Today's Reading: Genesis 43-45
These chapters in Genesis are absolutely beautiful, as we see the long overdue scenes that heal a broken family. We also see the great cost of reconciliation; the payment for past wrongs.
After an entire book of unrighteous people and actions, we finally have a Biblical hero we can admire. Joseph seeks reconciliation but is not a push over. He is generous, but is not stupid. He handles his brothers wisely, pushing them to right the wrongs they did to his father, his brother and himself. When Judah finally shows some spiritual maturity, humility and concern for others than himself, Joseph shows his brothers his true identity.
I love Joseph's theology borne from long hard days in prison. Unlike the Count of Monte Cristo, Joseph does not plot vengeance against those who have done him wrong. Instead, he carefully and slowly administrates a reconciliation process. All his sadness, grief and loss are poured out in his weeping, which was held in check all these years. Finally he can embrace his destiny and his enemies, and in doing so, his family and his life are restored to him.
His forgiveness is real. He is able to empathize with those who have done him wrong. "Do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves," he soothes. "God sent me ahead of you to preserve you as a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance."
Can we imagine this kind of transformation? Do we hear the impossible possibility of God's wondrous hand, not only for these wayward brothers, but in Joseph's life as well?
Imagine a woman raped or a father whose daughter was killed forgiving the perpetrator of the crime, saying, "God allowed this to happen to me so that, in prison, you could meet Jesus through a prison ministry, so that together, we can share eternal life."
Imagine enemies of war saying, "God allowed this so that one day we could value our friendship and embrace one another."
Imagine Job or any other person who has suffered greatly with physical, mental or emotional pain, saying, "God did this for all our good."
Joseph adds two tag lines to his forgiveness:
1. "I will give you the best of the land of Egypt and you can enjoy the fat of the land." 45:18 Joseph not only forgives his brothers, but gives them tremendous gifts of extravagance!
2. "Don't quarrel on the way!" Joseph warns his brothers to amend their ways, to not fall back into old patterns. A new reality has been born. There is no sense in returning "as a dog returns to his vomit."
It is hard to imagine this kind of reconciliator, one who can so totally forgive and embrace with such abundance.
This story gives us just a small glimpse of the love of the ultimate reconciliator, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
He gives full forgiveness, calls enemies friends, offers his own inheritance to be shared with previous enemies and invites us to live with him forever. That is very amazing!
Imagine the tears he wept as he moves toward reconciliation with each one of us!
O, the deep, deep love of Jesus.