Sunday, February 09, 2014

From the Joseph Story

From Thursday's Bible class -- notes and ruminations:

Genesis 45:5, 8  Joseph told his brothers, "God sent me before you" into the land of Egypt.  Even though the brothers had committed a dastardly deed in selling their brother into Egyptian slavery, Joseph's explanation of events said that God was the one who brought him there.  God turned even their evil into good ... as He is wont to do.
The prophet tells us that "out of Egypt I have called My Son."  But God also sent Jesus (like Joseph) into Egypt.  And as it happened for Joseph, it was (to all outward appearances) attempted murder that sent the boy Jesus from Canaan to Egypt.

45:24    When Joseph had equipped his brothers for the trip to Canaan, sending them to fetch the rest of the family, he sent them off with "See that you do not become troubled along the way."  It's almost as if he knew they would begin to wonder if Joseph had really forgiven them, if it was a set-up, if there would be repercussions.  "Don't be troubled.  Don't be agitated.  Go in peace."  Joseph knew the human heart's inclination to doubt, to fear, to be troubled.  And he wanted to comfort them so that his beloved brothers would not be troubled.

45:27  The fellows told Dad, "Joseph is alive, and he's ruling Egypt."  Now, that's quite the shocker!  But then the story goes on: "When they told [Jacob] all the words which Joseph had said to them...."  Pastor pointed out that "all the words" means the guys would've had to admit to Dad what had happened that long-ago day, 22 years earlier ... and admit that they had lied all along.  "And Jacob's spirit revived."  It did?  Wow -- so he forgave them. 
How could he forgive that?  Well, think about his own past.  Jacob had deceived.  He had cheated his brother.  He had lied to his father.  He had been separated from his family.  But the Lord's mercy forgave him, so that love and mercy overflowed from him to others.   How about that?  When God is merciful and loving to scumbum sinners, it really does bear fruit in the lives of those who receive His love.

45:5 and 50:20   Even though the brothers meant evil against Joseph, God meant it for good "to preserve life."  "To save your lives by a great deliverance."  "To bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive." 
  1. God worked for good by feeding physical food to gobs of people through Joseph's leadership in Egypt. 
  2. God worked for good by saving the brothers from their impenitence, bringing their sin into the light of day that they might benefit from the forgiveness Joseph had for them.
  3. God worked for good by preserving the life of the ancestor of Jesus.  Judah and his brothers did not die of starvation.  Their family continued, and the Messiah --the Savior-- was born just as the Lord had promised to Abraham.  

50:17  So when Jacob dies, the brothers send a message to Joseph: Dad said to forgive us for the evil we did to you.  Did Jacob say that, or did the guys just say it because they were shakin' in their boots?  Either way, it shows that we need a mediator, an intercessor, to plead for us sinners.

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