Sermon Ideas Focus

Reverend Henry L. Midgett is pastor of the First Baptist Church of St. Louis, Mo. He is a giant preacher of the word. Hear ye him.



Last Updated December 24, 2001
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Chapter 2: 22,23

2:22-23 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. 23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man."

This text focuses on the nature and role of women in the Old and New Testaments of the bible.

Genesis gives us the biblical account of the creation of mankind. It focuses on God's creation of a male and female man, whom he named Adam and Eve. The female was called Wo-man because she was intrinsically a "man with a womb" which is what the word woman means.4

There are two accounts of the creation of mankind in the Genesis. Genesis 1:26-30 describes the creation of mankind in general terms. In Genesis 2:7-25 a more detailed account is given focusing on the order of creation. Adam was created and given dominion over the earth. A while later God decided to make a partner for Adam. He took a rib from Adam's side and created woman.

The use of bone tissue from Adam to create Eve is significant. Using bone tissue is important because bones contain a substance that creates and makes blood forming cells, called "marrow." Having been given blood forming cells identical to those of Adam, Eve and her mate were "bone of bone."They became one blood. Had God chosen to create Eve using the same method that he used to create Adam the results may not have been the same. At the very least they would have been partners but not "bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh."

In the beginning both Adam and Eve shared the same charge: to have dominion over the earth. The distinctions came when sin was introduced into God's perfect order. As a result of the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden several punishments were made. Eve was given two punishments 1)Increased pain in childbirth and 2)Subordination to her husband (Gen. 3:16). Adam was punished with the curse of "responsibility" and labor.(Gen 3:17-19). From this point forward the relationship of men and women was defined and woven into the fabric of society. The Edicts given in Eden formed the theological basis for the subjugation of women for thousands of years.

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Chapter 4: 8

4:8 "And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.

This text focuses on Cain and Abel the first two sons of Adam and Eve as they presented the fruit of their labor for the approval of God. Cain, a farmer, brought before God the first fruits of his crops and offered them in a sacrifice. Abel was a herdsman and brought a sacrifice to God from the best of his flocks. Both men presented God with a grand sacrifice. However, God found one sacrifice acceptable and the other unacceptable. God showed respect to Abel's sacrifice and received it while rejecting Cain's. God explained to Cain in verses 6-7 that he had no real reason to be upset. If he came before God in the same way his work could be blessed too. He warned him in verse 7 however, to beware because the presence of evil was waiting for an opportunity to seize him. He was warned to be on guard.

Rather than reorder his sacrifice and make himself more acceptable to God Cain lured Abel to an open field, talked with him for a while, and then killed him. In the aftermath Cain tried to hide his sin from God who asked "Where is Abel thy brother?" Cain answered God's question with a question: "Am I my brother's keeper?"

Thus Cain became the first murderer. Abel, his victim, was his own brother, who crime was that he was hard working and humble and presented his best self to God and it was accepted. Cain remained unrepentant and a marked man for the rest of his life, just as his descendants were after him.

Three Questions

The tragedy of rising crime, murder and disrespect for human life is epitomized by the three questions asked in this text.

Why art thou wroth? This was the question that God asked Cain. Why are you angry? Today the same question can be posed to those disposed to bring hurt on others: Why are you angry?

Cain's anger was rooted in the fact that Abel was successful at getting God's blessing and he was not. What made Abel's sacrifice acceptable was not the type of offering, but Abel's attitude of faith and humility. Hebrews 11:4 says "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous..." Rather than change his attitude, Cain became jealous and envious of his brother.

Even today there are people who are angry with others because they seem to live a blessed life. God appears to accept your sacrifice and he has given you a few creature comforts to make life easier and there are those who are angry, envious, and jealous of you because God likes what you are doing. Some of them become so angry with you that they work to destroy you. Sometimes that destruction is literal, in the case of physical murder, sometimes it is more subtle as they work to destroy your life's work, reputation and image.

Most of the murders which are occurring today are the result of anger and frustration. Involved in the anger, in many instances, are envy, fear, and jealousy. Many are choosing to go the way of Cain in that they are attempting to improve their condition by worsening yours. Somehow they think status life is graded on a heavenly curve.

"Why are you angry? Why is thou countenance fallen?" God asks. Cain and none of those who follow him, never fully answered. "Where is Abel thy brother?" This is the question that God posed to Cain after the murder. Cain's response indicates a second underlying cause of murder and violent behavior in our society. Cain responded to God's to God's three questions by asking "Am I my brother's keeper?" He felt no obligation for the protection and care of his brother. Neither was there a respect for the value of his life. 

4:10 "..The voice of thy brother's blood, crieth unto from the ground."

These three text verses consider individual instances of shed blood and a collective expectation of a response for that shed blood.

Cain and Abel both made approaches to God by making sacrificial offerings. Abel's offering was accepted, but Cain's was, for some reason, not acceptable. Cain rose up against his brother in vengeance and killed him. When God asked of Abel's whereabouts Cain asked a question that has been asked many times since: "Am I my brother's keeper?" God said that Abel's blood cried out from the ground for God to make a response. Abel's blood cried out for God to take action to avenge his death.

John looking into the future envisioned the saints waiting in glory, asking "How long?" before their deaths would be avenged and they would receive their reward. They, like Abel, were the innocents. They were the ones persecuted for righteous causes. They were the ones whose blood, sweat and tears, were given sacrificially to help achieve the kingdom's end.

In both instances the blood of the slain expected a response, the question was not will God respond, but "how long?"

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Chapter 5: 24

5:24 "And Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him."

This text first considers Enoch, the father of Methuselah and the grandfather of Lamech. The five verses that refer to Enoch fall in the midst of a litany of family genealogies that site the life and death of many of the descendants of Adam.

The litanies all end the same way...and he died. Seth lived a hundred and five years...and he died. And all the days of Enos were 915 years...and he died. And all the Days of Jared were 962 years....and he died. Very little is said about the lives of these great men except that they begat children and died.

However in the case of Enoch a special notation was made..."And Enoch walked with God"

Walking with God is a desirable trait. He who walks with God is one that learns to pace himself in life, keeping in mind that they that wait on the Lord, shall renew their strength.

He who walks with God, is one who has a firm grip on the difficulties of life and has resolved to let God's will be done.

He who walks with God, is one that stands tall though others would belittle him, and forges on though the storms will cloud his way.

Enoch walked with God and God walked with him.

Secondly this text considers that despite the closeness of Enoch's walk with God...God took him.

The departure of Enoch was uniquely different from the others listed in this chapter. Their epitaph concluded bluntly...and he died. However Enoch's departure was not described as "he died" but that "he was not" for God "took him."

He was not because God chose him, selected him, and elevated a grander life where their walk would be continued through all eternity.''

The Psalmist had this thought in mind when the Psalm 49:15 pronounced: "But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave...for he shall receive me."

The walk that is perpetual and faithful with God ends with God receiving...or taking his own.

Psalm 73:23-24 says "Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel and afterward...receive me to glory."

Enoch was spared the torturous climb up the hills of disappointment and the quickening descent into the valley shrouded by the shadows of the dusk of life.

Enoch was spared the despair of sickness and the misery that accompanies approaching death and swished to his heavenly reward, non-stop, in a twinkling of an his father's house.

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Chapter 6: 16

6:16 You shall make a window for the ark, and you shall finish it to a cubit from above.

   This text focuses on the Ark of Noah and the way God provided for its ventilation and light.
   The history of Noah's Ark is steeped in the ungodliness of men. While the first five chapters of Genesis tell of the wonder of God's creation, they also tell about the sinfulness of man. That sinfulness disturbed God so much that regretted his decision to create man. God warned Noah of His intentions to destroy the earth because of the wickedness of humanity. Noah was commanded to build an ark to God's specifications to save his family and representatives of all animals from the flood (Gen. 6:18-19).
    Because the Ark would save Noah and his family from destruction, it has become a  symbol of faith on the part of Noah and a symbol of grace on the part of God (Gen. 6:8,22).
    According to Holman, the shape of the ark was unusual. Although the Bible does not give enough detail to enable a full model to be made, the ark was apparently not shaped like a boat, either ancient or modern. The shape more closely approximates a giant block. The length was 300 cubits (about 450 feet), the width was 50 cubits (about 75 feet), and the height was 30 cubits (about 45 feet), overall dimensions that resemble the dimensions of a giant house (Gen. 6:15). The ark had three floors filled with rooms (Gen. 6:14,16).
    Some have estimated that the Ark was bigger than most steamships with a storage capacity so large that it could have easily store 600 freight cars on board filled with a combined tonnage of 90 million pounds.
    The ark was built of gopher wood (Gen. 6:14) which may have been a variety of cypress.
    Despite its great size the Ark only had and one window and one door (Gen. 6:16).
    That fact has marveled those who have studied the Ark for centuries. A three story luxury liner sized boat with only one door that had to be sealed and opened from the outside and one 25 inch window seemed impossible. They questioned how so many animals could survive for so long without light or air. Although the text only refers to "one window" some scholars seems to think that this would be an impossibility, sense air and light would be needed to sustain life on board a giant boat for one year and 17 days. They suggest that there was probably one window on each floor. Even if they were correct, three 25 inch windows for a boat that size would still be a miracle.
   They survived the darkness, with only one window!
   They survived the stench of life, with only one window!
   They overcame every imaginable reason why they should fail, inspired by the light of only one window!
    The window was so small that the only thing that Noah could see when he looked out was the waters God saved him from and heaven from which would ultimately come his help and salvation.
   Since there was  no large body of water stood nearby on which Noah could have floated such a large boat, its very construction attested to Noah's unwavering faith in God.  When he constructed the Ark there was no obvious or visible need for such a vessel. To have built such a vessel at that place and at that time was clearly an act of tremendous faith in the message of God that the vessel would be needed (Gen. 6:17-19). Noah dared to believe that he had properly understood God and that God could be depended upon (Gen. 6:22).
    The fact that it only had one small window underscores Noah's faith, enough to lock himself within and trust God for light, air and deliverance.

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Chapter 15: 15

15:15:"And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age."

This text focuses on promises God made to two old and faithful servants of the Old Testament, Abraham and Isaiah. Both men received promises from God that because of their faithfulness that they would live to achieve a "good old age" and enjoy its fruits. They were promised the sustaining presence of God in their strength, in their retiring years and in their death.

Abraham lived a life of faith in God. His life was marked by great displays of loyalty to and faith in God. God promised him great lands, a large and prosperous family and the blessing of being the family through which the opportunity for salvation would come to the earth. Abraham was promised that he would live to see a good old age. When Abraham's life ended he was 175 years old. By comparison, Abraham died at a relatively young age. Adam lived 930 years. Seth did not have his first child until he was 105 and died at age 912. Methuselah lived 969 years. Enos lived 905 years and Cainan lived 910. Therefore by comparison, Abraham's mere 175 years would have to seem something short of the life expectancy of his time..physically, 175 years old was not considered the time to die. Yet Abraham was described as having died at a good old age. What made his old age good was not the numbers and the length of his life, but the quality of the years lived.


This text also focuses on a promise of long, fruitful and abundant life that God made to his servant Abraham. Abraham, who has been characterized in scripture as a man of great faith and trust in God was only one of three men in scripture that have been described as men who lived to see a "good old age." Gideon, the great warrior who reduced his forces to 300 men on the command of God and faced his enemy on faith alone,was described as one who died in a "good old age." David, whose life was characterized by strength, action and humility before God was also described as one who died a "good old age." The only other person described in this manner was Abraham. Abraham lived a life devoted to God and his family. Even in his golden years he found favor with God and learned that even in his 90's there was still work for him to do.

There is apparently a difference between "old age" and a "good old age." This is clear when it is noted that Abraham was in his mid 90's when God spoke to him in this text and made him a promise that he would have a child, a great family and many blessings. Abraham was elderly, but there was still work for him to do. The description of a "good old age" was applied to the three men whose dedication, service and faith excelled above all others. In Genesis 25:8, over 80 years later, Abraham died and his death is recorded this way: "Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full years; and was gathered to his people."

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Chapter 19: 26

19:26 "But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt."

This text focuses on words of Jesus as he warned his disciples about becoming too attached to the things of this world. His urging was that they should never be caught, even for a moment, outside of obedience to God because his return could be any moment. He illustrated his point with three words: "Remember Lot's Wife!"

Genesis 19 gives the account of Lot, a righteous man, who lived in the city of Sodom with his wife and two daughters. Sodom was a city of decadence, homosexuality, and willful disobedience to God's will. Lot had chosen the cities of the plain because they offered exciting opportunities. Since there is no record of his coming to Sodom with a wife, it is believed that he met and married his wife in Sodom, a city that made its fortune from the mining of salt. Salt mining and the profits made from its sale made for comfortable living in Sodom. The people lived and dressed well, lived prosperously, and enjoyed themselves because of the thriving salt business. When God sent angels to deliver Lot and his family from destruction in Sodom, they were told the leave the city, run for the mountains and don't look back. On the day of the destruction angels took Lot and his family by the hand and pulled them to the outskirts of the city and pointed them toward the mountains. But as the rain of fire came down from heaven, destroying the prosperity of the city, Lot's wife stopped going forward and looked back as she watched all of the pleasant memories of her past go up in smoke. At that point God turned her into a pillar of salt, the embodiment of her hopes and dreams. Lot and the remainder of the family kept walking and did not look back.

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Chapter 22: 7

22: 7 "And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, my father; and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?"

This text focuses upon the Patriarch Abraham as he responds to a command of God which asked him to sacrifice his son Isaac. The willingness of Abraham to obey God is one of the finest examples of faith in scripture. When he traveled to the mountain top Abraham carried with him the essentials of the sacrifice, fire, wood and his son.

While much has been said about Abraham's obedience there is a wealth of importance in the question asked by young Isaac: "Where is the lamb?"

Sacrifices required an altar, wood, fire and the shedding of blood.

The word "altar" means simply a "high place" or that which "lifts up." No sacrifices were made unless there was a way to lift it up. Upon the mountain Abraham constructed an altar to lift up his sacrifice to God. To come in contact with the altar was to come in touch with the claims and character of God himself.

Abraham carried with him a knife, the wood and fire. In biblical times fire making was a tedious process. There were no matches, or lighter fuels that could make quick fires. Once a fire was lit, it was a labor of love to keep it burning for the family. Special holders and carriers were designed to carry burning coals from place to place. The fire of the altar represents the presence of God. When Israel constructed the Tabernacle, they were told by Moses never to let the fire go out and to keep it burning continuously. Isaac said to his father: "Behold the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb?"

Isaac's question was prompted by the fact that all sacrifices required the shedding of blood. An altar, no matter how beautiful and well constructed had no purpose, unless it lifted up the blood of the sacrifice. Fire and wood, no matter how well they are maintained serve no purpose unless they have a sacrifice to bring before God.

Where is the lamb? Abraham's response to his son's question was that God would provide the lamb. His statement was direct and yet prophetic. For directly afterwards the Lord showed him a ram caught in the bushes that would be used for the sacrifice. Prophetically, Abraham's belief that God would provide the lamb, referred to the coming of the lamb of God who would be sacrificed for the sins of men.

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Chapter 24: 67

24:67: And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother's death. Genesis 24:67

Genesis 24 records the classic love story of Isaac and Rebekah. Abraham became concerned that his son Isaac had no wife. Since it was the custom of the time that fathers would arrange for the marriages of their children, Abraham sent his trusted servant to look for a wife for his son. The servant traveled to a distant village. He did not know how to pick a bride for his employer's son so he turned the matter over to God. At verse 42 he asks God to show him the right woman. The servant told God that he would say "Give me, I pray thee, a ittle water of thy pitcher to drink" and the girl, if she's the right girl should respond "Both drink thou, and I will also draw for they camels."

As it happened the servant looked around a a beautiful young woman came to the well to get water. He asked his coded question and to his surprise the woman answered the exact words that he had chosen as a confirmation of his blessing. The servant hurriedly found his way to the girl's father. He produced expensive jewelry, fine necklaces and other presents for Rebekah. The family members were also given great presents. At verse 58 Rebekah was finally called in and asked whether or not she would go, sight unseen, to marry the stranger and she said "I will go."

On the return trip the servant moved hurriedly. Isaac had been away and was not aware that his father had sent for him a wife. At verse 63 Isaac was meditating in the field one night when the camel caravan returned. As he walked to meet the caravan, Rebekah saw him and instantly got off the camel. When she was told who he was she veiled her face as was the custom. When Isaac looked at her and then was told the story of his father's selection of her Isaac married her on the spot and loved her the rest of his life. Throughout the rest of his Isaac provided for her, protected her and honored her. She became the mother of Jacob and Esau and even though she tricked and deceived him concerning which of the sons should receive his blessing, he loved her until death.

Isaac's love for Rebekah on the surface appears to be at first sight. In reality it was a gradual love that developed through the years by successive action. Since love is an action word, the phrase "he loved her" implies that he took actions that showed his love. While there may have been an attraction, the love he bestowed was an act of the will and not of the emotion.

One key element of the success of this relationship is that it is a union that God brought together. Two partners who both willingly agree to submit themselves to the will of God. Even today, love must go beyond mere physical attraction. Love has to be a spiritual attraction. It is an instance where God has opened the eyes of two people to the point that they peer into each other's souls, and decide to love them despite what is seen. It's that inner person that lives forever. That's why it is important to look beyond the physical into the soul and look for God. We should avoid being uequally yoked, that is having a mate who has not love of or respect for God, for it makes the Christian life incomplete at the least and unbearable at the worse.

Issac and Rebekah did not fall in love at first sight. They decided to love at first sight and never backed away from their decision.

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Chapter 28: 12, 18

28:12 "And he dreamed and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it."

This text focuses on Jacob's vision at a place he named Bethel. Jacob had been away from home for two decades. During this time he had amassed a small fortune and married two wives. Despite his material success he still had one more obstacle that stood between himself and happiness, mending his relationship with his brother Esau. The relationship had gone sour many years before. Jacob cheated Esau out of his birthright when both of them were children. Later as young adults, his mother helped him to make itofficial and he cheated his brother out of his blessing and inheritance. Jacob's life as a trickster haunted him. As he prepared to return home, he worried about his safety, since his brother had threatened to kill him when he left two decades earlier.

Jacob's journey in life had come full circle. He had been a trickster who had been the victim of tricks himself. No doubt he worried whether his luck was taking a change for the worse. He was unsure about his future and his life. In this context God showed him a vision at night that revealed to him that there was great promise to his life. He saw a great ladder in his dream. Angels both descended and ascended the ladder in a regular pattern between earth and heaven. It was a hint that the promises God gave him would end with one that would give access to heaven freely to all. Angels go from heaven to earth and vice versa suggests free access, which was unusual considering the distance that every man kept between himself and God in Jacob's day.

`The separation that Jacob envisioned would be fulfilled in Christ Jesus. Jesus himself said in John 1:51 "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man." The prophetic picture Jacob saw was but a sign of the mediation role that Christ would play between God and man.

Christ projected himself as the link or ladder between God and man. Separated by a gulf of sin, Christ came to offer humanity a way back to heaven. Our sin was so great that no mere animal sacrifice could substitute for us. Nothing short of the blood of the lamb of God could suffice. Jesus became our mediator. He became our ladder to glory. 1 Timothy 2:5-6 puts it this way: "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

The vision that Jacob saw was just a glimpse of things to come. To him it was a sign that God had not abandoned him. It was a sign that he should continue his journey, step by step, mile by mile, until he returned home. For us, Jacob's vision is a reminder that the only link we have to God is Jesus. With him we have the continued assurance, just as Jacob had, that if we climb each rung of life's ladder, one rung at a time, we will get home someday.

28:18 "And Jacob rose up early in the morning and took the stone that he had put for his pillow and set it up for a pillar and poured oil upon the top of it."

This text introduces Jacob, one of the three prominent patriarchs of the nation of Israel. Jacob is an important character in the history of Israel because the nation bears his name, after it was changed in an all night wrestling match with an angel. Jacob was the heir of the promises of God made to Abraham his grandfather. His twelve sons became the representatives of the 12 tribes of Israel. He was an important influence on the nation, leading his family with prophetic vigor for several generations.

The text finds Jacob on a pilgrimage to the home of his uncle Laban to find himself a wife. Along the way he became weary and he made himself a bed on the ground and used a large stone for a pillow.

In the course of his slumber, the Lord talked to Jacob and caused him to see visions of grandeur in the form of a giant ladder, extended from earth to heaven and traveled by angels descending and ascending. It was an awe inspiring sight that lingered in his mind after he awoke.

Impressed with a fresh vision from God, Jacob reconsecrated himself to the service of God.

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Chapter 29: 18, 20

29:18 And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter. Genesis 29:18;

The story of Jacob and Rachel is another classic biblical love story. Jacob, the son of Isaac left home and travel to lands inhabited by his uncle Laban. While there he met a beautiful woman at the well and instantly kissed her and cried with joy. It was love at first sight. She was so beautiful that it didn't matter to him that she was his first cousin and he made a bargain with his uncle to marry her in exchange for seven years of labor. He worked daily, driven by the thought that after seven years Rachel would be his prize. However, at the end of the seven years Jacob learned that it was the custom for the oldest daughter to marry first, so in order to get Rachel he had to agree to work another seven years. Disappointed, Jacob worked another seven years to win the hand of the woman he fell in love with at the well. After 14 years and two wives, Jacob finally married Rachel and she kept a special place in his heart all of his life. Even after she died Jacob showed special favor on her children Benjamin and Joseph.

What is striking about this case of love at first sight was what Jacob was willing to do to win the hand and affection of Rachel. She was willing to work 14 years to get the woman he wanted.

What woman in her right mind could refuse the affection of a man who was willing to go that far just to win her hand? Would she have a problem submitting to leadership? Could she learn to love him? The love that developed between Jacob and Rachel was sparked by his actions toward her. His love was shown by his willingness to risk all to provide for her and to win her hand. 

29:20 "And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.

This text focuses on the romance and marriage of Jacob and Rachel.

Jacob was a colorful and important figure in Old Testament history. Nearly half the Book of Genesis tells his story. He was respected and revered so much by Old Testament believers that no one else gave their child that name. Only in the New Testament is there another named Jacob and he was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary.

By all standards Jacob was a very successful man. He was well organized, a leader of his generation and by every measure a successful man. Early in his life he caught a glimpse of future promises as he came face to face with the realization that his life goals were dependent upon his ability climb by the power of God. He envisioned a ladder that reached into glory with angels ascending and descending. In that hour he met God at a place he called Bethel. From the day he met the Lord his life became a gradual climb, round by round, toward higher heights, guided by the hand of God.

Jacob enjoyed the good life. Through hard work and sacrifice he accumulated considerable resources and was able to live a comfortable life. He worked well with people and developed a large staff of assistants and subordinates whose daily actions he directed and supervised. He invested wisely and managed his resources well. Even though he was away from home, he continued to worship God and ordered his life in a way that pleased Him. He blessed God by living a God fearing life and God blessed him with health and prosperity.

In addition to living the good life, Jacob was also able to experience real love. He fell in love with a beautiful young lady named Rachel. He was so captivated by her that he was willing to go to any extent to claim her as his own. He worked 14 years for the right to marry her. During these 14 years he was sustained by hope and anticipation. He worked hard every day to claim her. As he labored 14 Summers, 14 winters, 14 springs 14 falls and 5,110 days he was not injured in spirit. It all seemed "but just a few days!"

Jacob's story is a story of a God fearing life. It is also a story of a man who was deliriously in love. It was a life and a love that was so intense and fast moving that when it was over.. it seemed but a few days!

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Chapter 31: 3

31:3 There are many who have been estranged from their families for many years. When they consider going home, they don't know what to expect. Their last encounter wasn't the best and they troubled by the prospect of going home.

Such was the case with Jacob. He and his brother Esau had been on bad terms for over 20 years. Neither had seen or spoken to the other. Esau had sworn that he would kill his brother because he had stolen his birth right and cheated him out of his father's blessing. The family was in disarray. Mother tended to favor Jacob over Esau and bad blood was everywhere. When God told Jacob to return to his family in Genesis 31:3, Jacob did not know what to expect. He was at crossroads. He agonized over whether or not he should go home. He tossed and turned in his sleep. Just before making his decision, he wrestled with an Angel and evolved with a firm resolution to return to his kindred.

There are many siblings today that are torn in a similar way. Some have left for one reason or another and have cut off all connections with the family. On occasion the thought of going home or calling the family occurs but rarely happens because they don't know what to expect. What they remember is what they last experienced. Jacob rose above his fear of the unknown and found that his brother Esau had forgiven him and welcomed him home with arms wide open. Many today might find Jacob's experience similar to their own, especially if the spirit of God has spoken to their soul and said "go home to thy kindred." 

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Chapter 37: 18, 19, 20

37:18-20 And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him. And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh. Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams."

This text considers Joseph and his brothers as envy and jealously causes a bitter family feud that almost ended in Joseph's death.

Joseph,a son of Jacob, was his favorite son, having been born when Jacob was 91. He was the son of Jacob's true love: Racheal, and although he had other sons by his other wife, Leah, it was Rachael that was close to his heart. When Racheal died, Joseph took a place of importance in Jacob's life, moreso than the other sons. Joseph's favorite position was symbolized by a gift from his father of a "coat of many colors." This angered his brothers who were jealous of the special attention that he received. At Gen. 37:4 their hatred is noted this way: "And when his brethern saw that their father loved him more than all his brethern, they hated him and could not speak peaceably unto him." They did not like to be in his company and whenever they spoke to him it rarely in a peaceful tone.

Making matters worse was the fact that Joseph was gifted with visionary talents from God. He visions of future events for himself and had the ability to interpret the dreams of others. One of his dreams involved his own future, which was to be a great ruler. His dreams disturbed his brothers because they always pictured them in a subserviant role, either bowing down to or serving Joseph. This angered them further. Each time they saw Joseph they saw his coat of many colors and rekindled

their hatred. His new revelations about dreams of rising fame and influence made them increasingly bitter.

Ultimately the brothers decided to kill their brother. They planned to kill him and tell their father that some evil beast had caused his death. Joseph's death was only avoided when one of the brothers, Reuben, talked the others into putting him in a pit instead of killing him. While Reuben was jealous of Joseph, he hadn't reached the point of murder, but he did want to teach him a lesson.

The feud between the brothers led to Joseph's eventually being sold into slavery, freed from his imprisonment and given a high status in the Egyptian kingdom. In return, Joseph ended the feud by refusing to return evil for evil, forgave them and caused them to be special guests of the nation for many years.

37:19:  Joseph was the favorite son of his father Jacob. That favorite son status often drew the envy of his brothers who were jealous of his position. Joseph's position became dangerously imperiled when he shared his dreams with them. The dreams exacerbated the problem because they depicted the brothers in a surbordinate role to Joseph, bowing down to him and treating him as their lord Dreams in the Old Testament are rarely mentioned, except in the Books of Daniel and Genesis. In these instances, dreams are characterized as instruments used by God to depict future states. God used a dream to give Solomon an opportunity to ask for anything he wished in 1 Kings 3:5. He also used dreams to speak to the Babylonian King about his ultimate fall from grace. Prophets were often given directions in dreams.
    In the New Testament, references to dreams were very few. It appears that The New Testament placed very little importance on dreams. They were certainly mentioned much less than in the Old Testament. There are only six references and one citation to dreams or dreamers. It is significant that all these references are in the book of Matthew and still more significant that Jesus nowhere refers to dreams, evidently attaching little if any importance to them as instruments by which God would speak to individuals. The references in Matthew are confined entirely to warnings and announcements. The one citation is in Acts 2:17 which referred to an Old Testament prophecy about old men dreaming dreams and young men seeing visions.
   While dreams were diminished as a communication tool of choice, there were grand visions in both the Old and New Testaments. Prophets painting sweeping pictures of the destruction of Israel, as well as its restoration. Jesus didn't use dreams, but spoke of the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven in a way that painted a futuristic picture of the advanced state of all believers.
   Many of the dreams of the Old Testament were personal. The Butler's dream, interpreted by Joseph was personal. The baker's dream was personal. They both dealt with the personal fate of individuals and focused on them. The biblical trend seems to suggest that God gradually shifted from speaking "in" dreams to "giving" dreams or visions. That is, grand visions for the good of the people were given to the people, but not necessarily in a dream. Thus, Ezekiel was carried to a valley of dry bones, in a vision. The vision was not about Ezekiel but a broader, grander picture than simply one man in a valley of bones. It was about the restoration of an entire nation.
   The Kingdom of God characterized by Christ is bigger than one man. It involves the whole world. It also involves a dream powered by the spirit of God. As such, the dream of transforming the world by one carpenter and a rag tag collection of  unlearned men from the most non-productive region of the nation, could be realized. It could be realized, not because they wanted to make a name for themselves, but because what they wanted was the same as what God wanted and he helped make it happen.
   The great biblical leaders had visions, rather than dreams. Those visions moved an entire nation to believe in trust in God more fully and freely.
37:20 This text focuses on the boy Joseph as he became the victim of the futile efforts of his brothers to kill his dream. Joseph, a favorite son of his father Jacob was the object of scorn among his brothers both because of his favored treatment and because of his dreams. Joseph constantly dreamed a series of dreams that portrayed himself as a superior and his family members as subordinates. In one instance (v7) he saw his family binding sheaves in the field, but Joseph's sheave stood up straight while those of other family members bowed before him. In another instance he envisioned the Sun and the Moon and eleven stars bowing before him. (v9). His dream angered his brothers and disturbed his father. His brothers were so disturbed that they decided at one point to kill him, to stop the endless litany of dreams that depicted Joseph's rise and their subjection. Joseph was eventually thrown into a pit and left for dead.

One of his brothers came back and sold him to traveling merchants who sold him into service in Egypt. He was imprisoned but was later released and given a high station in the kingdom. Years later as the entire land suffered from a famine and his brothers came to buy food. He stood in royal garments as a ruler of Egypt and they bowed before him, fulfilling the dream. He forgave them, enriched them and protected for the remainder of their days. His was a dream that refused to die. 

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Chapter 41: 41, 42

41:41-42 "And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and arrayed him in vestures of linen, and put a gold chain about his neck.."

This text considers Joseph, a favorite son of Jacob. As a youth Joseph had dreams of being in high places of authority and power. His dream pictured his brothers and humbling themselves before him. He often told his brothers about his dreams and it angered them. They devised a plan to kill him and end his persistent talk about excelling over them. He was put into a pit and his brothers told his father that he was killed by a wild animal.

Joseph began a jaggered rise to success. Sometimes he rose sometimes he fell. In the pit Joseph reached a low point in his life. He was rejected by his brethern, alone and abandoned. But he was soon sold to some traveling merchants who carried him to Egypt. In Egypt he was promoted to head of a household's servants. He refused to compromise his integrity no matter how he was falsely accused of sexual improprieties and was jailed wrongly. He made a step up, then was knocked back.

In jail he rose to prominence as well. He was given charge over the other prisoners and so well liked that he was trusted beyond measure by the keeper of the prison because the keeper perceived that God was with Joseph. In prison he interpreted the dreams of fellow inmates and those dreams ultimately came true.

When one inmate he helped became free and was in the presence of the Pharaoh, he told him about Joseph. He told of Joseph's amazing gift to interpret dreams and the King was so impressed with David's abilities that he was given a high place in the king. He was promoted from the dungeon to a palace in a moment.

The uniqueness of Joseph's rapid rise is that in each instance he did not ask for any promotions. He did not seek to rise high or to gain prominence, it came as a result of his work. He had proven himself to be a man that could be trusted to do a job well. He also was promoted because people, like the jailer, were able to see that God was working through him to do a great work and they went far beyond their normal responses to help him in the work.

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