Monday, November 14, 2011

Reading the Bible - Genesis (Joseph and his message to me)

Before I start, I want to thank so many of you for one, taking the time to read what I have to write, and second, for sharing your encouragement and own faith stories with me. I have only been writing 3 days and have been so uplifted by encouraging feedback and testimonies from people ranging from family members, to close friends, to nearly strangers.  I cannot tell you how grateful and blessed I feel to hear all of these stories- it is exactly these conversations and exchanges that uplifts me. I want to thank you so much, and encourage you to please, keep sharing. If you don't want to post in the comments you can email me at, facebook me, or get a hold of me any way you feel necessary! I love it an am so blessed by it. Thank you.

Ok, on to the rest of Genesis-

SO Genesis is a packed book,yes it is. I will only briefly go over a few of the things that stood out to me, but wow. It's full of magnificence, wonder, beauty, betrayal, miracles, dreams, revelations, sex and infertility. You just about name it, it's in there.

There's Noah and the flood, God's promise never to flood the earth again. Abraham and Sarah giving birth to Isaac, and subsequently to a nation after lifelong infertility. There's so much genealogy recorded that it's hard not to get lost in all of the names (disappointingly, none of which I like as prospective names for our second child). A sketch of this family tree can be found at

In summary, Isaac gives birth to Jacob, who gives birth to Joseph (Joseph and the technicolored dream-coat anyone?), and 11 other sons (his 12 sons' and their offspring become the 12 tribes of Israel (thus the father of the Israelites)). The book ends with Josephs's death, while his brothers are servants/slaves to the Egyptians. Knowing God's plan, he makes his family promise to carry his bones with them out of Egypt.

"Then Joseph said to his brothers "I am about to die; but God will surely come to you, and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob." So Joseph made the Isralites swear, saying "When Go comes to you, you shall carry up my bones from here." And Joseph died, being one hundred and ten years old; he as embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt." (Genesis 50:24-27)

That's a very large understated summary of the book. As I read it a few weeks ago, I can only remember a few details.

 First, lets talk about the ages people lived to be. Everyone in Genesis seems to live an extremely long life (some up to over 600 or 700 years old). I don't know of an explanation for this, but surely time was different back then somehow. One explanation I have heard is that years were measured by wisdom, rather than by actual years. Others are that the calendar they abided by was also different. But, somehow, as the book of Genesis goes on, people start living more realistic lengths of time, going from well over 500 years old in the beginning of Genesis, to Joseph dying at 110 years old. Today, that's a conceivable age to die at (although rare!), but it's not at all what we would expect to be conceivable in in the B.C. years of Joseph's life. If anyone has any light on this issue I would be interested to hear more.

The second thing I remember thinking about most vividly, that I probably took away the most from the second half of Genesis, was Joseph's dedication to God's will, and his un-dying faith.

Joseph's story is full of extreme ups and downs. Maybe you know it, but for those of you who don't I'll summarize it.

First, he is his Father Jacob's favorite son, his brothers don't like this very much. Then he has two dreams in which his brothers and his father bow down to him, and his brothers don't like this either. So they sell him as a slave and tell Jacob he died. After being sold as a slave, his master takes a liking to him and assigns him a prestigious post in his household.  Joseph praises God for this. But, his masters wife takes an interest in him, and throws herself at him. Being a Godly man, Joseph turns her down every time, and after a while she gets angry, almost caught by her husband, and tells her husband, the house master, that Joseph made a pass at her.  Joseph's master is enraged and has Joseph imprisoned.

Had this happened to me I would have been so angry! Here I was trying to do the right thing, and God let it turn on me, and now I am back to worse than a slave, in prison. But Joseph is not disheartened (at least not as far as I can tell). He still stays steadfastly faithful to God. And God, it seems, used this scenario to see if Joseph was prepared to serve in an even more prestigious household.

In prison, Joseph interprets the dreams of two of Pharaoh's servants who have been imprisoned. One he tells will be restored to serving Pharaoh, the other he tells will be executed in three days. Both of these interpretations come to pass as true. He asks the man who will be restored, to tell Pharaoh about him, so that he can be released, but once the man is restored to his post he forgets about Joseph. Again, I would have been discouraged but Joseph isn't. Joseph spends several more years in prison, seemingly forgotten about, but all the while being faithful and steadfast to God. Years pass and pharaoh has dreams that no one can seem to interpret for him. The servant whose dream Joseph interpreted, finally remembers Joseph, and tells pharaoh about him. Joseph interprets pharaohs dream, and pharaoh is so thrilled that he puts Joseph in charge, second only to him. Joseph has been re-stored to glory, only after staying steadfast to the Lord, and because he stayed steadfast, God made his position even more glorious than the one that was taken from him. The story goes on, his brothers do bow down to him several times later in the story, you can read about it yourself if you wish. But what astonishes me is how God worked with Joseph.

Joseph was so patient, and so dedicated to the Lord. Never did he doubt the Lord or what had been revealed to him in his dreams (I especially like the use of dreams). Joseph was betrayed by his family for sharing what God had revealed to him, then once given an honorable position he was tested by the temptress- did what was right and was still condemned! He was stripped of his worldly glory and honor, and had to wait so long for God to come through, but he abided by his moral compass trusting in the Lord that if he did what was right, God would redeem him. And He did.

This story reminds me that, although it is hard to do what is right sometimes, and although others may not see that you have done good and instead judge and condemn you according to wrong-doing, God's judgement is most important. And if you stay steadfast and loyal to what is right, God will redeem you. Sometimes He will take things from you so that you can be put in a more glorious situation. He might take things from you just to see if your heart is good, or to remind you that He is God, and of what is really important in life. But He will not close a door without at least opening a window. I know each one of these 'take away' possibilities have happened to me before. And it is so disheartening, but God does always come through. You must remain steadfast even if it seems in vein, and you must be patient. SO patient. I remember learning about patience in my secular studies, and patience is one of the biggest virtues. And yes! Here in Christianity it is too. You must be patient, because God will come though, in His time. It might take years, and years, and lots of patience and lots of let downs, but He will come through.

The question is, will you stay strong and true?

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