Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way that you should go.’”
“Just as God leads me I would go;
I would not ask to choose my way;
Constant with what He will bestow,
Assured He will not let me stray.
So as He leads, my path I make,
And step-by-step I gladly take,
A child in Him confiding.”
Today’s Study Text:
“And they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmaelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt. And Judah said unto his brethren, ‘What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh.’ And his brethren were content.”
The God of Dothan – Part 11
“When We Ask, ‘Why?’”
“And the Lord answered, ‘Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb?’ Yes, they may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold: I have indelibly imprinted (tattooed a picture of) you on the palm of each of My hands: O, ____________(your name here) your walls are continually before me.”
Has there been a time in my life when I felt I was forgotten?
How did I respond, feeling as if no one remembered me or even really cared about me?
Have I ever asked my Father in heaven, “Why?”
“God is the God of promise. He keeps His word, even when that seems impossible, even when the circumstances seem to point to the opposite.”
“For my heart was grieved, embittered, and in a state of ferment, and I was pricked in my heart as with the sharp fang of an adder. So foolish, stupid, and brutish was I, and ignorant; I was like a beast before You. Nevertheless I am continually with You; You do hold my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to honor and glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And I have no delight or desire on earth besides You.”
In 1982, a stunning musical was launched on Broadway entitled “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” While it often happens that the production of Biblical stories in film or stage often drift quite a length from the Scriptural record, in the case of this particular story, many of the lyrics were very close to what we have found out happened to Joseph. In one particular number, a group of men, who play Joseph’s brothers, sang a song which repeatedly carried this refrain: “But one thing we are sure about, the dreamer has to go.” I might add, go Joseph did for in our study text today, we find that Dothan was Joseph’s launching pad to Egypt. From one disaster to another. And I don’t think it wrong to consider the fact that Joseph may have asked “Why?”
As I reread Genesis 37: 25-27, the discussion among Joseph’s brothers was so calculating that it makes your blood run cold. To think that these men would stoop to plot the murder of their younger brother and then sit down to feast on the food he had carried all the way from their father’s home seems incredible. But to get your head around the fact that these men seemed to think themselves rather honorable, because they didn’t resort to murder and instead bartered their brother’s life away to Egypt, that is just impossible. Just so we get a picture of what the road from Dothan looked like to a young teenage boy, I want to share the geographical visual portrayed by F. B. Meyer. He notes that as Joseph’s brothers were most likely eating a noon-day lunch that: “A welcome sight struck their gaze. They were sitting on the plain at Dothan, a spot which still retains its ancient name. Anyone stationed there, would be looking eastward towards the valley of the Jordan and the coast of the Mediterranean. This road was one of the main thoroughfares of Palestine. It connected Gilead and the other territories beyond the Jordan with the sea-coast…southward through Philistia to the Delta of the Nile.”
It breaks my heart to even consider what a 17-year-old teen would have been thinking for let us not forget, this was no tourist ride on the back of a trained camel that Joseph had to endure. Slaves walked with their hands and legs often shackled, every step a painful reminder to Joseph that it was his own family that was capable of this signal brutality.
In describing the trek from Dothan to Egypt, author Carylye Haynes opens up for us a window into the possible thoughts that may have filled Joseph’s mind as he placed one foot in front of another:
“Chained to other slaves to prevent escape, Joseph was now a part of the caravan of Ishmaelites…In two or three days, as it kept to the customary caravan route, it came close to Hebron, where were the encampments of Jacob and Isaac, from which Joseph had started out on his visit to his brothers...Joseph knew that just a little to the east, over that low ridge of hills…was home, with all its security. There, too, only such a little way off, were father and grandfather. If he could only get word to them, how quickly things would change for him, how speedily would he be rescued…over there was awaiting him a warm welcome and all the dear things of home and love. He was so near. Would deliverance come? He looked yearningly and eagerly at the hills between him and the black goatskin tents he knew so well. But, no deliverance came. The men, the camels, the slaves, plodded slowly on toward Egypt, toward the cruel slavery into which his brothers sold him, toward the unknown future.”
As I read these words, so eloquently penned, I thought about how I would have felt when I was 17-years-old if my family had sold me and from a pit in Dothan, I had to make my way to a foreign country and an unknown life.
You have to ask yourself, “Would you have felt forgotten by God as you passed your family home, unable to scream out and be heard?” Possibly like Joseph, you have found yourself hurled out of a pit, thinking for a moment that a rescue was underway, only to find yourself enslaved and on your way to who knows where. Possibly, as F. B. Meyer observes, Joseph’s plight appeared worse than death. “What anguish rent (Joseph’s) young heart! How eager his desire to send just one last message to his father! And with all these thoughts, there would mingle a wondering thought of the great God whom he had learned to worship. What would He say to this?”
It may be this is a question you have asked yourself as you were forced into a position of having your back up against the wall and no way to escape. “Where is my Father in all of this” you might question? And who wouldn’t! Yet in these times of great darkness, when light does not penetrate the gloom that engulfs us, it is then, that we will find that the knowledge of our Father’s gracious love will be the foothold that keeps us from falling.
I love this piece I recently found in V. Raymond Edman’s gem of a little book called, Just Why? This particular piece came from the pen of Andrew Murray, a South African writer, teacher and pastor.
In the Time of Questioning Say:
FIRST: God brought me here; it is by His will I am in this strait place; in that I will rest.
NEXT: God will keep me here in His love, and give me grace in this trial to behave as His child.
THEN: God will make the trial a blessing, teaching me the lessons He intends me to learn, and working in me the grace He means to bestow.
LAST: In God’s good time He can bring me out again – how and when He knows.
1. By God’s appointment.
2. In His keeping.
3. Under His training.
4. For His time.
Not long ago, when I was reading late one evening, I came upon these words written by Charles Inwood, “When God is going to do something wonderful, He begins with a difficulty. If it is going to be something very wonderful, He begins with an impossibility.”
Whether you’re surrounded by the Syrian army or if you are 20 feet down in a pit – your Dothan experience is getting you ready for God to do something “very wonderful” in your life. You can be assured of this fact!
“God will answer when to thee,
Not a possibility
Of deliverance seems near;
It is then He will appear
God will answer when you pray
Yea, though mountains block the way,
At His word, a way will be
Even through mountains, made for Thee.
God who still divides the sea,
Willingly will work for thee;
God, before whom mountains fall,
Promises to hear thy call.”
“And the Angel of God, who went before the host of Israel moved and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before them and stood behind them, coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. It was a cloud and darkness to the Egyptians but it gave light by night to the Israelites; and the one host came not near the other all night. Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night and made the sea dry land; and the waters were divided. And the Israelites went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.”
“For God, Himself has said, ‘I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake you, nor let you down, relax My hold on you. Assuredly not.”
“God is with you!’ So we’ve heard;
‘God is with you!’ Wondrous word!
Can ye lack, or need ye fear,
Having God Himself thus near?
‘God is with you’ – known by faith;
‘With you’ even as He saith:
Feelings fail – but facts abide,
‘God is with you,’ by your side!
God – all sovereign, with you now!
Foes and forces to Him bow!
Bold dictators rise and fall;
But God’s kingdom rules over all.
‘God is with you!’ Mind hath peace;
Heart, - from anxious fears, release,
Dread and tumult – all are gone,
When this word we lean upon.”
J. Danson Smith
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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