Posted by: pmarkrobb | January 24, 2013

simply read

I love reading the Bible!  I love being reminded over and over how even the earliest of stories speak directly into our lives and our “right here, right now, today” sort of circumstances.  Did I mention I love reading the Bible?!  I value the effort and result of reading over hearing.  It can be so easy in our strapped-for-time lifestyles to crowd out time with God, simply reading his Word.  Instead, we often rely on the once a week words of another to translate its truth for us.  How blessed it is to simply read.  There is something that happens to us when we simply read.  Regardless of what level of self-assessed “ability” you have in understanding the words of the sacred text, I firmly believe the truth of Isaiah 55:10-11 always applies when we simply read.

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;  it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (ESV)

In light of that, I found myself reading the story of Joseph today with new eyes.  Subtle details literally leapt off the page that had either escaped my notice or had long been forgotten after experiencing the story over and over through someone else’s teaching.  The fact that Israel (Jacob) actually made the ornate coat that he gave to Joseph.  The fact that when Joseph shared his dreams with his father, he “rebuked him” … even, being the favored son.  This made me think of how easy it can be, even when we love someone, to feel threatened or jealous of how they have been blessed, or in seeing what God is doing in their lives. 

There was Israel sending Joseph out to the distant fields to check on his brothers to see if they were alright and report back.  This was just after he had rebuked him, and in front of his brothers.  Did he not sense any of the animosity the other brothers had for him?  And then there was Reuben, and his attempt to manage the circumstances in hopes of rescuing his brother.  I guess I had forgotten about the guilt or compassion that motivated this brother to save Joseph.  So many “little” things that speak directly into our lives and our “right here, right now, today” sort of circumstances.

But perhaps the truth that rang loudest to me was found in the events immediately following Joseph’s brothers selling him to the caravan of Ishmaelites that was passing by on their way to Egypt.  The brothers slaughter a goat, take Joseph’s ornate coat and immerse it in the blood, and then return it to their father.  They ask their father to examine the coat to determine whether it is Joseph’s.  They watch him tear his clothes and mourn for days.  They allow him to sit with the picture of Joseph being mauled and devoured by a wild animal.  Then they have the audacity to join their sisters and attempt to comfort him. Take a moment and stop to consider the absurdity and mockery and pure evil that is at work here.  Go ahead; I’ll wait; it’s important that we do.

No, really … I’ll wait.

OK … It’s hard to stomach the thought of this scene, right?!  A group of blood brothers (that term certainly seems to fit well here), who have hatched a plan to deceive their father into thinking his youngest son has been brutally killed.  Perpetrating a fraud based on innocent ignorance of the treasured garment that they tore from the body of their brother before throwing him in a hole.  Crafting a cover-up they intended to be the final punctuation on ever seeing or speaking of their youngest brother again.   How awful and evil and intentional is this scene?!  Another pause, please…

I’m afraid it’s as awful and evil and intentional as every occasion you and I sin and then lie in an attempt to deceive others or God.  See, God is no sliding-scale judge of deception or sin.  He does not judge the hearts and actions of Joseph’s brothers any more harshly than yours or mine in even the most “minor” of untruths or misdeeds.  In the suggestion of, “Go ahead; I’ll wait; it’s important that we do”, there is recognition of the imperative that we allow Scripture to be a mirror or a searchlight; the imperative that we never see the sins of a group of blood brothers or, how about Roman soldiers, as more grievous than our own.  How many times have I sinned and then lied, crafting a cover-up as absurd, or worse, than a bloody coat?

But, oh how Scripture doesn’t stop there!  The story of Joseph doesn’t end with the punctuation the brothers intended.  Oh the grace that restored the brothers, and profited the nation in the impending scarcity of food.  Oh the good that God worked through the sin of jealous and angry hearts.  That grace and that good are for us too!  Oh the promise that we can never be thrown, or throw another, into a hole so deep that God cannot see into or rescue from!  Praise God that he is equally present in our distress and our deliverance!  Simply read … and taste that He is good!

yeam2012


Responses

  1. Very encouraging “read”! 🙂

    “Man intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

    The saving of many lives! His grace and good are indeed for us.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Jerry

  2. 26 days down 339 to go thanks for the encouragement today I read the same scriptures and you broke it down even more Thanks Randy

  3. Joseph has long been one of my favorite Biblical characters. I agree with Jerry and Joseph’s words that when we find ourselves in difficult circumstances, when we can’t see His will, His will is indeed being accomplished for good no matter what others intentions may be.
    Good article !


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