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Today in Genesis chapter 41 we read about Joseph interpreting Pharaoh's dreams - and not just interpreting them, but offering a solution! Joseph suggests finding a wise man to administer a program to collect crops during the 7 years of plenty to save up for the 7 years of lean. Verses 39 & 40 in this chapter tell us: "Turning to Joseph, Pharaoh said, "Since God has revealed the meaning of the dreams to you, you are the wisest man in the land! I hereby appoint you to direct this project. You will manage my household and organize all my people. Only I will have a rank higher than yours."" Notice that Joseph did not ask for this position. He probably could have, in light of interpreting the dream and offering a solution. But he didn't. The position was simply thrust upon him. And I wonder in our lives - are we like Joseph - humbly offering our gifts and skills with no need of a payback? Or, do we expect something in return? Do we want to be put in charge? I do wonder this about myself - if I was put in charge of all of Egypt, would I still remember God? Or would the power go to my head and would I think it is all about me? And then I wonder if there are similar, smaller temptations like this in my life - in my work or ministries or in my social circles. Are there times where I offer my skills & gifts, and expect to be put in charge of something, forget about God, and think it's all about me? How about you? Do you give freely and humbly from your God-given gifts with no need of a payback?
Below is an image from a modern day production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" of Pharaoh appointing Joseph to be #2 in the land (and giving him his signet ring... and dressing him... and giving him the royal gold chain... and giving him the chariot... and renaming him... and giving him a wife... think all this would possibly inflate one's ego? It really does scare me to think about me being put in this type of position...)
In Genesis chapter 42 Jacob sends Joseph's brothers to Egypt for grain. Verse 4 stood out: "Jacob wouldn't let Joseph's younger brother, Benjamin, go with them, however, for fear some harm might come to him." As you'll recall both Benjamin and Joseph were Rachel's only sons. And Jacob loved Rachel dearly. It seems that in light of Jacob already losing one of Rachel's sons, he didn't want to lose the other. Or - I wonder - did Jacob maybe have some sort of mistrust in the back of his mind of the other 10 brothers? (as obviously Joseph disappeared when going to find the 10 brothers many years back) Below is a cute etching by Rembrandt from 1637 of Jacob and his son Benjamin:
Verse 6 also stood out: "Since Joseph was governor of all Egypt and in charge of the sale of the grain, it was to him that his brothers came. They bowed low before him, with their faces to the ground." This fulfilled the dreams Joseph had in Genesis chapter 37 verse 6 & 7! "He said to them, "Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it." And verse 6 was 21 years after Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers at the age of 17 - Joseph has spent 11 years as a slave, 2 years in prison, and 7 to 8 years in charge of Egypt (through the 7 fat years of the harvest, and now they are likely in the first year of the famine). And even after 21 years Joseph recognized his brothers immediately. I read a commentary that his brothers probably didn't recognize Joseph because he was decked out in Egyptian robes & garb, he may have been speaking through an interpreter, and he was likely clean shaven - Egyptians shaved, whereas Hebrews typically wore beards. So now, Joseph's reunited with his brothers and what takes place next is coming up in our readings tomorrow... Below is a painting from 1745 by the Austrian painter Franz Anton Malbertsch of Joseph meeting his brothers once again after 21 years apart:
Worship Video: Today's readings reminded me of the beautiful Casting Crowns song "Praise You in This Storm:"
Are you in the midst of a storm? Click here and praise Him in your storm!
Comments from You and Questions of the Day: Okay, back to all of my fretting above about if I was given all that Joseph was given by the Pharaoh in today's readings... :) What are your thoughts on this - if you were given all of these things, would it inflate your ego possibly? Would you possibly forget about God? It's interesting to reflect upon the devil's temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, from our earlier readings this year in Matthew - the devil was tempting Jesus with a lot of "stuff" - and Jesus refused it all! I'm just wondering if even today in our modern world if we need to be careful about being tempted by too much wealth or power or pride, etc.? But then I also wonder if sometimes God elevates us to important positions, like Joseph, so that we may be a blessing to many? I do think this is possible for sure - I just think maybe the richer we get or the more powerful we get, the more we need to pray and stay as absolutely close to God as possible. Would you want to be in Joseph's type of situation today? Think you could handle it? I pray that each of us could, and will, no matter what position in this life we are called to by God! Also, what verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
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