Wednesday, January 20, 2010

2010 – Day 20. Jan. 20 – Second-guessing Motives

Study from Genesis 45 – 47; Passage for Reflection: Genesis 47: 20 - 21 … NIV The land became Pharaoh’s, and Joseph reduced the people to servitude, from one end of Egypt to another.

Genesis 47: 20 - 21 … NKJV So the land became Pharaoh’s. 21 And as for the people, he moved them into the cities, from one end of the borders of Egypt to the other end.

Genesis 47: 20 - 21 … Amplified Bible The land became Pharaoh's, 21And as for the people, he removed them to cities and practically made slaves of them [at their own request], from one end of the borders of Egypt to the other.

My Journal for Today: Today my personal take on F. LaGard Smith’s devotional is a reminder to me that studying scripture sometimes is like Job wrote of seeking wisdom in Chapter 28 [linked] of the book which bears his name. It’s like mining for gems or precious metals. You have to dig deeper than the surface; and many times you have to search deep to find the answers.

When one reads the NIV account of Genesis 47: 20-21 [see above], it would appear that, all of a sudden, Joseph, who had been this mild-mannered and benevolent overseer of Egypt, Pharaoh’s Prime Minister, had turned hard and cruel. And that’s why, when one is reading God’s word and he/she gets an impression which doesn’t seem to fit in the historical context of the Bible, the disciple should mine deeper to seek answers.

On the surface, reading these two verses in the NIV, it would seem that Joseph had become a hard task master, enslaving the people and putting them under the thumb of Pharaoh; but when you dig a little deeper into the mosaic of Bible translations, Joseph’s motive becomes clearer. Note the added emphasis and explanation which comes from only reading two more versions of scripture beyond the NIV (the NKJV and The Amplified Bible). One begins to get the feel that Joseph brought the people into indentured servitude, probably at their own request, to protect them and to ensure that they would have the food and seed they would need to sustain their families, flocks, and their fields. And if you study some reputable commentaries on this section of scripture, you’ll see that this, more benevolent picture of Joseph’s motives for what he did, becomes clearer.

Dr. Smith’s point this morning is that we should take care to avoid surface interpretations of someone’s decisions, especially when the observed behavior doesn’t seem to jibe with their history or character as revealed by past actions or decisions. And my point is the same is true with Scripture. When something you read and interpret from God’s word just doesn’t seem to be right in your mind, we need to dig deeper to understand what God intended, especially studying the historical context of the passage in question. And that means mining for the mind of God by using other interpretations of Scripture than just the one we happen to be reading; or it might mean going to reputable commentaries; and certainly it would mean praying for God, the Holy Spirit, to give you, a disciple of God’s truth, a clearer picture of what God needs for you to understand from His Word.

As you can see above, merely getting a wider interpretation of these two highlighted verses from other versions of the Bible revealed that there was much more to seeing Joseph’s motives than just taking it on face value that he desired to enslave the people of Goshen at the time of the famine in Egypt. I hope we all glean the lesson here today, especially when it comes to searching for truth from God’s word; and that lesson is to be willing to go deeper than the surface to mine the jewels of truth which are found in God’s word.

My Prayer for Today: Precious Holy Spirit, help me as I go deeper and deeper to know my Savior and Father through Your word. Amen

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