Faith In Exile
Merciful Lord, as I read Your Word, use it again as a living and life-giving word for me.
Read Genesis 37:12-36
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION
“We so often look for God in the world of glory, yet find him in the cross of crucifixion” (Martin Luther). Joseph was in a crucifixion of pain, but God was still working out his purposes.
One of the most important threads of the Old Testament narrative is the affirmation that God is with his people even when history is against them. Israel experiences as many downs as ups; as many tragedies as triumphs–but God’s promises and purposes remain. Here in the story of Joseph we are being shown “God’s providential leadership to work his own purposes” (Walter Brueggemann, Genesis). Joseph has dreamed of greatness, but it is through hardship that he will be refined and prepared for the future God has planned for him.
Joseph is sold into slavery, prefiguring for Jewish readers not only the future condition of God’s people in Egypt, but also the periods of suffering and persecution they would experience centuries later–notably in the Babylonian exile and the persecutions, two centuries before Christ, under Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Both these periods are likely reflected in the book of Daniel, where the parallels to the story of Joseph are evident and intentional. The hidden God who has been knocking on the door of Joseph’s dreams is still with him when he is thrown into a pit. God preserves him from death, and provides escape from his brothers’ cruelty. Though slavery is a fate far from the glories Joseph has dreamed of, we are challenged to believe that, even here, God is still with him.
The Lord’s capacity to work out his purposes, even through slavery, gives his people hope in exile, and courage under persecution. It is this same capacity that awakens hope centuries later, under Roman occupation, when new dreams come and a tiny handful of God’s people begin to whisper the word “Messiah”!
What particular dreams has God given you for your own future? How can you allow God to unfold his plans for your life?
Father God, when life seems to be disintegrating around me, You are still in control. Thank You for that encouragement.
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