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Author Topic: Inspirational Story  (Read 79306 times)
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« Reply #80 on: November 15, 2015, 10:08:33 PM »

Genesis 39
Up from Egypt

   When most people think about Egypt in the Bible, they think of the Hebrew slaves trying to gather enough straw to make bricks.  They think of Egypt as a place of heavy oppression and hard taskmasters, a place where it took four hundred years, ten plagues, and a showdown at the Red Sea for God’s people to be set free.
   But that’s not the whole story of Egypt in the Bible     . . . that’s only the Exodus story.  Before there was an Exodus, there was a Genesis.  And before there was a Moses, there was a Joseph.  Perhaps we need to take a second look at Egypt, because Egypt’s place in the Bible has not always been negative.  Egypt is not only about being in bondage . . . it is also about believing until you get a breakthrough.  Egypt is not only about blood, sweat, and tears . . . it is also about blessings, salvation, and triumph.  Egypt is not only about disappointment that leads to despair  . . . it is also about dedication that leads to deliverance.
   Egypt isn’t all positive . . . nor is it all negative.  Egypt isn’t all good . . . nor is it all bad.  Egypt isn’t all heaven, but it sure ain’t hell.  Egypt is the real world, with real people, real problems, and real possibilities.  Egypt isn’t reserved for special folk . . . it is everybody’s place . . . because we cannot get to where we are going without going through Egypt.
   Abraham could not go from Ur of the Chaldees, the place of his past, to Canaan, the place of his promise, without going through Egypt.  Jesus could not go from Bethlehem, the place of his birth, to Jerusalem, the place of his resurrection, without going through Egypt.  And Joseph could not get from his father’s pasture to Pharaoh’s palace without going to Egypt.
   It is Joseph’s story that causes us to take a second look at Egypt.  Even though we may sojourn there for longer than we would like, or we may not like how we got there, or we find ourselves outside the Promised Land . . . Joseph’s story lets us know that in Egypt there is something for us and in Egypt God is with us. Sometimes we have to go through Egypt to see that God is with us.  Sometimes the tables must turn in order to know that whatever blessings we receive come from God.
   Joseph was the favored son of Jacob, the firstborn of Jacob’s beloved wife Rachel.  He didn’t work in the fields or pasture the flock.  No, he carried messages between his father’s house and his brothers in the fields.  He had the best clothes, the best chores, and the most love.  And he was a spoiled tattletale who brought bad reports to his father about his brothers.
   But in Egypt the tattletale had a tale told on him by Potiphar’s wife.  Then Joseph’s fine clothes became tattered and dirty from years in prison.  The favored son of Jacob became the rejected slave of no one.
   The interesting thing is that the whole time Joseph is at home living a carefree life, God is nowhere mentioned in the text.  But once Joseph is in Egypt, Genesis 39 tells us four times that “the LORD was with him” (vv. 2, 3, 21, 23), two times that “the LORD caused him to prosper” (vv. 3, 23), and one time that “the LORD blessed . . . for Joseph’s sake” (v. 5). And every time he interpreted a dream, he gave the credit to God.
   It’s not that God wasn’t with Joseph while he was home . . . but perhaps Joseph is like us.  When we have achieved or have been given a certain status . . . when the blessings are coming so fast and troubles seem so far . . . when everything is looking up and going our way . . . there is nothing in our walk or our talk that points to praising God for all God has done.  We are too busy enjoying the blessings, even taking credit for them — talking about my effort, my sacrifice, my hard work, or my idea.  And if anyone were to write the story of our lives, there would be so much of us to write about that there would be no room to mention God.
   Then trouble comes.  We are no longer on top . . . but are scraping the bottom.  We are no longer part of the “in” crowd, because they have put us out.  Nobody is helping us, and we cannot seem to help ourselves.  Yet the blessings still come, the doors are still opened, and the prayers are still answered.  We realize that God was with us every time we thought we were making it by ourselves, and God is with us every time we know we cannot make it on our own.
   An Egypt experience teaches one to testify, “If it had not been the LORD who was on [my] side . . .” (Psalm 124:1).  An Egypt experience causes one to say, “I need thee every hour.”  An Egypt experience makes one sing, “He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone.”  For Egypt isn’t just a place of hard times, but the place where one receives his or her healing.
   There is some healing in Egypt because there were some hard times before you got there.  Although Joseph was loved by his father, he was hated by his brothers.  Although Joseph was favored by his father, he was rejected by his brothers. Although Joseph was special to his father, he was sold into slavery by his brothers.
   There is some healing in Egypt because hard times do not end when you get there.  Although Joseph was lifted up by Potiphar, he was lied on by Potiphar’s wife.  Although Joseph was favored by the prison guard, he was forgotten by the cup bearer and spent two more years in jail.
   Joseph did not have to wait until he could leave Egypt to see God at work or for the situation to be turned around.  God provided for Joseph in Egypt.  In Egypt, Joseph married Asenath (As-an-ath), the daughter of an Egyptian priest.  Asenath bore Joseph two sons who would become two tribes of Israel and whose names testify to God’s presence in Egypt.  He named one son Manasseh, which means “making to forget,” because God made him forget all of his hardships.
   Egypt proves to us that only God can make us forget past pain — not a liquor bottle or drugs; not another slice of cake; not more makeup, clothes, or jewelry; not even a new boyfriend or girlfriend.  These things may ease the pain, but they will not erase it.  They may cover the sorrow, but they will not cure it.  They may hide the hurt, but they will not heal it.  Joseph’s pain did not go away when he left prison, received a job from Pharaoh, or gained the respect of Egypt.  The pain and sorrow went away because God gave Joseph what he needed to let the past go. For the love of the father he lost . . . God gave him the love of a Pharaoh.  For the coat of many colors that was torn and sprinkled with blood . . . God gave him fine linen clothes, a gold chain, and a signet ring.  For the loneliness he must have felt in a foreign land     . . . God gave him the love of a faithful woman.  Thus, when the second son was born, Joseph named him Ephraim, which means “to be fruitful,” for God had made Joseph fruitful in the land of his misfortune.
   Isn’t that just like God — to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves, to turn sorrow into gladness, weeping into laughter, and misfortune into blessing?  Isn’t that just like God — to give hope in despair, strength in weakness, and comfort in confusion?  And isn’t that just like God — to lift us up when we are cast down . . .  open his arms when others have pushed us away . . . give us love when we are lonely, and heal us when others leave us hurting?
   Thanks be to God that we do not have to wait until we reach the Promised Land to get what we need.  Egypt teaches us to say, “All that I’ve needed thy hand hath provided.”  Egypt enables us to believe, “Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5).  Egypt causes us to testify, “Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal.”  Egypt allows us to say, “If my mother and father forsake me, the LORD will take me up” (Psalm 27:10).
   The last thing I want to tell you about Egypt is that Egypt isn’t just a place of slavery . . . it is also a place of salvation.  For seven years, Joseph saved grain in Egypt’s storehouses.  When famine came, Egypt was the only place that had food. Scripture says, “All the world came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain” (Genesis 41:57).  Not only was Egypt saved through the famine, but the rest of the world was saved because of Egypt.
   When Israel had spent four hundred years in slavery in Egypt, Moses, who was born in Egypt, reared by Egyptians, educated in Egypt, and a prince in the court of Pharaoh, became the savior of Israel as he led them across the Red Sea.  And when Herod sought to take Jesus̓ life and killed all the baby boys under two years old, Joseph and Mary took Jesus to Egypt, and Egypt’s borders saved the Savior of the world.
   Egypt shows us that salvation does not always happen in the places we expect, among the people we know, or in ways we can predict.  Egypt shows us that salvation occurs when and where God acts . . . but most importantly, that it occurs for a purpose.  God does not save us to stay in Egypt.  God saves us to get us out of Egypt.
   Abraham didn’t stay in Egypt but left and kept on going to find a city whose founder and maker is God.  Moses didn’t stay in Egypt but left and kept on going until he met God on a mountaintop.  Even Joseph didn’t stay in Egypt, for when Israel left, they took Joseph’s bones with them as they had promised.  And Jesus didn’t stay in Egypt either but left and kept on going until the people hung him high and stretched him wide, until he got up from a borrowed tomb and ascended to the right hand of God.
   Egypt is the place we have to go through to see that God is with us.  Egypt is the place we have to go through to allow God to heal us.  Egypt is the place we have to go through to know that God can save us.  Egypt is not our final destination, our end, or our goal. Egypt teaches us to say, “Without Him I would be dying.” 
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