A Fruitful Bough



 

Gen.41:52, ‘’And the name of the second he called [k]Ephraim: “For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.”

 

Joseph, the son of Jacob saw a dream and thereafter, he went through many painful times. He was put in a pit by his own brothers. They hated him and were jealous of him. Joseph went through tough times for almost fourteen years before finally he saw his dreams come true. Joseph said that the Lord caused  him to be fruitful in the land of affliction. We note three aspects here :

  • Fruitfulness in the midst of afflictions is the true fruitfulness : Its not the power and the position he finally got in the land of Egypt that measures the fruitfulness of Joseph. Instead we see a beautiful character depicting Christ in various aspects of his life. He was all alone in Potiphar’s house, when his wife tried to trap him in the sin of adultery. But the fear of the Lord, which ruled Joseph, made him flee from the place, even though he had to pay a price for this. He was falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife and was put in prison. The ability to flee away from sin enabled him to be at peace with God. Though he was imprisoned for false accusations, Joseph went through it patiently waiting for God’s justice. He did not murmur nor become bitter. Even there, he proved to be faithful (Gen.39).  Joseph handled the excess of the earthly blessings carefully for the fulfilment of divine purpose (Gen.41:47-48). The realization of accountability of even the earthly blessings makes us careful in handling them. He dealt with his brothers in the fear of the Lord (Gen.42:17-18). He was quick to forgive his brothers. He saw the purpose of God in all that happened in his life. So we see that the series of afflictions did not hamper the growing fruitfulness in Joseph’s life. Instead, the afflictions humbled Joseph and caused the manifestation of the Christ like character in Joseph.

Afflictions increase fruitfulness when our dependency is completely upon the Lord for the deliverance from the same. Ex.1:12,’’’ But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were in dread of the children of Israel.’’  The Israelites were afflicted by the Egyptians with a motive to reduce their multiplication. But instead, the opposite happened. They multiplied more when afflicted, for they cried out to God for their deliverance. God heard their groaning and He remembered His covenant with Abraham (Ex.2:24). This talks about the physical fruitfulness. But in the New Testament, we learn about spiritual fruitfulness. The afflictions cause us to depend more on the Lord’s grace and strength, which in turn increases our spiritual fruitfulness.

Is.48:10, ‘’Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.’’  Afflictions are a means to qualify us for salvation. Mt.22:14 says that many are called and few are chosen. The response to afflictions of our life promote us from ‘’çalled” to  ‘’chosen’’. So let’s see the afflictions as steps to our spiritual promotion.

  • Joseph was fruitful in the land of affliction. Our God is a God of justice. He humbles us through afflictions and he uplifts us in the same place, family or nation where we are humbled through afflictions. Ps.23 says that the Lord prepares the table before our enemies. He does not leave us after humbling us. Kind David was anointed as king but it took almost 7 years to finally take the charge of a king. Till then he was afflicted and in the process increased in spiritual fruitfulness. He later sat in the throne and was uplifted before the same lives before whom he was afflicted. Joseph was afflicted in the land of Egypt. He was afflicted by his own brothers. But both in the family and in the land of Egypt, he was uplifted to a position as promised by the Lord. When we grow in spiritual fruitfulness, the promises follow us.
  • God caused Joseph to be fruitful : Afflictions can cause a God’s child to either fall away from grace, if not taken in the right perspective. Or else it can cause one to move closer to God. Phil.2: 13 says that its God who works in us to even will and to do His good pleasure. Afflictions often make us seem to be lost in our ways, not knowing what to do and how to move ahead. Ps. 23 speaks about the rod and staff comforting a sheep. Even in the valley of darkness and death, the shepherd does not leave the sheep. 30:20-21, ‘’And though the Lord gives you, The bread of adversity and the water of [f]affliction, Yet your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore, But your eyes shall see your teachers.21 Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” Whenever you turn to the right hand Or whenever you turn to the left.’’  In the midst of tough times of life, the Lord does not forget or leave us. The Holy Spirit guides us and gives us His peace that passes every understanding. Abraham was able to hear the voice of God which stopped him from slaying his son. If we have a seeking heart even in the most painful times, we are sure to hear His still small voice which amazingly directs us . The Lord strengthened Joseph to interpret dreams of others while he was in prison. He was guided to be faithful always. God gave him even the interpretation of Pharaoh’s dreams. Joseph had a thirsty heart at all times, seeking God’s strength and ways which guided him to his dreams. It’s God who causes us to be fruitful, if we adhere to His guidance all the time.

 Gen.49:22-26, “Joseph is a fruitful bough, ’A fruitful bough by a well; His branches run over the wall. 23 The archers have bitterly grieved him, Shot at him and hated him. 24 But his bow remained in strength, And the arms of his hands were [g]made strong By the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob (From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel), 25 By the God of your father who will help you, And by the Almighty who will bless you With blessings of heaven above, Blessings of the deep that lies beneath, Blessings of the breasts and of the womb.
26 The blessings of your father Have excelled the blessings of my ancestors, Up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills. They shall be on the head of Joseph, And on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers.’’
Israel spoke these beautiful word of blessings over Joseph before dying. Joseph was called as a fruitful bough. He was shot, grieved and hated. Yet he bore fruits and much fruits, that his branches ran over the wall. He was a blessing to many nations. He fed many nations in famine.

Jn.15:1-2 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He [a]takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.’’ Just as a branch is pruned for more fruits, the afflictions of our lives ought to make us more fruitful. But we can be fruitful only if we abide in Him. Our thoughts ought to upon His Word always, taking every care to obey them with all our heart. We ought o keep seeking His face in all situations and follow His ways. These days, as all lives are being pruned in some way or the other, lets take care to abide in Him so that through our fruitfulness, we are called His disciples and His name is glorified.

God bless us all (http://thebrokenbread.wordpress.com/)

 

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