Follow by Email

What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sunday Message: What are you getting yourself into

Today Dr. Jeremiah was speaking about the family that Joseph came from, how dysfunctional it was.    One of the things that caught my ear was the significance of the Coat of Many Colors.  (Warning:  I am about to take the long way around the barn, so be patient!)  You see, the inheritance, or "birthright", was to be to the firstborn of the first wife of Jacob, Leah.  That would have been Reuben, but Reuben had sex with one of the other "ladies in his father's life", and got disqualified.  So then it passed, not to the next oldest, but the first born of the other legitimate wife (which means it bounced off both Dan and Gad), Rachel.  That meant Joseph was next in line for the birthright, and the coat was a symbol of this.  And thus another source of the jealousy the brothers bore for Joseph, particularly for Reuben.

And where did the birthright end up?  Well when Jacob ( and Reuben, because nobody ever told him that Joseph had been sold) thought Joseph had been killed/been murdered, at that point it would go back to the house of Leah- but the problem there was that Simeon and Levi had also disqualified themselves, because of their sister.  Dinah had been "defiled" by a certain uncircumcised neighbor, who wanted to marry her.  The brothers (Jacob strangely absent from yet another family decision) told the guy and his father that they could not allow the marriage unless they and their whole people were circumcised.  And while they recovered from the mass operation, Simeon and Levi killed them all.  And thus the birthright bounced to Leah's 4th son, Judah.  Judah, like Reuben, had been of a mind to keep Joseph from being killed by the others, suggesting instead, "Why not get something out of him?" and selling him to the slave traders.  Somehow or another, selling his brother and lying about it wasn't overt enough to get him DQed as well, and the birthright ended up right where God intended it to be.

Wait a minute, Chris.  Are you saying that God allowed all those bad things to happen in order to position Judah for the birthright- to become the tribe through which the Messiah would come?

Well, we are talking about the God who allowed Abraham to have a son by a slave and then kick him out to get to Isaac.  And He did allow Jacob to cheat both Esau and Isaac to get HIS birthright.  And He did allow Laban to cheat Jacob, so that Jacob's eventual heir would be his 11th son.  But there's another step in this point- which is, God WILL allow bad things into your life to get you into position for His blessings.  Let's backtrack along the day that Joseph got sold, in Genesis 37.

Gen 37:12  And his brethren went to feed their father's flock in Shechem. 
Gen 37:13  And Israel said unto Joseph, Do not thy brethren feed the flock in Shechem? come, and I will send thee unto them. And he said to him, Here am I. 
Gen 37:14  And he said to him, Go, I pray thee, see whether it be well with thy brethren, and well with the flocks; and bring me word again. So he sent him out of the vale of Hebron, and he came to Shechem. 

Now at this point, Jacob already knew the animosity growing amongst his sons about Joseph.  But he still sent Joseph to go check on them that day.  But when Joseph got to where they were...

Gen 37:15  And a certain man found him, and, behold, he was wandering in the field: and the man asked him, saying, What seekest thou? 
Gen 37:16  And he said, I seek my brethren: tell me, I pray thee, where they feed their flocks. 
Gen 37:17  And the man said, They are departed hence; for I heard them say, Let us go to Dothan. And Joseph went after his brethren, and found them in Dothan. 

Here Joseph went to where he expected to find them, and they were gone.  So he "wandered in the field", confused.  He had no idea where the brothers had gone.  At this point, he might have turned around and went home, and told dear ol' Dad, "I couldn't find them."  But "A CERTAIN MAN" found him.

Now here's where I'll go out on a limb.  In Jacob's past, he had one night wrestled with "a man."  This man is certainly recognized by many as the pre-incarnate Jesus.  And his "What seekest thou?" certainly reminds one of John 1:38, when John and James began to follow Jesus and He turned and asked them, "What do ye seek?"  Circumstantial, I know, and none of the commentators seem to agree with me.  But the proof is in the pudding:  this "certain man"- a man with no other reason given for being there and no further mention after- tells Joseph exactly where to go to find his destiny.  A short term destiny of being assaulted by his brothers, left to starve while they ate dinner, sold into slavery, and reported to be dead.  A short term destiny that led through even more trials to him not only becoming rich and powerful, BUT also the savior of his family.

Was the "certain man" another pre-incarnate Jesus sighting?  Doesn't matter; he was used one way or another to put Joseph into the position that God wanted him.  And therein lies the point of this message.  God often uses catastrophes to put us in a position of greater grace and faithfulness.  And just as He had with Joseph through his dreams, God often gives us the barest glimpse of what lies on the other side of the trial- just enough to get us to keep moving towards the light at the end of the tunnel.  And, like with Joseph, sometimes that light is a series of ever-increasing "oncoming trains".  But they all end up taking us where He wants us to be- and preparing us for what we are to do on the other side.

The other day when we discussed what the Pope said about evolution, he mentioned that God "didn't wave a magic wand."  Even though He could, God prefers to be a craftsman, carving and whittling until we rise from the cuts and the chips to be something really special.  When Jesus cried out, "My God, why have You abandoned Me?", He did it because God had indeed withdrawn from Him so He could become "sin in the sinner's stead."  When we say it, most times we just haven't looked ahead or behind to see how close He really is.


  1. Another bloody great post...............

  2. I think its during the Easter services that we (the audience) used to act out the scene when Jesus is being beaten and about to be on the cross. We have to say we don't believe HIM, persecute. I tear up every time because I hate saying it out loud to Jesus.

    1. I don't blame you. I couldn't do that after The Passion Of The Christ. THAT memory is still too fresh after all these years...

    When it comes to all the details, you and I don't see eye-to-eye on some of them.

    For instance, I do not recognize the angel that Jacob wrestled with as being the pre-incarnate Jesus (but as you said, it doesn't matter in the long run whether one does or does not accept that idea). And as you already know, I am not a Trinitarian (not that matters in this blog bit either).

    And lastly, in my earliest years of studying The Bible, I was troubled by the quote "My God, why have You abandoned Me?" It did not seem to be compatible with my understanding. Later, it was revealed to me that this was a mistranslation of what Christ had said. He was misheard because what He actually said sounded somewhat similar, and this quote has been accepted because it seems to correlate with the first verse of Psalm 22.

    [Two verses that seemed wrong to me at the beginning of my Bible study was this supposed quote from Jesus while hanging on the cross, and also the verse about Him sweating drops of blood in the garden just prior to His arrest. In both cases, it was confirmed for me years later that my suspicion about these verses being inaccurate was correct.]

    All that aside, I really liked the general message of your post, that God can take any decision we humans can make, even bad or evil ones, and work them toward His good goals. Only a Supreme Intelligence can be so above our errors that He is not hindered by them in the least.

    This is a topic I also intend to touch on very briefly in my final 'Ferret-Faced Fascist Friends' blog bit.

    Good work here, CW.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

    1. I believe that God allowed several denominations to allow man to make his peace with the word of God. You and I have had the Trinitarian talk before, so no need to rehash, other than to say my reasons for believing are as closely held as yours for not. I did look up the blood thing and it does say his sweat was LIKE drops of blood. How Luke intended that is a bit mystifying, but as I always taught my kids, "If it ain't IN the Bible, then God doesn't find it important." On Eli Eli Lama Sabathscani, I was surprised to learn the last term was actually Chaldean.

      Been involved in comic books too long to see the words Supreme Intelligence and not see the big tentacle-headed cyber-king of the Kree Empire.

      Waiting to read that promised post, though I hope the end of the blog is a while delayed.

    2. Yeah, you're right that it says "like" drops of bloods, and I clung to that in the early years when I intuitively felt there was something wrong with that verse.

      Later I came across some information that convinced me the entire verse about sweat like drops of blood was actually added by a scribe in order to highlight the humanity of Jesus. And I believe there are a few other scribal additions that have been accepted over time as genuine parts of The Word of God.

      The "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" is cleared up by George M. Lamsa and his translation from the ancient Aramaic.

      There is no way Jesus EVER felt that God had forsaken Him. He even stated beforehand that God would never forsake Him:

      "Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me."
      ~ John 16:32

      If Jesus ever really did believe, even momentarily, that God had forsaken Him, then it would mean that He came to doubt His own prophecy which came to Him from God.

      I think it's important to remember that EVERYTHING Jesus said and did after His own temptation period with the devil, was said and done for the benefit of others to learn from.

      For example, when He prayed that the Father would remove this "cup" from Him (i.e., that He wouldn't have to go through with the crucifixion), it was meant as a lesson for others to learn how to approach their own obstacles and pains. Pray to God that it be removed UNLESS it is God's will that we experience it for our own good and learning and/or to fulfill God's plan.

      Prior to saying that prayer to God about saving Him from the crucifixion, Jesus had already told His disciples that it would be ludicrous for Him to try to avoid the Sacrifice, because it was for this He had come into the world.

      So it makes a mockery of Christ's later prayer unless we realize that the whole intent of the prayer was meant as a display for those of us who would come later; it was a lesson for us to learn how to approach our own tribulations.

      These ideas have helped me to better understand The Bible and the life of Christ. And that's why the "sweat like drops of blood" and the "Why have You forsaken Me" verses always seemed bizarre and I suspected something was wrong with them.

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal American Underground'

    3. I agree- I don't believe the Psalmist He quoted felt truly abandoned either. And what came next- both in the Psalm and in the Ressurection- are a guide to going through the worst of problems and coming out the other side to the promise that awaits. But I also believe, as we were taught in catholic school, that His saying that showed that God had withdrawn from Him, because He had become all sin for us, and God must be holy. The weight of that withdrawal had to feel like abandonment.

  4. The intricacies of the Bible are indeed amazing in that they can take us in so many directions. Interesting theory that you have proposed in this post.

    Tossing It Out