You want me to do what?
Have you ever been in a situation in which you wondered what Yehovah was up to? You knew you were in a specific place for a reason, but not sure what it was. Or maybe you’ve felt you were meant for something more than you’re currently doing and have asked Yehovah to open new doors. You’ve prayed and waited on the Lord for your next assignment. But once you realize what it is he’s asking of you, it seems daunting, more or different than you had in mind. You might feel overwhelmed at the prospect, maybe reluctant or anxious.
Take heart, you’re in good company. Joseph, Moses, Noah, Gideon, even Yeshua – they’ve all been where you are.
A few years ago I began working in a new industry, one with many facets, almost all of them unknown to me. I started at the bottom rung of my team, assisting customers and the General Manager. Not long ago, after four years on the job, the General Manager left suddenly, and I was asked to step in until they replaced him. I went from being the low man on the totem pole with the least amount of tenure, to being the boss.
At the time, I was studying Genesis 41, the story of Joseph being called up from prison to second in command of Egypt. All of the sudden this story became personal.
Here’s the story:
At the end of two years, Pharaoh had a dream: he was standing beside the Nile River; 2 and there came up out of the river seven cows, sleek and fat; and they began feeding in swamp grass. 3 After them, there came up out of the river seven more cows, miserable-looking and lean; and they stood by the other cows at the edge of the river. 4 Then the miserable-looking and lean cows ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. At this point Pharaoh woke up. 5 But he went to sleep again and dreamt a second time: seven full, ripe ears of grain grew out of a single stalk. 6 After them, seven ears, thin and blasted by the east wind, sprang up. 7 And the thin ears swallowed up the seven full, ripe ears. Then Pharaoh woke up and realized it had been a dream.
8 In the morning he found himself so upset that he summoned all the magicians of Egypt and all its wise men. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one there could interpret them for him. 9 Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today reminds me of something wherein I am at fault: 10 Pharaoh was angry with his officials and put me in the prison of the house of the captain of the guard, me and the chief baker. 11 One night both I and he had dreams, and each man’s dream had its own meaning. 12 There was with us a young man, a Hebrew, a servant of the captain of the guard; and we told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us — he interpreted each man’s dream individually. 13 And it came about as he interpreted to us — I was restored to my office, and he was hanged.”
14 Then Pharaoh summoned Yosef, and they brought him quickly out of the dungeon. He shaved himself, changed his clothes, and came in to Pharaoh.
15 Pharaoh said to Yosef, “I had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it; but I’ve heard it said about you that when you hear a dream, you can interpret it.” 16 Yosef answered Pharaoh, “It isn’t in me. God will give Pharaoh an answer that will set his mind at peace.”
(Skip to v. 25)
25 Yosef said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are the same: God has told Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26 The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good ears of grain are seven years — the dreams are the same. 27 Likewise the seven lean and miserable-looking cows that came up after them are seven years, and also the seven empty ears blasted by the east wind — there will be seven years of famine. 28 This is what I told Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29 Here it is: there will be seven years of abundance throughout the whole land of Egypt; 30 but afterwards, there will come seven years of famine; and Egypt will forget all the abundance. The famine will consume the land, 31 and the abundance will not be known in the land because of the famine that will follow, because it will be truly terrible. 32 Why was the dream doubled for Pharaoh? Because the matter has been fixed by God, and God will shortly cause it to happen.
33 “Therefore, Pharaoh should look for a man both discreet and wise to put in charge of the land of Egypt. 34 Pharaoh should do this, and he should appoint supervisors over the land to receive a twenty percent tax on the produce of the land of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. 35 They should gather all the food produced during these good years coming up and set aside grain under the supervision of Pharaoh to be used for food in the cities, and they should store it. 36 This will be the land’s food supply for the seven years of famine that will come over the land of Egypt, so that the land will not perish as a result of the famine.”
37 The proposal seemed good both to Pharaoh and to all his officials. 38 Pharaoh said to his officials, “Can we find anyone else like him? The Spirit of God lives in him!”
39 So Pharaoh said to Yosef, “Since God has shown you all this — there is no one as discerning and wise as you — 40 you will be in charge of my household; all my people will be ruled by what you say. Only when I rule from my throne will I be greater than you.”
Joseph is most well-known for interpreting dreams and for his gift of administration. We know that God enabled Joseph to interpret dreams from an early age – his own dreams as well as others’. And we know his gift of administration saved the Israelites and the Egyptians – and in fact the entire population — from the great famine of his day. With a reputation of saving the known world from starvation, his great gift of faith often gets overlooked. But his faith is what makes it all possible, and that’s where I want to focus today.
It takes faith enough to be called up from prison after several years to stand in front of one of the most powerful leaders in the world, trusting Yehovah to give the ruler of Egypt an interpretation that no one else could. But what comes next is even more impressive.
As soon as Joseph interprets the dream, he goes on to tell Pharaoh what he should do. Yehovah had given Joseph wisdom beyond just interpreting dreams. He had been chosen and prepared for just this moment.
The book of “Jasher” is mentioned in the Bible twice, in Joshua 10:13 and again in 2 Samuel 1:17-18. It parallels the Torah from Genesis into Joshua. While the origins of the current editions are ambiguous, I have found it rarely contradicting the Bible’s accounts and actually providing more explanations of many. While it certainly doesn’t have the authority of the Bible, I was captivated by the larger narrative it provides regarding the binding of Isaac.
In chapters 48-49 of the book of Jasher, this account of Joseph is a very riveting story. It gives much more detail of what took place. It discusses just how miraculous this encounter was and how Yehovah supernaturally prepared Joseph for this moment. But even in Jasher, there’s no reference to Joseph stuttering, or hesitating, or even being afraid. But being put in charge of all of Egypt’s resources for the next 14 years at an obviously crucial time must have surpassed even Joseph’s wildest imagination.
If there was ever a test of a person’s faith, this is one to consider among the greatest. It’s one thing to be a foreigner and interpret the ruler’s dream and provide some advice, then be released from prison and go on your way, probably back to your own country.
But now being put in charge of pulling off the plan, Joseph’s interpretation and advice was put to the test. Was it sound advice? Did he really hear from God? What if he got it wrong or something changes over the next 14 years? Could he really pull off this enormous task with the bit of experience he’d had up to this point in his life?
These and many other question and doubts would’ve crossed my mind, possibly stopping me or at least hindering Yehovah from fulfilling His purposes through me. But there’s no mention of Joseph doubting or questioning the turn of events in his life. In fact, it’s such a familiar story to us and stated so matter of factly in scripture, it’s easy to overlook the depth of faith required to take on such a grand plan and stay with it for 14 years.
But Joseph went about drawing up plans, hiring workers, constructing buildings, changing the laws and getting everyone on board with the idea of an impending famine, despite their current prosperity. Did he ever once think, “What if the famine doesn’t come for eight years – what will people think, what will happen to me?” or “What if it lasts for ten years? Maybe I’m not storing up enough.” I’m sure there were many thoughts that went through his mind in those 14 years, especially the first “abundant” seven. The fact is, he continued with the plan that Yehovah spelled out to him in that moment of truth in front of Pharaoh.
This is the kind of faith that greatness in Yehovah’s kingdom requires, the kind of faith that makes the impossible possible, faith that can literally save the world from destruction and show God’s power and lovingkindness to all of mankind for centuries to come.
Others Called Up
As I thought about the various reactions that Joseph could’ve had, and my own reaction to being asked to step up, I was reminded of some other faith giants in the scriptures who made similar leaps in rank.
Moses (Ex. 3:1-12)
Moses went from a shepherd to the leader of a whole nation with his first task being to bring the people out of slavery. That’s a pretty good promotion. What was his reaction?
He gave Yehovah reasons that he couldn’t do the job. He said, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” Then he said, “What if they ask me who sent me – what is his name?” Then, “What if they don’t listen to me or believe me?” Then, “I have never been eloquent, I’m slow of speech and tongue.” And finally, “Please send someone else to do it.”
This is quite an opposite reaction to Joseph’s. If I’m honest I have to say that I can identify more with Moses than Joseph: “But God, I don’t think I can do this. What if no one listens to me or respects me? What if this or that happens? A lot can go wrong, and I don’t know anything about those aspects of the business.” I know how Moses felt – this is real life!
Noah (Gen. 6:5-12)
Noah was the last in a line of impressive men of God. Noah was just ten generations from Adam through the line of Seth. He was a direct descendent of Enoch and grandson of Methuselah. When you look at how long people lived in those first ten generations, you can see Noah was surrounded by those ten generations. But now he’s the last one standing – him and his three sons. Methuselah died just before he was instructed to build the ark.
In Genesis 6:5-9 we read:
“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. The Lord said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.’ But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.”
“Blameless in his time” sounds like Yeshua. “Noah walked with God.” The same was said of Enoch, his great grandfather.
“Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence. God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth.”
(“All flesh” includes even the animals.)
Now we see Noah, a righteous man, surrounded by only evil. But he’s about to have a change of status. He’s about to become the patriarch of all human beings, the father of all human life that comes after the flood.
What’s Noah’s reaction to this news? The account of Noah in the Bible is so matter of fact, as if this happens every year at this time. The Bible goes on for ten verses instructing Noah on making the ark, then there’s one verse about Noah’s reaction:
“Noah did everything just as Yehovah commanded him.” (Gen. 6:22)
Then there’s four more verses instructing him to load his family and the animals in the ark, followed by one verse about Noah’s reaction:
“And Noah did all that Yehovah commanded him.” (Gen. 7:5)
Well that was easy! Apparently he just did it, like Joseph did. No records of doubt or resistance.
Gideon (Judges 6:11-17)
Remember Gideon? – the youngest of the smallest family in the smallest tribe.
At the time of Judges 6, the Midianites would come through and harass the Israelites, ruining all their crops and killing all their livestock. It’s all the Israelites could do to just stay alive. That the setting of this story of Gideon:
11 “Then the angel of the Lord came and sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press in order to save it from the Midianites. 12 The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior.” 13 Then Gideon said to him, “O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” 14 The Lord looked at him and said, “Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?” 15 He said to Him, “O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.” 16 But the Lord said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man.” 17 So Gideon said to Him, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who speak with me.”
The Angel does give him a sign and Gideon believes. Gideon continues to ask for signs to make sure God is with him. That was his reaction to this sudden appointment. Gideon is brought from zero to hero in a very short time with no preparation, except his faith and his obedience. Wow – there’s a good example.
Yeshua knew his appointment from an early age (Luke 2:48). He pursued it diligently his whole life. But when it came right down to the moment of truth, the point at which the physical torture would begin, what was his reaction?
We read about it in Luke 22:
39 And He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed Him. 40 When He arrived at the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”41 And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, 42 saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” 43 Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.
Imagine what it would take to sweat drops of blood. This is an actual medical condition, the name for it is Hematohidrosis. This occurs when the capillary blood vessels that feed the sweat glands rupture, which causes blood to come out of the sweat glands. It is rare, but can occur under extreme physical or emotional stress. The Journal of Dermatology says the most frequent causes are acute fear and intense mental contemplation. I’d say Yeshua’s reaction was pretty intense. Six cases have been reported in men condemned to execution (including Yeshua), another case occurred with a man afraid of entering battle, there was a person fearful of being raped, and a case of fear from a storm while sailing. Other causes were extreme chronic stress and mental instability.
So this is how extremely fearful and stressed Yeshua was. But what was his response? “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”
Yeshua was exalted at the right hand of the Father, because he was willing to overcome his fear and cooperate with Yehovah’s plan.
Five People with Six Things in Common
Looking back at our five examples: Joseph, Moses, Noah, Gideon and Yeshua, we find six things that all of their situations had in common.
- When do you think God thought of this assignment for each of them?
Remember Ps. 139:16
“Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.”
From the beginning. These men were made for their assignments. This was what Yehovah always had planned for them. This is what he had prepared them for all along.
Isn’t it wonderful to know that we’re walking in our destiny every day? No matter our age, we’re being prepared for our future – our purpose here, and in eternity. We can trust that Yehovah is working his purposes in us that he envisioned from the beginning, before we were even made.
- Regardless of each man’s reaction, it didn’t change God’s mind or the outcome.
If these situations were tailor-made just for these people, Yehovah probably anticipated their reaction. Psalm 139 also says:
“You understand my thoughts from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, You know it all.” (Psalm 139:2-4)
Moses’ concern of going back to Egypt to a people that didn’t even know him – that didn’t surprise Yehovah. His fear of facing Pharaoh – Yehovah anticipated that. His fear of not being able to speak well – God knew that. Remember in Ex. 4:10-11 God says to him, “Who is it that made your tongue?” Just like Psalm. 139: “You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.”
If we believe the days ordained for us are already written in His book, and that Yehovah understands our thoughts and is intimately acquainted with all our ways, as we just read, we can trust that He knows our fears and weaknesses and has already built in provision for those things.
The reactions, fears and weaknesses of these men didn’t change their assignments. And they didn’t change the outcomes of their assignments. Yehovah already allowed for all of that in his plan.
Which brings us to the third point:
- Yehovah’s is patient with our fears.
In each case where we read of these men being afraid, Yehovah offers them reassurance and provides what they need to say yes to the calling.
For Moses he gives him tangible miracles he can use with Pharaoh (his staff that turns into a snake, and the water to blood; His hand turns leprous, then is healed right before his eyes. (Exodus 4) These aren’t just for Pharaoh, they’re a sign for Moses as well. Then his brother Aaron appears just as he’s reminding God that he can’t speak well.
For Gideon, the meal he offers to the angel is consumed by fire. Then Yehovah causes the fleece to be covered in dew, while everything else is dry. Then when Gideon asks for more reassurance, he causes the fleece to be dry while everything else is covered in dew. (Judges 6)
For Yeshua, he sends an angel to him on the Mt. of Olives. Luke 22:43 tells us, “An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.”
Yehovah knows our fears, he anticipates our reactions, and he’s patient with us. Even though he made us for this calling, and he tailor-made this assignment for us, He’s patient with our doubts and fears and provides for us where we are weak.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Yeshua HaMashiach for good works, which Yehovah prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”
I was created for this assignment, and it was created for me. You were created for the assignment for which he’s preparing you. Isn’t that amazing?
- These were ordinary people, living ordinary lives
- Except for one – Yeshua, who was of human flesh, but was still God.
- Joseph was called from out of a prison.
- Moses was called while attending sheep.
- Noah was likely a farmer, maybe a builder.
- Gideon was called from the threshing floor where he was hiding his crops.
These are people just like you and I, who have followed Yehovah, and to this point, haven’t done anything particularly notable.
Gideon even doubted God, and was very discouraged. Remember, when the angel of the Lord came to him and said “Yehovah is with you.” Gideon’s response was, “If Yehovah is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about. Yehovah has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian.”
Have you ever wondered that? I have. “Lord, I thought you lead me here, but now look at it, it’s a mess! Why did you want me to do this?” But he’s patient with our frustration when our motives are pure, when our hearts are aligned with his will.
Although Gideon is discouraged, he still believes Yehovah can deliver them. He says, “Where are all your wonders our fathers told us about?” “Why have you abandoned us?” He knows Yehovah could deliver them if he wanted. He believes in Yehovah, the God that brought his ancestors out of Egypt. “But why is this happening? Where are you in all this?”
Joseph must have felt that way in prison all those years – “Why am I still in this prison when I know I’m meant for greatness? Lord, how long?”
Ordinary people, going about their lives … and suddenly their moment comes.
- Each man was humbled as a servant before he was called.
Joseph was his father’s favorite son out of 12 sons. Jacob dotes on him, and everyone knows he’s the favorite, the only son of his favorite wife. Suddenly as a teenager he’s sold as a slave to foreigners and becomes a servant to Potipher. Just when he’s moving up in rank in Potipher’s household, he’s suddenly thrown in jail on false charges and humbled as a prisoner.
Moses was raised as a prince, then suddenly he’s fleeing as a murderer and living in exile, not only away from where he was raised, but away from his own people and his biological family (Miriam and Aaron) back in Goshen. In one chapter he goes from being raised as a prince to being a shepherd in exile.
Gideon had been humbled by the Midianites. After 40 years of peace and prosperity in the land of Israel, the Israelites now found themselves the target of all the surrounding nations. For seven years, the Midianites, Amalekites and others invaded the country. Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites made shelters for themselves in caves and strongholds in the mountains.
“When Israel had sown, the Midianites would come up with the Amalekites and the other eastern peoples and go against them. So they would camp against them and destroy the produce of the earth and leave no sustenance in Israel as well as no sheep, ox, or donkey. For they would come up with their livestock and their tents, they would come in like locusts, both they and their camels were innumerable; and they came into the land to devastate it. So Israel was brought very low because of Midian…”
Gideon was brought very low.
As we mentioned earlier, Noah was brought up in a godly family, surrounded by our patriarchs in the line of Seth. In Jasher chapter 5 it discusses the death of these patriarchs and what Noah was doing before the flood. It explains that Noah and Methuselah were evangelists. Can you imagine 120 years evangelizing with no success?
At this point Noah’s gone from part of this large family of believers and followers of Yehovah to a world with no other believers besides his grandfather, and no one even interested in the possibility of his God – a world where evil is rampant and increasing. Talk about rejection. He contended with evil people for 120 years before he was delivered to a renewed righteous earth.
Then, of course, we have Yeshua being humbled as a servant, leaving the heavenly realms to be humbled as a man. Look at Phil. 2:6-9:
“…although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name…”
Yeshua lived an ordinary life until he was 30 years old, then spent three years in ministry and was executed on false charges of teaching against the Torah, before he was exalted to the right hand of the Father as our sacrificial lamb.
This is the pattern of all of these great men. They went from a position of favor to a place of humility, to servant status, often with rejection or fear or discouragement. This process is all part of their preparation.
Which leads us to the last point:
- These men were all desperate for Yehovah’s supernatural intervention.
How many times have we felt desperate for supernatural intervention? God’s calling us to something that is completely beyond us. If you answer the call, you’re out on a limb, you’re all in, there’s no going back, no backing down.
I felt that way in this opportunity in my job. There was no way I could do what my predecessor used to do. He understood how the whole facility operated and the history of the people and place. He had been there 28 years. I had been there for 4 years – sitting at the front desk. I felt that not only could I not do what he’s done, I couldn’t imagine convincing people that I could do what needed to be done. I needed supernatural intervention! And I got it. Even though I told them I didn’t want the job and didn’t take part in the interview process, once they completed their interviews, they appointed me to the job.
I found myself identifying with these men. Each of these five men felt this same way, only more!
Joseph had to trust that Yehovah would bring seven years of abundance and seven years of famine, just like he foretold. Joseph had no control over that. He was completely dependent on Yehovah. Everything he did was riding on Yehovah keeping his word.
Moses had no control over Pharaoh, no argument strong enough to convince Pharoah to expel the whole population of slaves upon which their economy was built. He had no way of convincing the Israelites to follow him into the dessert. He had no way of providing for them once they did, and no way of defeating the giants in the Promised Land without the supernatural intervention of Yehovah. And yet, he took it on, falling on his face repeatedly for God’s direction.
Gideon had no power to defeat their enemies, especially with the 300 men that Yehovah allowed him. They were completely at the mercy of Yehovah.
Obviously Noah had probably one of the most impossible scenarios. Building an ark (Jasher says for five years) because God was going to bring a worldwide flood. No one believed him – not one other family in 120 years. But he believed, he stuck with the plan, he was diligent even in the face of supernatural odds, and he had the ark finished on time.
Of course, Yeshua, literally staked his whole life on the promise of the Father. He had to actually go through torture and ridicule, anguish and horrible suffering, die and be buried – all trusting Yehovah for resurrection, for exaltation, for eternal glory and for the salvation of all humanity. That’s a lot of faith.
All these men were completely in over their own heads and desperate for Yehovah’s intervention. This is how a calling is sometimes. If we only say yes to what we’re humanly capable of, we don’t need Yehovah, anyone can do that. We’re about what Yehovah wants to do, bringing his kingdom to earth. “Yeshua in us is the hope of glory” – his glory. (Col. 1:27)
Faith to Answer Yehovah’s Call
There are many more insights to be gleaned from these five men and the transitions they experienced. These six perspectives helped build my faith for my own transition:
- Yehovah prepared me for this assignment and tailor-made this assignment for me.
- My reaction, doubts, fears or questions don’t change his plan.
- Yehovah is patient with my fears and provides for my weaknesses.
- Yehovah uses ordinary people, as I follow him in my ordinary life.
- A time of humbling and servanthood before the call is part of the preparation.
- I can say “yes” to the call and succeed if I’m desperate for him, following Yehovah’s every word, and trusting that he will bring about his purposes in supernatural ways.
And so we end where we started: Faith. Faith to answer Yehovah’s call — that’s what Joseph did. We have to commit and believe that Yehovah will do what he’s promised, beyond what we can do ourselves, and beyond what we can see ahead. We have a host of examples to point to in which he’s come through over and over and over.
We can’t do the assignment on our own, only with him. But with him, we can’t fail. When he calls, follow Joseph’s example and just say, “Yes.”
Remember Ephesians 3:20-21:
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the assembly and in Messiah Yeshua throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”