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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Why We Must Go through the Wilderness to Get to the Promised Land

People like to talk of God's promises. Books have been written about them. Preachers have written and preached countless sermons on the promises. Yet, no one gives the road map to the Promised Land. This is because it invariably leads through the wilderness.

Why is that? Why does God have to take us through tough times to get us to a place He desires for us? Why can't He do the "Star Trek" thing and beam us to the Promised Land? It has to do with our character and His.

God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble. This is not just God's attitude toward the proud and the humble. This is who God is. He would have to violate who He is in order to give grace to the proud and oppose the humble. Therefore, to give us the Promised Land- which is an incredible act of grace- He must remove the character flaw which prevents His grace.

For example, Joseph was promised through dreams that he would have his brothers and father bow down to him someday. The problem was not in the promise but in Joseph. He would tell his brothers this story so much that his brothers wanted to kill him. One day, Jacob sends his son to see how his brothers are doing as they watched the livestock. Joseph wears this special coat that his father given him as he searches for his brothers. This coat reminded his brothers of Joseph's special status with their father.

The plot to kill Joseph was already planned by the time Joseph got to his brothers. If not for one brother's opposition to the plan, Joseph would have been killed. Instead, he was sold into slavery. His coat was smeared with blood and taken to their father as proof that a wild animal had killed him. Joseph is 17 years old.

Joseph is sold to a Egyptian and rises in the ranks of his new master's household. Eventually, he is the head slave. His master's wife sees this young man as desirable. She makes her move on Joseph.

Most people see Joseph's actions and statements virtuous. They are, but they also contain a bit of arrogance. He tells his master's wife that his master has put him in charge of everything but he will not have relations with her. This delay caused her to get close enough to grab his coat before he could run out of the house. She is so angry she accuses Joseph of trying to do what he refused to do. I believe Joseph's master knew the truth because, instead of having Joseph executed, he threw Joseph in prison.

So, Joseph goes from hated by his brothers to slavery to prison. Things don't look like he is headed for the promised land.

While in prison, two of the Pharoah's servants have dreams which Joseph accurately interprets. Joseph hopes that someone will give him a good word so that he will get out of prison. One of these servants in executed. The other is restored to his former place of service before the Pharoah. He seems to forget about Joseph.

Eventually Pharoah has a dream. His dream is so vivid and frequent that he needs someone to interpret it. His servant, who has already had a dream interpreted by Joseph, recommends the Pharoah call on Joseph.

Joseph comes to Pharoah after he has been cleaned up. Pharoah asks Joseph if he can interpret his dream. Joseph replies, "The answer is not in me but God will give you an answer." All of the arrogance is gone. He is not taking credit for anything. He is no longer proud. The time has come for Joseph to enter his Promised Land! Pharoah puts Joseph second in charge for all the lands of Egypt. Joseph is thirty years old.

This is still not the fulfillment of Joseph's dreams. His brothers and father have to bow down to him. There is one more character flaw that Joseph must have removed.

There are seven years of wonderful crops. There is so much that Joseph make huge bins to store the crops. Egypt is a land of plenty. Then come the seven years of bad times. There is no rain and no crops. People come from everywhere to buy from Pharoah. Joseph's father and brothers have to make that journey to Egypt to buy from him. They arrive and all bow down to him.

Joseph plots to get all of his family in Egypt. I wonder if he didn't think he would throw his brothers in prison for the things they had done to him. He had a plot devised that would do so. Yet, he heard his brothers remorse for what they had done. He no longer wanted them to bow
down. He wanted his family back. He grants forgiveness. I place Joseph between 39 and 44 years of age when he is restored to his family.

God takes us through the wilderness to get us to what He has promised. Joseph has had to wait 22 to 27 years to receive God's promised blessing. He had to have his character changed. Joseph is not the only one who has had to go through the wilderness to get to that which is promised. God is taking all of His children down this path.

This blog is not intended to discourage you but to let you know that your tough times have purpose. What is it that God is working on in your life? He will continue to work until it is accomplished. He wants you to have His promises. They lead through the wilderness.

He will give you everything He has promised as soon as you are ready for them.

Please send this blog to someone God has given special promises to but is now walking through the wilderness. It may not look like it at this minute but God will give them everything He has promised. Let this be a word of encouragement for them.

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