Whenever YHWH sets a leader over His people, He sets up some pretty high expectations. There are things that the people can do that the leaders must stay away from. Those who act as priests, prophets, and kings are expected to live at a higher standard than those who do not have a direct connection and responsibility to YHWH.
In this chapter those of the priestly line and especially the priests who serve the LORD are instructed that they may not defile themselves by a corpse unless it is a direct family member. Even then, the high priest may not even do that. They may not marry a woman who has been widowed or divorced, or who has slept with any other man at any time in her life. She must be a virgin or he may not marry her. Nor may a priest tear his clothes in mourning or uncover his head. If his daughter profanes herself in harlotry, it rests on him as well. Then finally, if there is any physical defect in a man, He may not serve as priest before the LORD. YHWH even goes so far as to say that if a man has a broken hand or foot, he may not serve the LORD.
Do we take our responsibility in representing the LORD seriously? Do we set ourselves apart from the world, or do we do what everyone else is doing? As people who pursue God and seek His work and will in our lives, we should be living examples of God and His work and will. We should be truly pursuing Him in all holiness.
What is the difference between happiness and joy? How about between mourning and dismay? What keeps trials from becoming desperation, and sadness from depression? There is one word; one concept or idea that divides these from each other. That is hope. Hope creates joy (long-term & deeply rooted) rather than happiness (short-term & fleeting). Hope separates mourning (the natural response to loss) from dismay (fear of facing the future resulting from loss). This almost undefinable, nugget of life we call hope is a key and defining ingredient that separates sadness from depression.
Jacob is dead; he has died of old age. The time of mourning is here, and Joseph and his brothers work to fulfill their responsibility to bury him in the cave of his fathers resting place. There is a huge procession of Israelites and Egyptians that carries the body of Jacob to the burial mound. All that is expected and more has been done.
With the passing of their father, Joseph’s older brothers begin to lose that hope. Their past sin that has continued to haunt them their entire lives now comes to a head. What will Joseph do to them? What will he do to their families and children? Will he enslave them as they did to him? Will he treat them with cruelty and contempt? Will he have Pharaoh and the Egyptians do it for him? So many troubles caused by one choice. They fear because of the seeds sown by their own actions so long ago.
What does Joseph do? He relieves them of those full grown weeds; the result of those seeds planted so long ago. He gives them hope. He tells them that all that they did was part of the plan meant not for the destruction of his life, but for life for the Egyptians and themselves. They have no need to fear. They have no need to be troubled. God has a plan bigger than they are, and all this trouble and fear is simply wasted life.
How about us? Do we have a hope, or are we buried in our mourning and fear? Does mourning turn to dismay and sadness become depression? It’s time to let all of that go, and to seek the hope that has been freely offered and given. The one who has created us has a plan. He has a purpose that includes you and me. We need to pursue Him… to find He who has been pursuing us. Are you ready?
Rev. John Camiolo
Well, it seems the slower i write, the better i write. Since i ran out of ink in my Pilot Varsitys (disposable fountain style pens) i have had to switch back to ball point. As a result, my writing speed has increased. It is easier to write with ballpoint. The fountain pen is rougher and scratchier, and thereby requires a slower more careful pace. Also, the ink is is lighter in the ballpoint due to the nature of the ink and pen. As a result, i have been writing faster and much sloppier, and it has really been effecting the work. So today, i purposefully started slowing down and writing more carefully. As a result my writing definitely has improved, but by the end of the chapter i can definitely tell that it is slipping again. I really need to get myself another set of Varsitys or other fountain style.
The reality of the human condition and situation becomes darker in the face of this chapter. Here we begin to see the relationships between the siblings. We find that Joseph (Rachael’s older son) is clearly favored by his father and hated by his siblings. He tells his siblings about dreams he had that they and his father would bow down to him, and they become even more bitter and angry.
When they get a chance, a group of his brothers decide to gang up on him and kill him, but Reuben wants to protect him. So Reuben sets up a rescue plan. Unfortunately, at the last minute the other brothers change their mind and decide that money is worth more than blood on their hands, so they sell him as a slave, foiling Reuben’s plans.
Meanwhile; they kill a goat, put the blood on Joseph’s coat, bring it to their father, and allow their father to think that Joseph was killed by wild beasts. Thus their father mourns for Joseph, refuses to be comforted, and almost goes to his own grave. The brothers go on with their lives as if nothing had happened.
So who are the beasts?