Apparently Mike F. and Clark Bunch are the only true believers on the face of the earth, and the rest of us HAVE ALL BEEN LEFT BEHIND!!!!!!!!! Never fear; I am still around to carry the torch here at Life in Mordor. Apparently I am not one of the true believers, but that’s okay. We will all get through this thing together. At least until October 21.
Anyway, on to something a little more substantial.
In my small group Bible study, we just finished going through the story of Joseph. Young Hebrew boy has weird dreams. His brothers aren’t too crazy about it, so they tie him up and drop him in a pit, thinking to leave him for dead. Later they decide to have mercy on him by digging him up and selling him to a passing caravan of slave traders. Nice brothers, these.
Eventually Joseph reaches Egypt, where through a bizarre chain of events he winds up as the prime minister of Egypt. He undertakes a massive building program and stores up gargantuan quantities of grain for seven years. Good thing; the seven years of plenty are followed by a seven-year famine that thoroughly ravages the Middle East. Eventually, Joseph’s brothers and father hear that there is grain in Egypt, so they go down to pay him a visit. He plays games with them at first, but later reveals himself to them and invites them all to come stay in Egypt.
What’s not to like here? This is a wonderful feel-good story which exemplifies the value of success which contemporary American evangelicalism holds so dear. Can’t you see Joel Osteen or Joyce Meyer or T. D. Jakes going off on this one, saying that if you just remain faithful God will be with you and you will get your miracle, you will get your breakthrough, you will end up on top of the heap, no matter what kind of crazy detours God takes you through along the way?
Not the point of the story. The point of the story is this: God had a plan to redeem all of humanity through Jesus Christ. He intended to bring Christ into the world through the people of Israel. Part of this plan called for Israel to be brought out of Egypt (“Out of Egypt I have called my son”–Hosea 11:1). But in order to get Israel OUT OF Egypt, God would first have to get Israel INTO Egypt. At this point in the game, Jacob and the fam were comfortably settled in Canaan, the land that was promised to one day be their home, and they appeared to have no intention of going anywhere. So God concocted an elaborate plan to get Jacob/Israel to relocate by means of a seven-year famine. But first God had to have a man in place to ensure that Israel would be well received when they came to Egypt. That’s where Joseph came in.
Don’t get sidetracked on the aspect of Joseph remaining faithful in the midst of a crazy journey to receive God’s blessing at the end. This is not intended to lay down a principle that if you remain faithful then God will bless you (though that is taught elsewhere in Scripture–with numerous exceptions to the rule). This is simply the story of a man who had a unique role to fill in God’s redemptive plan, and who filled it.
Don’t think that if you remain faithful then you will eventually wind up as the chief assistant to the CEO or the prime minister of some Middle Eastern nation or that you will receive untold riches or get the girl/guy or whatever. God has not promised you that, and you should not infer that from this story.
What God has promised you is a Savior, Jesus Christ. He is committed to the plan of bringing Christ into the world, and doing whatever has to be done to ensure that the plan moves forward. Joseph had a unique role to fill in this plan, and he filled it.