“This is the thing which I have spoken to Pharaoh. God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do.”
On a night that probably started out like every other night, Pharaoh’s life was suddenly interrupted by the Divine. While sleeping, he had a dream, so vivid, he realized it must be a message from God. After unsuccessfully searching for the meaning, he was introduced to Joseph, who, under the influence of the Spirit of God, was able to explain the meaning of his dream. Without going into the details, we find that God revealed the future to Pharaoh. He was told what was coming and given the opportunity to prepare in advance.
Pharaoh is not he only one whose life was interrupted by the Lord. Years later, the king of Babylon saw the finger of God write a message on the palace wall. He was being warned of what was coming that he might prepare in advance. Instead of responding to the message, the king ignored the warning and lived as though it was never given.
What would you do? How would you react if God suddenly interrupted what you were doing and told you what was coming? Would you act like Pharaoh and change your living in preparation for the future, or would you act like Belshazzar and ignore the warnings of God?
The reality is, God has gone to great lengths to reveal what is coming. He tells us, this life is temporary, and designed to prepare us for the life that is eternal. He explains that if we trust in Christ for salvation, our sins are forgiven, and we are thus prepared to face death. He goes on to explain, we can daily live for Christ and the things that matter to Him, and by doing so, we can store up treasures we will enjoy for all eternity.
Let’s take a page from Pharaoh’s book and prepare for what is coming, by living for Jesus today.
“And Joseph came in to them in the morning and looked at them, and saw that they were sad. So he asked Pharaoh’s officers who were with him in the custody of his lord’s house, saying, ‘Why do you look so sad today?’”
We cannot be sure how much time Joseph spent in prison. We know it would have taken some time to prove himself trustworthy enough to be placed in a position of authority, and we know that after the events recorded here, he remained incarcerated for another two years. While we cannot know how long his sentence lasted, we do know what led to his deliverance; faithfully interpreting the dream of the chief butler was the key to his release. What strikes me about the story is what led to interpreting that dream in the first place. We read that Joseph, a wrongly imprisoned man, noticed that others around him were sad. The fact that his eyes were open to notice the needs of others, opened doors of ministry, and ultimately set him free from his own bondage.
We all have good reason to focus on ourselves, and could even justify neglecting others because our life’s situations have become so pressing. However, it is when we take our eyes off ourselves and our own problems, and fix them upon others, that we will not only find ample opportunities to serve, but these opportunities will ultimately lead to our own freedom. The life of self-sacrifice modeled by Jesus, and taught to the disciples, actually leads to a life of freedom and of great spiritual reward.
Take some time today to notice the needs of others around you, and prayerfully consider how God may want to use you to help others.
“And they said to them, ‘We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised, for that would be a reproach to us.'”
If this verse were standing alone in Scripture, it would warrant our unwavering obedience. One of the great pitfalls for Israel, and for us, is when we get involved in unhealthy and ungodly relationships. This has been the downfall of godly men and women throughout the ages, and we would do well to consider ourselves and make sure we are not becoming unequally yoked together with unbelievers. That being said, this verse does not stand alone. The same voices that uttered this statement, also, devised a plan to wipe out the people of Shechem, because their sister had been mistreated. They are willing to justify a murderous rage, while at the same time, keeping a level of religious activity.
As a believer, it is important to read the Bible, pray, go to church, worship, give, and share the love of Christ with others. However, these actions were never designed to undo sinful behavior. We cannot justify sin by doing a charitable act or by following a religious principle. If you are involved in an ungodly relationship, it is not justified by going to church or singing louder than everyone else during worship. Our time with Jesus should include a time of examination. We should allow the Lord to probe into every area of our life and make whatever changes He sees as necessary.
Perhaps it is time to allow God to examine your private life or your marriage. Perhaps it is time to make some long overdo changes in the way you are living, rather than holding on to a religious principle, or activity, as the justification for misbehaving.
“Now the whole earth had one language and one speech.”
Unity is a hot topic today, in the church and in the world. Many economists see global unity as the best solution for prosperity. Many politicians see unity as the only hope for peace, and within the church, many see unity as the only way toward the advancement of the gospel. While I believe unity is important, I also recognize that it is critical what we unite over. There was no time in human history where there was a greater sense of unity that in the days of Babel. We read, the people congregated together with a single language and purpose. Tragically, that purpose was opposed to God, rather than submitted to Him. One can only imagine what could have been accomplished by these men if they had used their unity to be submitted to the ways of God.
Paul spoke of the unity that we have in Christ when he wrote,
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
One thing is certain, as believers, we do not need to create unity. We are united in Christ. Attempting to lay aside essential doctrines or practices for the sake of unity, is to fail to see that God has already united us. As the world moves toward Babel, we must remain faithful and true to the teaching of the word of God. More than ever, the world needs people who will be committed to God.