the book of Job?
3. You might find extra help on this portion by reading the pamphlet Joseph and His Brethren: How He Won and Why He Wounded Them by F. T. Heath.

His Perfect Wisdom

Genesis 42:25-33 and 43:1-9
Joseph was rich. He did not need the money which his brothers had brought to buy food. He told his servants to fill their sacks with corn and he also provided all the food they needed for their journey. Then they started out for Canaan.
At night they stopped at the inn, and when they opened their sacks, what do you think they found in them? Every one of them found that his money had been put in the top of his sack. They could not understand it. Why should their money be given back to them? It was just because Joseph loved them, even though they did not know him, nor the kindness of his heart. If you are unsaved, dear young reader, you do not know the heart of God. If you knew His great love, you could not go on one day longer without Him. The love of God is far greater than Joseph’s love for his brothers, but like them, you do not realize how He longs to bless you. God’s love has been proven in the gift of His beloved Son who died for sinners. He now offers eternal life as a free gift to “whosoever will.”
Walking in Faith
Upon their arrival in Canaan, they told their father about all that had hap­pened. Poor Jacob was greatly troubled when he heard that the lord of Egypt (Joseph) had kept Simeon, and worse still that he had said they must bring Benjamin down before they could get any more corn. Jacob did not know the blessing which was in store for him and his family but only thought of how hard it would be to part with his much-loved son Benjamin. Do you feel some burden like this pressing on you, dear Christian? Perhaps a dark cloud has come into your life, and you are won­dering why the Lord has allowed it just as Jacob did. If Jacob had only known the future, he would not have worried at all, but God did not tell him. He wanted his servant to walk by faith, not sight. Faith believes that God knows the future perfectly, and here in His perfect wisdom He was working things out for the best in Jacob’s life. How good to trust Him! He knows your future and mine too. Let us learn then to trust Him even when the way seems dark and uncer­tain, and say like one of old, “My Father, Thou art the Guide of my youth.”
My Times Are in Thy Hand
A good many months rolled by, and again Joseph’s father and brothers felt the need of corn from Egypt. Poor old Jacob had put off the decision to send Benjamin there for a long time, but it had to come, for when God begins to work, He will not give in. He continues the trial until the lesson is learned. Joseph had definitely told his brothers that he would not see them again un­less they brought Benjamin with them. Jacob began to look at “second causes,” forgetting that the first cause of all that had happened was that the Lord had allowed it. He asked his sons why they had told the lord of Egypt that they had another brother. How often we, too, ask the “why” and “wherefore” of things, only to learn that God does them His own way, and He brings us to the point where we have to say like David, “My times are in Thy hand” (Psalm 31:15).
Our times are in Thy hand,
Father we wish them there;
Our life, our soul, our all, we leave
Entirely to Thy care.
Our times are in Thy hand,
Why should we doubt or fear?
A Father’s hand will never cause
His child a needless tear.
Further Meditation
1. What did Joseph’s brothers find when they stopped at the inn?
2. There are a lot of things in our lives that don’t make sense to us. Learning to trust the Lord in those circumstances takes a lifetime for many of us. What did the Apostle Paul say about learning to be content?
3. Sometimes our hearts are crying out to the Lord asking Him to end the suffering. You might find the pamphlet How Long, O Lord? Until ... by R. Elliott quite comforting if you are going through one of those difficult times.

Blessing to Ruined Sinners

Genesis 43:8-24
Judah told his father that he would take the responsibility of bringing Benjamin down to Egypt, and he became surety for him. If anything happened to Benjamin, he said he would bear the blame. Doesn’t this remind us of the Lord Jesus who became the Surety for us? We had a great debt of sins, and the wages of sin is death, so the Lord Jesus paid the great debt with His own precious blood in order to deliver us from the judgment which we deserved. What a wonderful Saviour He is!
Acceptable to God
At last Jacob gave in and agreed that he would send Benjamin. He told his sons to go and bring a present of a little balm, a little honey, spices and myrrh, nuts and almonds to the lord of Egypt. This present would, Jacob hoped, make him favorable toward them. What are you bring­ing to God to find favor in His sight? Are you trying a little balm or honey? Are you trying to make a “balm” for your conscience by offering some of your own works to God, or do you think that the “honey” of your kindness to others, and love to your fellow man will turn away His righteous wrath against your sins? There is nothing in your own resources which will make you acceptable to God. Just as Joseph’s brothers were the objects of Joseph’s love, not because of anything they had done, but because of the goodness of his own heart toward them, so we who are saved are the objects of the sover­eign love and grace of God which we never deserved at all. The work of Christ on the cross is the only ground of blessing to ruined sinners.
It is as useless to bring your prayers, churchgoing, penance, and good living to God as it was for these men to bring their offering of balm, honey, spice and nuts. Nor will it do you any good to bring your “double money” to Him, for you cannot buy your way into heav­en. The price has already been paid, neither with silver nor gold, but with the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19).
Awakened Sinners in the Presence of God
In spite of all Jacob’s fears, there was, under it all, a real living faith which God’s eye could see. It is always comforting to know that although we may be mistaken at times as to who is really saved and who is not, yet, “The Lord knoweth them that are His” (2 Timothy 2:19). He never makes any mis­takes.
What a great surprise awaited them when they arrived in Egypt. Joseph commanded his servant to prepare a dinner for them so that they could all eat together with him. This made his brothers afraid. No doubt they felt much like an awakened sinner in the presence of God, who does not know His love toward him. They said that Joseph was seeking an occasion against them and would make them slaves, but they were soon to learn differently. How many people think that God wants to rob them of their liberty, and that if they get saved, they will have to give up everything, and not have any pleas­ure at all in life. This is only Satan’s lie, for while God must make the sinner feel his sins, it is only that he may be set free in Christ.
Joseph’s brothers then offered the money which they had found in their sacks to the steward of the house. It reminds us of those who find out that they have sinned and would like to pay for their sins in some way of their own. There are few who realize that the greatest of all sins is the rejection of Christ, just as Joseph’s brothers’ greatest sin was the selling of Joseph to the Ishmaelites long before.
Further Meditation
1. What did Jacob tell his sons to bring to the lord of Egypt in order for him to be favorable to them?
2. How does the Lord help us to understand that His love for us has nothing to do with our worthiness and everything to do with Himself? What has He done to show you love in spite of what you have done?
3. You might enjoy something of God’s divine love for individuals by reading the pamphlet The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved by H. Smith.

Repentance Through Kindness

Genesis 43:25-44:3
Perhaps you are wondering how Joseph’s brothers were going to be brought to repentance. It was through Joseph’s kindness. They were his enemies, who once hated him, but he returned good for their evil and provided water for them to wash their tired feet, food for their animals, as well as a good dinner for them in his own house. Surely this reminds us of what God has provided for His enemies, even salvation full and free. If you are unsaved, dear reader, may the good­ness of God lead you to repentance (Romans 2:4), just as Joseph’s kindness led his brothers to confess their sin.
Receiving His Blessings
While dinner was being prepared, Joseph’s brothers were getting ready to give their present to him, a little balm, a little honey, and other things. Joseph did not even mention what they gave him, but instead he asked after their welfare. God does not need any­thing from the sinner. He says, “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). That is like the sinner’s “little present” to God, and it is utterly useless to Him; in fact, it is hateful to Him. But He is interested in your wel­fare, dear sinner, and like Joseph, He has prepared everything for you and asks you to sit down and thank Him for it. There was, however, one great barrier to the full enjoyment of the feast. They had made obeisance, they had given their present, but they had not confessed their sin, and though Joseph’s heart yearned and wept over them, he could not make himself known until they fully owned their guilt.
When they had eaten the wonderful dinner which Joseph provided, the steward filled their sacks with as much corn as they could carry, and then put their money in the top of them. In Benjamin’s sack he also put Joseph’s silver cup. What beautiful lessons we can learn from all this. God delights to give us all we can carry! His supply is unlimited, but our capacity is limited — so very small at times, and we do not have room to receive all His blessings (Malachi 3:10). Then what a sweet thought in the cup — Joseph’s silver cup. Silver speaks of redemption, and so on the ground of redemption, even the youngest of God’s children has his place at the Lord’s table, partaking of the cup of blessing.
The Goodness of God
But they did not know all that was in their sacks, nor about the cup being there. They were not in a state to enter into the blessing which was in Joseph’s heart for them, and that is why we are told about the strange way in which they were brought back. There is an­other thing we might mention here — purpose is always before responsibility in the Bible. God tells of His plans for blessing us before there is any mention of how we should act in the place where His grace put us. Some of our young readers might wonder why this is. It is because if we got what we deserved, it would be eternal judgment, but because of God’s purpose and the work of His Son which has enabled Him to carry out His purposes, we get the blessing from His hand instead of judgment. Oh that we realized more of the goodness of the heart of God! If we did, we would feel more of the constraint of His love.
Further Meditation
1. How were Joseph’s brothers brought to repentance?
2. Having a sense of the Lord’s love to us has a tremendous impact on our lives. How did Naomi’s sense of the Lord’s love change throughout the book of Ruth? How did the Lord create that change?
3. You will no doubt enjoy the short booklet God’s Unchanging Love by F. C. Blount.

The Lord’s Love Revealed

Genesis 44:4-45:23
Joseph sent a messenger after his brothers, and he overtook them on the way. The good things he had given them were in their sacks, but they had not found them: nor could they, until there was a full confession of their guilt and sin, but Joseph’s goodness was gradually lead­ing them to repentance. When they came into Joseph’s presence, they said, “What shall we say unto my lord? what shall we speak? or how shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants.” Then they went over the whole story from start to finish, telling all that had happened, though omitting their own sin in selling Joseph. However, this was going to come out too. Joseph could not refrain himself any longer and told everyone to go out of the room except his brothers.
Joseph Revealed
What a wonderful scene followed. Joseph wept and said, “I am Joseph.” His brothers were troubled at his pres­ence and could not answer. They stood at a distance from him, and so he said, “Come near to me, I pray you” — and they came near. It reminds us of Peter, who, feeling his guilt, was afraid of the Lord’s presence, but the Lord said, “Fear not” (Luke 5:10). How good to hear the Lord saying to sinners even today, “Come unto Me” and also calling His own around Himself to remember Him in His death.
Joseph then went on to tell how God had been behind all that had hap­pened and had sent him down into Egypt. He told them not to be grieved with themselves, but that God was going to preserve their lives by a great deliverance. He assured their hearts of this by saying, “It was not you that sent me hither, but God.” Many of the things they had not been able to understand in the past were made plain in a moment. How true this will be when we see our blessed Saviour. How true it will also be when the Lord makes Himself known to Israel in a coming day. All the hard questions and prob­lems will be explained as when Solo­mon answered the Queen of Sheba all her questions. Joseph opened his heart telling his brothers about his plans to nourish and care for them in Egypt and then fell on their necks and kissed them. After this his brothers talked freely to him, and so it is with us. After we learn how much the Lord loves us, and all He has done for us, and of His plans for our blessing, then we can hold sweet communion with Him. We can talk with Him in prayer, and He delights to have our confidence.
Brought Into Blessing
When Pharaoh heard of all that had happened, he called Joseph, telling him to bring his brethren into Egypt where they could enjoy the best of the land. The whole incident is a type of the time when a remnant of Israel will admit their guilt in crucifying their Mes­siah, and be brought into blessing when Christ (of whom Joseph is a type) reigns in power over the earth. All the kings of the world will have to bring their glory and honor to Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:16), and God will see that His people Israel are given the best things of the earth. So here, they were given wagons, raiment, and all the good things of Egypt, as well as the finest part of the land when they came there to live.
Further Meditation
1. How did Joseph’s brothers react when Joseph told them who he was?
2. Repentance and restoration are also major themes in Psalm 51. How did the Lord answer the cry of David’s heart when David realized that he had sinned?
3. Joseph Revealing Himself to His Brethren by A. M. Barry is a lovely, short booklet giving more on this beautiful theme of restoration.

Assurance and Guidance

Genesis 45:24-46:27
Once again Joseph’s brothers started for home, but this time they had happier hearts than ever before. Their sin had been con­fessed, and they knew that Joseph was alive, but above all they knew Joseph’s heart. We can imagine the surprise of poor Jacob when he heard the wonderful tidings, and saw all the provision for the journey. How often we, like Jacob, are inclined to faint under the difficulties of the way, but as we learn our own weakness, we learn that the Lord never changes. Jacob, or rather Israel (his new name), exclaimed, “It is enough!” It is a grand thing to meditate upon all the Lord has done for us, and then we, like Jacob, can rest satisfied in His abundant provision for our journey to glory.
Remembering God’s Promises
Then Jacob went to Beersheba (the well of the oath), and there he remembered God’s wonderful promises in con­nection with the land of Canaan. There the Lord appeared to Jacob, calling him by name, and giving him the assurance that He would go down into Egypt with him. This settled everything. If the Lord was going to be with him, he need not worry, for the sense of His presence always gives rest and peace.
Dear young reader, perhaps you are being called upon to make some im­portant decision, and you wonder what you should do. Why not do as Jacob did? The first thing he did was to go to the place where the Lord had made His promises to Abraham long before. We, too, need to get to the place where we realize all the Lord has done for us and own His claims over us. Then, like Jacob, we can worship there. Next, we should await the word from the Lord telling us what to do and promis­ing that He will be with us in it. Some­times we would like to have guidance, but we are not in the place, or state of soul, where we can get it. There is a good word for us in Psalm 36:9, “In Thy light shall we see light.” Too often we are like the Jews of old who asked Jeremiah to enquire of the Lord for them, but when he told them what the Lord had said, they refused to hearken (Jeremiah 42-43). God will not guide us unless our wills are broken in His presence, and we are ready to say, “Teach me to do Thy will” (Psalm 143:10).
Bringing All to the Lord
On the previous occasion when Joseph’s brothers had come into Egypt, they had brought a little balm, a little honey, and other things for Joseph. At that time they had not known Joseph or his heart toward them, but now in the fullest confidence they brought all they had to him. Oh dear young believer, do not be afraid to bring all to the Lord, for you will never regret it. The little hymn expresses it so beautifully:
Were the whole realm of nature ours,
That were an offering far too small;
Love that transcends our highest powers,
Demands our soul, our life, our all.
They brought their little ones too, and it is a fine thing when a family sets out all together to seek the Lord, as these men were seeking the face of Joseph. Joseph prepared his chariot, and went out to meet Jacob his father, and it surely was a happy meeting after those many years. It reminds one of the time when the Lord will appear and make Himself known to His people Israel in a coming day.
Further Meditation
1. Why did Joseph’s brothers have happy hearts as they returned home?
2. Being filled with the promises of God is a wonderful way to fill our minds and hearts. What does the Apostle Paul say about the subject in Philippians 4?
3. In the pamphlet Making Room for God’s Blessings in Your Life: The Right Way and the Wrong Way by B. Anstey, you’ll find some wonderful instruction for joining with Joseph’s brothers’ happy hearts.

A Future Time of Blessing

Genesis 46:28-47:31
Judah went on ahead of the rest of his brothers and was the first to meet Joseph. The rest came later. This would remind us of how the Jews (the two tribes) will be brought back to their land and be the first to meet the Lord when He appears in glory. Then the other ten tribes will be gathered back also, and the whole twelve tribes will be made one in the land. What a time of blessing that will be for Israel, just as it was for all Joseph’s brethren as they were nour­ished in the best of the land.
Five of Joseph’s brothers were brought to Pharaoh and he asked them about their occupation. They replied that they were shepherds, so he gave them the land of Goshen for their dwell­ing place, where they could be near Joseph. Then Jacob came in and blessed Pharaoh. Poor failing Jacob was used to bless so great a king, and we know that the Jews who are so despised today will someday be used of God in blessing to all nations. All will have to come to Jerusalem each year to worship there (Zechariah 14:16) and acknowledge that “God ruleth in Jacob unto the ends of the earth” (Psalm 59:13).
Dependence on the Lord
While Jacob and his sons had plenty, because they were depending on Joseph, the Egyptians had to come and buy their corn with money. Before long all their money was gone and yet they were still hungry. They, too, were de­pendent on Joseph, but they did not realize it as long as they had money of their own. As long as a sinner’s money lasts, he can get along fairly well, but when his money is gone, then all his pleasure is gone too. Joseph then told them to bring their cattle, and this kept them from starvation for an­other year. But what about the next year? They had to sell their land to provide the needed food for themselves and their families. This would remind us of how the Lord often has to bring the sinner to the end of his own re­sources, like the men of Egypt, and then He gives His free gift of eternal life. After the Egyptians had sold everything they had, they were willing to accept the corn which Joseph gave them freely to sow their land. They were to give a fifth of their harvest to the king and acknowledge that the land was his. They said to Joseph, “Thou hast saved our lives,” and they were willing to give what he asked from them. The Lord has done far more than this for us, and He wants our all. Are we willing to give it?
Reigning in Power
Joseph bought up all the land in Egypt, and this is a beautiful picture of how the Lord Jesus, in a coming day, will receive all the kingdoms of the world and reign in power over them. But Joseph had bought them for Phar­aoh, and so after the Lord Jesus has reigned for one thousand years, He will then turn the kingdom over to the Father, that God may be all in all (Revelation 11:15; 1 Corinthians 15:24).
Jacob was 147 old, and he knew that he was near the end of his earthly life. He called Joseph to him and made him promise not to bury him in Egypt. Jacob believed God’s promise that his descendants were to possess the land of Canaan, and he knew that even though his whole family had come down into Egypt, God would bring them back to the promised land in His own time.
Further Meditation
1. What did Pharaoh give to Joseph’s brothers?
2. The Lord Jesus’ reign of power is something that all Christians are looking forward to. A small number of the details are given in Revelation 20. What do they tell us about that time to come?
3. You would no doubt enjoy the short and enlightening book The Coming and Reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ by E. H. Chater.

God’s Purposes in Grace

Genesis 48:1-49:23
When Jacob was about to die, Joseph brought his two sons to him to receive a blessing. Jacob spoke so beautifully of how the Lord had led him all the years of his life, caring for him and feeding him and recalled once again His wonderful promises of blessing. It is grand to see a bright sunset — a happy ending to a believer’s life, even though they have had a rough passage. Surely Jacob had had a stormy journey through life, but the end was bright.
Jacob’s eyes were dim, but he was in communion with the thoughts of God about what he was about to do. When Joseph put Manasseh, the oldest of his sons, at Jacob’s right hand, and Eph­raim, the younger, at his left, Jacob crossed his arms so that his right hand was on Ephraim’s head. The right hand in Scripture is looked at as the hand of power, and Ephraim was the one appointed of God to get the blessing even though he was the younger. God’s blessings are by sovereign grace and not because we deserve them, and His thoughts are not ours. Joseph was dis­pleased, and how often we, too, fail to understand God’s ways of grace, be­cause we bring in something of self.
Special Blessing for Judah
In the forty-ninth chapter, we read of the blessing of Jacob’s twelve sons. We could write a good deal about this, but since we are writing mostly for young folks, we will just draw attention to a few simple points. There was a special blessing for Judah. Now we know that the Lord Jesus was born of that tribe, and here, hundreds of years before His birth, all these things were foretold of Him. “Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise.” Isn’t that wonderful? Who is worthy of praise? Surely this refers to the Lord Jesus — the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5), and Jacob said that all were to bow before Him. Then we also read, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto Him shall the gathering of the people be.” Judah was marked out as the royal tribe long before there was a king in Israel at all. Shiloh tells us of Christ, the one around whom the people will gather when He sets up His kingdom in a later day. His name of Jesus means Jehovah the Saviour, and He is the One who bore all the judgment of God against sin to bring about the promised blessings. In a coming day his clothes will be “washed in the blood of grapes,” when He treads the winepress of judgment (Revelation 14:18-­20). Will you meet Him now as your Saviour or later as your Judge?
One Rejected of His Brethren
The blessing of Joseph brings the Lord Jesus before us as the One who was rejected of His brethren the Jews, and just as God overruled and turned the wicked plans of Joseph’s brothers into blessing, so He turned the awful act of crucifying Christ into blessing, not only for Israel, but for all the earth. The Jews were enclosed, separated from the Gentile nations by a wall, but now through Christ the “branches (of blessing) run over the wall” to us poor sinners of the Gentiles.
Christ was hated and cast out, but the “arms of His hands were made strong,” and now He is mighty to save. What a wonderful Saviour He is! Is He your Saviour? He is both able and willing to save you now.
Further Meditation
1. On whose head did Jacob put his right hand?
2. The prophecies about the Lord, such as the lawgiver from Judah, are thrilling to any Christian. What prophecies about Christ from the Psalms can you name that have already been fulfilled?
3. You’d no doubt benefit from pondering the fifty fulfilled prophecies found in Old Testament Prophecies Fulfilled by Jesus the Messiah.

Unchanging and Everlasting Love

Genesis 49:24-50:19
Those wonderful words, spoken to Joseph, refer to the Lord Jesus, “From thence is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel.” He is both the Good Shepherd (John 10:11) and the Corner Stone of God’s building (Ephesians 2:20). If you are unsaved, dear reader, you are like a lost sheep in the wilderness, and the Good Shepherd is seeking you. Do not run away from Him any longer, but let Him save you and put you on His mighty shoulders now. He will carry you all the way home, and you will be able to say like David of old, “The Lord is my Shepherd” (Psalm 23:1). Then, too, you need a solid foundation on which to build, and the Lord Jesus is the Living Stone (1 Peter 2:4). Do not build on anything of your own doings, for if you do, it will all tumble in the storm which is soon going to break upon this dark world. How much better to be able to say, “On Christ the solid Rock I stand.”
The Promised Blessing
The promised blessing was to go to “the utmost bound of the everlasting hills,” and this looks on to the time when Christ will reign over this whole world. The blessings of His kingdom will extend beyond the land of Israel (where it will be in its fullness) to the ends of the earth. This is what we com­monly call the millennium.
After blessing his twelve sons Jacob died. Joseph mourned and wept for a long time. He did not know, as we do now, that death for the believer is to be “absent from the body, present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). This was a special revelation given to Paul, and now we do not sorrow as Joseph did. We know that the sting of death is gone through the work of Christ, and that our loved ones, who have died in Christ, are with Him which is far better. (Philippians 1:23) They wait for His coming up there while we wait here, and then we, with all the Old Testament saints, will receive bodies of glory just like Christ’s.
As soon as Joseph’s father had died, Joseph had the Egyptians embalm his body. Then he, with a great company of others, took it up to the land of Canaan for burial as his father had requested.
Fear Not
Joseph’s brothers were afraid as soon as their father had died, for they thought perhaps Joseph had only been kind to them for his father’s sake, and that now he would punish them for their naughtiness. They decided to go to him, therefore, and tell him that their father had requested, before he died, that Joseph forgive them for all they had done to him. This made Joseph feel very badly, and he cried while they were speaking to him. How little they knew of his love toward them, and yet how keenly he felt it when they doubted it. This can be a lesson to us, dear young believers, for we should never doubt the Lord’s love to us, because it never changes. It is an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3), unaltered by all our failures and short-comings. Of course if we go on in sinful ways, we will not enjoy His love to us, but the moment we confess our sins we will receive, as Joseph’s brothers did, fresh assurances of His ever-continuing love and care. Joseph said, “Fear not!” Those oft-repeated words are always sweet to our souls. Our sins might well make us fear, if we did not know the grace which has abounded over them all and brought us into favor in the Beloved, through the work of Calvary (Ephesians 1:6).
Further Meditation
1. Why were Joseph’s brothers afraid after their father died?
2. Do you have any idea how many times the Lord chose to repeat those wonderful words “Fear not”? Take a concordance and prepare to be encouraged.
3. If you haven’t read it yet, you’d really be encouraged by the pamphlet Fear Not by H. H. Snell. It’s brief and well worth your time.

Promises of Blessing

Genesis 50:20-26
Joseph’s brothers fell down before him and said, “Behold we be thy servants.” Such an expression is natural to one who does not know the heart of God. Mephibosheth said this to David, and the prodigal planned to say it to his father when he returned home; how many today are com­ing to God in this way, as though the attempt to serve God would bring them into His favor. Mephibosheth was not received as a servant, but “as one of the king’s sons,” and the prodigal was given the best robe, the ring, the shoes, and above all, the welcome, not of a servant, but of a son. And so here, Joseph did not deal with his brothers as servants, but said, “I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them and spake kindly unto them.” We must be in God’s family before we can serve Him in a way that pleases Him, and then our service is not one of bondage, but of love. The way to get into God’s family is by new birth — by accepting Christ as one’s own personal Saviour (Galatians 3:26). Dear reader, have you done this? Until you do, all your serv­ice is useless, yes, even hateful to God, because it is not a service of faith or love, and His Word says, “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).
I could not work my soul to save,
For that my Lord hath done;
But I would work like any slave,
For the love of God’s dear Son.
Harm Turned to Blessing
Joseph then told his brothers that al­though they thought to harm him, God had turned it into blessing. We know, too, that this world did all the harm they could to Jesus, the Son of God, but God has turned their wicked act of crucifying Him into the foundation of all blessing to fallen man. Joseph was able to save many people alive for a few short years, but Christ’s finished work has brought eternal life to all who believe on Him — blessed Saviour!
At last Joseph died — and he died in faith, assuring his brothers that God was going to fulfill His oft-repeated promises of blessing. When the chil­dren of Israel were brought back to Canaan about four hundred years later, Joseph’s bones were taken and buried there to await the glorious resurrection morn, though Joseph knew very little of it then, but it is now very near — “The coming of the Lord draweth nigh” (James 5:8).
God’s Grace and Blessing
We have now come to the end of this interesting book of Genesis, and will just make a few remarks in closing. Genesis has often been spoken of as the seed plot of the Bible, because it gives us an outline, in type or figure, of all the great truths revealed in the other 65 books. It reveals the ways of God in grace with men and women, and while recording their failures, it shows us how, through that which figured the death of Christ — the coats of skins, Abel’s sacrifice, the ram caught in the thicket by his horns, and many others — God could go on with sinful man and bless him. Dear young reader; let us remind you once again of the importance of every word of God. Read it carefully and prayer­fully every day of your life, and you will learn more of its living depths as the years go by.
Further Meditation
1. What did Joseph say to his brothers after they fell down before him as his servants?
2. Looking back over the book of Genesis, how many types or figures of Christ and His work can you identify in it?
3. Though it’s a pretty long book, you might find Notes on the Pentateuch: Genesis to Deuteronomy by C. H. Mackintosh well worth your investment of time. His writings are wordy by modern standards, but the vibrant warmth for Christ and clear exposition of fundamental truths make the time spent worth it.