August 16, 2018
“Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.” Genesis 37:17b-18 (NIV)
Today, there will be a moment. No one will snap a picture of it. It probably won't make it into the journals of those who journal. Or linger in the thoughts we carry with us to sleep tonight.
It will come.
It will go.
It will slip by seemingly unnoticed. But its effects won't slip. They'll stay. And if fostered, grow to epic proportions.
This moment where something creeps into our heart and pulls our focus from right to wrong. It will be just a hint of distortion. The smallest amount. But a slight and seemingly insignificant amount of skewed thought will take root.
Beyond what we can even imagine.
Which brings us to one of my favorite stories in the Bible. The one where Moses goes to Pharaoh and sings that song, "Oh, Pharaoh, Pharaoh, whoa, whoa, gotta let my people go."
Totally a loose translation, but if you’ve ever attended vacation Bible school as a child, you probably know what I'm talking about.
There's an astounding chain of events that led up to God having to deliver His people from Pharaoh’s fierce grip that I want us to trace and consider. It starts with this question: Why was the entire nation of Israelites — all God's people — all 12 tribes — enslaved in Egypt?
As I trace this story backward, I find it's because of one seemingly insignificant moment.
The course of history was changed because a few family members got a little cranky and a little jealous of their brother Joseph. Envy and anger slipped in. Just a hint. But just enough.
It doesn't take much.
Our key verse reveals the moment the seed of jealousy bloomed into a full blown plan: "Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him" (Genesis 37:17b-18).
Joseph was thrown in a pit and eventually sold as a slave.
Years went by.
Years of heartbreak and confusion passed.
Eventually, Joseph landed in a position of great power in Egypt and had authority to provide food for his family. So, all 11 of his brothers and their families moved to Egypt. Joseph and his 11 brothers make up what became the 12 tribes of Israel. As these tribes multiplied, they became the nation of Israel.
What the brothers meant for evil, God used for good. He saved the Israelites from the famine. But there were still lasting effects of the brothers' choices that came out years later.
After Joseph died, “Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. ‘Look,’ he said to his people, ‘the Israelites have become far too numerous for us. Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.’ So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh” (Exodus 1:8-11, NIV).
So, the entire nation of Israel suffered oppression and slavery for centuries. Why?
Because a few brothers on an ordinary day got a little jealous … and allowed anger and envy to slip in.
And the moment these emotions slipped in, the course of history changed.
In a moment.
May we never assume our moments don't matter. The decisions we make every second of every day matter.
There are no little moments or little sins.
There’s a domino effect to it all.
So, I fall hard upon soft grace. I thank God for this realization. I ask Him to make my soul even more sensitive, more aware, more in tune to my constant need for forgiveness.
Though I’m weak, I walk in the strength of utter dependence.
And I refuse to beat myself up for mistakes made yesterday. Today is a new day. A new chance to set things going in a different direction.
Joseph's brothers had years to try and rescue Joseph — find out where he was — help him — set their past mistakes right.
Years. They had years. But they never did set about to turn things around.
Oh, sweet sister, we can’t let today slip by.
Let’s watch for any moment today where we have the choice to let anger, envy or something else negative slip in. And when one shows up, let’s recognize it. Refute it. And replace it with God's spirit of love.
Dear Lord, You made me. You know me. I need Your help where I am weak. Make me aware of any place where I'm off course today. Give me the desire to do what pleases You. I want to do Your will. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
James 3:16, "For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice." (NIV)
Our hearts are most susceptible to deception, destruction and division when we pull away from friends who speak and live God's truth. Learn to process your deepest hurts in a godly way with Lysa TerKeurst, a friend who understands your pain, in her book, Embraced: 100 Devotions to Know God Is Holding You Close. Order your copy here today!
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Satan wants us to think a little anger, jealousy or bitterness is no big deal. But God wants us to uproot those things before they can grow. Are there any negative emotions you need God to help you replace? Join the conversation today.
© 2018 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.
Originally published Thursday, 16 August 2018.