Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

November 19, 2006


Why 70 men arise before day and meet together once a week


      A strange thing happens most Thursday mornings on Vaughn Road in Montgomery. Seventy men meet at our church to study the Bible for an hour. By 7:30 the men are off to work.

          One might wonder what motivates these men to arise early in the morning to meet together. Good food draws men but no breakfast is served at this meeting; only doughnuts and coffee are provided.

          A few men come early to make coffee and set up tables. They get out of bed earlier than the rest. And they appear to enjoy offering their service.

          There is no dynamic, brilliant teacher attracting the men. Several men handle the teaching as a team so there is a different teacher each week.

          So what draws so many men to this meeting? Evidently the answer is the Bible. These men seem eager to find ways to apply the teaching of the Scriptures to their daily lives. They want to know what God says about the basic issues of life.

          This fall the focus of their study has been the life of Joseph as described in Genesis, the first book of the Bible. Joseph experienced many of the same trials that every man must face and his decisions make him a good role model for men.

          A man can see himself as he studies the twists and turns of Joseph’s life. Consider the “dysfunctional family,” a societal problem most of us can identity with. Few families have ever been more dysfunctional than Joseph’s family!

          Joseph’s father Jacob had 12 sons but not all of them were the sons of his sweet wife. Some were the children of Jacob’s concubine. When you consider all the problems that a husband and his wife may have these days, you have to give thanks that at least we no longer have concubines in the mix.

          Sibling rivalry is nothing compared to the envy, jealousy, and hatred that Joseph’s brothers had for him. Jacob helped create the problem. He was an old fool, loving Joseph more than any of his other sons. No wonder that Joseph’s brothers hated him and could not speak even one kind word to him.

          Hatred led the brothers (except for Benjamin) to the desire to murder Joseph. Though they stopped short of killing him, they did sell Joseph into slavery. Then with little concern for their father’s feelings, they convinced him that a wild animal had killed Joseph. As evidence they took home Joseph’s robe dipped in the blood of a goat they had slaughtered.

          Joseph’s story includes the element of sexual temptation. Every man would like to believe that he too would have resisted the opportunity to go to bed with another man’s wife. Again Joseph model’s the behavior that pleases God and spares Joseph the pain and guilt of adultery.

          Eventually Joseph rises to power in Egypt, becoming the second in command to Pharaoh. Famine drives his brothers to seek food in Egypt and there they are confronted by the brother they had hated.

          Incredibly Joseph feels no need for revenge. He forgives his brothers in a deeply moving encounter, explaining that it was not they but God who had arranged for Joseph to be in Egypt. The story concludes with Joseph making to his brothers one of the most remarkable statements found in the Bible, “You intended to harm me¸ but God intended it for good” (Genesis 50:20). Joseph saw the loving hand of God at work in his life every step of the way.

          The men who rose early to study Joseph’s story were reminded repeatedly that one cannot live well without a forgiving heart. Forgiving those who hurt us is an absolute necessity if want to practice God’s rules for successful living.

          I understand why those men kept coming to that weekly Bible study. They were finding help and encouragement to live a better life. I know because I was one of them. And when they come back together to study the life of Moses, I plan to be with them. Studying the Bible, and applying its teachings, helps a man become a better man. + + + +