Before we “move that bus”—try to imagine someone in your family you thought was dead and buried, coming back to life! What are all the “feels”? What is going on in the minds of those who lost greatly but then found the one they loved so deeply? Would we be speechless at first? Would the emotion of seeing them overwhelm us, weaken our knees to the point of siting down, catching our breath from the gasp of surprise? Who we thought was dead is alive again! What?!
Could these kinds of feels be how the disciples felt when suddenly Jesus appeared to them, scars and all, in the room where they hiding, thinking all was lost? They saw him crucified on a cross. Terrified, they watched him die from a distance. They hid, fearful for their own lives. Then after three days, there Jesus was, standing right in front of them, asking for a sandwich!
These thoughts occur to me as we read of Jacob/Israel hearing the news that Joseph, his beloved son, is alive and well. He is numb. Earlier in the story, Jacob still mourning over the loss of Joseph, lamented, “I don’t have anything, I’ve lost everything” when the brothers asked to bring Benjamin with them to Egypt to buy food from “the man”. But God…God, in spite of what humans do, is still fulfilling His plan and promises. That’s how God works! Jacob unknowingly had it all because God had it all under control. Wow. Camp there for a bit, friends!
In Jacob’s mind, Joseph was gone forever. Joseph, favored son, who he thought was lost forever was moved into position by God to another land in order to save the sons of Israel, “the remnant”, who will carry on God’s promise to Abraham. Wow, just wow!
God is the main character of His Story. Read of this big reveal with that thought in mind—God is the Star of the Story. Joseph reveals God with his extreme forgiveness to his brothers; along with what God has done IN Joseph as he shares God’s plan for all of them! Amazing! Are you excited? I am! Because God is STILL at work in all of us! When we think we have nothing, that is a lie. We actually have everything because of God in us who believe, really believe! Then we realize God is all we need!
Genesis 45, The Message
1-2 Joseph couldn’t hold himself in any longer, keeping up a front before all his attendants. He cried out, “Leave! Clear out—everyone leave!” So there was no one with Joseph when he identified himself to his brothers. But his sobbing was so violent that the Egyptians couldn’t help but hear him. The news was soon reported to Pharaoh’s palace.
3 Joseph spoke to his brothers: “I am Joseph. Is my father really still alive?” But his brothers couldn’t say a word. They were speechless—they couldn’t believe what they were hearing and seeing.
4-8 “Come closer to me,” Joseph said to his brothers. They came closer. “I am Joseph your brother whom you sold into Egypt. But don’t feel badly, don’t blame yourselves for selling me. God was behind it. God sent me here ahead of you to save lives. There has been a famine in the land now for two years; the famine will continue for five more years—neither plowing nor harvesting. God sent me on ahead to pave the way and make sure there was a remnant in the land, to save your lives in an amazing act of deliverance. So you see, it wasn’t you who sent me here but God. He set me in place as a father to Pharaoh, put me in charge of his personal affairs, and made me ruler of all Egypt.
9-11 “Hurry back to my father. Tell him, ‘Your son Joseph says: I’m master of all of Egypt. Come as fast as you can and join me here. I’ll give you a place to live in Goshen where you’ll be close to me—you, your children, your grandchildren, your flocks, your herds, and anything else you can think of. I’ll take care of you there completely. There are still five more years of famine ahead; I’ll make sure all your needs are taken care of, you and everyone connected with you—you won’t want for a thing.’
12-13 “Look at me. You can see for yourselves, and my brother Benjamin can see for himself, that it’s me, my own mouth, telling you all this. Tell my father all about the high position I hold in Egypt, tell him everything you’ve seen here, but don’t take all day—hurry up and get my father down here.”
14-15 Then Joseph threw himself on his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck. He then kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Only then were his brothers able to talk with him.
16 The story was reported in Pharaoh’s palace: “Joseph’s brothers have come.” It was good news to Pharaoh and all who worked with him.
17-18 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Tell your brothers, ‘This is the plan: Load up your pack animals; go to Canaan, get your father and your families and bring them back here. I’ll settle you on the best land in Egypt—you’ll live off the fat of the land.’
19-20 “Also tell them this: ‘Here’s what I want you to do: Take wagons from Egypt to carry your little ones and your wives and load up your father and come back. Don’t worry about having to leave things behind; the best in all of Egypt will be yours.’”
21-23 And they did just that, the sons of Israel. Joseph gave them the wagons that Pharaoh had promised and food for the trip. He outfitted all the brothers in brand-new clothes, but he gave Benjamin three hundred pieces of silver and several suits of clothes. He sent his father these gifts: ten donkeys loaded with Egypt’s best products and another ten donkeys loaded with grain and bread, provisions for his father’s journey back.
24 Then he sent his brothers off. As they left he told them, “Take it easy on the journey; try to get along with each other.”
25-28 They left Egypt and went back to their father Jacob in Canaan. When they told him, “Joseph is still alive—and he’s the ruler over the whole land of Egypt!” he went numb; he couldn’t believe his ears. But the more they talked, telling him everything that Joseph had told them and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him back, the blood started to flow again—their father Jacob’s spirit revived. Israel said, “I’ve heard enough—my son Joseph is still alive. I’ve got to go and see him before I die.”
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
Joseph was not perfect but through the years he was been taught by God that forgiveness leads to peace and reconciliation in many ways. Forgiveness releases the anger that leads to bitterness. Forgiveness restores love. The proof of God’s work is seen as Joseph names his first son. “Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh (Forget), saying, “God made me forget all my hardships and my parental home.” (Genesis 41:51) God’s work in Joseph was to not on forgive but to forget the pain. The scars might still be there, but true forgiveness releases us from the prison of bitterness.
Yes, God molded and sculpted Joseph from the inside out as he sat in the dark places of the prisons brought on by no fault of his own. God used these times of humiliation to rid him of all the arrogance we saw in Joseph as a favored son of Jacob. Integrity and wisdom filled his heart, mind and soul with all of God in him. The Egyptians saw it. Then Pharoah, recognized God in Joseph. “You’re the man!” “God is in you!” God in Joseph saved God’s people from death by starvation. What God did in Joseph saved the sons of Israel fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham.
I love the humor of humanness that is tucked into this story. As Joseph says goodbye, he says to his brothers, “Take it easy on the journey; try to get along with each other.” Okay, so maybe we haven’t forgotten everything. Will new-found riches be the return of greed and arrogance? It happens. Beware, Joseph might be saying.
The lost, starved by love, seeking mercy and grace, think they have nothing. Is that you? Nothing could be farther from the Truth. Jesus is the Way to Truth who gives Life eternal. God sent Jesus, His One and Only, to save us from all our sins because of His great love for us. A glimpse of God’s act of forgiveness is portrayed in and through Joseph.
We do not have to go through what Jesus went through to redeem us. God’s work to save us was completely, once and for all, accomplished in and by Jesus. Our debt of sin is paid in full. Forgiveness is offered, free of charge, no matter what you have done or what you are doing now. Right where you sit, forgiveness is ready to overwhelm you with peace, joy and love. This forgiveness is complete as Jesus said from the cross—“It is finished”. AND our sins are “remembered no more” by God. Our part is to simply say yes to Jesus, believing as we repent—offering our sorry in exchange for his forgiveness. Let God do the rest.
The story of You in Joseph bring tears to our eyes, realizing that forgiveness is a release from the prison of sin—a prison we built for ourselves. Thank you for setting me free to love, forgive, and show mercy to those who hurt me like you did for me. May I never forget you, who you are and what you did. May I never take advantage or think lightly of the cost paid for my life.
In Jesus Name, For You Glory, Amen
AND THAT’S NOT THE END OF THE STORY! Stay tuned…