Friday, January 30, 2009
The Lost Son
Whew! Can you believe January is almost over? For some of us it’s probably dragged out like a bad cough, for others it’s zoomed along like sneeze. Pass the Kleenex, it’s been a sneezy month for me. Where did the days go? Why haven’t I accomplished the things on my January list? I don’t have an answer but I know like Jacob and Joseph I’m smack dab in the middle of God’s plan for my life. And I will move forward in slow motion or in a trot. We’re winding up the story of Jacob and Joseph this week. May God bless you as you contemplate these two dear men, who trusted God to guide their days.
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The Lost Son Restored
The bustle in a house / The morning after death / Is solemnest of industries / Enacted upon earth, / -The sweeping up the heart, / And putting love away / We shall not want to use again / Until eternity.- Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
In the Old Testament saga, dear old Jacob has thought for decades that his son Joseph is dead. One woman described losing someone to death as having a literal hole in her body. She pointed to her mid-section and said, “I can tell you where it’s at. It’s here.”
In this last installment, the patriarch Jacob who is father to 12 sons will display amazing faith in risking two more sons’ lives to spare his entire clan, but Jacob will receive a surprise ending.
Earlier, ten sons sold their brother Joseph into slavery, deceiving their father Jacob by making him believe Joseph was dead. But Joseph is very much alive, and through the years, God unfettered Joseph’s chains, and Joseph has risen next in command to the Pharaoh of Egypt.
With seven years of a bumper crop and then seven years of famine predicted, Joseph has stored up “beyond measure” amounts of food in Egyptian warehouses. When the famine finally hit, patriarch Jacob sends 10 sons into Egypt to buy grain. There, unfolding events will reveal their sordid past deeds.
When the brothers see the man next in command to Pharaoh, they fail to recognize family traits in his face. However, Joseph knows they are his brothers, but he hides his identity and emotions. After inquiring about their family, he discovers his very old father is still alive. Through a series of arranged tests, Joseph makes his brothers vow to bring youngest brother Benjamin to Egypt when they return for grain.
As a guarantee, Joseph detains his brother Simeon. So, nine brothers arrive in their homeland with news that Simeon is imprisoned, and when they return to Egypt, they’re to bring the youngest son Benjamin or they cannot buy more grain.
Soon, out of grain, starvation threatens Jacob’s large family. After much heart wrenching, Jacob stamps Benjamin’s passport saying, “May God Almighty grant you mercy….As for me, if I am bereaved, I am bereaved” (43:14).
Jacob is at a low point in life—a severe famine threatens lives, one son is presumed dead, one is detained in prison, and he now has to send off his baby boy. Relying on the Almighty, Jacob makes a tough decision. Jacob expects more heartache, but God plans a different ending.
Years ago, Jacob’s loss of Joseph left a huge gap in his life. Jacob will soon need that stowed-away love. In compassion, God will allow father and son, to embrace again. This Genesis history is not really about patriarchs and lost sons, it’s really a story about God who is righter-of-wrongs. He can shatter misery. After all he knows that one day he will give up a son to save families, too.