Message: Hopeful Faithfulness in Prison
Preacher: Tim Gillespie*
Reflection: Sam Millen
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Ame Fowler
Live Beyond: Chelsea Mensink
Live Purpose: Emily Ellis
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
*The guest speaker at Boulder Church on Sabbath, July 13, is choosing to preach on a different topic. If you would like to engage with a sermon that corresponds to the Daily Walk, you may watch Tim Gillespie preach about Joseph online.
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Genesis 41:41-49 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Adventists often focus on preparation for the end times. I was in a self-supporting Adventist setting during the doomsday predictions leading up to Y2K. A massive generator was acquired to provide electricity to our rural compound, and large plastic pails of grain were placed in storage, along with rice, beans, and legumes. We were ready for the crisis! When the clock struck midnight, and the calendar year turned from 1999 to 2000, many thought all computers would reset to the year 1900, resulting in a worldwide shutdown and unprecedented chaos. Even if the worst case scenarios had all come true, our supplies wouldn’t have lasted long (and I would have grown tired of rice and beans). In this life, some may survive longer than others, but nobody has been able to cheat death indefinitely.
Financial planners encourage us to save for a rainy day (a famine, in Joseph’s case). What can we do today to prepare for the future? Is money in the bank all we need to get us through? Even those who have carefully planned cannot completely shield themselves from unforeseen circumstances wiping out their savings. It is easy to look for object lessons in Old Testament stories like Joseph’s, and there are plenty of them. I will focus on a Christological reading of the text in Friday’s reflection, but today I want to highlight Joseph’s unmatched wisdom. Even Pharaoh and his officials were impressed.
When we think of wisdom in the Bible, the Book of Proverbs often comes to mind. Yet even these proverbs are not universally true, according to Tremper Longman, III, Ph.D. (distinguished scholar and professor emeritus of Biblical Studies at Westmont College). Stated positively, proverbs are correct only when applied the right way, and timing is everything (see Proverbs 26:4–5). Apparently, what is true for humor also applies to wisdom. You can learn a joke, but if your timing is off . . . well, I’m used to those awkward moments. Unless wisdom is applied by the right person, it becomes foolishness (see Proverbs 26:7–9)
Recently, I was listening to Dr. Longman lecture on “The Beginning of Wisdom: Becoming Wise According to the Bible.” Dr. Longman helped me see Proverbs as more than just practical common sense advice (like other collections of ancient wisdom). They are deeply theological when understood in the context of following one of two women, Wisdom or Folly (see Proverbs 9). The first woman is associated with God’s Wisdom, while the second represents the way of idolatry. I now view Proverbs as primarily “descriptive,” rather than “prescriptive.” Proverbs illustrates how God’s worshippers will act in contrast to those who worship idols. They are not a list of instructions, as much as a presentation of outcomes.
A carefully designed plan of action is useless, unless it is placed in the hands of a wise person. Joseph’s wise instructions would have failed unless applied correctly. This was why Joseph was put in charge. Receiving God’s wisdom will prepare us for the future, no matter what lies ahead.
Recalibrate: Who is the wisest individual you have ever known personally? What contributed to this person’s wisdom?
Respond: Today, pray for God’s wisdom.
Research: Watch this fascinating lecture by Tremper Longman III, Ph.D., on the wisdom literature in the Old Testament.
Remember: “So the king said to Joseph, ‘God has shown you all this. There is no one as wise and understanding as you are’” (Genesis 41:39, ICB).
Sam Millen is the pastor at Anacortes Adventist Fellowship in Washington State. After living in five countries on three continents (and five states), he feels at home on Orcas Island with his wife and three kids.
Read Here I Am with your little one. The book begins with, “Here I am to help.” We can help in so many different ways and in so many different places. Joseph helped no matter where he was or who he was with. While Joseph waited a long time for someone to help him, this didn’t stop him from helping others. How long have you been waiting for someone to help you? When you are having to wait for something, see how you can help where you are.
Joseph was trusted by Pharaoh. He had patience and worked hard for Pharaoh and all the people of Egypt. He did well being in charge. Have you ever been in charge? Have you played “Simon says” and been the one giving directions? People have to do what you say and also listen closely to make sure they hear you say “Simon says.” That’s a lot of power. Depending on how you lead, you can make the game super fun or really horrible for your friends. How do you act when you’re in charge? Are you kind and patient?
The story of Joseph includes a two-year pause. The last we heard, the cupbearer and baker were taken out of prison, leaving Joseph behind. He asked the cupbearer to tell Pharaoh that he was there. But the cupbearer forgot about Joseph until two years later when Pharaoh had his own upsetting dreams.
I remember when we accidentally left my sister behind at a gas station. We thought she was in the backseat, but as we drove away we saw her in the rearview mirror! It feels terrible to be forgotten. How would you feel if you were forgotten for two years? I know I would feel sad, upset, and lonely. Joseph probably felt that way too but he trusted that God had a plan for him and He certainly did.
At my high school we had these things called banquets. Now banquets are essentially like proms, but without the dancing. Everyone gets super dressed up to sit around and eat food all night long. I think it’s a pretty great time because let me tell you, you do not want to see me on the dance floor! But what I really liked about banquets was how much dressing up in formal wear transformed people. People went from their normal everyday wear to fancy dresses and tuxedos. For some people I would have to do a double take because they looked completely different than they did during the week. This is what God did with Joseph. In Genesis 41:41, we read that after two years of being at literally the lowest place in society (prison), Pharaoh set Joseph free. It was all done in a moment, in an instant. To me, this shows the transformative power of God—how he can take us in our brokenness and transform us in an instant. Joseph probably didn’t feel like a ruler right away, but he began to embrace his new identity. Imagine with me for just a moment what it would have been like for Joseph to become the second highest ruler in Egypt and to still live like a slave. As ludicrous as that sounds, we experience this all the time. While we might not have been slaves in Egypt, we were slaves to sin. It owned us and trapped us. However, on the cross Christ redeemed us and set us free in one moment. When we accept this, we too are transformed in that moment. So why do we continue to live like slaves? I think one of the reasons is that the devil wants to cripple us and hinder us from living out our potential. He knows that if God’s children lived as people set free from sin, that we would be unstoppable. I encourage you this week to live as a person set free from sin. You might not feel like you have been set free, but that doesn’t change your identity. For just as God took Joseph from slave to free in an instance, he also has done the same for you.
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development for ages 0-17. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Ame Fowler has fifteen years of youth and children’s ministry experience and has served as a leader with TOP kids. She and her husband enjoy ministry through coffee, and live in Chattanooga, TN.
Chelsea Mensink serves as the family ministries director at Crosswalk Church in Redlands, California. She is a delightful and talented children’s pastor who just oozes fun and love like a squished Twinkie.
Emily Ellis is a junior studying theology at Walla Walla University and interning at the Eastgate Seventh-day Adventist Church.