Archive for January, 2009

Gen 37 The tragety of Joseph’s life

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

 Gen 37 The tragety of Joseph’s life

Biao Chen

To our surprise, time is flying fast. Couple weeks ago, we were in Abraham’s earlier life (Gen 14), now in Gen 37! We have already begun to heard his grand-grand son’s story.  If we divide Genesis into two large portions, we can call them as Primeval History (Gen. 1-11), and Patriarchal History (Gen. 12-50). Today, we are in the second portion and we have already skipped the Jacob’s story, and right at the beginning of his son’s story, dramatic Life of Joseph.

We can entitle Gen 37 as “Joseph Is Sold into Slavery” (EVS study bible).  Joseph is the second youngest son of Jacob. But his father bestows on him privileges normally given to the firstborn. Joseph’s royal dreams further antagonize his older brothers, who cannot accept that he will reign over them.  When the opportunity presents itself, they sell Joseph into slavery in Egypt.

In this classic plot, we have much to learn and to ponder. On the immediate level, we may see the jealousy among brothers and favoritism of fatherhood contribute to the division and murder among real bloodline of brothers.  The discussion and proposals among the Joseph’s brothers regarding dealing with Joseph very much reveal the human evil hearts: First idea is simply to kill their younger brother, then Reubin proposal to have indirect murder by throwing Joseph into the pit; finally, Judah finalized the plan with selling Joseph as slavery, which from the surface could be a rescuing plan, but could well being the motive for the money.

Of course, from retrospective point of view, we can see family influence on their decisions and characters. Jacob was shrew and cunning person in his dealing with people and even to God.  Covenantal curses, implied in second commentant (Exo 20:5  “You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me), can be perceived from Jacob family influence.  His sons are very good at lying and manepulation as they told “story” to their father Jacob about what happened to Joseph.

Yet, God’s plan out of His inifinate wisdom and soverignty is much higher and deeper and stronger than human’s evil tricks and dominant of sins. We all know the up and down of life of Josoph and great ending how God raise Joseph as priminister in order to deliever Jacob’s family in the Egypt.  Sometimes our daily lives just like Joseph, some of us has been victimized by evils mineds friends and relatives, we have no way out in that situation.  What are your response to this kind of circumtances? bitterness, revengetive, or trust Lord is our ultimate deliver and judge? In fact, futuremore, the story of Joseph has pointed to an even greater delievery for humanity in Christ Jesus. For example, in the Joseph’s dream, his brothers bowed down to him (37:7).  This prophetic dream concerning God’s plan for the offspring of promise foreshadow the final prophetic unveiling of God’s purposes through Christ. In NT, we all know that the church bow down to King Christ now and in the end, every knee should fall and every tongus would confess that Jesus is the Lord of the lords.
second foreshadowing we can see from Joseph’s life is in 37:20. Joseph, who is to be the key deliverer of God’s people, has a scrape with death, and is finally glorified (In Gen 41:41), foreshadowing the suffering and glorification of Christ the final deliverer.  Have you looked Christ, our ultimate Redeemer and Savior, in your unfairly treatment or condition? Or you are taking other popular route?

Well, today is just beigining of Joseph’s story, I don’t want to ruin your curioucities for the details, and my hope is that this reflection just as small aptites for your big meal in His words.

Psalm 20-21 Divine & Human King

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Psalm 20-21 Divine & Human King


Most us may not realize that they are supposed to read or sing together as Royal Psalm. In this pair of royal psalms, 20 Psalm 20 is a prayer that God will give success to the Davidic king, particularly in battle. Psalm 21 gives thanks to God for answering the request of Psalm 20.

If we read them with care of form of structure,First,  we may find that first portion (20.1-5 and 21.1-7) come from their current situations:

1) Prayer for the King’s Success. In these verses the congregation addresses the Davidic king (“you”) with a prayer that God will answer his prayers, protect him from enemies, send him help, and support him.
2) Thanksgiving. These verses are addressed to the Lord (you) about the king (he), celebrating the military success prayed for in Psalm 20. It is clear from such terms as salvation (21:1, 5), your presence (v. 6), and trusts (v. 7) that the psalm assumes a pious and faithful king and is not intended to offer endorsement to sinful plans.

Second, we may find second portion (20.6-8 and 21.8-12) reflect their faith response to future:
1) Sound Confidence in the Lord Alone. Now the worshipers shift from speaking to the king to speaking about the king. They place their confidence in God alone as the one who saves his anointed, and thus the chariots and horses that they must use are not the final cause of success, only the means that God may be pleased to prosper (as they hope for themselves) or thwart (as they hope for the enemy).

2) Confidence for the Future. The person addressed (you) may still be God, as above, but it seems better to take it as the king, who will continue his military exploits on behalf of the people. As above, it is necessary to see that these enemies are those who hate the king (who is the Lord’s anointed, 20:6) and plan evil against him (21:11). When the king lives by the Davidic ideal, God takes hostility against the king as hostility against his own purposes and thus as against himself; thus the godly king is the tool of God’s wrath (v. 9).

Both Ps end with Praise King for who He is and His Deeds

Ps. 20:9 God Save the King! The terms save and “salvation” are repeated in this psalm (vv. 5, 6, 9).

Be Exalted! As in 18:46, the Lord is exalted when he shows his power in making the faithful king successful.

We all know that ultimate Royal King is Jesus who had won the battle and subdue the enemy for his people on cross and resurrection.  We should not only have confidence in His future return for total victory, but also have to trust His reign and rule even now in our various situations and circumstance.  May our Heavenly King grand you our victorious day today!  Amen

Luke 12: Fear of Lord and provision of Lord

Friday, January 16th, 2009

Luke 12: Fear of Lord and provision of Lord, 1/14/2209

by Pastor Biao Chen

Are you worrying about your job security and immigration status or uncertainty of future in this worsening global economic meltdown? Have you asked a lot of questions of what if’s? If you do, I have some good news for you: Please re-read this portion of Luke 12 again and be encouraged in Lord.

Obviously, Luke’s writings in this chapter are quite different from Matthew 6, which is part of sermons on the mountain, despite we often call them the synoptic Gospels (Matt, Mark and Luke).  From Chapter 9:51 to Chapter 19:27, Luke describes the teachings and works of Jesus as He leaves the Galilee marching toward Jerusalem. The Luke 12 has been sandwiched by Lord prayer (Luke 11) and Jesus teaching in a mustard seed parable for Kingdom of God. From the surface, we may see this passage as simply consisting of unconnected warnings and teachings of Jesus:  1) Beware of the Leaven of Pharisees, 2) Have not fear or Fear only One, 3) Acknowledge of Jesus before man, 4) Parable of the rich fool, and 5) Do not be anxious.

Why Luke groups these various teachings together here? What does Holy Spirit through Luke communicate to earlier church then and now to our times?

As Kingdom of God expands forcefully on the earth, beginning with Lord’s prayer as Vision of Kingdom, and ending with the Kingdom gradually expansion on the earth. From one perspective, our middle sessions are really communicating the message of “Hold on Your journey to the Kingdom of God”.  You sees, the today’s false teachings probably as much spread as the false teachings of Pharises then; how many of followers of Christ are worries about daily lives in various hostile environments to the points may not longer fear of Lord and losing their testimony to Lord, even to mimic the life style of Rich Fool? Before the consummation of Kingdom of God, continuation of this Kingdom is always up and down. This is true then and true now.

My punch line is the this. In our daily lives how easy to us are overwhelmed by our circumstances (wars, economic pressures, deadlines, and bad relationships, or health), become the people who “fear of man” or “fear of the circumstances”.  What is antidote Jesus for his disciples as they faced similar or even worse situations?  Fear of Lord (not being fear Lord):  “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body….Fear Him who after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell” (verses 4-5); “and I tell you, everyone who acknowledge me before men, Son of man also will acknowledge before the Angels of God (their judge according to Will of God, verse 8)” ; “do not anxious about your life & body on food &cloth, for life is more than food and body is more than clothing….For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.”

You see,  the encouragement of Jesus is not like the men, who normally sugarcoated hush reality, instead, Jesus told us that Lord is ultimate judge and provider to our soul and body. He counts all the hairs of entire human beings and provides needs to all his creations from flowers to sparrow. We are his friends and the image of God, his beloved bride!

May this passage remind us again the Lord of judge is the same Lord of provision, so trust Him is far better than relying on the princes on the earth.

Gen 13-14: Story Abram and Lots in the contexts of God promise and delievery

Friday, January 16th, 2009

Gen 13-14: Story Abram and Lots in the contexts of God promise and delivery, 1/7/2009

by Pastor Biao Chen

This account in Genesis occurred after Abram responded to God’s calling to enter the promise Land, before God formally cut the covenant with Abram then (in Chapter 15). Yet God bounding blessings of grace on him and his family are prior to that as evidently showed in 13.2 and 13.6.  If you are in that situation, what is your response, more like Abram or lean toward Lot’s choices? Personally speaking, I may tempted to follow Lots, because Sodom is much richer place.  Yet narrator inserted that “Now the men o Sodom were wicked, great sinners against Lord” (v 13.13).  In followings verses, we saw that God promise to His faithful servant Abram even expanded than in chapter 12.  It may not surprise you, but me: Abram responded in Worship as he did in Chapter 12 (v13.18) by built an alter.  What is your daily alter to Lord in your situations?  What surprise me is not primarily Abram’s worship, but his consistently and faithfully wait to the promise of God that had not delivered yet.  From the Family of God perspective, the development of relationship of Abram and Lots set a good example how the people of God should deal with each other in the time of prosperity.

The Scene of Abram rescues Lots really led us not only see the kinsman-ship of Abram toward Lots in gracious acts (as well as dealing with 5 kings in Cannan), it really sets the ethical example to original audience of Israelite in Moses time as they enters the promise land.  When you walk into the new territory, who are your friends and allience, and who are your enemies (5 kings?), how should you deal with them accordingly with guidance of God. We later see these more clearly in other books of Moses and Joshua. It would be good application for us today to ask outselves the similar questions.  People of God are attacked by the enermy, and all nations are in danger and captives in sins and darkness of the evils, are we the vessels of God like Abram to be used by God and His Christ, ultimate rescuer for entire world, to deliver them into the kingdom of the light and life?

Besides to work for God’s purpose, do we lose the sight to commue or fellowship with Truine God on regular basis? Recently I send the email links for “How to play Pingpong” to some of church brothers and sisters who like to are playing.  That itself does not a bad thing at all, but sometimes I notice that I am more interested in to play pingpong or get exercising for my physical health than my spiritual well being.  Yet Life of Abram once again point us humbly in the victory upon God, by tithing to the king of Salem Melchizedek (v14.20). In fact, his title was to the priest of God Most High (El ‘Elyon), prefigurring Christ, our High Priest in NT (Heb. 7.1-8:6). Abram knew that God himself brought the victories to him, and we ought to honor and praise Him among the nations.  I am convinced that the strength and moral characters of Abram demonstrated later in the chapter with king of Sodom, by refusing taking his offering of goods, are outflow from Abram’s loyalty and fellowship with Lord.  May we walk with God by communion  with Him, so that we can live as the light and salt of integrity of Kingdom of Christ.