Daily Reflections February 14, 2018
Moses is meticulous in describing the expansive wealth that Joseph has earned for Pharaoh. Through his prudence, Joseph took possession of every piece of land in all of Egypt, with the exception of the land of the priests. It is no wonder why Pharaoh treated Joseph and his family with such generosity.
While it is certainly not the main point, this text is a reminder that we can cooperate with God’s plans and purposes simply by working hard at the job placed before us. Without Joseph’s diligence, Jacob and his sons and all the rest of Egypt would have succumbed to the famine. We are not all called to vocational ministry, but we are all called to glorify God in and through our vocations. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV)
Joseph’s hard work had led to his favorable standing in Pharaoh’s eyes. Moses and his people had not experienced the same favor in their day. The Egypt that had once celebrated God’s people and allowed them positions of power became the Egypt wherein God’s people were detested and enslaved. It is not unreasonable to think that this detail was included to remind the Israelites not to grow too comfortable in any land other than the land of promise. This would explain his inclusion of Jacob’s request.
In spite of the impressive prospects of Goshen, Jacob had his eyes set on God’s promises. He had been a nomad, and he had seen impressive pasturelands. He had amassed immense wealth and possessed great herds. But these things no longer impressed Jacob in his old age. He wanted what God had promised him. He spoke with Joseph and said:
Do not bury me in Egypt, 30 but let me lie with my fathers. Carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burying place. (Genesis 47:29b-30a ESV)
There’s something beautiful about this scene. We can’t know for certain how fully Jacob understood the extent of God’s promise. Did he understand that God will create for us a new Heaven and a new Earth? We have the benefit of the book of Revelation where the New Jerusalem is described, but Jacob didn’t have this same luxury. All he knew was that God had promised to give his people a land of blessing, and he didn’t want to be buried in any other place than the promised land.
This is faith. The lesson for us as we consider this passage is clear: This world is not our home. It is wasting away. It is groaning under sin (Romans 8). Paul wrote to the Colossians encouraging them to seek the things that are above where Christ is (Col. 3:1). Elsewhere he told the Romans that the true believer is one who sets her mind on the Spirit and not on the flesh (Romans 8:4).
You may be experiencing great peace and comfort in the world, but it is still not your home. Joseph’s peace became Moses’ oppression. Europe was once the birthplace of the Reformation and it has since become a place of hostility towards the gospel. Whether we find ourselves living in peace or persecution we have a peace and a hope that endures all things. This peace comes as we hold fast to God’s promise and look forward to the coming Kingdom. Such is the nature of faith.
Assistant Pastor Levi denBok
God compelled Luke to write down a thorough account of the life of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit in the early Church. Like an investigative journalist who compiles stories from eyewitnesses on the field, Luke was present on many of Paul’s journeys and heard firsthand accounts of Jesus’ life from the Apostles. We can have great confidence in the veracity of the Word of God.
Dr. Luke begins by introducing us to John the Baptist. Before we get to meet John however, we meet his parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth. In their story, we should notice that God has his own timing and this is well beyond our understanding. Rarely will we understand in our present moments, the ways and working of God. When prayer seems to go unanswered, let’s not be too quick to assume that God is not working. To be clear, he is always active and very loving towards his children. With the help of the lens of scripture we can trust God with what we cannot see.
Second, we notice that the blessing of children is a mystery kept in the heart of God. This couple was faithful; they were both righteous and served God. Yet, well into old age their prayers went unanswered. They were childless. Infertility is a common theme in the Bible. We read of godly woman who failed to conceive; woman like Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Ruth and Hannah. In his mercy, God opened the wombs of these previously barren woman. We don’t always understand God’s way or timing, but we do trust his heart and know he is always good, powerful and faithful.
Here’s what we know about the “delay” in John’s arrival: He had to be born at a specific time because he was a forerunner of Jesus, who according to Galatians 4:4, had to be born at God’s exact perfect timing. We read,
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law… (Galatians 4:4 ESV)
In other words, Zechariah and Elizabeth’s long anticipated son had a calling on his life far greater than simply being their pride and joy. He was part of God’s much grander storyline as one who would make the way for the coming of Jesus.
But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard… (Luke 1:13 ESV)
I am encouraged by verse 13. I am encouraged to know that prayers are effective. God hears them and knows our heart’s cry. He receives our requests and in his wisdom, he answers them in a way that is good, and wise. We can rest in that!
As exciting as all this is, it is not the main storyline. These are simply supporting actors in the main narrative of the coming of God incarnate. The Old Testament and the lives of an old priest and his wife set the stage for the grand arrival of the promised Son of God.
All of heaven watches as God chooses a virgin named Mary to be the mother of his Son Jesus. This young servant of the Lord yields her life and womb to the purposes of God.
Do the old priestly couple or the young betrothed couple understand the cosmic, eternal scope of what God is up to? They didn’t, but we do. Two babies will be born: a prophet who will welcome the Messiah and a Saviour who will save the world! Thanks be to God.
Associate Pastor Jody Cross