No Blame Game

Genesis 46:28-34

28Now Jacob sent Judah ahead of him to Joseph to get directions to Goshen. When they arrived in the region of Goshen, 29Joseph had his chariot made ready and went to Goshen to meet his father Israel. As soon as Joseph appeared before him, he threw his arms around his father and wept for a long time. 30Israel said to Joseph, “Now I am ready to die, since I have seen for myself that you are still alive.”

31Then Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I will go up and speak to Pharaoh and will say to him, ‘My brothers and my father’s household, who were living in the land of Canaan, have come to me. 32The men are shepherds; they tend livestock, and they have brought along their flocks and herds and everything they own.’ 33When Pharaoh calls you in and asks, ‘What is your occupation?’ 34you should answer, ‘Your servants have tended livestock from our boyhood on, just as our fathers did.’ Then you will be allowed to settle in the region of Goshen, for all shepherds are detestable to the Egyptians.”

Immunity

The wife of a diplomat was a suspect after a teenager died in car accident. She’s allowed to return to her home country secretly. She escaped a chance to defend herself in a court of law after claiming her diplomatic immunity.

Political leaders and concerned individuals have conflicting views and try to find common ground in the interpretation of how diplomatic immunity be used. Accordingly, the parents of the victim did not desire the suspect to be punished. They just want to talk to the suspect as a process of healing.

Wrong place, wrong time can be tragic. Blaming cannot restore the life of the dead. What should we do when we’re in the receiving end of a tragedy?

If the victim’s parents were believers, they’ve exemplified what Paul said in Philippians 3:9-11, Through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.

By faith, we live in righteousness that comes from God. The effect in us is desire to imitate the lifestyle of Christ, especially during worst times—suffering or tragic situations. The Lord Jesus practically exemplified at His crucifixion on how we (as believers) may respond to misfortune or when justice is at stake.

Joseph’s life story represents propriety, proper behavior of godly believers. When Joseph pleaded for mercy, his cruel brothers sold him anyway, just to get rid of him. It was a very tragic experience but Joseph kept on trusting the Lord. His dramatic life shows that God allows great sufferings for greater purposes.

Severe famine caused his brothers to buy grain in Egypt. Joseph did not play ‘blame game.’ Instead, he told them to relocate their families to Egypt. Jacob was hesitant to relocate his household. So, he prayed, and the Lord assured to be with him. As a result, they were given a generous privilege waiting for them.

1. Privilege

28Now Jacob sent Judah ahead of him to Joseph to get directions to Goshen. When they arrived in the region of Goshen, 29Joseph had his chariot made ready and went to Goshen to meet his father Israel. As soon as Joseph appeared before him, he threw his arms around his father and wept for a long time. 30Israel said to Joseph, “Now I am ready to die, since I have seen for myself that you are still alive.”

If there’s famine or recession, it’s reasonable pragmatic necessity to look for a greener pasture. Severe famine had forced Jacob to relocate. He hesitated at first. God uses tough measures when we hesitate to respond to His calling.

Interestingly, Jacob had to restrain his feeling to personally see Joseph his favorite son. Jacob didn’t proceed to the city where Joseph resided. He went to Goshen, why? How did Jacob know that they should settle in Goshen?

Goshen was the best place for pasture in Egypt. And, Jacob brought all his sheep and cattle. They needed to pasture them. As Joseph’s family, they were given a special privilege. Pharaoh King of Egypt gave Goshen to them.

The Scripture says in Genesis 45:17-18, Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Tell your brothers, ‘Do this: Load your animals and return to the land of Canaan, and bring your father and your families back to me. I will give you the best of the land of Egypt and you can enjoy the fat of the land.’

Joseph’s brothers heard it, and they probably told their father about such special privilege that Pharaoh had decreed. Interestingly, Jacob sent Judah to get direction from Joseph to go to Goshen. Why Judah not his other sons? He can rely on him. Previously, Judah proved to be reliable. He promised Jacob to bring home Benjamin safe, and indeed, they returned to Canaan, all of them.

That exemplary leadership of Judah served as prelude or preparation for Jacob’s prophecy for Judah. Few years later before he died, Jacob prophesied about the future of his sons. He said about Judah in Genesis 49:10, The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his.

It should not come as surprise that many kings had come from Judah and their descendants continued to reign for many generations. It’s also a prophecy about Jesus Christ our Lord, the King of kings who will reign forever. All nations will bow down to Him. It is concluded in Revelation 15:4, All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.

What is your view about the return of Christ? Will Christ coming sooner or later? Our view of Christ’s return will certainly affect the way we live our lifestyle.

Faithful Servant

The Lord Jesus illustrated His return in the parable of faithful servants.

He compared Himself to a man who traveled to another country but did not tell when he would return. He gave bags of money to his servants according to their ability to manage. He gave one servant five bags of money, to another servant two bags, and to another servant one bag. Then, he went on a journey.

The servant who received five bags of money and the one who received two bags of money, both of them, invested and doubled the amount of money they received from their master. The servant with five bags of money gained five bags more. The one with two bags of money gained two bags more.

But the man who received one bag did not invest the money he received. Instead, he went out and buried underground the bag of money he received.

When the time came and their master returned, he asked them what they did to the bags of money he gave them. The diligent servants who invested the money they received were promoted but the lazy servant was terminated.

The master declared in Matthew 25:23, 23‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

We love it when someone says, “Good job!” right? Children want to hear it from parents, students from teachers or employees from employers! How are you investing your spiritual gifts? May each of us be rewarded appropriately when the Lord Jesus returns to reign as King of kings, and hear Him say, “Good job!”

It says in Revelation 20:6, Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

Are you longing for the return of Christ? Do you expect to reign with Christ when He comes again? You’ll certainly receive eternal reward if you’ve diligently invested your spiritual gifts? Pray for wisdom and propriety to use spiritual gifts.

2. Propriety

31Then Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I will go up and speak to Pharaoh and will say to him, ‘My brothers and my father’s household, who were living in the land of Canaan, have come to me. 32The men are shepherds; they tend livestock, and they have brought along their flocks and herds and everything they own.’ 

Joseph was appointed ruler of Egypt, and displayed propriety or proper behavior as the second highest ranking official in Egypt. He told his family that he will inform Pharaoh about their presence in Egypt. He did not delay. He was mindful of political protocol or propriety to inform Pharaoh King of Egypt, why?

Do you think that Joseph went to meet his father, his brothers and their family by himself alone? For sure, there were soldiers who went along with him. Dignitaries, his associates or other political advisers could have joined him.

Joseph quickly informed Pharaoh that his family had arrived to avoid any political plan or accusation against him, why? It could appear like he played favoritism toward his family by letting them lived in the best part of Egypt.

Actually, Pharaoh decreed it but to inform Pharaoh that his decree had been implemented, it implies that Joseph was aware of propriety or respectable behavior as high ranking official. It’s possible that there were political oppositions who watched for faults or something to criticize Joseph. It should’ve been more obvious to them that it was Pharaoh’s decision for his family to live in Goshen.

It was a godly wisdom and propriety for Joseph not to abuse his authority.

Another possible reason why he had to inform Pharaoh about the arrival of his family was to make sure that Pharaoh knew what to expect from his family. They were Hebrews who were known to be shepherds. Ancient Egyptians did not like to live with shepherds. Shepherds were detestable to them.

On political point of view, maybe, there were Egyptian natives who have political aspirations also. The Egyptian officials may have personal dreams to be promoted. And, they may silently try to find legal means to accuse Joseph and damage his reputation. Similar political scheme caused by envy is not isolated.

Daniel

Promotion sparks envy. King Darius plan to assign Daniel as administrator all over the whole kingdom of Persia. Governors and other officials were envious. They tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel but could find no corruption in him. Daniel was trustworthy. He was neither corrupt nor negligent in his work.

Eventually, they persuaded King Darius to write a decree that prayer should be addressed to the king alone. Spies saw Daniel prayed, and he was thrown into the lion’s den but God sent His angel to shut the mouths of lions.

Eventually, King Darius ordered those who falsely accused Daniel to be thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. And, before they touch the ground, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.

King Darius decreed in Daniel 6:26-28, “In every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.” So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

In all generations, there are influential groups against religious practices. It is a biblical reality that may persist until Christ returns. What do we do? Respect authorities just as Joseph exemplified propriety and proper respect to Pharaoh.

In cases when we must choose a godly lifestyle, like Daniel, we trust that the Lord would take care of things out of our control or things we cannot predict.

3. Prediction

33When Pharaoh calls you in and asks, ‘What is your occupation?’ 34you should answer, ‘Your servants have tended livestock from our boyhood on, just as our fathers did.’ Then you will be allowed to settle in the region of Goshen, for all shepherds are detestable to the Egyptians.”

Joseph displayed godly wisdom and discernment when he predicted what Pharaoh might ask of his brothers. He advised them to tell the truth about their occupation as shepherds. They may have personally observed and Joseph had emphasized it to them that ancient Egyptians were prejudice of shepherds.

Why did Joseph remind his brothers to tell Pharaoh they were shepherds?

Joseph knew that his brothers had tendencies to lie. He knew they lied to their father Jacob about their activities. His brothers hated him because he told Jacob about their escapades. That was why they sold him. They lied that Joseph may have been killed by wild animals. So, if they can lie to their father’s face, there is no doubt that they can lie to anybody else.

True! There are unpredictable consequences of telling the truth but telling the truth has far better outcome than to lie. Telling the truth is godly attribute.

When Joseph was young, he was not secretive. He never ventured on lying. When he had dreams of God’s revelation that he will become greater than his brothers, he told them about his dreams, and they hated him. Many years later, God made his dream come true. Truthfulness rewards greatly!

Tax Return

These days, there are a great number of people who are very secretive and would not like to tell how much they earn. They don’t want the government to know exactly how much money they earn so that they lie about their income tax returns. There are many victims who were scammed in relation to taxes. Why?

They may have been scared that the government may discover that they lied about their income when they submitted their income tax returns.

The Scripture says in 1 Peter 3:12-15, For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened. But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

You’ve got nothing to fear if you do what is right and proper. The Scripture was written as manual, instruction and reminder for godly living.

Remember: We need the empowerment of Christ’s Spirit to live a lifestyle according to the Scriptures. We cannot achieve godly lifestyle by human efforts.

Human efforts results to human lifestyle and not godly lifestyle.

Let us learn from Jacob. When he hesitated to respond to the prompting of the Lord for him to go to Egypt, he prayed, and the Lord assured to be with him.

Let’s learn from Joseph. He observed propriety and proper behavior. He did not abuse his authority as ruler of Egypt. Instead, he was quick to inform Pharaoh that his decreed to allow his family to live in Goshen had been implemented accordingly. He also reminded his brothers to tell the truth.

Pray that God would continue to empower us to live a godly lifestyle.

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