Our Almighty God
by Andy Cokayne 12 February 2022
Reading Genesis 42:29 - 43:14
I have never seen the show of Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat, but have heard many of the songs, I think it is a great musical drama, and what is more, the story line broadly follows the record in Genesis. The point in the story in Genesis chapters 42 and 43, is where Joseph has been sold into slavery in Egypt by his brothers, who then told their father Jacob that Joseph had been killed by wild animals. Joseph meanwhile has found himself in prison through no fault of his own. But following his interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream, has been deemed wise and discerning, released from prison, and put in charge of Egypt by Pharaoh, in order to make wise decisions in make preparations for the impending famine.
Joseph’s father, Jacob, and brothers are suffering the same famine in Canaan, and Jacob has sent Joseph’s brothers to Egypt, leaving Benjamin, Jacob’s favourite, behind with his father. On arrival in Egypt his brothers are recognised by Joseph, but they do not recognise him. Joseph accuses them of being spies, speaks to them harshly, and tells them they must bring their younger brother back to Egypt to prove their honesty, and holds Simeon as a hostage. Joseph sends them away with grain for their families. On their arrival back in Canaan, they tell everything to Jacob, including the need to take Benjamin if they return to Egypt. After a while the grain runs out in Canaan, and they realise that they must return to Egypt. Reluctantly Jacob agrees for Benjamin to travel back with them.
Jacob feels at rock bottom, hungry and no food to feed the family, Simeon one of his sons held as a hostage back in Egypt. The rest of his sons accused of being spies back in the only land with food. His first favourite son Joseph killed, he thinks by wild animals, and now due to the loose tongues of his other sons, he is about to lose Benjamin, the one remaining favourite. The thought of losing both sons he doted on is almost too much for him. Jacob was distraught 42v36 reads “You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!” In v38 again Jacob pours out his sorrow “My son will not go there with you; his brother is dead and he is the only one left. If harm comes to him on the journey you are taking, you will bring my grey head down to the grave in sorrow”. You can hear his frustration, his sorrow and sense of powerlessness in his words. Why me! What have I done!
Finally he relents and with a sense of resignation allows Benjamin to go with them. He prayed “And may God Almighty (El-Shaddai) grant you mercy”, he prayed almost out of desperation, but he recalled the God who had revealed himself to Abraham by the title ‘El-Shaddai’ and entered into an agreement with him. They may have been powerless, but their God wasn’t. The brothers thought that they were having their comeuppance, for how harshly they had dealt with Joseph years before. Jacob prayed that this Almighty God, true to his character, would exercise mercy.
We too, like Jacob, may feel powerless at times, frustrated by our present situation. Our plans have all gone to pieces. Perhaps like Jacob our thoughts turn to despair, what next! Why am I having to go through this! It’s just not fair! Yet through all his despair, anxiety about the future, and frustration at the situation he found himself in, Jacob remembered his God. “May God Almighty grant you mercy.” We serve that same God Almighty. Who has been with us through the years and is with us now. May we like Jacob be encouraged to turn to Him in Prayer, remembering that He is not a feeble God, one who sits aloof not really caring, He is God Almighty, creator of the universe, and promises never to leave us. Remember God Almighty is always on the side of the powerless.
Hymn: Praise to the Lord, the almighty, the king of creation
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Heavenly Father, help us to remember that you are none other than God Almighty, creator of heaven and earth. That no matter how powerless, anxious, and frustrated we may feel, you are on our side, and will remain true to your word that you will never leave us or forsake us. In Jesus' name.