Ever been on one? An all-inclusive? You know, a vacation, cruise or whatever that includes everything you need. Some people absolutely love them. Hop on a plane, hop off and they pick you up, wrap you in bubble wrap, take you to some beautiful resort or ship and pamper you for a specific period of time, while they help you pack on a few extra pounds. No worries!
I’ve never considered myself to be an all inclusive type guy. When we get a few days off, we like to go somewhere we’ve never been and “go native.” No, I said “native,” not “nude.” WHAT are you thinking??? Not THAT type of vacation.
Seriously, we like to stay in hotels that are not chains, eat in places where if you don’t see a tourist you’ve had a great day, and do stuff that is … well … not normal touristy stuff.
But, I can clearly see the allure of the all inclusive thing. Yeah, no worries.
The other day I found an all inclusive in the Bible. I really did. Not a vacation, but something better.
In our Luke study you might remember me talking on several occasions about a literary device called an inclusio, where the author brackets off a hunk of text by using a parallel phrase. I like to call them literary bookends. The purpose is so that the listener/reader understands clearly that what is inside the brackets goes together.
The all inclusive inclusio I am looking at is in Genesis 39 as Joseph is bought as a household slave by an Egyptian named Potiphar. The passage opens (v. 2) with the phrase And the Lord was with Joesph.
The chapter develops the story of Joseph gaining Potifar’s confidence and favor. God’s blessing on Joseph spilled out on Potiphar and soon Joseph is over all his household. Yes, truly the Lord was with Joseph.
Midway through the passage, the scene abruptly changes. Potiphar’s wife has eyes for Joseph and does all she can to entice him to sleep with her. Refusing her advances, Joseph flees and you can just imagine what happens next. I was thinking this is where that verse is found that says, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” Guess not. Maybe you can look that up for me. Proverbs maybe?
No, the quote is actually from The Mourning Bride (1697) by William Congreve,though often mistakenly attributed to William Shakespeare. The complete line from the play is Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned / Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.
So, after Potiphar’s cougaresque wife (I made that word up and am pretty proud of myself) gets done with Jospeh, the Jewish kid far from home ends up in prison. This was certainly not the happy ending that anyone had in mind.
Can you imagine? Joseph, through no fault of his own, is in prison. Actually it is BECAUSE of his character and integrity that he is in prison. How many guys would have resisted the advances of the boss’ wife?
As tough as this may be, there is a phrase that appears in verse 21 – But the Lord was with Joseph. See that? That’s an inclusio that parallels verse 2. Circumstances have changed drastically, but God is still with Joseph. He never left and he won’t. The Lord shows Joseph mercy and gives him favor in the sight of the warden. And just so you don’t miss it, in the very last verse (23), once again it is said that the Lord was with him and that whatever he did the Lord made it to prosper.
Joseph’s life in the home of Potiphar and later in prison was surely no vacation, but it was an all inclusive in the sense that God provided for him everything, absolutely everything that he needed.
As a follower of Jesus I find this biblical version of an all inclusive to be very comforting. I have so much for which to be thankful and have absolutely nothing about which to complain, whine or whimper. Daily life, though, comes with its fair share of ups, downs, good, bad, rocks and rolls. No matter what the circumstances of the moment may be, the Lord is with me. No worries.
How about you? Are you enjoying your all inclusive?