Short daily devotionals for the socially distanced. These are thoughts from my daily time in the word. I use a bible reading plan that will have me in a different section of Scripture every day.
I hope they serve to give you courage and hope. You can subscribe to receive them as a daily email at the bottom of the page.
Monday, May 18th
Reading: Genesis 45-47
24 Then he sent his brothers away, and as they departed, he said to them, “Do not quarrel on the way.” 25 So they went up out of Egypt and came to the land of Canaan to their father Jacob.
— Ge 45:23–25 (ESV)
The story of Joseph reuniting with his brothers after they had sold him into slavery and told his father that he was dead is a fascinating study in human dynamics. Joseph, who is now the second most prominent man in Egypt, isn’t obviously Joseph and so is unrecognized by his brothers. As a result, he is able to put them through a series of tests to see if God had changed them over the years, and who can blame him for those tests? I too would want some sort of sanctification evidence from a crew who had sold me to slave traders. The brothers passed the test and Joseph eventually couldn’t hold it in any longer and so revealed himself to them.
This must have a been a big day for his brothers.
Joseph is alive! That’s incredible!
Wait … now it will be revealed to our dad what we did to him.
Wait … we are bowing down before him just like he said he would in his dream.
Wait … he is showing favor to his brother Benjamin, over us, just like dad does.
Joseph is alive. This is great. Isn’t it?
The opportunity for strife and pain was real, and so Joseph sends the brothers away to take the greatest news of their lives with an instruction to not quarrel on the way. Humans have a seemingly endless ability and willingness for quarreling. And yet, a reluctance to engage in it is actually something that ought to mark the people of God. Joseph knew that the evil one could ruin a marvelous redemption story through quarreling between brothers.
The evil one still runs the same play today. It is an effective one. If he can get the family to quarrel – even in the midst of most some of their most profound days – then he can undermine some of the impact of the redemptive work of God in the world.
I am deeply saddened that so many believers are so quarrelsome at this juncture in history. God is doing some remarkable work in and through the church global in the shadow of a pandemic and we choose to quarrel about how quickly we can end it, about who gets to dominate who, and about how we can assert our own rights over the rights of others.
Paul said it simply to Timothy,
23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.
— 2 Ti 2:23.
Proverbs has the failure to heed this command as a repeat theme of foolishness.
3 It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife,
but every fool will be quarreling.
— Pr 20:3.
Friends, we, like Joseph’s brothers are sojourners in a strange land, looking for food, hanging on for hope, and occasionally getting the surprise of our lives as we see the redemptive purposes of God being revealed.
Do not quarrel on the way.
Courage, dear friends.