Content but Not Complacent . . . Don’t Make Permanent what is Temporary

“By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.” Hebrews 11:22

Joseph was both a dreamer of prophetic dreams and the favorite of his father, Jacob. Out of 12 boys, he was loved above all the others . . . it was not only not a secret, it was blatantly obvious. And Joseph’s brothers hated him so much because of this that sold him into slavery and told their father he was dead.

Eventually, Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt, and through a series of extraordinary, and what can only be seen as divinely orchestrated, events Joseph went from slave to prisoner to second in command only to Pharaoh after interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams and advising that Pharaoh prepare Egypt for a great famine to follow seven plentiful years. Joseph lived and ruled in Egypt during these seven years of plenty, and when the famine came, Egypt had a bounty of grain.

Without knowing who he was, Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt from Canaan seeking to buy grain and ended up bowing before Joseph pleading for food. Joseph eventually revealed himself and forgave them, and then sent them to bring his father’s household from Canaan to Egypt. What the brothers had intended for Joseph’s destruction, God had set up to save them all. Joseph lived in Egypt into his old age . . . the land that first seemed to lead to his demise was ultimately his salvation . . . and at the end of his life . . . at 110 years old . . . as he was dying, Joseph said, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” (Genesis 50:25) And he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt. (Account of Joseph’s Life: Genesis 37-50)

Joseph knew that Egypt was never meant to be permanent. Egypt was good to Joseph. Egypt gave Joseph a life and a family and success. Even more so it enabled him to save his father and brothers and as a result, the future of Israel and the Jewish people to come, but Egypt was only temporary.

“By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command. By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasure in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who was invisible.” Hebrews 11:23-27

After Joseph’s death the children of Israel multiplied greatly and the new king of Egypt, out of fear of their greatness, enslaved them. He set out to kill all the male children born to the Israelites, but Moses was saved when his mother put him, as a three month old, in a basket and placed him in the Nile river. He was found by Pharaoh’s daughter and raised in the house of Pharaoh. But Pharaoh’s house, though it was good to Moses, though it saved Moses’s life, was never meant to be permanent. Pharaoh’s house, just like Egypt, was meant to be temporary. (Account of Moses and the Exodus of the Children of Israel: The book of Exodus)

“God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” Genesis 50:25

“By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.” Hebrews 11:22

As I read these words this morning it struck me, though Joseph spent the majority of his life in Egypt . . . though he lived and ruled in Egypt for over 80 years . . . he knew the temporary nature of the situation. He knew that one day the children of Israel would leave Egypt, and he made sure they knew to take his bones with them. He didn’t want his remains to reside permanently in a place meant to be temporary.

I can’t help but wonder how often we park ourselves permanently in temporary places?

How often do we get entirely too comfortable in a place we’re meant to pass through, possibly set up camp, but most definitely not build a city?

The children of Israel are famous for turning a 11 day journey into 40 years. They were disobedient, they were whiny, they constantly complained, and sadly (and kind of stupidly), they wanted to go back to Egypt. Because even though Egypt was always meant to be temporary . . . even though it had long passed the point of its purpose . . . Egypt was familiar . . . there was no battle in staying in Egypt.

And that’s often the excuse we use, “If it’s meant to be then why is it so hard? Why do I have to fight?” So we decide that hard means wrong, and we permanently stay where we were only supposed to camp for a little while . . . maybe for a day or a year or ten years . . . but definitely not forever. What we fail to realize is that change and pushing through the hard with God’s help and guidance are what bring about growth in our lives. It’s never change for the sake of change, but change with a purpose.

Maybe it’s an old job you should leave or new job you should take . . . maybe it’s a relationship that’s played itself out (not a marriage relationship . . . see my last post in regards to that) or maybe it’s not allowing temporary struggles to become a permanent fixture in a relationship. . . maybe it’s a big move (or even a small one) that is just a little too intimidating . . . maybe it’s not a physical situation but an emotional one . . . maybe you’ve allowed yourself to sit in grief and despair so long that it’s all you know and seeking help to get out just seems like too much work . . . I can’t tell you what your temporary is and when you’re meant to move on . . . that’s something that only God can do. But what I can say is if we want to see the fullness of God’s good plans for our lives then we cannot stay stagnant . . . we have to embrace change and growth when it comes from God . . . we have to make sure we’re prepared to be moved when the time comes.

Joseph did not see the end of the Egypt. For him it was temporarily permanent, but he knew that it was not forever, and in faith he made preparation for that before he died. Neither Joseph nor Moses, endured a life without hardship. Nor were they perfect. Joseph was mouthy and talked too much . . . it didn’t help his situation with his brothers at all . . . and Moses was a bit hotheaded . . . he killed a man, ran away to Midian, tried to avoid God, broke the tablets on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed, and bashed a rock to get water out of it . . . he had a temper . . . but God still used both Joseph and Moses and so many other imperfect men and women mightily to bring about change for His kingdom (take the time to read Hebrews 11).

At the end of the day, nothing on this earth is permanent. The only permanent place we have is in eternity. This very life on earth is temporary. And that is why we have to be so careful not to get too comfortable . . . not to look at contentment and think it means were complacent . . . contentment stays consistent through all the changes and shifts of life, but it doesn’t avoid them. Complacency avoids those shifts and changes. Complacency says we’ll stay in Egypt when we should be head to the Promised Land.

Copyright 2021, Courtney G Davis, All Rights Reserved 

The writings and images contained within this site are the intellectual property of this writer unless otherwise noted, and may not be copied or used without express permission of the author.

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