Gen 44:1-45:15 This week we come to the final chapter in the long process of reconciliation between Joseph and his brothers, where Joseph sets up the third and final test to determine whether his brothers are trustworthy. The first test concerned their honesty and greed. The second test was designed to plumb their ability to accept the inequalities of love. The brothers passed both tests with flying colors. The third and final test is designed to see whether they will exhibit a sacrificial love that will place their father’s interests above their own, and count their brother’s life as more important than their own. In the end, the brothers will “collectively exhibit the virtues of reconciliation have become the kingdom of God, a family fit to rule the world” (Bruce Waltke).
Genesis 43:1-34 When wounds cut deep and family members separate and no longer speak to one another, the work of reconciliation becomes extremely difficult. Last week we left our story of Joseph’s reconciliation with brothers deadlocked in a stalemate between a son in Egypt and a father in Canaan who refused to come to the table. When the head of the home refuses to lead spiritually, what can children do? The text is a masterpiece of God’s grace in the process of reconciliation and serves as a model of how to be a leader for reconciliation, even when you haven’t been given the authoritative role.
Genesis 42:1-38 We live in a world at war and a nation divided. Sadly, the church has often done more to fuel the flames of the fire than to bring understanding and healing. Where are the peacemakers? Who is willing do the hard work of tearing down the walls of division and create conditions necessary for reconciliation? More importantly, who knows what is required before the process can begin? Given the centuries of hate and hostility, how would you ever be able get a Palestinian and a Jew to sit and talk at the same table? Perhaps Joseph can help us begin the process.
Genesis 41:37-52 It’s difficult to imagine how a youth from a despised race (a “Hebrew”) could immediately rise out of a prison cell and be installed as the second in command of the most powerful nation on earth. And yet, this will not be the only time this happens in the Scriptures. Joseph prefigures Moses, Daniel, and ultimately Jesus. And in the broader sense what God intends for all humankind (Psalm 8) redeemed in Christ (Isa 49:7b). You ask, “How can that be?” Come and see.
Genesis 41:1-40 Through many years of ministry I have often wondered why God sets aside some of his most gifted people for extended periods of time. When such times grow in length, it’s easy to question whether we will ever know the joy of using our gifts again, or whether we were ever gifted at all. Our text speaks not only to God’s supreme faithfulness, it also gives insight into the mystery of what God was doing in Joseph, while he was painfully waiting for the proper time. It’s much easier to endure the darkness when we can see the purposeful hand behind the crucible.
Genesis 40:1-23 God never does leave us, but sometimes it seems that he does. What happens to the human soul when our dreams are forgotten in a prison of silence? Our blessed narrator has no fear taking on these questions. And the tale that he weaves will shape Israel with a spirituality that enables her to live in the worst of times. The question for us is whether we are courageous enough to receive it.
Genesis 39:1-23 One of the greatest difficulties in the Christian life is bridging the gap between the promises of God and our everyday life. A powerful truth believers celebrate is the fact that the Lord is “with us.” But what happens when you pray for God to be “with” you or your children, and tragedy occurs? Or to be “with you” at work, and you are laid off? Or to be “with you” in your marriage and you end up divorced? Or to be “with you” in your cancer treatments and they are unsuccessful? What then? Come this week and discover how God is “with Joseph” even in the midst of betrayal and prison.
Genesis 38:1-30 What happens when a prominent leader in the community leaves God and forsakes his family for wealth and pleasure? It happens so often these days, it is easy to become callous, until it happens to you and your world is turned upside down. What do you do if you are the victim with no support? Who will rescue the family and confront the abuse? Tune in or come to church this Sunday and discover how God transforms his broken family through an unconventional source. (note: this text is not appropriate for children)
Genesis 37:2-36 This week we begin the first of a nine week series in the life of Jacob’s favored son, Joseph. We pick up the story of a dysfunctional family that is riddled with raging resentments, violent outbursts and gaping wounds. The heroic faith and sacrificial love that characterized Abraham has been all but lost on the fourth generation. The Joseph narrative dramatically details how, in the hidden ways of God’s providence and the gift of dreams, a broken family is transformed and an evil empire is overcome. Joseph is the recipient of the dreams, but he has no idea how God will fulfill them, as his dreams first provoke jealousy and hate which escalate to abduction, slavery and prison. After years of suffering, not one, but two sons are transformed into leaders capable of bringing about the reconciliation of the chosen family. This text could not be more relevant to our current world that is riddled with hate, bigotry and impenetrable division. It is my prayer that God will use these sacred texts to transform us into “ambassadors for Christ,” bringing the gift of reconciliation to the church and the waiting world. Amen.