Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Genesis 50

The beginning of the end of the beginning.
Here we go.

Joe throwing himself on the floor over his father seems like quite a melodramatic thing to do, but I feel his sentiment poignantly. He just got his daddy back a short time ago when he thought he never would, and now, there's no way he can ever get him back again. That really sucks. I can hardly imagine. 
I love the respect Joe gives his father in celebrating him in both a modern and old-fashioned way. He embalms his dad's body, in the manner of his Egyptian lifestyle, but buries him with his ancestors. It's perfect and lovely, and I think God wants us to do the same. 
He's not asking us to abandon technology, nor is he asking us to forget his promises. He wants us to blend our lives to be a mixture of tradition and new thinking, and to have one foot here, and one in Heaven. 
I think a lot of peoople are under the impression that God wants us to live in entirely spiritual sense. We hear so often the verse about "we are not of this world," and that is very much true. I prefer to look at it, however, as a message about inner strength; our strength won't fail, because it's not a human thing. God put us here for a reason, and I can't imagine that that reason is to spend every living moment longing for a different, eternal life. 

Goodness, Jake's funeral had an awesome turnout. Pharaoh sent his dignitaries, and all Joseph's brothers went with him. It would have been a beautiful thing to see. 
And then back to Egypt. 

Joe's bros at this point are thinking: "well, shoot. Joseph is so stressed with all this funeral stuff, and depressed about dad... What if now - finally - he has us killed for all that pain from so many years ago?" They're essentially walking on eggshells. So, to save their own hides, they send a letter, saying that Jacob's last will was that Joe forgive his brothers. 
And when Joe gets it... He cries. 
Maybe he was crying because he knew they were lying again. Or was it because he didn't think it possible to forgive them? Perhaps they were tears of joy, simply because he was glad to have his brothers back in his life. The bible doesn't tell us. Feel free to comment with why you think he cried. I love the amiguity of it all. 

When he sees his brothers again, he loves them wholly. There's nothing left to forgive - he reassures them, and speaks only kindness upon them. 
Can you imagine? That is love. He had so much to forgive, but he forgave it all, and loved his brothers to the very end. 
Joseph lives to a ripe old age, and then is buried by his brothers, and embalmed by the Egyptians - not in that over. And it's all beautiful, in a melancholy way. 

I'm taking a couple days off from writing, because I have to decide what to read next, and I have to write for  a personal project I'm doing with some friends called The Ruth Project. We're learning how to be better women of God. 

Thank you so much for reading my thoughts on Genesis. It's been a joy! 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Genesis 48-49

Genesis 48
Last night, I wrote about this chapter and it was super touching and awesome. And I saved it, I really did. I think. Anyway, to prevent myself from becoming boring, I'm just going to tell you that Jacob does a really unusual thing, and gives his younger grandson blessing over the older. It's super touching for them, seeing as Jacob is ill. 
I'm not about to rewrite my whole entry, I'm sorry. SO ONTO

Genesis 49
These blessings are so odd. They really feel more like prophecies to me. I can't exactly figure whether Jacob is prophesying for his sons, or if he's wishing these things upon him. 
Reuben, Simeon, and Levi don't get the greatest blessings. If I was any of their brothers, I would be afraid to hear mine. I can imagine the whispers among siblings: "alright, who decided to piss off dad on blessing day?" 
However, Judah's life looks much less formidable. His dad tells him that his brothers will bow to him, and he'll have enough wine to wash his clothes in. This is glorious. I love Judah, and his excellent character reminds me that God does give us rewards for the character we display in this lifetime. So often, we hear that we're storing up treasure in Heaven, and this is true. This concept, though, is so often discouraging to me, because I don't want to wait that long. God gets that. Thus, every moment of joy comes from He who loves us. 
Jake says Zebulun will live on the seashore. I imagine him on the port of Maine, but I genuinely have no idea why. (Maybe because I'm obsessed with Maine.) 
In the bible, turbulent waters are also used as a metaphor for life's problems. If we extend the metaphor to Zebulun being a safe haven for ships, that suggests that he guides others to the light of Jesus, much in the way a lighthouse would. 
Unfortunately, Issachar's life sounds full of manual labor. Which sucks. 
Dan's blessing confuses me a wee bit. Will he provide justice, or be "a viper along the path?" I can't figure how he's both, but obviously I don't know everything. 
Gad will be attacked but won't fall, and Asher may as well be called Rachel Ray. (Genesis 49:20)
Naphtali's blessing is my favorite, because it's so beyond beautiful. Read it; it's only one line. 
I would tell you how gorgeous of lives Joseph and Ben were blessed with, but we see God there nonstop. And I have an NHS meeting at 7:45 in the morning and it's 11:00. 
In the last few verses, Jacob is reunited with his wife, Leah, his parents, and his great-grandparents. "When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people." (Genesis 49:33 NIV)
And what a gorgeous life he lived with God. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Genesis 46-47

Genesis 46
I have to imagine that it was terrifying for Jacob, an old man, to pick up and move everything to a place he didn't know. Thus, God sent him the comforting dream at the perfect time. All Gos had to remind Jake to do was to be not afraid, and trus, and Jacob's fears were diminished. I love that. I love that sometimes we're terrified, and that it chills us to our very souls, so we have to lean on God. If I didn't have that occasional scare or poignant sadness, I think I would be a bit more prone to forget about the one who loves me the most. 
Joseph and his daddy have a glorious renuion, with weeping and hugging and loving words. 
God made their lives so happy, and I love to see him do the same in mine. 

Genesis 47
Pharaoh LOVES Joseph. He gives Joe's family the best land, and offers one of them a position in charge of his very own livestock. This is awesome, because Joseph didn't do all that much to get to this favored and cherished position - he only had to trust God with everything, and God made everything fall together. 
This is probably something I struggle with. Despite how much I work to make it otherwise, I have a real insecurity when it comes to people not liking me. So I try to do things to make myself more appealing to them. I'm not talking like doing drugs, or partying super hard. I more mean that I try to say the right things, or conjure the perfect response. People call me a try-hard, which I hate, though I know that it is true. I try so hard to get people's approval. I even struggle with getting respect and love from my friends sometimes. 
I know if I just trusted God with it, everything would be fine. And I try it all the time. It usually works, for up to a day. But then something happens, or I feel lonely, and I have to reach out and try again. 
Joseph didn't have to do anything except be himself, and trust wholly in his creator for Pharaoh to be totally obsessed with him. I know God will do the same for me. I just have to practice the trust part. 
Much of this chapter talks about how the Egyptians paid for their food. After giving away their livestock in exchange for food, they give away their land and selves. 
They enslave themselves, to pay for their empty bellies. The marvelous thing about this, too, is I think it was the best thing to do at the time. What other choice was there? I think they see this, too. Though they're in a place of total servitude, they're simply eternally grateful to Joe to not be hungry. They're excited to have their needs met. 
There's this saying I like: "take joy in the ordinary." A lot of times, this is challenging to do. But in times of strife, it's easier to look around you and find joy in things that are absolutely incredible. Like a little seed, or a plate of food. That's where the joy was, for the slaves. 
When Jake is getting ready to pass away, he and his son do the weird thigh-promise thing. It still makes me uncomfortable. Joe promises to bury his dad where his predecessors were married - in Canaan, also known as the Promised Land. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Genesis 44-45

Genesis 44
Joseph did not choose the opportune moment of the feast to reveal himself, much to my dismay. Instead, he sends them on a trip back home, after deceptively hiding more of his silver in their grain sacks. When they're accused of thievery, they sort of trap themselves: 
"If any of your servants is found to have it, he will die; and the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves.” (Genesis 44:9 NIV)
Needless to say, Ben has the silver, as it was planted there. When they are returned to Joseph, it is with humble hearts. They had already resigned themselves to a life of servitude. 
When Joseph offers to take only Benjamin in recompense for the silver, Judah does a really really brave thing. 
He tells the truth. 
He talks about how his dad loves Ben, and would die without him, and how if his dad died, so would he, and the whole situation would be a whole domino effect of death. Or something to that measure. 
And then, get this: Judah offers to take Ben's place with as Joe's servant. What an absolutely Jesus-like thing to do.
Props to Judah for being the bravest of the brothers. 

Genesis 45
This is totally off-topic, but I feel compelled to write about it anyway tonight. 
I read a book lately called The Shack, which I totally recommend to anyone with an open mind that wants to see God in a refreshing and unheard-of way. In it, the character that represents God said that we don't have to be like Jesus. 
Wait what? 
Yeah, I know. It took me a long time to process that. I've been dealing with some friend stuff lately, and some crazy big doubts in myself and in the relationships I have with others. A lot of times, I'm plagued by this impossibly high standard "What Would Jesus Do?" 
Guys, Jesus wasn't just a human. I mean He was, but his divinity gave him a grace and strength that we as humans can't have just yet. God isn't asking us to be like Jesus, because we are entirely different than Jesus. He has a plan for us that is all our own. And though it's important to try to live in a Jesus-mindset, God isn't asking us to constantly strive to be something that we simply are not. We're all complex, and though Jesus is in all of us, he is in all of us differently. I mean, I see Jesus in people in ways that are by no means supported by anything biblical. It's just Jesus. 
If you hate that idea, you can disregard it. I just had to get it off my chest, and now I'm going to talk about Joseph and his bros a bit more.

I think emotion is a God thing. So I find it a bit beautiful that Joe sent his attendants away and wept, overwhelmed. Drowning in grace. 
When Joseph sends his identifies himself to his brothers, they don't have at all the reunion I was expecting. They're scared of him. I would be, too! Now that he has this much power, it would be well within Joe's reach to execute them all. Their bullying demeanor of past years is abandoned, and this meek and frightened spirit is showing. 
I love in Joe's monologue that he credits everything to God. It's easy to forget that he literally brings us everything, and it's gorgeous to see Joe praising God even for the mistfortunes he went through. He was able to see the good in his challenges. 
And THEN, they have the little reunion I was looking for. Some hugging and crying, and joy all around. Pharaoh gave the brothers some free stuff, in typical Oprah fashion. Ben gets the favorite brother award for some reason, though I still haven't figured out why. And the brothers get ready to retrieve their dad, and bring him to good ol' Egypt. 
I LOVE VERSE 24. Joe sounds like a concerned mother. 
"Then he sent his brothers away, and as they were leaving he said to them, “Don’t quarrel on the way!” (Genesis 45:24 NIV)
Such a precious young lad. 
When the bros get back to their dad, he doesn't believe them. After a bit of wheedling and convincing, however, he gets it. And they prepare to go reunite with their long-lost Joe. 
I love that.