Time and Space #19: Waiting in the Present

Was Joseph a good guy or a bad guy?

Or some of both?

I don’t like the fact that he married the daughter of a priest.  One wonders about his father-in-law’s spiritual requirements of him.

He named his first son something about forgetting his father’s house.  Ouch.

He used a silver cup for divination.

And he utterly destroyed a capitalist system and transferred all of the liquid and non-liquid wealth of the nation to the king, reducing the nation to slavery.  I don’t think God sent him to Egypt to destroy the nation, and I think the reason the Egyptians eventually enslaved the Hebrews is because a Hebrew inappropriately enslaved the Egyptians.

On the other hand, he was clearly picked by God for this task, and he interpreted dreams through the power of the One True God, fully giving Him credit for that gifting.

Good guy/bad guy?  You pick.

What I do like about him is the fact that he could live in the present without repudiating his past.

He seemed to be fully engaged in his job as Prime Minister, not pining for justice or going on and on about the issues of the past.  He clearly still had a heart for his dad and his baby brother (not so much for the other ten!).  But he lived in the present and built vigorously.

When God brought the past into the present, by bringing Jacob and Benjamin back to him, he was instantly ready to deal with the past in a productive way – first bringing his brothers to repentance and then restoring his family’s fortunes through his political connections.

That is an art form – living large in the present, while there is huge unfinished business from the past.  He appropriated the grace from this time, while letting God orchestrate the alignment of the past time with the present time in a way that He could engage with.

But at the same time, he could fully engage the unfinished business from the past, when God brought it to him.

As much as I don’t like him, I do appreciate his handling of time.

One frustrated mother of a Prophet cried, “She has eight toes in the future and two in the past.”

Not Joseph.  He had ten toes in the present.

Until God aligned time and space to bring the past into the present.

Then He used the present to heal the past.

Not too shabby as a model for wise living.

Copyright February 2018 


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5 Responses to Time and Space #19: Waiting in the Present

  1. Jessica says:

    In all these years of reading this story and admiring how Joseph’s life worked out, I have absolutely never, ever noticed the fact that he “utterly destroyed a capitalist system and transferred all of the liquid and non-liquid wealth of the nation to the king, reducing the nation to slavery.” I guess I always read it as a “look how God redeemed Joseph’s life” story.

    I also never noticed that he actually SOLD food (instead of distributing freely) to desperately hungry people during a severe national famine…when he and the rest of the government most likely had a monopoly on food.

    And I never noticed the other faults you mentioned. The food thing gets me most, though. Utterly fascinating! I love when all my boxes get broken!

  2. Maggie says:

    Come on mate! ( pardon the Aus expression of intense emotional indignation ant this time in the history of our land)…he fought that famously HUGE battle against Potiphar’s wife , that Jezebel !strong Jezebel spirit…give him a break!

  3. Brant says:

    Wow, what a challenging “art form” to live. Thank you!

  4. Lynda Tracy says:

    Can we really tell that Joseph used the silver cup for divination? I had always thought that while Joseph told his servant to say that to his brothers, that didn’t mean he actually used it for that purpose– after all, when in jail he had found the Lord’s help sufficient to interpret dreams, without a silver cup.
    Thinking about His reducing the people of Egypt to slavery… the people of that generation might not have minded that so much because they had experienced near starvation and recognized this had been the means of saving their lives. Being a living slave under a somewhat benevolent dictatorship probably looked more attractive at that point than being a dead capitalist! Perhaps that Pharaoh and Joseph had to be gone before the next generation recognized that they were actually the slaves of the state? I am curious as to whether there was a “revolution” by the people, or a new Pharaoh, who turned the situation around so completely by the next time we see Jacob’s family in Egypt.
    I do agree that God often uses the present to heal the past. I believe He guides time and circumstances in our waiting until we have been appropriately prepared to deal with the past. He is sovereign!

  5. legalblah says:

    Great stuff Sapphire. I pick good guy, It was hard to get over all the betrayal of all that, its shocking he did as well as he did after being sold into slavery.

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