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Friday, January 29, 2016

Operating From A Love-deficit

The last words Joseph hears before he is sold to a band of traders are from Leah’s son, Judah. It was Judah’s idea to sell Joseph to the Ishmaelite traders, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood” (Genesis 37:27). Mission accomplished. No brother, no fulfillment of his dreams and no bowing down to the favored son. No brother, no more favoritism from their father. 

The twenty-two years between Judah’s treacherous decision to sell Joseph and the brother’s sojourn to Egypt taught Judah a thing or two about hurt and bitterness: 

  • Those who operate out of a father’s love-deficit often attack those who know a father’s love-surplus out of jealousy. 
  • Bitterness hardens people to the hurt they inflict on others; experiencing similar loss softens the heart toward those whom they’ve hurt in the past. 
It was Judah whose two sons, Er and Onan, were “taken out” by the Lord because of their wickedness (Genesis 38:6-10). It was Judah who became a widower (Genesis 38:12). It was Judah who experienced a tremendous amount of heartache. Judah now understands the grief that occurs from the loss of sons. 
Judah knows firsthand what it is like to lose, not one, but two sons. Therefore, he seeks to spare his father the loss of his son, Benjamin, “Now then, please, let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? No! Do not let me see the misery that would come upon my father” (Genesis 44:33-34). He is now ready to give up his own life in place of his younger brother’s life. 
This story is especially meaningful in a world where blended families have become the norm. Sibling rivalry is challenging enough without the complications of additional relationships. This blended family, like those in our day, was a seedbed for hurt, jealousy, and bitterness. Believers who’ve grown up in such homes don’t have to operate out of a love-deficit, but a love-surplus. We have a Father in heaven who is perfect and who loves perfectly. 
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"Their father Jacob said to them, "You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Every thing is against me!" (Genesis 42:36)

Really? Everything

"Everything is against me." So Jacob thought. Meanwhile everything was really working out for the redemption of his entire family. This isn't the first time he has looked at his circumstances or situation and believed a lie. Years earlier his sons brought in Joseph's ripped and bloodied coat of many colors and he immediately assumed that something terrible had happened to Joseph and that he was dead (37:31-33). Jacob, in fact, believed that Joseph was dead for more than twenty years. For twenty years he believe a lie.  

People believe lies all of the time based upon trumped up evidence. The enemy is good at framing situations and fabricating evidence. So, circumstances, for the child of God, may not always be as they appear at first glance.

People sometimes believe that God doesn't love them when they lose their job, experience some other sudden loss or a particular prayer remains unanswered. God works behind the scenes accomplishing his purposes. Just because we can't see Him at work doesn't mean that He is inactive. All things do work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.

For the believer this means that God is not only at work in the eternal realm accomplishing His purposes but that He is at work presently in my circumstance. I can trust Him in spite of the evidence which seems to declare otherwise.

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
Genesis 42:1-44:34
  • How do the brothers describe themselves to Joseph?
  • How do the brothers explain their being held in custody?
  • What does Joseph discover about Reuben?
  • Who do the brothers blame for the silver found in their grain bags?
  • Read Proverbs 19:3. How do those who've done foolishness respond when they've suffered the consequences?
  • How does Jacob respond to the brother's report?
  • Upon what does he base his conclusion? (See also his believing trumped up evidence years before-Genesis 37:31-34)
  • What do the brothers believe about Joseph when they return to Egypt and are invited to Joseph's house for a meal?
  • How many times do the brothers bow down to Joseph unknowingly? (What had Joseph dreamed about his brothers years before?)
Turning truth into prayerWhat are some lies you've believed about yourself and about God? Ask the Lord to reveal lies that you've believe which have held you captive.