Tag Archives: Joseph

Fear not: For am I in the place of God?

For many scholars and ministers, who look at Jacob’s family album and  deliverance God brought through Joseph, forgiveness is the big theme. Joseph is honored for his great forgiveness.  I think forgiveness is a little easier than people think. It relies on God. For me,the Joseph record is the story of God’s great love and provision.

The true exercise and action of man are in trusting and believing God. Genesis is filled with records of people that sojourned through the wilderness of life, physically, mentally and spiritually, to ultimately find the wellspring of grace that was really right there all the time. Jacob’s sons were no exceptions.

Genesis 50:14-21
And Joseph returned into Egypt, he, and his brethren, and all that went up with him to bury his father, after he had buried his father. And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him.  And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying, So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him. And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants. 

And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.

After all the ways God showed His love during hardship and famine, despite the poor relationships, envy, strife, evil intentions, immorality and lack of trust; Joseph’s brothers still worried that they were in big trouble having fear of what would happen to them. Have you ever thought this way? Joseph reminded them how God turned all of it for their good. God is what resided in and kept Joseph’s heart. God was available to them too.

It is interesting listening to ourselves when we talk about God.  We may talk in chapters, verses, formulas and quotations, pontifications and special language. We talk fast, slow, loudly, quietly, intensely or cautiously about God. If we listen to ourselves long enough the ‘trust factor’ starts to become visible. It shows in the above conversation in Genesis 50. The ‘trust factor’ is not that we’ve proved every jot and tittle of the Bible. It is about our relationship with God. Bottom line is just what Jesus Christ told us in the gospels:

Matthew 22:35-41 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

 
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Living Larger

“This world ♪♫♪♫ is not my home, ♪♫♪♫ I’m justa passin’ through..” seem to be the lyrics Jacob was fond of singing in the later part of Genesis. He mourned the loss of his son Joseph and from that point on he seems to waiting to for life to be over.

In Genesis 45:27-28, his reaction to the news of finding out that Joseph was alive and sending for him is recorded:

And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them: and when he saw the wagons (not yet used in Israel according to E.W.Bullinger) which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived:  And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die. (Genesis 45:27, 28)

Imagine Jacob’s reaction when he saw the wagons and all the wonderful things provided for a comfortable trip to Egypt. As they set out for Egypt, Jacob stopped at Beersheba and had a conversation with God (Elohim).Jacob's travel

And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac. And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I. And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation: I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes. Genesis 46:1-4

Instead of life ending, it was beginning anew for Jacob. Jacob was 130 years old when he moved to Egypt, not an easy thing to do at his age. He would be well-taken care of in Joseph’s domain and  under his watchful eye. Joseph’s care and wisdom came from God. Joseph’s heart reminds me of the verse in Timothy where Paul writes about Timothy:

Philippians 2:20-21 For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.  For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.

Jacob actually lived to be 147 years old. God blessings always extend beyond human vision. Ephesians 3:20 reminds us of that:

20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, (Ephesians 3:20)

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Revival is is Not Packaged, Manufactured, Sold or Taxed

Fishing season is coming up. My husband has already been dangling some bait. He is very particular about the bait.  The livelier it is, the bigger the chance for success to catch a hungry whopper! He is an expert at snagging a boatload of fish!

Genuine relational belief in God is very attractive.  I’m not talking about pre-fab believing, like doing all the right things that are expected. I’m talking about a human being that emanates all of the fruit of the spirit and genuinely cares for others and enjoys all things God.

Joseph, in the Genesis record was able to affect nations and influence a large number of people because he had connections to the true God. In the beginning of the record, his brothers didn’t seem to like him. They regarded him as a  goody two-shoes. As the Joseph record evolves, it all changes, not overnight, but slowly over the course of many years they matured and coalesced and became the future of the first nation of believers.

Joseph had to have had great thankfulness for the faithfulness of God. During certain periods of his life, he may felt lonely but he was steadfast. The amazing thing about him was that at those times, despite some people not liking him, he got the attention and honor of some pretty key individuals. Joseph rose to the top in Egypt, not because of his ambition, but because of his regard for God.

When God becomes real in a person’s thinking, a revival takes place. It is contagious and affects others, one way or another. The hope, peace, joy, expectation and genuine love is unmistakably from God and belongs to God. It cannot be bought, sold, invented or manipulated. God never controls us, we accept, protect and guard our hearts because we choose who we worship and follow. Choice is a valuable commodity. When we lose that choice howbeit ever so subtly or blatantly, we need to take note. Our choices are at the root of everything we do.


Have you ever been involved in a complex situation which seemed out of control with no answers on the horizon? Sometimes when I’m in those situations, I start questioning myself. From there it could go into guilt, sadness and hopelessness. When I start feeling guilty about something, it jars me awake and I then do what I’m supposed to do: ask God and honestly seek His resolution.


God’s solutions to the events in Joseph’s life attracted attention and glory for God. Joseph made many decisions. He chose to go to prison for refusing his master’s wife’ demands. He chose to explain the visions of the baker and the butler. He chose to help Pharaoh. He chose to do his best to provide for Egypt against the famine. He chose to help his family and provide for them as God worked with him. The bottom line is: Joseph chose to listen to God and that is what made him a success.

When Joseph explained Pharaoh’s dreams, he started with God:

Genesis 41:25 And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh is one: God hath shewed Pharaoh what he is about to do.

28 This is the thing which I have spoken unto Pharaoh: What God is about to do he sheweth unto Pharaoh.

32 And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass.

Pharaoh accepted what he said and put things in action:

38 And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is? 39And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: 40 Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.

 These actions changed the course of Egypt’s history as well as brought about changes in Joseph’s family that continues to effect us today. I would call that revival!

 

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People and ‘Real’ationships

‘Real’ationships are an amazing study and perhaps no greater revelation can be found in Genesis chapters 42 and 43 about Joseph’s relationships with his brothers.  It is a story of true forgiveness, redemption and reconciliation: the three  ‘R’s’ of relational wholeness. There is so much embedded in this record that just a surface reading is not enough, but it is significant piece of learning how humans interact where two forces, good and evil exist together.

On the one hand, we read about Joseph whose goodness is revealed as the story in Genesis continues. Joseph trusted God as he rose to the top in Egypt. On the other side of the story is the record of Joseph’s brothers and their very human nature. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers due to their jealousies, anger and rebellion. They, for the most part, were entrenched in fear.

Fear affects thinking.  It causes misjudgment, hard feelings and uneasy relations. Imagined scenarios are the result, not reality. Have you ever had a difficult interaction with someone and you realized that they were thinking evil of you and there was nothing you could do to convince them of your genuineness towards them. In dealing with hurts, sometimes time has to heal (like a pulled muscle). At other times it means pulling away (like burning your hand when the potholder slips). Pulling away need not be permanent as we see in the record of Joseph, but it requires protection that only the wisdom of God can give.

In chapter 42 and 43 of Genesis, E.W. Bullinger (The Companion Bible) points out 4 steps in the reconciliation of Jacob’s sons. The whole record of Joseph from the time of being thrown in a pit to the time when he is united with his brothers is over the course of 22 years. The first step on Joseph’s part is to speak roughly to them. His brothers didn’t recognize him. Joseph, however, did not immediately break down, reveal his heart to them and they lived happily ever after. He needed to see change in them otherwise he was in danger.

After his second action of throwing them in jail, he overheard them making references to the fact that they were remorseful over what they had done to to their brother. The scene of him stripped of his beautiful coat at the bottom of the pit in anguish popped up during there incarceration. They were scared. Their fear was punishing them not God. This conversation showed Joseph some of their change in heart (the beginning of repentance).

They had come to Egypt to buy corn during a famine. Joseph sold them food and told them to go back to their land leaving Simeon behind in jail (interesting choice). He asked them to bring back their youngest brother (who was his full blood brother having the same mother).  Joseph had their money put back in their packs secretly (Bullinger’s 3rd step) and sent them on their way. When they discovered the money returned, again they had fearful thoughts. Guilt does nothing but breed more fear. They were carrying a lot of baggage in their heads, not just on their animals. Have you noticed that people who carry a lot of baggage tend to read its weight into relationships they have? That baggage conjures up negative emotions in their hearts and it is difficult dealing with them. Fear is at the base of it.

Finally, as the famine continued they went back to Egypt with the youngest son of Jacob in tow and were treated well in Egypt. Joseph still did not reveal who he was. Joseph gave them more supplies and sent them home, however he planted a silver cup in Benjamin’s pack unbeknownst to them.  Joseph sent guards after them to search for the silver cup and it was found in Benjamin’s pack. Benjamin was the favored brother of Jacob.  Judah asked to take the punishment for the theft instead of Benjamin because of the hurt that it would incur to his father to lose another son. It was at this point finally Joseph could reveal who he was and after 22+ years Judah had changed and matured. Only God could have provided the way to effect the change.  Look at the blessing gave Judah at the end of his life in 49:8-10:

Genesis 49:8 Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee. 9 Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

Our difficulties with people and situations we find ourselves in can best be dealt with by giving the situation to God. A fellow blogger wrote that this is like getting on a moving sidewalk and moving forward through life regardless of the scenery. I like that analogy!

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Everywhere Under the Rainbow We Can Fly!

As I was driving on a familiar road recently, I was reminded of an incident that had happened along that road several years ago. The evening had been the end of a warming spring day and my husband and I were in the car driving to someones’s house. On the west side of the car, the sky suddenly turned pea-green, nasty and windy. It was truly ominous looking! It was very strange because as I turned and looked out of the passenger side of the car a huge rainbow sprawled over a blue sky! I watched the rainbow all the way to our destination and it was a great lesson for me on where to put my focus.

In Philippians 4:6-8 is a great gem on dealing with pressure:

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

In analyzing what we think about, it is not about what we should not think about, rather it is about what we should focus on. I know that sounds confusing but Genesis 39 is a good example of Joseph’s mindset that enabled him to successfully take advantage of God’s help when he faced situations that endeavored to take him down.

When Joseph got to Egypt he was sold to the captain of the guard.  God was with him and he prospered and even brought  prosperity to his owner. It was not a lovely situation to have been sold into slavery by your brothers, but he forged ahead regardless. I’m sure that pressure was always around, he dealt with it by not letting it stop him from moving ahead. Even when more pressure presented itself in a situation from the deceptive captain’s wife, he went forward despite being thrown in prison unjustly. From there he ended up getting the Pharaoh’s attention, and rose to the top assisting Pharoah as his right hand man. God prosper him and now even the whole county of Egypt benefited from the grace of God. Pharaoh is recorded to have said:

And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the spirit of God is? Genesis 41:38

In this world there is the good and evil; there’s right and there’s wrong. Joseph did some amazing things. The ups and downs are very visible in Chapter 39. Several times in the chapter we can read about God prospering Joseph. We have the advantage of being able to read later outcomes which are amazing, but Joseph did the ‘one day at a time’ thing.

Rainbows are beautiful. They are made when light passes through a medium such as a prism or even a small drop of water! The medium slows light’s speed so that it breaks up into various colors an hues. Guess who designed the rainbow!? Pretty good huh? Remember Genesis 9:14? They are much prettier than storms. It is a great reminder of a ‘God so loving that he gave’.

16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” Genesis 9:14

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