Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.
I was in an English class recently, talking to students about the poem, “O Captain! My Captain!” by Walt Whitman. To help them better understand the poem, I pointed out the year it was written – 1865 – and asked them what happened that year. No one knew. Finally, one student chimed in, “World War I!” Another student, trying to help, said, “No, that was 1938!” I put my head in my hands and wondered, “What did they learn in history?”*
Realize that 1865 was only 151 years ago, and students actually learn about that part of history in every middle and high school in America. And yet, an alarming number of students have no clue about these events, largely because they feel that such history just doesn’t matter.
The events of Joseph as recorded in Genesis happened several hundred years before “there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.” But honestly, the salvation of Egypt from the famine was probably old news less than 100 years after it happened. Once a generation had passed that didn’t see the famine, it was most likely forgotten and the story was not passed along to the next generation.
In our society, it’s not just history that’s ignored by old and young alike. It’s faith. It’s the Word of God. There are amazing tales of how God has blessed the United States of America – as well as every other nation on Earth – and yet more and more people just see this as happenstance. To them, there is no God who loves them and who is interested in blessing them. The good things that happen are either luck or the cause of their own hard work.
This happens because we don’t teach them. We don’t want to push our faith on even our children, and we too often don’t consistently live it. So they get far too little in terms of knowledge of God, and the little they do get is frequently undermined by hypocritical adults who say one thing and do another.
Today, purpose yourself to passing on your knowledge of God and His goodness to at least one other person. Ask God for the wisdom to know who you should talk to and what you should say. And also ask Him for the strength to then live in a godly way that not only doesn’t undermine your faith, but instead commends it.
* – (For the record, World War I started in 1914 and ended in 1919; World War II started in 1939 and ended in 1945; and it was the American Civil War that ended on April 9, 1865, followed six days later by the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The poem was written in mourning by Whitman on the passing of Lincoln.)
Reflection copyright © 2016 Doug DeBolt.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.