It’s a story most of us have read many times, but what does Peter’s willingness to get out of the boat and walk on the water say to us on a practical level?
Genesis 43 & 44:
Back to Egypt
As we continue with the Joseph story the brothers had returned home without Simeon, some time had passed and the famine had worsened. Simeon was sitting in jail or some kind of custody in Egypt, probably wondering if anyone was coming back for him. Israel (Jacob) had not been willing to deal with the situation, but his hand had been forced by the continued famine. Now the brothers have returned to Egypt, this time with Benjamin. They have pleaded their case, and strangely, have been brought to the home of this high ranking Egyptian official for lunch! And things are getting really weird!
First we see them talking to the steward of the house, trying to plead their case before Joseph shows up. It’s interesting what he says, “‘Peace be with you, do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has given you treasure in your sacks; I had your money.’ Then he brought Simeon out to them.”
He acknowledges God as the One who is orchestrating these events. It certainly seems that Joseph has been faithful to share the truth with his Egyptian steward. Whether or not he is a true believer we don’t know.
We, too, need to be faithful to share the truth with those God puts in our lives and leave the results up to God.
I love the last sentence of Genesis 43, “So they drank and were merry with him.” Have you ever had someone take you out to dinner and wine you and dine you when you didn’t really have a relationship with them? Perhaps you found yourself wondering what it was all about? Wondering what they really wanted? I imagine the brothers trying to smile and enjoy themselves, all the while wondering what will happen next, wondering if they are all about to be arrested and accused of something?
And Joseph was, indeed, up to something. According to John MacArthur, Joseph was testing his brothers’ devotion to Benjamin and to see how they responded to all of this (http://www.gty.org/resources/devotionals/daily-bible).
Then in chapter 44 Joseph sends the brothers off again, but this time he hides his cup in Benjamin’s sack. When it’s “discovered” Benjamin is arrested and brought back. Though they were free to go, all the brothers return with him. Now Judah comes before Joseph and after explaining about his father, offers to take Benjamin’s place as a slave. Judah, whose idea it was to sell Joseph into slavery, is now offering himself as a slave. Judah, who was originally so quick to condemn his daughter-in-law, that same Judah is selflessly offering himself.
Jesus is still on the throne
With everything going on in our nation and the world verse 4 is a great verse to remember, “The LORD is in His holy temple, The LORD’s throne is in heaven …” I have a friend who, when something difficult happened, would say “Well, Jesus is still on the throne!”
Whatever you’re going through, whether it’s the loss of a job, or the threat of cutbacks, or the violence in the world, or a teenager who’s rebelling, or a marriage that’s difficult, remember, the Lord is still in His Holy temple; Jesus is still on the throne!
And He is not up there wringing His hands wondering what He’s going to do or how He’s going to take care of His children. He’s on His throne whether your child is rebelling or not. He’s on His throne even if your marriage is difficult. He’s on His throne whether the economy is weak or strong, no matter what political party is in power, and no matter what happens. Trust Him. He is trustworthy and He is in control.
Take firm hold of instruction
Verse 13, “Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; keep her, for she is your life.”
How can we know God’s Word and still fall into sin? James 1.14-15 says, “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” Brent Aucoin says, “We do what we do because we want what we want.” While not all desires are sinful, we must be careful not to allow our desires to rule in place of God’s principles. As the writer of Proverbs said, take firm hold of instruction, do not let go!
There are two points illustrated here that have been made many times before, but are still worth remembering. The first is in verse 23 where we see one of the many occasions where Jesus sent the crowds, and even His disciples away, and spent time alone with His Heavenly Father. If He needed time with His Father, how much more do you and me!
Look to God not the circumstances
The second concerns Peter’s walking on the water. Most of you know the story, but as long as he kept His eyes on the Lord, he was able to walk on water. When he began to look at the waves, his circumstances, he began to sink!
Instead of reading the unemployment statistics or rushing to watch the evening news, perhaps our time would be better spent meditating on God’s truths. While we live in the world and are affected by circumstances (Matt. 5.45), we can still trust the faithfulness of our God. He has promised to provide food, shelter and clothing, and with these we can and should be content (1 Tim. 6.8). He has promised to never forsake us, “He will be with you He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” (Deut. 31.8).
But there is another interesting thing that happened in this passage. Notice it says Peter began to sink. When did you ever see anyone step into the water and begin to sink? Even when Peter’s faith faltered, God was still in control!
Is there some area of life where you need to trust God more?
Are you spending more time rejoicing over the promises of God or commiserating over the state of our nation, your health, the economy, your family, your marriage, or whatever might be troubling you?
Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt. 11.28-30).
Lord, help us to keep our eyes on You and not the circumstances of life, in Jesus name, amen.