Epistles to the Cyberchurch - Su Min

To: en & more
From: Su Min
Subject: New Year!

To my dear family and friends whom I love in the truth: I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. It gives me great joy to have some brothers come and tell me about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the faith (3 John 1-4).

How wonderful it is to borrow a greeting from the word of God: Eternal Truths: true yesterday, today and forever! Amen!

After a wonderful 3 week Christmas break, it is now the New Year, and we turn back to the beginning of things. We are steadily ploughing through Genesis, and for me I have been blessed by the treasures that tilling this land has delivered.

We restart at Genesis 37, the story of Joseph, even though Gen 37:2 says that this is an account of Jacob. Well, the son is the son of the father, and the father is the father of the son, and so I figure the life of both are intertwined. We do remember fondly the Andrew Lloyd Webber songs from Joseph and his many coloured coat, and the great joy that music brings to our lives, and the opening episode indeed is about how Joseph cultivated jealousy amongst his brothers and was sold into slavery, ending in the hands of Potiphar, captain of the guards to Pharaoh, king of Egypt..

We first hear of Joseph when he is born to Rachel (after a long interval of barrenness) at Gen 30:23-24. The next thing we know we are here at Gen 37 vs 2, Joseph is 17 years old, tending to the family flocks and bringing home tales of who didn't do what he was supposed to do, who did what he was not supposed to do and who said what about whom. This did not endear him to his bad-doing brothers.

As I look at this verse 3, I think of the lessons about family life that it carries. We all agree that the multiple wives of Jacob was not in line with God's will. God had planned one man, one wife. Or else in the garden of Eden there would have been Eve, Tomasina, Dickensina and Henrietta to go to boot. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh (Gen 2:24). So I believe the multiple mothers and multiple sub families and step-brothers facilitated the breeding of discontent amongst the brothers.

Then there were the "bad reports". Telling tales and reporting on others may or not be the same thing. There is such a thing as the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And there is a difference between the truth, reported with vengeance, and the truth reported in love. What did Joseph tell Jacob, and why? Was he set there to spy upon his brothers? Was he dutifully reporting to his father? Were his reports spiced with malice? We do not know, for we were not told and we were not there. But we can get a feeling of what God would want us to do, telling the truth, yet tempering justice with mercy. Telling tales can never be God-like. Love keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth (1 Cor 13: 5b, 6). We can only act God-like if we know the mind of God. And we can only get to know the mind of God if we keep a daily communion with him, reading his word, meditating upon it and talking with him daily.

We read in vs 3&4 how Joseph (Israel) loved Jacob more than his other sons, the gift of the many coloured coat, and the fomenting of resentment of the other brothers. It is human for parents to love their children differentially, and it is also human for children to perceive this differential love and resent for being loved less. I can but beg forgiveness from those who feel less loved, and forgive those that I feel have love me less! I know that as I forgive, so too God forgives me, and because I know God forgives me, I can much more readily forgive those that hurt me. And as I forgive, the pain and hurt and misery that eats me up is set free, and my heart and body and soul are liberated and set free to heal with the grace given to me by God's love. But not so for Joseph's bothers. They were filled with hate and could not speak a kind word to him (vs 4b).

Joseph, the dreamer, had two dreams (vs 7 & vs 9). The dreams spoke of his superiority over his brothers and even over his parents. They were prophetic dreams. But Joseph in his immaturity did not know how to keep quiet or diplomatically paint the picture. He blurted out the raw truth and in so doing made his brothers hate him all the more. Later on we are to find that Joseph is given the gift of interpreting the dreams of others, and this gift was to be used as part of God's plan in placing Joseph high up in Pharaoh's court and in reuniting Joseph with his family.

In Gen 37:12- 17 we read of how the best loved son of Jacob was sent off to check on the brothers and the flock as they grazed in Sechem. Only, by the time Joseph reached Sechem they had moved to Dothan. Even as Joseph caught up with his brothers, before he reached them, they plotted to kill him and throw the body into a cistern (vs 20). The eldest brother Reuben (first son of Leah) has a little love left for Joseph, and planned to save Joseph, proposing to imprison Joseph in an empty well to later rescue him (Gen 37:22). So into the empty well is cast the stripped down Dreamer (Gen 37:24), and as the brothers sit down for a meal along comes a caravan of slave traders. Judah, 4th son of Leah, also has some compassion for his brother, and hopes to save Joseph's life by selling him off to slave trader. The subplot is agreed to, and Joseph is sold and taken away by the slave traders (Gen 37:28). Rueben was away for a short while. Rueben was unaware of this sub-plot. To Reuben's consternation, the dry well that was a temporary prison is empty. He assumes Joseph is dead (Gen 37 29-30). The other brothers play along with this assumption and forge evidence of such, daubing the many coloured coat with blood and presenting the red herring to Jacob (31-33). Grief of griefs. Meanwhile, the Midianites and Ishmaelites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, an official of the Pharaoh and the captain and chief executioner of the royal guard.

Let us close in prayer

Love Dad.

For any comments or enquiries please write to Dr. Lim Su Min

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