Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sunday, January 18th: Genesis 43-35, Romans 15:1-13 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Genesis 43-45, Romans 15:1-13

(I didn't have much time today to get done any original thoughts, so this is a compilation of some of my posts in our previous studies of Genesis).

In Chapter 43 we see Jacob display a complete lack of faith, not to mention bad leadership skills. First, he tried to delay taking any type of action until the situation had reached a crisis peak that could no longer be ignored. Then he tried to play it down, telling his sons to just go buy a little food, as though that would somehow sway Joseph into forgetting his command to bring back Benjamin. When Judah refuted this plea by reminding his father of what the man had demanded, Jacob tried to blame it on them, saying it was there fault for telling the Egyptian personal details about their lives. And then, when they explained that they had only given him the information due to very direct questioning, Jacob basically tells them that they should have done what he would have, and lied about it! Finally, Judah convinces Jacob that they really have no other choice, and Jacob finally, reluctantly, agrees to let Benjamin go to Egypt. Not Jacob's finest hour.

So, he sends them on their way with double the money for the grain and gifts in hand, though he does so with a fatalistic attitude, not a faithful one.

It turns out that all their fears were unfounded. Joseph's part in this whole drama is not vengeful. Moses showed us Joseph's emotions so that we would see the motive behind his tests - love, and the desire for reconciliation if true repentance was evidenced. An important thing to note is that Joseph didn't allow his emotions to cloud his decision making. Emotions are God-given, but we need to filter our emotions through truth found in His Word. We need to act out of love - biblical love, agape love. And sometimes this means acting contrary to our emotions.

Judah has come a long way, hasn't he? I would assume and hope that all the brothers would have matured since selling Joseph into slavery. To be fair, Judah had prevented the others from killing Joseph outright back then, but in the interest of selling him and making some money off of him instead! He probably didn't have Joseph's best interests at heart there. Before Joseph revealed himself to them, he wanted to be sure that they recognized and repented of what they'd done to him.  And Judah's appeal did exactly that.

Judah's appeal to Joseph didn't change Joseph's mind, it showed that Judah had changed. It evidenced true repentance, not just worldly sorry, which is necessary for true reconciliation.

This passage gives us some excellent insight into forgiveness.

Forgiveness should be granted quickly - the sooner reconciliation is achieved the better for all involved.

Forgiveness should be dealt with privately when possible. We do not need to expose the sin to as many people as possible, but rather as few (and as many) as is necessary to truly deal with the issue. Joseph didn't publicly broadcast his brother's sins to Pharaoh, which means Pharaoh didn't have to overcome any feelings of anger towards them, and there restoration was made much easier than it would have been. How tempting it can be to broadcast the sins of others, often under the guise of "needing to vent". How much wiser it would be to consider restoration and reconciliation above retribution and proclamation of our own innocence or victimization.

Forgiveness should be given freely and unconditionally, sacrificially, and permanently.

However, forgiveness does not remove all consequences of the sin. Forgiveness also seeks the correction and restoration of the sinner.

This does mean that forgiveness is easy - far from it! We know we need to forgive, but how?

First, we need to recognize that forgiveness is commanded, it is not optional.
Second, we need to remind ourselves of our own sin and the forgiveness we have received from God.
Third, we need to recognize God's sovereignty involved in the offense committed against us. Suffering is always allowed in our lives for our good and for His glory.
Fourth, we need to battle the natural response of offended pride, and rather submit to a humble attitude.
Fifth, we need to meditate on the biblical definition of love, not as an emotion, but as a decision and an act of the will.
And lastly, that we can only forgive through His strength, not our own.

As our Romans passage shows us, He alone is our hope.

 Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Genesis 46-48, Romans 15:14-33


Pamela said...

Great thoughts.

This passage in Romans fit perfectly with the story of Joseph:
5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus.

Joseph endured unbelievable hardship. He was encouraged by how God's plan revealed itself in God's perfect time. This allowed him to see the big picture by the time he finally met his brothers all these years later. It think it was the endurance and the encouragement from seeing how God's plan came about, as well as the encouragement that his brothers had truly repented and changed, that allowed Joseph to forgive them and live in harmony with them.

Conrad said...

This passage illustrates just how close Joseph really is to God. Joseph was able to fully understand God's plan and know exactly how and at what time to make himself known to his brothers. It must have been very hard to prolong this especially after seeing them the first time!

Even when he did blow his cover, he did not blame his brothers for selling him (Genesis 45:5). He was able to once again praise God for His goodness in sending him there, and being a vessel in providing for his family for the famine that was to come.

Joseph was able to have God fill him with joy and peace as he trusted Him.

I pray that we too would be examples of that kind of trust in God, so that we may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit! (Romans 15:13)