At the End
The name of this week’s portion is Miketz meaning “and it happened.” The first verse of the parsha opens this way, “It happened at the end of two full years…”
Have you ever had a full year? Perhaps 2019 has been that. While certainly this can be a good thing, in the case of Joseph it was a trial, and he had two of them back to back. He was an innocent man in prison serving time for a crime that he didn’t commit, in a country where he’d been sold into slavery by his brothers! Two years ago (chapter 40) he had been given the opportunity to encourage a man who had Pharaoh’s ear and would be able to plead for his release, but it still hadn’t happened. The cupbearer had, as Genesis 40:18 says, forgotten Joseph.
During these two years of Joseph’s languishing Elohim continued to work. Despite appearances from Joseph’s perspective things were moving into place. Scripture isn’t clear on what, but perhaps Egypt’s politics weren’t yet ready for Pharaoh to dictate a massive nationwide food storage plan, or perhaps Jacob’s sons were still being circumcised of their pride and anger toward Joseph. But we know that it wasn’t yet time for his release.
Finally, “it happened.” Two years after his hopes for freedom began Joseph is released from prison, and quickly is made second in command of all Egypt, he marries and has children. In the fairy tale version this would be where the story ends with a happily ever after. But there is a clue given to Joseph’s state of mind in the naming of his sons.
To Joseph were born two sons before the year of famine came, whom Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, bore to him. Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh, “For,” he said, “Elohim has made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house.” The name of the second, he called Ephraim: “For Elohim has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”Genesis 41:50-52 WEB
On the surface it seems that Joseph has moved on from his tumultuous past, yet in the very naming of Manasseh how can he not be reminded of his toil and his father’s house. Perhaps “forget” doesn’t mean remember in this case, but rescue. He is no longer experiencing the toil of his past, but he still remembers. In fact, it was so important to him to remember his family, that he names his firstborn for that very purpose.
Here, at the end of chapter 41, Joseph is left in the same state as the beginning…waiting, because the time had not yet come for the next part of his life.
Waiting is agony when you are separated from those that you love. The desire for reconciliation is so great at times that it feels like your heart will burst. It’s a wound that as long as the separation exists will never truly heal.
That’s what Joseph waited for. What are waiting for Elohim to do? We have all waited (or are waiting) for some movement of the Father in our lives. The very core of our faith as believers in the Messiah centers on the Master’s promise that He will return. And so we wait. Anticipating His hand in our lives, but never quite sure how He will work. What job will He provide, when will that expectant child come, how will these loans be paid off, when will my loved one turn their lives over to Yeshua? We don’t know, and so we wait.
This is far from the most comfortable position for a believer to be in. At times it feels exactly like Joseph sitting in a jail cell for those two years. But, it is also the best position to be in. Our hands tied, unable to interfere with the work that Elohim is doing on our behalf.
My times are in your hand.Psalm 31:15 WEB
But as for me, I will look to Yahweh. I will wait for the Elohim of my salvation. My Elohim will hear me. Don’t rejoice against me, my enemy. When I fall, I will arise. When I sit in darkness, Yahweh will be a light to me.Micah 7:7-8 WEB
At these times, may we be reminded that while we don’t know how things will turn out, we have an advocate working on our behalf and for our good (Rom. 8:28). There are times when we are called to action to accomplish His purposes. But when we are asked to wait, let us remember Joseph in prison or the Israelites as they heard the words of Moses at the edge of the Red Sea.
Yahweh will fight for you, and you shall be still.”Exodus 14:14 WEB