I have enjoyed
every minute of these weekly observations and this week is no different
as we jump into the Torah portion Miketz. I haven’t had as much time as I
would’ve liked in order to study the portion since we are still in full
swing with Hanukah festivities. Every week I feel like I should/could
have studied more…which is true, yet God has been good to bless each observation. Therefore, I’m confident that He will bless
this one as well (despite my study…or lack thereof) as we dive back
into the exciting story of Joseph meeting his brothers as the Viceroy of
From the name of this portion (“Miketz—From/At the end” of two years…) we find out that Joseph was in prison for a long time. Just from the time of his interpretation of the two prisoners dreams in Genesis 40 until Genesis 41 spans 2 years length in time.
How many times in life do we struggle to have hope and to believe in freedom? The doubts that come up in just one day can be hard to deal with, let alone the years of hopes that don’t come true. Despite all this, in the story of Joseph, we read that he came to trust God in his circumstances and became a humble ready servant of God.
Once he had faced the trials and hardships of life. Once he had shown himself faithful to God. Once he had surrendered himself to God’s plan, it was then that God lifted Joseph, to not only be the savior of his family, but also the savior of the whole known world.
Proverbs 29 tells us, “A man’s pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor.” Joseph had been through some real trials and testing in his young life and in the end had been found faithful. As it says in Luke 16, “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much…if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?” It was through the valleys and trials Joseph faced, that shaped him into the faithful man who would one day stand before Pharaoh.
Joseph’s life is the perfect picture of an eternal optimist! No matter what situation Joseph found himself in, whether it was in Potiphar’s house, in prison or in Pharaoh’s palace, he always rose to the top and distinguished himself in his work. He was like a cork in water. He could never be kept down; he would always shoot back up to the top. The life of Joseph is a testimony to the Proverb, “Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings…”
Let’s leave this
Proverb for a second and enter Pharaoh’s palace…it’s been a rough night
for the King of Egypt. A whole restless night of nightmares and yet no
one can give an interpretation for his strange dreams. It is amazing how
a man who has everything in the world can still be disturbed by the
things of life that hint to the reality of a realm we can’t physically
see. The world of the ancients at least had the idea of a spiritual
realm and Supreme Beings—something beyond this world. This is
an idea that has been lost in Modern society, where mankind says this
existence is it and there is nothing beyond this.
Pharaoh’s “…spirit was troubled, and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt and all its wise men. And Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was no one who could interpret them for Pharaoh.” Suddenly, Pharaoh’s chief cup-bearer remembers Joseph and tells Pharaoh of him. (Just as a side note… A Chief Cupbearer was a very high position. One who served as a cupbearer was trusted with the life of his master. In some cases the cupbearer was or became a close friend and confidant of the one he served.)
Pharaoh has Joseph called, and this is the exchange that takes place between them. “And Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that you can understand a dream, to interpret it.’ So Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, ‘It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.’”
In Hebrew Joseph answered “Bee’ladai” which is translated above as “It is not in me.” This is a great translation. The word can mean “apart from, except, without, besides.” We could also translate this as, it “is not a part of me.” Joseph recognizes the fact that he can interpret nothing in and of himself. Here is where we see that Joseph is truly surrendered to God. His boast is in the Lord!
After Joseph finished interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams and giving his advice, or rather, God’s advice concerning the issue, listen to Pharaoh’s response, “Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?”
In Or HaChaim, the commentator (Rabbi Hayyim ben Moshe ibn Attar.1696-1743) writes about the interesting way this phrase by Pharaoh is worded. He wrote, “The reason that Pharaoh did not say ‘can we find a man who, etc.’ is because he would then have created the impression that there were people with Holy Spirit only that they did not possess it in the degree that Joseph did. Pharaoh wanted to make it plain that he did not think anyone else possessed the Holy Spirit.” In Hebrew the difference is clearly more distinct. In Hebrew it adds the word “K’zeh” into the verse which means “like this.”
Or HaChaim is stating that Pharaoh wasn’t asking if there was another man equal to Joseph. Pharaoh was actually making his own statement. Pharaoh is saying, “there is no other “K’zeh—like this.” Pharaoh recognizes the Spirit of God upon Joseph while also realizing that it is something, no one else he knows, has. But Joseph had to go through the trials and the testing before he was raised up to honor.
I was just recently talking to Mama Jo, our next door neighbor and she told me that “life is like a bowl of cherries.” I replied, “Life is like a bowl of cherries because it comes with pits.” (I came up with it originally-in my own mind-but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone else has thought up something along those same lines.)
Whatever the case, life comes with pits. Life ain’t all sweet and tart. There are hard trials we all face. In the book of James, he hardly gets through his introductions when he dives straight into his letter with this verse, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” We not only are to walk through the trials, but we are also supposed it count it all joy?!
I wrote a song called “Look up” which has yet to be produced, but one of the lines is, “life ain’t no walk in the park, ‘cause this world can be cold and dark and living is more than whatchya got.” Life is more than stuff = “whatchya got” Life is also full of bumps, scrapes and bruises. The important thing to know is that we are being molded through everything we face in life, into the image of Yeshua our Master.
Joseph had to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. We all do in this life. Because “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” This life is the “training ring.” It is exactly like what I did when I took Taek-won-do (which is NOT Karate). We would spar against each other preparing each other’s actions and reactions, so when the real fight came we would be ready. This world is like a training sparring match, except we don’t sharpen each other as “iron sharpens iron” and I don’t “discipline my body” to only overcome the world. I discipline myself and ask that others sharpen me, not necessarily to combat the world, but instead to become ever more conformed to God’s image. This is how we combat the world; by setting our gaze on God and wanting to become more like Him! We “train and spar” in this life so when the “real deal” happens, we can stand before the Lord “paneem el paneem—face to face.”
summary of everything…my goal is not to prepare people to combat the
world, my goal is to prepare people to meet their Maker. The jobs make
look the same, but the goal is different. We take on life realizing that
the challenges, trials, errors and bruises are not obstacles, but
hurdles, that bring us ever nearer to the image of one who gave Himself
up for us.
In Psalm 23 we read “…though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.” In Hebrew, the word for “Shadow of Death” is the word “Tzalmavet.” In Gematria (Gematria is an alphanumeric code of assigning a numerical value to a name, word or phrase based on its letters) the word Tzalmavet is equal to 566. “Shadow of Death” = 566. There is another phrase in Hebrew that is equal to 566. That phrase is “Mashiach ben Yosef—Messiah son of Joseph.” If you remember last week’s observation, “Mashiach ben Yosef—Messiah son of Joseph” came as the suffering Servant to rectify the sin of Adam. So what is the answer to the “Shadow of Death?” The answer is Yeshua, Mashiach ben Yosef—Messiah son of Joseph.
Look to Him and when you look to Him the people around you will say, just as Pharaoh said, “Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?”
May we learn to take the challenges of life as hurdles preparing us for that awesome meeting between Creator and creature, when we see God, even as Moses saw Him, “Paneem el Paneem—Face to Face!