Of Cows, Corn, and Re-Joy

Have you ever wanted to take the beauty, peace, or joy of a moment, and store it away for a day of less beauty, peace, or joy? I have. Moments with family and friends, or that moment of beauty on a mountain top. Storing moments to unpack when the days are dark, lonely, or painful.

Joseph’s life, as he lingered in an Egyptian prison, is radically changed after he intrepretes two dreams for pharaoh. One involved seven plump cows, and seven lean cows. The other, seven plump ears of corn, and seven thin ears of corn (Gen. 41:1-6). In both dreams the bad devoured the good.

As Joseph tells pharaoh, the two dreams are in fact the same dream. Seven years of plenty will be devoured by seven years of famine. If nothing is done, death will result. If they take heed, life will once again flourish. What to do? Joseph answers: in the years of plenty, store up a surplus for the years of famine (Gen. 41:34-37).

What is the lesson here?

The plump cows and ears of corn, the years of bounty, are not gone when the dark, lean times are upon us. Joseph’s interprets carefully. The plump cows, and the full ears of corn, then the lean cows, and thin, underdeveloped ears of corn. What does this tell us? There is an expiration date for the years of famine: at the end of seven years. When we recognize the good that we are blessed with, when the dark, lean times find us, we should remember Joseph, why? Simple. The fruit of the good is present, even in the hardship. The hardship will not endure forever, as the good that is to come is caught up in that same unfolding of time.

By faith in Messiah we greet each day with this knowledge:

זֶה-הַיּוֹם, עָשָׂה יְהוָה; נָגִילָה וְנִשְׂמְחָה בוֹ

“This very day is made by the Lord, let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps. 118:24, personal translation).

Psalm 118 seems to be a celebratory liturgy envisioning one’s entry into the House of God. Deliverance from captivity, from enemies, renewal of strength and hope, as the celebrant reflects on the Lord’s enduring mercy. Abiding is the message. And this abiding message is the backdrop for another reminder of joy: “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (Jn. 15:11).

Just before Yeshua/Jesus warns us of the difficult days (Jn. 15:18-25), He connects us as branches to His vine bringing forth fruit (Jn. 15:1-17) in an abiding love. His abiding love is the fullness of His joy stored away in us.

Yeshua speaks of the fruit of abiding before the famine of tribulation, abiding in love and obedience. Why? For the very reason Joseph spoke of the plump cows before the thin cows. The lean, dark times will not endure; but as they wear on the storehouse of His abiding fruit now filling us is the source of our “rejoicing.” The prefix “re” of “rejoicing” means: back to the original, once more, or again. It denotes a turning back to, in this case, joy, specifically His joy.

When Yeshua spoke to us of the fruit before the famine, He filled our storehouse with His joy, and the Holy Spirit comes as the Helper to “remind you of everything that I said to you” (Jn. 14:26). He will “re” mind, or turn back our minds to the words of Yeshua, and, Lord willing, we will remember His abiding presence in us, as His temple (cf. Ps. 118), and our abiding, fruitful connection to Him, coupled with joy in every circumstance, as Paul wrote, “rejoice always” (I Thess. 5:16), or always turn again to joy. Why? The light, Yeshua, has not been overcome by the darkness (Jn. 1:5).

Joseph prepared a heathen despot to survive the dark time of famine, and the Lord used Joseph’s position to save His people. Surely, the time of trial we are facing is part of “This very day is made by the Lord …” in order to what, “let us rejoice, or re-joy” turning again to the fruitfulness of Messiah’s abiding joy in us.

The Holy Spirit will bring to remembrance His Words. He will also bring to remembrance our days of joy. He will do so from the good storehouse that the Father has filled. He will do so in order that we not lose heart and fall victim to the famine of hopelessness and despair. There is a new day coming, and His faithfulness will supply all our need until that glorious day (Phil. 4:19).

Be well. Shalom; and Hanukkah Sameach!

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