Monday, March 6, 2017

Day 34: Land of Dreams and Dual Citizenship

Genesis 41, 42 & Matthew 22:1-22

Joseph continues to interpret one dream after another. Jesus speaks of citizenship in a new way.

Genesis 41:

Joseph is again asked to interpret a dream. In this case Pharaoh has two dreams and they are disturbing to say the least. At this point, two years after his restoration to position, the cupbearer remembers that there is someone he knows who correctly interpreted his own dream. Joseph is cleaned up and brought to the Pharaoh. When asked to interpret the dream he says he cannot do so, but that God will do so. Some of his arrogance has gone out of him, and he credits God with the gift of interpretation.
Joseph tells the Pharaoh to prepare for seven years of plenty and seven years of famine. (That number 7 for completeness once more) Pharaoh puts Joseph in charge of making all the necessary preparations so that Egypt will not starve in the famine. Joseph goes from the jail house to the big house. Joseph marries an Egyptian woman and is given an Egyptian name. These things help Joseph assimilate into Egyptian culture and might have made him a bit more palatable to the people as a ruler.

Genesis 42:

The famine is far reaching and Israel/Jacob sends his sons to collect food from Egypt. When they arrive they do not know that Joseph their brother is the one in charge of handing out food. Joseph puts them through the ringer, accusing them of spying and putting them in prison. They are in jail for 3 days and then allowed to return home and get their younger brother, Benjamin (Joseph’s only full brother) Rueben says that this is judgement for the way they treated Joseph. Simeon is bound and stays behind while the rest of the brothers return with the much needed food to their father. Israel/Jacob hears their account, but refuses to let Benjamin go to Egypt, so Simeon stays in jail a while.

Matthew 22:1-14

This parable is a difficult one to hear. Everyone was invited to the wedding, in fact three invitations were issued. However, one person shows up and refuses to put on the wedding attire. This is like going to the Oscars in a rumpled shirt and dirty jeans, not designer, and not cool. The host has him thrown out and beat.
That seems like a pretty petty thing to me, but I don’t live with the same cultural norms and standards of Jesus’ day. I think the point of this passage is that we are all invited to the kingdom of God, and accepting that invitation means we have to be willing to change. We must be willing to cloth ourselves in the righteousness of Christ in order to participate in the kingdom.
Jesus also tackles taxes in this passage and tells Christians that they have dual-citizenship. Citizens of heaven and earth. There are things we will have to do as citizens that we may not like, taxes were put into the common pot and some of this money was used to finance pagan temples of the day. However, our personal gifts, talents, and holdings we can use in accordance with our heavenly citizenship.

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