Today’s Bible reading: Genesis 41:17-57, 42:1-17; Matthew 13:24-46; Psalms 18:1-15; Proverbs 4:1-6
Today we see Joseph interpret Pharaoh’s two dreams. They both mean the same thing. There will be seven years of abundance (more than enough) as signified by the “fat” cows followed by seven years of famine. The fact that God provided Pharaoh with two dreams indicate the seriousness of the dreams and that they events depicted in them would become reality. I once heard a pastor say that we should pay special attention to the places in the Bible where God repeats Himself. If God says something once it is important and true. If He says it multiple times, it is even more important and even more true (hmm… can something be “more” true?).
Notice how Joseph not only gives Pharaoh God’s interpretation of the dreams but goes on to give Pharaoh advice on how to handle the next 14 years. This must have taken some courage. Pharaoh didn’t ask Joseph for his opinion and I’m sure that Pharaoh wasn’t used to being told what to do. But Joseph had God on his side and I believe that God not only gave Joseph the meanings of the dreams but also the instructions on how to deal with the upcoming situation.
It makes me wonder how much God is trying to help the leaders of the world, including the United States. Today our President was inaugurated. But I don’t think he seeks counsel from God. To be fair, many, if not all, of his predecessors didn’t either. How much better off we would be if our leaders sought God and lead the nation according to God’s advice. God has the solutions to all of our many problems. Frankly, most of the problems exist because we didn’t seek God in the first place. The problems were created by human beings but cannot be corrected by us.
I’d also like to point out the fact that God acknowledges that we go through times of prosperity and times of trouble. This is life. When things are going well we should store away some of what we have for a “rainy day”. But our leaders don’t do that. When the economy is good we borrow more money, and spend more money as if it will never end. But then things take a turn for the worst and we have to make drastic cutbacks while still repaying the loans we took out during the good times. How stupid we are! The Bible is much more than a collection of moral stories. It also contains God’s practical advice. That’s because God wants us to be successful. But He knows that can only happen with Him. The longer we ignore Him as a nation and as individuals the more trouble we get into and the more we need Him.
Back to our story… Pharaoh sees that Joseph is wise and is a good administrator so he puts Joseph in charge of the whole country! Just a few days before Joseph as in jail. Just a few years before he was laying at the bottom of a pit about to be killed by his brothers. God has truly been with Joseph who has a true relationship with God unlike this father, Jacob.
When the famine begins is affects Canaan where his family lives. Ten of his brother’s travel to Egypt to buy grain and come face-to-face with their brother. Joseph does not reveal his identity (they don’t recognize him after these 20 years) and instead devises a plan to get his family out of Canaan and into Egypt where they will be well taken care of. After all, Joseph is in charge of the country. While it may seem like Joseph is playing games with his brothers I believe he is actually trying to help them by getting them out of Canaan. We’ve seen that Joseph is a godly man and he may be acting on what God has told him to do.
Jesus tells some parables today do describe heaven. The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer (God) who planted good seed. But an enemy (Satan) came and planted weeds in the garden. Both grow up together. At harvest time the farmer (God) will tell the harvesters (angels) to separate the wheat from the chaff. God lets believers and non believers live together here on earth. And we are not the ones to judge others and whether they will be going to heaven. That is the responsibility of God alone. He will do that at a future time that only He knows.
Notice in Matthew 13:42 that there will be two kinds of people in hell. Those who weep and those who gnash teeth. In hell people will either be upset (quite an understatement) at themselves for not listening to and believing in God or they will be angry at God.
The last two parables are about Jesus. Finding Jesus is worth everything. God isn’t requiring any of us to sell everything we have and live in poverty. But what He is saying is that salvation offered through Jesus is worth everything we have, and more. We can’t keep anything on this earth longer than we live. Everything we have is temporary in that respect. Its not worth keeping or chasing after worldly things. Paradoxically, Jesus offers us something that is free. But the cost is to give up all that we are. This is why is it so difficult for many people to be saved. They love themselves and the world too much to let go.
In Psalm 18 the author declares God to belong to him (not him alone – God belongs to everyone) by using many “my” phrases: God is my strength, my rock, my shield, etc. God is all those things and I’m glad He is. This life is tough. Yet God offers right there – able to handle it all even when I am not. When I have am weak, God is my strength. When the ground below me is sinking, God is my rock. When I am vulnerable, God is my shield. How great is that! I am never alone and I always have someone who is looking out for me. That someone is the all-powerful God of the universe.
Notice that the psalmist cries out to God to rescue him from a dire situation (Psalm 18:4-5) and God hears him (verse 6) and responds (verse 7-15). How cool is that? God hears us when we call and comes to the rescue of those who love Him. God will not let His children remain in distress forever. He will conquer our enemies.
Today in Proverbs we are admonished to listen when our father correct us. If we have godly fathers this is great advice. But I believe this is also referring to our Father in Heaven. God corrects those who love Him. God has great plans for us but we get off track, wanting to do things our own way. When God corrects us we should not ignore His advice because it is perfect and is only meant for our good.