Tuesday, 8 March 2016
When our patriarch Jacob bestowed a final blessing on his sons and, by extension, the tribes who would bear their name, Joseph and Judah are given prominent attention. Despite his turbulent life, Jacob must have derived great joy in seeing his family unified and reconciled. Ironically, this father of our faith, whose strongest impulse was to peacefully settle and complete his earthly days in the Land of Promise, must transmit his spiritual heritage in Egypt, the nation that would soon begin enslaving his descendants.
Joseph graciously forgives his brothers' betrayal and enmity directed toward him years earlier, and the restoration of the brothers to fellowship and godly covenantal faithfulness find their origin in Judah's heartfelt plea to this harsh minister in pharaoh's court - a plea, an earnest supplication that Judah's father not suffer the grief of having his family permanently divided. When this Egyptian minister is revealed to be none other than Joseph, then Beyt Ya'akov, the house of Jacob, can be reunited and soon will reveal to pharaoh, his court, and all of Egypt that the G-d of Israel has exercised command over all events and circumstances - prosperity, famine, and recovery - and that Joseph's divinely imparted authority and supernatural wisdom were instrumental in alleviating the collapse of the world's most powerful economy.
Family unity, echad, for that Jewish community, was achieved under trying conditions. Today the Jewish community struggles to find common ground and solidarity on any subject, but before we proceed too far down that observational path, we in the Messianic world must ask ourselves some tough questions. Do we lack power to transform lives and communities because of our resistance to building bridges across doctrinal boundaries among the believing remnant? And how successful are we in establishing and maintaining connection to all of Beyt Yisrael?
In one of his final statements before becoming the second Joseph and experiencing betrayal, Yeshua prayed that unity and love would distinguish his disciples in Judea, Samaria, and all other regions where they would settle and build community. In the book of Acts and other apostolic writings we see examples of believers successfully co-existing and bearing witness of Hashem's covenant kindness, his chesed, within the body of Yeshua across national borders.
As in the case of Judah and Joseph, repentance, supplication, and concern for the Father's name would seem to be key ingredients for finding unity. We may reside some distance from the physical Land of Promise, but guarding the unity of the Spirit in the bond of shalom is a worthwhile pursuit wherever we pitch our tents.