Sunday, January 23, 2011

To Dream Again

Genesis 37.19
And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh.

“To Dream Again”

Genesis 37.11, 18-20;
11 And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.

18 And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him.
19 And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh.
20 Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.

Genesis 45.26-46.4
25 And they went up out of Egypt, and came into the land of Canaan unto Jacob their father,
26 And told him, saying, Joseph is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt. And Jacob's heart fainted, for he believed them not.
27 And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them: and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived:
28 And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.

1 And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac.
2 And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I.
3 And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation:
4 I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes.

Joseph was next to the youngest son of Jacob/Israel. We have talked previously about the use of names to convey character in the Bible. Jacob’s name meant “heel grabber” or “supplanter” It signified his deceiver nature. When he made the change, his name was changed to Israel, meaning “one who has power with God.” In these scriptures, you will see both names used at times. The usage is significant.

Joseph was the son of Rachel. Jacob made for Joseph a coat of many colors. Joseph had dreams. In one dream, Joseph saw him and his brothers binding sheaves in the field. His sheaf arose and stood upright. The sheaves of his father and brothers stood round and made obeisance to his sheaf. His brothers hated him “yet the more.” In another dream, Joseph saw the sun, and the moon, and eleven stars. They made obeisance to him.

11 And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.

Observed – Shamar – to hedge, to guard, to protect, to keep.
Sayings – dabar – a word, a matter, as spoken of

Jacob kept the dream. He held it in his heart and in his memory. Joseph gave his family his dreams. His brothers despised him, but his father held them dear. Joseph’s dreams became Jacob’s dreams. Jacob was no stranger to dreams. At Bethel, he had a dream/vision of the ladder reaching into heaven and God standing at the top. Jacob was a dreamer as well.

There came a time when Joseph’s brothers were tending to the flocks of sheep in Shechem. Jacob sent Joseph to check on them. When Joseph arrived in Shechem, his brothers were not there. A man told him that he had overheard them say they were going to Dothan.

Verses 18 through 20 recount the words and malice of his brothers, as they saw Joseph approaching from the distance. Their anger/envy spurred them to do in that moment actions they may not have done otherwise and even reconsidered later.

Interestingly, the word compound used to describe Joseph was ‘Ba’al Chalom’. It was two words. There was no Hebrew word for ‘dreamer’, therefore they called him (literally) the owner of the dream.

We will kill him, the brothers plotted, and then we will see what will become of his dream.

In our own history, men have tried to stop the dream by killing the possessor of the dream. Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated in what appeared to be an effort to silence his dream. Countless and faceless others have died throughout history in the effort of their killers to stop their dreams.

We are Ba’al Chalom
God has given us a dream. He has given us a vision. This vision is the fuel for our fire. It is the inspiration for our walk. Acts 2.7 tells us, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

Satan desires to destroy our dream – even with the blood of the owners if that is the only way. He tried to end the dream on the hill of the skull. On Calvary he thought he had stopped the dream with the death of Jesus Christ. Not many days hence, however, the dream appears to Mary at the tomb. Later, on the road to Emmaus ..

On that road there were two travelers. One was Cleopas. The other was unnamed and unidentified. For the sake of now, let that second traveler be us. They were both followers of Jesus. They were walking away from the dream. They were walking away from Jerusalem. They were walking toward their old home. It is three days past the crucifixion. Without doubt, their mind had to be on the events of the last few days.

It was on this road, away from the dream, that Jesus joins them. He finds them discouraged, down, depressed, and despairing. Their hope is nearly extinct. The scripture tells us that as they walked they talked about the events that had transpired. While the walked and talked, Jesus came to walk with them. Their minds were clouded that they did not recognize him. Jesus asked them why they were so sad.

“Are you a stranger,” Cleopas asks, “Are you not aware of all that has happened in Jerusalem? Do you not know of Jesus, a prophet mighty in word and deed before God and all the people? Do you not know how the Chief Priests persuaded the people to have him delivered to death? We thought He would be the one..”

See the dialogue of the one who has lost the dream. “We thought he would be the one to deliver us.” The seeds of doubt have fallen on their soil, turned by the plow of events not understood. The ground of belief they stood on in days past was shaken. What was once firm was now scattered with rocks to cause their walk to be halted and unsteady. Such is the walk of those whose dream has been taken. It does not matter whether the dream dies because of the death of the dreamer or merely the loss of faith in the dreamer. The result is the same. Their walk is a walk of uncertainty. Confidence is replaced by questions. “I know,” is replaced by “I thought.”

To the disciples on the road to Emmaus, Calvary was the end of their hope. It was the end of the dream they held. Their heads were down so they did not see the savior approach. Their walk was slow to reflect their spirit. Their comments decried their doubts. The road was between Jerusalem and Emmaus, but it might as well have been called ‘the road to despair.’ There on that road, the road of despair, the road of the dreamless, there, they met Jesus. It is there that Jesus travels. The writer of Psalms 139 said in verse 8 “If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.” Where will I go that God cannot find me? Where will my life take me that God is not there? He is there in the clouds of my exhilaration. He is there when my despair and failure take me to the depths of Hell.

In verse 25, Jesus opened the scriptures. Let me tell you who is he:
From Moses, He is:
· The promise to Eve (Genesis 3.15)
· The promise to Abraham (Genesis 17.6-7)
· The Paschal Lamb (Isaiah 53.7)
· The Scapegoat (Leviticus 16.10)
· The Brazen Serpent (Numbers 21.9)
· The Star and the Scepter (Number 24.17)
· The Smitten Rock (Isaiah 53.4)
He is:
· Immanuel (Isaiah 57.14)
· The Child Born to us (Isaiah 9.6)
· The Good Shepherd (John 10.11)
· The One ‘who bore our grief’ (Isaiah 53.4)
· The Branch (Isaiah 11.1)
· The Heir of David (Isaiah 11.1)
· The Ruler from Bethlehem (Micah 5.2)
· The Lowly King (Zachariah 9.9)
· The Pierced Victim (Isaiah 53.5)
· The Smitten Shepherd (Isaiah 53.4)
· The Messenger of the Covenant (Malachi 3.1)
· Our Savior and Redeemer (Isaiah 63.16)

As they approached the city, He went to go away. They prayed that He would stay with them. As He broke bread with them, their eyes were opened. Once He was recognized and their doubts dispelled, He vanished into ‘unseen-ness’. The dream came in. They left at that moment and returned to Jerusalem. The distance between the two was approximately 7.5 miles. Though the scripture does not record their demeanor on the return journey, I have to imagine that it was a remarkable difference than their demeanor on the trip toward Emmaus.

Without the dream, they walked slowly and trudgingly.
· Their every step was weighted by their doubts and fears. (Have you been there?)
· Every step was an effort to place in front of the next. (Have you ever walked a walk where every step was filled with the wish it were the last?)
· They walked with their heads bowed by their burden. (Have you felt that weight?)
They walked like the dreamless masses we encounter every day. They have no real root except in the shallow surface of this world. Their moods controlled by how their favorite teams did in last night’s game, or how the stock market fared today, or who spoke to them or didn’t speak to them in the elevator this morning. Their future is the next vacation or long weekend. Their dreams are a future uncertain retirement. Their dreams are limited because they are earth bound and contingent on the whims and winds of this world. (The Bible tells us the Satan is the god of this world and we saw in the ‘Job’s House’ lesson how Satan cares for those things that are his.)

The return trip to Jerusalem was vastly different. The dream was alive. Their hope was beyond this world. There was a spring in their step. There was a light in their faces. The burden was lifted. Their heads were held high. The dream was alive again.

The dreamless cannot understand the ‘owners of the dream.’ They do not understand our optimism that goes far beyond ordinary optimism. They do not comprehend our hope that goes beyond this world. They cannot fathom our trust in an unseen personal Savior. While we face the same financial uncertainties and the same sicknesses and diseases, we maintain a sense of hope. They cannot grasp this. The dream lives within us.

Jacob lost his dream. He lost it in the blood drenched garment belonging to Joseph. Sorrow clouded his vision and obscured the dream. To Jacob, all of Joseph’s dreams died with him. However, God was not finished. Too often we finish before God does. We live in the TV generation. Characters and problems are introduced and solved in an hour. We microwave our meals in a fraction of the time it takes to cook them. We are an impatient generation. If God does not answer in an hour, we are ready to change channels. Though unseen, the dream continued. Jacob could not dream, the dreamer was gone. The Ba’al Chalom was gone.

Time passes. Joseph advances in position in his new land. The events that occur in this time will make several Bible Studies. Time comes when Joseph, by interpreting the king’s dream is in charge of the storehouses. There is to be a famine in the land. There will be seven years of plenty and seven years of famine. Joseph has the Egyptians save one-fifth of each year’s harvest to be stored for the day of want. It is in these years of want that the brothers of Joseph come to buy grain. In time, after the brothers revealed the change of their natures in their willingness to be lost to save Joseph’s younger brother, Benjamin, Joseph revealed himself to them.

He sent word with them to his father.
Genesis 45
Vs 25 .. He is called Jacob
Vs 26 .. He is called Jacob
Vs 27 .. He is called Jacob
“..The spirit of Jacob their father revived.”
Vs 28 .. “And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.”

‘Israel’ dropped into obscurity during the sorrow. When it is revealed that the dreamer is still alive, his spirit revives. His hope, once dead, is alive again. The hope is alive. The dreamer is alive. The power came back when the dream came back. “Without a vision, the people perish.” In chapter 46, God speaks to Israel in a dream and tells him that he will become a great nation and Joseph will put his hands on his eyes. This is a reference to dying. God told Jacob that Joseph would be with him until his death. The custom was that the favored son would perform the last offices of affection by closing his eyes in death. On his death bed, the father would take the hands of his favored son, kiss them, and place them on his eyes, his face, and his mouth, and say, “now I die.”

Jesus will be with us always, even unto the end. We have this promise. It is part of our dream. When I close my eyes in death, I will not be alone. His hands will cover my eyes, my face, and my mouth. My dream will carry me to death and beyond.

Let me dream again.

When my heart is becoming hardened, let me dream again.
When my faith is failing, let me dream again.
When my strength is low, let me dream again.
When my desire is weak, let me dream again.
When my heart is broken, let me dream again.
When I have no right, when hope has escaped me, when I am covered in sorrow, when all seems lost, let that dream shine through. Let me dream again.

Have you lost your dream?
Deliverance, joy, victory, what have you lost?
The two on the road to Emmaus, the dream came home with:
· Communion with God
· Time with the Word
· Meeting Jesus at the table

Will you dream again?

Will you meet him at the table (altar)?

Will you become the Ba’al Chalom again ?

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