And to Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, whom Asenath, the daughter of Poti-Pherah priest of On, bore to him.
Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: “For God has made me forget all my toil and all my father's house.”
And the name of the second he called Ephraim: “For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.”
[Genesis 41:50-53 NKJV]
Some of my better paintings have only come about through a great inner struggle. I doubt any ability or creative talent The Lord has given me, and my hand does not obey the vision in my mind.
It is only when I give up any idea of myself that anything is achieved. It is said that Michelangelo could ‘see’ his completed sculptures within the marble and that all he did was release them. Michelangelo was a believer* and, I believe, was given much Holy Spirit insight in his creativity. There is a book to be written (or more likely several books have been written) on this subject, so I shall not venture further here; but more than a few artists have expressed the feeling that the hand of another was guiding their work.
Joseph acknowledged his debt to God by naming his sons to express his gratitude to God. Manasseh the firstborn (forgetting) for God has made me forget all my toil, and his younger son Ephraim, meaning “doubly fruitful”, for God has caused me to be fruitful. “Ephraim” comes from Ephrath (fruitful), the old name for Bethlehem. I am in awe of the way that Scripture interweaves and locks real depth of meaning and revelation into the background of every verse.
Joseph says for God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction; and we know that when God causes fruitfulness He does so abundantly. It is a reminder that whatever our endeavours, we need to seek the Lord’s help — He will turn our efforts from failure to fruitfulness if we follow His will and not our own.
*. Michelangelo was a devout person, but later in life he developed a belief in Spiritualism, for which he was condemned by Pope Paul IV. The fundamental tenet of Spiritualism is that the path to God can be found not exclusively through the Church, but through direct communication with God. Pope Paul IV interpreted Michelangelo’s Last Judgment, painted on the wall of the Sistine Chapel 20 years after completing the ceiling, as defaming the church by suggesting that Jesus and those around him communicated with God directly without need of Church. (source: Scientific American)
“Gloria in excelsis Deo” — Glory to God In The Highest
There are many things that are perfectly legitimate, but if you are going to concentrate on God you cannot do them. Your right hand is one of the best things you have, but Jesus says if it hinders you in following His precepts, cut it off. This line of discipline is the sternest one that ever struck mankind.
GEORGE and GILL STEWART
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