Friday, January 09, 2009

God's Roadmap Jacob

New beginnings are like new cars all wrapped in intoxicating leathery smell. But this January, hope may be in the back seat of your old jalopy. If so, you may enjoy taking a peek at an Old Testament family and the twists and turns in their lives and how God’s direction helped them overcome all kinds of obstacles: drought, hurt because of wrong doing, riffs between kin, dire news, and much more.

For the next few weeks, we’ll look at the family of Jacob who was Dad to 12 boys. Number 11 son, Joseph, was favored above the rest “because he had been born to him in his old age” (37:3). Dad Jacob seemed to coddle Joseph, and when he was a teen, he was presented with a richly ornamented robe, maybe the equivalent of a new car in our day.

Joseph turned out to be one of those dream-tellers. Do you know a person who does that? They can remember what they dreamed months ago. I can’t remember rolling over last night, much less the weird cranial scamperings going on while I slept.

But this 17 year old Joseph could recall certain dreams with clarity, and he wasn’t only a dream re-caller, he was a dream re-teller. The trouble -- the dreams he remembered were about him lording it over the rest of his family. In one, he and all his brothers are binding grain in a field, and the brothers’ sheaves bow down to Joseph’s sheaf. The older males scoffed when hearing that one.

And Joseph had another dream where the sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed down to him. He even ruined Daddy’s meal when he described that at the dinner table. None could imagine the pipsqueak of the family with any fame. They had no wisdom that Joseph’s dreams were prophetic, early messages which no one would understand until much later.

Brotherly love long gone, one day the brood of older brothers sold their teenage sibling into slavery, to a caravan of Midianite merchants journeying into Egypt. Joseph’s pampering ended that day. But little known to all, God held the future map in his hand. He had routed the path. Joseph would later rule in this foreign country and help save his clan and many others.

Even though the end of this story is eventually beautiful, there’s a camel load of heartache along the route. Can you imagine the wrinkled Jacob’s face when the ten older sons show him Joseph’s gorgeous coat soaked in goat’s blood? They allowed their father to believe a wild animal had mauled Joseph and torn him to pieces.

This is terrible place to halt this epic, a real cliffhanger. The twig on the precipice has broken and Joseph will hit a few more rocks on the way down.

We leave Jacob and Joseph, daddy and son, mourning a lost relationship, but God is there with them. He is also in the days ahead when his plan unfolds to reunite an entire family and move them into a spacious saving place.

God is more adept than any, a master of helping us maneuver bumpy roads, and when the time is right he will guide us into a good U-turn, one that restores our feet to a new beginning.

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