Monthly Archives: December 2014

The Joy of God’s Presence: 2015 Bible Reading Program

The Joy of God’s Presence is the title of the 2015 Bible reading program featured here on the I Read the Word website. The name is based on  a statement from Psalm 21:6. Our purpose is for our lives to be greatly enriched by coming regularly into God’s presence through His word.

So, here’s what you need to know about this program:

First of all this is daily reading program.  Ideally, you will spend time in the Bible every day.

Second, this program is most concerned with consistent engagement with God’s word, more so than quantity of Scriptures read.  Consequently, this isn’t not a read-through-the-entire-Bible-in-a-year program.  We will have a reading for every day, and along with that reading some thoughts will be provided to consider as well as some questions to ponder.

Third, the framework for our readings will be themes we’ll touch on each day of the week.  Those themes and their assigned days are as follows:

  • Sunday—God
  • Monday—Jesus
  • Tuesday—Bible Story (1)
  • Wednesday—Discipleship
  • Thursday—Great Truths
  • Friday—Bible Story (2)
  • Saturday—Inspiration, Motivation, & Encouragement

Fourth, you can access the reading schedule in a variety of ways:

1) Of course, coming right here to the website will give you access to each day’s scheduled reading.

2) You can receive the daily reading information by email. Just send a request to, go to

3) You can receive daily text reminders for the readings.  Text “@dbread” to 81010.  When you receive a welcome text you’ll be asked to return text your name (first and last).  Once you’ve done that you’re all set up.

4) You can also access this same information through Twitter.  You can follow my personal Twitter account, @davideffenbaugh, and each week a new hashtag will be used during the week.  You search that week’s hashtag to find the readings and links. The first week’s (Jan. 1-3) hashtag will be #startreading.

One way you can help to make your new year happy, is to spend time in God’s word daily!

A Week in the Word, December 28-31


Theme: Summary Readings

Our reading program for this year has focused on six general themes: God, Jesus, Christian living, Psalms & Proverbs, Bible themes, and biographical.  In highlighting a specific facet of each theme every week we have attempted to focus our attention weekly while through the course of the year cover the scope of the Bible.

In these final few days of this year we will take a summary reading for each of the overall themes.  Obviously, none of these can be comprehensive readings, but they are very representative for each theme.


Themes, Summary Readings, and Introductory Comments: 

God—Exodus 34:5-7; Revelation 4:1-11

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” Indeed! Though our days would be endless, and every moment devoted to knowing God, our task could never be complete.


Jesus—Hebrews 1:1-5; 3:1-4; 4:14-16   

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. By him all things were created. He is before all things and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church and in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. In Hebrews, Jesus is extolled as the one superior to angels, Moses, and all else.


Christian Living—Colossians 3:1-17

The Christian’s life is a new life.  Made new by God, what we were is done away (put to death). The old, and now dead, is replaced by the traits and qualities that come from God.  Christian living is about becoming what God desires and what He has made possible for us to become.


Psalms & Proverbs—Psalm 29; Proverbs 3:1-12

These often neglected “Poetry” or “Wisdom” books of the Old Testament provide the most enriching words in the Bible relative to our relationship with God and to our fellow man.


Bible Themes—Romans 3:9-31

All themes of the Bible derive from the very nature of God and serve His purposes and intentions.  God wants reconciliation with His creation.  Nowhere is this purpose and the great themes of Scripture brought together more powerfully than in this section of Paul’s great Roman letter.


Biographical—Hebrews 11

One of the Bible’s most striking truths is God’s intention to work through human agency.  God doesn’t need man, but has chosen to use him and work through him for his benefit and good.  The Bible is filled with scores of thrilling accounts of the lives of outstanding men and women. These are intended to instruct, encourage, warn, and spur us on in own lives.  No greater collection of great Bible people is found than in the great “Faith Chapter.”


Study/Thought Questions:

Exodus 34:5-7

  • What was proclaimed? (v. 5)
  • What 7 traits of God are named in this text?

Revelation 4:1-11

  • Where does this scene take place?
  • Of what is God worthy, and why? (v. 11)

Hebrews 1:1-5

  • What has God done in “these last days”? (v. 1)
  • In verse 3 alone, what 5 truths are stated about Jesus?

 Hebrews 3:1-4

  • What title is given Jesus? (v. 1)
  • Above whom is Jesus worthy of greater glory? (v. 3)

Hebrews 4:14-16

  • What has Jesus done as our high priest? (v. 14)
  • Why can Jesus sympathize with us as our high priest? (v. 15)

Colossians 3:1-17

  • What are ones who have been raised with Christ to do? (v. 1)
  • Where is our life? (v. 3)
  • In what likeness is the new self being renewed? (v. 10)
  • What is to be put on “above all these”? (v. 14)

Psalm 29

  • What is to be ascribed to the Lord? (v. 1)
  • In what is the Lord to be worshipped? (v. 2)
  • With what will God bless His people? (v. 11)

Proverbs 3:1-12

  • What ought never to forsake us? (v. 3)
  • On what ought we not to lean? (v. 5)
  • What should be done with our wealth? (v. 9)

Romans 3:9-31

  • Who is righteous? (v. 10)
  • Who will be justified by works of the law? (v. 20)
  • Through what has the righteousness of God been manifested? (vv. 21-22)
  • What does the sacrifice of Jesus show? (v. 25)
  • Who will God justify? (vv. 29-20)

Hebrews 11

  • What are we able to do by faith? (v. 3)
  • What did each of the following do by faith: Abel (v. 4), Enoch (v. 5), Noah (v. 7), Abraham (v. 8)
  • What is stated positively and negatively about “all these”? (v. 39)


Meditation Thoughts:

How has your faith and spiritual life been benefited through Bible reading this year?

What could you have done differently that would have helped your Bible reading experience this year?


Memory Verse:

“We trust in the name of the Lord our God.” (Psalm 20:7)

Note: Thank you for participating in this year’s Bible reading program.  Our prayer is that you have been blessed by spending time in and with God’s word.  You are invited to be a part of the coming year’s reading program as well.  Return to to find the new year’s reading starting January 1.

A Week in the Word, December 21-27

Theme: Christian Living — Stewardship

God’s blessings bestowed upon humanity defy comprehension.  Sure, we know and can identify so many of them: life, breath, health, food, shelter, relationships, love, rain, intellect, etc.  The list cannot be completed. These, of course, are enjoyed to varying degrees by different people. The fact is, our very existence depends on God’s blessing.

Besides the requisite thankfulness—and our brief mention of it here is in no way a reflection on its relative importance—another responsibility falls on the recipients of God’s goodness: stewardship.  From the very outset of human occupancy on planet earth, God’s expectation has been for man to take care of and be responsible for all that he’s been given.  “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (Gen. 2:15). That reality has not changed.

Unfortunately, in many minds, stewardship has been reduced to how much money the worshipper contributes in the assembly.  That is a far too narrow understanding of the subject.  Stewardship includes not only the physical blessings of life, but also those gifts given by God for use in His kingdom, the talents and abilities we possess, as well as every thing that God has placed at our disposal for our use.  We are accountable as stewards for their responsible use and care.

Foundational to a right understanding of stewardship is understanding that God retains ownership of it all.  “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein” (Psa. 24:1).  Whatever in the course of life may fall within the parameters of our control and authority has, in reality, merely  become our responsibility to handle on behalf of its true owner.


Readings and Introductory Comments:

Matthew 6:19-21; 25:14-30; Luke 12:41-48;16:1-13; 19:11-27

Jesus taught frequently on stewardship.  Several times this is by the use of parables based on the master of a house or owner giving to servants resources and responsibility for the use of those during his absence.  In this common theme servants are called into account for the way they have used what the master/owner has given them.  A part of our preparedness for the return of Jesus is the responsible use of what He has blessed us with.


Luke 12:13-21; 16:19-25; 18:18-30; 10:25-36;19:1-10; 21:1-4

Scripture is filled with examples of stewards, good and bad.  These readings are samples of three of each.  The first three show people, either in Jesus’ personal experience or in his teaching, who though greatly blessed, fail as stewards.  In the second three are samples of ones possessing healthy understanding and attitudes regarding their physical possessions.


Acts 4:33-37; 5:1-11; 6:1-6; 1 Corinthians 4:1-5; 16:1-9; 2 Corinthians 8:1-9:15; 1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19; 1 Peter 4:10-11

As expected, the remainder of the New Testament frequently touches on this same theme from the Gospels.  In Acts particular attention is drawn to just how precarious this issue can be in God’s kingdom, but also how marvelous it is when handled correctly.  The epistles continue to instruct Christians about this incredibly important role of proper stewardship.


Study/Thought Questions:

Matthew 6:19-21

  • What is the weakness of earthly treasures?
  • What indication is the location of our treasures?

Matthew 25:14-30

  • How is the servant described who used well the talents given him by the master? (v. 21)
  • How is the servant described who did not use well the talents given him by the master? (vv. 26, 30)

Luke 12:41-48

  • Who is blessed? (v. 43)
  • Of whom will much be required? (v. 48)

 Luke 16:1-13

  • What should be done with “unrighteous wealth”? (v. 9)
  • Who will receive “true riches” (v. 11)

Luke 19:11-27

  • This parable was told on the heels of what event? (see vv. 1-10)
  • To whom will more be given? (v. 26)

Luke 12:13-21

  • Against what must we be on our guard? (v. 15)
  • By what name is this rich man called? (v. 20)

Luke 16:19-25

  • For what reason was the rich man condemned?

Luke 18:18-30

  • What had the ruler done? (vv. 20-21)
  • What did Jesus say this man must do before following Him? (v. 22)

Luke 10:25-36

  • What did the Samaritan do for the beaten and robbed man? (v. 34)

Luke 19:1-10

  • What did Zacchaeus say he would do? (v. 8)

Luke 21:1-4

  • What did the widow give? (v. 4)

Acts 4:33-37

  • What was not found in the church at Jerusalem? (v. 34)

Acts 5:1-11

  • To whom had Ananias and Sapphira lied? (v. 4)

Acts 6:1-6

  • What group of people were being cared for by the church? (v. 1)

1 Corinthians 4:1-5

  • Of what are preachers stewards? (v. 1)
  • What is required of all stewards? (v. 2)

1 Corinthians 16:1-9

  • For whom was a collection being taken? (v. 1)

2 Corinthians 8:1-9:15

  • What did the Macedonians give first to the Lord? (8:5)
  • Who is our example in giving? (8:9)
  • What kind of giver does God love? (9:7)
  • What is God able to make abound to us? (9:8)

1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19

  • What, accompanying godliness, is great gain? (v. 6)
  • What happens to those who desire to be rich? (v. 9)
  • What special instruction is given to those who are rich? (v. 18)

1 Peter 4:10-11

  • Of what are we stewards? (v. 10)


Meditation Thoughts:

Does the Bible teach that it is wrong to be rich?

Must we sell all that we have and give it to the poor before we can follow Jesus?

Am I storing up treasures in heaven? If so, how?

What are the “true riches”? (Luke 16:11)


Memory Verse:

“No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Luke 16:13)

A Week in the Word, December 14-20


Theme: Jesus — Resurrection 

A linchpin is defined as “something that holds the various elements of a complicated structure together.” It would be appropriate to refer to the resurrection of Jesus as the linchpin of the Christian faith.  Simply put, without it the whole enterprise crumbles in the dust.  Paul said it this way, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain…your faith is futile and you are still in your sins…we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:14, 17, 19).

Consequently, and of no surprise at all, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is a theme whose thread runs throughout the New Testament.  It’s found in the ministry of Jesus as He anticipated this critical event.  It’s found in the gospel accounts as they record not only the event itself, but also the appearances of the resurrected Jesus and His interaction with His disciples prior to His ascension.

Following that, Jesus’ resurrection is foundational to the preaching of the early church; as it must be.  The preaching that is recorded in Acts, beginning with Peter’s seminal sermon in chapter 2 and in virtually every message thereafter, Jesus is preached as one raised by God from the dead.  So then also in letters written to individual Christians and bodies of the Lord’s church (the New Testament’s epistles) the resurrection is a vital theme.  Even in the apocalyptic message of Revelation, Jesus’ appearance in the heavenly pageantry is as a Lamb that was slain, but is alive (Rev. 5:6,9).

So, our final visit to the theme of Jesus in our reading will be to consider His resurrection, both as the event is recorded but then also discussed as to its critical role in our faith.


Readings and Introductory Comments:

Matthew 12:38-40; John 2:18-22; Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:32-34

Jesus prophesied that He would raise from the dead on the third day.  These prophesies no doubt confused His listeners as they were not even prepared to accept the truth that He would die (see Peter’s words, Mark 8:31ff).  Of course, after the fact His previously puzzling words became clear.


Matthew 27:62-68; John 20:1-10, 11-18; Luke 24:13-35; John 20:19-23, 24-29; 21:1-14

Though measures had been taken to prevent the disciples from removing Jesus’ body—there apparently was enough understanding of what Jesus said to know He claimed that He would rise—Jesus exited the tomb early on the first day of the week.  Women were first to not only see the empty tomb but also to witness Jesus raised from the dead. His did, though, begin to appear to His disciples beginning that day and for some 40 days until His ascension.


Acts 2:22-35; 3:14-15; 4:10-12; 10:39-41; 13:28-37; 17:30-33

The consistent centerpiece of preaching in the early church was Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.


Romans 1:1-6; 4:22-25; 6:3-4; 8:11; 10:8-10; 1 Corinthians 6:14-15; 15:3-26; 2 Corinthians 4:13-15; Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:16-21; 2:4-7; Colossians 2:11-12; 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10; Hebrews 13:20-21; 1 Peter 1:3, 20-21; 3:21-22

In the New Testament’s letters Jesus is frequently identified as the one raised up by God.  Not only so, but the significance of that event as it relates to man’s salvation is clarified. Man is not saved by a dead Savior, but a risen and living one.  Further, it is that same power by which God raised His own Son that we are raised from our burial in water (baptism) to a life that is new, that is, cleansed from sin.


Study/Thought Questions:

Matthew 12:38-40

  • What sign did Jesus say would be the only one this “evil and adulterous generation” would receive?

John 2:18-22

  • What temple did the people think Jesus was talking about?

Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:32-34

  • At what time did Jesus begin to teach about his death and resurrection (see 8:27-30)
  • Where was Jesus headed when he told the third time about His impending crucifixion and resurrection? (10:32)

 Matthew 27:62-68

  • Why were guards placed at Jesus’ tomb?

John 20:1-10, 11-18

  • Whom did Mary tell about the empty tomb? (v. 2)
  • Who went to the tomb? (v. 3)
  • Whom did Mary think Jesus was when He first appeared to her? (v. 15)
  • What had Jesus not yet done when He appeared to Mary? (v. 17)

Luke 24:13-35

  • What hope did the two disciples say they had had in Jesus of Nazareth? (v. 21)
  • What Scripture did Jesus use to explain to the two disciples about Himself? (v. 27)

John 20:19-23, 24-29

  • Why were the disciples behind locked doors when Jesus first appeared to them? (v. 19)
  • What disciple was not present when Jesus first appeared to them, but was eight days later? (v. 26)

John 21:1-14

  • In what location did Jesus later appear to the disciples? (v. 1)

Acts 2:22-35

  • Why does Peter say God raised up Jesus? (v. 24)

Acts 3:14-15

  • What else does Peter claim in addition to the fact that God raised Jesus? (v. 15)

Acts 4:10-12

  • What was done “by” the resurrected Jesus?

Acts 10:39-41

  • What did Peter claim that he and the other apostles had been chosen by God to be?

Acts 13:28-37

  • How has God fulfilled the promise made to the fathers? (vv. 32-33

Acts 17:30-33

  • God raising Jesus from the dead gives assurance to what fact?

Romans 1:1-6

  • What does Jesus’ resurrection declare about Him? (v. 4)

Romans 4:22-25

  • For what was Jesus raised? (v. 25)

Romans 6:3-4

  • By what was Jesus raised from the dead?

Romans 8:11

  • How is the Spirit who dwells in us identified?

Romans 10:8-10

  • What must we believe in our heart in order to be saved? (v. 9)

1 Corinthians 6:14-15

  • What will God, who raised the Lord, do to us?

1 Corinthians 15:3-26

  • To whom did Jesus appear last of all? (v. 8)
  • What is true if there is no resurrection? (vv. 13, 14, 16, 17, 19)
  • Who will be raised, and when? (v. 23)

2 Corinthians 4:13-15

  • What did Paul say he knew? (v. 14)

Galatians 1:1

  • From whom did Paul claim to be an apostle?

Ephesians 1:16-21

  • How did God work His great might? (vv. 19-20)

Ephesians 2:4-7

  • How does Paul describe our salvation? (v. 6)

Colossians 2:11-12

  • In what is our faith in baptism?

1 Thessalonians 1:9-10

  • From where do we wait for Jesus, raised from the dead?

Hebrews 13:20-21

  • What assurance do we have of God equipping us with everything good?

1 Peter 1:3, 20-21

  • Through what are we born again to a living hope? (v. 3)
  • Where do our faith and hope reside because of Jesus’ resurrection? (v. 21)

1 Peter 3:21-22

  • Through what does baptism save us?


Meditation Thoughts:

Why are people hesitant to believe in the resurrection?

Why is something of the magnitude of the resurrection necessary?

In what way does our faith fall apart if there is no resurrection?


Memory Verse:

“But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.  Come, see the place where he lay.’” (Matt. 28:5-6)

A Week in the Word, December 7-13

Theme: God — Providence 

That God is sovereign Lord of heaven and earth is an important reality, perhaps the most important.  As such He possesses all power and authority.   For the believer, no reservation exists to accepting the capacity and ability of God to accomplish what He pleases as He pleases.

The biblical record is replete with accounts of God’ miraculous activity.  Such activity is consistent with His sovereignty.  So also, though, is God’s activity that could not be classified as miraculous.  A miracle is out of the ordinary, spectacular, obvious, immediate (that is, not drawn out over time), and by it’s very nature arrests the attention of those present. It is a mistake to think of all of God’s work as miraculous.  He also works in ways that, though it also incorporates His power and authority, is not immediate, obvious, or spectacular. He can and does use ordinary, usual, and common processes and influences, but orchestrates them in such a way as to accomplish His intended purposes and outcomes.  This type of activity is referred to as God’s providence.

One of the primary differences between the miraculous and the providential is that God’s providence can only be witnessed by looking back over time, while a miracle is immediately evident.  Another important difference is that a miracles is intended to be evidentiary, that is, to serve as evidence that what is being done is accomplished by a powerful authority and the one through whom it is done ought to be heeded.  So the writer of Hebrews says that the miracles were to attest and bear witness to the messengers who preached (Heb. 2:3-4).  Thus, the purpose of miracles has been fulfilled as the completed revelation of God’s message has been given and is present in Scripture.  Consequently, we do not anticipate miracles (in the biblical sense) today.

The providence of God, on the other hand, is not to provide confirmation for a messenger or message delivered, instead it is the working out of God’s plan over time.  It is no less a work of God.  It is a work that can and does continue to the present day.

The Bible provides no explicit explanation of God’s providence but does implicitly indicate its reality.  For instance, God promises that all things will work together for good for those who love Him (Rom. 8:28).  No explanation is give as to how He will manipulate “all things” for “good”;  we just know He will and does.  Notice also Nehemiah’s confidence that it was “the good hand of God upon me” that led to his being able to accomplish what he desired in reference to returning to Jerusalem to rebuild the city’s walls (Neh. 2:8).  Nehemiah was confident this could not have been accomplished were God not at work behind the scenes.

Many of the accounts in the biblical record provide examples of God’s providence.  So, our readings this week will focus on some of these familiar stories.


Readings and Introductory Comments:

Genesis 37:1-36; 39:1-45:28; 50:15-21

The story of Joseph is an incredible series of events intended by God bring the family of Abraham’s descendants down into Egypt.  God used jealousy, deceit, lust, dreams, and intrigue to His ends and His purposes.  The fulfillment of God’s plan would not be the result of the wisdom and cunning of men, but rather by His own working despite the weaknesses and failings of men.  Notice that it was only upon looking back over this long series of events that Joseph was able to recognize God’s handiwork (Gen. 45:5-8).

Ruth 1-4

God had promised Abraham that through his seed blessing would come upon all the families of men.  That physical lineage at times seemed pressed to the point of breaking. This was certainly true in the case of Elimelech. He seems to have given up on God’s provision and care by leaving his native land during a famine to live among foreigners.  Conditions went from bad to worse when not only Elimelech but also his two sons died.  The story of Ruth is an amazing account of God using most unexpected persons and circumstances to preserve the promised lineage of Abraham.

Esther 1-10

Not only was the particular line from Abraham to Jesus at times threatened, so also was the entire nation, at least in one instance.  God worked in and through the life of Esther to save Abraham’s offspring.  It is interesting that wise Mordecai saw the possibility of God’s use of Esther though he was unwilling to speak definitively.  He only suggests, “Who knows…?” (Est. 4:14).


Imprisoned Paul, in Roman custody, somehow encounters a runaway slave of an old friend, Philemon, from distant Colossae.  Paul converts Onesimus the slave and now sends this runaway back to his master with a letter in tow from the beloved apostle.  How in the world did such a circumstance come about?  Again, without saying it with assurance, but rather only a suggestion — “perhaps” God has brought this about (Phm. 15).


Study/Thought Questions:

Genesis 37:1-36

  • Which of his sons did Jacob love most and why? (v. 3)
  •  How did Joseph’s brothers feel about him? (vv. 4, 8)
  • What did his brothers originally plan to do and who intervened? (vv. 18, 21)
  • How did Joseph respond to their plans to sell him? (see 42:21)
  • What conclusion did the brothers lead their father to make? (v. 33)

Genesis 39:1-45:28

  • To what is Joseph’s success attributed? (39:2)
  • Against whom did Joseph say the sin would be against if he gave in to Potiphar’s wife? (39:9)
  • What did God do for Joseph in prison? (39:21)
  • How long was it from the time Joseph’s interpretation of the cupbearer’s and baker’s dreams were fulfilled and Pharaoh had his dream? (41:1)
  • How is Joseph’s age described when Pharaoh had his dream? (39:12)  How old was he? (39:46)
  • What qualifications did Pharaoh see in Joseph in order to elevate him to such a high position? (41:38-39)
  • At least how many years have passed before Jacob sends his sons to Egypt to buy grain?
  • On what stipulation did Joseph say his brothers could return to buy more grain? (43:3)
  • How did Joseph respond upon first seeing Benjamin? (43:30)
  • To whom did Joseph attribute his presence in Egypt? (45:5)

Genesis 50:15-21

  • What did the brothers fear once Jacob had died? (v. 15)
  • Why did Joseph say he would not seek vengeance? (vv. 19-20)

 Ruth 1-4

  • Why did Elimelech leave Bethlehem? (1:1)
  • How did Naomi say God had dealt with her? (1:20)
  • Into whose field did Ruth “happen” to go glean? (2:3)
  • Who was Boaz and Ruth’s great-grandson? (4:18-22)

Esther 1-10

  • What key piece of information did Esther keep secret? (2:10)
  • Why did Haman hate the Jews? (3:4-6)
  • With what words did Mordecai convince Esther to act on behalf of her people? (4:14)
  • About whom did Haman think the king was speaking when he asked how a man should be honored by the king? (6:6) About whom was he speaking? (6:10)
  • To what position did Mordecai attain? (10:3)


  • Rather than a command, how did Paul appeal to Philemon (vv. 8-9)
  • What did Paul suggest about God’s working? (v. 15)
  • What confidence did Paul have in Philemon? (v. 21)


Meditation Thoughts:

Given the assessment of God’s treatment of Joseph (Gen. 39:21), remember his circumstances.  Are we willing to see God’s goodness toward us even in bad circumstances?

What attitudes or thought process had to be present for Joseph to be able to say that what had happened to him was for good? (see Gen. 50:20)

How should the possibility of God’s providential working in our own lives effect our thinking about and assessment of our circumstances (even very negative ones)?


Memory Verse: 

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Gen. 50:20)