Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 47:5-6

5 And Pharaoh spake unto Joseph, saying, Thy father and thy brethren are come unto thee:

6 The land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell; in the land of Goshen let them dwell: and if thou knowest any men of activity among them, then make them rulers over my cattle.

Pharaoh responds magnanimously. He encourages Joseph to give his family “the best of the land,” and he also offers a job to them, to be shepherds over his own flocks if they so desire.

This is a display of true power on the part of Pharaoh. Too often power is associated with the ability to destroy and conquer. Yet it takes far less effort to destroy and take in this world than to build and protect. A truly powerful nation is one that can support the starving and give great gifts to those in need.

And for his gracious welcoming of the Israelites, Pharaoh is about to be even more blessed by God. Later on in this chapter we will read how God recompenses him, expanding his domain and power further than ever before.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 46:5-7

5 And Jacob rose up from Beer-sheba: and the sons of Israel carried Jacob their father, and their little ones, and their wives, in the wagons which Pharaoh had sent to carry him.

6 And they took their cattle, and their goods, which they had gotten in the land of Canaan, and came into Egypt, Jacob, and all his seed with him:

7 His sons, and his sons’ sons with him, his daughters, and his sons’ daughters, and all his seed brought he with him into Egypt.

Once Jacob put his young sons on camels and carried them to a new land, but now the roles have been reversed. Jacob is the one being carried by his sons to a new home now.

Jacob has not been the main character of the biblical record for a while, but this moment of him being carried by his sons really underscores that he is not the driving generation anymore. He has given his blessing to this change of residence, but he is dependent upon the power of others to make it so.

The sons carrying their father into Egypt is symbolic of them carrying the legacy and the burden of responsibility into their own domain. They are the generation of action now, and Egypt is the uncertainty of their own future, the terrain that they must carefully navigate. In short, it is the end of an era. Jacob held the burden of preserving God’s people in his time, but now it is their turn.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 41:42-45

42 And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck;

43 And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt.

44 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.

45 And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphnath-paaneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Poti-pherah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt.

Pharaoh had declared that Joseph would be second only to him, that he would have power over all of Egypt, to execute things according to his will. And then, to make his declaration more than mere words, Pharaoh began to publish this assignment to all the country.

He did this by dressing Joseph in fine clothes, so he would look the part of the ruler. He put his own ring on Joseph’s hand and had Joseph ride in his second chariot beside him, so that Joseph would be directly associated with Pharaoh. He sent criers before Joseph, so that people would know to reverence him. He gave Joseph a royal woman for his wife, so that he would have legal claim on nobility. He sent Joseph “over all the land of Egypt” so that his name and face would be known.

What a great deal of effort! And frankly it goes to show the imaginary nature of human power. Pharaoh could have verbally granted any status to any person private, but if he did nothing to publicize it afterward, then the person would still have no power. They could go out and try to command others, but without Pharaoh’s nod of approval the order would only be laughed at. Pharaoh’s power was not some actual thing that could be handed over. It was only an idea, and it had to be cultivated in the minds of the people before it would actually start to work.

Contrast that to the power of God, which God sustains by Himself, in Himself, and of Himself. God is God because He requires no other person to pronounce Him God in order to be so. He may enact his will on whomever and whatever He pleases, with no outer approval. His power is self-evident and self-sufficient. Furthermore, whomever God sees fit to bestow His power, His power will be there, whether it is publicized or not. God had declared that Joseph would be a ruler over his brethren. God had seen fit to give Joseph the gift of interpreting dreams. And no man, not even Pharaoh, could ever take those powers and callings away from him.

Spiritual Analysis- Genesis 19:1

1 And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;

This account reminds me that I don’t understand the ways that God works. My culture has a vision of God as some all-powerful genie who just snaps His fingers and everything in the universe rushes to meet His will like magic.

But God told Abraham He was going down to Sodom and Gomorrah to assess the situation and He sent two angels to rescue Lot and destroy the city. This doesn’t sound like a magic, just-snap-the-fingers sort of God. It sounds like a God who actually works to bring about His miracles.

Because the nature of that work is concealed from us, though, it is easy for us to assume it doesn’t exist, and that it’s all just effortless magic. I look forward to the day I get to peek behind the curtain and finally see just how tirelessly God has been striving for our cause.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 7:10-12

10 And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth.

11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.

12 And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.

The feats of man in subduing nature are truly impressive. We flatten hundreds of square miles for a city, pave it over, and erect towering skyscrapers. We trace the countryside with a web of highways, tunneling clean through a mountain and bridging over the sea. We send satellites into space and cables across the ocean. We genetically modify our fruit and domesticate wild animals. We produce awesome reserves of power, and we have weapons of mass destruction that could devastate all of modern civilization. And all of this can make us feel pretty sure of ourselves. It can give us the illusion that we rule this world, can make us believe that there is nothing we cannot tame.

Then, a category-5 hurricane touches land, or an earthquake weighs in at over 9.0 on the Richter scale, or the threat of a mega-colossal eruption lurks underfoot. And suddenly we realize that we might tame the periphery, but we don’t hold a candle to the true power of God. For all of our scientific and technologic advancements, we only continue to exist by His grace.

Discussing Spiritual Differences- Daniel 1:5, 8-10

And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.
But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.
And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king.


I love this story of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, who were seeking to maintain their covenants and not consume any unclean meat or drink. It is a small story, one that might seem inconsequential compared to the more epic tales of the Bible, but I believe it provides some wonderful lessons for us all.
There are multiple things I want to point out from this short narrative, so I will be reviewing them one-at-a-time over the next few days.

And the king appointed them a provision of the king’s meat: so nourishing them that they might stand before the king
But Daniel purposed that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine
To begin with, let us consider the setting of it all. At the outset Daniel and his companions are captives in Babylon. They are being integrated with a court system that already exists, and they naturally come to a point of friction between their old culture and this new one. There will be more points of friction at other points in their lives, but this is the first time we see them caught between their new king and God.
And so we must recognize that they are at the mercy of others. From these passages it would seem that they were not even able to obtain their own food, being entirely dependent on what was brought to them instead. Thus Daniel could make a request for a special diet, but if unclean meat was what was given to him then unclean meat was what he would have.

The prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: ye make me endanger my head to the king
And the prince of eunuchs could see no reason to honor Daniel’s request. The man was not himself a Hebrew and was not converted to their customs. His concern had far more to do with losing his head if he presented the Israelite youth as less fit than those who ate meat and drank wine! He thus had the power and the motivation to override Daniel’s religiosity. The two men were at an impasse and Daniel did not have the upper hand.
This very easily could have been the end of the story. Daniel could have taken the eunuch’s rejection and let his morals be crushed. He could have oscillated between anger at having been made a victim and shame at having not stood up more. He could have given up all his principles entirely, he could have made a bitter crusade and decried the prince of the eunuchs as an unfeeling sinner.
Any of these paths would have been easy to resign oneself to, but as we will see, none of them were what Daniel elected.

Dealing With Failure- Proverbs 3:5, 1 Corinthians 1:24, 1 Corinthians 2:5

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.


Lean not unto thine own understanding
The weakness of God is stronger than men
Your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God
I have previously spoken of how I have sometimes been too hard on myself when I slip, and as I’ve considered that negative self-talk I have realized that it is a misguided attempt to control my behavior through fear. I am trying to force myself to be better via the tools of shame and embarrassment.
And this is me relying on my own strength, trying to control things according to my own power. In this effort I am utilizing the same forms of coercion that mankind has relied on through all of history to get what they want. Fear and shame are techniques that we continue to fall back on even though they are hugely ineffective. They are techniques that we use as a substitute for genuine power and confidence.
But as these verses suggest, there is a better way. There is another source of strength that each of us has access to, one that is greater than any mortal strength. So now the question is, how do we stop relying on our own power to improve ourselves, and utilize God’s instead?

Our Own Reality- Alma 30:17, Helaman 4:13

And many more such things did he say unto them, telling them that there could be no atonement made for the sins of men, but every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime.

And because of this their great wickedness, and their boastings in their own strength, they were left in their own strength; therefore they did not prosper, but were afflicted and smitten, and driven before the Lamanites, until they had lost possession of almost all their lands.


But every man fared prospered according to his genius, conquered according to his strength
And because of their boastings in their own strength, they were left in their own strength
To the ancient Nephites a false prophet came, denying the existence of Christ, and teaching the people that reliance upon God was foolhardy. Korihor taught that each person had only him- or herself to depend on. If you were to succeed or fail was entirely up to you, and you alone.
As the people came to embrace this philosophy, it actually became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Having rejected God, they became Godless. Having insisted upon relying on their own strength only, they were left to their own strength only. Thus, in a sense they were absolutely right in their beliefs. By denying the existence of God, they ensured that in essence He would not exist (for them).
Of course we cannot change eternal truths by our opinions, we do not have that power. But we do have power over the individual experience of our lives. We have the ability to invite or reject divine intervention. We have the ability to put up or break down walls. We can make our portion of the world a place that is hopeful and blessed, or we can make it into a place that is cynical and isolated. Given that we have this power, we ought to take great care in which reality we are electing for ourselves.

The Virtue of Remembering- Isaiah 40:31, Isaiah 41:10, 13

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.


But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee

Our natural state is to be deeply aware of our own limitations. We are intimately familiar with all the things that we cannot do, for we live within those constraints every moment of every day.
What is unnatural, then, is to remember the power that exists outside of ourselves. It takes genuine effort to keep in remembrance the influence of God, and how it can make the impossible things become possible.
Thus there is no shame in saying that we have difficultly remembering to make use of God’s help in our lives. Of course we do. But this tendency of ours has to be fought against, because otherwise life takes us into waters that are too deep for us and we start to drown in poor choices.
God, Himself, knows that we tend to forget Him, and it is for that very reason that He has seeded reminders of Himself all throughout our lives. We find the reminders to lean into God through the scriptures, in church sermons, in the majesties of nature, and in the pricking of our own conscience. Of all the things that we must remind ourselves of on a regular basis, the first must be the reality of Him.

Worthy Vessels- Acts 9:15, 1 Corinthians 1:28

But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:

And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:


But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me
When Ananias protested going to bless Saul, God informed him that the man was a “chosen vessel,” and indeed one can see how Saul would be considered a powerful asset to God’s cause. He was intelligent, effective, and tireless in his pursuits, even if those pursuits were momentarily pointed in the wrong direction.
And yet the man that Ananias found in need of a blessing must have been a far cry from the self-powerful tyrant that he had been afraid of. For at this point Saul had had his preconceptions of God shattered, been rebuked by the true Lord, completely blinded, and left to wallow three days and three nights without either food or water. In short, God had broken the vessel that Saul once was, and the “chosen vessel” that he referred to, was going to be a new creature. One that would be called Paul.

And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen
Paul himself later avowed that God did His work with the base and the despised, the humbled and the broken. He spoke of how the “foolishness” of God was greater than the wisdom of man (1 Corinthians 1: 25). He knew this because he had been directly at the receiving end of it! While still wise in the ways of the world, he had been broken by the same Savior he had voraciously denied. And now he had thrown in his lot with those that he once considered “base and despised.”
In short, Saul, the brittle vessel could not have done anything for God, only Paul, the humbled clay could. It has been said that God does not call the qualified, he qualifies the called. He has no need for our power, only for our will.