Change agents / change points

PatrickHenryFoundingFatherChange agents. Are you one? Would you know if you were?

17-year-old-Joseph, the youngest son of Jacob (Israel), was a dreamer. That’s not a bad thing in itself. But he was also their father’s favorite, a spoiled teenager, a braggart and a show-off. Sick of his tattling on them to their father, the brothers had grown to actually hate him. (See Genesis 37.)

One day they were sent way off to look after their father’s flocks — all except Joseph, for some reason. I’m sure they didn’t miss him.

And then their dad sent him to check on the brothers. They saw him coming; that spectacular coat of many colors was hard to miss. Watching him approach, they had plenty of time to plot how best to get rid of this annoying, aggravating brat. Kill him, blame a wild animal, tell dad a “sad story,” and we’ll never have to put up with him again! That was the plan.

Until Reuben, the oldest and probably responsible for the group, spoke up. Horrified at their plans, he convinced them to throw Joseph down a dry well instead. Then they wouldn’t have to actually murder him themselves, he explained, the elements would do it for them. A wild animal might really kill him. Okay, they agreed, we’ll do that. Down the well he went. Then Reuben went away for a bit, planning all the while to return and rescue his troublesome brother behind their backs.

While he was gone, Judah had a better idea. Let’s get something for ourselves out of him! Let’s sell him to the trade caravan! And so Joseph was sold into slavery, first to traveling traders, then to an Egyptian soldier.

Of course, Reuben was dumbfounded when he found Joseph gone. But they had kept Joseph’s fancy coat, so they dipped it in animal blood and told their father a tall tale. A very sad tall tale of Joseph’s demise by a vicious animal. The father and all the rest of the family greatly grieved over the loss of Jacob’s youngest, beloved boy.

A few years went by with the brothers and their father making the best they could of their lives without Joseph. And then a severe famine hit the world. Including the family of Jacob and his sons. (Genesis 41:56)

In the meantime, Joseph had experienced a series of remarkable adventures over the years, some bad, some good. By the time the famine hit, his life was very good indeed. His fantastic prophetic dreams had enabled Egypt to prepare for the disaster, and now they had enough food to supply not only Egypt, but the rest of the world too.

And in God’s timetable, a major change point occurred. The murderous brothers, desperate to save their families and property, came to Egypt to buy food. Eventually they wound up being forgiven and reconciled to their baby brother. They were able to bring their father and all their extended family to live in Egypt, along with their flocks.

One change agent had effected one change point – a major turning point. The tribe of Israel survived and many generations who would have died, instead survived and thrived. Joseph, of course,  you’re thinking.

No, I’m thinking of Reuben. Reuben had no idea he was God’s change agent to rescue the entire family line. But he was. His words changed the minds of his brothers and prevented Joseph’s cold-blooded murder. Changed the course of history.

Other change agents have instigated change points by personal behavior or words of advice – Naomi, Ruth’s match-making mother-in-law was one. Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was another. (See John 1:41)

In world history there have been many change points, and change agents good and evil. Patrick Henry’s uncle and namesake, the Rev. Patrick Henry, was one. Without the influence of the latter, the first – the Father of the American Revolution – might be unknown today.

Home-schooled and self taught, he (Patrick Henry) was well-read and well-tutored under the guidance of his college-educated father and uncle.  His uncle, also his namesake, was a Reverend in the Scottish Episcopal Church, instilling in him from an early age the Christian virtue that would inform his policy for the balance of his days.

While officially baptized in the Church of England, Patrick Henry actually attended a Presbyterian Church with his mother.  As a child, he witnessed the fiery Great Awakening preaching of Samuel Davies.  Here, he would learn of Christianity’s power to move men to great deeds, as well as the impact of strong oration.

Are you a change agent? Sometimes we don’t even know that’s what we are, when we speak a word of encouragement or advice, or vote for one candidate rather than another. And especially when we pray what the Holy Spirit leads us to pray.

We need a few change agents for good in America today. Father God, raise them up. Raise them up!

The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away

Job said that after his children were killed (Job 1:21)… and people have been repeating it ever since to explain away their personal disasters and losses.

Since we live in a fallen world, created by God, granted to humans to own and operate, handed over by them to the enemy in exchange for counterfeit power, I guess it’s understandable for some people to use this phrase as a sort of grief pill.

But when they say it these days — after Jesus came, took our sins upon himself and died to pay their penalty —  they are accusing God of being an Indian giver.  A thief.  A murderer.  And He’s not.

This won’t be a theological discussion.  I would just like to suggest a “post-cross” way of looking at this comment of Job’s.

The Lord gave: grace, love, compassion, understanding, forgiveness, mercy,
reconciliation, restoration, sonship, inheritance, friendship, fellowship, comfort, counsel, guidance, and a blessed future with him in heaven.

And the Lord has taken away: guilt, condemnation, loneliness, confusion, judgment, anxiety, fear, punishment, and a cursed future separated from him in hell.