Monday, June 23, 2008

The Pit

Let’s take a break from Daniel and Jonah. I listened to Ed Young Jr today (it’s Sunday). He was speaking about Joseph and his trials. First with his brothers, then Potiphar’s wife, and then the wine taster. A quick refresher: Joseph was the favorite son of Jacob, and Jacob showed it openly. He was next to the youngest of 12 brothers. Jacob didn’t mind showing that he was the favorite. He had a dream about his brothers falling at his feet, and so he told his brothers about the dream. This was no casual conversation mind you. He was boasting. I’m daddy’s favorite, I have the coat of many colors (spelled R.O.Y.A.L.Y.) and one day you will all be in submission… The brothers had had enough. They threw Joseph into a pit, took the coat and dipped it in animal blood, told Jacob that Joseph was dead, and sold Joseph into slavery. A really bad day! He woke up a king and went to sleep a slave. Ed’s sermon was about Betrayal. What God spoke to me from this message, and from the entire story, was about pits!
Why was Joseph, one of the greatest men ever to live, thrown into the pit? I think there are lessons here. Because Joseph was sold to a guy named Potiphar, a high-ranking official in Egypt. Now, Joseph was out of the physical pit but not out of the spiritual pit. He toiled as a slave for 10 years or so with Potiphar. Eventually, his looks and his brains got him to be Potiphar’s chief slave. He was a good-looking guy, and Potiphar’s wife took notice. She tried to seduce Joseph, and he refused. Eventually she tried to force him into bed and even ripped of his…hmmm...his coat. That boy had coat problems. The coat or cloak, like and outer shirt, was a sign of his rank. She falsely accused Joseph of rape. She gave the coat to Potiphar as proof of the “attempted rape.” Joseph had been a loyal servant to Potiphar for 10 years! He had proved himself, and even been faithful to God, by fleeing the seductress! Yet what happed? He is thrown into prison. He was thrown into another pit!
Why do we go from pit to pit to pit? Why do we work steadfastly, prove our loyalty, and even our devotion, and are still thrown into pits! It seems so unfair! Well, another decade goes by, Joseph proves himself faithful and loyal, and eventually he is made the chief of the prison! Still a prisoner, but over the affairs of the place. One day some new prisoners arrive. The baker and wine taster to the Pharaoh. They had been accused to plotting an assassination. The baker and the wine taster were in key roles. Obviously, the baker cooked Pharaoh’s food, and the taster ate some to make sure it wasn’t poisoned. After a few days in the prison, these guys have a dream. They are disturbed. I would think that the death sentence would have been disturbing, but they have a dream and freak out! Joseph, the dreamer, says, “Hey! I am your guy! The best dream reader in history!” Well, not really. Joseph says, “Doesn't God alone know the meaning of dreams? Now tell me what you dreamed and I’ll get God’s take on it.” Somewhere along the way Joseph has learned from his twenty some years in pits that “It ain’t about me! It is about God.”
The interpretations of their dreams come true. The baker in given a long walk on a short pier, and the wine sipper is sent back to Pharaoh. Joseph’s last words to this guy were, “Hey, remember me when you get back to Pharaoh!” And of course, he …didn’t. For two more years Joseph stayed in the pit. The rest, as they say, is history. The wine sipper eventually remembers Joseph when Pharaoh has a dream. Joseph makes and impression, because of God saves Egypt from famine and is made number two in all of Egypt, only under the Pharaoh himself. Eventually, Joseph saves his family, and yes, the brothers fell down at his feet.
Quite a story, but I have never really paid attention to the pits in Joseph’s live before. Joseph was in the pit because he had not gotten where he was going yet. Each pit taught him something, and each pit was a step along the progression. Had he not gone to prison, he would not have been in a place to influence Pharaoh. Had he not been at Potiphar’s house, he would not have been in an Egyptian prison. Had his brothers not sold him into slavery, he would not have been at Potiphar’s house. Joseph had some things to learn about himself. But ultimately, Joseph went through these pits so he could save his family. He got where he was going, where God intended him to be. The dream was not so Joseph could be lifted up above his brothers, but to show him he would be as a savior to them.
The pits in my life seem severe to me. I would like to think that I have grown through each one. And I hold out hope that I am not where I am going yet. That there is a place where God wants me to be where I can be an influence to a community of Believers. But through it all, I must remember that no matter how horrible my pit may seem, that Jesus Christ suffered a much worse pit than I can imagine. He took my place in the wrath of God poured out upon my sin. He paid the penalty, the debt that I owed, and in so doing, did not just become as a savior, but He became my Savior. When I think about that, it makes my pit a little more bearable. I hope it makes yours the same as well!

God Bless

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