Monday, December 10, 2012

Jesse Tree: December 8

December 8
Hang ornament with Coat of Colors
Gen. 37:1-36; 50:15-21

Today’s symbol is the multi-colored coat.  I am sure you can guess the main character in today’s devotion!  We are going to talk about the experience of a man named Joseph, and how God used him to preserve the nation of Israel.  

Joseph had many brothers, but he was the favorite of his father Jacob.  The entire family knew this, and the brothers were not very kind to Joseph.  One day Jacob sent Joseph out to check on his brothers, and they hatched a plot to get rid of him.  They threw him into a pit, sold him into slavery to the Midianites, and the Midianites sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, Pharoh’s officer.  

The Bible goes on to tell us that the Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man.  Even though he was put in jail at one point because of false accusations, the Lord did not forget him.  

When Pharoh had a dream which no one could explain, Joseph was summoned.  God revealed the meaning of the dream to Joseph, and Joseph explained to Pharoh that famine was coming.  Joseph proposed a way to store up reserves and prepare for this famine, and Pharoh put Joseph in charge of the whole operation.    

Genesis 41 tells us
53 When the seven years of plenty which had been in the land of Egypt came to an end, 54 and the seven years of famine began to come, just as Joseph had said, then there was famine in all the lands, but in all the land of Egypt there was bread. 55 So when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried out to Pharaoh for bread; and Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph; whatever he says to you, you shall do.” 56 When the famine was spread over all the face of the earth, then Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold to the Egyptians; and the famine was severe in the land of Egypt. 57 The people of all the earth came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe in all the earth.” (Genesis 41:53-57, NASB)
Joseph’s father Jacob saw that there was grain in Egypt, and he sent his sons to buy grain for their family.  Joseph recognized them, and after a time he revealed himself to his family.  
Here are our key verses for today’s Advent devotion:  Genesis 50:16-21says, 
16 So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father charged before he died, saying, 17 ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph, “Please forgive, I beg you, the transgression of your brothers and their sin, for they did you wrong.”’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 Then his brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. 21 So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
This history of Joseph can point us to Christ in several ways.  
The Jews in Jesus’ day were just like Joseph’s brothers.  When they had Jesus crucified, fulfilling many Old Testament prophecies about the way in which our Savior was to die, they did NOT mean it for good.  They were trying to get rid of a problem, just like Joseph’s brothers were trying to get rid of a problem.  
Little did either group know, this was all part of God’s plan for preserving His people.  God used Joseph as part of His plan to physically preserve His people from starving, and God used Jesus to preserve His people from the death that is a result of sin.  
Also, it is helpful to notice HOW Joseph’s brothers went to him.  They did not come demanding their rights, but they came HUMBLY, confessing their sins, begging forgiveness, and placing themselves in a position of servanthood.  
Likewise, when we see that our only hope is God’s grace and mercy that comes through Christ alone, we must go to him humbly, confessing our sins, begging forgiveness, and placing ourselves in a position of servanthood.  
In addition, the bible tells us that Joseph spoke kindly to his brothers and promised to provide for them.  (Remember, these are the same brothers who hated him and sold him into slavery, because that would be more profitable than just killing him.)  
How can this example set by Joseph help us think about the coming celebration of Christ’s birth?   OR  How is this similar to the way that Jesus deals with us?
We are sinful people who have chosen to place ourselves against God.  Christ calls us to Himself, with kindness and promises to provide for us spiritually.  When we see that we have no hope other than Christ, we must run to him humbly in repentance.  Just as Joseph received his brothers with forgiveness, Christ does not turn us away.
Jesus promises in John 6:37, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.”  

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