11th January

Genesis 35-37; Psalm 11

Bible in a Year
5 minutes

Genesis 35-37

Jacob is now firmly back on family soil, and God has answered Jacob’s prayer from Genesis 28:20-22. God uses this as an opportunity to reaffirm his promise and commitment to Jacob. He confirms the name change to Israel and reminds Jacob what he’s going to do for him and his family.

We see that every time God does something for Jacob, or reveals himself, Jacob goes on to build an altar or pillar of rocks. He builds something tangible so that when he sees these things again, he can remind himself of the good things God has done.

Similarly, we need to make sure that we write down and remind ourselves of all the good things God has done for us. It will give us confidence in the hard times, and faith that God is going to do more in the good times.

Rachel dies giving birth to a final son, Benjamin. Jacob now has twelve sons. Some people look at Jacob and think, “how dare he overwrite Rachel’s choice of name. Typical man!” The issue was Ben-Oni literally meant ‘Son of my Sorrow’. Rachel obviously was not in a great headspace when she named him. She was dying. So Jacob renamed him to give him a more positive name ‘Son of my Right Hand’.

Unfortunately, in this chapter we also have Reuben committing a horrible act by sleeping with his father’s concubines (Genesis 35:22). Remember how when Noah got drunk I noted that his son Ham may have slept with his wife so that that he could be the alpha male? Well that’s what Reuben is doing here. Jacob doesn’t do anything about it straight away, but make note of it, because that’s going to come back later.

We are actually finished now with Jacob, and so for the last few chapters the story focuses on Jacob’s sons. But before moving on we get a catch-up on what happened to Jacob’s brother Esau and his family. Esau decides to take his family away, as there wasn’t enough land for both him and his brother.

They set up shop in a land called Seir. His descendants would eventually take over this land and become known as the nation of Edom. We then get a list of Esau’s descendants and Edom’s kings, with some descriptions of great deeds they had done.

Finally, we have the familiar story of Joseph and his technicolour dream coat. A little detail we often miss is that Joseph would regularly give reports to his father on all that his brothers did wrong (Genesis 37:2). In other words, Joseph used to snitch on his brothers when they would shepherd the sheep together in the fields. No wonder they didn’t like him.

One last point I want to make is on timing. Joseph clearly gets prophetic dreams from God and then tells these dreams to his family, which then gets him into trouble. The problem wasn’t the dreams. They really were from God. The problem was Joseph’s timing. He assumed as soon as he got the dream he needed to tell it.

We can make the same mistake when we get a prophetic word. We assume that God has given it to us now, for us to speak it out now. Sometimes God gives us prophetic words for ourselves, or for others, that he wants us to hold on to for a while and pray into before sharing.

Next time you feel God speaking to you, first ask God to unpack it and explain it more, but then ask him whether he wants you to share it or hold it. It might just save you from being sold into slavery.

Joseph’s brothers decide to sell him into slavery and tell their father he was murdered by some wild animal. Jacob mourns for his son, not knowing that far away he was now a slave to an Egyptian officer named Potiphar.

Psalm 11

This psalm is attributed to King David and fits into the category of trust psalm (see also Psalm 16; 23; 62; 63; 91). These psalms sing only of confidence in who God is.

Psalm 11:1 - The Lord is our refuge

Psalm 11:2-3 - False claims on what happens to the righteous and the wicked

Psalm 11:4 - The Lord rules on high

Psalm 11:5-6 - The truth on what happens to the righteous and the wicked

Psalm 11:7 - The Lord is righteous

The psalmist is clearly going through some struggles because they feel the need to take refuge in the Lord. But the focus isn’t on those struggles. It’s firmly on God.

So much so that he challenges the claims of others, who tell him to flee because their enemies are preparing to take them out. He challenges the idea that the wicked are the ones in control, and that the righteous have no foundations or strength to stand on.

God is on the throne. He sees all things. He is in control, not the wicked. Yes, he might test the righteous, to see if they are true, but it is the wicked he will punish and deal with. God is righteous, and he will take care of those who are upright before him.

In Psalm 9 and Psalm 10 we saw two different ways of bringing God our problems. Start with praise or end with praise. Psalm 11 gives us a third option. Sometimes, it’s not even worth giving our problems the time of day. Instead, we’re better off just grounding ourselves in the foundation of the goodness of God. In these situations, our prayers are praise all the way through.

Having looked at these three psalms, you may feel like there’s a particular route you prefer, and that’s fine. But make sure you don’t completely ignore the other two. Each one is beneficial in different ways.

If you decide you are only ever going to praise, then your heart never really gets to lament. But by the same token, spend too much time on lament and you lose the will to praise.

Anything you think I've missed? Maybe you've got a question that still needs answering. Send me a message over on my Instagram (@brynjoslin). I'd love to talk it through with you some more.

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  • JOSEPH AND JUDAH | Bible Study | Jesus In All of Chapters 37-38

    Spoken Gospel

    Joseph is clearly set apart from her brothers. We also see another brother highlighted in these passages. Joseph and Judah.

  • Further Study

    Overview: Genesis Ch. 12-50


    Understanding the context of your passage is always important. BibleProject always do an incredible job of breaking down each book so you can see how your passage fits into the wider story.

    The Book of Genesis - Part 2


    BibleProject have done an animated recap of Genesis 12-50 to help you fit today's passage into the overarching story of Genesis.

    The Bible Explained: Genesis


    Spoken Gospel outlines the book of Genesis and point out some of the key themes, all in the medium of spoken word.

    DEFILING DINAH | Bible Study | Jesus In All of Genesis 34-36


    Spoken Gospel take a look at the terrible story of Dinah and Shechem.

© Bryn Joslin