For the week of December 30, 2006 / 9 Tevet 5767
Torah: Bereshit / Genesis 44:18 - 47:27
Haftarah: Ezekiel 37:15-28


Facing Reality

Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph! Is my father still living?" But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence. (Bereshit / Genesis 45:3).

Last week we looked at how Joseph's brothers didn't recognize him when they went to Egypt in hope of buying food during a severe famine. Not realizing who he really was had nothing to do with the fact that he was the one that held their wellbeing in his hands. I drew a parallel between their experience and how we, as Jewish people, when we look at Yeshua today, do not see him for who he is - the Jewish Messiah. While it may be tragic that, like Joseph, he looks like a foreigner, he is still our only true hope. In order to truly know God and experience his blessings in and through our lives, we must come to Yeshua even though he seems to be anything but Jewish.

In this week's portion Joseph, after more than one interaction with his brothers, finally reveals himself to them. At first, they are terrified. It would take some time - if ever - before they would become fully comfortable in his presence. But in order for them to receive his help, which would include provision of food as well as a place to live and prosper for the next few hundred years, they had to come to grips with a reality that they most likely would have wished had been very different from what they were facing.

Years earlier Joseph had told his brothers and father about his dreams, which suggested that he would rise to some sort of place of superiority over them. His brothers had already been jealous of him due to his special place in their father's heart. His dreams at the time only made matters worse. Their hatred boiled to the point that some of them wanted to kill him, but in the end he was sold into slavery. The brothers deceived their father by claiming Joseph had been killed by a wild animal. Joseph in the meantime was taken to Egypt where he at first served as a slave until he was falsely accused of taking advantage of his master's wife. He spent the following several years in prison before the king of Egypt learned that he could interpret dreams. After he interpreted the king's own dreams about a coming famine and made a suggestion of how to prepare for it, the king not only released him from prison, but gave him a high ranking position with the responsibility of managing the nation's provisions. It was during this famine that his brothers came to him in need of food not knowing who he really was.

I am sure that his brothers would not have written the story of their lives this way. Think how they must have felt standing before their brother whom they had mistreated, but now was in such a position of power over them. It was hard enough for them to hear his dreams many years before, but to actually be in that very situation must have been extremely humiliating.

Regardless of how humiliated and terrified they may have been, in order to get the help they needed, they had to accept their situation. They had to accept their brother's current place and position, humble themselves before him, and do things his way.

No matter how difficult this may have been for them, it was still God's way of taking care of them in their great need. No matter how uncomfortable they were at this point, they were encountering their solution, not further problems. What was now left for them to do was to accept what God was seeking to do in their lives.

And so the parallel for Jewish people continues. Even though we have centuries of negative feelings towards Yeshua and that the way he appears to us today is so foreign to us, he is our solution for our deepest needs. He is the only one who can satisfy our spiritual hunger. It is only through him that we can find lasting peace and security.

I wish the story of Yeshua and the Jewish people over the past two thousand years would be different from what it has been. But at the same time, we cannot change history. How the circumstances of life got to the present day is something we have no control over. To hear Yeshua say to us today that he is really one of us - our true Messiah - may be hard to take, but that doesn't change who he is. The sooner we can accept this, the better it will be for us.

I find that accepting things how they really are can be difficult for all of us. It isn't easy to face reality. We can be offended by how the world is and how our lives have turned out. We might have a hard time getting on with life, because it hasn't turned out the way we have expected. But instead of being offended by our failed expectations, we would do much better to face life and God as they really are.

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