Daniel Survives the Lions’ Den

Daniel survives the lions' den

What Happened

Israel is exiled from their promised land to Babylon (modern day Iraq), the major civilization of that time. Israel lost their land because they constantly disobeyed God. Daniel was different and totally honored God in everything he did.

The king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, asked all of Israel to renounce God and worship him, Daniel refused. The king wanted to kill Daniel for his disobedience, but God intervened and Daniel survived being thrown in the loins’ den.

Daniel then tells the king that God told him the Babylonian empire is about to fall. Daniel is right in everything he predicts, because his prophesy comes from God.

Why it matters

The story of Daniel shows us that in all things and in all situations, God is in control. The theme of Daniel’s prophesy centers on the sovereignty of God. Daniel interprets dreams for the king and in every case, those dreams signal the absolute authority of God.

Daniel’s “interpretations” are what he was shown by God, so it is God using those dreams to predict future events. Nebuchadnezzar was deeply moved by God through Daniel’s explanations and made a remarkable turnaround. When his son turned away from God, the empire was doomed.

Bible Verse

13 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man,[a] coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

Daniel 7:13-14

Description

Israel was taken captive by the Babylonians and Daniel was living in Babylon in service to its king Nebuchadnezzar. When Daniel and his friends refused to bow down and worship the king, there was a death penalty. His three friends were thrown into a furnace to perish in the flames, but even though they were tied up and helpless, the flames never touched them.

The king watched in astonishment as the three men, plus another man, walked about unharmed. Even guards outside the furnace were killed by the intense heat. Who was that fourth man? Later, in an effort to have Daniel killed, the king’s men trumped up charges against him and Daniel was thrown to the lions’ den. However, the lions left Daniel alone and he survived.

Nebuchadnezzar had a bad dream and sent for Daniel to interpret them. Daniel told of the kingdoms of the world, represented by a giant statue in the king’s dream. He told of how each would fall. When the king’s son saw” the handwriting on the wall” that said both he and his kingdom were finished, Daniel was predicting the downfall of Babylon.

Why it matters to you

Throughout history, God has laid down a track record for man to follow, to determine whether or not the truth is being told and what a reasonable expectation of events might be ascertained. Can you trust God to be in control regardless of your circumstances? Does God abandon people when the going gets rough?

What you may not know

The Book of Daniel is studied side-by-side with the Book of Revelation in seminary classes, as the events and descriptions line up with amazing consistency. The book contains writings in both Hebrew and Aramaic and was likely finished about 530 BC.

Isaiah’s Prophesy of Immanuel

Isaiah's prophesy of Immanuel
Isaiah’s prophesy of Immanuel

What Happened

About 700 years before the birth of Jesus, the prophet Isaiah made a bold prediction—God would send His own son to earth and He would be known as Immanuel (God with us). The prophet also wrote of the death of this man, with amazing detail (Chapter 53).

Isaiah wrote about the both the grace and the wrath of God. Even his name means “the Lord saves.” The prophet warns a sinful and idolatrous nation that God’s wrath will surely come. He follows that with the hopeful foretelling of the coming of Christ, the Messiah.

It is a remarkable book which encapsulates the entirety of God’s unfolding plan of salvation.

Why it matters

Isaiah warns that God will punish those who are rebellious, but also explains that God will redeem them. If God says it, He will do it.

Isaiah refers to God as “the Holy One of Israel.” Every detail Isaiah shares has either come true, or will come true. God has never gone back on His word.

Isaiah said the King would come from the House of David and Gospels would later outline the complete lineage of Jesus. The Gospel of Luke will show the royal linage of the Messiah. Isaiah also wrote of the virgin birth.

Isaiah’s name “God with us” is particularly interesting because that is exactly what Jesus was and is. God with us.

Bible Verse

13 Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

Isaiah 7: 13-14

Why it matters to you

The Bible’s story hinges on an accurate accounting of events. If an account is found to be inaccurate, or false, or if an event is nothing more than a fabrication, the truth of that will shatter the rest of the story.

The Bible is an unfolding story, an event-by-event account of man’s relationship with God. It’s not the whole story, but it’s the important pieces of the story.

Therefore, if the story is true, it matters to you because it was written to you, for your benefit. Isaiah accurately predicts the virgin birth and the crucifixion of Christ, some 700 years before it happened. The book is a microcosm of the Bible.

Description

Isaiah gives a remarkably accurate account of the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, in Chapter 53, giving a physical description, writing:

“ He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.”

Isaiah goes on to write of the crucifixion, predicting that the nation would turn on the Jesus:

“ He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.”

He predicts the trial and execution of Jesus. God’s grace is also brought out by the sacrifice of one man for the world:

“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed”

The beauty of God’s grace is illustrated through His understanding of human nature. Isaiah writes:

“We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.”

Isaiah tells of the willingness of Jesus to die on the cross, 700 years before it happened. God’s judgment of man is carried out on His own son. Isaiah writes:

“We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.”

God’s wrath and God’s grace, the evil acts of men against good people are repeated in this book. But the prophet writes, in Chapter 61, the words that Jesus will repeat when making his formal announcement of his ministry:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn…”

The prophet tells of the coming Kingdom of God, when Israel will be restored to its full glory, after God’s vengeance is satisfied and He has redeemed His people.

What you may not know

Isaiah refers to himself as “the prophet” and the book might have been written between 740-686 BC. He uses both prose and poetry, which help to punctuate the message and bring home important points about the birth of Jesus and that He continues to be with us.

David Reigns over ALL Israel

David King of Israel
David rules over ALL of Israel

What Happened

After God gave the promised land to the Israelites, the nation continued to grow but there was no formal government as such. There were judges, who presided over the country, but not a government as we know it.

The people wanted a king. God had promised that He would be with them and would guide them, and God did just that by selecting judges. But the people wanted more.

Israel wanted a king and God allowed this to happen. The people, not God, selected Saul, a strapping military man as their king. He looked like a king. God, however, had someone else in mind. God did not look at outward appearances, but rather to the heart and soul of the man He would select as king.

Saul put on appearances and did what was expected of a king, but he was not the kind of man God wanted on the throne of Israel. God sent the prophet Samuel to find the right king. Samuel went to the house of Jesse, whose many sons were all good candidates for the job.

God selects David as king

Samuel got a good look, but wondered where the youngest son was. Being the youngest, he was out tending the sheep while the other brothers were being examined. Samuel got Jesse to bring David to him and Samuel knew that David was the man God had selected. David was God’s selection because of his character.

Saul relished being king and was weary of David, even though David served in his court and had been loyal. David was also best friends with Saul’s son Jonathan.

Saul wants to kill David

Even though Saul wanted David killed, David did not want to kill Saul, because Samuel, under the instructions of God, had anointed Saul as king of Israel.

To do harm to Saul would be just like trying to do harm to God. David wanted no part of it. It was not until Saul’s death that David took the throne.

Why it matters

God selecting David is important because we need to understand that in all of history, in all things, God is in control. David wasn’t the tallest, or the strongest, although he was a good looking young man. This was not a popularity contest.

The people had selected Saul because of looks and popularity, but Saul was not the kind of king God wanted. While certainly not the perfect man, David knew that he needed to trust God and have faith. Through all of his mistakes in life, and even some very bad decisions, David always came back to God.

God selects Jesus as king

David is the first king of Israel selected by God, and Jesus is selected by God to be the king of everything.

Why it matters to you

How many times in our lives do people overlook us, or marginalize us? Are looks and social standing all that matter? How many parents have children that turn on them? David’s life is a good illustration of cause and effect, and how God’s forgiveness allows man to move forward and even prosper.

Understanding who David is gives us a better understanding of who God is and who Jesus is.

Bible Verse

“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

1 Samuel 16:7

Description

The story of David is a classic example of how a people, who desire to follow God, can still fail. Even though they fail and may not achieve all they want in life, they can still be in right standing with God.

What you may not know

God is faithful and will stand by those who follow Him. For all of his faults, David still wanted to follow. He learned from his mistakes and did not repeat his offenses. David’s own son wanted to kill him and take his throne, but God had other plans.

The succession of David’s throne would lead to Jesus. David wanted to build a temple to God in Jerusalem. He got all of the money and materials, but God said no. David’s son, Solomon, built the temple.

The Israelites Cross the Jordan

Israelites crossing the Jordan River

What Happened

God led Moses and the Israelites to the Jordan River. Moses ordered a search team to go across and take a look. Twelve men, one from each tribe, made the journey. They saw the people in the land and were afraid. Only Joshua and Caleb were enthusiastic and urged them to take the land.

Angered at their disbelief, God prevented them from going into the promised land and made them wander for another 40 years. Even Moses had taken matters into his own hands and had offended God by his frustrations and lack of patience.

God told Moses he would not enter into the land, so he turned leadership over to Joshua. Moses went atop a mountain and looked into the Jordan Valley and saw the land that God had promised. There he died.

Joshua was now in charge. He led the Israelites cross the river, which God allowed by halting the water flow and making a dray path for them. The land was theirs for the taking.

Why it matters

God made promises to man, all of which He kept. Still man didn’t believe. This is a matter of faith. The Israelites saw miracle after miracle, yet in very short order, they did not have faith.

Doubting God and lacking faith is part of human nature and it is as true today as it was in the Sinai Desert when Moses lived.

Bible Verse

1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.

Joshua 1:1-3

Why it matters to you

Forty years is a long time to wait for anything. Even when God did all the work, man still didn’t trust Him, so God allowed them to wander for 40 years more, until all that had doubted God had passed away, including Moses.

Even, Moses, the one man who did more than any other would not escape the judgment of God. In the years ahead, all this would become apparent through the history of Israel.

Description

Joshua led Israel to the Jordan River. They camped there. Joshua sent two spies into the new land and the town of Jericho.

While there they received assistance and protection from a prostitute named Rahab. She knew that God had given the land to the Israelites. She told them how to escape the city without detection and then covered for them by deceiving the king.

She asked for their protection when the army would come and take the city, so they agreed that she would put a scarlet chord in the window and she and her family would be spared.

The Israelites enter the promised land

When Joshua and the Israelites crossed the Jordan, God went before them.

While in the wilderness, God had instructed them to build a tabernacle, a kind of portable temple. They created the Ark of the Covenant to carry the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments.

The Levites, the priests, carried the Ark across the dry path the Lord created for them in much the same way that He parted the Red Sea.

Joshua built an alter to honor God then set out for Jericho. Rather than attacking the city, they marched around it, for six days.

The walls of Jericho fall

On the seventh day they got up at daybreak, marched around the city seven times. The priests sounded the trumpets. Joshua ordered the army to shout. When they did that, the walls collapsed. The city was theirs and all of the riches. Rahab and her family were spared.

What you may not know

God promised the land to the Israelites, but it wasn’t exactly a free gift. There were many peoples already there and Israel would have to rely on the Lord to overcome their enemies. God’s covenant with man is based on trust and faith.

When man put his trust and faith in God’s provision, things went well. When man turned away, calamity followed. Sometimes, God’s instructions are difficult or seem strange. But it is God who did the work at Jericho. The people merely followed.

Moses Receives the Commandments

Moses Recieves the Commandments
God gives us the 10 Commandments

What Happened

Moses led his people out of Pharaoh’s grasp and out of captivity, and all along the way, God demonstrated His power and commitment to saving the Israelites. But the people got out in the desert and the complaining began.

They wanted water. They wanted food. God had never let them down, but it wasn’t enough. God decided it was time to formalize His expectations. He gave His LAW to Moses and the people. The first wave did not go well.

God spoke the commandments to all of the people of Israel

God ordered the people to wash their clothes and prepare to receive His Word. They gathered at the foot of Mr. Sinai and an amazing thing happened. Smoke swirled around the mountain and through the thunder and the wind, God spoke.

God spoke the commandments, for the first time, to all of Israel. They were terrified. They told Moses to let God speak to him and they will listen.

God carved His laws into stone tablets

The second encounter was personal, between God and Moses. God instructed Moses to leave the camp and go up the mountain. At that point, God Himself, gave detailed instructions for the tabernacle and all that was to go on. He carved His laws into stone tablets.

Moses was gone for over a month and the people started believing that he was dead. They started complaining and denying that God was with them at all. They formed a golden calf out of the spoils that they had taken from Egypt.

Even Moses’s brother Aaron was in on it. The people worshiped the golden idol and not God.

Moses pleads with God to spare Israel

God’s anger raged. He told Moses to leave and that He would destroy the people for defiling themselves. But Moses pleaded with God to spare them. God granted his plea and Moses returned down the mountain. He was greeted by Joshua, who was waiting for him.

When he saw for himself what was going on he ordered that all people who want to stand with God, to obey him and serve him, should stand aside. The priests came immediately.

Others chose to worship the golden idol. Moses ordered for the priests to take their swords and kill all those who chose to defy God. About 3000 people died that day. Then the Lord sent a plague because they worshiped the idol.

Why it matters

God’s commandments define moral law for all of man kind for the rest of time.What is right and what is wrong are defined by His law. Loving God, loving our neighbor, not telling lies, honoring our parents, not coveting, not murdering, not committing adultery, not stealing and much more are defined by the commandments.

God gives us His rules to help us understand right and wrong, good and bad, and how to live a life worth living. Giving us His commandments is one of God’s most important acts of love.

The Ten Commandments is one of the subjects children learn in Sunday School, but it is not necessarily a major topic for discussion in churches today. Since the beginning of time, God has guided man, His prize creation, to enter into a lasting and loving relationship. But man turned away from God.

The flood and the captivity in Egypt were both examples of the consequences of not honoring God. Turning away from God is called “sin” and God must turn away from sin.

To keep from sinning, men and women must obey the commandments to the letter. However, this is an impossibility, as everyone sins. Therefore, the story does not end with the Ten Commandments. It is barely beginning.

Bible Verse

18 When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance 19 and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”

20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”

21 The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.

Exodus 20:18-20

Why it matters to you

The Ten Commandments are very important to everyone today, because they are the basis of all western law, and define right and wrong for most of the world.

The commandments are carved in stone on the walls of the United States Supreme Court and free nations around the globe base their laws on these commandments. The Ten Commandments are simply a wise guide to getting along in life and being contented.

These laws are not so much rules and regulations as they are an invitation to be in right relationship to God. God wants to write His law on our hearts, to give us the opportunity to embrace them and make them our own.

It’s like telling a small child not to touch the fire, because you don’t want the child to be harmed and you want the child to enjoy life and be happy. But like small children, we go our own way.

The Ten Commandments warn us when we are getting too far away from God, they help us to understand how to be in the will of God and most importantly, they point to God Himself, what He has done for us and what He will do. They are vital for the relationship.

Description

God gave His commandments twice – once to all of Israel in a display of power and majesty, and a second time in a private meeting with Moses, when God carved them into stone. Once again, like He did with Abraham, Issac and Jacob, God communicated in a very personal way.

.

The Ten Commandments

I. You shall have no other gods before Me.

II. You shall make no idols.

III. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

IV. Keep the Sabbath day holy.

V. Honor your father and your mother.

VI. You shall not murder.

VII. You shall not commit adultery.

VIII. You shall not steal.

IX. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

X. You shall not covet.

What you may not know

God’s commandments are absolute. That means that all of them must be obeyed. Any breaking of the law is sin, and God will not tolerate sin. God is holy and perfect.

If God were to go back on His word, he would be a liar. Therefore, God MUST take punitive action against sin.

The Ten Plagues of Egypt

Egypt has ten plagues

What Happened

God sends Moses to Egypt to free all of Israel from their bondage. Pharaoh ignores God and refuses to free the Israelites. The final plague now call the Passover finally forces Pharaoh to free the Israelites and they begin their exodus in the desert.

Why It Matters

Passover allows Israel to be free from bondage in Egypt and to begin their time in the desert, where every tribe will hear God’s law. Also, during their time in the wilderness, Moses, with God’s inspiration, writes the first five books of the Bible. These two events are the most important in history, becoming the moral definition for the human race.

Bible Verse

So Moses said, “This is what the Lord says: ‘About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the female slave, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well.

Exodus 11:4

Why it matters to you

Understanding Passover teaches us to put our trust and faith in God as Moses and the Israelites did.

Description

12 “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. 13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will Passover you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.”

Exodus 12: 12-13

Hebrew slaves Amram and Jochabed had a son. Because the Hebrews had grown in population and were considered a threat to Egyptian security, the Pharaoh ordered that all first born male children should be killed.

The parents took their baby boy and placed him in a basket. They sent him down the Nile where he was soon discovered by, of all people, Pharaoh’s daughter. It was love at first sight and she named him Moses, because he was pulled from the water.

The daughter took in the baby, but arranged to have his birth mother nurse him. The boy, Moses, grew up in Pharaoh’s court and had full rights and privileges. But he was a Hebrew and that identity was undeniable and a driving force in his life.

God had a plan for Moses

Moses decided to forsake the luxuries of his royal upbringing to be with his people. One day he saw an Egyptian solder abusing a Hebrew man. He stepped in and killed him. He fled Egypt into the desert. But God had a plan for him.

Moses met a wealthy man named Jethro and married one of his daughters. After a time, God called to Moses from a burning bush and told him to return to Egypt and free His captive people. Moses argued with God, but lost the argument and did as he was instructed.

Moses returns to Egypt to free his people

Moses returned to Egypt and Pharaoh, arguably the most powerful man on earth, was unimpressed with Moses’ and scuffled at the idea of freeing the slaves. Gods would begin to work on Pharaoh by bringing ten plagues to Egypt, but despite the devastating impact of each plague, each time Pharaoh’s heart would harden and his resolve would stiffen.

God tries to get Pharaoh to free Israel

To get Pharaoh’s attention, God started by turning the Nile waters into blood. The water was not fit to drink and the fish died. Then God sent frogs to cover not only the land, but every room in every house.

The third plague was an infestation of lice, that covered everything. Next came hoards of wild animals that created a path of destruction. Next came pestilence that killed most of the domestic animals in Egypt, but not those of the Israelites.

The Egyptians were the target of the next plague, when painful boils developed on the bodies of the Pharaoh, his servants and the citizens. God sent fiery hail down that hit and burned every crop and every tree.

After that the locusts came, eating every crop and the fruits of every tree. God then caused darkness to cover Egypt, a perpetual night, causing great inconvenience. But Pharaoh didn’t budge.

The Passover was the worst plague of all

The final plague was the worst of all, but Pharaoh won’t listen so God had no choice. The first born sons of Egypt would all die, as well as firstborn cattle. God told the Hebrews to take lamb’s blood and cover the door frames. When the angel of death came down on Egypt and saw the marking, he would “PASS OVER” the house, sparring all inside.

This first Passover was a monumental event that would change history forever. It would force Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, but it also foretold of the ultimate Passover, when the blood of the Lamb of God would be shed to cover the sins of the world… for our sins.

Passover is celebrated today as the Jewish Passover, and also celebrated by Christians in commemoration of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ at Easter.

Passover was an act of faith in God

It is an important event, because the act of killing the lamb and spreading its blood on the door posts is an act of faith. The people obeyed God, had faith that He would do as he said, and their lives were spared. Centuries later, on the Passover, Jesus would be sent to the cross. The two events are forever tied together and significant, because it shows the consistency of God’s unfolding plan.

What you may not know

Jesus was crucified during Israel’s celebration of Passover because Jesus’ blood and resurrection allows God to Passover our sins. If we follow Him in faith, just as Israel did during the first Passover in Egypt, we will receive His blessing.

Joseph Reveals His Identity

Joseph reveals his identity

What Happened

All of Israel/Jacob’s sons go to Egypt to escape famine in their land. Joseph is a leader in Egypt and forgives his brothers and allows them to settle in Egypt even though,years earlier, his brothers sold him into slavery.

Why it matters

This is the beginning of the story of Israel and how God used all of them to tell us His law and show us how much He loves all of us.

Bible Verse

Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.

Genesis 45:3

Why it matters to you

Joseph forgave his brothers even though they sold him into slavery, teaching us that we also need to forgive the unforgivable and know that vengeance is God’s. God is perfect and His punishment of sin is perfect.

Description

Joseph in the Bible

Jacob settled in his homeland, Canaan along with his wives and twelve sons. The youngest was Joseph and he was Jacob’s favorite. Because of that, there was jealousy and outright hatred among his brothers, who plotted to kill him. Joseph had told them of a dream he had in which the brothers would bow down to him.

One day, Jacob asked Joseph to go out and find out what his brothers were doing. That was a fateful decision. Joseph gladly went, but the result was a major turning point, not only for Joseph, but for what would become the nation of Israel.

The brothers saw him coming. Joseph was wearing a beautiful coat that his father had given him. Rather than kill him, they took the coat and decided to throw him into a pit and just let him die. But a caravan was coming towards them, so they made another decision.

They decided to sell him as a slave to the Ishmaelite traders who were taking spices, balm and myrrh to Egypt. They collected twenty pieces of silver for their brother. Later the brothers would kill a goat, drench Joseph’s coat in blood and present it to their father, saying Joseph had been killed by an animal.

Joseph Sold

Joseph was sold into slavery to a man named Potiphar, a member of the Pharaoh’s staff, the captain of the palace guard. Joseph found favor with Potiphar, and because of that, the Lord blessed him and brought prosperity to his household. Joseph was running the business, so to speak, and soon caught the eye of Potiphar’s wife, who tried to seduce him. Loyal to his master, Joseph rejected her advances. She kept it up, day after day. One day she grabbed him and pulled off his shirt. She ran away and claimed that he had tried to rape her. Potiphar was furious, of course, and had Joseph thrown into prison.

Joseph unfairly imprisoned

Joseph had no recourse. Shortly after, the Pharaoh’s cup bearer was imprisoned for an insulting remark. One night the cup bearer and a baker had bad dreams. Noticing their distressed expressions, Joseph asked them to tell him the dreams. He interpreted what they meant. Both the cup bearer and baker were called back to the palace and Joseph asked the cup bearer to remember him. It was some time before the cup bearer remembered his promise.

When the Pharaoh had a bad dream, the cup bearer told of Joseph, who was released from prison and sent to the palace. His interpretation of the Pharaoh’s dream was pleasing to the ruler, who put him on the staff. Soon, because of his intelligence and service to Pharoah, Joseph was given a place of high authority, virtually running the kingdom.

Famine breaks out in Canaan

Meanwhile, famine came to Jacob’s homeland. The brothers knew there was abundance in Egypt, so they set out to buy food. When they arrived Joseph recognized them immediately, but they did not recognize him. After all, they would not expect him to be running the country. Joseph put his brothers to the test, but did reveal himself to them.

Because of the famine, people came to Egypt from Canaan, including Jacob. The Hebrews immigrants at first, but as their numbers grew, the Pharaoh feared they would become a burden. Eventually, Israel was enslaved by the Egyptians. Then, an amazing sequence of events took place some 400 years later, as God moved to bring them out of bondage.

God uses evil for good

God works his plan through human interaction. Men and women may do an evil thing, but God can use that action for good. Joseph’s story is all about that amazing turnabout. It is a foreshadowing of the life of Jesus the Messiah, who was arrested, tortured and killed for doing no wrong. Yet God used that horrible event to save mankind.

What you may not know

Having all of the Israelites in bondage in Egypt allows all of Israel to hear God’s law and commandments in the wilderness once God frees them their bondage in Egypt.

Jacob Named Israel

Jacob becomes Israel

What Happened

God renames Jacob to Israel and His chosen race is launched. Jacob has twelve sons and his son’s and grandsons will form the the 12 tribes of Israel that will be followed throughout the remainder of time.

Why it matters

God created the race of people called Israel to receive His laws and ultimately deliver His son. Fulfilling His promise to Abraham and allowing all of us to receive His mercy through His son.

Bible Verse

God said to him, “Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.” So he named him Israel.

Genesis 35:10

Why it matters to you

To understand God and Jesus we all need to understand the history of Israel. God created Israel to document all of the the events that lead up to the birth and resurrection of Jesus.

Because of complete documentation of the people of Israel, the Bible becomes almost irrefutable. All of the people in the Bible stories actually lived and have offspring who keep their traditions alive.

Description

Jacob (Hebrew meaning one who supplants) had little idea what was before him. He had tricked his brother Esau into giving up his birthright, with the help of his mother. Very sneaky. But just as God had intended Isaac to be the heir to Abraham, Issac’s son Jacob was to continue making the great nation that God has promised.

Jacob left Canaan and went out to seek a wife. He met and wanted to marry Rachel, so he worked for her father, Laban, for seven years to earn her hand. But on the wedding night, Laban snuck Leah, his older daughter, into Jacob’s tent, a switch Jacob did not realize until morning.

Jacob, who stole his brother’s blessing, now had the wrong wife. Still he loved Rachel, so he worked another seven years to earn her hand. Then he had two wives and each wife shared their servants with Jacob. All told, Jacob had twelve sons. Leah was the mother of Ruben (the oldest), Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun.

Rachel gave birth to Joseph and Benjamin. Zilpah (Leah’s maid servant) was the mother of Gad and Asher. Bilhah (Rachel’s maidservant) was the mother of Dan and Naphtali. (These sons would later be the names of the 12 tribes of Israel.)

Jacob/Israel goes to back to Canaan

While settling with Laban, Jacob became prosperous. That brought on some friction with the rest of the family, and that put Jacob’s life in jeopardy. The Lord told him to go back home to Canaan, so he packed up his wife, his servants and his children and returned to his homeland.

Before he crossed the river to enter, he sent his family and his possessions ahead and remained on the bank. During the night a man came to him and they wrestled each other. Why? The Bible does not tell us. The fight was a draw basically, but ended when the mysterious man struck Jacob’s hip and pulled it out of joint. The man asked Jacob to quit fighting and let go, but Jacob refused unless the man would bless him. The man said his name would no longer be Jacob, but Israel, “because you have struggled with both God and men and have won.”

And He (the mysterious person) said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” . . . And He blessed him there. (Genesis 32:24)

Why is this incident essential to our understanding of the Bible? We all, in one way or another, wrestle with God. Perhaps it is out of fear, or doubt, or confusion, but we all struggle. Israel means “’to have power, as a prince.” The story said Jacob wrestled with a man. Some believe it was an angel. But there is strong evidence to suggest that the “man” he fought with was no angel at all, but the Lord Jesus Christ. Jacob would say that he saw the face of God and lived.

God desires to have a deep, personal relationship with man. Ask anyone who has been in a long-term relationship and they will tell you that it takes work, and that there are some bumps in the road. So it is with our relationship to God. But despite the wrestling match, God has a plan. He loves us.

What you may not know

God created Israel and made them the chosen people not because they were better or deserved His preferential treatment. He choose them simply as a vehicle to show us how much He loves us regardless of our sin and disobedience. Following the events of the Israelites records His will so it is documented and available for us to follow.

The Offering of Isaac

the offering of Isaac

What Happened

God asked Abraham to sacrifice/kill his son Isaac, Abraham obeyed and then spared Isaac right before his father killed him.

Why It Matters

Abraham is the Father of the chosen people of Israel and he is the first in the linage to Jesus Christ. Sacrificing Isaac is foreshadowing for the death and resurrection of Jesus, 2054 years before it happens.

Bible Verse

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

Genesis 22:2

Why It Matters To You

When we are obedient to God, we, like Abraham, will receive God’s favor. Because God loves us He was willing to sacrifice His only son for us, but in His mercy spared Abraham’s son Isaac.

Description

ABRAHAM’S TEST

After the flood the world is repopulated. God promised that he will not bring about another flood. But human nature had not changed and soon man was once again turning began away from God. It was time for a more formal relationship, so God looked for another good man, just as he had with Noah. He chose Abram. Abram and his wife Sarai had no children.

God told Abram to pack his things and move, but didn’t tell him where. Abram did as he was told. God said “I will make you a great nation…” Abram, Sarai and Abram’s nephew Lot all left together.

Abram said yes to God

Abram was a good man, but the important thing here is that he said “yes” to God, and by faith left his home country for an unknown destination. He went through Egypt and eventually settled in Canaan. Lot would go his separate way.

God promised Abram and Sarai that they would have a son. But both of them were advanced in years and when the promise was made Abram was already 75. Sarai suggested that Abram go to their maidservant Hagar and have Hagar give him a son. It’s not what God promised, but Abram took her suggestion and Hagar gave birth to Ishmael.

Abram becomes Abraham

God then told Abram that he would be the father of many nations, and renamed him Abraham. Sarai became Sarah. The problem was that Ismael was not the son God promised.

God had promised Abraham that his offspring would be like the the stars in the sky. Abraham was amazed because they had no son and Sarah was old, well beyond child-bearing years. But when Abraham was 100 years old, Sarah gave birth to Isaac. God kept his promise. Issac was that son. Isaac was the chosen son, from whom a great nation would arise. Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael away.

Abraham told to kill his son

But one day God told Abraham to take Issac to Mt Moriah and offer him as a sacrifice. Although this was difficult request, Abraham obeyed God, packed up wood and provisions and left their home, with Isaac.

When they got to Mt Moriah, Isaac was confused and asked his father where the lamb would come from for the sacrifice. Imagine the horror in Abraham’s mind. Here is his beloved Isaac, the promised son, and God wanted him to kill his beloved boy?

In obedience to God Abraham places Issac on the alter.

Abraham built an alter, tied up his son and laid him there, helpless. He took out his knife and was ready to strike when an angel of the Lord told called out from heaven and told him to stop.

The angel told him that he knew Abraham feared God, because he would not withhold his own son. God provided a ram, who got caught in a nearby bush, to be the sacrifice. They offered the sacrifice and went home.

Abraham again said “yes” to God

An essential to understanding the significance of this account is that Abraham said “yes” to God. He was obedient. For this reason alone, God credited Abraham’s actions as righteousness. Forget all of his faults and shortcomings, because he said “yes” he was considered righteous. That would later become an extremely important point.

Abraham trusted God, had faith that God would care for him and did as God instructed. This is a foreshadowing of the greatest sequence of events in human history. God stopped Abraham from killing Isaac, but God would later turn his back when His own son would be offered on the cross to die.

What You May Not Know

Because God chose Abraham and promised him that he would be the father of race of people (Israel), we are able to follow the complete linage of Abraham to Christ specifically for 2054, making the Bible almost completely irrefutable because of the depth and accuracy of the information.

The Great Flood

The Flood destroyed most of what God had created.
The Great Flood destroyed most of God’s creation

What Happened

God caused the great flood and destroyed much of His creation because man was so wicked and evil.

Why It Matters

We all need to understand that God’s anger and wrath are real and we need to do all that we can to follow God, our creator, rather than to disobey Him.

Bible Verse

Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.”

Genesis 7:4

Why it matters to you

We all must understand, respect and submit to God’s authority and we ignore Him at our own peril.

Description

5 The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.

6 The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.

7 So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.”

8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. Genesis 6:5-8

Most everybody has heard the story of Noah and the flood. God had created a beautiful and perfect world. There was no evil, no killing and there was an abundance of food. Then the FALL came and everything changed. From Adam and Eve, the population grew and over time, the relationship with God, their creator, was diminishing.

God was not pleased with these developments. Rather than enjoying the love and affection of a large family, those who honored and revered God were few, if any. God decided that action was necessary. He would wipe out all of mankind and all of the animals, saying “for I regret that I have made them.”

Noah was a righteous man

Noah was different. He was a righteous man and raised righteous sons, Shem, Ham and Japbeth. God shared his plan with Noah and gave him instructions to build an ark (large ship). Instructions, down to the small details, were given to Noah and his sons.

Once completed, God sent animals to the ark, to be saved. Once the animals were on board, two of every kind, male and female, the rains came, and came, and came. God Himself shut the door and Noah, his wife, his sons and their wives, were the only ones spared.

The floodwaters came in a violent manner. The floodgates of heaven opened and the spring waters of the earth burst from every direction, and for 40 days and nights the flood waters came and covered the earth. The ark floated along. No rudder, no sail. The flood lasted 150 days. The ark came to rest on a mountain once the flood waters receded. Noah freed a dove and she did not return. Then flood was over.

God regretted creating man

The flood was the first account of God taking punitive action against man. As the Creator, God knows man’s nature and character and understands fully man’s frailty. Rather than destroying all of mankind, he chose a family, a remnant to begin anew. He saw a righteous man in Noah, had compassion and chose to redeem His relationship with mankind through Noah. We also see that animals reproduce according to kind, as species were collected and saved.

As the accounts in Genesis roll out, we will see God making a covenant with man, as the beginning of an eternal plan begins to take shape.

What you may not know

What we do or don’t believe about God does not stop any of us to being judged and punished for our sinful and wrong actions. Many people who died in the flood did not believe in God.