Isn’t it nice to have an outside perspective sometimes. We look at our own situation time and time again. We see the same problems the same ways. We walk through the same doors and fall into the same traps. It’s so easy to get caught up in our own way of doing things that we lose track of the idea that there may be another, better solution. We also get so used to seeing the same blessings that we fail to see them as blessings. We see our successes in light of our situation and lose track of how amazing they can be sometimes.
Moses had started to get into some of these kinds of ruts. He was hearing the same people complaining about the same problems while doing the same things over and over. Then along came Jethro, his father-in-law, bringing Moses wife and two sons, and they saw it all anew. They heard the stories for the first time. They learned about the situation and saw all the blessings that God was doing for the people off Israel, and they were amazed. Jethro was the priest of Midian. He was a man of experience and wisdom, and yet he said, “Now I know that the LORD (YHWH) is greater than all the gods. Indeed, it was proven when they dealt proudly against the people.” He saw how God had treated those who stood proudly against His people, and Jethro, the priest of Midian, knew that there was no God like YHWH.
In response Jethro took a burnt offering and sacrifice to the LORD. He prepared it as a meal and invited the leaders of Israel to eat a meal together before God. He served in his role as a priest, yet he also set a precedent for the leaders; one of fellowshipping together before the LORD. Don’t you love a good perspective!?
The chapter finishes with Moses sitting before the people judging them. They came to him with their conflicts and problems, and he judged between the people. As i was reading this, it reminded me of the incident in chapter 2 “He (Moses) went out the next day, and behold, two Hebrews were fighting with each other; and he said to the offender, ‘Why are you striking your companion?’ But he said, ‘Who made you a prince or a judge over us? Are you intending to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?’ Then Moses was afraid and said, ‘Surely the matter has become known.’” So Moses has become the judge that he had tried to be. He went from poser to the man of the hour; yet ironically, it was too much.
Jethro to the rescue! He tells Moses that this is too much work for him alone; that he needs to abdicate the work to others. To those who hate injustice so that it does not become too much of a burden. Do we pursue an outside perspective for our lives?
“It all comes down to this.” How often in our lives do we work towards something; desiring for it to come to pass, and then it all comes down to the wire? It is the moment of truth. Will the hero save the day? Will the girl say. “Yes!”? Will he get the job that will spark his career and set him on the path for greatness? Will she get the score that she needs to get into the prestigious school that she wants?
This is just such a time for Joseph and his brothers. Joseph is pulling the strings and testing his brothers. He needs to know if they are still the same bitter, angry, jealous men they were when they decided to kill him and ended up selling him into slavery for a few coins. Is his little brother in just as much trouble as he was by being with them? Will they stand up for him, or give him away to whomever will take him? The plan is in place, and the opportunity is given. How will they respond, and what will it mean for them?
I wonder sometimes in reading this, what would have happened if the brothers had made the wrong choice? Ultimately we don’t know, because it never did. Judah stood up and wisely and tactfully responded to the problem. He explained the situation desiring to get Benjamin off the hook, but needing to do so without making this ruler / lord lose face. He sacrifices himself so that his younger brother (and father) would live.
Would you or I be willing and able to make the same choice?
So Joseph does what he has learned to do. First he answers the question that Pharaoh poses to him. What does this mean? Then, without being asked and it appears without even a pause he answers the question that results from his answer. He starts out be telling Pharaoh what his dreams mean. There will be seven years of great abundance followed by seven years of great famine. Then he tells Pharaoh what needs to be done to prepare for and respond to the coming famine. One fifth of the produce of the land during the abundance needs to be stored away for the famine time.
As a result, Pharaoh sees God’s hand and blessing on Joseph and places him over the entire nation of Egypt. Joseph was 30 years old at this time. He spent almost half of his life as a slave in Egypt, and most of that time was spent in prison. But the whole time, God had a purpose for him. He wasn’t doing nothing and watching his life waste away. He wasn’t stuck with no hope and no future. God had a purpose for him, and this was that purpose!
God was preparing Joseph to not only excel, but to become the second in command of Egypt; to provide leadership and wisdom to prepare the people and nations for the coming blessings and famine; to save not just lives, but nations from perishing in the flood of famine that would hit for seven years. God had a plan, and that plan had a name. It simply took a life of disappointment and overcoming to prepare Joseph for that purpose… a purpose that was revealed and a change that was laid out, all in 1 day.
How do we see our lives? I know that i struggle sometimes trying to see how and why my life has turned out as it has. I have seen people pass and surpass me in life, and i wonder, ” Why do they get blessed, and it seems like i don’t?” Why do i so often feel rejected and pushed away by God. I know that that’s not really the case and that God has a plan for me as well, but i can’t help feeling sometimes that i have been abandoned and left to rot in prison for some unknown reason. I know it’s not really like that, but that’s how it feels sometimes. Ultimately though, I know that I have a hope, and that God has a plan. That it’s not really about me. It’s about Him, and i have to make sure that i don’t get myself in the way.
So what is your struggle?
John J. Camiolo Jr.