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Friday, January 13, 2006

More Life with the Jacobsons

If you like intrigue, mystery, action, danger, adventure, explosions and the like, then you will really enjoy reading Genesis 37-39. There you will read about treachery, fighting, kidnapping, human trafficking, blood, immorality, stealing, lying—but no explosions (sorry).

Life with the Jacobsons is not dull. These chapters read like a soap-opera. Real life is going on here and when we read of real people, we are reading about uniqueness. We are also finding what we already know: people are nasty, or can be at least.

I am amazed at the contrast of detail—Chapter 37 tells us plainly that the following is a record of the history of Joseph. New book, folks. New film. Moving on. Once we understand who Joseph is and what becomes of him, suddenly the text focuses on one of his brothers, Judah (Chapter 38), then goes back to talking about Joseph again (Chapter 30). Wassup wid dat?

I have every reason to believe that, though we are not told who the person is who presented the torn and bloody coat to Israel, I am convinced that Judah was the one who did it. Why? Chapter 38—he is not only caught in a web of his own deceit, but is exposed with the exact same manner and words he himself used. This will be important at the end of the Joseph story, too.

But we must not, cannot and should not ever forget is that while Judah is off selling his brother and spending time with prostitutes and Joseph is being sold and running from immorality, God is working out his purposes. And He does it with people—the very ones His purpose is at work for.

We saw in the very beginning that God made and arranged everything according to His purpose. Reflect on this: each person in scripture or alive today is also specially made and carefully arranged. We are each presented to the world exactly as God arranged it. Question is: what are we doing?

Reading about Joseph, we see one side of history—people dealing with people. Reading about Judah, we see one part of what’s going on, but understand the Lord is still at work--The LORD is the reason Judah’s sons died and Judah does not see it. Read about Joseph in Potiphar’s house, ah HA! there is a difference: Joseph gives testimony to what God is doing. Joseph speaks to his situation with the LORD’s purpose and demonstrates what God is NOT doing!

Yes, we are people who have problems that only God can help. Yes, we live in an over-populated world filled with identity crises—but the question is not really “WHO” you are as “WHOSE” you are. Judah was his own man. Joseph was not. Individuals, yes. But that is no excuse for wrong behavior.

Think about Tamar for a moment. Judah declared her more righteous. Why? Because she was holding him responsible. Personally, you and I can hash out the details about this, but it is written that she busted him and he conceded he was acting irresponsibly.

Personal conviction? Judah had none. Tamar was quiet about hers. Joseph was animate about his. So it’s not ok to do your own thing.

Judah tried to protect his image. He literally gave away his personal identification, keys and credit cards as a pledge to Tamar, but would not show his face again in that city—he sent someone else with the goat—and neither of them would return due to embarrassment.

Tamar maintained her image and convictions with the veils of widowhood. She was thought to be a harlot in a place there were none.

Joseph is like, “What image?” and bolts from the house half-naked to protect not his image, but his convictions.

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