Reversal of Expectations

Listen to 1 Samuel Chapter 1 & 2 & 3 or Read "Reversal of Expectations"
... Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none.
... Because the LORD had closed Hannah's womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the LORD, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat.
... In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the LORD, weeping bitterly.
... in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, "Because I asked the LORD for him."
... I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him.
... Then Hannah prayed and said: "My heart rejoices in the LORD ... I delight in your deliverance. There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. ...The bows of the warriors are broken, but those who stumbled are armed with strength. Those who were full hire themselves out for food, but those who were hungry are hungry no more. She who was barren has borne seven children, but she who has had many sons pines away..."
God changes things. God often works contrary to our natural expectations and brings about surprising reversals. If we look at the values Jesus lived and taught we see this reversal from what we would expect. The first last and last first; the one who would be the leader must be the servant of all. Prostitutes and tax collectors go into the Kingdom of God before "good" people. Jesus said the blessed are those who are poor, hungry, sad, hated, and mocked. Not blessed are those who have money and food and are happy, loved, and popular. The values of God's Kingdom are quite different than those lived in our world. Some have referred to the kingdom Jesus promised as the "dream of God." Craig Nessan puts it this way "Wherever that dream intervenes, there is a dramatic reversal of expectations and values."

Accepted

One of my favorite books of the Old Testament is Ruth. The Old Testament is all about God's chosen people: the Israelites. But in the Book of Ruth we read about a Moabite women who God accepts. In Ruth we get a glimpse of God's acceptance extending beyond Israel. A small glimpes into the New Testament, a new covenant, through Christ, open to all peoples, all nations, in all times.

Mark Driscoll, pastor at Mars Hill Church, presented a 6 part series on the Book of Ruth. As part of that presentation they produced a beautiful video of the reading of Ruth. It starts off each of his 6 parts. Watching these videos will take you through the Book of Ruth. Altogether it may take about 15 minutes. You may also want to check out Driscoll's message that follows each of these 6 parts.

Here is the first video of the 6 part series showing a dramatization of the story of Ruth (Ruth 1:1-1:22).



Watch the remaining five parts of the series.

Philip Yancey writes the following about the Book of Ruth.

"You can read this small book in several ways: as a tiny, elegant portrait of life in ancient times or as a record of God's faithfulness to the needy or as an inspiring story of undying friendship. Perhaps the most accurate way to read this story, however, is as a missionary story. God not only accepts Ruth, a member of the despised Moabites, into his family, but also uses her to produce Israel's greatest king. Ruth's great-grandson turns out to be David. To anyone who thought God's love was for Israelites only, Ruth's life makes a striking contradiction."

Despite

Listen to Judges Chapter 13 & 14 & 15 & 16 or
Read Judges 13-16:31
Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, so the LORD delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years. (Judges 13:1)
Again ... The vicious circle continues ...
A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was childless, unable to give birth. The angel of the LORD appeared to her and said, "You are barren and childless, but you are going to become pregnant and give birth to a son. Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean. You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines. (Judges 13:2-5)"
... Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. (Judges 14:1)
... Samson said to his father, "Get her for me. She's the right one for me." (His parents did not know that this was from the LORD, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; for at that time they were ruling over Israel.) (Judges 14:3-4)
Samson & DelilahDespite the tremendous physical strength God blessed Samson with for the purpose of delivering Israel from the Philistines Samson blows it and doesn't really use his gift to benefit his people. He instead goes his own way satisfying his own interests. Even though Samson didn't live up to his potential God achieves his ultimate purpose in weakening the Philistines so they can be defeated latter under the leadership of Samuel and his people freed from the slavery of the Philistines.

... more of the Essential 100 (E100).

Unlikely Servant

Listen to Judges Chapter 6 & 7 or Read "Unlikely Servant"
Once again the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. So for seven years he handed them over to the people of Midian.

... The Midianites treated the people of Israel very badly.

... They cried out to the Lord because of what Midian had done.

... The angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon. He said, "Mighty warrior, the Lord is with you."

"But sir," Gideon replied, "you say the Lord is with us. Then why has all of this happened to us? Where are all of the wonderful things he has done? Our parents told us about them. They said, 'Didn't the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?' But now the Lord has deserted us. He has handed us over to Midian."

The Lord turned to Gideon. He said to him, "You are strong. Go and save Israel from the power of Midian. I am sending you."

"But Lord," Gideon asked, "how can I possibly save Israel? My family group is the weakest in the tribe of Manasseh. And I'm the least important member of my family."

The Lord answered, "I will be with you. So you will strike down the men of Midian all at one time."

Gideon replied, "If you are pleased with me, give me a special sign. Then I'll know that it's really you talking to me.

...He did just as the Lord had told him. But he was afraid of his family. He was also afraid of the men in the town. So he did everything at night instead of during the day. (New International Reader's Version)

We start this chapter out with "again." The viscous circle continues.

The Lord selects Gideon to rescue his people from the Midianites. Gideon was an interesting choice. Notice that his family and village worshiped Baal, not God. Gideon listens to God but is very cautious and even reluctant to proceed without proof it is God. He does what God asked him to but under the cover of night because he is afraid of his family and neighbors. Fear seams to overcome him again on the eve of a battle that the Lord has already assured him victory. God provides him with the sign he needs to have the confidence that God will give him the victory. God works with him step by step despite Gideon's lack of faith. Once again God is patient and does not give up on Gideon. Philip Yancey writes "... this pattern appears throughout the Bible. God does not seek the people most outwardly capable, nor the most naturally "good." He works with the most unlikely material so that everyone can see the glory is his and his alone." The Apostle Paul writes about this also.

Again & Again

Listen to Judges Chapter 4 & 5 or Read "Again & Again."
In Chapter 2 we get a preview or an overview of the rest of the book of Judges.
... After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel.

The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight and served the images of Baal. They abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They went after other gods, worshiping the gods of the people around them.

... Then the Lord raised up judges to rescue the Israelites from their attackers.

... Whenever the Lord raised up a judge over Israel, he was with that judge and rescued the people from their enemies throughout the judge’s lifetime. For the Lord took pity on his people, who were burdened by oppression and suffering. But when the judge died, the people returned to their corrupt ways, behaving worse than those who had lived before them. They went after other gods, serving and worshiping them. (New Living Translation)
A pattern emerges and we start this reading with the word AGAIN.
Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, now that Ehud was dead. So the LORD sold them into the hands of Jabin king of Canaan ... because ... he had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years, they cried to the LORD for help.

Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time. ...She sent for Barak ... and said to him, "The LORD, the God of Israel, commands you: 'Go, take with you ten thousand men ... and lead them up to Mount Tabor. I will lead Sisera, the commander of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.'"

... On that day God subdued Jabin king of Canaan before the Israelites.

... Then the land had peace forty years.

chasing your own tail
The book of Judges is all about this up and down period of leadership in the growing nation of Israel. A circular pattern or cycle marks this period in Israel's history. They are caught in a vicious circle. Israel serves the Lord, living by his commandments, then they turn away and follow other gods. They become enslaved and after a while cry out to the Lord. God raises up a leader for them and they are freed from slavery and serve the Lord again. Then they turn away and the cycle starts all over again. I find it amazing the Lord is always there for them when they return to him. He never gives up on his people. Amazing Love.

On & On

Listen to Judges Chapter 2 & 3 or Read "On & On"
And the Israelites served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and the leaders who outlived him—those who had seen all the great things the Lord had done for Israel.

Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of 110. (New Living Translation)
Let's step back a bit and look at the time line we have covered in our first 26 passages. The time frame from Creation to Abraham in Genesis is anyones guess, the bible doesn't really say. Could be several hundred years to several thousand years. We have covered a total of about 800 years from Abraham up to this point of Joshua's death. Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob took us through about 300 years, then about 400 years in Eqypt, and about 100 years with Joshua in the Promised Land.

Now we are entering a period of up and down leadership of Israel that will last about 300 years until the Kingdom is established with Saul and David. Then Israel is ruled as a Monarchy for about 400 years. We are looking at another 600 years before Chirst is born. So that is roughly 2100 years from Abraham to Christ and then 2008 years to today.

Why

Listen to Joshua Chapter 5 & 6 or Read "Why"
The priests blew the trumpets. As soon as the fighting men heard the sound, they gave a loud shout. Then the wall fell down. Every man charged straight in. So they took the city. They set it apart to the Lord in a special way to be destroyed. They destroyed every living thing in it with their swords. They killed men and women. They wiped out young people and old people. They destroyed cattle, sheep and donkeys. (New International Reader's Version)
How could He? How could God allow the people of an entire city to be destroyed? This type of wholesale destruction and death is recorded several times in the Old Testament. I don't think God wants us to gloss over these things just because they bother us. I also think it is important to place these events in the context of the rest of the Bible. To be honest I don't have an answer that completely satisfies. To me the closest I get to understanding this is in the context of God's overall plan. Perhaps it can only be understood in the light of God's Son.

J.D. Hatfield puts it this way."... this slice of redemptive history must be looked at within the overall context of God’s plan. And that plan included pouring out His wrath upon His own Son to pay for our sins. So before you can ask about the Canaanites, and the Jews before them, how about the fact that God poured out His wrath upon the sinless Son of God?

Love must be seen in its full context. If you had a child learning to ride a bike, and you were that day going to remove the training wheels, you would realize that they might fall, and skin their knees. They would be hurt, and would be very angry with you. However, you know that in the long run it was good for them. You knew the big picture. They might be mad for a while, perhaps a long while, but when they learned to ride that bike they would be glad you helped them learn how.

God gives us the big picture of redemption, and all we have to do is look at the cross to see that God is vitally concerned about punishing sin. Yet he allowed His own Son to pay for that sin because He is also vitally concerned about demonstrating His love. So instead of looking at only those early moments in redemptive history, be sure to look to the climax of it, Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God, dying on a cross to reconcile you to a loving God."

First Step

Listen to Joshua Chapter 3 & 4 or Read "First Step"
Joshua spoke to the people of Israel. ... "The priests will carry the ark of the Lord. He's the Lord of the whole earth. As soon as the priests step into the Jordan, it will stop flowing. The water that's coming down the river will pile up in one place. That's how you will know that the living God is among you."

So the people took their tents down. They prepared to go across the Jordan River. The priests who were carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them.

The water of the Jordan was going over its banks. It always does that at the time the crops are being gathered. The priests came to the river. Their feet touched the water's edge. Right away the water that was coming down the river stopped flowing. It piled up far away at a town called Adam near Zarethan. The water that was flowing down to the Dead Sea was completely cut off. So the people went across the Jordan River opposite Jericho.

The priests carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord. They stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the river. They stayed there until the whole nation of Israel had gone across on dry ground. (New International Reader's Version)
It is interesting to note that the Israelites had to take the first step before the river stopped. It would have been easier for them if God had just stopped the water from flowing before they got to the river. They had to literally take a step of faith before anything miraculous happened. For me the first step is always the hardest.

Below is a video of an Israeli group rafting down the Jordan River. Kinda gives you an idea of what the river may have been like. By the way (little useless trivia) I looked up the song used in this video and it is an old song covered here by a Finnish Metal band named Nightwish. One of the lines in the song towards the end is "As sure as the rivers reach the seas ..."
go to website to watch video

Trust God

Listen to Joshua Chapter 1 or Read "Trust God"
After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses' aide: "Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites.
God's plan, his promise to the Israelites, is not dependent on specific people. It is not dependent even on great leaders like Joseph, Moses, or now Joshua. People come and go but the plan is eternal and God is moving it forward leader by leader, person by person, step by step through history. In the great events we have been reading about it is clear that God is at work not people. Only God the creator of everything could part the Red Sea. God makes it clear to all who wittiness the events and hear about them later that he is in control and he has a plan. This is a reminder to me to put my trust in God first because he knows both the beginning and the end.

Forgive & Punish

Listen to Exodus Chapter 32 & 33 & 34 or Read "Forgive & Punish"
The LORD replied to Moses, "Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book. Now go, lead the people to the place I spoke of, and my angel will go before you. However, when the time comes for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin."

... And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation."
The holiness of God requires that sin be both punished and forgiven. At this point in history God provides the rules for which his people can know what is sin and provides a way to satisfy God's wrath through animal sacrifices and the tabernacle while still maintaining contact with his people (Exodus 20-31). Because God is Holy, he is just and justice requires punishment.

Punishment and Forgiveness seem to be opposites in a way. Love is the only thing that can bring them together. John Piper has wonderfully summarized God’s eternal solution in this way: "The wisdom of God has devised a way for the love of God to satisfy the wrath of God without compromising the justice of God."

Boundaries

Listen to Exodus Chapter 19 & 20 or Read "Boundaries"
Then the Lord told Moses, “Go down and prepare the people
for my arrival. Consecrate them today and tomorrow, and have them wash their clothing. Be sure they are ready on the third day, for on that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai as all the people watch. Mark off a boundary all around the mountain. Warn the people, ‘Be careful! Do not go up on the mountain or even touch its boundaries. Anyone who touches the mountain will certainly be put to death. (New Living Translation)
This seems strangely extreme to me from strictly a human perspective. To put this in proper perspective and context one must acknowledge that God is holy. Easy said, but dwell on that a bit. GOD IS HOLY. Mike Taylor writes "What does that mean? It's hard for us to express because it's so alien to us. Holiness is the opposite of sin. It's not merely the absence of sin, or even the hatred of sin, but a total otherness from sin. It's an uncompromising purity, a terrifying dedication to what is good and right."

A. W. Tozer puts it this way "God’s holiness is not simply the best we know infinitely bettered. We know nothing like the divine holiness. It stands apart, unique, unapproachable, incomprehensible and unattainable. The natural man is blind to it. He may fear God’s power and admire His wisdom, but His holiness he cannot even imagine."

John Piper says God "has an infinite love for what is infinitely valuable and an infinite hate for what opposes the infinitely valuable. His delight in praiseworthy things is unbounded, and his abhorrence of what is blameworthy is perfect."

Perhaps the more we try to comprehend the holiness of God the better we can understand the nature of the interaction between God and humans. Why does God act as he does with his people?

As recorded in the bible the prophet Habakkuk acknowledges in speaking to the Lord,
"Your eyes are too pure to look on evil, and you cannot tolerate wrong."
I suppose to put things in very simple terms, God is pure and people are impure. The pure and impure cannot come together without something explosive happening like immediate judgment and destruction of the impure.

I don't feel like I am really able to even express my thoughts adequately here. It is difficult to put into words concisely but, God's holiness required human boundaries. God in a very clear way set these limits to protect his people. It is important to stress that if God's plan ended here we would all probably be dead or at best running madly away from God. Certainly not seeking his presence. The good news is God found a way to compensate for our impurity. A way through the boundary to God.

Forgetful

Listen to Exodus Chapter 13 & 14 or Read "Forgetful"
... All of Pharaoh's horses and chariots and horsemen and troops went after them. They caught up with them as they camped by the sea. The Israelites were near Pi Hahiroth, across from Baal Zephon. As Pharaoh approached, the people of Israel looked up. There were the Egyptians marching after them! The Israelites were terrified. They cried out to the Lord.

They said to Moses, "Why did you bring us to the desert to die? Weren't there any graves in Egypt? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? We told you in Egypt, 'Leave us alone. Let us serve the Egyptians.' It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die here in the desert!" (New International Reader's Version)

The Israelites had just witnessed what was probably the second greatest supernatural event in history after the creation of the world. Ten separate, unique, and consecutive supernatural events that God brought to Egypt under the leadership of Moses, all for them. They were being led by a pillar of cloud moving in front of them during the day and a pillar of fire at night. This must of been a remarkable sight. Now God had led them to a spot pinned by the pursuing Egyptians against the great Red Sea. God had shown them his complete control over the natural world and they could only imagine that he had led them to a spot where they were trapped and couldn't get out. He led them out of Eqypt only to die in the desert? Wow, what a short term memory they had!

Honestly I can relate. I have had reactions like this to my own circumstances and missed what God was doing or had done. It is like sometimes I have blinders on and miss what is going on.

Barbara Quinn, an author, describes this as "sort of selective memory, recalling God's power and then letting fears block that memory. It's a spiritual amnesia, usually contracted by a hard knock from the world." She goes on to write "the surest cure for forgetfulness is going back to the beginning and reminding ourselves of God's track record".

Remember

Listen to Exodus Chapter 12 or Read "Remember"
"Always remember this day. For all time to come, you and your children after you must celebrate this day as a feast in honor of the Lord. It is a law that will last forever.

... "Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread. I brought you out of Egypt on this very day like an army on the march. It is a law that will last for all time to come.

... "Your children will ask you, 'What does this holy day mean to you?' Tell them, 'It's the Passover sacrifice in honor of the Lord. He passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt. He spared our homes when he struck the Egyptians down.' "

... The Lord kept watch that night to bring them out of Egypt. So on that same night every year all of the Israelites must keep watch. They must do it to honor the Lord for all time to come.(New International Reader's Version)
Always Remember. The Lord doesn't forget but humans do, so the Lord created a marker for his people, the Isrealites. God instituted a feast, a celebration to take place each year, a holiday, to help them mark this event forever, to help them remember what took place in Egypt - God freed his people from slavery.

Below is a creative video montage of the events in Exodus so far.
go to website to watch video

Power

Listen to Exodus Chapter 6 & 7 & 8 & 9 & 10 & 11 or Read "Power"
"So tell the people of Israel, 'I am the Lord. I will throw off the heavy load the Egyptians have put on your shoulders. I will set you free from being slaves to them. I will reach out my arm and save you with mighty acts when I judge Egypt.

... Moses reported those things to the Israelites. But they didn't listen to him. That's because they had lost all hope and had to work very hard.

Then the Lord said to Moses, "Go. Tell Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, to let the people of Israel leave his country."

But Moses spoke to the Lord. "The people won't listen to me," he said. "So why would Pharaoh listen to me? After all, I don't speak very well."

... "But I will make Pharaoh's heart stubborn. I will multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt. In spite of that, he will not listen to you. So I will use my powerful hand against Egypt. When I judge them with mighty acts, I will bring my people Israel out like an army on the march.

"Then the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord. I will reach out my powerful hand against Egypt. I will bring the people of Israel out of it."(New International Reader's Version)

The 10 plagues were not really for Pharaoh. Not really to make him give in. God could have done that without any plagues with just one word. The Lord had his view on eternity and his audience was larger than just Pharaoh. The plaques were designed to display the power of God to Moses, Aaron, the Israelites, the Egyptian people, and ultimately everyone throughout history who would learn of what happened.

Fear

Listen to Exodus Chapter 3 & 4 or Read "Fear"
He (Moses) said, "Oh, Master, please! Send somebody else!"

God got angry with Moses: "Don't you have a brother, Aaron the Levite? He's good with words, I know he is. He speaks very well. In fact, at this very moment he's on his way to meet you. When he sees you he's going to be glad. You'll speak to him and tell him what to say. I'll be right there with you as you speak and with him as he speaks, teaching you step by step. He will speak to the people for you. He'll act as your mouth, but you'll decide what comes out of it. Now take this staff in your hand; you'll use it to do the signs." (The Message Version)
I can relate to Moses in his reluctance and fear. God was pushing him to take a risk. It is much easier to see and accept miracles around you or in someone else than to believe God can do the same in your own life. Moses had a fear of public speaking and even though God assured him that he would give him the strength and ability that was needed, Moses resisted. Even after direct contact with God and immediate physical miracles or signs Moses couldn't get past his fear.

We see the grace and mercy of God even in his anger. God is patient with Moses. He doesn't move on to someone else with more faith instead he creates a way to push Moses beyond his fear, just enough that he will take on the mission. God teams him up with another person, his brother, to boost his confidence, and help him. Moses will soon realize that God will provide him with the ability needed.

Aware

Listen to Exodus Chapter 1 and 2 or Read "Aware"
The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.
Sometimes the way I read something like reading between the lines interferes with my understanding of the passage. Most translations I have read use a phrase like "he (God) remembered his covenant with Abraham ...". When I read this it kinda suggests that God has forgotten about his promise and is distant from his people. But I have to remind myself (with other passages from the bible and my own experience) that this is not what I know about God and is not what is being said here, it is just the way I have interpeted the wording. The wording used could easily sugget that God has NOT forgot. I think this is written from a point of amazement that God remembers us at all. Look at Psalm 8:
O LORD , our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! ... When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? (New International Version)
I think the emphasis could easily be put on God not forgetting instead. The "Contemporary English Translation" translates it this way.
He did not forget the promise he had made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob ...
This small issue aside looking at it from a larger view we see God heard their cries, was concerned, and understood. God was aware of his people's pain. He was already at work preparing a leader to save his people from slavery - a savior.

Enjoy the beginning of "The Prince of Egypt" showing the slavery in Egypt and the birth of Moses.
go to website to watch video

It was God

Listen to Chapter 45 & 46 or Read "It was God"
Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?"

But his brothers weren't able to answer him. They were too afraid of him.

Joseph said to his brothers, "Come close to me." So they did.

Then he said, "I am your brother Joseph. I'm the one you sold into Egypt. But don't be upset. And don't be angry with yourselves because you sold me here. God sent me ahead of you to save many lives.

"For two years now, there hasn't been enough food in the land. And for the next five years, people won't be plowing or gathering crops. But God sent me ahead of you to keep some of you alive on earth. He sent me here to save your lives by an act of mighty power.

"So then, it wasn't you who sent me here. It was God. (New International Reader's Version)

go to website to see video

Great movie. I should watch that again sometime.

Joseph is not interested in revenge. He forgives instead. Realizing that the pain and suffering his brothers had put him through was part of God's plan. This knowledge freed him from his anger and desire for revenge.

Ultimately this reconciliation of a dysfunctional family led to the birth of a nation. Jacob's name had been changed to Israel and the families of his sons grew into 12 tribes in the land of Egypt.

Painful Forgiveness

Listen to Chapter 43 & 44 or Read "Painful Forgiveness"
It moved him deeply to see his brother. So Joseph hurried out and looked for a place to cry. He went into his own room and cried there.

Then he washed his face and came out. (New International Reader's Version)
Joseph breaks into tears 5 times during his dealings with his brothers. The last time his crying was loud enough to be heard in the next room. Maybe the anger and pain that had been buried for years was coming face to face with the realization that this was all part of God's plan. Perhaps he is feeling the strain and pain of forgiveness.

In Control

Listen to Chapter 42 or Read "In Control"
When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, "Why do you just keep looking at each other?" He continued, "I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, so that we may live and not die."

... Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the person who sold grain to all its people.

go to website to listen to audio
(Recording artist Derek Webb)

God is in control. "God's plan is not always efficiency". Love is not efficient. God's plan is based on his desire to be near us and love us.

Purpose

Listen to Chapter 39 & 40 & 41 or Read "Purpose"

But the traders from Midian sold Joseph to Potiphar in Egypt. Potiphar was one of Pharaoh's officials. He was the captain of the palace guard.

The Lord was with Joseph. He gave him great success. Joseph lived in Potiphar's house. ... So Potiphar was pleased with Joseph. He made him his attendant. He put Joseph in charge of his house.

... When Joseph's master heard her story, he became very angry. So he put Joseph in prison.

... So the man who was running the prison was pleased with Joseph. He put Joseph in charge of all of the prisoners.

"Here's what your dream means," Joseph said to him. ... In three days Pharaoh will let you out of prison. He'll give your position back to you. And you will put Pharaoh's cup in his hand. ..."But when everything is going well with you, remember me. Do me a favor. Speak to Pharaoh about me. Get me out of this prison. I was taken away from the land of the Hebrews by force. Even here I haven't done anything to be put in prison for."

Everything happened exactly as Joseph had told them when he explained their dreams. But the chief wine taster didn't remember Joseph. ...

When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream. ...So Pharaoh sent for Joseph. He was quickly brought out of the prison.

...So Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I'm putting you in charge of the whole land of Egypt."
(New International Reader's Version)

"Being sold into slavery served two sets of purposes in Joseph's life. His brothers sold him to be rid of him, and their purpose was served. But God allowed it for his own purpose, to save the people of Israel alive. Unless the grace of God later intervened, the brothers would answer for their evil purpose. But that did not keep them from serving God's purpose. They did so as surely as if that was all they wanted to do!" (Tom Wells)

God's involvement and guidance in Joseph's life is indirect and probably a little mystifying to Joseph. At times it probably seems to him that he is living in an upside down unjust world. He seems to get the exact opposite of what he deserves. He tells his family about his dreams and they throw him in a well and sell him into slavery. He resists sexual advances from his boss's wife and ends up in prison. He interprets another dream to help a cell mate and that guy forgets about him when he gets out. He could easily be saying "I give up, life isn't fair!" Yet Joseph never gives up and keeps moving forward. He does his best wherever he finds himself. He remains patient and trusts God. Joseph could see God's hand in the tragedies of his life. Sold into slavery - new powerful career in Egypt. Loses his position and is thrown into prison - raised up to second in command to Pharaoh and soon the opportunity to save his own family from starvation. God has a purpose. His purpose is much larger than we can see at any given point.

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