Happy birthday, your majesty…what do you desire ?

20 01 2011

DAY TWENTY : Genesis 40 v. 1 – 41 v. 40; Matthew 14 v. 1 – 21; Proverbs 2 v. 12 – 22

(picture of an image of bread and fish from the church near the Galilee lakeside where Jesus is believed to have fed more than 5,000) 

Isn’t it fascinating how sometimes the stories from the old and new testament have common themes.
Here today, in Genesis and in Matthew, the king is holding a birthday party feast (Pharoah and Herod) 
Here today, in Genesis and in Matthew, someone loses their head (the baker, hanged, and the baptist, beheaded).
Here today, in Genesis and in Matthew, food features strongly (plenty and famine in Egypt; hunger and feeding more than 5,000 in Galilee)

So…..
GENESIS – the line that hit me in Gen. 40 was about the cupbearer and baker needing a dream interpreter, when Joseph says,
“Do not interpretations belong to God ? Tell me your dreams”.
There is an awful lot in the bible about God using dreams to convey His message. Sometimes the person understands full well what the dream means, othertimes an interpreter is needed. Joseph is in the right place at the right time and interprets these dreams accurately. What a terrible responsibility to tell the baker it meant he had three days to live !!
There is, of course, renewed interest in the meaning of dreams, and I have been fascinated by some of the discoveries in recent months of God still speaking to people through dreams, and of early Methodism providing space for people to share their dreams and seek their interpretation.

JOSEPH FORGOTTEN FOR TWO YEARS –  I find it hard to believe that the cupbearer forgets about Joseph all that length of time, and we know nothing of Joseph’s forgotten years in prison. There must have been really low points for him in all that. St. Paul urges us to remember those in prison as if we were there with them. I have people I’m thinking of today. Let us not forget.

PHAROAH’S DREAMS – double dreams for Pharoah (just can’t help but see the Elvis-like Pharoah in “Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat” – fab !!!).
It is Joseph’s God-given gift of dream intepretation which brings him his freedom, and elevates him to high office.
God, please reveal to us Your gifts in us for ministry and mission, to bring freedom, purpose and glory to You.

I love the little touch in v. 14, where Joseph has a shave and changes his clothes before appearing before Pharoah….because he’s worth it !!!

In v. 16, Joseph clearly states that it’s God, not he, who interprets the dreams, and in bringing the interpretation, Joseph states, “God has revealed to Pharoah what He is about to do…”
God is choosing to reveal to the mighty king of Egypt, through a lowly Hebrew prisoner, Joseph, what is about to occur, so that the Egyptians may prepare for famine, and not be wiped out (you would think that later Pharoahs may have learned a lesson about listening to lowly Hebrews bringing a word from God….might have spared themselves plagues and all sorts !!).

I can’t help but see a twinkle in Joseph’s eye when he tells Pharoah that what he needs is a very special man to help steer them through this. A man with incredible foresight and planning. He then proceeds to lay out precisely the plan which would work. Pharoah asks, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God ?”
Surely EVERYONE is pointing at Joseph at this stage, who, no doubt, has a look of “Who, me ?”
Great stuff !!

Is this the first time an individual is describe as having the spirit /wind / breath of God within them ?
Wonderful testimony to Joseph, that he is seen in this light.
Lord, may people see something of Your spirit-breath in us, today.

MATTHEW – It appears that John the Baptist had spoken out about Herod’s marriage to his brother’s wife (common practice in Genesis days, of course). Although Herod wants to kill John, he is afraid of what the people might do, as John is revered as a prophet. It is Herodias who puts her daughter up to asking for John’s head on a platter (yeuch!!).

JESUS – needs time on His own when He hears of His precious cousin’s death. What must have been going through Jesus’s mind ? He knew the dangerous path His own life was on. He knew what was ahead for Himself. He knew that He and John were co-workers in one sense of heralding the coming Kingdom. And, He loved His cousin dearly.


(I loved this image of the Miracle of the Feeding from the Coptic Christian Church in Egypt. Another neat link between our old and new testament stories today, and a reminder that we need to pray for our brothers and sisters in Egypt.)

FEEDING 5,000(+) – Jesus is never solitary, alone, for long. A large crowd gathers, and Jesus is occupied with healing the sick. The disciples notice it getting dark, the people needing food, and encourages Jesus to send them away. Jesus’s words stun them,
“You give them something to eat.”
Jesus is always challenging us to look to God for resources which are not immediately apparent.

(God provided the ram for Abraham to sacrifice, setting Isaac free;
 God provided a Joseph for Pharoah, to protect the nation from famine;
 God provided Joseph with a gifts of interpreting dreams, for Joseph’s freedom, and God’s mighty purposes;
 God provides for us, and has so much more to give, as we learn to depend on Him)

Just look at what God is able to do with five loaves and two fish.
More than 5,000 fed, and a symbolic twelve baskets full of leftovers. Abundance to excess.
Faith, or fear ?

Jesus is showing them that there is a WISDOM (see the Proverbs passage today) which is beyond this world, a WISDOM to save us, and a WISDOM to keep us on the safe path.
Jesus is that WISDOM embodied. The Way, the Truth, the Life.

My re-created thoughts today :

DREAM-INTERPRETING WISDOM
GUIDE MY STEPS
NOT ONLY FOR MY OWN FREEDOM
BUT FOR THE FREEDOM OF MANY OTHERS.

ABUNDANT-LIFE PROVIDER
IN AN AGE OF AUSTERITY
REVEAL THE ECONOMICS OF YOUR KINGDOM
THAT EVEN WITH SUCH LITTLE,
THROUGH YOU MANY ARE NOURISHED,
AND THAT EVEN MORE CAN BE BLESSED BY THE EXCESS

HELP ME NOT TO LOSE MY HEAD TODAY, LORD
BUT TO GIVE YOU THE GLORY FOR EVERY BREATH
AND FOR DAILY BREAD.
Amen.

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