Greetings in the name of the Father, the Son, and the 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.
And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. (Hebrew 11:6)
One day God came to Abraham and blessed Abraham by making a solemn covenant:
“Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:1b-3)
Abraham believed in God’s covenant and trusted in God. which pleased God.
By faith, Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land God would give him as his inheritance. He had neither idea nor information about where he was going. At that time, there was no phone to talk to, nor the Internet to browse through. Leaving his homeland and moving to an unknown destination by traveling through unfamiliar parts of the world was stupid to anyone’s eyes at that time. Still, Abraham believed God’s promise, left all his homeland’s comforts and protection, and followed God. It was Abraham’s faith.
He arrived at the Promised Land, and Abraham lived there by faith. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. Abraham was confidently looking forward to God’s covenant specially made with him and his descendants.
Indeed, Abraham did not see God’s promise with his own eyes. He had only one Son, Isaac, instead of a great nation. Abraham had to wait twenty-five years after receiving God’s covenant and following God even for the one son, Isaac. When Isaac was born, he was one hundred years old, but he believed Isaac was the seed for the great nation that God promised.
Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. (Hebrew 11:1)
God’s covenantal blessing truly began to unfold at the time of Jacob. However, Jacob was not qualified to be the true heir of God’s covenant as a natural man. Jacob was greedy and deceptive. Thus, God prepared a special training program and let Jacob go through God’s special training. It took twenty years, but upon completing God’s special training, God changed Jacob’s name to “Israel,” which means Jacob had fought with God and with men and had won.
The graduating test of God’s training happened on the last night before crossing the Jabbok River, which was the last leg before reaching his home. Twenty years ago, Jacob left home, but Jacob could not cross the river. Jacob sent everything one by one to the other side of the river, all his possessions and his family. However, his past sin came and hunted him. He could not forget what he did to his brother, Esau, and he could still clearly visualize Esau’s face, who determined to kill Jacob. Thus, he fled to his uncle’s house and lived there twenty years.
Jacob believed surely his brother would kill him. To Jacob, it was the night before being killed by Esau. Jacob made his last plea to God for God’s mercy in prayer throughout the night. God sent His angel to Jacob, who was fervently praying to God. God’s angel then wrestled with Jacob throughout the night. Then during the night, Jacob became a new person, and God gave a new name, Israel. The following morning, Jacob was able to cross the Jabbok River, but he limped because, during the night fight, the angel hit and dislodged his hip socket. Jacob physically experienced excruciating pain as lipping and moved forward, but his face was bright, filled with thanksgiving and hope to see his brother Esau. Of course, God prepared Esau’s heart. Jacob and Esau had a dramatic reunion as God reconciled them.
Jacob returned home and lived in the Promised Land while raising his twelve sons. Among them, Jacob particularly favored the 11th Son, Joseph. Jacob’s favoritism caused anger among the brothers. Additionally, Joseph was vocal about his dreams. In his dreams, his brothers bowed low to him. His brothers were indignant, and they agreed to kill Joseph. Then they wanted to see what would happen to Joseph’s dreams. However, they ended up selling Jacob into slavery. They could not kill their brother.
Joseph then endured and persisted in God because he believed that his dreams came from God, and he trusted in God. Then Joseph stood again and became the 2nd man in his master’s house. But the world did not leave him alone. His mater’s wife secluded Joseph, and he refused. His wife, out of anger, falsely accused Joseph, and his mater put him in jail. Another blow to Joseph, but Joseph believed his dreams while trusting God. However, his jail term was God’s divine appointment. Because Joseph was in jail, he met Pharaoh’s chief cup-bearer. Joseph interpreted the cup-bearer’s dream. As Joseph’s interpretation, the cup-bearer was restored to his old position. But the chief cup-bearer forgot Joseph three days later.
One day, Pharaoh had a dream, woke up, and slept again. Then he got another dream. Pharaoh told his dreams the following morning, but nobody could interpret Pharaoh’s dreams. Then the chief cup-bearer remembered Joseph, and Pharaoh sent for Joseph. Joseph humbly honored God and interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams. Joseph’s interpretation was seven exceedingly plentiful harvests followed by seven horrible famines. All praised Joseph, and Pharaoh elevated Joseph to the 2nd rank after him in the entire country, Egypt.
As Joseph interpreted, after exceedingly plentiful harvests for seven years, a severe famine came to Egypt and the surrounding countries, including the land of Jacob and his brothers. His brothers came to Egypt to buy grains. His brother did not notice, but Joseph immediately recognized his brothers coming to Egypt and buying grains. At the second time of his brothers’ visit to purchase grains, he revealed himself to his brother.
Then Joseph brought his father, Jacob, to Egypt. Total 70 people came into Egypt and settled down as the seven years’ famine persisted. Before Jacob returned to God, he blessed his twelve sons one by one. Later twelve sons became twelve tribes of Israel, named after Jacob’s new name, Israel. Then Joseph carried Jacob’s body and buried it in the Promised Land as promised with his father, Jacob.
Then a true fear of Joseph fell on Joseph’s brothers due to their sin selling Joseph into slavery. They then truly bowed low to Joseph as Joseph’s dreams while pleading for their lives. Joseph’s dreams exactly came true. However, in faith, Joseph gave a kind word to his brothers. Joseph indeed forgave them long before in faith in God. If not, could Joseph have been the 2nd highest person in Egypt?
Joseph lived to see three generations of descendants of his sons. When he was about to return to God, Joseph told his brothers, “Soon I will die, but God will surely come to help you and lead you out of this land of Egypt. He will bring you back to the land he solemnly promised to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” Joseph lived a good life as the 2nd most powerful person in Egypt, but he never forgot God’s promise and the Promised Land.
Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath, and he said, “When God comes to help you and lead you back, you must take my bones with you.” So Joseph died at the age of 110. The Egyptians embalmed him, and his body was placed in a coffin in Egypt.
In time, Joseph and all of his brothers died, ending that entire generation originally coming to Egypt. As God promised and blessed, their descendants, the Israelites, had many children and grandchildren. In fact, they multiplied so greatly that they became extremely powerful and filled the land.
Eventually, a new king came to power in Egypt who knew nothing about Joseph or what he had done. He said to his people, “Look, the people of Israel now outnumber us and are stronger than we are. We must make a plan to keep them from growing even more. If we don’t, and if war breaks out, they will join our enemies and fight against us. Then they will escape from the country.” Although God blessed Israelites, God’s blessing became a threat to the Egyptians.
So the Egyptians made the Israelites their slaves. They appointed brutal slave drivers over them, hoping to wear them down with crushing labor. They forced them to build the cities of Pithom and Rameses as supply centers for the king. But the more the Egyptians oppressed them, the more the Israelites multiplied and spread, and the more alarmed the Egyptians became. So the Egyptians worked the people of Israel without mercy. They made their lives bitter, forcing them to mix mortar and make bricks and do all the work in the fields. They were ruthless in all their demands.
Then Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, gave this cruel order to the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah: “When you help the Hebrew women as they give birth, watch as they deliver. If the baby is a boy, kill him; if it is a girl, let her live.” But because the midwives feared God, they refused to obey the king’s orders. They allowed the boys to live, too. Pharaoh did not fear God, but ordinary people like midwives feared God because they knew God through the Israelites living with them. Although the Israelites were slaves, they lived a different and separate life in God.
So the king of Egypt called for the midwives. “Why have you done this?” he demanded. “Why have you allowed the boys to live?”
“The Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women,” the midwives replied. “They are more vigorous and have their babies so quickly that we cannot get there in time.”
So God was good to the midwives, and the Israelites continued to multiply, growing more and more powerful. And because the midwives feared God, He gave them families of their own.
Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Throw every newborn Hebrew boy into the Nile River. But you may let the girls live.”
About this time, a man and woman from the tribe of Levi got married. The woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She saw that he was a special baby and kept him hidden for three months. But when she could no longer hide him, she got a basket made of papyrus reeds and waterproofed it with tar and pitch. She put the baby in the basket and laid it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile River. The baby’s sister then stood at a distance, watching to see what would happen to him.
Soon Pharaoh’s daughter came down to bathe in the river, and her attendants walked along the riverbank. When the princess saw the basket among the reeds, she sent her maid to get it for her. When the princess opened it, she saw the baby. The little boy was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This must be one of the Hebrew children,” she said.
Then the baby’s sister approached the princess. “Should I go and find one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?” she asked.
“Yes, do!” the princess replied. So the girl went and called the baby’s mother.
“Take this baby and nurse him for me,” the princess told the baby’s mother. “I will pay you for your help.” So the woman, who was the baby’s mother, took her baby home and nursed him.
Later, when the boy was older, his mother brought him back to Pharaoh’s daughter, who adopted him as her own son. The princess named him Moses, for she explained, “I lifted him out of the water.”
Surely God protected Moses, although their parents sent him away through the river. God’s divine appointment let Pharaoh’s daughter find Moses from the Nile River. Then God made Pharaoh’s daughter return Moses to his mother to nurse Moses. Pharaoh’s daughter even paid money to Moses’ mother!
Could anyone even imagine what God would do before God actually did? Pharaoh ordered to kill all Israelites’ male babies, but God outwitted Pharaoh. God saved Moses through Pharaoh’s daughter, let Moses raised by his own mother receiving his mother’s true love. God also made Pharaoh pay Moses’ expanse so that his parents did not have to worry about the expenses of raising Moses.
Who did start all these events of Moses? Pharaoh. Who did save Moses and pay the expense of raising Moses? Pharaoh’s daughter. Was Pharaoh’s plan to kill all Israelites’ babies?
This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength. (1 Corinthians 1:25)
It was not the end of the story. God made Moses the son of Pharaoh’s princess, his daughter. Pharaoh thought he completely eliminated Israelites by killing all male babies soon after birth. But midwives refused because of fear of God. Pharaoh had never expected that his cruel killing of Israelites’ babies would lead to something unthinkable. His own daughter brought Moses, the Israelite’s baby, into the palace and raised Moses in the palace.
Pharaoh took care of Moses like any other son in the palace and nurtured Moses with the best. Without knowing, Pharaoh provided all good things to Moses, which Moses could not receive as a son of Hebrew slave parents, including the best food, the best shelter, the best education, along with all riches that ordinary Egyptians could not even imagine. Moses enjoyed the best life because of Pharaoh.
God made Moses excel in every aspect of life over the other true Egyptian royal sons in the palace. He became dominant over all other Egyptian royal males in the palace. Who would think about this possibility? A Hebrew (i.e., Israelites) slave baby came into the palace, was nurtured by Pharaoh himself, and became dominant among all other royal sons in the palace. Even so, Pharaoh did not know what’s actually going on in his palace.
Indeed, Moses received all good care from Pharaoh and from other royal families in the palace. Everyone called the name, Moses, including Pharaoh himself. Moses was a just Hebrew slave baby, who supposedly be killed, but he became the number one prince among all princes in the palace. Pharaoh was fond of Moses without knowing the truth. Surely Pharaoh started all things. Then Pharaoh became his own victim.
Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. (1 Corinthian 1:21)
By the way, Pharaoh had never known the most important fact: Israelites were God’s people whom God loved and protected under all circumstances. God made them prosper and grow strong to fill entire Egypt. The Egyptian king thought that he was the king of the land of Egypt, but God was. He saw the rapidly increasing Israelites, and he felt fear of them. Pharaoh devised a plan to subdue their population increase by killing all male babies. What a wise plan in a worldly sense! The plan would have perfectly had worked if his plan were against ordinary people. The Israelites were God’s chosen people. God gave His solemn covenant to His people, all descendants of Abraham.
God promised to make Abraham’s descendants a great nation, and all the people on earth would be blessed through Abraham and his descendants. Of course, Pharaoh could not see God, who was always with the Israelites. Pharaoh just saw the Israelites as a huge group of people threatening his kingdom, and made them slaves. And Pharaoh even killed Israelites’ male babies, but Pharaoh was wrong. Indeed, Pharaoh was fighting against God, invisible but almighty, not the Israelites that he could put them into slavery.
Sometimes we would be discouraged in 2022, but we should remember what God did to the people of Israel, His people. However, the world is sometimes truly harsh to us. Then let’s see what God did to Abraham. Abraham waited and waited more than twenty years for his son, who would be the seed of the great nation. Then he looked around and saw his servant, who was faithful enough to be his son. Abraham was almost 100 years old. Abraham struggled, and then one day, he told his plan to God. Abraham’s faith was low, and the worldly solution looked so attractive to Abraham. Then what did God do to Abraham? God lovingly took Abraham outside and made Abraham see the numerous stars sparking against the clear night sky. God displayed His promise before Abraham’s eyes to restore Abraham’s faith.
Then the LORD took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!” (Genesis 15:5)
Then Abraham believed. Yes, God made Abraham believe. Abraham continued believing God’s promise and trusting in God. God counted him as righteous because of Abraham’s faith. What does really count? It is our faith in God.
Who are we? We are God’s people, His beloved children. The world thinks we are just a bunch of people whom the world can treat whatever it likes. Wrong! Our God is the Almighty and Ever-loving Father, who is always with us and protects us wherever we go.
What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? (Romans 8:31)
We have just started a new year, 2022. Today’s devotion is our encouragement in God to all of you. Of course, we will confront various challenges as we live through 2022, but we will not be discouraged. Our God, our Ever-Loving Father, is always with us, who is full of mercy and love toward us. Thus, please not run away or avoid things when we meet our life challenges in 2022. Surely the world will throw at us all things, and some of them are not even we cannot talk about with our own word because it is too much pain deep in our hearts. But please endure and persist in faith while trusting in God as Joseph did.
The world might also entice us by secretly planting a question: why should we continue being faithful in Him? Aren’t we still experiencing all kinds of trials, hardships, and pains that the world presents us? Then we immediately take off our eyes from the world and fix our eyes on Jesus Christ on the cross, and then trust Him more so.
Why? Won’t our God, who did not spare his only begotten Son for us, give all that we need: His protection, guidance, strength to overcome all things on earth in 2022 along with His peace that transcends all understanding? Praise God! Because of Him, with His strength and love, today we can run the race given to us with Him who is always with us.
Since he did not spare even his own son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? (Romans 8:32)