Genesis 39 - Joseph Obeys…God Disappoints

Genesis 39 - Joseph Obeys…God Disappoints!?

Genesis 39 documents Joseph’s noble moral strength. But God does not seem to notice! Joseph gets confinement not commendation, prison not praise. Gee, thanks a lot, God!! Perhaps you’ve been similarly abandoned by God. You tithed faithfully, but your business collapsed! You’ve guarded your virginity but you’re still alone! You’ve studied diligently but you failed the course! Your marriage is Christ-centered but you’re childless. Sometimes, our reason for doing good is really to get. We think blessings come by bargaining. We’re like the Elder Brother who stayed home and slaved and got nothing!…while our grubby little “brothers” get everything!! (Luke 15). If “faithfulness” does not reap our definition of “fruitfulness” we are resentful, angry, and bitter. We all struggle here. Sometimes our disappointments in life are created by unbiblical expectations. The path is often painful and twisted, but it will lead to His glory and our good.

Genesis 41 - What a Day!

Genesis 41 - What a Day!

365 days, times the years God gives you, that’s a lot of days. Most are quickly forgotten. One cruel day Joseph went from Son to slave - followed by 4,745 days of dreary duties. Suddenly his prison monotony was shattered by shouting, “The Pharaoh wants to see Joseph!” After a scrub and shave he obeyed the summons. As Genesis 41 details, that day Joseph rode his rocket - from pit to palace! It was the speediest change of status of any person in Scripture! Are YOU ready for your rocket? If you are in Christ, earth’s last breath will be exhaled in His presence! “Now there is waiting for me the victory prize of being put right with God, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that Day…to all those who wait with love for him to appear.” 2 Timothy 4.8 GNT

Genesis 41 - Don’t Go There….!

Genesis 41 - Don’t Go There….!

Our Genesis text dares to go where my school teachers in California would not let us venture. I remember a Creative Writing teacher urging us to think expansively about everything…except “religion and politics!” I guess Moses did not get the Memo! He unapologetically narrates the transfer of all of Egypt, including all Egyptians, to full control of Pharaoh. History records later Pharaoh’s declaring, “I am Egypt!” And they can thank Joseph! Where is justice? Rights? Democracy? Is this a blue-print for wanna-be-dictators with voracious appetites? This text, like all historical narrative in Scripture, is descriptive (what happened) not prescriptive (what we must make happen everywhere, for all time). Later Pharaoh’s may have used their power to oppress, but those who knew Joseph thanked him for their very lives. His foresight made sure there was food in Egypt, and his wise administration ensured they could eat it.

Genesis 41.44 - Prosperous Joseph?

Genesis 41.44 - Prosperous Joseph?

Should Christians be “successful” like Joseph? Think carefully. Joseph is never made a standard by Jesus or the New Testament Apostles. He is rarely even mentioned. If Joseph is our “model” the Apostles missed the “memo.” All Scripture is descriptive (what truly happened), but not all is prescriptive (what should we do/be). That’s obvious, lots of crazy stuff! Historical narratives offer both negative examples (1 Corinthians 10.11) and positive encouragement (Romans 15.4). The clearest prescriptions for our Christian life are in the New Testament letters. The Apostles of Jesus apply the preaching of Jesus to believers gathered in churches. Joseph would chuckle at the idea of being “like him” – abandonment, slavery, imprisonment, suffering - really? Joseph is now with the One he and we should be like - One who went far lower than Joseph (because WE deserved it, not Him), and now reigns in the Highest Place.

Genesis 41.51 - Forgive, because you Cannot Forget!

Genesis 41.51 - Forgive, because you Cannot Forget!

Forgive and forget? I wish I could. But sometimes my craving to even the score and get revenge won’t let me enjoy the peace of forgiveness. My will be done! Joseph had a lot to be bitter about. But he wisely “called the name of the firstborn…“God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father's house” (Genesis 41.51). That seems counter-intuitive!? Every time he calls his son, “Manasseh,” he remembers that painful junk all over again! He does remember, but now he sees his problems with a fuller perspective of God’s plan. He can testify that his sufferings led to salvation for many – God meant them for good! “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” (Psalm 56.8) His son became a permanent testimony of God’s power to redeem the past.

Genesis 42.6-20 - Was Joseph Nice?

Genesis 42.6-20 - Was Joseph Nice?

Many people wonder. He let his brothers chill in prison. He played mind games – hiding money and cup in their grocery sacks - sending the cops after them to find what he had hidden – making them spend months traveling back and forth from Canaan to Egypt. Wassup with all that? The mess they made one terrible day took decades to right. Joseph laid out an obstacle course of tough love for them to grow in humility, repentance, and compassion. With a wise mix of sternness and kindness he saw God grow them from chumps to cornerstones of the Kingdom. It took decades for Joseph to hear their “Sorry.” And to tell them he was too! This drama of a dysfunctional family speaks hope to mine and yours. We should forgive freely, but we build trust cautiously. Nice is debatable, but God’s good purposes are sure in Christ!

Exodus 3.6 - The God of who?

Exodus 3.6 - The God of who?!!

It can be startling to realize that people in the Bible are real. Sometimes too real! A friend of mine had lunch with Billy Graham when we were college students and he returned shocked that he picked his nose. Hey! Sometimes it needs it! It’s astounding that God can describe Himself by saying, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3.6). The God of chumps? Scoundrels? Hypocrites? Yes! All of that and a bunch of other unflattering descriptions too. Bible people are just like us – lost without a huge portion of mercy and grace from our faithful Covenant God.  Paul described our faith family, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15.4)