The Clarion, Oct. 2023

Volume 4, Issue 10               October  2023


Don’t you just love the Fall colors? God is the God of abundance. He did not just give us one shade of red or yellow or even green. No, He gave us many shades and many varieties and so He also gives us many options. We can go right or left or up or down, but each option may have a different result. We have the option to do right or to do wrong, to do good or to do bad, to help or to neglect. Everyday we make these kinds of decisions. If we make the right decisions then life takes on a beauty like those Fall leaves. If we make the wrong decision, then life takes on the death of Fall. God is life, and sin is death, so we should celebrate life, but too often, especially lately, believers want to celebrate death.  Halloween is just that! It is a celebration of death. It in no way honors God, at least not the one true God. Yet, believers today think that they can participate if they use it to witness to unbelievers , so they dress up like Bible characters. Yeshua never went to pagan celebrations to preach to the crowd. In fact, we are to be set-apart, holy, like God is holy. We are not to go to a bar to witness to unbelievers, nor take part in their revelry. 1 Peter 4:1-5 tells us this, “Therefore, since Messiah has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because the one who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,  so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human lusts, but for the will of God.  For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of indecent behavior, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties, and wanton idolatries.  In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them in the same excesses of debauchery, and they slander you;  but they will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” You may think that it is harmless for your children to go trick or treating, but it is not harmless, for it tells your children that they can sit on the fence of good and evil. Dying to your past life can be beautiful, just like an Autumn day, but when we return to our past ways, it is like Proverbs 26:11 tells us, “It is like a dog that returns to its vomit, so is a fool who repeats his foolishness.” Today, enjoy the beauty of the season, for while the leaves are on the tree, there is still life. John 15:5-6 says “ I am the vine, you are the branches; the one who remains in Me, and I in him bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown away like a branch and dries up; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.” Choose life, not death! 

Happy Autumn

Egypt: The Patriarchs  Part 4

We ended last month with the two dreams that Joseph had when he was younger. It seems that these two dreams showed Joseph was in power and his family were all bowing down to him. Pharaoh has just made Joseph one step away from being Pharaoh of Egypt. So let’s continue on with the story. So the people of Egypt were already buying back their own grain, and here comes Joseph’s brothers, to buy grain for their families. Joseph, after being in Egypt all those years, dressed, and talked, and even looked Egyptian, so the brothers would not have recognized him. But what is interesting here is that they were all bowing down to him just like in his dream. Now, if we get into Joseph’s head we can surmise that this gave Joseph a great feeling of satisfaction. I’m sure that just being second in command gave him an empowering feeling. So Joseph begins to play a little cat and mouse game with his brothers by calling them spies. Genesis 42:15-17 says, “And this is how you will be tested: As surely as Pharaoh lives, you will not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here.  Send one of your numbers to get your brother; the rest of you will be kept in prison, so that your words may be tested to see if you are telling the truth. If you are not, then as surely as Pharaoh lives, you are spies!”  And he put them all in custody for three days.”

Joseph felt he had a right to test his brothers to see if they were the same as when they put him into the pit. Genesis 42: 18-21 continues, “On the third day, Joseph said to them, “Do this and you will live, for I fear God:  If you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay here in prison, while the rest of you go and take grain back for your starving households.  But you must bring your youngest brother to me, so that your words may be verified and that you may not die.” This they proceeded to do.  They said to one another, “Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that’s why this distress has come on us.”

It was certainly working because he questions their honesty, and they begin to question the past. Joseph does everything he can to cause them to fear and to question and to be distressed.  I’m sure he felt distressed when in the pit, and then being taken away from his family and being sold. Well, the story goes that they had to come back and they brought their younger brother Benjamin, and seeing Benjamin, Joseph had to express his feelings, and expose his identity. Everyone hugged and kissed each other and all was forgiven. Joseph sends for his father and the whole household of Jacob to come and live in Egypt. So now Jacob finds himself in Egypt during a famine like his grandfather Abraham. Genesis 46:26-27 says this about who came to Egypt. “All those who went to Egypt with Jacob, those who were his direct descendants, not counting his sons’ wives numbered sixty-six persons.  With the two sons who had been born to Joseph in Egypt, the members of Jacob’s family, which went to Egypt, were seventy in all.”

It is important that the Scriptures tell us the number who came to Egypt with Jacob, and we will see why as we go on. Like Abraham, Joseph’s family is welcomed with open arms from Pharaoh. Genesis 47:1-6 tells us this, “Joseph went and told Pharaoh, “My father and brothers, with their flocks and herds and everything they own, have come from the land of Canaan and are now in Goshen.”  He chose five of his brothers and presented them before Pharaoh. Pharaoh asked the brothers, “What is your occupation?” “Your servants are shepherds,” they replied to Pharaoh, “just as our fathers were.”  They also said to him, “We have come to live here for a while, because the famine is severe in Canaan and your servants’ flocks have no pasture. So now, please let your servants settle in Goshen.”  Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you,  and the land of Egypt is before you; settle your father and your brothers in the best part of the land. Let them live in Goshen. And if you know of any among them with special ability, put them in charge of my own livestock.”

Well, now that Joseph and his family are reunited let’s get back to the famine. Joseph is still 2nd in command of all of Egypt and the famine still had many years before it was going to end. Genesis 47:13-17 goes on to tell us this, “There was no food, however, in the whole region because the famine was severe; both Egypt and Canaan wasted away because of the famine.  Joseph collected all the money that was to be found in Egypt and Canaan in payment for the grain they were buying, and he brought it to Pharaoh’s palace.  When the money of the people of Egypt and Canaan was gone, all Egypt came to Joseph and said, “Give us food. Why should we die before your eyes? Our money is all gone.” “Then bring your livestock,” said Joseph. “I will sell you food in exchange for your livestock, since your money is gone.”  So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and he gave them food in exchange for their horses, their sheep and goats, their cattle and donkeys. And he brought them through that year with food in exchange for all their livestock.”

We see here that Joseph has collected all the people’s money and now their livestock. You have to wonder why? Let’s take a moment to consider a very important thing here. Joseph originally told Pharaoh that he should collect a fifth of everyone’s grain. The people for seven years lived on 4/5th of their crop, now you have to wonder how then can they now live on only 1/5 of their crop? And not only that, but people from all over came to buy grain. This had to be a miracle of multiplication from God. We see this in 2 Kings 4:42-44, “A man from Baal Shalishah came to Elisha. He brought 20 loaves of barley bread from the first harvest to Elisha. He also brought fresh grain in his sack. Then Elisha said, “Give it to the people to eat.” Elisha’s servant said, “How can I feed 100 men with so little?” But Elisha said, “Give the bread to the people to eat. This is what the Lord says: ‘They will eat and will have food left over.’”  Then he gave it to them. The people ate and had food left over, as the Lord had said.” We also see Yeshua doing this same thing when feeding the 4,000 and then the 5,000 with just a few fish and loaves. (Matthew 14:13-21, Matthew 15:29-39) We see that God was in control during this whole famine, and in the bringing back of Joseph’s family not in the land of Canaan but in Egypt. With that thought we must look at the end of the story. Genesis 50:5-21 tells us this, When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?”  So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died:  ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God?  You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.  So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.” 

No one knows the plans of God, what we may think is a wrong being done to us, or a bad situation, can be used by God for good, so we must learn to trust God in all situations. We will end here at Genesis 47:18-25, “When that year was over, they came to him the following year and said, “We cannot hide from our lord the fact that since our money is gone and our livestock belongs to you, there is nothing left for our lord except our bodies and our land.  Why should we perish before your eyes—we and our land as well? Buy us and our land in exchange for food, and we with our land will be in bondage to Pharaoh. Give us seed so that we may live and not die, and that the land may not become desolate.” So Joseph bought all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh. The Egyptians, one and all, sold their fields, because the famine was too severe for them. The land became Pharaoh’s,  and Joseph reduced the people to servitude, from one end of Egypt to the other.  However, he did not buy the land of the priests, because they received a regular allotment from Pharaoh and had enough food from the allotment Pharaoh gave them. That is why they did not sell their land. Joseph said to the people, “Now that I have bought you and your land today for Pharaoh, here is seed for you so you can plant the ground.  But when the crop comes in, give a fifth of it to Pharaoh. The other four-fifths you may keep as seed for the fields and as food for yourselves and your households and your children.” “You have saved our lives,” they said. “May we find favor in the eyes of our lord; we will be in bondage to Pharaoh.” We will continue next month with Moses.

Kids Corner:    Match Game

Test your younger children with this match game.

Can you match the name with the place?

Adam                                   Wilderness

Noah                                     Jail

Joseph                                   Nazereth

People of Israel                   Ark

John the Baptist                  Garden of Eden

Jesus                                      Lion’s Den

Paul                                       River Jordan

Daniel                                  Tent of Meeting 

Aaron                                   Mountain

Moses                                   Egypt

Hebrew Corner:                 The Martyrs

James the Great.

After the death of Stephen we see James the Great. James was the son of Zebedee. His younger brother was the Apostle John. Matthew 4:21-22 speaks of Yeshua’s first encounter with James and his brother John. “Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets; and He called them.  Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.” James and John were related to Yeshua, their mother Salome, was Mary’s cousin.  James along with his brother John, and Peter, formed an informal triumvirate among the Twelve Apostles in the Gospels. Yeshua allowed them to be the only apostles present at three particular occasions during His public ministry, the Raising of Jairus’ daughter, Mark 5:37, Transfiguration of Yeshua, Matthew 17:1, and Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane Matthew 26:37.

Ten years after the death of Stephen, Herod Agrippa was appointed governor of Judea around CE 44. Herod Agrippa, began to persecute Christians and he thought a good place to start was with their leaders. Now do not get confused with James the brother of Yeshua, who was the head of the Jerusalem Council. Matthew 20:20-22 tells us this, “Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Yeshua with her sons, bowing down and making a request of Him.  And He said to her, ‘What do you desire?’ She said to Him, ‘Say that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine shall sit, one at Your right, and one at Your left.’  But Yeshua replied, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?’ They said to Him, “We are able.”’

Acts 12:1-2 says this, “ Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church, to do them harm.  And he had James, the brother of John, executed with a sword.”  Clemens Alexandrinus tells us that when James was led to the place of martyrdom, his accuser, overcome by conviction, repented of his conduct when he saw the Apostle James’ great courage in the face of death, that he fell at James’ feet and asked for forgiveness. He also asked if he too could be beheaded alongside him.  The day came when James did finally drink the cup that Yeshua was speaking of.  The site of martyrdom is located within the Armenian Apostolic Cathedral of St. James in the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem. The Chapel of St. James the Great, located to the left of the sanctuary, is the traditional place where he was martyred. His head is buried under the altar, marked by a piece of red marble and surrounded by six votive lamps. With much of church history, there are legends, and myths, and so often embellished by people, that the correct account may never be known, but we do know that the Bible records history correctly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *