Joseph

Obscurity {ex1:8}

exodus-remember-obscurity-poem.png

“Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher.
There is nothing new under the sun.
Generations come and generations go,
but nothing ever changes.
We don't remember what happened in the past,
and in future generations,
no one will remember what we are doing now.
—from Ecclesiastes 1

No wonder the Teacher
took such a dim view
of human accomplishment.

Back-breaking labor.
Hours of study.
/blood/

Tragedy absorbed.
Ingenious invention.
/sweat/

Disaster averted.
Strategy planned.
/tears/

Battles lost and won
and lost again.

If a man can
single-handedly
deliver an entire nation
from destruction
and be forgotten
within a
single
generation,
there is no such thing
as a lasting achievement
among the peers
you try so hard
to impress.

Joseph would have fallen
into eternal obscurity
if his name hadn't been
remembered by
the only One
who doesn't
come and go,
the only One not
under the sun.

 

Learned Graciousness {gn50:14-21}

genesis-gods-graciousness-learned-graciousness-poem.png

At the end
of the genesis
we come to this:

our fears
in the mouths
of the brothers—

will there be a grudge
what if we aren't forgiven
maybe we need to offer
an incentive
in order to be eligible
for grace

and God
in the face
of Joseph—

weeping over the fear
promising provision
assuring that everything
which had been done
for evil has been turned
for good

After all this time
are you still
afraid?
asked Joseph

asks God

It is not possible
that Joseph was more
gracious
than his creator.

 

A Change of Heart {gn44:33-34}

Photo © Unsplash/Fadi Xd

Photo © Unsplash/Fadi Xd

as the years had come and gone
since selling Joseph like a pawn
Judah'd had a lot of time
to contemplate his clever crime

but watching how his father grieved
had been much worse than he'd conceived
it wore him down, right to the bone
he reaped much more than he had sown

until at last, a broken man,
he lived a different master plan:
a willingness to be the slave
to sacrifice, and thus to save

redemption needn't seem so strange
even dirty hearts can change

 

That Moment {gn42:6}

Photo © Unsplash/Randy Fath

Photo © Unsplash/Randy Fath

I wonder what it's like—
that moment when you realize
the dreams you dreamed
so many years ago
are materializing
in front of you
in broad daylight.

I wonder what it's like—
the very next moment
when you realize
that you're right where
God planned for you to be
so many years before

and that everything
   the dreams
   the slavery
   the allegations
   the imprisonment
   the abandonment
   the lonely nights
   the wondering
all of it
was part of the plan
to bring you to the time and place
where you would save the world.

That moment,
as the ten sheaves
are bowing down,
would it not
drive you to your knees?

 

Jailbreak {gn41:38-39}

Photo © Unsplash/Carles Rabada

Photo © Unsplash/Carles Rabada

The heathen king of Egypt
was entertained
in the night
by dreams from a divine intruder.

Shocking!

Doesn't God know
you need pastors
and theologians
and a Committee on Missional Vision
to reach the heathen?

We may have God locked up 
in the prison of our ideas
about the most proper way/s
to share the gospel,
but He won’t stay there very long.

For where may we go
to flee from His Spirit?

Not even our dreams.

 

Perchance to Dream {gn40}

Photo © Unsplash/Johannes Plenio

Photo © Unsplash/Johannes Plenio

If Potiphar
had believed his wife
Joseph would have been put
in the ground

not in the prison
    /which was Potiphar's prison/
    /probably below his house/

which he was then put in charge of
    /because Potiphar wasn't going to let/
    /a false rape allegation/
    /deprive him of his best help/

Potiphar knew Joseph was innocent
but was content to let him languish
    /God knew Potiphar was spineless/
    /but wasn't content to let him starve/

Sometimes
the concessions of weak men
may be all the justice
we can procure
but the God of our fathers
keeps sending dreams

 

Master Maker {gn39:2}

Photo © Unsplash/Zulmaury Saavedra

Photo © Unsplash/Zulmaury Saavedra

The recurring theme of the Bible is
how the
Lord sticks His divine nose into our
business and turns what
was expected into something
surprising
with no prior warning.
Joseph had been sold as a slave,
so he expected to be treated like
one, but
he didn't act like one. Instead he
succeeded in all he did, because he
determined
in his heart to do
everything he did like a boss. He
decided
he would be the very best slave
those Egyptians ever
did see, and
as he committed all
he did as a slave to the Lord, he
unwittingly
served them as God serves all His
creation. And
in serving even his enemies in this
way, Joseph
the slave became a free man, ruling
over the
house of Potiphar and revealing that
the true Master
of his heart is in no way deficient in
his power, even to this day, to turn
Egyptian oppressors into admirers,
as the slave becomes the
master.

 

Premeditated Dreams {gn37}

Photo © biblevector.com

Photo © biblevector.com

Oh, the dreams! The bowing down!
The humbled faces on the ground!
A jealous sibling's lightning rod
(those dreams) but they had come from God!

He knew the visions would be told;
He knew that Joseph would be sold;
He saw a famine on the way
and hatched a plan to save the day.

Egypt thought they'd bought a mule,
but Joseph had been sent to rule.

Joseph's God is your God, too.
He has a future planned for you:
Never doubt it's bright and beaming—
What new dreams have you been dreaming?

 

Sonnet: A poem consisting of 14 lines with a particular rhyming scheme.

God never forgets.

God never forgets.

EXODUS 1

I was so intrigued by this statement in the first chapter of Exodus: "Then a new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power in Egypt." (vs 8)  This astonished me! Certainly, some time had passed in Egypt, but a new king came to power who did not know about Joseph? This was the man who had single-handedly come up with the plan to rescue Egypt (and all the surrounding nations) from famine. How could anyone forget about Joseph?!

God roots for the underdog.

God roots for the underdog.

GENESIS 48

So, we come to the story of Jacob blessing the sons of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim. And as he goes to bless the grandkids, Joseph gets upset because his right hand (apparently the hand of "greatest blessings") is on the wrong boy’s head. He is getting ready to give Ephraim (the younger and, consequently, the lesser) the better blessing.

God transforms suffering.

God transforms suffering.

GENESIS 45

What a remarkable chapter! Joseph finally has a reunion with his long-lost brothers. He reveals to them that he is Joseph, and it’s pretty apparent that he doesn’t harbor any grudges against them for what they have done. He embraces and kisses each one of them, eagerly telling them how wonderful everything will be for them when they move to Egypt.

God mediates... to us.

God mediates... to us.

GENESIS 44

One of the central tenets of Christianity is that Jesus is the mediator between God and man. Since the root of "mediator" is "media," we can see that there is an element of communication  involved in such a role. But often, Christianity gets confused about what Jesus is communicating and to whom. So why does Jesus play the role of mediator? And what the heck does any of this have to do with Genesis 44?

God gives tears for fears.

God gives tears for fears.

GENESIS 43

One of the things this chapter does so well is draw a big distinction between the way our mind works and the way God’s mind works. I see an awful lot of God in Joseph, particularly in this point in the story. He knows now that his older brothers and father are still alive. He’s not so sure about his younger brother. Certainly, he hasn’t forgotten about being sold into slavery. Yet, Joseph never harbors any ill will toward his brothers for what they have done to him. He treats them kindly, though he must wonder if they have tried to get rid of Benjamin (Rachel’s other child) as they had gotten rid of him.

God takes the blame.

God takes the blame.

GENESIS 42

Chapter 42 of Genesis is illuminating in what it tells us about how people in Joseph’s day perceived God. In verse 25, it says, "Joseph gave orders to fill [his brothers'] bags with grain, to put each man’s silver back in his sack, and to give them provisions for the journey." So, Joseph basically gave his brothers grain for free by putting their payments back in their sacks.

God knows what He's doing.

God knows what He's doing.

GENESIS 41

Well, it was only a matter of time before this was the blog title! It’s difficult to read Genesis 41 and not just see God in charge all over the place! He’s sending dreams to Pharaoh. He’s got His ready-made interpreter (Joseph) in place. He’s gearing up to save the whole world from a terrible famine, and He knows just how to do it.

God is not a hoarder.

God is not a hoarder.

GENESIS 40

How should we expect an all-knowing, all-powerful Deity to act? As a dictator? A celebrity? A self-absorbed ruler? No matter what we expect, God blows the expectations out of the water time and time again. In this chapter of Genesis, what I see is a God who is more concerned with making His creatures look good, a God who shares His honor with His subordinates.

God works unhindered.

God works unhindered.

GENESIS 39

There is something so beautiful and almost funny about the straightforward relating of events in Genesis 39. First, Joseph is taken into Potiphar’s house. And the Bible says that the Lord was with Joseph, so both Joseph and Potiphar prospered while Joseph was in charge of things. Potiphar didn’t have to worry about anything because “the Lord gave [Joseph] success in everything he did.” (vs 3)

God doesn't "stack" the family deck.

God doesn't "stack" the family deck.

GENESIS 38

When you do genealogy, sometimes you uncover family "secrets" you wish you had left buried.  Without the benefit of being able to ask questions, sometimes we’re left to our own speculation. For instance, I have my own genealogy "mystery" waiting to be revealed some hundreds of years down the line. I recently had my most special Bible rebound in leather (because it was starting to fall apart), and when I did, I had my name engraved on the front. Of course, it’s my married name, yet the handwritten inscription from my father in the front of the Bible is dated 2002. Anybody who has access to my marriage license will know that I wasn’t a Lorencin in 2002. Let the speculation begin. 

God is never caught off guard.

God is never caught off guard.

GENESIS 37

And so now we come to the story of Joseph, the son whom Jacob loved more than all the others, the son who began having dreams. Joseph and his brothers had grown up in an environment where they were exposed to jealousy and rivalry, so it’s no surprise that Joseph’s brothers don’t much like the dreams he tells them about. Even Jacob takes a little offense: "Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?" (vs 10)