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Mothers of the Bible — Mary, the Mother of Jesus (Part 10)

After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, because those who intended to kill the child are dead.” So he got up, took the child and his mother, and entered the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned in a dream, he withdrew to the region of Galilee. Then he went and settled in a town called Nazareth to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.
Matthew 2:19-23

Dear God, was this the dream Mary had been waiting for? Was she excited about going home or nervous? Probably both. I’m sure she was glad to get back to Israel but nervous that 1.) she would have to reckon with family and friends who might judge for her having a child older than her marriage and 2.) being back in the land where her son might be in danger. But still, she was going home.

I remember back in 2005 when we were trying to decide what to do about my work. The kids were nine and six years old, and we lived in Waco, Texas. I was up for jobs in Waco, Tyler, and Grand Rapids. I really wanted that Grand Rapids job. I remember wondering at the time what each path held for my children. What friends would they have in each city? Church experience? In some ways, I thought more about them than I thought about myself–at least, that’s how I remember it. How would this impact them? As it turned out, our path surprisingly saw us move closer to both my wife’s and my families of origin. I went from being almost 200 miles from my parents to 45 miles, and my wife when from being a difficult 100 miles to an easier 80 miles. But even with the benefit of hindsight, I couldn’t tell you if this was the right path for our children or not. Fifteen years later, it seems to have been the right path for me. I guess what I’ve done is come to a place where I have simply turned their paths over to you and trusted that you are leading them exactly where you need them to be regardless of whether or not I can see your plan with my own eyes.

Father, I’m sure there was a lot on Mary’s mind as they traveled back to Israel. At least, I suppose, they got some specific instructions from the angel on where to go. I hope that was a comfort to her and Joseph. I’m grateful for how you’ve comforted me over the years too. Parenting is hard, and worrying about your children is hard. But being in your presence brings me peace. Thank you for your presence.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2020 in Matthew, Mothers of the Bible

 

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Mothers of the Bible — Mary, Mother of Jesus (Part 9)

After they were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Get up! Take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. For Herod is about to search for the child to kill him.” So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night, and escaped to Egypt. He stayed there until Herod’s death, so that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled: Out of Egypt I called my Son.
Matthew 2:13-15

Dear God, other than Simeon’s prophecy at the temple, I think this might be Mary’s first inkling that there could be scary parts of being Jesus’s mother. What was that conversation between her and Joseph like?

Joseph: Mary! Mary, wake up!

Mary: What? What is it?

Joseph: We have to go.

Mary: What do you mean, “We have to go”? Go where?

Joseph: Egypt.

Mary: Egypt?!? What are you talking about? Can’t we talking about this in the morning?

Joseph: No. The angel said we have to go immediately.

Mary: You saw an angel?

Joseph: Yes, the angel came to me like he did before and told me, “Get up! Take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. For Herod is about to search for the child to kill him.”

Mary: What?!? Are you sure that’s what he said?

Joseph: As sure as I was when he visited me last time and told me to marry you.

Mary: Okay, let’s go!

What was that trip like? Was it frantic? Did they finance it with the gold from the wise men? I wonder what plans they had for their lives that they now had to scrap to follow the angel’s instructions. Had she made friends? Had he hit his stride with his work? Were they planning on raising Jesus in Bethlehem?

Your call to them to raise Jesus was a call to a difficult life. I like to joke that I think Noah got one of the worst deals in the Bible because of the work he had to go through and it would probably have been easier to just die in the flood, but Mary and Joseph had some real obstacles of their own. It feels like their lives were all about sacrificing to fulfill this call.

Then they probably heard about this after they arrived in Egypt:

Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance.
Matthew 2:16

Survivors remorse? Guilt over their son’s existence having incited Herod into murdering those children? The anguish on behalf of all of those parents? Relief that they were safe in Egypt? I’m sure Mary had all of these things. I wonder how this whole event changed how protective she was of Jesus for the rest of his life.

Father, parenting can be scary. You can call us to sacrifice everything for the good of our children. Even when they are adults, their good can outweigh our own. And as we age into the end of our years, we need to consider our our own ending lives will impact them and die to ourselves for their benefit. So show me at any given moment what you are calling me to do for my children. Give me great discernment between what you need them to have from me and what you don’t need them to have from me. And everything you do for them or for me, make it something that is really for you and your glory, whatever it might cost me (and help me to be willing and ready to live up to those last words I just prayed).

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
 

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Emails to God – Jesus in Egypt (Matthew 2:19-23)

19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”

21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.

Dear God, it is interesting that Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth totally skips Egypt, the death of the babies, and Herod. I wonder why. Luke’s account is supposed to be from Mary, so I wonder why Luke would have left this out. Did he not think it was important to the narrative he was trying to tell? He obviously goes into more detail about a lot of other things regarding the birth, including John the Baptist, Mary’s angel visit, etc.

I can’t imagine the strain of this period for Joseph and Mary. They had to have been thinking, Okay, when I signed up for this I never imagined I would have to move to Egypt in order to save the child’s life. Now they are left with moving here and there trying to keep the kid safe, eventually ending up in their hometown after a few years.

I wonder what the Egyptian years were like. I wish we had some kind of account of them here. I just read some Wikipedia explanations of the time in Egypt, and they sound interesting, if not a little fantastical. There is apparently a lot of apocrypha about Jesus’ family in Egypt, and the Coptic church in Egypt uses them extensively as they describe Jesus’ time in their land. Some of the miracles include palm trees bowing to him, idols falling before him, springs of water suddenly appearing out of the ground, etc.

I guess my point in all of this is that there is sooooo much that I do not know. There is sooooo much that I do not understand. Are these stories true? I don’t know. I wasn’t there. But, in the end, there is certainly an indication that this man made an impression, even when he was a baby. There was certainly something heavenly and divine about him. His arrival changed the course of time wherever he went. It’s amazing.

Father, I read this story and I simply worship you for it. I can only try to appreciate what Joseph and Mary suffered through this time, but it is more than I can imagine. But through it all I see that I owe you my complete submission. I give myself to you. All that I am for all that you are—that is the exchange I make with you.

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2011 in Matthew

 

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Emails to God – Helpless Parents (Matthew 2:13-18)

 13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

 14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

 16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

 18 “A voice is heard in Ramah,
   weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
   and refusing to be comforted,
   because they are no more.”

Dear God, I cannot imagine feeling this helpless as a parent. I have spent some time in the past talking about Joseph and his faithfulness/obedience to you here. His responsiveness to your word was impressive. But I don’t want to focus on that today. I want to focus on the idea of the powerless parents who saw the government come through and kill their children. They had absolutely no power to stop it. All they could do was watch in horror. And why did it happen? Because an insecure man couldn’t stand the idea of his successor having been born. If only he had known how the plan could work out.

So there are a few things here:

  1. The obedience of Joseph:
  2. The horror the Bethlehem parents experienced
  3. Herod’s insecurity over invalid presumptions he made

I have heard stories about the Sudan and the atrocities there. Women and girls being raped and killed. Men being beaten and killed. And there is nothing the fathers can do to protect their families. They are helpless. They are impotent in the worst way.

I think that there are similar forces at work against my family, but they are harder to see because they infiltrate the mind. Media is the worst. Television. Internet. Music. They are all working against my family, and while I can make some draconian rules against allowing such things in the house (and we do have limits), there is simply no way I can completely shield my children, wife, or myself from them.

Father, protect families in a way that only you can. Protect the families of the Sudan and everywhere else where atrocities are occurring, including human trafficking. Bless those who have suffered and give them peace. Free the captives. Ease the souls of those who were charged with protecting them but were unable to. And protect my family. I feel the attacks. I feel the insidiousness. Please help me to navigate my way through parenting my children so that our family might be a place where we feel your presence and love despite my sin.

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2011 in Matthew

 

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Emails to God – The End of Genesis (Genesis 50:22-26)

22 Joseph stayed in Egypt, along with all his father’s family. He lived a hundred and ten years 23 and saw the third generation of Ephraim’s children. Also the children of Makir son of Manasseh were placed at birth on Joseph’s knees.

24 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” 25 And Joseph made the Israelites swear an oath and said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.”

26 So Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. And after they embalmed him, he was placed in a coffin in Egypt.

Dear God, I wonder what kept the Israelites from going ahead and taking off back for their homes. Why didn’t they leave Egypt? Were they afraid they had been away too long and wouldn’t be welcomed back to their own land? Were they happy in Goshen and saw no reason to leave? I supposed this would have been the time to leave if they were ever going to do it. Why didn’t they?

I also wonder what Joseph died from. He obviously died before a lot of his brothers, and he died comparatively young when you consider how old everyone else was living. So did he get sick from a disease? Probably. Funny, but we don’t often think of a Biblical character’s cause of death. They just die because they didn’t have a lot of doctors going around giving an accurate diagnosis.

As I finish off Genesis with this passage, I suppose the overarching message of the book is that you had a plan, you placed the fate of your plan in very fallible people (from Adam, to Noah, to Abraham, to Jacob, etc.), and your plan somehow endures until this day. Is every date in here correct? Every story precise? I doubt it. But there is certainly a sense that you were there, you are here, and it is going to be okay in the long run.

Father, help me to sense your presence over my very flawed life. Help me to turn loose of the need to get everything perfect and simply let you live through me. Bless others through me, even though there are times when I am not tuned into you. Move beyond my abilities into a place in my life where you live through me even beyond my ability to consciously channel you. I am a fool, and I know your plan if foolproof. Let your plan reign.

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2011 in Genesis

 

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Emails to God – Jacob Prefers to Bless the Second-Born (Genesis 48)

1 Some time later Joseph was told, “Your father is ill.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim along with him. 2 When Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel rallied his strength and sat up on the bed.

3 Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and there he blessed me 4 and said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and increase your numbers. I will make you a community of peoples, and I will give this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you.’

5 “Now then, your two sons born to you in Egypt before I came to you here will be reckoned as mine; Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine. 6 Any children born to you after them will be yours; in the territory they inherit they will be reckoned under the names of their brothers. 7 As I was returning from Paddan, to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan while we were still on the way, a little distance from Ephrath. So I buried her there beside the road to Ephrath” (that is, Bethlehem).

8 When Israel saw the sons of Joseph, he asked, “Who are these?”

9 “They are the sons God has given me here,” Joseph said to his father.

Then Israel said, “Bring them to me so I may bless them.”

10 Now Israel’s eyes were failing because of old age, and he could hardly see. So Joseph brought his sons close to him, and his father kissed them and embraced them.

11 Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your children too.”

12 Then Joseph removed them from Israel’s knees and bowed down with his face to the ground. 13 And Joseph took both of them, Ephraim on his right toward Israel’s left hand and Manasseh on his left toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them close to him. 14 But Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim’s head, though he was the younger, and crossing his arms, he put his left hand on Manasseh’s head, even though Manasseh was the firstborn.

15 Then he blessed Joseph and said,

“May the God before whom my fathers

Abraham and Isaac walked faithfully,

the God who has been my shepherd

all my life to this day,

16 the Angel who has delivered me from all harm

—may he bless these boys.

May they be called by my name

and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac,

and may they increase greatly

on the earth.”

17 When Joseph saw his father placing his right hand on Ephraim’s head he was displeased; so he took hold of his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18 Joseph said to him, “No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”

19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He too will become a people, and he too will become great. Nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will become a group of nations.” 20 He blessed them that day and said,

“In your name will Israel pronounce this blessing:

‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’”

So he put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh.

21 Then Israel said to Joseph, “I am about to die, but God will be with you and take you back to the land of your fathers. 22 And to you I give one more ridge of land than to your brothers, the ridge I took from the Amorites with my sword and my bow.”

Dear God, I think Jacob was somewhat predisposed to honor the younger brother over the oldest brother. After all, he was the second-born. His father was also the second-born. And we’ll see later that, among his sons, he will not pass his blessing to his firstborn, Reuben, but it will go to Judah.

The idea of the firstborn is interesting. I didn’t appreciate it as much until I was a parent. Now, I look at my children and I think I expect more of my son because he is older. I expect him to lead more. I expect him to be more responsible. I expect him to set an example for his sister. I have heard it said that no two children are born to the same parents. That is true. I know that I treat my children differently from each other.

It is also interesting to see how my wife and I treat the kids based on our own childhoods (much like Jacob). For example, my wife is the oldest in her family so I think she tends to take our son’s side in arguments with his sister because she can better see his perspective. My daughter and I are both youngest children, so I tend to have more sympathy for her when she argues with her brother. This has caused a lot of conflict between my son and me, and I can see his point. I can definitely see why oldest, middle, and youngest children (not to mention only children) fit into stereotypes. We definitely have life factors that shape who we are.

Father, I want to be the most impartial parent I can be. I want to be exactly who you need my children to have as a father. I want to give you glory in their lives. I want to guide them to you. I want you to use me to shape their character and their interest in submitting their lives to you. I want you to help me to see where I am foolish in how I treat them differently from each other simply because of their age and birth order. Undo the damage I have already done, and give us all grace as we learn to trust you more.

 

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2011 in Genesis

 

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Emails to God – Jacob Always Worshiped God (Genesis 47:28-31)

28 Jacob lived in Egypt seventeen years, and the years of his life were a hundred and forty-seven. 29 When the time drew near for Israel to die, he called for his son Joseph and said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, put your hand under my thigh and promise that you will show me kindness and faithfulness. Do not bury me in Egypt, 30 but when I rest with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me where they are buried.”

“I will do as you say,” he said.

31 “Swear to me,” he said. Then Joseph swore to him, and Israel worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.

Dear God, one thing I have to say for Jacob (because, on the whole, I don’t have a whole lot of respect for his character) is that he worshiped you until the end. He never forgot you. He recognized you and worshiped you all of the days of his life. He worshiped you in times of wealth and he worshiped you in times of despair. He could be unscrupulous, a terrible father/husband, a wicked brother, etc., but there was a part of him that knew that he had better be submitted to you. I think, in the end, he remembered that you were bigger than him.

I attended an interesting class last night where they talked about the history of the Christian church from Jesus until now. Granted, they fit it all into the span of less than an hour, so some parts were missed, but it was interesting for me to hear how things morphed over time. Generationally, I think that some in the church (especially about 600 or 700 years ago) started to think that the church was bigger than you. Protests came and soon reform at every level followed. The church can be a beautiful thing with the person leading it is submitted to you, but if that person ever starts to feel bigger than you then bad things can happen. Terrible things can happen.

So how am I doing? Do I feel bigger than you? I think there are times when I take control. It isn’t conscious. It is just how I respond in the heat of battle. I get wounded or stressed, so I circle the wagons, maybe lash out at someone in judgment, and do my best to pacify my emotional self instead of allowing for your grace to flow through me. For example, a woman called me yesterday who doesn’t like me. She called to accuse our clinic of doing something that she didn’t agree with (treating a potential patient badly). This woman is not well mentally or physically, and, frankly, she is usually spoiling for a fight with me. Well, I tried to remain as polite as I could on the phone with her, but then I took an opportunity later to tell a couple of staff people about the phone call and how wronged I was by her. Why did I do it? Insecurity. Hurt. Anger. Scars leftover from our previous encounters. But if I were truly letting you live through me then her phone call could have just stayed with me and I wouldn’t have felt the need to denigrate her to others.

Father, forgive me for my treatment of this woman. Going back to her physical/mental issues, she is not well and not completely responsible for her actions, yet I treat her like she is fully functioning and capable of meeting me on equal ground. That is so wrong. I should be extending her more grace than I do to others, not less. So help me to look on this woman in love. Help me to extend her more grace than I have in myself, but grace that can only come from you. Help me to be your submitted servant all of the days of my life. I am prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. I am prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, Lord, take a seal it. Seal it for thy courts above.

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2011 in Genesis

 

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Emails to God – Joseph Enslaves Egypt (Genesis 47:13-27)

13 There was no food, however, in the whole region because the famine was severe; both Egypt and Canaan wasted away because of the famine. 14 Joseph collected all the money that was to be found in Egypt and Canaan in payment for the grain they were buying, and he brought it to Pharaoh’s palace. 15 When the money of the people of Egypt and Canaan was gone, all Egypt came to Joseph and said, “Give us food. Why should we die before your eyes? Our money is all gone.”

16 “Then bring your livestock,” said Joseph. “I will sell you food in exchange for your livestock, since your money is gone.” 17 So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and he gave them food in exchange for their horses, their sheep and goats, their cattle and donkeys. And he brought them through that year with food in exchange for all their livestock.

18 When that year was over, they came to him the following year and said, “We cannot hide from our lord the fact that since our money is gone and our livestock belongs to you, there is nothing left for our lord except our bodies and our land. 19 Why should we perish before your eyes—we and our land as well? Buy us and our land in exchange for food, and we with our land will be in bondage to Pharaoh. Give us seed so that we may live and not die, and that the land may not become desolate.”

20 So Joseph bought all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh. The Egyptians, one and all, sold their fields, because the famine was too severe for them. The land became Pharaoh’s, 21 and Joseph reduced the people to servitude,[c] from one end of Egypt to the other. 22 However, he did not buy the land of the priests, because they received a regular allotment from Pharaoh and had food enough from the allotment Pharaoh gave them. That is why they did not sell their land.

23 Joseph said to the people, “Now that I have bought you and your land today for Pharaoh, here is seed for you so you can plant the ground. 24 But when the crop comes in, give a fifth of it to Pharaoh. The other four-fifths you may keep as seed for the fields and as food for yourselves and your households and your children.”

25 “You have saved our lives,” they said. “May we find favor in the eyes of our lord; we will be in bondage to Pharaoh.”

26 So Joseph established it as a law concerning land in Egypt—still in force today—that a fifth of the produce belongs to Pharaoh. It was only the land of the priests that did not become Pharaoh’s.

27 Now the Israelites settled in Egypt in the region of Goshen. They acquired property there and were fruitful and increased greatly in number.

Dear God, I do not remember this story, but it is really interesting to see that Joseph basically used the famine to increase Pharaoh’s wealth and enslave the Egyptian people. It is hard to believe that he would do this. In the framework of “what would Jesus do?” this doesn’t seem to quite fit. I would have thought that after about year four or five of the famine, when all of the money was gone, Joseph would have said, “You know what, it’s okay. I know you are out of money. Just take a ration of food since you are a citizen of Egypt.

Here at our charitable medical clinic we charge for the services we provide, but if the patient tells us they are out of money we find a way to make arrangements for them. I have to admit that, yesterday, I did try to make a woman feel guilty because she had received services almost two years ago from a surgeon who helps our patients and still had a balance with him that she hadn’t paid. Now, she needs more help and the surgeon said that he needs some attention to the previous balance before he can address the new one. We were able to get it all worked out, but I think the woman knows in a new way that the care she receives here does come with at least some amount of cost.

Father, I guess the trick is to find the line between responsibility and charity. I am surprised that Joseph didn’t show more charity here. Perhaps it is because of his feelings of responsibility to Pharaoh. Perhaps it was a cultural norm. Regardless, I do not think Joseph’s example is a good one. I also don’t, however, think that he should have just given all of the food away for free. There needs to be a balance, and it is a balance that I need to work harder to find as well. I tend to go too far the other way from Joseph, and that isn’t right either. So help me to simply look at a given situation with your eyes and then wait for your still, small voice to guide me as I make decisions on how to show mercy to and yet require responsibility from others.

 

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2011 in Genesis

 

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Emails to God – Jacob Blesses Pharaoh (Genesis 47:1-12)

Genesis 47:1-12

1 Joseph went and told Pharaoh, “My father and brothers, with their flocks and herds and everything they own, have come from the land of Canaan and are now in Goshen.” 2 He chose five of his brothers and presented them before Pharaoh.

3 Pharaoh asked the brothers, “What is your occupation?”

“Your servants are shepherds,” they replied to Pharaoh, “just as our fathers were.” 4 They also said to him, “We have come to live here for a while, because the famine is severe in Canaan and your servants’ flocks have no pasture. So now, please let your servants settle in Goshen.”

5 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you, 6 and the land of Egypt is before you; settle your father and your brothers in the best part of the land. Let them live in Goshen. And if you know of any among them with special ability, put them in charge of my own livestock.”

7 Then Joseph brought his father Jacob in and presented him before Pharaoh. After Jacob blessed Pharaoh, 8 Pharaoh asked him, “How old are you?”

9 And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. My years have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers.” 10 Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from his presence.

11 So Joseph settled his father and his brothers in Egypt and gave them property in the best part of the land, the district of Rameses, as Pharaoh directed. 12 Joseph also provided his father and his brothers and all his father’s household with food, according to the number of their children.

Dear God, there are a few things I notice about this story.

1. Pharaoh’s generosity: I know that Pharaoh is really grateful for Joseph and respects him, but to allow Joseph’s family to settle in the best part of the land is quite a gift. That combined with the honor of tending his own livestock is a big deal.

2. Jacob blessed Pharaoh: Even being the scoundrel that he was, Jacob still feared you and took the time in Pharaoh’s presence to bless him.

3. Jacob says his years have been “few and difficult.” 130 years doesn’t seem to be too few, except when compared with Isaac and Abraham. And as for being difficult, I can’t say that his years have really been that much more difficult than anyone else’s of that time. In fact, his was probably a little better.

I think that Jacob blessing Pharaoh is probably the most powerful image of this story. I wonder if even Joseph had done that. Jacob was apparently older than Pharaoh, and I wonder if his age didn’t give him some amount of authority, even in the presence of the most powerful person in the area. It wasn’t an authority that had any power, but an authority to love him in a paternal way. I never noticed this blessing before, but it is really quite lovely.

Father, help me to be your blessing to those I am around. Whether it be my family, my friends, my coworkers, our patients, our volunteers, or our donors, help me to love them and to convey your love to them. Help me to be a source of your peace to them. Love others through me. Your peace is the peace that passes all understanding, and I want others to see that peace through me.

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2011 in Genesis

 

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Emails to God – Shepherds are “Detestable” (Genesis 46:31-34)

31 Then Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I will go up and speak to Pharaoh and will say to him, ‘My brothers and my father’s household, who were living in the land of Canaan, have come to me. 32 The men are shepherds; they tend livestock, and they have brought along their flocks and herds and everything they own.’ 33 When Pharaoh calls you in and asks, ‘What is your occupation?’ 34 you should answer, ‘Your servants have tended livestock from our boyhood on, just as our fathers did.’ Then you will be allowed to settle in the region of Goshen, for all shepherds are detestable to the Egyptians.”

Dear God, it’s kind of fun to see Joseph help his brothers out and insult them at the same time. Back where they came from, Jacob was a wealthy man with a lot of servants and respect. His brothers rode that coattail too. But here, Joseph helps them out by getting them a place to settle, but they have to do it by admitting that they are something that Egyptians find “detestable”. Joseph is NOT detestable to the Egyptians, but his brothers and father are. I wonder how this made them feel.

I see people every day who have jobs that others look down on and don’t respect. But they have value to you. We, as Americans, look at how much money they make, where they live, what they drive, their level of education, etc., and evaluate their worth. Some of them are, indeed, lost and not sure where they are going and what they are doing. Others, however, are living out your will for their lives, and doing the absolute best they can.

I would imagine that some would judge me as well. I know my siblings wonder about the life decisions I make. I haven’t pursued a lucrative career. I don’t have my kids in private schools. I don’t drive a nice car. I have chosen a solidly middle class American life, but that’s okay with you as long as it is within your plan for me and what you are calling me to do.

Father, help me to see each person I encounter today with your eyes. Help me to not esteem someone too much because of their wealth or title, and help me to not look down on someone because of their lack of the same. Help me to be at peace with where you have me as well. Be just in an unjust world. Make me a part of your hand of benevolence, mercy, and provision. Touch others through me and then point them back to you. Don’t let them see me, but help them to recognize that it is you that is providing for them.

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2011 in Genesis

 

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