Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Confused and Confusing, But It Was On My Mind

I might as well just set myself up in a pulpit... Not that I’m qualified in any way, it’s just that I keep writing these entries that sound like I’m doing Bible exposition... I don’t really mean to, and it’s not going to become a thing, but right now it’s what’s on my mind.

Anyway, the other day I read Genesis 47, which, to me was a real headscratcher. You see, it’s all about how Joseph dealt with the famine that ploughed through Egypt when he was Pharoah’s right hand man. 

Since he knew it was coming, he had already stored a bunch of grain... so when the people ran out of food they came to him and bought food. When they ran out of money, they sold him their animals, and when they ran out of that, they sold him their land. Finally, when they had nothing left to sell for food, they sold themselves to be slaves in exchange for seed to plant food. And even then, they had to give Pharaoh a fifth of what they grew. So... then Joseph / Pharaoh owned EVERYTHING. The people had NOTHING. Not even themselves.

“The land became Pharaoh’s, and Joseph reduced the people to servitude, from one end of Egypt to the other.” Reading this, I thought, “What?” It just didn’t sit right with me... I’m not sure why... maybe because as a modern American, the whole idea of slavery appalls me. And the fact that they actually OFFERED it all to him doesn’t make me feel any better because he was their only source of FOOD. It seems a little like extortion or something. 
Remember when WHAM! wanted
us to choose LIFE? 

But I guess the key is, while he accepted all they had, he gave them the only thing that really mattered - LIFE. Had he not known about the famine and been proactive, they wouldn’t even be ALIVE. 

Last week our pastor said, to paraphrase, "Jesus is the Word, the Bible is the Word and they cannot be separated. So, when you read the Bible, imagine that JESUS is telling you the stuff."

Well, I thought about this when I was reading the passage about Joseph taking everything the Egyptians had and enslaving them... and then I allowed it to come up alongside of some stuff I have read in the New Testament... like Jesus saying: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16) Here, Jesus asks us to give up all that we have and are to follow him. Voluntarily, like the Egyptians did with Joseph. I guess the difference is, they could actually SEE that it was a matter of life or death. Sometimes it’s not that obvious to us.

But here’s what’s interesting: Jesus did this very thing for us. I mean, He was God – with the sparkly throne heaven and everything. But... “He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” And all so WE could have LIFE. 

If we superimposed the Joseph story onto this, it would be like if we were dying and tried to buy food from Joseph and he said, “You don’t even have enough money or value to buy food from me...” Then Jesus went to Joseph and said, “Look, dude, I’m God. I’m perfect. I’ll give you everything I own, and be your slave if you give them the food.” 

Big Star
So, if Jesus has given His life for ours, why do we have to give our lives to Him? In Paul’s view, it's because God and His grace are so AWESOME. That’s why, in Romans 11, he says “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.”

The beauty of this is that being “slaves” to God is actually freedom. But what kind of freedom requires people to give themselves away?  Well... freedom from constantly having to trying to save our own souls. Because it can’t be done. And what kind of life is that anyway? And then, after we’ve lived this life of freedom, we get to have that freedom from death that Jesus promised us. And so we’re back to that... LIFE. I think it’s a pretty good deal.

And now I’m going to let Big Star play us out with this awesome song. Please click on it, because it's really worth the listen.

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