Tuesday, November 15, 2016
TheLifeOfJoseph : Genesis 47:23-31
New life begins and a life well-lived finds its end. Joseph hears the pleas of both the Egyptians and those of his father. He is the centre of attention for both of these people. They both are pleading and desiring different things, and yet again, Joseph is the one to make these wishes reality. What a story of a man who was given great responsibility and excelled in that responsibility!
As mentioned in my last entry, we start to see the story unravel (in a good way) and pieces truly begin to snap together of how all the events of Joseph's life all point to him being the one to save many lives. Notice the statement of the Egyptians in vs. 25, 'You have saved our lives! Let us find favor in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s slaves.' I almost want to say to these people as I read their request, 'Do you have any idea what you're saying?!' These people are obviously desperate for life and will do (or say) anything to keep it. They are definitely a resilient people who plan to multiply and become a very large nation and Joseph had a very large part in that. Even though we know that these people are going to be the ones released from slavery because Pharaoh will take advantage of their numbers later, I can't help but still rejoice because of Joseph. Joseph has become the saviour to these people.
Then we look at this discussion between he and his father Israel. As my father has recently passed away, I know how important it is to listen to every word that a loved-one is saying before they pass away. It just seems their words are more than words; they are hopes and dreams that never came to be in their lives and it is up to us to make their wishes a reality.
My Dad's (who I lovingly called Pop) literal dying wish was that he wanted to be a better witness. By the sheer numbers of how many attended his memorial service (over 220; in a small church, this was quite overwhelming!), we all knew that he had been a good witness. By the number of people who shone with love because he first loved them, it truly was a day that the LORD was honoured. But I felt it incredibly important to share who my Pop was - some, who I knew personally, who attended that service did not have a relationship to Christ so it was my responsibility to share very tangibly who Jesus was to my Pop and why he was so filled with grace for people. It was because he was given grace himself by the One and Only Father who cares for each of us.
So as I hear these pleas of Joseph's father, I do ask the question in my own heart, Why is it so important for Israel to have these requests done? What is so important to him about making sure that he lies down 'with [his father’s]' that Joseph bury him in his fathers' burial place (the Promised Land)? It seems a bit silly that his life is reduced to where he is buried. Why couldn't there be more focus on the things that he was the recipient of here and now? He saw the life that his son had made, through all the hardships and struggles, and he is literally a recipient of these blessings. Yes, 22 years of his son’s life were stolen from him due to a jealous-decision made by his other sons, but why was it so important for Joseph to do these tasks? I believe that the last 'will and testament' of someone is vastly important, but as Wiersbe writes, 'Making your last will and testament is important, but don’t neglect your last witness and testimony'.*
What will my last witness and testimony be? What will yours be? May we follow our God who asks us to do His will - to be a witness for Christ in this world for Him. He will only be shared if we open our mouths and share Him to a world who desperately needs to hear His message.
As someone once said, sometimes we are the only Bible anyone will ever read.
*On my recent study of this conversation between Joseph and his father, the phrase '...under the thigh' has been drastically changed from the original meaning; it is a euphemism for 'on the loins'. I do believe we lose the importance of this cultural gesture in translating it this way, but find it important to explain it here, in this context. 'Under the thigh' is a descriptor of something quite intimate, whereby one would place his hand on the others' testicles. Obviously a cultural action that we do not do in our culture today, but just as interesting is doing a word-study on the word 'testimony'. The reason testimony has the four letters 'test' at the beginning of the word is because it's root is taken from the same word testicle. Giving a testimony or confession, was linked to the oaths given while handling anothers' testicles as a sign of covenant for the words they were speaking. Friedrick Buechner, in his book, 'Son of Laughter' outlines this cultural gesture very well in his fiction-like story of Jacob and the goings-on of his life. Obviously, we have turned very far away from this gesture, but I believe the heart of the gesture must still apply when we are giving our pledge of devotion to each other (whether to male or female). The gesture of handling anothers' testicles was a physical reminder of the oaths the LORD gave to His people (to Abraham specifically) that his seed (literally his sperm) would be the source of the fulfillment of the LORD's promise that his people would be more numerous than the sands on the seashore or the stars in the sky (see Genesis 22:15ff). I find culture to be incredibly important when we read Scripture. May we remember our oaths, and give them carefully as there is much at stake.
To read more on this context of 'under the thigh' please see this link: www.gotquestions.org/hand-under-thigh.html