Fellowship at Cross Creek
The Best of the Best…
Intro… This story you are about to study is incredibly rich in what amounts to parallels to our Spiritual journey today. I mean it has it all. This story represents the culmination of God’s promises. It’s all here. The reward that makes the journey, and all the aches and pains along the way, worth while. My hope and prayer is that you will never be tempted to just think of Joseph’s story as mere biblical history again because if foreshadows everything that is to come. Everything. The truth of its story is primed to explode across your heart and consciousness, if you get it, and I pray that you will GET IT!
As you read the story, ask yourself, what role does Joseph seem to play in the story of our Spiritual journey? Pharaoh? Egypt itself? Joseph’s brothers? The gifts and provisions sent back with the brothers? Jacob or Israel himself, and by extension, the brothers’ wives and children who had been left at home?
Once you get it, you will totally amazed. The parallels seem to never end. And the irony of all of this, is that this occurs at the end of the very first book of the Bible–2,000 years before Jesus and 4,000 years before us, almost as if this was all planned out from the very beginning . In addition, what role or roles do you most identify with and why? In what ways could you play all the roles?
If you can’t see the parallels, or need help, when you get to my whys and application, there will be plenty of illustrations to get your Spiritual juices flowing.
Recently, we began a new unit or section or person of study…the life of Joseph. Essentially, the story of Joseph, is for the most part, our story. Chosen by God for a special purpose, Joseph must first endure much suffering and injustice before arriving at his God-ordained purpose and calling, and what a purpose it will be.
As we read, I want you to continue pondering, your special identity in Christ, and that just because you may be going through difficult days, your suffering…your waiting is NOT in vain. As God’s child…as God’s children, just as with Joseph and his brothers, you…we…all have a purpose in Christ (Romans 8; Eph. 1; 1 Peter 1).
The Bible’s very first word is the Hebrew word Bərēšīṯ, which means “in [the] beginning.” “Genesis” is actually the Greek word for “beginnings” or “origins,” and thus the origin for both the Latin and English transliteration: Genesis.
So what’s our goal? Just to explore. Like an archaeologist exploring ancient ruins, we are going back to the Scripture’s beginnings to do a little Spiritual digging and poking around to see what was God doing before God’s Son was Spiritually conceived in his mother Mary’s womb? What were the world, people and life like from the very beginning?
Summary of Recent Explorations…
The Creation: The Creator Creates His Creation and its Caretakers (Adam and Eve). Gen. 1-2.
• The Fall: But a Crafty Adversary Emerges, Infecting the Creator’s Caretakers with a Virulent Strain of Deceptive Evil (non-beneficial actions). Gen. 3-4.
• The Flood: The story of the righteous Servant and a devastating Flood. In order to Save his Creation from a self-destructive and merciless evil, the Creator Must radically purge or cleanse his Creation Gen. 5-7.
• Creation’s New Beginning…Gen. 8-11.
• Creation’s New Caretaker: The Creator Raises up, Chooses and Greatly Blesses a righteous and trusting Caretaker named Abraham. Gen. 12-25.
• The Torch of the Creator’s Trusting Caretaking Now Passes to Succeeding Generations (Isaac, Jacob, Joseph…) Gen. 26ff.
Joseph’s Story…Gen. 37-50.
• Jacob’s older sons grow deeply resentful of their favored youngest brother, Joseph. Gen. 37:1ff.
• Joseph’s jealous older brothers cruelly sell their younger brother Joseph, against his will, into slavery, and then inform their grieving father, Jacob, that Joseph has been killed by wild animals. Gen. 37:12ff.
• Despite being trafficked as a slave and falsely imprisoned, God’s favor mysteriously still accompanies Joseph. Gen. 39:1ff.
• Despite correctly interpreting the baker and cupbearer’s dreams while in prison, Joseph’s good deeds, go momentarily unrewarded. Gen. 40:1ff.
• When Pharaoh’s cupbearer recalls how Joseph correctly interpreted his dream of restoration to Pharaoh’s court while he was imprisoned along side Joseph, he recommends Joseph to Pharaoh to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams. When Joseph is able to interpret Pharaoh’s dream correctly, as seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine, Joseph is finally delivered from his false imprisonment. Gen. 41:1ff.
• Pharaoh empowers Joseph to guide Egypt through these next fourteen years of plenty and famine. Gen. 41:38ff.
• Due to the famine, Joseph’s brothers, come to Egypt in search of grain. Unknowingly, the Egyptian ruler that they seek to purchase grain from is their younger brother Joseph. Sensing a divine plan, Joseph accuses his brothers of spying and forces them to leave their brother Simeon behind as surety that they will return with their youngest brother Benjamin. Gen. 42:1ff.
• When Jacob’s sons tell him of the bargain that they were forced to accept for their grain, Jacob initially refuses to risk losing a third son. Gen. 42:19ff.
• Finally, with grain supplies running low, Joseph’s brothers are able to persuade their father to allow them to return to Egypt, accompanied by their youngest brother, Benjamin, to purchase more grain. Their return to Egypt with Benjamin is rewarded with a great banquet held in their honor in the presence of the Egyptian ruler whom had originally sold them the grain. Gen. 43:1ff.
• Once again, the brothers have their departure from Egypt momentarily aborted under the false pretenses that one of them has stolen a silver cup. When the missing cup is found in Benjamin’s sack, his older brother Judah now offers himself to serve in Benjamin’s place in order that Benjamin might return home safely to their father. Gen. 44:1ff.
• When he can no longer contain his pent-up emotions, Joseph finally reveals himself to his brothers, warning them of the famine’s severity and their need to return here with their father to live in the shadow of Egypt’s great providence. Gen. 45:1ff.
Pray; read three times (perhaps just twice) and ask questions…
Gen. 45:16 Now when the news was heard in Pharaoh’s house that Joseph’s brothers had come, it pleased Pharaoh and his servants.
17 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Say to your brothers, ‘Do this: load your beasts and go to the land of Canaan,
18 and take your father and your households and come to me, and I will give you the best of the land of Egypt and you will eat the fat of the land.’
19 Now you are ordered, ‘Do this: take wagons from the land of Egypt for your little ones and for your wives, and bring your father and come.
20 Do not concern yourselves with your goods, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.'”
Impressive, but understandable, since after all, if it wasn’t for Joseph interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams and managing both the seven years of plenty and famine, Egypt would have probably not survived the famine. So it only seems appropriate that to reward Joseph’s family of seventy plus members, especially his father, is a no brainer. This is Pharaoh’s opportunity to reward Joseph. Why not the best? Anything less could have been interpreted as a slight upon all that Joseph has done, and therefore, by extrapolation, the God that seems to lead and watch out over him. After all, something larger seems to be going on here, and Pharaoh certainly does not want to be the wrong side of it all. So reward Joseph’s family with the best lands.
21 Then the sons of Israel did so; and Joseph gave them wagons according to the command of Pharaoh, and gave them provisions for the journey.
22 To each of them he gave changes of garments, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver and five changes of garments.
Joseph’s brothers are being treated as royalty.
23 To his father he sent as follows: ten donkeys loaded with the best things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and sustenance for his father on the journey.
A sign of good faith to entice Israel away from the lands where he grazes his sheep, no doubt perhaps barren lands by this time, but still no less, Israel’s grazing lands.
24 So he sent his brothers away, and as they departed, he said to them, “Do not quarrel on the journey.”
Interesting admonition. It stands to reason that there would be lots of finger pointing over who wanted to kill Joseph many years before and who wanted to sell him and who wanted to protect him? A revisiting of history and therefore blame and guilt since after all everyone wants to be on Joseph’s good side now…now that there is something to be gained by being friends with or close to Joseph. We are all so vain are we not, so shallow? We attach people’s values to what we can gain from them? How will they benefit us? You exist at least partially for me, right? When I perceive you have nothing to offer or you are a liability, then I am ready to kill you, but when you are now perceived as an asset, you are my friend. Joseph wisely anticipates the second-guessing and therefore the puts a lock and key on it. No quarreling along the way. Get up there and get back. Focus.
25 Then they went up from Egypt, and came to the land of Canaan to their father Jacob.
26 They told him, saying, “Joseph is still alive, and indeed he is ruler over all the land of Egypt.” But he was stunned, for he did not believe them.
Didn’t you say he was dead? Killed by a wild animal? We lied. He is alive, runs Egypt and was the one requesting that we bring back Benjamin, and now he wants you to come with us back to Egypt so that he can care for us through the famine. And to top it off, we are considered as royalty within the court of Pharaoh. Dad, we have hit the jackpot!
27 When they told him all the words of Joseph that he had spoken to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of their father Jacob revived.
My son, Joseph was not dead. My sons Simeon and Benjamin are safe. I am blessed. God’s words are true. God is faithful to his covenant to protect and provide for his chosen people.
28 Then Israel said, “It is enough; my son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.”
• When Pharaoh hears that Joseph has been reunited with his brothers, he orders that everything be done to bring them back to Egypt so that they can be provided with the best of lands.
• The brothers are loaded with ample provisions and gifts so that they can prove to their father that indeed Joseph is truly alive and that it is a good thing to move to Egypt under both the Pharaoh and Joseph’s protection.
• When Israel sees the gifts, he is at first confused, but his sons tell him the story and he agrees to go to Egypt to see his son before Israel himself dies.
Summary: Pharaoh offers the children of Israel the best that Egypt has to offer.
Why did God include this event in his record or what would we not know–about God, life, myself, others, etc.–if this story were not in the Bible?
• This is the reward. The blessing, after all the long hard suffering and confusion. The purpose becomes clear. Reconciliation. Blessing. Provision. Protection. Preparation. This is heaven for Israel’s family, or at least a foreshadow or type of heaven. The son has gone on ahead, which is what Christ tells his disciples within his Upper Room Discourse (John 14)—Do not let your hearts be troubled! I go ahead of you to prepare a place before you. And if this were not true, I would have told you so, but it is true! I must go. I must go to Egypt. I must go to the land of the rich Nile River, and there I will be king or second in command. As the Ancient of Days gives all authority to one like a son of man in Daniel’s vision (Dan. 7), so now as a foreshadow of all of this, Joseph goes ahead of his family to Egypt and is given all authority over Egypt so that at just the right time he can rescue his family from the harsh times…the days of tribulation. Like a revelation before our eyes, there it all is. In heaven, Dan. 7 makes sense, and on earth, John 14 makes sense. Two thousand years before the divine foreshadowing of these events were taking place in the book or story of the Beginnings…Genesis.
• And it is better than we can ever imagine. In the mean time, provision and gifts are sent to sustain our return journey—the church, God’s Spirit, truth, his words, prayer, the gifts or graces of the Spirit, hope, love, community, faith, trust, perseverance, the Spiritual whole being greater than the sum of its parts, dying to our selfishness and learning to live to the Spiritual one, sinful egos dying so that a Spiritual oneness does the works of God.
• And on this journey, learn NOT to quarrel. Stop the blame game. We are all sinners. We are all guilty. All complicit, whether we were the ring leaders or the silent majority. We sinned as a community. Equally guilty. Equally contaminated. Equally tainted. Equally evil. Equally self-centered. Equally thinking of myself ahead of what was right or truth. Afraid to die. Afraid to speak up. Selfish. Jealous. Exposed. Deceitful. Attempting to cover over our evil, just as our ancestral sinful parents Adam and Eve, Abraham and Jacob or Israel himself attempted to do. Now because we have heaven. We have Egypt. We have the best of Egypt, no more quarrelling. All saved. Go get Father, tell him the truth and bring him back. Why? Because Yah-saves. Yeshua. Jesus. God saves. I AM God saves. God saves! God delivers. Within this drama…this conflict. This hybrid of heaven and hell. This earth. God rescues. God loves. God has mercy. God atones for man’s sins. Man’s mistakes. And God offers rescue. God offers a lifeline. A rescue. A deliverance. The God of Creation outwits Evil. The God of Creation trumps evil’s design. He offers rescue, hope, love, deliverance, comfort, provision, peace and protection.
• And just like Israel, we must see the gifts, believe the son is alive and by faith return to Egypt. Why? To see the Son. The living Son. The resurrected Son. The Son who has all authority, purpose, power and rule. The Son who suffered, the Son who was mistreated, discarded, forgotten, abandoned…whom his brothers wanted to kill and almost did because of their growing, unchecked jealousy. The Son whom God watched out over, whom God has a purpose for, whom God provided and sustained throughout his misery. The Son whom at the right time, was exalted to all authority and power to deliver the land, his people from the harsh devastation. Why? Because by God’s Spirit, he could see what was future present—future to us, but eternally present in heaven. Amazing. So in one moment, he reveals the future and delivers God’s people from evil’s oppression—the oppression that seeks to turn man against man in order to survive…the oppression that seeks to steal, kill and destroy. It’s all there. In this one story, prophetic glimpses of our salvation thousands of years later is all laid out there before our eyes. Amazing. Amazing. Amazing.
Thanks … So far, we are still alive. So far there is hope. We did not die. The marriage is alive, though perhaps dangling by an immature, twisting thread, but no less a thread that God’s Spirit can transform into a strand of indestructible Kevlar. Was there a price to pay? Yes. Were there tears shed? Yes. Truth, painfully exposed and confessed? Yes. But we are still alive. Thank you, Lord, for your grace, patience, trust and wisdom as you sustained me through the dangerous counseling reef once again. And thanks also for other profitable counseling, pastoral experiences. I love you, Lord. I also have a clean office. Yay! Thanks, Shells. Amazing. And a lot of good counseling and small group ministry have already taken place here. It’s been a beautiful week, accompanied by rains and cooler temperatures. A belated, but beautiful Spring. And thanks for last Sunday’s teaching.
That thought, that message, that passage, its application, it had to be you, because it seemingly came expediently out of nowhere. I felt your Spirit within. I was along for the ride, and what a ride—John 9, as I have never seen or understood it before. God uses our momentary outer deliverances and answers to prayer to tempt us to trust or accept his greater inner deliverances. While the gaining of physical sight is incredible, the eternal treasure is gaining Spiritual sight or insight…that Yah-Saves is the Son of Man who can and does deliver the world from its sin and imperfection. Those that were blind will see, and those that think they see will become blind…all according to how they see the Son…the one sent by the Father to shine the light of God’s truth into a fallen world of darkness.
And how does this apply to Mothers? Well of course, mothers want their children’s outward deliverances…a good life, a happy marriage, kids, needs met, joy, blessing etc. And while these things are good and desirable, and yes, we as parents make mistakes in attempting to facilitate our children’s attempts to obtain these outward manifestations of blessing and provision, the real deliverance is an inner deliverance from my own flawed sinful choices and mistakes—which is only accomplished by desperate grasping of the eternal lifeline that is being offered to all men through the grace and atonement of God’s greatest gift to man…his Son. This is the seed that every parent and mother should attempt to plant and cultivate in a child’s heart. Not who is to blame, but who is to save? Thank you, Jesus, for your priceless truths. For your light. For helping me to see and see better. I love you.
Truth(s)… 1) the best of Egypt; 2) provisions, gifts and pledges to sustain us as we are sent out to gather God’s Spiritual family and then to return to him; 3) learning not to quarrel with each other as we go out and return along the way; 4) Israel trusting that his son Joseph is alive and blessing awaits us back in Egypt.
Struggle/Application… Obedience, trust, patience, acceptance. Recently, I have been very blessed. Very provided for in many different ways. Is this a season of God’s provision…of God’s blessing? I have waited so so so long it seems. Misjudged, envied, slandered, locked away in prison, forgotten. Am I being cleaned up to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams? Or is this just another temporary blessing…blessed in my father’s home, blessed in Potiphar’s home, blessed in prison, but still awaiting release, still awaiting validation, still awaiting being fully used for the purpose I was created for?
Does all this sound a bit arrogant and presumptuous? Should I be writing this for public record? I would by far rather not. After all, who wants to stick their neck out there to have their head handed back to them on a silver platter of embarrassment and failure? I certainly do not.
And yet, I do think these thoughts and ask these questions. Am I Joseph, having been blessed with the truth of God, and while at the same time, seemingly misunderstood, envied, slandered, cast aside and forgotten, and yet still beautifully provided by God despite difficult years? Am I Joseph’s brothers before Egypt–jealous, insecure, deceitful, going through life’s daily motions while hiding my guilt and shame and wondering whether I am being punished for previous sins? Am I Joseph’s brothers after Egypt—exposed, forgiven, reconciled and admonished to get along with my brothers as I am sent home to share the message of hope and in so doing retrieve my Spiritual family? Benjamin, along for the ride, perhaps? Am I a grieving, fearful father being told that my Son lives and his blessing awaits me in Egypt? Or am I, as well as, all the rest of us ALL of the above?
In the end, it will not matter. It is enough to have been loved by God and to love him. This is my reward. My joy. This is my hope. This is my daily calling. This is my purpose and glory.
But if there is a next step for me to do, reveal it to me, Lord, and give me the grace, discipline, skill and patience to execute it with all Spiritual expediency, beauty and perseverance. I am your servant.
Biggest Struggle at the moment:
How does what happen here relate to you?
What about your kids?
Biggest Struggles (Imagine these or several–put yourself in their shoes–walk through a day with them at school, at home. What might they encounter?)
Now how does what happen here possibly relate/ (Remember this is only to give you a feel or an introductory hook or a reinforcing took; in there looking, they may come up with something entirely different.)
Remember to have fun, sense the Spirit’s leading and develop a love for these kids.
As always, thanks!
Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968,1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission.” (www.Lockman.org).