Saturday, August 3, 2013

What About Joseph's Brothers?

Have you ever thought about Joseph’s brothers?  I was recently thinking about them and their story and was once again reminded of what a loving God we have.

Joseph’s brothers were jealous because he was favored by his father (a big NO, NO!) and he kept telling them about his dreams of one day becoming a prominent person in their society.  Here he was one of the youngest 2 sons, and he was telling them that he would one day have dominion over them, and that even their parents together with the brothers would bow before him.  Between their jealousy and his dreams of grandeur they hated him and could barely talk to him!

They were so envious and jealous of their brother (not to mention flat out angry at him because he was a 17-year old tattle tale in their eyes for reporting to their father of their evil deeds) that they decided to get rid of him.  They wanted to kill him, but by God’s grace he was spared of that and was instead sold as a slave!  They lied to their father and told him that Joseph was dead and lived for many years as though he had indeed died.

Many years later we know that Joseph’s dreams did come true.  He governed over Egypt, and  when there was a dearth of food and famine in all the land, Joseph’s brothers had to go to Joseph to get food.  Of course being so many years had passed, they did not recognize him, but he knew who they were! They did indeed bow before him, and he had the dominion over them just as he had dreamed.  In the end their brother forgave them and provided a place for them to live where they would have plenty of food for the whole family! 

Now, I said all that to point out some thoughts I had while pondering this.
  1. Joseph’s brothers hated him and considered him proud while they were too proud to think they might one day bow before their younger brother
  2.  They basically “killed” their brother – definitely in their hearts they committed the very act; but honestly they ended his life as he knew it and their life with him.  They conspired together and sold him into slavery not knowing what would become of him.
  3. They lied to their dad about Joseph’s whereabouts, even allowing their dad to grieve his son's death when he hadn't even died!
  4. They lived with their guilt and when things went wrong they always thought they were being punished for what they had done
  5. When there was no food, God provided for them
  6. God provided a place for them to live
  7.  In the end when Joseph was in a position to pay them back for their evil deeds, he forgave them.
Genesis 50:15 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.
16  And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying,
17  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.
18  And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants.
19  And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?
20  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.
21  Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.

Now, they don’t sound like very nice guys, certainly not worthy of all they received in the end!  But, as I see it, in spite of all that, God still provided for them!  Joseph realized that he had suffered all of those things so he could be in a position to save their lives!  Joseph is a type or picture of Christ; the innocent suffering for the guilty as a sacrifice so that they might live.

What about Joseph’s brothers? Sadly, I have to say that we’re often just like them.  We do wrong because of our own pride and then try to get rid of what is exposing our sin instead of getting right with God.  We are like a teenager that recently said to me, “I don’t like being told to do things I don’t want to do!”  (who does?)  The beauty in this is that just as God provided for those wicked men and showed his love, grace, and mercy for them – He still does that for us today!  God loves us and provides for us even though we’re sinners.  “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8

Live thankful in that love have a wonderful day!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Who Me? Couldn't Be!

“Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?  YOU stole the cookie from the cookie jar!  Who me?  Yes you!  Couldn't be!  Then who?”  Remember that old game from elementary school?  Funny thing is no one will take “credit” for taking the cookie from the cookie jar, because we don’t like to admit we’re wrong, we don’t like to be found guilty; it is always someone else’s fault.  

When my children were little no matter what happened or who did what, somehow it always seemed to be one of the other one of my children’s fault.  In fact, one of my kids even went so far as to say that it was his brother's fault that he hit the ball over the fence and broke the window because he pitched it in such a way that the ball would go over the fence no matter what!  He was dead serious!

Of course Adam and Eve placed the blame on someone else even though they knew that God was all knowing and all seeing!  And…they still tried to hide and cover themselves – seems ridiculous, doesn't it?  Yet, that is what we all do at one time or another.  We try to rid ourselves of guilt by finding someone else to blame.  Today’s society feeds that character flaw by giving everyone an excuse for what they do and someone else to blame for all of our problems!  That is not a healthy attitude and it is a very dangerous one as well.

One of the greatest things we can teach our children is individual responsibility.  It is our nature to always want to blame someone or something else for the things that happen to us that we don’t like.  Oh, but we’re oh so quick to take full credit for any good that we do.  Pride is at the root of that problem, and boy, are we all full of pride.  And while it is true that we may be the recipient of another’s cruelty, we do not have to respond in kind!

If we as parents can teach our children to take responsibility for their own actions we will save everyone from a multitude of heartache.   One of the biggest problems with always placing the blame on others for our actions is that it leaves us as constant victims!  The truth is that though others may wrong me, I am still responsible for my response. 

When God allows difficulties in our lives it is for our making, not our breaking!  

Hebrews 5:8 teaches,  “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;”

1 Peter 5:10 further explains, “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”

1 Peter 2:21 & 23 also shows us what we should do… “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps… Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:”

If we can learn ourselves and teach our children to commit ourselves to “him that judgeth righteously” as Jesus did, we’ll focus on what we do rather than what they did!   I know for myself and my children I would much prefer someone learning obedience that is complete, established, strong, and settled than   constantly being a victim!  “As for God, his way is perfect” commit yourself to Him today – He will judge righteously!

Have a wonderful day!