Well, things changed as a result of God’s referendum to Pharaoh alright. God said, “Let my go!” Pharaoh said, “What? You want me to do what with your people? …you want me to make their work harder? OK, I can arrange that.”
Wow, this overarching concept and idea feels very familiar for some reason. The LORD gives a command to do something. In obedience it is carried out. Life gets harder, not easier as a result of the obedience. You would think that when the God of the universe instructs you to take a stand and obediently place yourself at risk before everyone, He would come through when you expect him to. But, that’s not necessarily how He works. Taking that step of faith sometimes means getting your toes run over by a steamroller.
The question is, knowing that that is the case, are we willing to be obedient? Are we willing to step out in faith? Are we being obedient to get something out of it, or is our obedience because He is LORD of our life? Can He trust us to obey even when it means more trouble for ourselves?
That’s a difficult problem for most of us Americans. Many times our outlook is; “What’s in it for me?” If we aren’t getting something out of it, we aren’t willing to put anything into it. God doesn’t work that way though. He’s not a direct “If…then…” God. “If you do this for Me, then I will do that for you.” If that’s what you are looking for in a god, then you are looking in the wrong place. Yes, God will bless you amazingly and abundantly when you obey Him. Yes, you will find peace in your life. Yes, you can trust Him, but you cannot count on Him to do what you want Him to do, or even anywhere close to when you want Him to do it. He works on His terms not ours. However, we are still responsible for obeying Him. The benefits will be amazing, but so will the troubles.
So what’s the LORD calling YOU to be obedient to today?
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
You could say that this is where it ends, or you could say that this is where it starts. Either way, Jacob and his family are on their way to Egypt. There is a much bigger plan for them than any of them can see right now. It is a plan that won’t be fulfilled for 400+ years.
Jacob makes a wise decision. Even though his lost son has called for him to come down to Egypt with all that he has and that he will be taken care of, he still seeks the advice of Elohim; the God of his fathers. Jacob wants to make sure that this is what God is directing him to do. What’s important to note here is that even when faced with something he desires more than anything in the world, Jacob does not just accept and do what he desires with all of his heart. He seeks God’s will before he makes the choice.
As a result God blesses him. God tells him that he is to go. That He (God) Himself will bring them out, and that Joseph will be there to see him off on his death bed. At this point there is nothing more that Jacob desires. We will see more of this plan of God’s in the coming books, but understand that all that occurs in the meantime is a part of God’s plan.
Do we jump into doing something that we want so badly just because we want it without consideration of the consequences or whether it is God’s will. Many times i have seen an amazing situation that i really, really want and think that it must be God blessing me, but i may forget to actually ask Him if it is from Him. Other times i seek God’s will and accept what He tells me; then when things fall apart i wonder if i really heard God or if i was just doing my own thing.
Just because it is a blessing, does not mean it is God’s will. Just because it has led to frustration and trouble, does not mean that it isn’t a part of God’s plan.
Well, everything begins changing for Joseph at this point. He has been a slave in his master’s house. Then he was put into prison for a crime he didn’t commit, he remained faithful and did an amazing job while being a prisoner. He worked for the chief of the prison and helped out those who were placed there. Even then he was ignored and forgotten. It has been two years since he helped out the chief cup-bearer and chief baker through their dream interpretations. Now everything changes rather quickly.
Pharaoh has a pair of bad dreams, and no one can tell him what they mean. Finally the cup-bearer comes forward and says, “there was this young Hebrew man who told me my dream.” So Pharaoh sends for him and Joseph tells him that the interpretations come from the God who gave him the dreams, so tell them to Joseph and he will see what he can tell him. All that hard work and faithfulness pays off, God answers, and Joseph is about to have a life change.
How long are we willing to wait for God? Do we get frustrated and just give up when things just don’t go our way? Do we feel abandoned when instead of blessing us, it seems like God just puts us through more and more trials? Do we feel like it doesn’t really matter whether we do the right thing or not because either way we are getting screwed? Just because it takes time for the seed to grow, sprout, bud, flower, and come to fruition doesn’t mean that God doesn’t have a plan for us. It just means, that His timing is much different from ours.
The fruition of his faithfulness, hard work, and honesty in the face of great trials leads him to this very moment and time… and what happens in the second half of this chapter; tomorrow.
It seems like God’s blessing of His people more often than not leads to contention rather than pursuit. Isaac goes and lives in the land of the Philistines due to a famine in the land of Canaan. He and all his household. While he is there God blesses him. His crops grow a hundredfold. God continues to bless him in many other ways as well.
You would think that with God blessing Isaac as he does, Abimelech the king of the Philistines would pursue Isaac and the God of Isaac. You would think that they would want to be connected to the God and man of God who blesses in such ways. Instead they fear him. Instead, they send him away.
This leads to contention between Abimelech and Isaac’s herdsmen. Trouble that could lead to war between the two, what Abimelech feared. But, Isaac was not interested in stirring up trouble. He was a peacekeeper who turned away from the conflict. As a result Abimelech did pursue Isaac, but not for the right reasons. He pursued a peace covenant with Isaac, not to know more the God that blessed his people so. As a result, he got his peace treaty / covenant, but it will come at the cost of the nation later on.
It’s also interesting to note that Isaac pursued as well. He went in pursuit of more wives. He got what he was pursuing, but at the cost of peace for himself and his household.