Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I Won the Lottery--so to speak...

I don't know anyone who has ever won the lottery, but I can't help being intrigued when I hear that somebody, somewhere, has a winning ticket. I think about what that would feel like, how my life might change, and what I'd do with all my new found fortune, imagining--hoping-- that I'd be pretty benevolent (after splurging a little bit).

Today's passage, Genesis 41-45 is incredible. There are so many reasons that the story of Joseph's rise to the Governorship of all of Egypt captivates me, but here are some of the highlights I noticed as I read.

Joseph was:

~A Humble Man~
Joseph was not self-aggrandizing, haughty, or ego-inflated. Here is his response when summoned by Pharaoh to interpret his dream from chapter 41 verse 16: “It is beyond my power to do this,” Joseph replied. “But God can tell you what it means and set you at ease.”

The very first thing Joseph did after his release from prison was to give God all the glory for his ability to interpret Pharaoh's dream.
“...God opposes the proud, but favors the humble.” James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5-6

~A Wise Man~
Almost immediately, Pharaoh recognized that Joseph was wise. The wisdom he possessed came not from having superior intellect, although he may indeed have been a genius, but he had the kind of wisdom that comes from God. It was discernible and unmistakable and remarkable. It had to have been, for scripture records that Egyptians despised Hebrews so much that they wouldn't even sit at the table with them. For Pharaoh to have given Joseph charge of the entire land, he had to realize that Joseph was exceptionally wise.
Proverbs 9:10...Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.

~A Diligent Man~
Joseph diligently worked to ensure that the years of famine would not bring disaster to Egypt or its neighbors. His persistent, consistent attention to the charge he was given made it possible for people to come from as far away as Canaan to buy food.
Proverbs 12:27...Lazy people don’t even cook the game they catch, but the diligent make use of everything they find.

~A Forgiving Man~
My favorite part of this story (and the most convicting) is that after he had a little fun with his brothers (who didn't recognize him) when they came for food, he revealed his identity and said something that I find to be one of the most compelling things in all of scripture. Chapter 46 verses 5-8 reads: But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. This famine that has ravaged the land for two years will last five more years, and there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors. So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh—the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt.

I think his brothers won life's lottery. The kid brother they'd sold into slavery could have sent them to the dungeon or their deaths. They expected to be punished, but Joseph didn't just forgive them, he blessed and rewarded them. With Pharaoh's approval, he invited them to move to Egypt, explaining that they didn't even need to bring their old stuff because everything they could want or need would be provided.
Matthew 6: 14“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins."

When I think about all of the people from scripture that I'd like to meet, Joseph is definitely in my top ten. He's also the kind of person I'd like to know--or be related to--or be.

With God's help, if I can be humble, wise, diligent, and forgiving--like Joseph-- I think I'll also be in the process of becoming more like my Savior, Jesus. And because I know Him, I, too, have won life's lottery.

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