January 13, 2018

Finding Justice Among "Just Us"

 

INTERESTING FACTS : The main subjects of the Bible are God's revelation of His character, His eternal righteous kingdom, and His plan of redemption through Jesus Christ.[1]
 
Daily Reading : [GENESIS 38 - 40]
 
TEXT : Gen 40:23 Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him.
 
THEME : UNRIGHTEOUSNESS
 
In chapter thirty-seven, we meet Joseph. This is Jacob's next to the youngest son, and one of only two born of his beloved Rachel. Remember, the twelve sons of Jacob that became the twelve tribes of Israel, came from four women - Leah [Rachel's sister], Rachel, Bilhah, and Zilpah [Rachel and Leah's servant girls]. Joseph held a place in Jacob's heart above his other brothers. Thus, Jacob made him a coat of many colors - a sign of his love for Joseph, and Jacob's fondness of Joseph spawned great jealousy in his other brothers. Joseph's brothers never spoke a kind word to him at any time according the Gen. 37:4.
 
Of course, it was not Joseph's "fault" his father loved him so much. In addition, Joseph had no influence or control over the way his father treated him with such favoritism. Most certainly, he did not have a hand in fashioning his special coat of many colors, which made him stand out among his brethren. All of these deeds belonged to Jacob, not Joseph. Joseph was simply his favorite, being born in Jacob's old age. Yet, Benjamin was born in Jacob's old age as well. He too was born of Rachel after Joseph. Why then did Jacob love Joseph so much? Well, beyond what the Bible states - that Joseph was the son of his old age - we do not know. Perhaps we may assume since Joseph was the firstborn of Rachel, Jacob's love came out of that fact. The firstborn among the Jews held special prominence in the family. Yet, Joseph is the firstborn of Rachel, not Jacob's firstborn. Reuben was the firstborn son. Simply put, we do not know what inspired Jacob's love of Joseph. We only know that he loved him beyond all his other children.
 
It is both encouraging and interesting to learn in the New Covenant [Testament] God describes a Christian or believer in Jesus Christ as "elect." According to Strong's dictionary, the word elect means - "chosen; favorite."[2] We sometimes forget that salvation is of the Lord, not of ourselves. Admittedly, why we are saved and not others, is as much a mystery as in Jacob's choice of Joseph in whom he poured out such love. Joseph did not ask to be Jacob's favorite, he simply was. Joseph did not "make" his father love him, Jacob merely did. Neither did Joseph seek a coat of many colors that set him apart from the rest of the family. He just received the coat and wore it. In the same way, God loves us and choses us before the foundation of the world. He calls, forgives, justifies, and conforms us into the image of Christ. If that were not enough, we are filled with Holy Spirit [i.e. God Himself], separated from the rest [i.e. the world], resting in Him from our own works [of "righteousness"], and have a reservation in Heaven waiting for us. We have received the gift of a never-ending life - the life of God Himself - by the love of God and His grace. We have received all that we have in Christ - freely, just as Joseph did.
 
Yet, if a father chooses one son from the rest, bestowing on him special love and privileges, there is a price for the beloved. There was for Joseph. As we see, Joseph's brothers hated him simply because their father loved him the most. [Gen. 37:4]  Because of this, they never spoke "peaceably" to him. One can only imagine the things said to Joseph as a young boy by his own brothers! It had to be sad for Joseph to hear such hatred coming through the voice of his own flesh and blood. No doubt, he often felt depressed and dejected for the treatment he received from them. Yet, all of it was due to Jacob's love for Joseph, and the brothers' jealousy of their younger brother. In fact, they hated Joseph so fervently, they threw him in a pit, dipped his coat in an animal's blood, sold him as a slave to strangers, and lied to their father about his death! Such a high price to pay for a love Joseph did not initiate! Joseph was only seventeen years old when he found himself a slave in a strange land, sent there an outcast by his own brethren!
 
Of course, Joseph held a special place in God's heart and plan in history as well. As a "dreamer" [literally " master of dreams" a contemptuous term - even though God spoke to prophets by dreams and visions[3] - Joseph's brothers may have saw him as a pretender, or as we say "holier than thou." Yet, nothing but pure jealousy inspired their hatred of him and his gift only made matters worse for him. Still, wherever Joseph went, God was with Him. [Gen. 39:3] No matter what the situation, Joseph prospered in every difficulty. Please note that Joseph's dream in chapter 37 is prophetic of his becoming a ruler over the household of Israel because of his becoming ruler over the land of Egypt. His family did not receive this well - even Jacob questioned it, though he pondered its meaning in his heart.  Therefore, nearly as soon as he is brought to Egypt and becomes a master in the house of Potiphar - a high ranking guard in Pharaoh's household, Joseph is accused of trying to rape Potiphar's wife, though it was she who continually tried to seduce him.
 
Then, in prison for his alleged crime, Joseph has God's wisdom to interpret the dreams of Pharaoh's butler and baker. Asking only of them to remember him in prison when they got out in three days, the butler forgets him. Consequently, Joseph is in prison for two more years. By the time Pharaoh releases Joseph from prison and makes him second only to himself, he would have various harsh trials of his faith for about thirteen years! Similar to Abraham, who waited for twenty-five years for God to fulfill His promise, we see once again - faith in God is not a stroll in the park! Since this is so, why do the preachers of this age feel compelled to speak to the Church on the subject of faith in God telling them how effortless and self-serving it is to be faithful to God? Perhaps it is because that is what people want to hear. Just the same, to be faithful to God is not always easy, since it inspires many difficulties for the beloved by those inside the Church as well as outside. Still, it is better to be a doorkeeper in God's house, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness![4
 
TRUTH FOR TODAY : FINDING JUSTICE AMONG "JUST US"
 
Man is by nature self-centered and self-serving. Simply put, Man is selfish. We, all of us, if God does not change our nature in the New Birth, will constantly put our own interests first. There is a saying - "In prosperity your friends know you. In adversity, you know your friends." How true. The reason for this is Man is an opportunist, putting his or her own wants, wishes, and ways before all else - including God. Only God's love and grace in the New Birth can change Man.
 
In chapters 37 - 40, we see several unrighteous deeds performed by men. Joseph brothers hate him, sell him into slavery, then Joseph is falsely accused by an immoral woman and put in prison. Unrighteous and selfish people performed all of these deeds. Even in chapter 38, we see the selfish and sinful nature of Judah. Onan will not give his seed to Tamar for his [dead and wicked] brother Er. After he dies [the Lord killed Onan as He killed Er], Judah promises Tamar his youngest son Shelah will give her a child. However, Judah apparently ignores Tamar as she waits patiently in her widowhood for Judah to keep his promise. He did not. Therefore, she pretends to be a harlot as Judah takes advantage of her in his journey to Timnath and when Judah learns Tamar is pregnant, he sets out to kill her! How unjust Man is! Many have learned in this life that justice by Man's definition means - "just us." More particularly, it means - "it's all about me." People have suffered at the hands of those they trusted most, including spouses, parents, children, government officials, judges, and sadly, even Church leaders! This is because Man is selfish.
 
Our help comes from the Lord who made Heaven and Earth! If we seek justice and other good things from Man, we will be grossly disappointed. Like Joseph, a type of Jesus who suffered as Joseph did and worse, we must look to God for our help and blessing. To trust in Man, is to lean on a slender reed. More than that, there is a curse attached to putting Man ahead of God. God spoke through Jeremiah these words - "Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. "[Jer. 17:5 - 8] Therefore, let us be like Joseph and serve God no matter what. His love for us is beyond understanding and in it - He always causes us to triumph!

  • [1] http://www.av1611.org/jmelton/kjvstuff.html
  • [2] G1588; ἐκλεκτός; eklektos; - select; by implication favorite: - chosen, elect.
  • [3] Num. 12:6 And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. / Deu_13:1 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder...
  • [4] Psa_84:10 For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.
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