“For it was not you who sent me here, but God”

June’s daily Scripture readings, set #20:

– Genesis, chapters 42-43
– Psalm, chapter 19
– Matthew 8:14-22
– Acts 11:19-30

The Genesis story of Joseph’s brothers coming to him in Egypt and not recognizing him is just riveting. The twists that Joseph throws into the mix are so interesting to me. What stood out to me just now was his decision to put his brothers’ money back into their sacks when they first came to buy grain. I would assume Joseph meant that as a kindness, but the brothers interpret it fearfully: “At this their hearts failed them, and they turned trembling to one another, saying, ‘What is this that God has done to us?'” (42:28). It’s noteworthy that they give credit for the situation directly to God.

Psalm 19 mentions “reward” in reference to God’s rules: “In keeping them there is great reward” (vs 11). I have a feeling this is the kind of true reward that Jesus has in mind in the Sermon on the Mount, when he condemns the Pharisees’ actions and refers to their “reward” as merely temporal.

Historically speaking, Acts 11:26 is interesting in that it identifies when the term “Christian” appeared: “And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.” I wonder what they were called before that?  And, I wonder if the young, 21st century, hipster church types that don’t like being called Christians would be ok with whatever the pre-Acts-11 Christ followers were called.

June readings, set #21:

– Genesis, chapters 44-45
– Psalm, chapter 20
– Matthew 8:23-34
– Acts, chapter 12

Resuming the drama between Joseph and his brothers, I have come to realize the importance of Joseph’s words to his brothers in chapter 45: “So it was not you who sent me here (to Egypt), but God” (vs 8). Though it is true that Joseph’s brothers sent him to Egypt, Joseph completely bypasses that layer of reality and instead focuses on the reality of God’s plan behind it all.  Joseph has some similar statements in chapter 50, and, to me, the implications seem huge.

Verse 7 in Psalm 20 is another familiar verse from my childhood: “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord.” A question I had just now while reading it is whether it’s foolish to put any trust at all in the chariots/horses. In other words, does trusting in God PROHIBIT one from trusting in anything else? Can my trust in God be compatible with my trust in a chariot/horse/etc? For example, I trust that God will protect me as I fly in an airplane, and therefore to a certain degree I trust that the airplane will not fall apart in the sky. The one trust is rooted in the other. Is this a fair way to look at things? Does this verse rule out that perspective?

I always find the accounts of Jesus interacting with demons to be fantastically interesting, and in reading the end of Matthew 8 just now I noticed the demons’ keen awareness in verse 29 of what appears to be their future doom: “And behold, they cried out, ‘What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?'” What’s “the time” that they refer to here? The reference to it is so assumed on their part… it just makes me really curious.

I’ve often heard theologians/authors/preachers speak of God’s “jealousy,” referring to his glory and unwillingness to share it or have anyone else take credit for it (rough summary). In reading Acts 12 tonight I can see this concept on clear display in the sudden death of King Herod. “Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory” (vs 23).

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