What do Christians today have in common with those who came before us?
Source: Katherine Rowland
I was thinking the other day of the myth of Cassandra, a prophetess who would foretell the future but never be believed. What a frustrating existence that would be! But then I thought about how small my own voice seems in the wilderness I walk through with my brothers and sisters in Christ: calling out that God is, crying out that if we follow Him, He will save...and knowing that many think I am soft in the brain for even believing in Christianity. It's easy to feel hopeless, lost in the little frustrations of daily life, wondering whether I'm making the right decisions and choices, questioning my intentions and character, and knowing that I believe in something that is held up to ridicule.
But a chance reading of a section of the Psalms gave me a different perspective. In Psalms 105:16-22, I read, "Moreover He called for a famine in the land; He destroyed all the provision of bread. He sent a man before them—Joseph—who was sold as a slave. They hurt his feet with fetters He was laid in irons. Until the time that his word came to pass, The word of the LORD tested him. The king sent and released him, The ruler of the people let him go free. He made him lord of his house, And ruler of all his possessions, To bind his princes at his pleasure, And teach his elders wisdom."
The Psalms itself is a retelling of the story of the Israelites up to their departure from Egypt. But what caught my attention was the description of Joseph. To me, it hints of the first coming of Jesus Christ--bound, made captive, until His words came to pass. How is our story like that of Joseph and Jesus Christ?
1) We're strangers in a strange land . This is a facet common to figures in the Bible: people who were in places they would not expect to be or where they didn't belong. We also long for a different, better nation. Whatever country we are from, we know that there is some part of us that does not belong here.
2) We proclaim a truth that those around us have difficulty accepting . Joseph, through God's Spirit, prophesied that a famine was coming, while all around them the Egyptians could see great prosperity. Jesus Christ proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, a message that was accepted by some but rejected violently by the religious leaders of the time as heretical. The truth that we proclaim seems like folly to those around us.
3) In this world, we will have trouble. Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery. The people that should have known Christ for who He was rejected Him and killed Him. Christ's followers have suffered over and over again for their beliefs, but we battle not with flesh and blood but against "spiritual hosts of wickedness" (Ephesians 6:12).
4) We will be set free and raised up. If we continue reading in Psalms 105, we read in verses 43-45 at the very end that, "He brought out His people with joy, His chosen ones with gladness. He gave them the lands of the Gentiles, And they inherited the labor of the nations, That they might observe His statutes And keep His laws."
Joseph was set free from prison and rose to rulership in Egypt. Jesus Christ was freed from the grave and rose back to rulership with His Father...and we are told that He is coming again to rule over the earth. We are told that someday, we will be freed from these mortal bodies (1 Corinthians 15:54) and that Christ has made us kings and priests to His Father (Revelation 1:6).
Life is not easy, and Christ never said that it would be. But we can look in the Bible to see a pattern of those who have come before us. We can follow in those footsteps toward a future that we can believe in. If we want the end result, though, we must be faithful even when we feel like no one is listening.
For more information request our free study aids, You Can Have Living Faith andThe Gospel of the Kingdom.