Friday, September 18, 2015

All Things New: Israel, Road of Grief

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Years passed.  Israel suffered some setbacks and losses before he finally returned to his father, Isaac, who was still living.  He'd left Shechem, abandoning the property he had purchased there, after his sons had slaughtered the men and looted the city in retaliation for the ravishment of their sister;  he'd had another son but lost his beloved Rachel as they journeyed.  Israel's oldest son, Reuben, had disgraced himself with his mother's maid, the mother of his half brothers.    But Israel did see Isaac again, although the details of that reunion are not recorded.  Isaac died, and Esau came down and they buried him together.  Esau returned to the land he called home, and Israel and his family stayed on the inheritance of Abraham and Isaac.  His sons tended his flocks and herds.  Joseph had already shown signs of inheriting his father's canny eye for management and, being the older son of Rachel, was clearly his father's favorite.

But in his late teens,  Joseph had too much mouth and not enough wisdom.  His older brothers, none too developed in the 'wisdom' area themselves, took offense at the favor Joseph had and the dreams he shared and, oh, he was something of a tattletale regarding his brothers attention to the flocks when they were in the field.  That didn't sit well, either.

The day came when Israel sent Joseph off to check up on his brothers and report back.  Joseph packed up some supplies, shrugged himself into his fancy coat, and headed off down the road.

He was gone rather longer than Israel expected, but he probably was not particularly concerned; after all, he had to find the flocks first and they moved around according to the pasturing and how many other flocks were in the area and whether or not there was water.

But when he looked up and saw his older sons returning and he'd still had no word from Joseph, his spirit froze.  It was a very subdued group of young men who offered a torn and bloody cloak to him...'Um, we found this out in the wilderness.  Look at it it the one you gave to, um, your son?'

Of course it was. What a horrible death...torn and devoured by wild beasts. Israel tore his clothes, put on mourning and refused to be comforted.  In his grief, he never noticed the awkward glances his other sons were giving one another.  What was he send the boy off without even a companion to help him if he fell into trouble?  Now Joseph was gone and there was nothing he could do to bring him back.  He declared he would spend the rest of his life grieving for Joseph.

In mourning will I go down to the grave to my son.  (Gen. 37:35)

Of course, we know the rest of the story...that Joseph was not dead, had not been torn by animals, but was in fact at that very moment headed toward an Egyptian slave market.  But it would be 20ish years before Israel learned the truth.

And the truth was that God was already at work to provide for Israel and his family at a point so far down the road they couldn't begin to see it.

This is one of the most difficult things to truly believe...that God uses ALL things for the ultimate good of His people.  Even hard, tragic circumstances have their place in His purpose...not that He causes them, but that He has the ability to use them, to turn them around and make even the attacks and plans of the enemy fit into his timetable and his outcome.

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