This Christmas we're going back, way back, to four Old Testament women in Jesus' family tree. Matthew's genealogy of Jesus records them for us - four unlikely women, who exhibit through their lives God's redemptive purpose in sending Jesus to this world.
Time to take one last look at Genesis, where we've been, and what it all means. From the dawn of creation, our journey has brought us to the banks of the Nile; Jacob's children and their families are in a foreign land, but God is enacting His plan to rescue the world.
Scripture says that 'it is appointed unto men once to die' - but how we die, and how we face death, reflects the reality of our faith. The final scenes in Genesis recount the deaths of Jacob and Joseph, and demonstrate their faith in God and His promises, at the end of life.
While Genesis reveals God as being patient and faithful, He is also holy and just. In Gen. 49, Jacob gathers his sons to tell their futures, both good and bad, based on how they lived their lives. The lesson for Christians today is transparent: What you do now matters!
Aren't you glad God is patient? We are fickle, and often fail, but He is faithful! Jacob fought with God for much of his life, but God never gave up on him, and in his last days, God won his heart. He showed he had learned to trust God - a life lesson we all need to learn.
While God's plan cannot be thwarted by the sinful actions of men, it is magnified when combined with the wise leadership of godly men. Joseph is 'Exhibit A' of this truth, both with his family, and with the Egyptians. Happy is the man who finds wisdom (Proverbs 3:13)!
God keeps His word! He told Abraham his descendants would go to a foreign land, and now they are traveling to Egypt. On the way, He reminds Jacob that He will make them a great nation, but little could Jacob have known then how! God's providential power is on display.
The tension that has been building since Joseph's brothers first came to Egypt is released as he reveals who he is! They are frightened, but need not be: Joseph sees God's sovereign hand at work, preserving a nation, and restoring a family. This is what God can do!
Twenty years after being sold by his brothers, Joseph is ruling Egypt. Not knowing it is him, they stand before him in need of food. Have their hearts changed? The tension reaches a fever pitch as Joseph instigates a test to determine if their spiritual transformation is real.
The famine forces Joseph's brothers back to Egypt for a second time. God awakened their guilt the first trip; now, spiritual transformation is exhibited in selfless behavior. The wintry chill of guilt melts into the spring of concern for others, confession, and peace.