Thursday, December 15, 2011

Vayeshev - He Continued Living

Debra Howard
Vayeshev Genesis 37:1-40:23

This week’s Torah Portion starts out with Jacob still living in the land where his father had lived. He lived in the land of Canaan with his family. His father, Isaac, had lived a good life in the land and acquired a good living for himself. After Jacob’s abrupt departure many years earlier, he came back to the land to reconcile with his brother Esau. After the reconciliation, he returned to his father and they both later buried their father, Isaac (Genesis 35:29). He also saw the death of his beloved wife Rachel. The death of a loved one usually signals a new beginning for those left behind. Jacob was definitely entering a different chapter in his life.
We go a little further to Genesis 37:2, and find that Jacob’s history or new beginning is about to begin. It begins with Joseph at the age of 17. I don’t think it would be a big stretch of the imagination to say that Joseph was probably spoiled. He was the favorite of Jacob out of the 12 sons and even made him a coat of many colors to confirm what they already knew by now (Gen. 37:3). I believe the coat was symbolic of authority and favor that probably belonged to the oldest son, Reuben. Unfortunately, Reuben had already messed things up with his father. We know that Joseph would eventually receive the double portion, but we are not at that part in the scriptures yet. This favoritism that Jacob showed along with a little immaturity from a 17 year old was not a good combination. The other brothers despised Joseph and could not even hold a civil conversation with him (Gen. 37:4).
New beginnings can be rough at times. Especially when a big family is involved. Anybody that has 12 kids at varying stages in life can surely attest to this fact. But even without a big family, when the Father has a plan for our lives it can include some rough spots. Whether the rough spots are planned or not, we can be assured that everything will not always run smoothly. In fact, everyone in the plan won’t always like the plan. Yet the Eternal One knows what is needed before there is a need.
Returning to the story, we find that Joseph had a couple of dreams. The first one was told to his brothers. He basically saw them all bowing before him. They hated him even more for that dream. They sarcastically replied how he would boss them around. I’m sure they were thinking this kid is not about to have us bowing to him. By now the older brothers had proven themselves in battle. We know Simeon and Levi knew how to fight (Gen 34) seeing how they handled things with the Hivites. These proud men were not about to submit to their baby brother based on a dream. The second dream was told to his father and brothers. This time Jacob rebukes Joseph and shows his other sons that he does not agree with the dream outwardly. But we know that Jacob kept the matter on his mind. He may not have had full understanding, but he knew this dream was prophetic in nature.
Many times in life, we may get a glimpse of things to come. Yet, we rarely get a glimpse of the process involved to get to that point. The process required for these dreams to come to pass was hard but necessary. It would require that Joseph be separated from his family, sold into slavery and unjustly imprisoned. If Joseph knew the process, he may not have been so excited about the result. But in our Father’s infinite wisdom he knows how much to release. He also knows that the process will refine in us a character that is worthy of the prize displayed.
The last verse in this week’s Torah Portion is about Joseph. It says “Nevertheless, the chief cupbearer didn’t remember Joseph, but forgot him.” Joseph is in prison and has the opportunity to interpret a dream for the cupbearer. The dream was a new beginning for him as he would be placed back in position. Joseph only asks that when the interpretation came, the cupbearer would remember him. The cupbearer was placed back in position, but he forgot Joseph. While we are in the process of time, only the Father knows the right time for us. Even in this statement that almost sounds hopeless, our Lord had a plan that would allow Joseph to go beyond what he hoped for now. Each step of the process works in us to bring forth what is purposed. I am reminded of II Timothy 2:10 that says “Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.” Joseph was placed in a position to endure for the sake of the elect. He also was on the brink of a new beginning that would bring forth a nation for our Lord.

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