Our PERSPECTIVE should always CONFIRM to GOD’s WORD
January 14 Bible Reading: Genesis Chapters 40-42
And Jacob their father said to them, "You have bereaved me: Joseph is no more, Simeon is no more, and you want to take Benjamin. All these things are against me." Then Reuben spoke to his father, saying, "Kill my two sons if I do not bring him back to you; put him in my hands, and I will bring him back to you." But he said, "My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he is left alone. If any calamity should befall him along the way in which you go, then you would bring down my gray hair with sorrow to the grave." (Gen. 42:36-38)
Joseph P. Kennedy, the father of a former US President John F. Kennedy was quoted as saying the following statement: "When the going gets tough, the tough get going". He was actually referring to people with determination and grit who would get on with life no matter whatever obstacles they faced. Things were really going tough for Jacob when he had to deal with multiple causes of grief that catapulted into his life. His treasured son Joseph (through his beloved wife Rachel) was now presumed dead as the circumstantial evidence indicated that he was torn into pieces by wild animals. His other son, Simeon, was incarcerated in an Egyptian prison, and his third son, Benjamin, was summoned to appear before an Egyptian official. It is not surprising that Jacob exclaimed in anguish: “All these things are against me!”
In fact, Jacob was now passing through the darkest end of the tunnel, and little did he realize that the light at the end of the tunnel would soon appear to illuminate his vision and dispel all his fears. His current perspective was directly reflective on his outward circumstances, and he was afraid that if matters continued to go downhill in this manner, very soon he will die in grief (“you would bring down my gray hair with sorrow to the grave”). “When the rubber met the road” in his life, Jacob failed miserably. It is a clear fact that Jacob was now walking “in sight” and not “by faith” on God’s unchanging Word: exactly opposite of what God wanted him to do!
Jacob was now inconsolable. In spite of Reuben’s offering the lives of his two sons as a guarantee, Jacob feared to allow Benjamin to go to Egypt lest harm befall him. “Such was Jacob’s partiality towards Benjamin that he repressed concern to deliver Simeon rather than part with Benjamin under ominous circumstances (Kline).” Jacob would rather allow Simeon to languish in prison than risk sending Benjamin, his only other son by Rachel, to Egypt. Thus, Jacob was resolute and did not accept Reuben’s ill-considered proposal. He had lost enough sons; he didn’t want to risk Benjamin (his now favorite) with sorrow: He assured his sons that risking the loss of Benjamin in addition to having already lost Joseph would lead him into depression and cause his premature death. In fact, only the threat of starvation coupled with Judah’s assurances would change Jacob’s mind later (see 43:1–14).
We may recall that Jacob had inherited great promises from his father and his grandfather about blessings, land and descendants (see 12:1–3; 13:14–17; 15:18–21; 22:17–18). Many years ago, God had also directly spoken to Jacob these words: "Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you" (28:15). Jacob had then received the blessing from God after wrestling with Him by the brook of Jabbok (32:22-30). So, Jacob had the dual promises of God’s presence and blessing, so he should have believed that God’s providential disciplines would eventually work on his favor in the long run.
However, Jacob’s perspective was evident in the way how he reacted to various situations in his life. Examples include: “All these things are against me” (42:36); “Why did you deal so wrongfully with me as to tell the man whether you had still another brother?” (43:6); “If it must be so, then do this: take a gift along” (43:11); and, “If I am bereaved, I am bereaved!” (43:14). So, Jacob reacts in different shades of grey: from pessimism to fatalism all the while displaying very little faith in God.
The lesson that we can learn from Jacob’s reactions is that our perspective should always confirm to God’s Word. While we can’t prevent birds flying above our heads, we should not allow them to build nests upon our heads. Similarly, we can choose how to react to negative situations that confront us on a daily basis since that is the part that we can absolutely control. Let us cling to these precious promises from God’s Word and use them to shape our perspective of life: "…all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). "He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6).