Summary: The Life of Joseph Joseph’s Final Words Genesis 50:15-26
The Life of Joseph
Joseph’s Final Words
November 27, 2016
There is a proverb that says the same sun that melts wax hardens clay. It's a way of saying that the same circumstances can cause different responses in people to make them bitter or better, wounded or stronger. We all know people who have had very difficult lives or seasons in their lives and some are the better because of it and others are the worse because of it. By the time Joseph is thirty years old, he could have let life get the best of him but in fact it is quite the opposite, he has been strengthened and prepared to fulfill God’s purpose in Egypt. Let’s look at that today.
We are in the final chapter of Genesis, 50, of our series on “The Life of Joseph” with “Joseph’s Final Words.” Next week we start a four-week series, “Rediscovering Joy” during the month of December. If you have your bibles, turn to Genesis 50. Jacobs extended family has been in Egypt almost twenty years, Jacob has died, and Joseph’s brothers fear that he will seek revenge now that his father has died. So they tell Joseph that Jacob commanded before his death that Joseph forgive the brothers for their sins because of the evil they did to him. His response is to cry because after all these years of taking care of them, they still do not trust him. Listen to Joseph’s response, “do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus, he comforted them and spoke kindly to them (15-17).
First he tells them not to fear because he is not in the place of God, that is, God is the one who avenges sin and evil. Scripture tells us that God is just and will avenge evil so we do not need to do so (Rom 12:19; 1 Thes 5:15; 1 Pet 4:19) either in this life or the next. His point is that they do not need to fear because he will not set himself up as God. God will get justice in hell or in Christ. When we seek revenge, we set ourselves up as God thinking we can do a better job than He can. We often think that way. For instance, when someone says or does something hurtful to us, we want to hurt them in return. But Joseph has forgiven them. Then he tells them why he is able to forgive them. As for you, you meant evil against me but God meant it for good to save many as he has over the last twenty years! How we see life, the good and the bad under Gods providential care, God’s overruling and trumping evil, determines how we think, feel, and ultimately respond to the difficulties of life. As Joseph looked back on the evil in his life, his brothers jealousy of him (37:11), their hate of him (37:4, 5, 8), planning to kill him (37:20) but ultimately selling him into slavery (37:28) which led Joseph to being a slave in Egypt (39:1), then falsely accused (39:11-18), and imprisoned (39:20), forgotten for two years after helping the cup bearer (40:23), which set him up to be the right man at the right time, in the right place and under the right circumstances to become the Prime Minister of Egypt (41:9-45). As he looked back at his life, he saw the thumbprint of God all over it. Before time began God had determined that this should happen was working his plan out in history in a way that his brothers are still responsible for their evil actions. We rarely see the big picture while our story is being written or played out. It is usually later, often much later that we see and understand the hand of God. So we are called to live by faith, believing that all things work out for our good (Rom 8:28) because we often cannot see God’s good purposes when we are in circumstances that are dark and painful and won’t go away. What the brothers did was morally wrong, sinful, and evil. Their intent was to cause him great harm but God overrides their evil intents for Joseph’s good (see also Jonah 1:17, 2:3; Acts 2:23; 3:13-17; 4:2-28). So their sin against Joseph is not good in and of itself but it is used for good to serve a larger and grander purpose – that Jacob’s family be kept alive. Their evil intent unwittingly fulfilled God’s purpose of sending Joseph to Egypt to become the Prime Minister of Egypt which gave him the power to save his family and provide for them in Egypt. Evil exists to accomplish the greater good than would not exist if he had not determined evil should exist. Evil ultimately exists to magnify god’s grace and glory that could not be displayed if sin had not existed. This is the Christian narrative. God created everything and it was good. Humanity sinned and sin is the cause of everything wrong in the world today. It is the cause of the struggle that goes on in our hearts every day; the conflict in personal relationships and geopolitical ones; murder and war; and the list goes on and on and on. Yet God chose to reverse the curse of sin by choosing to work through one man, Abraham, and his family to save the nations through the gospel so that all of us who trust in Christ are now heirs of Abraham (Gal 3:29).