You can show the Way

When he reached Shechem, a man came upon him wandering in the fields. The man asked him, “What are you looking for?” He answered, “I am looking for my brothers.” (Genesis 37:14–15)

You are walking through the mall, down the street, across campus and a stranger—obviously a tourist—has that panicked look of being completely lost. Would it surprise you to discover that you could literally change the course of this person’s life with a few kind words??? I think you can. We can prove the point from the story of Joseph in chapter 37 of Genesis—look it up!!!

Jacob sent his son Joseph to find his brothers, and Joseph gets lost. Along comes a nameless man who finds him wandering around in the field, and he asks Joseph, “What are you looking for?” Joseph tells him he is looking for his brothers, and to paraphrase the man’s response, he says, “They went that-a-way.” Think about it for a minute. If this mystery man had given the wrong directions, or if he had said “I don’t know,” or if he had sent Joseph home, it would have probably jeopardized the rest of Israel’s redemptive story— perhaps no journeys to Egypt and perhaps no Exodus??? Think about it…

Now I ask you the question “Who was that nameless man in Exodus 37:14-15?”

I like to tell people that there is no such thing as a coincidence. They credit me with great faith in God’s plan for humanity, that the Holy One has put everything in motion for a purpose. I humbly acknowledge that I do NOT know all the ways in which He works. Most times God works in my life in ways I do not completely understand! Thus, when I say that there is no such thing as a coincidence; I mean that there is an explanation for everything in this world—good, bad, or indifferent. For example, the football bounced into the hands of the defense because of the trajectory of the throw and the angle of the receiver’s fingers. You got a particular grade in your class because of how well (or how not so well) you prepared. Your beloved relative contracted a terminal illness not as punishment, but because the combination of genetics and marriage choices and the environment conspired to make him or her susceptible to it. Like the butterfly that flaps its wings and becomes the main actor in chaos theory, nothing is incidental, and therefore nothing is coincidental. Everything counts, and the Lord is sovereign over all!!!

So when I tell you that Joseph’s encountering that guy in the field was no coincidence, what do I mean? I mean that the Lord deliberately works out His great redemptive plan for all
humanity in Israel’s history through the kind act of one stranger. BUT the Bible leaves the man’s name out!!! This is small Act of Random Kindness (“ARK” was an acronym used by Morgan Freeman playing the role of “God” in the movie “Evan Almighty”).

This man in Gen.37:14-15 reaching out to help a confused teenager find his way is the small Act of Random Kindness (ARK) that I hope any one of us at TSH might perform in similar circumstances. We hold the door for the people entering a building behind us. We provide some change for the homeless person on the street. We give a lost tourist some important directions. The man in Gen.37:14-15 helped Joseph by discerning a need, getting out of his comfort zone and asking a lost kid a question. His name isn’t mentioned and his origin is unknown, but he offers, perhaps, one of the most elevating lessons in the entire Bible: there is no person, no act, no kindness, and no outreach that is incidental…Every good deed counts in Christ’s Kingdom. Each disciple of Christ (Matthew 16:13-18) can determine the course of human history. Wow—what a response-ability!!!
I hope it makes you consider the consequence of every action you make in your life. I hope that it offers you a sense of humility, the ability to see a big picture of this world which is actually God’s domain – and in God’s domain YOU and me as a children of God COUNT!!! God’s plans works through our lives…our simplest decision to obey His Word and His Spirit. You and I can change the course of a person’s life with a simple “Act of Random Kindness” (ARK).

Do you want to know the answer to my original question? Do you want to know “Who’s that nameless man in Genesis 37:14-15?”

Answer -> It is Christ-in-you…the Hope of Glory!!!


  • Adapted from the Torah Commentary for Teens by Jewish Lights Publishing