Meditations on “God of Transformation: 3: Be a Leader
Gen 37:2,5-7 Joseph, a young man of seventeen… had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.
I suspect I have commented more than a few times, when I write these meditations, about watching people receiving personal prophecies. They may not actually say it but the look on their faces says, “Oh yes? In a million years! Who are you kidding!” Our capacity for not believing God is often very high! (That’s a gentle way of saying we’re good at unbelief). The trouble with personal prophecies is that they come wrapped up for a person who is not yet what the prophecy says; that’s what makes it a prophecy, it speaks to the future. So we look at ourselves or we look at the person receiving a word from a visiting prophet and we find it difficult to comprehend a leap from what is now to what the word says. Especially if we have low self-esteem (and many of us do) we find any sort of elevation somewhat mind blowing, and the greater the elevation the more impossible it seems and we forget that this is God speaking and nothing is too difficult for Him (Mt 19:26, Lk 1:37).
All of these things come together in the case of young, spoilt-brat, Joseph in the Old Testament, one of the younger members of a large family, most of whom hate him because he’s his father’s favourite and spoilt. So he has a dream. It is a prophecy and he unwisely shares it, which only goes to make the brothers hate him even more, because the prophecy has his family bowing down before him. Their personal animosities cloud their judgment and so they instantly write off what he is saying. There is a grave danger when it comes to prophetic words, of looking at the bringer and, even more, the way they bring it and then writing it off. I have seen it happen.
A women in a large meeting brought ‘a word’ and because she was a bit weird and brought it in a rather dramatic way, the leader of the meeting just quickly passed on to the next thing in worship. I confess my instinctive reaction was relief but the moment we moved on I had one of those inner checks that said, “No, this was my word”, and so we missed it. One of the disconcerting things I have observed over the years is that when it comes to finding someone to convey His word, the Lord is often more concerned with availability than finding someone who is perfect. The number of perfect people around are few and far between, and so He takes what is available and sometimes that person doesn’t match up to our Pharisaic expectations, and we are the losers.
Thus, more for personal reasons than for anything else, the family write off young Joseph’s dreams and the drama of his life unfolds. The sons sell him into slavery and from slavery he ends up in prison. It looks like it goes from one bad place to a worse bad place. Some fourteen or so years pass before Joseph gets known as a dream interpreter in the prison. Then when the Pharaoh (for he is now in Egypt) starts having dreams and casts around for a dream interpreter, it is not too long before Joseph is dragged out before him. He gets the interpretation of the dreams and before he knows it, Pharaoh has promoted him to Prime Minister of all Egypt, second only to himself, because he alone seems to exhibit the wisdom and revelation necessary to manage the country through the good years and then bad years of the next fourteen years. Thus at least twenty eight years have passed before his family turn up in Egypt seeking food to help them cope with the famine back home, and in the time he has changed and his role has changed and everything about him has so changed that it takes some time before he reveals to them who he is.
Now that is the story and there are two vital things to note in it. We’ve already considered the first one, that prophecy may come through unlikely vessels and to unlikely people, but God knows what He is about. The second thing though, that only comes out when you look at the unfolding story, is that it took nearly three decades to be fulfilled, and herein is a crucial point.
Very often the transformation that God wants to bring about and which He spoke about in the prophetic word, takes time to be fulfilled. So often the end result is after a process of transformation – our transformation – and that takes time. Previously in this series we considered God breaking through into the material world that He had created, and it took time. Then we considered Sarai and other barren women, and it took time before they conceived. Now we have seen the transformation of Joseph and again it has taken time. The lesson that should be shouted from the roof tops is that God loves to bring transformation but so often He takes His time with it, because He is thorough and He is working with human beings who He does not force on faster than they can go. God is not in a rush, even though we may often exhibit impatience. It is a very significant lesson for many of us. Let’s heed it.