Category Archives: Hillsdale Baptist Church

We Are Never Alone…God is With Us (Genesis 41-42)

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 41-42

Now two years passed before the butler gave any thought to Joseph, the man who comforted and interpreted his dream in prison (41:1a).  In God’s time, Pharaoh’s sleep was disturbed by dreams (41:1-8) that he was moved to seek assistance in interpreting his foreboding of great trials Egypt would soon face. The stage was set for the butler to remember Joseph and commend him to Pharaoh a man as a man who could interpret dreams (41:9-32).

Interpreting the king’s dreams, Pharaoh rewarded Joseph’s faithfulness appointing him to serve over Egypt, second only to himself (41:33-44).  Only thirty years old when he was promoted (41:46), Joseph was entrusted with the granaries of Egypt as the nation prepared for seven years of famine that would follow seven years of plenty (41:45-57).

Genesis 41 closes with the revelation; “all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands” (41:57).

God had providentially set the stage for Joseph’s brothers, forced by famine in their own land, to come to Egypt seeking food for their households.

Joseph recognized his brethren; however, none of them suspected the Egyptian ruler to whom they bowed was their brother Joseph and their fate now rest in the hands of one they had despised and sold into slavery (42:1-20).  Joseph concealed his identity and repressed the emotions that swelled up in his soul as he remembered the dreams of his youth now fulfilled in his brothers bowing before him (42:9a; 37:6-9).

Joseph questioned his brethren; not only to learn the fate of his father Jacob and brother Benjamin, but also to discern whether his brothers had repented of their sins against him (42:10-19).

Overhearing their remorse (42:20-23), God confirmed in Joseph’s heart that the passing years had changed his brothers’ hearts toward him. Rather than bitterness and revenge, we read Joseph turned himself about from them, and wept” (42:24).

Choosing to not disclose his identity, Joseph set in motion a plan (42:25-28) that will ultimately conclude with Benjamin, Joseph’s younger brother, being transported to Egypt (42:29-38).

Joseph’s faith has sustained him through bleak times…from the sorrow of being rejected by his brethren, through being falsely accused and imprisoned…we have observed in Joseph’s life what King David will one day confirm, As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him” (Psalm 18:30).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

What Do You Call A Divine Appointment? – “Providence” (Genesis 38-40)

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 38-40

The life of Joseph is a fascinating reading and a reminder that, regardless our circumstance, the LORD is with us!  Following the life of Joseph is akin to a spiritual rollercoaster…wonderful highs followed by events that would threaten to plunge most men into a slough of despair.

Joseph being sold into Slavery by His Brothers

Joseph was left without the nurturing love and care of his mother when she died giving birth to Benjamin, his youngest brother and the twelfth son of Jacob (Genesis 35:16-19).  Favored by his father (Genesis 37:3), Joseph’s brothers despised him and plotted his murder (37:19-24); eventually selling him to nomadic Midianites traveling to Egypt (37:25-28).

Rather than despair of life, Joseph’s faith in the LORD was unshaken and he rose from a common slave to steward over his master’s household (37:36).   When his master’s wife falsely accused him of an indiscretion (39:1-18) and he was sentenced to prison (39:19-23), Joseph did not entertain an embittered spirit.

What a difference a God-centered, faith-dependent attitude makes when a man faces trials!

In prison, the Lord did not forget or forsake Joseph. We read, “the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison” (Genesis 39:21).

I do not know what trial or opportunities you and I will face today; however, I do know Christ’s departing promise to His followers: “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20b).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Are the Sons of Esau the Hordes of ISIS? (Genesis 35-37)

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 35-37

We find Jacob leading his family spiritually and physically to Bethel, the place he had first met with and worshipped the LORD more than 20 years before (35:1).  Indicating how far his family had strayed from the LORD, we read that Jacob commanded his household to, “Put away the strange gods that are among you” (35:2).  Arriving at Bethel, Jacob rebuilt the altar and led his family to worship the LORD (35:6-7).

Jacob’s return to Bethel was not without its sorrows.  Deborah, the maid of his mother Rebekah, was the first to die (35:8).  Jacob’s beloved wife Rachel, the mother of Joseph, died giving birth to Benjamin, Jacob’s twelfth son (35:16-18).   Adding to the sorrows was the death of his father Isaac (35:28-29).

I fear Genesis 36 holds little to excite the average believer.  This chapter is the birth record of the sons born of Esau’s lineage. While the sons of Esau shared a physical lineage with the Hebrews (tracing their ancestry to Isaac and Abraham), they, like their father Esau, did not value their spiritual heritage nor share in God’s covenant promises with the descendants of Abraham.

The sons of Esau became the fathers of kingdoms we recognize in the Scriptures as the nomadic tribes of the Arabian Desert.  Their descendants became enemies of Israel and their bitter strife continues in the Middle East to our day.

Esau had become a wealthy and powerful man (36:6-8) who, following their father Isaac’s death (35:29), chose to keep peace with his brother Jacob and remained in Seir (32:3).  Seir, located in Edom, was the land on Israel’s southern border stretching from the salt marshes of the Dead Sea eastward to the desert (36:6-8).  This area includes the ancient and once forgotten city of Petra.  We read an important statement in Genesis 36:8, “Esau is Edom.”

Esau was the father of a people who became known as the Edomites. When Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt, the Edomites refused to allow them to pass through their land (Numbers 20:18-21).  The Edomites were adversaries of King Saul and King David (1 Kings 11:14-16).  When King Nebuchadnezzar invaded Israel, the Edomites became allies with Babylon and participated in the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem.

The birth of Amalek (36:12), the father of the Amalekites and the grandson of Esau, marks the birth of another people that would become enemies of Israel.   It was the Amalekites who, during Israel’s years in the wilderness, fought against Joshua and Israel while Aaron and Hur held up the hands of Moses during a battle (Exodus 17:8-16).  We read in 1 Samuel 15 that King Saul warred against the Amalekites.

Why did God have the names of Esau’s lineage recorded in Genesis 36 and why is it important to 21st century believers?

One reason is I believe the roots of the conflict and strife we are witnessing in the Middle East and our 21st century world is traced to a people whose ancestry is that of Esau in origin.  We identify the enemies of modern Israel as Palestinians, Muslims, proponents of Islam, and the followers of the prophet Mohammed.   In the most basic sense, they are all sons of Esau.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

God Must Break You Before He Will Fully Bless You! (Genesis 32-34)

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 32-34

We continue our devotional commentary in Genesis 32 with Jacob anticipating the arrival of Esau, his elder brother whose birthright he had stolen twenty years prior.  Reminded of the proverb, “A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle”(Proverbs 18:19), Jacob’s sin haunts him (32:3-5).

Told his brother Esau is approaching with four hundred men (32:6), Jacob fears the worse. Desiring to spare his family and possessions from a total loss should Esau attack, Jacob divides his household (32:7-8).  Sending gifts before him and hoping to appease the wrath of his brother, Jacob prayed to the LORD rehearsing His promise to be with him (32:9-23).

In the solitude of that night, we read of Jacob, “there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day” (32:24).

Who was this man? The man who wrestled with Jacob was the LORD Himself; a “theophany” –  the pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ in the physical form of a man (32:24-32).

Even with his thigh out of joint, Jacob refused to allow the LORD to depart until he was assured of His blessing (32:25-28).  The LORD then blessed Jacob (whose name meant trickster or schemer) and changed his name to “Israel” (meaning one who has power with God).

As the sun rose, Jacob, now named Israel, was a changed man.  He had spent his life scheming; however, he was now a man transformed by the experience of seeing “God face to face” and living to tell it (32:30).  No longer a man relying upon his own wits, the painful limp in his stride will serve as a constant reminder of the night God broke his will (32:30-31).

In the words of A.W. Tozer, “The Lord cannot fully bless a man until He has first conquered him.” [The Divine Conquest (Harrisburg, PA: Christians Publications, 1950), p. 53].

Jacob had finally come to the end of himself and the God of his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac was his God.  More than an intellectual assent to the person and promises of the LORD, Jacob’s life was so transformed he was a new man…no longer Jacob, he was Israel.  If you saw him, you would recognize him; he was a man with a limp whose faith was in the LORD.

Genesis 33-34

After an absence of 20 years, Jacob returned to Canaan (Genesis 33) and was met by his brother Esau who, in spite of his treachery, gave him a loving embrace.  Although received in peace, Jacob refused his brother’s invitation to dwell in Bethel (lit. the house of God), and instead traveled to Succoth where he lived among the heathen of the land (33:17).

Jacob’s failure to go to Bethel and dwell with his father Isaac and brother Esau turned tragic when his daughter Dinah was raped by Shechem, the son of Hamor who was ruler in Succoth (34:1-2). Pretending to save face and make peace, the decision was made for Dinah to become Shechem’s wife and the households of Jacob and Hamor become one on the condition that Hamor’s men accepted circumcision (34:8-16).

Hamor accepted the stipulation and convinced the men of his household to accept the rite of circumcision, reasoning they would inevitably be enriched by Jacob’s possessions (34:20-23).

The circumcision of Harmor’s household was a ruse by Jacob’s sons who were bent on revenge (34:25-29).  Knowing the men would be incapacitated, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s full brothers, attacked Hamor’s household, killing the men (34:25-26).  Jacob’s other sons, joined their brothers, claiming the wives and possessions of the city for spoil.

Take a lesson from Israel’s (Jacob) life: His failure to separate himself from the ungodly citizens of the land became a grief and sorrow Jacob and his sons carried to their graves. (2 Corinthians 6:14, 17)

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Lord is Faithful (Genesis 30-31)

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 30-31

Twelve sons of Jacob will be borne by his wives, Leah and Rachel, and their servants, Zilpah and Bilhah.  Twelve sons who are destined to be the fathers of the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

Knowing Leah was Jacob’s least favored wife, God blessed her and we read, the LORD “opened her womb” (29:31). Leah was confident the LORD had blessed her because of the “affliction” (29:32) and rejection she suffered (29:33).  She became the mother of Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah (29:31-35).

Rachel, provoked by envy (30:1), demanded Jacob give her a son by her servant Bilhah to whom was born Dan (30:1-6) and Naphtali (30:7-8).

To Zilpah, the maid servant of Leah, was born Gad and Asher (30:9-13).  God once again blessed Leah with two sons, Issachar and Zebulun (30:17-20) and a daughter she named Dinah (30:21).

Ten sons of Jacob were born in his household before the LORD answered Rachel’s prayers for a son.  Bearing the cultural shame of a barren wife, God opened Rachel’s womb and she conceived and gave birth to Jacob’s eleventh son whom she named Joseph (30:22-24). Later in our study of Jacob’s life, his beloved Rachel will die giving birth to his twelfth son whom he will name Benjamin (35:16-19).

With two wives, two handmaids, and eleven sons, a longing for home revived in Jacob’s heart and he stated his desire to return to his father’s household (30:25-26).  When Laban denied his request, Jacob struck a deal and evidencing a knowledge of husbandry, became a wealthy man with large flocks and herds (30:37-43).

The LORD commanded Jacob to depart for the land He had promised him for an inheritance (31:1-3). Unfortunately, rather than trust the LORD and announce his plans to leave, Jacob plotted and schemed to take flight without Laban’s knowledge (31:4-20).

Learning Jacob had departed, Laban pursued and overtook him (31:1-23).  Having been warned by God to not harm Jacob (31:24), Laban departs (31:25-55) as Jacob prepares to enter his homeland where he will soon face his brother Esau (32:1-3).

Jacob returns to Canaan; not a perfect man, but a man whose faith in the LORD has been magnified. The God of Abraham is his LORD.  As a young, faithless, self-willed, man he fled his father’s household with nothing; now he returns home a man of wealth whom God had blessed and prospered.  Not a promise of the LORD had failed.

I close with a prayer for you:

1 Peter 5:1010  But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Be sure your sin will find you out! (Genesis 27-29)

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 27-29

“Esau the Carnal; Jacob the Conniver” (Genesis 27)

The strife between Jacob and Esau continues in our study of Genesis with Jacob and his mother scheming to steal his brother’s birthright (Genesis 27).  Benefiting from his father’s blindness, Jacob posed as Esau and successfully stole his brother’s birthright (27:18-29).

Learning his birthright was mistakenly given to Jacob, Esau vowed vengeance and determined to murder him (27:41).  Before Esau was able to make good on this threat, Rebekah interceded with Isaac and requested that Jacob be sent away to seek safety and find a wife among her people (27:42-46).

Jacob’s flight from home is recorded in Genesis 28.  Cut off from his parents, family, and land (28:1-5);  Jacob is at the end of himself.  In his flight to Haran, the ancestral home of Abraham (11:31; 28:10), the LORD appeared to Jacob in a dream and assured him he was heir to the covenant promises God made to his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac (28:11-15).

Traveling east, Jacob came to Haran, and there he met Rachel, the beautiful young woman who would become his wife (29:9-12).  [As a side note, Rachel was Jacob’s cousin and their marriage in our day would be genetically ill advised; however, nearly 4,000 years ago the bloodlines of humanity were free from many of the genetic disorders that plague our day].

Falling in love with Rachel, Jacob soon realized he had met his match in her father Laban who was a notorious schemer in his own right!  Laban required Jacob labor seven years for the right to take Rachel as his wife (29:15-20).  In a beautiful poetic portrait of love, Jacob agreed to the father’s terms and we read the seven years he labored for Rachel’s hand “seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her” (29:20).

The seven years being ended, Jacob demanded his right to marry Rachel (29:21), but was beguiled by Laban into marrying her elder sister Leah (29:17).  Veiled as a bride, Jacob discovered the morning after his wedding that he had been deceived and had married Leah and not his beloved Rachel (29:24-25).  Demanding his right to marry Rachel, Laban forced Jacob to agree to another seven years of labor for her hand (29:26-30).

A passing phrase in this story forewarns us to the troubles that will follow Jacob’s household in the years ahead: Jacob “loved also Rachel more than Leah” (29:30).

An old idiom reads, “Chickens come home to roost!”  As it is the nature of chickens to roost in their coop each night, it is also true that sinful choices invariably catch up with us all.

Although he was hundreds of miles from home, Jacob fell victim to his father-in-law’s schemes and was reminded of the consequences of his own scheming ways;  Be sure your sins will find you out!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Confess Your Bitterness and “Dig Another Well” (Genesis 25-26)

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 25-26

“Fighting Brothers” (Genesis 25)

A story of two brothers: Esau, the father of the Edomites and Jacob, the heir of God’s covenant promises and father of the Twelve Tribes of Israel is recorded in Genesis 25.

Rebekah, Isaac’s wife, conceived twins and became concerned when the movements of the infants in her womb were extremely aggressive (25:22).  The LORD revealed the sons she borne in her womb would become fathers of two nations (25:23) and, contrary to their birth order, the eldest son would “serve the younger” (25:23).

No doubt Rebekah shared the LORD’s unusual revelation with her husband. Isaac, however, loved Esau, his eldest, more than Jacob (25:27-28). In Genesis 27 we will notice how Jacob, opposing the LORD, will attempt to give Esau the inheritance the LORD prescribed for his youngest son.

“Dig Another Well” (Genesis 26)

Isaac, the inheritor of God’s covenant promises and the possessions and riches of his father Abraham, was so blessed by the LORD that we read, “the Philistines envied him” (26:14).   Moved by envy, the Philistines began to stop up the wells Abraham had dug for his flocks and herds and “filled them with earth” (26:14-15). Because fresh water wells were invaluable in a land known for its deserts, one can imagine the hardships and personal offence Isaac might have felt as the wells dug by his father were destroyed.

Before I close today’s devotional commentary, I invite you to consider Genesis 26 and a spiritual truth some might need to hear.

Many years ago, a dear evangelist friend named Reuben Ewert preached a memorable sermon from Genesis 26 titled, Dig Another Well.  Bro. Reuben illustrated how Isaac’s response to the Philistines filling his father’s wells with earth was a worthy model for us all to follow when conflicts arise.

How did Isaac respond?  Did he become embittered?  Did he plot a way and path of revenge?  

No, rather than revenge, Isaac kept digging wells.

Genesis 26:18a – “And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father…”

Genesis 26:21a – “And they digged another well…”

Genesis 26:22 – And he removed from thence, and digged another well…”

Not only did Isaac dig wells, he also “builded an altar there, and called upon the name of the LORD” (26:25).

Are you enslaved by a spirit of anger and bitterness? Are your thoughts set upon revenge?  Have you allowed an embittered spirit to not only affect your relationship with the LORD, but also your family and friendships?

I invite you to follow Isaac’s example; set aside bitterness and disappointments, move on with your life and “dig another well”.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith