Good morning. We have a meeting with the town planner today to discuss the rezoning and partitioning of the land. Pray for the food parcel distribution as we plan the next distribution.
Back to the story of Joseph in Genesis 45. By the end of this week we’ll almost have completed Genesis. I think the great lesson for this chapter is that when God works, it’s all good. There may be plenty of evil involved in the plan, but at the end of the day there’s rejoicing when we’re in the centre of His will. I want to think about how God surprises us.
- How does God surprise the brothers?
- Can you imagine the shock, panic and disbelief of these men when Joseph first revealed himself to them? I was thinking about how it must have been of Resurrection Sunday when the reality of the resurrection was first announced to those men. What an emotionally charged moment. Never in your wildest dreams…
- But that’s how God works. Paul says in Romans 8 if God be for us who can be against us? And God was working all things together for good.
- But the real surprise in to the brothers is Joseph’s forgiveness of them. After all the evil they’d done to Joseph those many years prior, how could he possibly have really forgiven them? What was the key? How did Joseph keep from being bitter or vindictive towards these men, or at least done as David did to Absalom and kept them at a distance? The answer is that Joseph’s focus was on God’s programme. Notice in v 7, God sent me here to preserve life. We become bitter, angry and vindictive because we are focused on our kingdoms. Joseph was focused on God’s and as a result he was fully able to welcome his brothers with full forgiveness.
- We have received a far greater forgiveness from God. God has forgiven us for far more and worse sins than Joseph forgave his brothers. He surprises us with so great forgiveness. God is not vindictive. He’s not looking for us to pay Him back. We’re to simply rest in the forgiveness of God and rejoice in His steadfast love.
- How does God surprise Joseph?
- God had given Joseph two dreams that showed him that he would rule over his brothers. He’d gone through a tremendous valley of humiliation for 13 years. But now that valley had turned into a mountaintop experience far greater than he could have imagined. God’s plan was far greater than Joseph could have possibly imagined and, in fact, it was still far greater even than Joseph imagined while Joseph was revealing it to his brothers. What Joseph couldn’t have seen was all of God’s workings in protecting the nation from the corruption of Canaan by sending them to Egypt.
- Add to this the response of Pharaoh and his household in welcoming Joseph’s family. Joseph obviously was in good standing with Pharaoh but this welcoming on Pharaoh’s part was pretty amazing. Had Pharaoh simply allowed them to come and sojourn it would have been a great blessing but Pharaoh exceeded any expectation by not only sending wagons but granting them the best places in Egypt to settle.
- God’s plans are always far better than we can imagine. He does exceedingly, abundantly above all we ask or think. Sometimes He brings delays to us and it seems like things aren’t working out as we’d hoped, but be patient, God’s programme is not yet complete. The death of Christ crushed the early disciples’ hearts but God wasn’t done and when He was, the stood amazed and emboldened. We need to wait for the completing of God’s programme in our lives too. We’ll be amazed as well.
- How does God surprise Jacob?
- Jacob was the pessimist and as a result the manipulator, always going about trying to work things out to protect himself. He was a worrier and he was fearful. But it was all unnecessary. God was working for his good too. Jacob, the last time we’d seen him was thinking that Simeon and Benjamin would be taken from him. Not only did he receive them back safely, but, as we end this chapter, the prospect of receiving Joseph back alive is upon him. What of all his fears? Wasted! Jacob wasted time fearing the things he feared. He wasted his emotions by not trusting that God would work it all out for good. He wasted his relationship with his sons and their families by trying to blame them for all his troubles.
- And we waste our time, emotions and relationships too when we fail to trust God to work it all out for good. As one Biblical counselor put it, worry is a false prophet—things seldom turn out the way we fear. So we need to stone that false prophet and turn our eyes upon Jesus. We need to cast away our anxieties by praying with thanksgiving and meditating upon the good God has given us. We need to counsel our souls to trust God and to rest in His good programme—Ps 42.
- How does God surprise us?
- How often have we been surprised by God? How often are we surprised by His forgiveness, by His doing things far better than we could have hoped or imagined, by His working out all the things that caused us to fear?
- The lesson for us this morning is to rest in God. We need to focus our hearts upon God’s programme. This will enable us to forgive those who hurt us. It will enable us to take the hard knocks of life with hope, and it will enable us to cast away our fears.
- What are fearing today? Where are we struggling with forgiveness—either from or to another? Where are we failing to see beyond the immediate picture of God’s plan. Hope in God for we shall yet praise Him.
Your Thoughts or questions?