Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Praying for you, your family, your community, and the rest of the world. Right now, the whole world is suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Let’s pray together to God, Our Ever-Loving Father, His mercy and protection on all, and God’s healing on those who are infected by the COVID-19. We all believe God’s grace and love rest on all who look upon Him every moment with faith in Him.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9)
Jacob met God when he was at the lowest part of his life. He fled from his brother Esau who tried to kill him due to Jacob’s sin against Esau. Jacob stole Esau’s blessings from his father, Isaac. Isaac gave all blessings he reserved for Esau to Jacob without knowing Jacob disguised as Esau. However, God loved Jacob and came to Jacob. Then God promised His protection and made His solemn covenantal promise with Jacob – making Jacob the father of many great nations and the source of blessings of all peoples.
Jacob did not know the meaning of the covenantal promise. Taking advantage of God’s special blessings, Jacob lived his own life as he liked, and he had never remembered God for twenty years. God let a life storm came to Jacob, which was caused by his own earthly greed. Then Jacob remembered God, and returned to God in prayer. God, who unconditionally loved Jacob, answered Jacob’s prayer and guided Jacob. Jacob was getting to knowing more about God. The pinnacle moment was the prior night before seeing his brother Esau again, coming with an army of 400 men. Jacob was terrified because he thought that Esau would surely kill Jacob.
Throughout the night, Jacob prayed to God. God sent an angel, and Jacob fought with the angel. Jacob never released the angel in prayer until he received God’s forgiveness. It was the night that Jacob fully experienced the weight of his sin, and God transformed Jacob into a new person. Then God gave him a new name, Israel, as Jacob was newly born in God. The following morning, the newly born Jacob walked forward to confront his sin. Jacob bowed to the ground seven times before Esau while asking Esau’s forgiveness. God had already prepared Esau’s heart. Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. And they both wept. God prepared a beautiful scene that Jacob had never imagined for the past twenty years after he sinned against Esau.
Jacob experienced the unforgettable night of transforming Jacob, Esau’s completely unexpected forgiveness, and the incredible brother reunion, but Jacob was not full of God. He needed additional time to get mature in God. In love, God let Jacob learn by doing what pleased himself.
Jacob loved the town of Shechem, and he settled down, but only after the town prince raped his daughter, he realized what he had done. Jacob told all of his family members to get rid of idols. He cleaned up himself, and all his family abandoned all idols. Then he returned to Bethel, where he met God, and God gave His solemn covenantal promise.
Then Jacob went to his father and lived there until his father returned to the Lord. Both brothers, Esau and Jacob, buried Isaac. God loved Jacob and God used all that Jacob had, including Jacob’s earthly desire, greed, and even sins, as God’s instrument to transform and mature Jacob in Him.
God loved Jacob, and God patiently walked with Jacob, either Jacob knew or not. However, in the end, God carved out a new Jacob, Israel, out of the old Jacob.
God’s hand is greater than anything else on earth, and His love surpasses all things, including our sins. How do we know this? Because of the cross where God gave His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, for our sins, and God forgave all our sins on the cross.
Jacob’s journey with God was truly messy because of Jacob’s earthly desire and greed. However, God had never missed even one minute detail of His plan to transform and mature Jacob, and God did all for Jacob following His plan preset for Jacob. God did such marvelous things for Jacob while tenaciously loving Jacob. There was only one reason why the worldly Jacob became the new Jacob called Israel, whom God truly wanted.
We are His beloved children, and God will do the same to each one of us without missing even one minute detail of His unfathomable plan set aside for each of us in His love. Thus, we can come to God confidently as His beloved children without fear of the sins that we committed. God is love. Yes, He is love.
Per God’s covenant, God blessed Jacob, and he had twelve sons. Each of them later became an independent tribe, and his sons formed a nation with twelve tribes. Jacob was the first person who could physically witness God’s covenant in action. His grandfather and his father just believed in God’s covenant without seeing them. After all, Jacob truly wanted his father’s blessing and stole it without knowing what he got was God’s covenant, which was God’s plan, though.
Joseph, one of Jacob’s twelve sons, was special because Joseph’s mother was Rachel, whom Jacob dearly loved. Initially, Rachel could not have a baby, but God opened her womb to bear Joseph in Jacob’s old age. Thus, Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children. One day Jacob gave a special gift to Joseph—a beautiful robe. But his brothers hated Joseph because their father loved him more than the rest of them. They couldn’t say a kind word to him.
God also blessed Joseph more than the other brothers. One night God gave a special dream to Joseph. The following morning, Jacob told his brothers about his dream that God gave Joseph. All the other brothers hated Joseph more than ever. “Listen to this dream,” Joseph said. “We were out in the field, tying up bundles of grain. Suddenly my bundle stood up, and your bundles all gathered around and bowed low before mine!”
His brothers responded, “So you think you will be our king, do you? Do you actually think you will reign over us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dreams and the way he talked about them.
Soon God gave another dream to Joseph. Again, he told his brothers about it. “Listen, I have had another dream,” he said. “The sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed low before me!”
This time he told the dream to his father as well as to his brothers, but his father scolded him. “What kind of dream is that?” he asked. “Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow to the ground before you?” But while his brothers were jealous of Joseph, his father wondered what the dreams meant.
It was God’s plan to give Joseph the two essentially same dreams. Joseph could not forget his dreams for the rest of his life. Whenever a hardship came into Joseph’s life, Joseph stood on the dreams rather than was buried under the hardship. The dreams came to Joseph because God secretly revealed His great plan and Joseph’s future along with all other family members, but at that time, nobody knew the meaning of the dreams. However, Joseph held tight the dreams.
God knows our future, but we don’t know even one second future. Thus, we must always thank God for all things, although they might not look good to our eyes.
Let’s question, what does it really mean that looking good to our eyes? We think it will be good for us now and future also. Hmm. Future? Can we see our future? No, but God. Then how can we know something will be good for us in the future? Without knowing the future, we say good and bad. Isn’t it illogical, is it?
Precisely speaking, we cannot say anything will be good or bad in the future because we don’t know even one-second future. But God knows our future. Additionally, God dearly loves us. Then what should be our logical conclusion? Regardless we think what’s happening to us looks good or not, we should thank God because it was what God did for us out of His love. How many times have we complained because we got what we didn’t want? Can we remember? How often did something good to our eyes turn out to be not so good or even harmful to us?
Joseph received extraordinary dreams. But as a young man, it was not easy to keep the dreams in his heart only. Joseph was excited about his dreams. He openly spoke about his dreams to his brothers and his parents. His father wondered what the dreams meant, but his brothers were jealous of Joseph. Then Joseph paid the price of his dreams because he openly spoke about them.
Joseph’s brothers went to pasture their father’s flocks at Shechem. When they had been gone for some time, Jacob said to Joseph, “Your brothers are pasturing the sheep at Shechem. Get ready, and I will send you to them.”
“I’m ready to go,” Joseph replied. Joseph was always a willing and good son to his father.
“Go and see how your brothers and the flocks are getting along,” Jacob said. “Then come back and bring me a report.” So Jacob sent him on his way, and Joseph traveled to Shechem from their home in the valley of Hebron.
When he arrived there, a man from the area noticed him wandering around the countryside. “What are you looking for?” he asked.
“I’m looking for my brothers,” Joseph replied. “Do you know where they are pasturing their sheep?”
“Yes,” the man told him. “They have moved on from here, but I heard them say, ‘Let’s go on to Dothan.’” So Joseph followed his brothers to Dothan and found them there.
When Joseph’s brothers saw him coming, they recognized him in the distance. As he approached, they made plans to kill him. “Here comes the dreamer!” they said. “Come on, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns. We can tell our father, ‘A wild animal has eaten him.’ Then we’ll see what becomes of his dreams!” Yes, the brothers were truly jealous and even offended. They decided to use their own hands to take care of Joseph’s dreams by eliminating Joseph, the holder of the dreams.
However, Reuben, the firstborn, was not so radical to the rest of the brothers. When Reuben heard of their scheme, he came to Joseph’s rescue. “Let’s not kill him,” he said. “Why should we shed any blood? Let’s throw him into this empty cistern here in the wilderness. Then he’ll die without our laying a hand on him.” Reuben was secretly planning to rescue Joseph and return him to his father.
So when Joseph arrived, his brothers ripped off the beautiful robe he was wearing, which they always hated to see. Then they grabbed him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it. The brothers did what looked good to their own eyes to satisfy their hearts, hurt by Joseph’s dreams and Joseph’s special treatment from their father. The cost of Joseph’s dreams was high.
However, God, who gave the dreams, carefully watched over Joseph. God intervened. Just as the brothers were sitting down to eat, they looked up and saw a caravan of camels in the distance coming toward them. It was a group of Ishmaelite traders taking a load of gum, balm, and aromatic resin from Gilead down to Egypt. Yes, it was a part of God’s plan. Then the brothers responded as they pleased. However, no matter what the other brothers did, all worked together and fulfilled God’s will, which is a pure mystery to us, but to God, which is so obvious.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
Even being thrown into the cistern, Joseph held tight the dreams that God gave. All parents cannot forget the sweet feeling when they see their children kept trusting their parents in a difficult time. God must have felt the same feeling from Joseph.
Without knowing God’s plan, Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain by killing our brother? We’d have to cover up the crime. Instead of hurting him, let’s sell him to those Ishmaelite traders. After all, he is our brother—our own flesh and blood!” And his brothers agreed. All brothers acted as they liked, but again, mysteriously, the outcome always became as God planned. Then, why cannot we trust in God in all circumstances, who is in charge of everything in this universe?
God prepared the Midianite traders. As the Midianite traders came by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to them for twenty pieces of silver. And the traders took him to Egypt. At that time, Joseph was completely shocked as his brothers sold him to the Midianite traders, but Joseph did not forget his dreams, which made Joseph keep going without being crushed.
Sometime later, Reuben returned to get Joseph out of the cistern. When he discovered that Joseph was missing, he tore his clothes in grief. Then he went back to his brothers and lamented, “The boy is gone! What will I do now?” The rest of the brothers were silent because of what they did to Joseph without telling Reuben. Finally, they started to see the consequence of their sin of selling his brother for twenty pieces of silver.
Then the brothers plotted together to hide their sin. The nature of sin is always to hide, deceive, and hurt again. So they killed a young goat and dipped Joseph’s robe in its blood. They sent the beautiful robe to their father with this message: “Look at what we found. Doesn’t this robe belong to your son?”
Their father recognized it immediately. “Yes,” he said, “it is my son’s robe. A wild animal must have eaten him. Joseph has clearly been torn to pieces!” Then Jacob tore his clothes and dressed in burlap. He mourned deeply for his son for a long time.
All family tried to comfort Joseph, but he refused to be comforted. “I will go to my grave mourning for my son,” he would say, and then he wept. Joseph’s brothers were silent while watching what was happening before their eyes.
Their sin of selling their brother Joseph led to a lie, which greatly hurt their father. Then all family suffered, and their father refused to be comforted. How tragic! Jacob truly wanted to die together with Joseph in his sorrow.
If we sin, we must go to God and confess our sin while asking His forgiveness. If not, our sin led to another sin while hurting the people around us and us again and more.
Meanwhile, as God planned, the Midianite traders arrived in Egypt. Then they sold Joseph to Potiphar. He was an officer of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, and captain of the palace guard. It was a part of God’s plan.
His brothers destroyed Joseph’s life. He was his father’s favorite son but became a slave because his brothers sold him to the Midianite traders for twenty silvers. Joseph used to wear a beautiful, colorful robe while receiving his father’s love, but he served Potiphar his master whom he had never seen before. How miserable Joseph’s life became!
However, Joseph did not forget the dreams that God gave to him, and God was with Joseph. God’s full attention was on Joseph. God protected and led Joseph through the paths of righteousness. Why? Joseph was God’s beloved child.
Per Joseph’s father’s request, Joseph searched for his brothers because he was a good son, but his brothers treated him miserably when he found his brothers. From Joseph’s point of view, it did not make sense at all. What did he get out of his good deed? Slavery. However, Joseph trusted God even though his brothers suddenly sold him into slavery out of their jealousy. It was a crushing blow to Joseph by his trusted brother, but Joseph kept focusing on his eyes on the dreams from God.
Then what should we do when we suddenly encounter a disaster? First, we fix our eyes on God, Our Ever-loving Father, and pray to God so that we can see through the catastrophe and find God’s merciful hand. Then we wait for God’s time with our prayer while trusting in God and His infinite goodness.
Let’s question ourselves. Why are we getting into a disaster? It is not a random event, but God’s love disguised as a disaster. It is an opportunity for us to go even deeper relationship with God by truly experiencing who Our God is – our ever-loving Father. We know Joseph never complained to God even though he saw his brother’s betrayal, and he fell into slavery as a result. Then Joseph patiently waited for God and His time, which is our encouragement today.
Here is what Joseph said when Joseph finally met his brothers again,
“Please, come closer,” he said to them. So they came closer. And he said again, “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. (Genesis 45:4-5)
Don’t be afraid or lose hope, though year after year there are rumors of leaders fighting for control in the city of Babylon. (Jeremiah 51:46)