Today we finished up Genesis in our 90 day program. The last 10 chapters moved pretty fast for me and that was good. The promo literature said “read the Bible in 90 days in as little as 30 minutes a day” I haven’t come close to 30 minutes for the readings we have, at least not yet!
As I stated before Genesis is foundational, it is the footings that so much of the rest of scripture rest on and that foundation is God’s faithfulness and steadfast love for his creation which includes you and me.
Today we find Joseph as the great muckity muck over all of Egypt and as he interpreted Pharaoh’s dream there were seven good years of plenty and now the lean years have come upon the land. The famine has reached as far as the Canaan and word has reached them that there is grain to buy in Egypt. So Israel sends his sons, with the exception of Benjamin to Egypt to get some grain. Once there despite the years and experiences Joseph has gone through he spots his brothers in the crowds coming to buy grain.
Can you imagine how he must have felt, or at least could have felt. Here are these brothers who beat him up, sold him into slavery where he was then thrown into jail for years, here they stand now before him, begging to buy grain. Oh the revenge factor here is huge! HUGE! How would have you responded, how do you respond when someone who has done you wrong in the past now comes to you in a position of relative powerlessness? Talk about temptation, but it seems Joseph has a bigger idea, he has family, love and hope on his mind and so puts together an elaborate ruse to see how is brothers will behave.
Long story short the brothers do the right thing, and the whole family is reunited in the land of Goshen… yes if you ever had ever heard that expression of surprise on TV or from a Grand parent, “Land o Goshen” this is where it comes from.
Any way forgiveness seems to reign supreme. Joseph sets up his family on good land they continue to be blessed in all ways a grow in this foreign land. Toward the end of the story after Israel (Jacob) dies he is taken up to be buried in the promised land. Then the brothers begin to worry. Now that Dad isn’t around what will Joseph do, we treated him pretty poorly back in the day, and now that Dad isn’t here to keep the peace, and harmony in the family (like he ever really did that) what will Joseph do?
What comes next is one of my favorite lines in scripture. His brothers are so worried they actually bring it up to him. How many times in life do we needlessly worry about what others might do simply because we do not talk to them about it? But they do and Joseph responds in Genesis 50:20: “Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today” Whoa… what profound faith, what deep forgiveness. This doesn’t mean Joseph didn’t remember or learn from what happened to him, he dealt pretty shrewdly with his brothers when they first came to him, but there was forgiveness and life emerged from this forgiveness. This little family that began with Abraham, Sarah and Isaac was nearly the size of a small nation all ready. The experiences of Joseph’s life had been hard, and his forgiveness was expensive as it aways is, but Joseph was faithful and God continued to be good on his promises even in Egypt!
It seems to me that Joseph had long ago forgiven them, but the brothers had never quite gotten around to accepting that forgiveness. Here is the other kicker for us, how often do we struggle with accepting forgiveness and moving on? Forgiveness is about life, it is about living the promises that God’s love is for us freeing us to forgiven and love others… wow what a great story!