Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Day 36: Immigrants and Hypocrites

Genesis 46, 47, 48 & Matthew 23:1-22

These passages talk to us about the most well-known immigrants in the Bible, and the people whom Jesus labeled hypocrites. The immigrants would become the nation of Israel. The hypocrites would later come from the religious leadership of that nation.

Genesis 46

Can you imagine the stress of being an immigrant from the promised land to Egypt? Jacob had left his homeland before, to find a wife, but this more would be the last of his life. No doubt Jacob was anxious. But God spoke to him, reassured him that God would be present, even in Egypt.
This should offer us comfort as well. We cannot go anywhere God is not already there. God is not stuck in one place, and neither are we.
Jacob takes his enormous family and moves to Egypt. They settle in the land of Goshen, a robust land, the best land in Egypt. They settle there because shepherds were abhorrent to the Egyptians. I wonder what kind of biases I hold today that are cultural instead of Biblical.

Genesis 47:

Joseph leads his family to the best land and then asks Pharaoh to let them settle there. Pharaoh agrees and gives them the care of his own flocks as well. He knows the blessing of Joseph’s God must be with his family also. Jacob is brought to Pharaoh and he blesses Pharaoh. I wish we had the words of that blessing.
Then we are told that Joseph continued to sell food to the Egyptians for the remaining years of the famine. However, I am disturbed by his actions. He has already collected all the money in the land. The people are still hungry and so he takes ownership of their livestock in exchange for food. They are still hungry and so the next year he takes their land and the people themselves as payment for food.
This leaves Pharaoh with a ton of wealth, Josephs family with their land, and the priests of Pharaoh with their land. This sets up a system that become reliant on slavery to keep economically afloat. No one owns their own selves; how can they advance out of the yoke of slavery? It is this situation that later leads to the enslavement of the Israelites by the Egyptians.

Genesis 48:

Jacob falls ill and asks Joseph to bring his sons to him. The boys are brought and Jacob claims them as his own sons and offers them an inheritance just like Simeon and Reuben. Then Jacob blesses the boys. However, he blesses the youngest with the eldest sons blessing. Joseph is upset, but Jacob says, they will both be blessed, by Ephraim will be before Manasseh. Jacob is continuing the pattern of youngest before oldest. The unexpected; that’s what we can expect from God.

Matthew 23:1-22

This passage talks about being hypocrites and the need to be a servant rather than a ruler. Again, Jesus is lifting up the unexpected role of servant as something to be esteemed instead of despised.
Jesus advises the disciples to hold the Messiah as their teacher and example, instead of seeking glory for yourself. The religion that was being practiced in Jesus’ day focused on works and works righteousness, rather than on God’s blessing and works being our response to God’s love This view keeps people comparing their actions to others instead of being thankful for the grace they have received and offering that grace to those they encounter.

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