We’re coming to the close of Joseph’s story. While reflecting on Joseph’s story, I’ve invited you to consider some circumstances and some questions we may ask ourselves when facing such experiences:
· Are You Where You’re Supposed to Be?
· Is God with Me or Not?
· When God Delays His Promise
· When We Feel Forgotten
· When Dreams Have Yet to Come True
· How Long Must I Wait, Lord?
· Does God Really Care about My Life and Circumstances?
· Where is Grace When I Need it Most, Lord?
In Genesis 47:28 we read: “Jacob lived in Egypt seventeen years, and the years of his life were a hundred and forty seven. When the time drew near for Israel [Jacob] to die, he called for his son Joseph and said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, put your hand under my thigh and promise that you will show me kindness and faithfulness. Do not bury me in Egypt, but when I rest with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me where they are buried.” Joseph swore to his father that he would honor his request and bury him in the land of Canaan.
As I thought about Joseph’s story, I am struck by the tenderness of God and his timing. Joseph lived with his father in Canaan the first seventeen years of his life before he was sold by his brothers and presumed dead. In God’s graciousness, Jacob lives in Egypt with Joseph the last seventeen years of his life.
Genesis 48 records Jacob blessing Joseph’s sons and Genesis 49 details the blessing Jacob confers upon each of his twelve sons, that become the twelve tribes of Israel and then, Jacob dies. Genesis 50 opens with Joseph throwing himself on his father’s lifeless body weeping and mourning over him for forty days. Joseph is granted permission to bury his father Jacob in Canaan and all Pharoah’s officials, dignitaries and the family accompany Jacob’s body to be buried in cave of Macpelah along with Israel’s forefathers.
Genesis 50: 15-21 expose Joseph’s brothers tendency to “scheme” as they fear, now that their father is dead, Joseph has plans to retaliate. They make up a story saying that Jacob “gave instructions” before he died that Joseph should forgive his brothers. When Joseph heard this he wept.
I could identify with Joseph and perhaps you can too. Have you ever been hurt deeply by someone and sincerely forgiven them only to have them doubt the sincerity of your forgiveness? Or maybe you’re the offender who cannot seem to accept another’s forgiveness, even God’s. I’ve been on both sides. How about you?
Joseph was able to say to his brothers, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
Joseph stayed in Egypt along with his father’s family until his death at a hundred and ten years old. He said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land [Canaan] he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” and then he made the sons of Israel promise to carry his bones with them and bury him in Canaan.
Joseph believed God’s promises. Even the dreams of a seventeen year old boy had been stamped by the very hand of God. And Joseph stayed faithful to his God, his family, and to his God-given destiny. The following quote seems fitting in describing Joseph’s life:
“God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.” Ross
“O Lord, thank you for the story of Joseph’s life. Thank you that it is a testimony of your faithfulness and mercy in spite of sin, mistreatment, jealousy, lies, and conniving. Thank you that your purposes cannot be thwarted. Help me to have a heart more like Joseph’s; to believe you even when things look hopeless, when my prayers have yet to be answered, when I feel as though your grace is nowhere to be found, and when I feel forgotten. Thank you Father for Jesus who loves me and paid my debt in full.”