Vexed. Perplexed. Attacked. Hated. Shot down. Grieved. Sore and hurting. Does this sound like a description of your life? Can’t you relate to this? You’re in good company. Joseph in the book of Genesis had a lot in common with you. Listen to this: “The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him and hated him…” (Gen 49:23). They grieved him sore. They shot at him and they hated him. Who did all this? Archers. His enemies were archers. I bet some of your enemies are archers. Here’s what I mean. Archers are people who are skilled at using arrows. They attack from a distance. They hide in the bushes, and without warning, you’re shot! That’s how the enemies of God’s people operate. They rarely come up to your face and tell you plainly what’s on their mind. It’s because they hate the light and because, then we could reply. Archers shoot their arrows from a distance, hiding in the bushes, behind a wall, in the cervices of the rocks, taking aim at your heart. The Bible says that the archers sorely grieved Joseph.
First off, there are the people who are jealous of you. Joseph experienced this. He was better looking than his brothers. And, he had a sharper mind than they did. More than that, he was spiritually minded. To top it off, he was the favorite son of their father. So, his brothers hated Joseph. They’d mock him when he would go to pray and they’d make fun of his inspired ideas from God. One day, they threw him into a deep pit, and sold him as a slave! They sold him out, after taking his clothes, and sent him off to a far off country. No friends, no family, no possessions…pulled from all that he knew and loved. To go and be a slave for a stranger. Do you hope to serve God and escape from being envied? The more you serve Him, the better your life is and the better your life is, the more you will be envied. Jesus says this to comfort your heart: “Blessed are ye when men shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My name’s sake, for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you.”
Other enemies tempt you. This was the next trial that came on Joseph. His Master in Egypt had a beautiful wife and she was also an adulterous wife who set her sights on Joseph. Day by day, she wore him down with her flirting and attempts to entice him. Each day, she tried to allure him through the softest kinds of persuasions. Joseph kept refusing her advances. Finally, one day she grabbed him, trying to physically make him sin. What could he do? He said, “How could I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” Then, he ran out of the room, leaving his jacket in her hands. She used it as evidence against him and had him sent to prison for attempted rape. Other enemies use rumors and gossip to shoot at you. Now, Joseph’s reputation was ruined. Everyone was talking about him, and calling him a lowlife and a hypocrite. Even though he was innocent. He was living right, and wouldn’t cave into sin, he was jailed and now slandered!
Expect to be shot at – don’t think it’s a strange thing when the world speaks evil against you, for that’s the way they spoke of your Master before you. All of God’s people have to have these trials and tests. There aren’t any roads to Heaven that are free from pot holes and mud puddles. What hope is there? Genesis 49:24, brings us the answer: “But Joseph’s bow abode in strength, and his arms were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Israel.” Look at this: Joseph wasn’t unarmed! The archers were hiding in then rocks shooting at him, sending their arrows fast and freely. Joseph doesn’t fire back! He could, but he doesn’t. Like you, he has better things to do than to shoot at the people who are messing with him. He knows that his arrows are given to him to fight bigger enemies than these! They’re not worthy of his arrows! In the same way that the Lion doesn’t spend his time chasing the mice of the field, we don’t squander our energies trying to justify ourselves before every accuser.
Don’t be in a hurry to defend yourself. Don’t try to make yourself of any reputation. God will justify you. Just be faithful to Him and FOR Him. Your strength comes from the hands of the mighty God of Jacob. It says that Joseph’s arms were strengthened by God. He COULD have hit back, and hit back HARD! Even though your enemies might not realize it, while they’re thinking you’re low and weak and despicable, you COULD turn on them and really do them in – if it wasn’t for the grace of God operating in you! God is a never ending source of strength for you. A young boy in Joseph’s day learned to shoot his bow like this: He would hold the bow in his hand, and his father would his strong arms around the boy’s arms. This way, the father’s strength became the boy’s strength.
Put your trust in God! Don’t waste your strength shooting at your enemies! Don’t expect to live for God and not arouse the envy and jealousy of others! Don’t think that you can escape the hurtful remarks and slanders of others. Know that it just means you’re in good company! The company of the Lord Jesus! Put yourself in the arms of God! Don’t let the enemy drive you away or discourage you! This is YOUR time to receive help from above when you’re being attacked from below!