Old Testament Week Three
This week I am giving you thoughts on three different subjects we will be reading... Joseph's story, what it means to empty your sack, and the lesson we need to know about Tamar. The study guide is at the bottom of this blog. Happy Reading!!
First, Joseph's story. This excerpt is from my newest book, EVEN THIS, page 85.
At the beginning of the story that tells aboutof the dreamer with the coat of many colors, I don’t see God. I read about brothers who hated the a young boy for his dreams, but I don’t read anything about God. And when I read ofon the day when he the son followed his father’s counsel and went to the place where the his brothers fed the flock of sheep, I think to myself that he should have stayed back with his father. Where he was safe. Where he was protected. Yes, he should have just stayed home. But Joseph goes, and eleven brothers watch this hated dreamer coming, and they decide to throw him into a pit. An empty pit in the middle of the desert. The sun beats down hot on parched ground, and the dreamer has been thrown into a deep pit with no water.
I don’t see God in the pit.
When the brothers decide to trade the dreamer in the pit for a bag of silver instead, I look for God again. Because Wwhere was God when this boy was about to be taken away from his father’s love, far away from home, taken into Egypt to be a slave, all because of a God-sent dream? Where was God then?
Surely, Joseph must have wondered.
I would have. I know exactly what I would have thought., Why? Why, God? In that moment I would have pled desperately for a miracle. A rescue. Deliverance. And just like Joseph, I would not have known that it deliverance was the very miracle God had in mind, but the timing was wrong. God couldn’t send that miracle when Joseph was in the pit. No, this was a miracle in the making.
Before long, Joseph is thrown into prison for something he didn’t deserve. Into the dark, into despair. , and Wwhy does this keep happening? There is a baker and a butler, dreams of wine in a cup and baskets with of bread, and once again I read verses about the dreamer interpreting dreams. There, mixed in with the interpreting of dreams taking place inside the dark walls of the prison, I stumble on this verse: “T . . . the Lord was with Joseph . . .” (Genesis 39:21 ).
Finally, I see God.
Within the seeing comes some of the understanding I have been longing for. If the Lord was there with him Joseph in the prison, He must have been with him in the palace. A, and if that is true then surely He was with him in the pit. My heart finds comfort in knowing that God was with the dreamer all along. I think to myself how that God must have been listening to the pleading taking place within the prison. The pleading for a rescue, for deliverance, for the very miracle God already had in mind. But the timing was still wrong. So Joseph spent day after day within the dark walls of the prison he didn’t deserve, and he waited, and God did not leave Him. God was there in during the waiting. Working. Orchestrating the miracle.
I know that waiting place. It is the place where I have prayed for the miracle that seems reasonable to ask for. I have watched for it and pled for it through the changing seasons and the lengthening years, and I have wondered why. Why is it taking so long?
But it’s not just the waiting that concerns me about this story., Tthere is more—there is something else I do not understand. From the very beginning, God knew Joseph was a dreamer., He is the One who sent the dream that landed Joseph in the pit, in the palace, in the prison. Shouldn’t that God- given gift have made Joseph’s life easier? Instead, God’s gift is what kept leading Joseph into the places he didn’t want to go. It is the thought of that Tthat thought makes me stop reading every time I get to this part of the story. It is hard to understand. If Joseph was using his gift, then why didn’t God protect him from the hurt, from the heartache, from harm? Why did would He give Joseph a gift that would take him away from his loved ones, from his home? Why was he Joseph given a gift that seemed as if it would destroy him? A gift that seemed to be preventing Joseph from obtaining the miracle God had in mind? No, it doesn’t make any sense at all.
Until the famine comes.
I read about the parched ground, the rain that doesn’t fall, and I am reminded how Joseph was finally released out offrom prison because of another dream. A dream about cows and corn. There is a ruler who believes, and a country that prepares, all because of Joseph’sthe inspiration and the foresight Joseph gives. And then , after the preparation, I read about eleven brothers who come into Egypt looking for rescue. For deliverance. For the kind of miracle that was only possible because of the heaven-sent preparations of a dreamer. It was the miracle I had wanted for Joseph from the first moment minute he was thrown into the pit, a miracle that had taken years to orchestrate, one that required sacrifice and pain, one that could only come only after the waiting.
And what if God had sent the miracle to Joseph in the pit?
I understand now why He didn’t. God had a greater miracle in mind. The dreamer is proof that God is working there in the waiting places. In the moments Wwhen it seems hHeaven is silent, that is when the grandest orchestration is taking place. This is a story meant to remind us that God forgets not His own and thathow, when the details of our life are beyond our understanding, we must learn to trust His.
God knew from the very beginning that there would come a day when eleven brothers would journey into Egypt to find a miracle. Perhaps these brothers heard about the corn and the cows, the seven years of plenty and the seven years of famine., Wwe don’t know. But eventually, the brothers recognize that the dreamer who saved Egypt is Joseph. Their own brother. The boy they gave away.
So Joseph’s brothers come pleading. They ask for his forgiveness. In that moment I watch Joseph closely;, I want to see what he will do. It is his right to ask, “Why? Why the pit? Why the bag of silver in place of a brother? Why the years in prison?” But Joseph doesn’t. Instead, he asks them his brothers a question that changes my heart:, “Am I in the place of God?” (Genesis 50:19).
I listen carefully, and I understand what he is saying. In the end, isn’t the place where I ended up after all of these trials the exact place God needed me to be?” I consider it. Had there not been the pit, the slavery, the years in prison, there would not have been the opportunity for leadership, for saving a nation, for saving his family. The truth of it is that the trials are what enabled him Joseph to be in the exact place God needed him to be. To provide the rescue. To prepare for the deliverance. To orchestrate the miracle God had in mind from the very moment when Joseph was thrown into the pit.
It is here, in this line, that the understanding comes:, “As for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive” (Genesis 50:20; emphasis added). Because he was a dreamer, Joseph was led into to a place he didn’t want to go, a place he surely prayed to get out of, a place that had the potential to destroy him. B, but God meant it unto good. God turned it unto good. It was because of the pit and the prison that the true majesty of God was revealed. His capacity for the miraculous. His glory.
Joseph would have missed it, all of the majesty and the miracles, if he would have just stayed home. The very purpose for the dreams would never have been realized.
It was a miracle in the making from the very first moment.
Sometimes we don’t understand. Sometimes things don’t make any sense. Sometimes God leads us into the place we don’t want to go because He knows that it is only within that place that His true capacity for our good will be revealed.
Next, what it means to empty your sack. This excerpt from my book WRITTEN ON OUR HEARTS, pg. 14
The first time the brothers left Joseph they stopped at an inn. They quickly realized that somehow every man's money had been placed back into his sack. As they prepared to leave for home the second time, Joseph requested for their sacks to be filled with not just enough to supply their needs, but more ––much more. The third time the brothers left, a sack was not sufficient for the treasure their brother had in store. Joseph sent wagons and ten horses laden with good things, along with ten more horses laden with corn, bread, and meat.
If Joseph is a type of Christ, then we have just been taught a very important characteristic of the Lord. We learn a little more about the Giver of Every Good Gift ––who gives not just enough to simply supply our needs, but more. Much more.
My mind is focused on the image of ten brothers with sacks on their backs, ten brothers who, as they emptied their sacks, discovered treasure beyond their expectations. As I thought about this principle, I wondered what I might discover if I were to figuratively empty my sack to discover the treasure the Lord has given me. If you were to take a moment to empty your sack today, what would you discover.
Last, let's talk about the understanding we need to have in order to learn the important lessons from Tamar's story.
Just pretend it is Monday ;)
Here is what you need to know about Tamar.
She married Judah's eldest son, Er. He was killed because of his wickedness. Once the death happened it became law for Judah to provide another son for Tamar to provide offspring so the family line might continue. Oran was also wicked, and also died.
Now Judah thinks Tamar is cursed, so he tells Tamar to wait for Shelah, his youngest son, but has no intention on following through with the law and giving him to Tamar.
Many years go by and Judah became a widower.
Now, here is where the story becomes confusing...
He went to Timnah to shear his sheep, and Tamar disguised herself as a prostitute and for Judah to pass by. Her motive was to bear a child in Judah's line, which was her right.
There months later, when Tamar is found pregnant, Judah orders that she be burned to death. Tamar sends the staff, seal, and cord she had obtained from Judah to Judah to witness who the father is. Judah realizes that Tamar had only done what was her right, and releases her from her sentence.
Tamar is mentioned within the Genealogy of Jesus, as a grandmother. (See Matthew 1) Her son, Perez is the ancestor of King David.