Genesis 48-50 You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good

From Genesis 48-50

01 Genesis EarthJacob has died and his brothers fear retribution. In today’s post Joseph explains to them the LORD’s plan.

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

Joseph has reconciled with his family and brought them into Egypt so he can provide for them through the family. The spirits of Jacob his father have been lifted in seeing him again, he has given his blessings, and now he has passed away. Joseph’s brothers still fear retribution.

[15] When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” [16] So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: [17] ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.”’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” (Gen 50.15-17a)

‘Please forgive’. The anxiety of Joseph’s brothers is almost tangible. In previous chapters it has become apparent that Joseph is aware of God’s involvement behind his circumstances and has forgiven his brothers. But his brothers need continued reassurance.

Joseph wept when they spoke to him. (Gen 50.17b)

‘Joseph wept’. His father is dead and his brothers are still afraid of him. In the emotion of the moment Joseph breaks down and cries. To ask forgiveness and to forgive are two of the most difficult things to do. I can involve heart wrenching vulnerability. Some may throw the offer in your face and not recognise the risk or vulnerability you have put yourself under. It takes courage and trust.

Are you comfortable making yourself vulnerable with God? What about others?

[18] His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” (Gen 50.18)

‘Your servants’. Josephs brothers put themselves under Josephs authority and protection. This is self imposed submission to one they feel has power over them. servanthood is a much repeated theme through the Bible. Gods people are his servants.

Do you think of yourself as God’s servant? What does that mean for you?

[19] But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? [20] 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. (Gen 50:19)

Joseph has already explained how he feels and what God has done (Gen 45.5-8). In order to reassure them he needed to say it again.

‘You meant evil against me’. The brothers have no defense. A long time ago they sold Joseph into slavery despite his pleas for help (Gen 37.12f; 42.21). This was a cruel and evil act, born of hatred and jealousy.

‘God meant it for good’. Predicted by Josephs early dreams (Gen 37.1-11) and through the painful circumstances of his life God has saved his people and many others from starvation.

These two intentions and actions are part of the one sequence of events. Divine sovereignty and human responsibility.

God can use evil deeds to bring about his good plans.

[21] So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. (Gen 50:21)

‘He comforted them’. Joseph is willing to keep giving the assurances they need. There seems to be no hint from Joseph of anything other than goodwill towards his brothers.

Have you experienced reconciliation like this?

Story of Israel

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

The LORD brings the family together again and not too soon. Through Joseph they were protected from the famine. In the long run the LORD is setting up another salvation. Israel’s people will prosper and multiply. Their sheer numbers (God is faithful to his promise to Abraham of offspring) cause the Egyptians to put them under the yoke of slavery. So the LORD will raise up another to lead them out.

Story of Jesus

Joseph said to his brothers, ‘you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good’ (Gen 50.20). In the cross we see the evil plans of sinful people come to the salvation of the world and the victory of God’s kingdom.

Jesus spoke about forgiveness. It is a core feature of Christianity and it is meant to affect the way we treat one another. We’ve been forgiven, so we should forgive.

21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” (Mt 18.21-35)

Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2014. All Rights Reserved.