I was tempted to not show this page … it isn’t particularly beautiful or artistic and there is nothing that special about it … but the message it holds is important.
Joseph’s brothers head back to Canaan and to their father Israel who is there with their youngest brother, Benjamin. When they empty their sacks that they thought they had bought, they discover that the payment of silver is still there and they were frightened (v 35).
When I read these pages I was struck by the number of times that fear dictated action. Israel complains to his sons about being honest about the existence of Benjamin (43:6), he refuses to let them take him back to Egypt (42:38) but when he is forced to let them go he loads them with double the amount of silver along with the best gifts he can find (43:11-12). Israel even believes the worst and expects to be bereaved (43:14).
It is easy for me to sit back and think him a fool, but fear was a massive part of his life. He had stolen his brother’s blessing by hiding in a disguise and then had to run to save his life. The child born to him from the woman he loved was killed (he believed) in the wilderness and he had never got through his grief. Israel was plagued with fear. If he couldn’t see and hold the things that were important to him he feared that he would have no power or control. In fact his fear oozed out of him and invaded his sons’ lives. Israel had set up a culture of fear.
When the brothers arrived in Egypt and they were taken to Joseph’s house, who they still don’t recognise, and they think the worst. He wants to attack us and overpower us and seize us as slaves and take our donkeys (43:17). These men behave like their father. Isn’t it strange how fear escalates and multiplies? Attack, overpowering, seizing, slavery, robbed … the brothers cannot escape the fear trap. Joseph would have dealt with many people as the nations around Egypt were all in a famine, would he really have remembered them and thought they had stolen the money? Logically there were other explanations as to why they were being taken to his house … and not the prison! But fear blinded them.
Fear holds us in a prison. Fear almost stopped me from posting this page! Fear of what? Fear of what you would think, fear of putting something not that amazing out there for others to critique … silly eh?!
I have heard it said that fear is False Evidence Appearing Real.
False evidence is a hard thing to come against unless you hold the true evidence. I know what is like to have false evidence laid out about you to someone else who is then able to pass judgement. But it doesn’t make it less false even if they rule in favour of it. The truth is still the truth.
Yet again I am touching on this idea of knowing who you are and whose you are. When you don’t know true facts, false evidence can appear real. The best way for you to find out who and whose you are is to ask GOD! He is big enough that He can speak to you. It is written all over the Bible, here are some identity verses. Have you tried listing what they say about you and whose you are? It is an interesting and shocking exercise that I challenge you to do. For example: Genesis 1:27 – I am created, I carry GOD’s image, I am not a mistake, GOD doesn’t make anything shoddy, … etc
The brothers do an interesting thing too and this might be something you’d like to have a go at. They list their fears. They do however just leave them there and do nothing with them and I highly recommend that you don’t stop where they did.
Take a fear that you have and place it next to the things that GOD says about you. What happens … one of them is true and one is false. Which one will you believe? You see, you cannot let fear have a place to live when you have GOD living there – they just don’t cohabit! Going back to the example above of Genesis 1:27 means that any fear of being useless and worthless, that others are better than me so I have to prove myself , that I can’t do anything right are all false evidence – a lie.
Don’t get me wrong, I know fear is powerful … but in reality, GOD is more powerful and it is a choice to trust Him as the one holding the true evidence.
What I don’t want to do is to be reproducing a culture of fear. Israel’s life was pitted with fear and I have noted it over the pages even though it didn’t really state it. He set a culture of fear. His sons picked it up and lived it and accepted it as normal – it was their culture influenced by their father. Do you know that you have a culture? You have an atmosphere that you take with you wherever you go. It comes out in your language, actions and reactions. People won’t need to know your story but they will pick up on what you carry when they are with you. You may have noticed those with authority, those who are insightful, those that are laid back … they are carrying an atmosphere with them and we tend to respond to it in some shape or form.
Do you know what culture you carry? I know that I have carried fear but I am choosing not to do so anymore! Each time I feel fear I have a choice – give into it or walk all over it.
If I don’t carry a culture of fear … what could I carry? I want to be someone who carries something that empowers, loves, lifts up, enlightens, frees … What about you?
P.S Part 2 out on Saturday xx