Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Daily Bible Reading - January 27 - A Good While

Several years ago when I lived in Chicagoland I went to see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat with some friends. There were some aspects of the show I really liked (great music, great performance by Donny Osmond), but there were some features of the show I found irritating (the name of God is never, ever mentioned!). I guess it was about what I expected from a Broadway version of a Bible story.

However, there was one scene I really enjoyed - the reunion of Joseph and Jacob. The thing I liked most about the way it was done was the bare simplicity of the moment. There was no dialogue, no music. Just a long embrace.

It is hard not to get a lump in the throat when you read Genesis 46:29 - "[Joseph] presented himself to [Jacob] and fell on his neck and wept on his neck a good while." The understated emotion of the text is powerful. For years (at least 19 years, compare 39:2 with 41:46 and 45:6), Jacob believed his favored son was the victim of a grisly attack by wild animals. And for as many years Joseph wondered about his father's well-being. After two decades of grief and worry, father and son were back together.

This account is also evocative of other father-son stories in Scripture. Think of David's relationship with Absalom, in which David refused to immediately embrace his son after his return from exile. What role did that play in Absalom's subsequent rebellion? Or, on the other hand, think about the Parable of the Prodigal and the eager embrace of the father who welcomed the wasteful son back home.

But most of all, the story of Jacob and Joseph makes me think of the scene in Revelation 21, where the heavenly Father comes down to the new heavens and earth to be with His people. "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes" (Rev. 21:4). How great it will be to rest in the embrace of our Father "a good while."

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