Twist of Fate

Genesis 37:12-18

12Now his brothers had gone to graze their father’s flocks near Shechem, 13and Israel said to Joseph, “As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I am going to send you to them.” “Very well,” he replied. 14So he said to him, “Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring word back to me.” Then he sent him off from the Valley of Hebron. When Joseph arrived at Shechem, 15a man found him wandering around in the fields and asked him, “What are you looking for?” 16He replied, “I’m looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they are grazing their flocks?” 17“They have moved on from here,” the man answered. “I heard them say, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.’” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. 18But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.

Fried Butterfly Squid

Someone said, “If you cannot excel locally, try abroad.” A young couple applied abroad hoping to earn more. Their plane ticket and work visa were ready but a ‘twist of fate led them to venture into restaurant: “Fried Butterfly Squid.” After a year, their restaurant has 120 franchised branches.

Do you prefer a franchise or explore a new idea? Businessmen suggest to first timers: “To be successful in restaurant business, it’s better to buy franchise!” How do you define success? Contentment! Would you accept that financial success is not totality of contentment? You’ve got wisdom from God.

The Lord Jesus warned in Luke 12:15, 15“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

Listen: The Lord is not against accumulating much wealth. Abraham, Jacob, King David, King Solomon, Job, Queen Esther, the Lord blessed them all with so much wealth. It is greed for more wealth that the Lord opposed.

How do you understand this verse? Did Jesus particularly teach about material wealth in John 10:10, 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Previously, Christ declared Himself as the Gate for His sheep. He offers eternal safety, and through Him, believers find pasture or life to its fullness.

The Greek word translated ‘full’ is similar to ‘abundant, satisfying, greater, excessive, exceedingly, extremely, or beyond. It’s the totality of life contentment.

Christ’s promise of fullness of life is not relegated or consigned to material abundance. It’s a satisfying life beyond comprehension. It extends beyond our human interpretation or description even in midst of pleasant or tragic situations.

Don’t we dream of having material sufficiency? The minimum wage in this country can afford many things that the wealthy people enjoy, and we can testify that there’s something more that we desire, not just material sufficiency.

King David had popularity, power, prosperity, partner and peace. All things he enjoyed, King David gave back credit to the Lord in Psalm 145:19, 19He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.

Of course, King David had experienced God’s grace by faith. By faith in God, King David carefully obeyed the Lord’s instruction. God’s word was his guide from youth to adulthood, and his lifestyle  exhibited faith in the Lord.

King David recorded in Psalm 19:7-11, 7The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 8The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

9The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. 10They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.
11By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

David’s simple knowledge of warfare was enough to defeat the advanced military experiences of giant Goliath. And, instead of his older brothers who were experienced soldiers, David was rewarded as king of Israel. What was it that qualified him to be chosen as king of Israel? Keeping God’s word, David said.

Or, did King David follow the examples of Joseph to practice faith in God despite of his circumstances? There’s similarity in the lifestyle of King David that was displayed in the lifestyle of Joseph. It’s obedience to instruction.

1. Instruction

12Now his brothers had gone to graze their father’s flocks near Shechem, 13and Israel said to Joseph, “As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I am going to send you to them.” “Very well,” he replied. 14So he said to him, “Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring word back to me.” Then he sent him off from the Valley of Hebron.

Bible scholars estimated that Joseph was 17 years old when his brothers sold him to slave merchants. Joseph was obedient young person. He could be thrill-seeker who loved to venture alone. He could have argued about possible danger going to the field alone, but he obeyed Israel’s instruction to go and see his brothers, and possibly, he brought food and other supplies they may need.

What do you think? Did Joseph’s brothers pasture sheep in the morning and then go home at night? No! They stayed with their sheep for many days or even months until shearing time or time to collect the wools of sheep. Joseph was his father’s messenger, why? He was obedient and reported without malice.

Did Joseph know that his brothers hated him? Surely! Why did he want to see them? When Joseph answered his father, “Very well!” it implied that he was more than willing to obey his father’s instruction. Joseph exemplified obedience to parents that resulted to blessing. It reminds us in Ephesians 6:1-3: Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

Joseph obeyed his father’s instruction and traveled alone. They have servants but Joseph did not argue or complain. He desired to please his father.

His willingness to obey his father may have also been a factor why he became the favorite of his father. Moreover, obedience to parents is also a result of faith in the Lord. When Christ is in control of our life, His obedient Spirit produces joy in us which includes joy of obeying parents. Don’t you think so?

Eli the Priest

In comparison we may see the result of disobedience in the life of the sons of Eli. Eli was a priest in Israel and his sons disregarded his instructions. Eli rebuked his sons in 1 Samuel 2:23-25, 23“Why do you do such things? I hear from all the people about these wicked deeds of yours. 24No, my sons; the report I hear spreading among the Lord’s people is not good. 25If one person sins against another, God may mediate for the offender; but if anyone sins against the Lord, who will intercede for them?” His sons, however, did not listen to their father’s rebuke, for it was the Lord’s will to put them to death.

When the sons of the Priest Eli were rebuked of their wickedness, their disobedience manifested their disrespect to the commands of the Lord. Priest Eli was spiritual leader of Israel at that time but his sons disregarded the Lord. It only proves that faith in God is individual and personal matter that each of us should consider and decide. Check and decide for yourself if you believe in God.

It’s God’s instruction to obey parents. Would you obey God’s instruction?

Some people may argue, “What if parents’ instruction put us in danger?

Of course, we need also to be careful. Furthermore, you sure know that anyone, young or old, rich or poor, popular or not can be a victim of random attack.

We obey or not, we don’t decide if danger waits inside or outside our home but we can decide if we obey or disobey. Decision to obey our parents without argument exhibits faith in the instruction of God ‘to obey our parents.’

If there’s one practical application of faith in God you may want to practice is this: Learn and practice how to obey your parent with cheerfulness! You’ll be surprise when God blesses you more than you can ever imagine or dream of.

Joseph obeyed his father’s instruction, that’s all! No complaints! He wasn’t aware of a danger that his brothers intended to kill or sell him to slavery. He may have been thrilled by the opportunity not just to obey his father but also to go out in the field gallivanting, sightseeing or bird-watching. He went to Shechem where he expected them grazing their sheep but he was informed differently.

2. Information

14cWhen Joseph arrived at Shechem, 15a man found him wandering around in the fields and asked him, “What are you looking for?” 16He replied, “I’m looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they are grazing their flocks?”  17“They have moved on from here,” the man answered. “I heard them say, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.’” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan.

Joseph simply followed his instinct. He was certain of the location of his brothers but surprised to discover that they were there. Was it coincidence that a stranger appeared nowhere to inform him where his brothers went? Did God arrange such favorable circumstances to redirect Joseph’s twist of fate?

Probably, his brothers went to graze their flocks near Dothan because they were attracted of or curious about city life in Dothan. Scholars suggest that Dothan was a stopover for merchants from the east on their way to Egypt, and after completing their business transaction in Egypt, merchants would stop again in Dothan to replenish or have necessary rest before going home to the east.

Anyway, if you were Joseph, how do you react when you are redirected or your expectations turn out differently? Would you even thank your parents when they send you for an errand? Israel’s trust in his son when he instructed Joseph illustrates the trust of Christ when He sends us to mission or gives us instruction. Israel trusted that his son Joseph would diligently obey but does God trust that we diligently obey Him so that He would give us a mission or instruction?

It teaches us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, 18Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

It also says in Psalm 103:11, 11For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him.

David the Shepherd

Before David was crowned king of Israel, he defeated the giant Goliath. When David obeyed his father, he was led to the path of opportunity to succeed.

It narrated in 1 Samuel 17:17-20, 17Now Jesse said to his son David, “Take this ephah of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp. 18Take along these ten cheeses to the commander of their unit. See how your brothers are and bring back some assurance from them. 19They are with Saul and all the men of Israel in the Valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines.” 20Early in the morning David left the flock in the care of a shepherd, loaded up and set out, as Jesse had directed. He reached the camp as the army was going out to its battle positions, shouting the war cry.

David had 7 brothers and 2 sisters. Three of David’s older brothers (Eliab, Abinadab, Shammah) were soldiers. He was the youngest but his father told him to deliver the supplies of his brothers in the battlefield. Why did Jesse not tell David’s older brothers who were not soldiers or his sisters to go and see their brothers who were fighting the Philistines? It was dangerous, right?

It’s a biblical example that God would use parents to present opportunities for us to explore the career path He prepared, if we just obey. When David obey his father without complain, he came face to face with Goliath. After defeating Goliath, events in his life were rearranged, recalculated for him to become king.

The Lord is very particular about obedience to parents in the Scriptures. Why? Parents are instrumental for our existence. Do you believe that from birth, parents provided your needs without your knowledge? If we obey our parents out of respect, it shows obedience to our Heavenly Father whom we cannot see.

The Lord knows that humans are disobedient, rebellious and do things opposite to His will but He still gives us commands, why? Did He trust us? When we accepted Christ as Lord and Savior, God sent the Spirit of His obedient Son into our hearts. So that when Christ performs His lordship in us, His obedient Spirit enables us to obey the Lord with cheerfulness and with willingness just as the Lord Jesus obeyed His Father even to His death on the cross.

If we can accept that that greatest practical exhibit of Christ’s obedience to His Father was His willingness to be crucified, we surely would accept that the Lord Jesus will receive all glory and praise because of that. And, we allow Christ performs His lordship in us because we agree that He knows what’s best for us.

King David obeyed his father’s instruction to bring supplies to his brothers in the unsafe battlefield, and to bring home some news about their situation. His obedience redirected a twist of fate or fortune in his journey to be Israel’s king.

Similarly, Joseph obeyed his father’s instruction to go and see his brothers in the unsafe wilderness, brings some news about their situation, and probably brought them food supplies or clothes. Joseph’s obedience was a twist of fate in his journey to become Prime Minister of Egypt. At first they, intended to kill him.

3. Intention

18But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.

To recognize him from a distance, they’ve got great vision. His ornate robe identified him. How much time did Joseph have to reach them? They decided of what they intended to do to him before he reached them. Why kill a brother?

Remember when Joseph brought his father bad report about his brothers? Is it possible that they were selling some of their sheep to merchants for personal use or night life in Dothan? Jacob didn’t know if lambs were born because his sons brought their flock home only after long period of time. They intended to kill Joseph to prevent him from reporting their escapades or wickedness.

See: Such is random attack not by stranger but by his siblings. We cannot be very sure who would randomly attack us so that we don’t decide about safety in a particular situation. Such tragic event happened to Joseph is not an isolated case in the Bible only. Similar tragedy happens anytime even in our generation.

The Lord Jesus offers eternal safety in John 10:7-9, 7“Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.

The Lord continued in John 10:14-18, 14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 

16I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

The Lord Jesus exemplified obedience to His Father. He knew that His obedience would lead to His death but He did not argue. He did not complain. He just obeyed. The same obedience was seen in the life of Joseph and King David. Obedience to parents is practical exhibit of faith in God and His instructions.

Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:16-19, 16I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

When the fullness of Christ dwells in us, we will completely agree that obedience to parents is obedience to God’s instruction ‘to obey our parents’ and that obedience to our parents could redirect a twist of fate to our journey in life.

When we have personally experience willingness and cheerfulness in obeying the Lord, we will find out that it’s, actually, a twist of fate (or fortune, if you accept such term) that diverts our journey to the path that leads to the design of lifestyle that God has prepared for us even before we were yet to be born.

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