Monday, October 10, 2016

TheLifeOfJoseph : Genesis 37:18-36

And the story continues. For all intents we continue to read of an innocent teenager obeying his father to go and find his brothers. But it has always intrigued me as to why his father asked him to go himself to find his brothers. He knew all too well the hatred that was welling up with them for this 'favourite son'. Why did he ask his favourite to do a task that one of his servants very well could have done? He could have still asked his son to do this task, but asked a servant to come along as well, which would have been culturally acceptable. But he didn't. And we will never know why. But the more important question for us is this: Do we believe that in the circumstances that we find ourselves in, even when on the surface it looks like God is outside of the picture with His hands off, that He is still in control? Put another way, do we believe Romans 8: 28? And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 

Joseph sure didn't have this text to draw encouragement from. What he drew from had been taken away. He was the treasured favourite - he had the jacket to prove it. But now all of that has been taken away because of the envy and hatred that his brothers felt for him. Again I wonder if we are simply dealing with a naive teenager who really doesn't understand; he is simply doing what his father asked him to do. And he is reaping the consequences. 

But in steps Reuben and Judah. We haven't heard from either of them since the beginning of the story, but they now play a pivotal role. When it seems all hope is lost, when it seems we're on our own, there always seems to be a Reuben. But there's something interesting about Reuben in this story (which might be similar to our 'Reuben's' as well). He disappears. I read the text a few times and discovered that the writer chose to leave out that piece of information. Verse 22 could have been written, Reuben further said to them, “Shed no blood. Throw him into this pit that is in the wilderness, but do not lay hands on him”—that he might rescue him out of their hands, to restore him to his father. [Once he saw that his brothers agreed, he went off to tend the sheep]. But for some reason this information has been omitted. It seems this could very well be a parallel in our lives. I know I have 'Reuben's' in my life who, if they were near to me now, I'd probably get into a lot less trouble, but through either my own devices or others, I still find myself in the pit and being sold into slavery. But the Sovereignty of God is always reigning. 

Judah, a similar helper, steps in so Joseph is not killed: Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it for us to kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers listened to him (vss. 26, 27). Not exactly the outcome we would have wanted. How about this: Judah said to his brothers, 'Come on guys, he's just a kid - Dad loves him and he's going to kill us if he finds out what hatred we feel for him. Let's forgive him. Let's forget the whole thing and love him as a brother...' But we know this isn't an option for us to believe because it didn't happen that way. We can play the 'What if...' game all we want, but it didn't happen that way. Though Judah seems to save his brother from death, his coaxing his brothers to sell him to the Ishmaelites sure wasn't because he wanted to save him. But God overruled in that decision too. More to come on that front.

May we wait and discover the conclusion of this story (and our lives, for that matter) and discover the richest truth that trusting in the LORD and His Sovereign Plan is the best place to be. On the surface, this part of the text is not redeemable at all. Thrown into a pit, chastised and rejected by his brothers, then sold as a slave - not exactly the kind of treatment that we would like to receive from our loved-ones. Again, Joseph has no choice but to go along. We see another parallel to Jesus and his life. We read that Jesus was led as a lamb to the slaughter, He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth (Isaiah 53:7).

This is something of a theme that will be weaved through the story of Joseph. It seems Joseph just simply goes along. We don't hear any dialogue with him and is brothers once they had plotted their plan as they saw him coming towards them. I know I would have been screaming for help in the pit. Who knows who could have been around to help? But no one came. Perhaps because Joseph simply gave into his lot and hoped for a positive outcome. Well, he got out alright, but was then kicked into another pit, this time into a pit of slavery. It seems like the LORD is teaching us something of His character through the life of Joseph.

When all hope is lost, when it seems like we have nowhere to turn, look on the horizon and see your salvation - as far off as it may seem, it is there; He is there. Salvation comes in many forms, but all by the hand of God. We don't naturally see being kicked into slavery as salvation, but the LORD, in His ways, are much, much higher than our ways (see Isaiah 55:9). Trust in a Sovereign God who loves you. Reflect on the truth of the Word of God Who, by His own prerogative, became a slave for us and brought us redemption. 

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