Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before Him: God is a refuge for us.”
“From tedious toil, for anxious care,
Dear Lord, I turn again to Thee;
Thy presence and Thy smile to share
Makes every burden light to me.”
Today’s Study Texts:
1. “They took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it. And then (Joseph’s brothers) sat down to eat bread.”
2. “And Reuben returned unto the pit; and, behold, Joseph was not in the pit; and he rent his clothes.”
3. “And (the women) entered in, and found not the body of Jesus.”
The God of Dothan – Part 10
“Life In Dothan – Disaster or Deliverance”
“The uncertainties of life in the midst of which we all live and indeed always live should, as they did Joseph, turn us to God. We should hold ourselves in readiness at all times to adjust to the circumstances that God allows to come to us, knowing that our times are in His hand and that nothing can happen to us except as it comes through His benevolent and controlling hand.”
God Sent A Man
What seeming disasters which I have faced have turned my life upside down but in doing so, have brought me closer to God?
Is there a situation in my life that I am praying God will deliver me from?
In what ways do I already begin to see God’s almighty hand at work?
“If we come to God, feeling helpless and dependent, as we really are, and in humble, trusting faith make known our wants to Him whose knowledge is infinite, who sees everything in creation, and who governs everything by His will and word, He can and will attend to our cry, and will let light shine into our hearts.”
“The time to trust is when everything is dark, when the wind lashes the waves into fury and when hearts fail, when the project so hopefully begun is certain of failure and when no friendly shore is in sight. The time to trust is when the Lord seems to be asleep or absent, when we seem altogether alone in life’s struggle. Then we can testify out of experience, as did Job: ‘Behold I go forward, but He is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive Him...but He knoweth the way that I take; when he hath tried me I shall come forth as gold’ (Job 23: 8,10). Why be fearful when the Lord is faithful?”
V. Raymond Edman
When we hear the word, “Dothan,” what comes to mind? Disaster or Deliverance? Well for the prophet Elisha, chariots and horses of fire were sent by the hand of God to provide a protective wall that surrounded this “man of God” in Dothan. I think we can easily say that whenever Elisha and the young lad who was his aide thought about Dothan, the word “deliverance” came to mind first. Not one sword in this town was lifted against God’s child. The Hebrew language even helps shine a brighter beam on exactly what happened at Dothan for God provided safety as He brought about the salvation of Elisha and glory to His name.
But as tremendous as the deliverance for Elisha was, during this week, I want to focus on what may appear to be nothing but a tremendous disaster for the 17-year-old Joseph when he arrived in Dothan on a mission of mercy, sent by his father to provide food and check on the welfare of his brothers.
We find in Scripture that before Joseph ever arrived in his brother’s camp, the Bible says that, “When they saw him far off, even before he came near to them, they conspired to kill him” (II Kings 37: 18, Amplified Bible).
I don’t know of any author that captures the tragedy portrayed in this scene as well as F. B. Meyer: “Our mother earth has seen many dark crimes committed on her surface by her children; but she has never seen a darker one than this. It was a mean, cowardly, dastardly deed for nine grown men to set upon one unresisting lad.”
Then author Meyer goes on to share with readers the fact that the common language of the day, doesn’t do justice to explain what happened. Here’s how F. B. Meyer tries to give us a more intimate view of all that occurred: “The calm prose of the historian does not dwell on the passion of the brothers, or on the anguish of that young heart, which found it so hard to die, so hard to say good-bye to the fair earth, so hard to descend into that dark cistern, whose steep sides forbade the hope that he could ever scramble back into the upper air.”
We only begin to recognize the terror of that moment, when years later, Joseph’s brothers, now finding themselves imprisoned due to false accusations that they were spies, had the doorbell of their consciences ring loud and clear with the voice of their young brother. With the tables turned, Joseph’s brothers recalled that, “we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us” (Genesis 42: 21, K.J.V.). Here again, the desperation conveyed in this passage is only increased by looking into the Hebrew meaning of the words “anguish” and “besought.” If we use the words given to expand the meaning of Genesis 42: 21, it would read as follows: “We saw the affliction – the terrible tribulation – that struck his soul, when he implored us to stoop in kindness to one inferior to himself and have merciful, pity upon him, but we would not even listen.” As I read this text in light of the magnified vision the Hebrew gives us, the specific phrase, “have mercy upon me,” led my thoughts down through history to the New Testament story found in Matthew 9: 27 when two blind men followed Jesus, pleading, “Thou Son of David, have mercy on us.” In the Greek, this plea, “Have mercy on us,” has the identical meaning of Joseph’s cry: “Have pity on me. I can’t do a thing to help myself.” Thankfully, unlike Joseph’s cruel siblings, this plea for mercy is one our Father always responds to.
All I can say about Joseph’s brothers feeling as if their evil deed had come back to haunt them is that when Jesus delivered those memorable words we call
“The Beatitudes” on a grassy hillside, His instruction was: “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5: 7, K.J.V.).
Now here Joseph was, a young teen, dropped with a thud into the bottom of a hole that was impossible to get out of. With no one to hear and no one to care, I wonder what Joseph thought about Dothan. If I had been in his place I think I would have come to the conclusion that without question, this Dothan experience was a total disaster!
It’s here that I appreciate author Carlyle Haynes insightful take on Joseph’s horrific situation: “Can anyone doubt that if Joseph had known (what his brothers would do to him in Dothan) that he would have shrunk back, he would have been terrified, he would not have gone? He would have remained at home, safe and secure. He would not have ventured away from the shelter of his father’s protection. And if that had happened, if he had not gone, oh, what a glorious destiny ruined!”
In our study texts for today, as I was thinking about the pit in Dothan where Joseph most likely felt his life would end, I was impressed by the words, describing the horror that Joseph’s older brother, Reuben, had when he returned to the pit and found that “Joseph was not there.” It reminded me of God’s precious girls coming to a tomb, thinking they would get to touch the body of their beloved Master and Friend, Jesus, even if it was for the last time. As in the case of Joseph where a pit was empty, so this “death chamber” which held the body of Jesus was empty. As I quietly pondered these two scenarios, it struck me that the empty pit and the empty tomb, to those who were viewing from the outside – from an earthly, rather than heavenly point of view, everything appeared to be at the lowest, most despairing point one could imagine. Joseph was gone and Jesus was gone. From a human perspective, all was lost. And yet, from a heavenly standpoint, as Joseph made his way to Egypt, sold as a slave, God was at work, providing “salvation” for the people of Israel. And God was at work in a gravesite outside of Jerusalem where a tomb that was empty, still carries the message of “salvation” down through the years to you and me today.
I want to share these beautiful words penned by F. B. Meyer regarding Joseph: “Little did he think then that hereafter he should look back on that day as one of the most gracious links in a chain of loving providences…It is very sweet, as life passes by, to be able to look back on dark and mysterious events, and to trace the hand of God where once we saw only malice and cruelty of man.” What do you think about Dothan now? Is it a place of Deliverance or disaster? We must keep studying for there’s still more for us to learn about the God of Dothan in the coming days!
“All is of God that is, and is to be;
And God is good! Let this suffice us still;
Resting in childlike trust upon His will,
Who moves to His great ends,
Unthwarted by the ill.”
John Greenleaf Whittier
Leave It To Me
“Leave it to Me, child, leave it to Me,
Dearer thy garden to Me than to thee.
Lift up thy heart, child, lift up thine eyes,
Nought can defeat Me, and nought can surprise.
Leave it to Me, child, leave it to Me,
Trust in the wall of fire, look up and see
Stars in their courses shine through the night.
Both are alike to Me – darkness and light.
Leave it to Me, child, leave it to Me.
Let slip the burden too heavy for thee.
That which I will, My hand shall perform,
Fair are the lilies that weather the storm.”
Whispers of His Power
The words above were penned by God’s precious daughter, Amy Carmichael, who after a fierce thunderstorm, noticed that two beautiful lilies had opened and these
proved to be the inspiration for the last line of song she was writing.
“’For I,’ says the Lord, ‘will be to her a wall of fire round about, and I will be the glory in the midst of her.’”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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