When Faith Has Its Up And Downs

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FROM THE MIND OF WEBSTER

End – the part of an area [life] that lies at the boundary [death].
Exodus – a mass departure.
Instructions – statement(s) that describes how to do [what to do with] something.
Burial – the act or ceremony of burying a dead person in a grave.

BACKSTORY

UpNow Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made [an amazing technicolor dream coat] for him. (Genesis 37:3)

DownWhen his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him. So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt [and sold him into slavery]. (Genesis 37:4, 28)

UpThe LORD was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master [Potiphar a high-ranking official]. When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. (Genesis 39:2-4)

DownWhen his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined. (Genesis 39:19-20a)

UpBut while Joseph was there in the prison, the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did. (Genesis 39:20b-23)

DownBut when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him. (Genesis 40:14, 23)

UpWhen two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream. Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I am reminded of my shortcomings.” Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.” (Genesis 41:1, 9, 39-40)

Around AboutBut God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 45:7-8, 50:15, 19-20)

The EndJoseph stayed in Egypt, along with all his father’s family. He lived a hundred and ten years and saw the third generation of Ephraim’s children. Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” And Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath and said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.” So Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. (Genesis 50:22-23a, 24-26a)

OTHER PEOPLES’ MUSINGS

Joseph’s eventual elevation from a favored son of a nomad to a preeminent position in the powerful kingdom of Egypt did not make him regard it as his home. In faith, he looked to God’s promise of Canaan being fulfilled and desired that his bones should rest there and not remain in Egypt. By this he testified (A) that he had no doubt of his descendants obtaining the promised land: and (B) that he believed in the resurrection of the body, and the enjoyment in it of the heavenly Canaan.(1)

Nearing death, Joseph expressed confidence that God would at some future time deliver the Israelites from Egypt, just like the many times in the past he had needed deliverance from difficult circumstances. In similar fashion all believers should, in genuine faith [certain of what they did not see], have confidence in their future hope [sure of what they hoped for] regardless of the circumstances they might find themselves.(2)

It is amazing that Joseph had any faith at all, after going through so many trials and after living in pagan Egypt most of his life.(3)

MY MUSING

Life is full of ups and downs. In Joseph’s case, each “down” was used to build character and take him to his next higher plateau in the development of his faith and character. He went from being the somewhat spoiled favorite son lording it over his brothers to a position where he could exact revenge upon his brothers. But instead of looking back with bitterness and regret, he looked forward to a yet unfulfilled promise with hope and expectation. Like Martin Luther King, he had a dream. He had been to the mountain top and had “seen the promised-land.” He knew that he would not get there with them, he only “saw them and welcomed them from a distance.” That is why he gave them instructions about his bones. He himself would not receive “what had been promised,” but “God had planned something better so that only together with us would [he] be made perfect.

  1. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 473). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
  2. Hodges, Z. C. (1985). Hebrews. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 808). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  3. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 708). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

 

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