Reading: Genesis 50:15-26
Here is another extracts from The Glory of the Story, my father’s devotional introduction to biblical theology in the form of 366 daily readings which show how the Old Testament story is fulfilled in Christ. The Glory of the Story is available as a Kindle book for $2.99 from amazon.com and £1.99 from amazon.co.uk. I’m posting extracts from the chaper on the story of Jacob, usually on the first Monday of the month.
1. Joseph comes to terms with the past (15-21)
When their father dies, Joseph’s brothers fear Joseph might unleash his resentment upon them. It is a further testimony to the fear resulting from their guilty consciences (42:21-22, 28). They decide to make a candid plea for forgiveness and fall down before Joseph. So his earlier dream is unwittingly fulfilled and a dramatic arc cast over the whole story from chapters 37 to 50. Each part of Joseph’s reply provides a model for similar situations.
Verse 19 – He leaves the righting of wrongs to God (cf. Rom. 12:19; 1 Thess. 5:15; 1 Pet. 2:23). The brothers, of course, must look to God as well as to Joseph for forgiveness.
Verse 20 – He sees God’s providence in his brothers’ malice. When God works out his purposes using other people, often their intentions are the opposite of his. But God’s purposes prevail (cf. Is. 10:5-7; 45:1-6; Acts 2:23).
Verse 21 – He repays evil with good. Joseph both acts and speaks kindly. Broken spirits need to be treated gently and fearful souls assured (cf. Luke 6: 27-28; Rom. 12:21; Gal. 6:1; 1 Pet. 3:9).
2. Joseph comes to terms with the future (22-26)
Joseph has already made it clear that his future was with Israel not Egypt by having his two sons formally adopted by Jacob (48:1-6). Ephraim and Manasseh become two of the largest tribes of Israel. Joseph lives to see his great-grand-children by both sons (22-23). He directs his family concerning his death (cf. Jacob’s instructions 49:29-32), with a strong anticipation of a future exodus from Egypt: ‘God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’ (24) The instruction about his bones is a gesture of faith (Heb. 11:22) which would not be frustrated (Exod. 13:19; Josh. 24:32). So the prime minister does not die reminiscing on past glory, but looking forward to a new beginning. Genesis ends by pointing beyond its own story.
It will be 400 years before Joseph’s coffin is carried towards the land of promise, a stark reminder of how short-range our view of life and events often are. God’s purposes ripen as generations pass. We also are to live in hope, but our hope, like Joseph’s, is a long-term investment. The certain outcome, however, determines the way we conduct our lives now.
Don’t ask, ‘When am I going to get out of these troubles?’ Ask, ‘What am I going to get out of these troubles?’