Life on Earth

Genesis 50:22-26

22 Joseph stayed in Egypt, along with all his father’s family. He lived a hundred and ten years 23 and saw the third generation of Ephraim’s children. Also the children of Makir son of Manasseh were placed at birth on Joseph’s knees.

24 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” 25 And Joseph made the Israelites swear an oath and said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.”

26 So Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. And after they embalmed him, he was placed in a coffin in Egypt.

Student Loans

A story was told of a graduate who works at a fast food chain to pay off her student loans. She studied a degree she enjoyed but not very marketable. It did not land her a job, just yet. Was it an obscure decision when she pursued degree she enjoyed but offers limited employment opportunities in the job market?

The pursuit of college degrees is major decision that students should give thorough considerations. And, making major decision is compared to waging war.

It says in Proverbs 24:6, Surely you need guidance to wage war, and victory is won through many advisers.

As believers, making major or minor decisions—personal, family, or church decisions, we must seek the Lord’s to make the right decision. Even if we pray a lot, accept that not all decisions can produce good result instantly. Believe that God situates us where we serve His purpose to bring glory to His name.

The life of Joseph illustrates that God uses even obscure decisions for His glory. His brothers were envious and hate him but still he told them his dreams that he will become greater than them. So, they sold him as slave. And, as if his adversities were not enough, he was imprisoned for false accusation in Egypt.

If you were Joseph, will you tell your dream to those who hate you? Actually, God allowed him experienced all his trials as preparation for his greatness.

When unpleasant events happen, most often, observers quickly conclude it as bad decision. However, God allows even bad, awkward, or obscure decisions and divert events to accomplish His purpose for His glory in or through our life.

Indeed, Joseph’s troubles were diverted for greater good. He’s great ruler of Egypt. He experienced the best of his life in Egypt. To be an agent of the Lord to save both the Israelites and the Egyptians was God’s purpose for Joseph.

1. Purpose

22 Joseph stayed in Egypt, along with all his father’s family. He lived a hundred and ten years 23 and saw the third generation of Ephraim’s children. Also the children of Makir son of Manasseh were placed at birth on Joseph’s knees.

Joseph’s life exhibits that God uses adversities to accomplish His purpose.

In Canaan, Joseph was favored by his father but his brothers hated him. In Egypt, he was respected by all people, great and small. In Canaan, he was told what to do. His brothers did not want him to be with them. In Egypt, Joseph had servants and surrounded by officials who readily obeyed his orders.

When Joseph was ruler of Egypt, the Israelites experienced the best of their life in Egypt. After Joseph died, their situation changed very differently.

Many years after Joseph died, an Egyptian king who did not know Joseph came to power and made the life of the Israelites really terrible. The Israelites became slaves. They prayed, and the Lord saved them by His mighty power.

The Lord says in Romans 9:15-21, 15“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” 20 But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?

There are potteries made for display, and potteries made for ordinary use. God is the Potter. We are the clay. God formed some of us for special purposes and some for common use. What pottery are you? Are you for special purposes or just for common use? Do you wish that God will use you for special purposes?

It says in 2 Timothy 2:19-23, 19 The Lord knows those who are his. And, Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.

20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. 21 Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

22 Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 

Still one may ask: “What is God’s special purpose for me?” In preparation for God’s special purpose, pray and confess all known sins. God promised to forgive our sins and purifies all our unrighteousness. Pray for increase of faith so that you may increase in your obedience. The Lord knows when we’re ready to obey and accomplish His purposes in us for His glory.

How can we know the very purpose that God planned for us specifically?

If in your heart, you long to do something but don’t know what it is, keep on praying and join ministries that attract you. God’s special purpose for you can’t be done by your human effort. You need to rely upon His empowerment.

God’s special purpose for Joseph was to become ruler of Egypt to save the lives of Israelites and Egyptians from famine. God allowed him to be sold as slave and imprisoned. As slave, Joseph learned how merchants traded business. His master Potiphar promoted him to be the manager of all his properties, why? Even as slave, Joseph trusted God, and the Lord gave him success in his work.

When Joseph was imprisoned for false accusation, the Lord was with him and caused the warden to appoint Joseph as administrator inside prison.

It says in Genesis 39:22-23, 22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.

Prison could be the worst situation but Joseph accepted that it’s part of God’s plan for him to prepare him for greater good. Do you feel like your situation is really bad right now? Students, employees, jobless, or retirees, all situations have struggles. Is it worse than life of prisoner? The Lord is with believers. Like Joseph, struggles are part of God’s preparation for His special purposes in us.

Joseph kept on trusting the Lord when his life was not very pleasant. He held on the God’s promise for him to become greater than his brothers.

2. Promise

24 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” 25 And Joseph made the Israelites swear an oath and said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.”

Have you observed that God personally promised the land of Canaan to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob but not to Joseph or his brothers? God has it planned all along that the Israelites will inherit the Land of Canaan. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob believed God’s promise that Canaan will be given to their descendants.

They died believing that God will fulfill His promise but did not personally see the realization of the promise of God. Joseph believed God’s promise and told the Israelites to carry his bones to Canaan when God will rescue them.

Why did Joseph say that God comes to their aid when at that time, they’re still enjoying great life in Egypt? Was it a prophecy that the next generation Israelites will be maltreated? Well, no Israelite came to power in Egypt after him.

Anyway, by faith Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph believed that Israel will inherit the land of Canaan eventually. It says in Hebrews 11:8-9, By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.

Also in Hebrews 11:13-6, 13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

It continued to say in Hebrews 11:22, 22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.

Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph believe it when God promised that their descendants will inherit the land of Canaan. Similarly, can we trust the Lord even if His promise won’t be completed in our lifetime?

Joseph believed God’s revelation that he will be greater than his brothers. He kept on believing God even when his life was difficult. He became great ruler eventually. As for us, can we keep on believing that God uses adversities around us as preparation for us to accomplish His purposes for the His glory?

Only by God’s grace through faith in Christ, that we can trust the Lord.

Adversities, troubles or difficulties we face could be God’s instrument for His special purpose for us. But until we serve His purposes, we’ll keep on longing for something. The highest level of achievement we can reach and where we can find contentment is the special purpose that the Lord has designed for us.

It is normal for humans to pursue career, material or financial success but God decides which success can satisfy our longing, not us. We attain success when we are satisfied. We are satisfied when God gives us satisfaction in our life which points us back to the special purpose He has designed for us.

Success that satisfies us is the very purpose of God He designed for us. Until we accomplished the purpose of God for, we will keep on living with longing.

After everything said and done, what prestige shall we leave for loved ones?

3. Prestige

26 So Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. And after they embalmed him, he was placed in a coffin in Egypt.

Did it mention that Joseph aspire to live a long life on earth? Did he dream of retiring in Canaan one day? It’s not known also. God’s purpose for him was to be an agent in saving the lives of many people during the severe famine. That’s recorded as the highest level of success he attained. The rest was added spice.

Sure, he was assigned as the highest ruler of Egypt next to Pharaoh, and anybody can occupy such position but only Joseph was God’s chosen instrument for the purpose, ‘to save lives during famine.’ The Egyptians recognized Joseph’s accomplishment as ruler so that they treated his remains respectably according to their cultural practice, which was to embalm and place him in a coffin in Egypt.

Joseph exemplified also his respect for his father Jacob when he fulfilled his promise to bury Jacob in the land of Canaan. The lifestyle and achievements of Joseph, that were recorded including his faithfulness in trusting the Lord in the midst of adversities, exemplify a prestige that believers may desire to have.

What prestige do you wish to leave behind when your time on earth ends?

The Book of Genesis is filled with practical illustrations of how believers may practice faith in the Lord. We learned from Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph that God brought success in their life because they trusted him even in the midst of adversities. Sometimes we won’t see the end of our purpose in life but for sure the next generation, our children and grandchildren will recall if we’ve left behind a prestige worthy to be told as exemplary lifestyle for believers.

Abel and Cain

The first human to practice faith in the Lord was Abel, not Adam, not Eve.

It says in Genesis 4:3-7, In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

Adam and Eve had other sons and daughters. But in this story, only Abel and Cain were mentioned, why? It compares the proper practice of faith in God to disrespect of God. When Cain offered some fruits of the soil to the Lord, he may have presumed that God didn’t deserve the best. He just picked some fruit, not even the best ripe fruits from a tree that he didn’t plant and offered them.

In contrast, Abel offered fat portion from the firstborn of his flock. Abel chose the best of the best he could offer. It manifested high regard of the Lord.

It says in Hebrews 11:1-4, 1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

4By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.

Abel died as a result of practice of his faith in God.

Joseph was maltreated but he kept on believing God, and the Lord gave him success in whatever he did.

There are added consequences when we practise our faith in the Lord.

Doubter will still be shaken but we all need to increase in our faith.

Our life on earth will eventually end but we’ve got to make sure that we have accomplished the purposes of God for us personally.

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