Friday, January 17, 2014

Genesis 48-50 Forgiveness, Servanthood and lemonade from lemons

From Genesis 48-50

Gen 48.1-22; Story; Jacob blessed Ephraim and Manasseh, younger over the firstborn
Gen 49.1-27; Story; Jacob blessed his sons, recalls their past and predicts their future
Gen 49.28-33; Story; Jacob instructs his sons in his burial. Jacob is gathered to his people
Gen 50.1-14; Story; Joseph and his brothers with a large entourage  bury Jacob in Canaan
Gen 50.15-21; Story; Joseph reassures his brothers of his and God’s good intentions
Gen 50.22-26; Story; Joseph reminds Israel of God’s promise and asks to rest in the same place as his fathers

Passage and comments
There are not many passages of scripture with as much emotion as this one.
[15] When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” [16] So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: [17] ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.”’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. [18] His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” [19] But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? [20] As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. [21] So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. (Genesis 50:15-21)
The anxiety of Joseph’s brothers is almost tangible. Yet as we saw last post Joseph has seen God at work behind his circumstances and has forgiven his brothers. But his brothers need continued reassurance. Joseph is willing to keep giving it. There seems to be no hint from Joseph of anything other than goodwill towards his brothers. Have you experienced reconciliation like this?

Josephs brothers say 'we are your servants'. This is self imposed submission to one they feel has power over them. servanthood is a much repeated theme through the Bible. Gods people are his servants. I think there are many different reasons why. So I wouldn't assume that every instance is out of fear God will punish us. How about devotion to the ones who so clearly demonstrate wholehearted commitment to our own well being and that of others. Do you think of yourself as God's servant? What does that mean for you?

Joseph says to his brothers, 'you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good'. Many sermons and books have made use of this one. Go straight to the cross, don't pass go, don't collect $200 dollars, go straight to the cross. For anyone who has experienced some sort of calamity, evil or distress. So has Jesus. Yet in the cross we see the evil plans of sinful people come to the salvation of the world and the victory of God's kingdom. Have you seen good things come out of evil plans and given glory to God?

Story of Jesus
For those who don't yet follow Jesus or believe that he is risen from the dead. Consider reading the gospels. What I mean is the New Testament books Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These are the best ways to get to know Jesus. Reading through the gospel message of Jesus' life, death and resurrection. What I have discussed above is all very much included in the gospel account as well. Forgiveness and reconciliation, servanthood and the paradox of how good can triumph over evil. Check them out, see for yourself.