CHAPTER 1 of
Joseph: A Life of Providence, Injustice, and Forgiveness - Brian Bailey
We Are Not Deists
It is tempting when we study and exegete Joseph’s life to start in Genesis chapter 37.
We cannot truly start there. Our beginning is to examine a supposition about God and humankind. That supposition is that God is completely involved with humankind on a most intimate level. If we do not remember this fact then we will not fully grasp all that Joseph’s life has to teach us about our own.
God’s reach into the individual self is breath-taking:
Lord, you have examined me and you know me. You know everything I do; from far away you understand all my thoughts.You see me, whether I am working or resting;you know all my actions. Even before I speak, you already know what I will say. You are all around me on every side; you protect me with your power. Your knowledge of me is too deep; it is beyond my understanding. Where could I go to escape from you? Where could I get away from your presence? If I went up to heaven, you would be there;if I lay down in the world of the dead, you would be there. If I flew away beyond the east or lived in the farthest place… you would be there to lead me, you would be there to help me. I could ask the darkness to hide me or the light around me to turn into night, but even darkness is not dark for you, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are the same to you. You created every part of me; you put me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because you are to be feared; all you do is strange and wonderful. I know it with all my heart. When my bones were being formed, carefully put together in my mother's womb, when I was growing there in secret, you knew that I was there—you saw me before I was born. The days allotted to me had all been recorded in your book, before any of them ever began. O God, how difficult I find your thoughts; how many of them there are! If I counted them, they would be more than the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you. (Psalms 139, Good News Translation)
This knowledge is frightening and comforting. It is frightening to the degree that He sees our broken sinfulness. His piercing eye does see all of our sinful failures and shameful self-will. So often we make our own beds in our own earthly, self-created hell. Our self-deception bears bitter fruit. Adam and Eve hid in the Garden filled with shame and fear and we do the same. God’s desire is to love us and this knowledge of His total perception of us provides comfort. The rift in the Garden was healed with the blood of the cross. The great desire of the human heart is to both completely (as much as any mere human can) know another and be known, and still be loved and accepted. This concept explains more completely, the concept of ‘knowing’ as it relates to husbands and wives. It is that loving and being loved that is far more than mere biological sex, it is emotional, it is spiritual, it is a union always of…grace.
We were created for a level of intimacy with Yahweh as well. Simple religion might present facts about God or His word. Knowing God, in the same vein as spouses, on the emotional and spiritual level, is a far different thing than grasping a theological framework or memorizing a spate of Bible verses. Grasping a framework and knowing Scripture word for word is important but does not begin to scratch the surface of knowing God.
Psalm 139 explains clearly that Yahweh truly knows us—everything about us in full total. Joseph lived this truth to its’ fullest extent although he may not have fully grasped it: God knew everything about Joseph’s life and He was involved in the details. A common phrase is that the devil is in the details. No, as we will see in our study of Joseph--GOD is in the details.
So, we are not deists.
We do not believe that God wound the world up as a giant top and pulled the string, watching it spin off into the universe. There is the testimony in Psalms and there is the story of Joseph himself that shows the constant care and action of a fully involved, fully comprehending creator.Last Update: 2016-09-01 12:11