Week 6: God’s Good Plan
Weekly memory verse:
Genesis 50:20 – “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.”
What is God like?
God is the first and best of beings. He is holy, powerful, and good.
Day 26: Jacob Wrestles with God
Reading: Genesis 32:1–33:20
Chapter 32, Verse 3. Edom. Edom was the territory of Esau, south of the Dead Sea. Hence, Esau’s descendants are later called “Edomites.”
Verse 24. A Man Wrestled. This “man” may or may not have been the pre-incarnate Christ, but nevertheless, this all-night wrestling match epitomized Jacob’s lifelong struggle with both God and men to receive the blessing of God. Ultimately, this event fundamentally changes Jacob, seem most clearly in a change of name (“Israel” means “he strives with God”) and the limp he will carry with him until his death.
Chapter 33, Verse 20. El-Elohe-Israel. This means “God, the God of Israel.” The term “El” was a general term for deity. God had not yet disclosed his unique name.
This story epitomizes the unusual and unexpected blessing of God upon Jacob as the heir to the Abrahamic covenant. God fulfills the promise he had made to Jacob at Bethel, protecting Jacob and returning him safely to Canaan. And Jacob’s purchase of land and building of an altar in the same place where Abraham had first built one signifies the beginning of the fulfillment of the covenant, which has yet to be fully completed.
- What does Jacob’s prayer to God in anticipation of meeting Esau reveal about him?
- What does Jacob’s wrestling with the representative of God all night signify?
- What do you think Esau forgave Jacob?
Day 27: God Renames Jacob
Reading: Genesis 35:1–29; 37:1–36
Chapter 35, Verse 1. Bethel. This is the place where God had confirmed the Abrahamic covenant with Jacob (28:13–15).
Verse 16. Ephrath. This is an ancient name for Bethlehem.
Chapter 37, Verse 3. Robe of many colors. The Greek translation of the Old Testament used this translation of Moses’s phrase, although others prefer “a long sleeved robed.” Either way, this is an ornate robe that indicated Joseph’s favor in Jacob’s sight as the future leader of the family.
Verse 25. Ishamelites. These are descendants of Abraham’s son, Ishmael, also called Midianites.
Verse 35. Sheol. This refers to the abode of the dead and could also be translated “grave.”
God continues to confirm his blessing upon Jacob, including giving him a land and an offspring of royalty. Israel’s many children mark the beginning of a great nation, which God will use to bless all the nations of the earth.
- Why do you think God changed Jacob’s name?
- What is the significance of the birth of Benjamin in what will later be Bethlehem?
- What is important about the fact that both Jacob and Esau buried their father?
Day 28: Joseph Taken to Egypt
Reading: Genesis 39:20–41:57
Chapter 40, Verse 1. King of Egypt. This was likely Senusert II (1894–1878 bc).
Chapter 41, Verse 38. Spirit of God. The Egyptians certainly did not understand anything about the third person of the Trinity; this simply refers to Pharaoh’s recognition that God was working in and through Joseph.
God providential care for his people strikingly characterized the story of Joseph. Instead of leaving his people to die of hunger in Canaan, God providentially arranges for seemingly terrible circumstances to come upon Joseph, which in the end work to save his people. What God ordains is always good for those who love him.
- Can God use even unbelievers to accomplish his purposes?
- What does Joseph’s story teach us about trusting God in the midst of even terrible circumstances?
- What are some bad circumstances in your life that you have seen God use for your good?
Day 29: Joseph’s Brothers Go to Egypt
Reading: Genesis 42:1–43:34
Chapter 42, Verse 6. Bowed down. Over 15 years had elapsed since Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, and since we was dressed in Egyptian attire and likely standing a distance from them, it makes sense they did not recognize him.
Chapter 43, Verse 23. The God of your Father. This statement by Joseph’s steward may indicate that he had either come to faith in Joseph’s God or at least knew much about him from Joseph.
So many promises of God come together in fulfillment in this story, including his promise to provide for his people and Joseph’s dream of his brothers bowing before him. The story of Joseph in Egypt is one of the most striking testimonies to God’s good providence.
- Why do you think Joseph tested his brothers?
- What does Rueben’s promise to Jacob reveal about him?
- What does the way Joseph’s brothers treated Benjamin reveal about them?
Day 30: God Meant it for Good
Reading: Genesis 44:1–46:34
Chapter 44, Verse 5. Divination. Joseph’s special cup was apparently associated with divination, but this does not mean that Joseph himself participated in this pagan superstition.
Chapter 45, Verse 6. These Two Years. This would make Joseph 39 years old.
Verse 8. Father to Pharaoh. This is a title given to a person who, although unrelated to Pharaoh, performed a leadership role on his behalf.
Verse 10. Goshen. This land, in the northeastern area of Egypt, would have been fitting for grazing Jacob’s herds. The Jews would dwell in this land for over 400 years.
Chapter 46, Verse 28. Judah. By this time Judah had replaced Reuben as the family leader.
In the mist of what seemed some of the most terrible of circumstances, God orchestrated the preservation of his people. What evil men meant for evil, God meant for good.
- What are the implications of the phase, “God meant it for good”?
- Why must we be patient and trust God when we are experiencing bad circumstances?
- Will we always know what good God intends to accomplish through bad circumstances?