Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 45:4-7

4 And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt.

5 Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.

6 For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest.

7 And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

Joseph has his brothers come nearer and speaks to them on a more intimate level. He assures them that truly he is their brother, and he proves it by recounting something that only he could now: how they betrayed him and sold him into Egypt. But he does not bring it up to shame them, he immediately follows it up by saying that he has no ill feelings on the matter. God has had a hand in it for good.

I can only imagine that when he was first sold into Egypt Joseph must have had a deluge of negative feelings. But now he sees it only as a blessed opportunity. He has been called to do a great thing, to preserve lives through “a great deliverance,” and he seems positively thrilled to have been a part of this work.

Another interesting note is that we find out how many years of famine had transpired thus far: two. In only two years Jacob and his sons had been brought to death’s door twice, and they weren’t even a third of the way through the ordeal! Truly they would have perished, and who knows how many more, if Joseph hadn’t been there to save the day!

Spiritual Analysis- Genesis 19:12-13, 15-16

12 And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place:

13 For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the Lord; and the Lord hath sent us to destroy it.

15 And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city.

16 And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the Lord being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city.

The angels that came to Lot urged him to leave the place as quickly as possible. They let him linger only through the night, then grabbed his hands and dragged him out of there! This reaffirms my thought that God must do very real work to shape the course of our lives. If He was the magical genie that we often view Him as, then why not just snap His fingers and instantaneously teleport Lot and His family to safety? God and His servants must still work to accomplish His purposes.

Which makes the statement in verse 16 “the Lord being merciful unto him” ring all the more true. These angels are exerting themselves to get Lot out of the city when he is foolish enough to linger in harm’s way. They are saving him through effort, and all because God is gracious and is willing to redeem men from their own follies.

As I look back at my own life I can’t help but wonder how much work I have heaped on God’s plate to rescue me from sin and guide me towards purpose. And yet He did all that labor, even when I wasn’t asking Him to.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 6:8-9, 17-18

8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

17 And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.

18 But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee.

There was mass evil in the world, so universal and so extreme that God was set on washing the slate clean. But in all this crowd of corruption, God did not lose sight of one who was innocent.

The story of Noah is a very encouraging example of how God is perfectly aware of the individual, and the great lengths to which He will go to save that one. As humans we often struggle to be so individually conscious. We have limits of time and space, which is why our laws are usually applied universally, targeted towards the average, but ill-fitting to all manner of individual edge cases. God, though, can raise a flood over the entire world and still hold a single boat safe in the palm of His hand.

Optimism in a Falling World- Luke 15:3-7, Doctrine and Covenants 18:15

And he spake this parable unto them, saying,
What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!

COMMENTARY

What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine, and go after that which is lost
At the start of this study I considered Abraham pleading for Sodom and Gomorrah to be spared if even a few righteous people could be found therein. That same mentality is present in this parable from Jesus, where a shepherd will venture out to find even one lost sheep, leaving the masses to focus on the individual.
And I believe that this same mentality greatly helps when trying to maintain hope in a conflicted world. It is easier to despair over a vaguely defined group than over an individual with a face and a name. It is easy to label an entire faction as purely evil, but when we look into the eyes of a child of God we can’t help but see that even among their flaws they still have their divine potential. I might struggle at times to see the good in all people, but I can always find it in a person. Thus if you are finding it hard to have faith in the world perhaps you could start focusing on “the one” instead.


I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth
If you bring one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!
For even if our worst fears were confirmed and the whole world spiraled down to hell, it would still behoove us to save what souls we could along the way. Our mentality should be like that of firefighters, who do not only enter the burning building when they can save a full 100% of the occupants. They will charge to the rescue even when they can only save a few, or even when they can save only one…and so should we.
Thus if you haven’t figured out how to save the entire world, that’s perfectly alright, none of us have. Only God can worry about salvation on that scale! For you and I, we just save the ones we can.

Optimism in a Falling World- Jonah 3:4-5, 10

And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.

COMMENTARY

So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not

The exact sins of Nineveh are not detailed in the account of Jonah, but evidently they were of such significance that God was prepared to destroy the entire city! When we consider the example of other cities that received such a divine retribution, such as Sodom and Gomorrah, then it seems safe to say that the wickedness in Nineveh must have been extremely pronounced!
Yet for as fallen as the people might have been, it turns out that they were not beyond reclamation. After all, why send a prophet to them, even with a message of doom, unless there yet remained some hope that that doom might be averted?
From this story I learn to look at the sort of people I might consider to be a lost cause, and I realize that they are actually far from it! Truly there are places of deep evil today, and I am sure there are individuals who are ripe for destruction, but these are most definitely the minority. By and large, people are still basically good, still within the reach of hope. There are many who are waylaid, but that are the same sort that Jesus vouched for with the words “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). And instead of trying to push these confused souls towards their destruction, we should be inviting them back to the fold.

The Captive Heart- Question

The end of my last study was very impactful to me. It brought up the point of how we so often choose the very things that hurt us the most, and how God must intervene to save us from our own selves.

But to be sure, each of us are also victims to the onslaughts of others. Indeed most of our own acts of self-harm have their roots in the way others cut our confidence out from under us. We were made to question our worth, and that wasn’t right. So God must also intervene to save us from others.

Yet is it any wonder that others have learned to be cruel, given how harsh and uncompromising this world can be? Sometimes it is neither ourselves nor another that causes offense, it is the misfortune of nature, of chance, of having a physical body and a frail mind, of being subject to disease, deterioration, and death. So God must also intervene to save us from the mortal world.

And He does so. With this study I would like to examine how we are assaulted, and how we find reclamation in the gospel. In the meantime I would invite you to consider in what ways you have been hurt by yourself, by others, and by the world? How are you hurting right at this moment? In what ways is God trying to rescue you? Are there ways in which you are blocking Him? What are the reasons why?

Faith vs Fear- Numbers 14:9, 1 Corinthians 2:5, Psalm 34:4

Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the Lord is with us: fear them not.

That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

COMMENTARY

I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears
Our modern culture often urges us to just let go of all our fears. That, frankly, is far easier said than done. Perhaps the worries that we put on ourselves can be released, all of those little frettings that really don’t matter. But when it comes to external powers threatening our basic needs, fear seems to be baked into our very nature.
We don’t just need a different frame of mind in these situations, we need deliverance! Fear is something that we have to be saved from. Otherwise it will always be a part of our lives.

That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God
The Lord is with us: fear them not

And fear will only be let go of when our dependence on the world’s power has been replaced by something else. Our deliverance is in God showing us that His power is sufficient to save, and that His desire is to protect. Suddenly it doesn’t matter so much what the world can do, God can trump it all. God calls us and we are able to rise above that cycle of fear. We are able to trust in something higher.