Dec. 8 (Day 10)
Read Gen. 37:3-36; 50:15-20
God’s people, Abraham’s family, were chosen by God to be a great nation and to “bless the nations of the earth.” With this calling in mind, today's passage should make you cringe. How could God’s people (called to be a blessing to those around them) choose to kill their brother and then just settle for selling him to slave traders? To make matters worse, Egypt is a major world power and every time we read of world powers in the Bible, bad things happen. Whether we are talking about Assyria, Babylon, Rome, or Egypt, bad things always happen in the “great kingdoms of earth.” They have different attitudes than the people of God should have. They choose to enslave, belittle, cast down and mistreat fellow humans.
When we read this story, we should see that sometimes God’s people are too comfortable being like everyone else. There is a real pressure that we feel when we live on earth: do we trust God and do things His way or do we act like everyone else? You feel it. We all feel it. Even if we are surrendered to God, we will feel this struggle throughout our lives. When we feel mistreated, we often succumb to this pressure and choose to strike back. If our small issues of mistreatment make us lash out, how do you think Joseph’s brothers felt while watching their father prefer Joseph? He was the eleventh child out of twelve! He didn’t deserve to be special! What’s more, he had special dreams that made everyone uncomfortable.
When we stew on things for too long, we start to think about how to solve the problem. If you believed that your problem was Joseph, then getting rid of Joseph would seem like a logical solution. But remember: God’s people were called to be a blessing to those around them! The people of Egypt, and all the nations surrounding Israel, however, would behave the same as Joseph’s brothers: they chose to put their nation first and mistreated people without a second thought. How easy is it for us to behave like Joseph’s brothers, and how hard is it to fight against worldly pressures and pursue God’s calling to bless?
Despite all this hatred, there’s something beautiful brewing in this story. God’s plan for redemption is being acted out even as other sinful powers try to push back. God will use Egypt to show His people how strong He is. God will pull His people back to be like Him. God will show them that, even if they act like the other nations, He will still work through them. This doesn’t mean that God’s people should act like the nations around them, but rather that God is in control and His story will be told even if we try to mess it up. This is wonderful news!
God’s people still struggle today. We lose sight of the prize and wander after our own desires. Yet He is still in control and doing beautiful things behind the scenes… in spite of us. May we be renewed to seek Him and do things His way so that we JOIN Him in this work!
--When do you feel like Joseph?
--When do you feel like his brothers?
--How amazing is it that God works even in spite of us?