Torah Portion – Mikkeitz – At the end – “To Him Be the Glory” – 9 December, 2018

Mikkeitz

At the end

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Genesis 41:1-44:17
1 Kings 3:15-4:1

“To Him Be the Glory”


by Mark Huey

This week’s parashah includes a very important verse that should immediately focus our attention on what God was accomplishing through the life of Joseph, when he is asked to interpret the dreams that Pharaoh has been having:

“Joseph then answered Pharaoh, saying, ‘It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer’” (Genesis 41:16).

Mikkeitz allows each of us, once again, to witness the sovereign will of the Creator take its course. The sons of Jacob/Israel are once more called upon to be the principal actors in a real life drama that has been preserved for our instruction. Here, the Holy One displays His omniscient will over the affairs of the world. The Lord has a very special assignment for the people of the covenants, and He guarantees that everything that He desires goes according to His script, by deliberately selecting the cast and arranging the unique circumstances. It is abundantly clear from the record left to us in the Scriptures, that our Father wants us to learn not only from the mistakes committed by the twelve sons of Jacob/Israel—but also from the instances when proper decisions were made by them.

The protagonist in this drama is none other than the noble Joseph, who has risen from the depths of ignominious incarceration. Now positioned as the vice regent of Egypt, he finally has a golden opportunity to return the same evil upon his brothers that he received some twenty years earlier when he was sold into slavery. But something is uniquely merciful about the character of Joseph. Even though he paid a costly price for his brother’s evil intentions, he does not harbor any residual bitterness toward them. Instead, he simply takes the circumstances to teach them an indelible lesson. What was it about Joseph that allowed him to extend such grace? What can modern-day Believers learn from Joseph’s example?

Dreamer of Dreams

Joseph learned as a youth that the Creator God is real. From the stories that he certainly heard from his father, he concluded that He was a personal Deity who was intimately concerned about His chosen people and the promises they had been given. His experiences with dreams certainly had an impact on his life. For years, sequestered in dank prisons, he had plenty of time to relive and analyze not only these dreams, but also the consequences of sharing them with his brothers and father. Then, this dreamer of dreams discovered in confinement that he was able to interpret others’ dreams. But before listening to the dreams of others, he immediately proclaims to the cupbearer and baker that interpretations of dreams belong to his God:

“Then they said to him, ‘We have had a dream and there is no one to interpret it.’ Then Joseph said to them, ‘Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell it to me, please’” (Genesis 40:8).

Joseph gives credit where credit is due. He tells the wine steward and the baker that it is only in the power of the Creator to interpret dreams. But he does have the faith to ask about the dreams, and the Lord intervenes. Joseph supernaturally receives and repeats the interpretation without any regard to the pleasant or unpleasant report (Genesis 40:9-23). What he soon discovers is that he is understanding a voice which is giving him the interpretation.

The critical thing that Joseph learned during his years in prison is that dreams and the interpretation of them can cause things to happen. For another two years (Genesis 41:1), he ponders the accuracy of his interpretation until an opportunity to interpret another dream comes forth.

Pharaoh’s Dreams

The next time Joseph is called upon to interpret something, the dreams are from the supreme ruler of Egypt, the Pharaoh himself. Now, the gifted young servant of the prison’s captain of the guard is summoned to hear and interpret the dreams. He already knew that Pharaoh has exacting demands upon his servants. Remember that the baker had been hanged for no stated reason. How was he, a foreign prisoner, going to be received in a society where the Egyptians disdained Semites? Without hesitation, upon being asked whether he can once again interpret a dream (Genesis 41:15), he responds with this concise statement:

“Joseph then answered Pharaoh, saying, ‘It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer’” (Genesis 41:16).

Joseph’s first response was to give all the glory to the God of his fathers. Joseph knew that the ability to interpret dreams was not something he could just conjure up with some mystical magic. God was pleased by Joseph’s attitude and he was given the proper interpretation of Pharaoh’s dreams. At the conclusion of the interpretations an interesting discourse follows:

“‘Now as for the repeating of the dream to Pharaoh twice, it means that the matter is determined by God, and God will quickly bring it about. Now let Pharaoh look for a man discerning and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh take action to appoint overseers in charge of the land, and let him exact a fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt in the seven years of abundance. Then let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming, and store up the grain for food in the cities under Pharaoh’s authority, and let them guard it. Let the food become as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which will occur in the land of Egypt, so that the land will not perish during the famine.’ Now the proposal seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his servants. Then Pharaoh said to his servants, ‘Can we find a man like this, in whom is a divine spirit?’ So Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Since God has informed you of all this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house, and according to your command all my people shall do homage; only in the throne I will be greater than you.’ Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.’ Then Pharaoh took off his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put the gold necklace around his neck. He had him ride in his second chariot; and they proclaimed before him, ‘Bow the knee!’ And he set him over all the land of Egypt. Moreover, Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Though I am Pharaoh, yet without your permission no one shall raise his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt’” (Genesis 41:32-44).

At this critical juncture, Joseph felt the liberty to go beyond just the interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream by giving him the solution to contend with the forecasted famine. Something prompted Joseph to go beyond just a strict interpretation. Is it possible that God had allowed Joseph to mature to a point in his walk with Him, that he was able to be a confident voice for Him before world leaders? It is clear from the resulting actions of Pharaoh that the solutions suggested were things that Joseph had been groomed to manage. He had been responsible for Potiphar’s home and his possessions, and had done an admirable job of managing his estate. Next, he had been put in charge of the prisoners during his tenure in jail. Apparently, he was again given favor and the affairs of the prison were maintained in proper order.

Now with the wisdom implanted by the Lord, Joseph is positioned to be elevated to the second highest political rank in Egyptian society (Genesis 41:38-49). This is a remarkable rise to power—simply with the blessings of the Most High working through a unique opportunity to interpret dreams! What should we learn from the example of Joseph’s life?

Dreams and Gifts

Perhaps you are gifted with some spiritual endowment that has been freely given to you by the absolute grace of the Creator. Perhaps you have the gift of prophecy, healing, discernment, wisdom, knowledge, or any of the other gifts that our Father freely bestows upon His children for His work to be accomplished (1 Corinthians 12:28-31; Ephesians 4:11-13). You know what the gift is and have seen it operate through you at times. Just how do you operate with a recognizable supernatural gift? Your challenge is to follow the lead of Joseph.

First, remember that the gift has been given to you for purposes beyond your own personal aggrandizement. Instead, whenever you sense a spiritual gift working through you, be cautioned to give whatever glory is due to the Lord for His work to be accomplished through you. Too many times, men and women given gifts of prophecy or healing take advantage of their gifting and begin to use it for manipulative purposes. Many times this results in people who eventually bring dishonor to our Heavenly Father. Too frequently this impedes, rather than advances, His Kingdom work.

Hopefully, we can all take the life of Joseph and his humble example as the proper way to handle the spiritual giftings that are granted by the Lord to each one of us. We must use such spiritual gifts for the purposes of glorifying God, and ultimately drawing people unto Him. If you are straying in the other direction, beware!

Cry out to Him for mercy! Let Him receive the glory that He alone deserves! Ask the Lord to give you the same understanding that Joseph received. Perhaps as you give God the glory for the gifting you have received, He will give you increased responsibility in handling additional tasks in His Kingdom as others are impacted with the message of the gospel.

On the other hand, the Lord may decide to allow you to take credit for what He is doing through you. Then your reward may be here on Earth, rather than through eternity. Remember this reality: we all get the choice of when and by whom we want to be rewarded. Do you want the recognition of mere mortals, for a short season? Or would you prefer eternal favor? It takes faith to choose the latter option. Perhaps like Joseph, with some time in seclusion seeking the Father, we might be prepared to make the right choices. If nothing else, quietness before the Lord can certainly enhance our ability to more clearly hear His voice. Perhaps that is one of the reasons He has given us a day to rest and focus upon Him. Consider these questions as you ponder on Mikkeitz this Shabbat…   (Click to Source)


NOTES

[1] Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, eds., The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament (Chattanooga: AMG Publishers, 2003), 970.

[2] Cf. Isaiah 29:16; Romans 9:21.

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“Sovereign Choices” – V’yeishev (He continued living)

V’yeishev (He continued living)

Genesis 37:1-40:23
Amos 2:6-3:8

“Sovereign Choices”

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Sometimes during the course of Torah reflection, the Lord will use whatever the weekly parashah is to really force you to consider where you stand before Him. V’yeishev is just one of those readings, as the circumstances of life and the choices we have to make are brought right to the surface of our attention. Once again, the lives of our spiritual forbearers epitomize much of the perpetual struggle that humanity has had with its Creator.

In V’yeishev we see the emergence of Judah and Joseph, as the leaders of their generation, come to light. How they individually handled personal trials is vividly contrasted. For the Believer writing this reflective commentary, presently immersed in a very difficult trial himself (2003), the timing of this portion for reflection has been critical for making the right choice. The example of the Patriarch Joseph is a particularly encouraging one to emulate.

As Believers in the Messiah of Israel, who must continue to endure in the Lord, we are each given daily opportunities to make choices. We have many of the same options given to Judah and Joseph, as (1) we can either choose to follow our carnal inclinations, or (2) we can choose to let God work out all the details. Of course, we know that the former path is the natural way for the world and those who lack the indwelling presence of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit). The second path requires faith in a Sovereign Creator, who we trust will work things out according to His perfect plan for our lives.

Years ago, in my early days in the faith, the writings of Paul helped me with some decisions I was making, which could only be prompted and executed by the Spirit of the Most High within me:

“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him [Isaiah 40:13]? But we have the mind of Messiah” (1 Corinthians 2:12-16).

Joseph’s Choices

As I look at the life of Joseph, I am reminded that for some reason he made what appeared to be some very spiritual and faithful decisions, as God was preparing him for the saving work he was going to accomplish for his brothers. Why was he able to make such godly choices during his testings with his brothers (Genesis 37:18-36), while employed (Genesis 39:1-18), or incarcerated in the bowels of Egypt (Genesis 39:19-23)? Was it because of the visions he received as a youth (Genesis 37:1-17)? Without a doubt Joseph’s dreams had an impact on his choices (cf. Genesis 40), as the Psalmist further articulates,

“He sent a man before them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave. They afflicted his feet with fetters, He himself was laid in irons; until the time that his word came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him” (Psalm 105:17-19).

It appears that from this statement “the word” that Joseph received in his dreams had a powerful impact on his future. In fact, it is evident from his actions and reactions to unprovoked abuse that he was able to choose a path of righteousness. But did you notice the additional mention of the trials or afflictions that he endured? If you look up the Hebrew verb tzaraf (@rc), you will find out that “This word describes the purifying process of a refiner, who heats metal, takes away the dross, and is left with a pure substance” (AMG, 970). You might ask this simple question: Why would God choose to refine Joseph with so many trials over the years until the “word” given to him came about? Perhaps the adage seen in Proverbs 3:12 was at work?

“For whom the Lord loves He reproves, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights” (cf. Hebrews 12:6).

Just as the Psalmist declares, and Proverbs and Hebrews clarify, it is obvious that God loved Joseph and had a redemptive role for him to play during his life. So, a discipline delivered because of love was necessary for Joseph to fulfill his calling. Of course at this point, you almost want to throw your hands up in the air and scream, “Why? Why? Why?” Then you are reminded of this very basic truth:

“‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

As students and beneficiaries of Torah reflection, we must be reminded that we are the clay and He is the Potter (cf. Isaiah 29:16; Romans 9:21). Let us all humbly admit that we will be works in progress before we are able to see our Lord face-to-face.

The Right Choice

Even though God may be in ultimate control of things, reality demands that we still have to make decisions that will affect our lives, just as Joseph did in his day. If we are aware of the common struggle between our carnal inclinations, and the Spirit that indwells us, then we are in good company. This is something that the saints have always battled. The blessing is that we know we are in the war, and are hopefully making choices which relinquish our will to the will of the Holy One.

Have you ever had an encounter with the Most High? It may have been a dream like Joseph’s, a voice from the Heavenly realm, or perhaps even a vision from God. Hopefully, this is a part of your testimony—because if it is, then you have the same opportunity that Joseph had to make the right choices. You can reflect upon whatever your encounter was, and remember that at some point in time, the Creator revealed Himself to you in a very unique way. You can recall that He is ultimately in control of the created order, and that He is going to accomplish His tasks.

Knowing these things, what you will learn over time is that if you can choose correctly to submit to His will, making the right spiritual choices, whatever is going on in the circumstances of life will be remedied in a more proficient manner. But if you make a choice based on your carnal proclivities, you may not only impede His speed in rectifying the situation, but you could also become encumbered by the consequences of your preferred, natural choice.

For this seeker, as V’yeishev’s instruction has come forth, the choice to let the Lord work out the details of my challenges is relatively easy. Of course this requires patience, one of the fruits of the Spirit that often needs to be exercised more frequently (Galatians 5:22-23). In a like manner, you can imagine how Joseph was also called to wait upon the Lord. And from the testimony of this and other passages in the Scriptures, his faith and patience were strong enough to wait for Him to move. It is encouraging to note that this challenge is not unique to Joseph or anyone of us. In fact, James the Just gives us great advice as he begins his epistle:

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:2-5).

Endurance can be seen as the result of a faith tempered by time and patience. Look at the results of the trials of life. How do completion and lacking in nothing sound as rewards for making the right choices during times of testing? Consistent study and meditation upon God’s Word should equip you with the wisdom you need to make the right choices, and in the Father’s wisdom, His sovereign choices will be completed in the right time. Joseph waited and trusted. May we, in like manner, choose to follow his example!

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