Monday, August 9, 2010

Genesis Chapters 42, 43, 44

Het graan wordt over gelijke zakken verdeeld. ...Image via Wikipedia

When reading about the hostility and jealousy that permeated the relationships amongst the twelve sons of Israel, it’s difficult to see God at work. Israel, the son of Isaac, was the recipient of the two-fold, everlasting covenant with God. Not only were Israel’s descendants to be as numerous as the stars, but God also deeded them the land of Canaan. God’s love for Israel was eternal and unconditional; God’s plan for Israel was absolute. While obedience to God was necessary for a good relationship with God, disobedience did not disqualify the sons of Israel from being key players in God’s plan.

For the record, two of Joseph’s older brothers, tried to save him from the murderous rage of the others. Reuben urged his brothers to throw Joseph into an empty well, thinking that he would rescue him later. (Genesis 37:21) Later, in an attempt to avoid bloodshed, Judah convinced his brothers to sell Joseph into slavery.

While God blessed Joseph so that he was soon second to Pharoh, his brothers daily lived with their father’s grief, blame, suspicion, and more discord. Israel had become extremely protective of his youngest son, further underscoring the strained relationships amongst the brothers.  Joseph, on the other hand, was emotionally and spiritually moving away from he hurts he sustained from his brothers.  The names he chose for his sons implied that he was forgetting his troubled home life.  Through his successful interpretation of dreams and abilities to manage estates,   Joseph able to testify about God to the Pharoh and other officials by praising God for giving him wisdom to discern dreams and to plan for disaster. Joseph rose out of slavery to become the savior of a foreign nation. Only after the famine became severe did Joseph’s brothers travel to Egypt to buy grain.

I think that it is interesting that even though Joseph was so prominent and important in Egypt, his brothers didn’t recognize him. They knew that they sold a scared boy to some slave traders, but they hated Joseph so much that they never properly saw him. Even when they talked to him in Egypt, they couldn’t recognize him.In their eyes he could never amount to much.

It seems that Joseph understood that they had to work through their heinous sin against him. Since they could not recognize him, Joseph did not hurry to reveal himself to them. He orchestrated the initial sale of grain so that one brother, Simeon, would be detained until the others returned with the youngest brother. When they spoke amongst themselves, the brothers thought that they were being punished for their treatment of young Joseph so many years ago.

While Joseph was able to perceive God’s plan of provision for Israel, his brothers were still caught in the web of their sin against Joseph. Sin prevented them from seeing how much God loved them and how much God was acting on their behalf. I am so grateful that in working with mankind, God does not require us to be perfect or holy before we can walk with him. God wants us to look to him; to rest in his wisdom; to trust that his plan is the best.

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