Senior Second Thoughts

At first it seemed like a good idea. But now he wasn’t so sure. Perhaps, he had been too hasty. He had been caught up in the moment of the good news.

Joseph was alive—not dead, as he had been made to believe for more than twenty years. So, yes, he was excited to go to Egypt to see his son. But this was not a visit. This was to be permanent.

Joseph wanted the entire family to join him in Egypt. And Jacob had agreed. But now that he had had time to think about it, this move meant he would die and be buried in a foreign land. Not in his homeland. When you get old, you think about these things.

His family—from the eldest to the youngest—was excited about a new beginning. Not him. Been there and done that. He had no desire to make any more life changes.

There had been a famine in his father’s day too. God had told him, “Do not go down to Egypt” (Genesis 26:2 NASB). He couldn’t shake that from his mind. Wouldn’t that also apply to him? Shouldn’t he stay in Canaan and live through this famine?

Suppose his sons adopt the idolatrous ways of Egypt and forget the one true God. Everything he had taught them. Maybe Joseph already had. Perish the thought!

And how scary is that prediction God gave his grandfather! “God said to Abram, ‘Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years’” (Genesis 15:13 NASB)? Would he be the instigator of that slavery? What kind of legacy was that?

If only he could be sure he was doing the right thing. Jacob settled it at the last stop before crossing into the desert.

God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, ‘Jacob, Jacob.’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ He said, ‘I am God, the God of your father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you a great nation there. I will go down with you to Egypt . . .’ (Genesis 46:2-4 NASB).

Then Jacob moved forward, knowing:

The light of God surrounds me;
The love of God enfolds me;
The power of God protects me;
The presence of God watches over me;
Wherever I am, God is.
(“The Prayer for Protection” by James Dillet Freeman, 1912-2003)

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The Defiant Wife

She was beautiful, smart, married to a tycoon, and scared to death. Her husband had stupidly insulted their future king—and a war hero to boot. The lives of their household and workers were now in dire jeopardy.

A piercing reminder that she was married to a fool! Pigheaded with a thunderclap temper! What he had done this time was critical. Someone had to do something and fast.

She didn’t have time to track down Nabal and try to talk sense into him. Even if she did, he wouldn’t listen to reason from anyone, especially a woman—least of all her—Abigail—his wife.

What she had in mind would be defying her husband, but he was dead wrong. He had put many innocent lives in impending danger. At that very moment David and his men were arming themselves to retaliate, vowing that there would be no man or boy alive in Nabal’s domain by daybreak.

Abigail would take a risk for the greater good. Knowing there was no time to lose, she barely thanked the shepherd who had rushed to her with the heads-up. Spinning on her heel, she shot out orders to her house servants. David would get his request.

Food was fair payment for David’s band of men, who without fail had guarded Nabal’s flocks from marauders. Hadn’t their protection increased his prosperity? And it wasn’t as if her husband didn’t have plenty of food on hand today for the shearing festival!

As soon as humanly possible, Abigail sent ahead to David’s camp donkeys laden with wine-filled goatskins, cooked sheep and trimmings, two hundred loaves of bread, and fig cakes galore. Riding last in the caravan, she clung to the hope that the advancing food would soften David’s vengeful heart. But what should she say to him? Would her words carry enough weight to make a difference?

“It came about as she was riding on her donkey and coming down by the hidden part of the mountain, that behold, David and his men were coming down toward her; so she met them” (1 Samuel 25:20 NASB). So soon?

Like a flash, Abigail dismounted, fell down down at David’s feet, and took the blame for her husband. “Please,” she implored, “forgive the transgression of your maidservant” (1 Samuel 25:28 NASB).

She hastened to speak of possible future regrets: “And when the Lord does for my lord according to all the good that He has spoken concerning you, and appoints you ruler over Israel, this will not cause grief or a troubled heart to my lord, both by having shed blood without cause and by my lord having avenged himself” (1 Samuel 25:30-31 NASB).

“David then said to Abigail, ‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me, and blessed be your discernment, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodshed and from avenging myself by my own hand’” (1 Samuel 25:32-33 NASB).

Abigail did not submit to her husband and is universally praised for her kindness, courage, and wisdom. Some describe her as shrewd.

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Choosing Sides

Asa felt like he was walking on air. His army, on a wing and a prayer, had brought those invading Ethiopians to their knees. Against all odds, his army had decimated them! The high and mighty weren’t so high and mighty after all.

Oh, the euphoria of victory! This must be the same feeling his great-great grandfather had when he returned from winning battles. He wished David could see him now. He would have been so proud of him. His beloved Jerusalem was still safe.

Coming out to meet Asa, Azariah punctured the king’s musings. The prophet offered neither a congratulatory handshake nor the glimmer of a satisfied smile. All business, he got right to his point for being there: ‘“The Lord is with you when you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you’” (2 Chronicles 15:2 NASB).

The warning hit Asa’s heart. He had been made to face his failure.

From the moment he inherited his reign, Asa had zealously worked to purge the nation of idol worship and the downward depravity it induced. But his zeal had stopped short of cleansing the throne room.

Now, ten years later, Yahweh’s spokesman made clear the dire consequences if he did not restore worship of the true God as the national religion. That meant the utter obliteration of paganism. No exceptions! The most influential woman in the royal court and his chief counselor—the queen mother—should be dethroned. The status quo would not do. He must sever this family tie.

At the outset of his reign, Asa had thought it would be too hard to depose her. Today nothing could keep him from doing the right thing. So he “removed Maacah . . . from the position of queen mother, because she had made a horrid image as an Asherah, and Asa cut down her horrid image, crushed it and burned it at the brook Kidron” (2 Chronicles 15:16 NASB).

Where there are divisions in families when a moral choice is at stake, God claims the supreme affection. Jesus made that clear, saying, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37 ESV).

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