Monday, 17 January 2011

Waiting in the Well

Genesis 37-38 When it says that Joseph is the son of Jacob's old age, it's not that he was a pensioner when Joe came along (he would never have been able to wrestle with God if he had been) rather it is a reference to Joseph being the "firstborn" the one who would inherit everything and become pre-eminent amongst his brothers. It is prophetic.Jacob makes him a special robe as a testament to this.

Like his grandad Isaac, Joseph's life would put more flesh on the bones of our understanding of what Messiah would be like when he came.

Many see Joseph's dreams as evidence of his trumped up ego. I don't think this is fair. He is painted as one who innocently suffered at the hands of lawless / envious men - another reason why he is a picture of Jesus.

His first dream about the sheaves prophesies that his work will be greater than all his brothers. The second about the stars prophesies that his government and rule will be exalted above all the others. Jacob publicly rebukes his son for this, but treasures it up in his heart. He had seen prophecy work in unexpected ways in his own life and no doubt was quietly fascinated as to what would come of this. The fact that there are two dreams (two witnesses) proves that it most definitely will take place and very soon.

The very next thing we read is that the brothers set about trying to murder him. Can you imagine the horror of it? They strip him of his robe (of pre-eminence) and chuck him in a waterless well. Wounded, he awaits his fate. Reuban the moralist, (his authority rendered impotent by his misdemeanour of chapter 35) has tried to intervene and to buy time, but ultimately, like all mere moralists, he fails in his quest.

Judah (swap the h for an s and what do you get?) leads the brothers in betraying Joseph into the hands of slave traders. The traders are carrying fragrant spices: myrrh - symbolic of death and others - symbolic of a fragrant offering.

They then return to their father telling him that a wild animal must have devoured him. In the strange world of the Bible, those who are under the judgement of God are killed by wild animals. So not only have his brothers gotten rid of him, they are passing it off as a judgement of God and trying to vindicate their own position in the household!

Jacob must have smelt a rat - wild animals don't undress their prey before eating them, but what else could he say.

Judah further gets himself into hot water by intermarrying with the surrounding peoples. His son in law is judged by God for his wickedness and his brother is sent in to his wife to raise up offspring for him. He spills his "seed" on the ground because if Tamar has any offspring, he won't get his father's inheritance, but God judges him for his selfishness too!

The rest of chapter 38 is fairly straight forward, except to say that in giving the "prostitute" his cord, ring and staff - he is giving away all the signs of his authority. All for the sake of quick sexual fix. How many men have thrown away their authority because they couldn't control themselves when they came on heat?!

The wonder of this is that Messiah would still give himself to be a descendant of this treacherous pervert. His grace is matchless!

Psalm 17 are the words of David, but having just read about Joseph being cast in the well, they could almost be his words too as he waits for his brothers to "pass sentence" on him. They could be the words of Jesus as he is being handed over by Judas to the temple guard and they could be yours or mine as we wander as strangers and aliens in this worlds, waiting for the transformation and the glory of resurrection morning.

Matt 7:1-14 Jesus is not saying that making judgements is wrong, he is saying that one must make right judgement. If my heart is riddled with sin how am I ever going to make any kind of right judgement that helps anyone? I will only make the situation worse.

The so-called golden rule that is used by some to emphasise how all religions are basically the same, is here mentioned by Jesus in the context of talking about the Heavenly Father's good gifts. What are those good gifts? Well, every good thing, but supremely the righteousness of his Son, and the companionship of his Holy Spirit. Fail to receive those and all else is worthless. In other words, if you would want God to show mercy to you, then show mercy to others.

Acts 10:1-23 God is moving to show his people that the taking of the gospel the Gentiles (which was always the point - the Jews in their religiosity had sinfully lost sight of it) is what it's about. Peter sees many unclean animals in his dream which he is told to kill and eat.

When you eat something you take it into yourself and it becomes part of you.  In the Old Testament, the Jews were marked out by their difference from the surrounding nations - hence the food laws - whilst waiting for Messiah, but now Messiah had come, the emphasis shifts from one of separation and distinction to transformation. Transformation of no less than the whole world (signified by the four corners of the sheet).

In telling him to eat these animals God is symbolically telling Peter that he is to welcome in the Gentiles to the people of God. Ooo... was that the doorbell he heard?  Nice touch, Lord!!

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