Time for a sing-a-long…’Way, way back many centuries ago….’

18 01 2011

DAY EIGHTEEN : Genesis 36 v. 1 – 37 v. 36; Matthew 13 v. 18 – 35; Psalm 10 v. 12 – 18

ESAU’S DESCENDANTS – Ooh, a very long list of names, tracking Esau’s family tree. The only notable things for me :
Esau and Jacob give each other some space for their families and herds to grow and spread out.
Anah (v. 24) famed for discovering hot springs in the desert whilst grazing donkeys….let’s hear it for Anah !!
Anah (v. 25) gets his daughters’ names mentioned (in long, long lists of men)…Dishon and Oholibamah. Great names. You don’t hear those names very often, do you. The second made me smile. Sounds like “O holy Obama !”.

JOSEPH’S DREAMS – If I’m asked who my favourite characters are in the Bible, Joseph has always been right up there in the top three (with Jesus and Jeremiah….just love that letter ‘j’). This is a GREAT story, of God’s purpose against all odds, holding onto the promises and visions from God, and of family reconciliation and lives transformed.

As a seventeen year old, when we pick the story up, Joseph is alienating himself from his brothers – giving Dad bad reports about his older brothers; accepting the “richly ornamented robe” Jacob gives him, which sets him apart as the favoured son; and then the dreams which can only be interpreted as his brothers bowing down before him (even Dad is rather perturbed at the suggestion in one of the dreams that his Mum and Dad will also bow down).
The brothers’ jealousy goes through the roof, and they plot Joseph’s downfall (Dad will forever blame himself, I guess, for sending Joseph out to check out how his brothers are…). There’s even a mystery man who points the way for Joseph when he can’t find where his brothers have gone. Great touch of suspense there. Will he even find them? Well, he does.


Reuben (the eldest) urges them not to kill him, planning to rescue him at some later stage, if they throw Joseph into a cistern. They do, but grab the chance to sell him to some passing Ishmaelite traders.
Myrrh is one of the fragrances the traders are carrying….an interesting aroma linking to some future story to be told !!
20 shekels is the price they get for Joseph….30 pieces of silver for Jesus. The price of betrayal after inflation ??

I love the line, where the brothers’ consciences are pricked, “Come, let’s sell him…and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” Oh, sell him then, that’ll make you feel better off ? Twenty shekels better off !!
Reuben is horrified to hear what they’ve done.
The brothers take the precious robe back to Jacob, having smeared it in blood, and Jacob goes into mourning for the loss of his favoured son, at the hands of a ferocious beast.
Well, maybe he wasn’t far wrong there – Joseph’s brothers collectively had acted like a ferocious beast – and I can’t help but reflect today on a main news item from yesterday about the trafficking of youngsters (teenage boys and, of course, many, many girls / young women) around the cities of our country and throughout the world. Those who treat these youngsters so violently and abusively for their own gain continue to act like ferocious beasts.
I feel prompted to show my support for the work of ‘stop the traffik’, seeking to raise awareness and combat human trafficking today.

Joseph is sold into slavery, and ends up at Potiphar’s house (an official to Pharoah).

MATTHEW – Jesus explains the parable of the sower, and I return to considering the soil of my life, into which God’s word is sown. Am I too readily the victim of the evil one, who snatches God’s promises from me at the earliest opportunity ?
Am I like the path, where there’s not enough space or time for the word-seed to take root, and it too easily whithers away under pressure, when troubles come ?
Am I so distracted by the worries of this life, wealth, possessions etc., that, like thorns, the word-seed is choked ?
Or am I like fertile ground, good soil, yielding up to 100 times the seed sown.

Note to self from the other parables today
(i) it is not the servants, but the harvesters (at harvest-time), who get to separate the wheat from the weeds. Although the ‘enemy’ is at work in the weeds, the ‘sower’ will not risk his servants rooting up wheat, along with the weeds, by mistake. Who are the harvesters, and when is the harvest ?

(ii) the yeast permeates the whole dough, making it rise; the tiny mustard seed can become a sizeable bush – don’t despise the power of small things, don’t underestimate the influence of small steps; faith as small as a mustard seed can move mountains !!

(iii) such parables “reveal things hidden since the creation of the world” !! I love the notion of Jesus being the great revealer of mysteries; after all, He was there at the creation of the world…..

THE PSALMIST – after the gloomy first half of the psalm yesterday, the hope for a nasty situation is found in the God who sees trouble and grief, and takes it in hand. As I consider the plight of the victims of human trafficking, I find myself praying the words at the end of this psalm :
“You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted;
  You encourage them, and You listen to their cry,
  defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
  in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.”
  AMEN and AMEN. May it be so, Lord.

My prayer for today :

Father God, clear the ground in my life,
that I may be fertile soil for Your word,
yielding much fruit for You.

Clear the path,
attack the weeds and thorns,
and keep the evil one from his destructive work.

For elsewhere Jesus calls, You,Father, the Gardener.
Do Your pruning work in me, today.
For Your glory.