Monday, March 17, 2014

Theocratic Ministry School Week Starting March 17 ‒ Highlights of Genesis 43-46

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References to the Theocratic Ministry School

Program of the Theocratic Ministry School: Week Starting March 17


Mar. 17 Bible reading: Genesis 43-46
No. 1: Genesis 44:18-34
No. 2: Who Will Be Included in the Earthly Resurrection? (rs p. 339 ¶3–p. 340 ¶3)
No. 3: Abijah—Do Not Stop Leaning Upon Jehovah (it-1 p. 23, Abijah No. 5)


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Highlights of Genesis 43-46


Joseph’s mercy was not extended without a basis. He had already observed evidence of their repentance. For example, when Joseph accused his half brothers of being spies, he overheard them say among themselves: “Unquestionably we are guilty with regard to our brother . . . That is why this distress has come upon us.” (Genesis 42:21) Also, Judah had offered to become a slave in Benjamin’s place in order that the young man could be returned to his father.—Genesis 44:33, 34.
Hence, Joseph was justified in extending mercy. Indeed, he realized that doing so could result in the salvation of his entire family. Therefore, Joseph told his half brothers to return to their father, Jacob, and say to him: “This is what your son Joseph has said: ‘God has appointed me lord for all Egypt. Come down to me. Do not delay. And you must dwell in the land of Goshen, and you must continue near me, you and your sons and the sons of your sons and your flocks and your herds and everything you have. And I will supply you with food there.’”—Genesis 45:9-11.

STEWARDS—THEIR ROLE
4 In ancient times, a steward was often a trusted slave assigned to supervise the household or business affairs of his master. Typically, stewards had considerable authority and were charged with managing household belongings, money, and other servants. We can see this in the case of Eliezer, who was entrusted with the care of Abraham’s extensive belongings. It may have been Eliezer whom Abraham sent to Mesopotamia to choose a wife for his son Isaac. What an important and far-reaching assignment!—Gen. 13:2; 15:2; 24:2-4.
5 Abraham’s great-grandson Joseph looked after the household of Potiphar. (Gen. 39:1, 2) In time, Joseph came to have a steward of his own, who was appointed “over Joseph’s house.” That steward arranged hospitality for Joseph’s ten brothers. And at Joseph’s command, he orchestrated matters concerning the “stolen” silver cup. Clearly, stewards enjoyed positions of great trust.—Gen. 43:19-25; 44:1-12.

Scriptural Questions Answered:
43:32—Why was eating a meal with the Hebrews detestable to the Egyptians? This may largely have been because of religious prejudice or racial pride. The Egyptians also detested shepherds. (Genesis 46:34) Why? Sheepherders may simply have been near the bottom in the Egyptian caste system. Or it could be that since the land available for cultivation was limited, the Egyptians despised those seeking pasture for flocks.
44:5—Did Joseph actually use a cup to read omens? The silver cup and what was said about it were evidently part of a subterfuge or stratagem. Joseph was a faithful worshiper of Jehovah. He did not really use the cup to read omens, even as Benjamin did not actually steal it.

Did Joseph, a faithful servant of Jehovah, use a special silver cup to read omens, as seems to be indicated at Genesis 44:5?
There is no reason to believe that Joseph actually employed any form of divination.
The Bible reveals Joseph’s real understanding on the use of magical arts to learn the future. Earlier, when he was asked to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams, Joseph repeatedly insisted that only God can “announce” upcoming events. As a result, Pharaoh himself came to believe that the God whom Joseph worshipped—the true God, not occult powers—caused Joseph to know details about the future. (Genesis 41:16, 25, 28, 32, 39) In the Law given to Moses later on, Jehovah prohibited the use of magic or divination, thus confirming that He alone foretells the future.—Deuteronomy 18:10-12.
Why, then, did Joseph indicate through his servant that he used a silver cup to ‘read omens expertly’? (Genesis 44:5) We need to consider the circumstances under which this statement was made.
Because of a very severe famine, Joseph’s brothers had traveled to Egypt to obtain food. Years earlier, these same brothers had sold Joseph into slavery. Now, unbeknownst to them, they requested assistance from their own brother, who had become Egypt’s food administrator. Joseph did not reveal himself to them. Instead, he decided to test them. Fittingly, Joseph wanted to determine the genuineness of their repentance. He also wanted to find out whether—and to what degree—they loved their brother Benjamin and their father, Jacob, who was especially fond of Benjamin. Thus, Joseph resorted to a ruse.—Genesis 41:55–44:3.
Joseph commanded one of his servants to fill his brothers’ bags with food supplies, return each one’s money in the mouth of his bag, and put Joseph’s silver cup in the mouth of Benjamin’s bag. In all of this, Joseph was representing himself as an administrator of a pagan land. He adapted himself, his actions, and his language to the character of such an administrator, as it would appear in the eyes of his unsuspecting brothers.
When Joseph confronted his brothers, he continued with his subterfuge, asking them: “Did you not know that such a man as I am can expertly read omens?” (Genesis 44:15) Thus, the cup was evidently all part of the stratagem. Joseph’s use of the cup to read omens was no more real than Benjamin’s theft of it.

How did Joseph’s mercy reflect true fear of God?
Years later Joseph came face-to-face with his brothers, who had heartlessly sold him into slavery. He could easily have used their desperate need for food as an opportunity to avenge the wrong they had done to him. But treating people tyrannically does not reflect the fear of God. (Leviticus 25:43) Thus, when Joseph saw ample proof of his brothers’ change of heart, he mercifully forgave them. Like Joseph, our godly fear will move us to conquer evil with good, as well as hold us back from falling into temptation.—Genesis 45:1-11; Psalm 130:3, 4; Romans 12:17-21.

Joseph provides an outstanding example of mercy. Strict justice would have demanded that he punish those who had sold him into slavery. In contrast, sentiment could have moved him simply to overlook their transgression. Joseph did neither. Instead, he tested his half brothers’ repentance. Then, when he saw that their sorrow was genuine, he forgave them.
We can imitate Joseph. When someone who has sinned against us displays a genuine change of heart, we should forgive him. Of course, we should never let mere sentiment blind us to gross wrongdoing. On the other hand, we should not let feelings of resentment blind us to acts of genuine repentance. So let us “continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely.” (Colossians 3:13) In doing so, we will be imitating our God, Jehovah, who is “ready to forgive.”—Psalm 86:5; Micah 7:18, 19.

15. What can help us to avoid becoming bitter when we suffer?
15 What can help us not to become consumed with bitterness toward those who hate us without cause? Remember that our principal adversaries are Satan and the demons. (Ephesians 6:12) While some humans knowingly and deliberately persecute us, many of those who oppose God’s people do so out of ignorance or are manipulated by others. (Daniel 6:4-16; 1 Timothy 1:12, 13) Jehovah desires that “all sorts of men” have the opportunity to “be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4) Indeed, some former opposers are now our Christian brothers as a result of having observed our blameless conduct. (1 Peter 2:12) In addition, we can draw a lesson from the example of Jacob’s son Joseph. Although Joseph suffered greatly on account of his half brothers, he did not harbor animosity toward them. Why not? Because he discerned that Jehovah’s hand was in the matter, maneuvering events in order to fulfill His purpose. (Genesis 45:4-8) Jehovah can likewise cause any unjust suffering we may undergo to work out for the glory of his name.—1 Peter 4:16.

Yet not all the Hebrews kept firmly separate from those who did not worship Jehovah. For instance, Dinah associated with young persons in her neighborhood who did not serve the true God. With what result? One of the young men became passionately aroused and violated her. It seems that for a time Judah moved away from his family and took a Canaanite wife. How did that work out? Well, three sons resulted from that unequal union, but Jehovah had to destroy two of them because of their badness. Simeon also had a son by a Canaanite. This evidently was considered so much out of the ordinary or so undesirable that attention was called to it in the list of Jacob’s descendants.—Genesis 34:1, 2; 38:1-10; 46:8-10.

6. How did Joseph demonstrate genuine love for his father, and how can we imitate his example?
6 With Jehovah’s blessing, Joseph had become one of Egypt’s richest and most powerful men. (Genesis 41:40) But he did not consider himself too important or too busy to honor his 130-year-old father. On learning that Jacob (or Israel) was approaching, “Joseph had his chariot made ready and went up to meet Israel his father at Goshen. When he appeared to him he at once fell upon his neck and gave way to tears upon his neck again and again.” (Genesis 46:28, 29) This welcome was much more than a formal show of respect. Joseph dearly loved his elderly father and was not ashamed to demonstrate his love. If we have aging parents, are we similarly unstinting in our expressions of affection for them?

Do Not Neglect Your Spiritual Needs
Unexpected dismissal from a job may at first unnerve even the most balanced Christian, but we should not neglect our spiritual needs. Take, for example, 40-year-old Moses, whose whole life changed when he lost his position within the aristocracy and had to become a shepherd, a job the Egyptians despised. (Genesis 46:34) Moses had to adjust to his new circumstances. For the following 40 years, he allowed Jehovah to mold and prepare him for new tasks ahead. (Exodus 2:11-22; Acts 7:29, 30; Hebrews 11:24-26) Despite facing difficulties, Moses was spiritually focused, willing to accept Jehovah’s training. May we never allow unfavorable circumstances to overshadow our spiritual values!


No. 1: Genesis 44:18-34


No. 2: Who Will Be Included in the Earthly Resurrection? (rs p. 339 ¶3–p. 340 ¶3)

rs p. 339 ¶3–p. 340 ¶3 Resurrection
John 5:28, 29: “Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice [the voice of Jesus] and come out.” (The Greek word translated “memorial tombs” is not the plural form of ta′phos [grave, an individual burial place] or hai′des [gravedom, the common grave of dead mankind] but is the plural dative form of mne•mei′on [remembrance, memorial tomb]. It lays stress on preserving memory of the deceased person. Not those whose memory was blotted out in Gehenna because of unforgivable sins but persons remembered by God will be resurrected with the opportunity to live forever.—Matt. 10:28; Mark 3:29; Heb. 10:26; Mal. 3:16.)
Acts 24:15: “I have hope toward God . . . that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Both those who lived in harmony with God’s righteous ways and people who, out of ignorance, did unrighteous things will be resurrected. The Bible does not answer all our questions as to whether certain specific individuals who have died will be resurrected. But we can be confident that God, who knows all the facts, will act impartially, with justice tempered by mercy that does not ignore his righteous standards. Compare Genesis 18:25.)
Rev. 20:13, 14: “The sea gave up those dead in it, and death and Hades gave up those dead in them, and they were judged individually according to their deeds. And death and Hades were hurled into the lake of fire. This means the second death, the lake of fire.” (So, those whose death was attributable to Adamic sin will be raised, whether they were buried at sea or in Hades, the common earthly grave of dead mankind.)
See also the main heading “Salvation.”
If billions are to be raised from the dead, where will they all live?
A very liberal estimate of the number of people who have ever lived on earth is 20,000,000,000. As we have seen, not all of these will be resurrected. But, even if we assume that they would be, there would be ample room. The land surface of the earth at present is about 57,000,000 square miles (147,600,000 sq km). If half of that were set aside for other purposes, there would still be just a little less than an acre (c. 0.37 ha) per person, which can provide more than enough food. At the root of present food shortages is not any inability of the earth to produce sufficient but, rather, political rivalry and commercial greed.

No. 3: Abijah—Do Not Stop Leaning Upon Jehovah (it-1 p. 23, Abijah No. 5)

it-1 p. 23, Abijah No. 5 Abijah
5. One of Rehoboam’s 28 sons, also called Abijam, who became the second king of the two-tribe kingdom of Judah and reigned from 980 to 978 B.C.E. (1Ki 14:31–15:8) He was a regal descendant of David on both his father’s and his mother’s side, the 16th generation from Abraham in the royal lineage of Jesus Christ. (1Ch 3:10; Mt 1:7) Of Rehoboam’s 18 wives and 60 concubines, Maacah (called Micaiah in 2 Chronicles 13:2), the granddaughter of Absalom, was his most beloved and was favored above the others by having her son Abijah chosen as successor to the throne, although he was not Rehoboam’s firstborn son.—2Ch 11:20-22.
With the ascension of Abijah to the throne in the 18th year of King Jeroboam I of Israel, the hostilities between the northern and southern kingdoms resumed, and war ensued. Drawn up in battle formation against Judah’s chosen army of 400,000 mighty men of war were Jeroboam’s 800,000 warriors. Undaunted by such odds, Abijah, in an impassioned speech, addressed himself to Jeroboam’s crowd, condemning their idolatrous calf worship and reminding them that Jehovah’s covenant with David was for a never-ending kingdom. “With us there is at the head the true God,” declared Abijah, therefore “do not fight against Jehovah . . . for you will not prove successful.”—2Ch 12:16–13:12.
In the violent battle that ensued, Jeroboam’s ambush was providentially thwarted and half a million of his men were destroyed, thus breaking Jeroboam’s military power. Even the city of Bethel, where one of the detestable golden calves together with an apostate priesthood had been installed, was captured. And all of this, because Abijah had “leaned upon Jehovah.” (2Ch 13:13-20) Nevertheless, Abijah went on walking in the sins of his father Rehoboam by allowing the high places, sacred pillars, and even the male temple prostitutes to continue in the land. “His heart did not prove to be complete with Jehovah his God.” (1Ki 14:22-24; 15:3) During his lifetime he had 14 wives and 38 children, and upon his death his son Asa succeeded him upon the throne.—2Ch 13:21; 14:1.
References consulted on the website: "Watchtower Online Library"
Watchtower Online Library

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