Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 16 February 2022:
Genesis 45:2-3 — And he wept aloud, so that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it. And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence.
“Though Joseph endured many low points in his life (Gen. 37:28; 39:20; 40:9–23), God used the betrayal of his brothers to get Joseph administrative experience in Potiphar’s house, and He used the Egyptian prison to get Joseph into Egypt’s highest court, preparing him to lead the empire safely through a great famine (chap. 41). Painful and circuitous was the path on which the Lord’s hand of providence took Joseph, but the loss of his many-colored coat led finally to Jacob’s favorite son wearing the Egyptian colors of authority.
Mercifully, God included in His plan for Joseph the salvation of those brothers who had done what would have been — apart from divine, empowering grace — an unforgiveable act. Clearly, Joseph wanted his relationship with them to be restored from the moment they came to Egypt in search of food. We see this in his demanding that Benjamin be brought before him and then in his weeping as a result of the overwhelming joy and love he felt toward them (chap. 42–43). Engaging in an elaborate plan to put the fear of God into his brothers and to discern whether they still hated their father’s favorite son, Joseph finally saw their repentance for all the sins they had committed against him (chap. 44). This set the stage for Joseph to reveal himself dramatically to his brothers in one of the most ironic episodes of all history — the man whom the brothers had tried to kill ended up being their savior (chap. 45).
Few things are lovelier than reconciliation, and Joseph’s restoration to his brothers was so incredible that even the strongest king in the world rejoiced to see it (45:16). This reconciliation was possible because the brothers were repentant and because Joseph was willing to pardon them, which is instructive for us. On a human level, when someone sins grievously against us or we sin grievously against another, forgiveness can be extended. But forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation, which requires genuine repentance accompanied by a willingness to do what it takes to make things right. The offending party cannot expect the offended to pretend nothing has happened, but the offended party must accept reconciliation when humble repentance is evident. As we respond to repentance with reconciliation, we imitate God, who in Christ “was reconciling the world to himself” (2 Cor. 5:19).
We often long for things to be “just as they were before [fill in the blank] happened” in our relationships with other people. If we are the main offending party, however, we cannot realistically expect this to happen if our tendency is to sweep the offense under the rug without making an effort to make things right. At the same time, we cannot hold the sins of others against them if they show genuine repentance.” (Ligonier Ministries)
Genesis 45:5-9 – And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; do not tarry.
With the right perspective on God and God’s purpose for his life, Joseph was able to forgive his brothers. Joseph did not see himself as a mere hapless victim whose life was subject to the will of others. He knew that God was in complete control of His life and had a greater plan through it all. Consider this in context with Romans 8:28-29. Consider what this means for your life and for what you are going through. The victim mindset imprisons too many Christians and robs them of their joy. And the idea that we are controlled by others makes too many Christians fear people rather than God. If God is for you, who can be against you? How does your perspective on God effect how you treat those who mistreat you?
Genesis 45:18 – “…and take your father and your households, and come to me, and I will give you the best of the land of Egypt, and you shall eat the fat of the land.’”
After Joseph had enslaved all of the Egyptians, Pharaoh gave Joseph’s family (foreigners) the choicest land in Egypt. The seeds of racial conflict are being planted. God is providing for His chosen people, but how Joseph managed the blessings of God will cause his people much pain and suffering in the future. Wouldn’t it be better to live in accordance with God’s sovereignty and grace and not to add our own curses to God’s blessings?
Genesis 45:28 — “And Israel said, ‘It is enough; Joseph my son is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.’”
How do you think Israel’s perspective on His God changed when he learned that Joseph was alive?
Acts 5:38, 39 – “If this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!”
Gamaliel was a highly respected Pharisee and teacher of the law who understood the futility of operating outside of God’s will and the danger of resisting God’s will.
“If this plan… is of man, it will fail.” Are your plans of man? Too many Christians are wearing themselves out trying to accomplish things God never intended for them to do. Too often, we ask God to bless what we want to do, or we tell God what we are going to do for Him, rather than waiting, praying, and obeying. Planning is an act of faith, stewardship, and obedience when God has given the assignment, but it is an act of pride and futility when He hasn’t. Do you feel like there is just not enough time in the day to get done all you need to get done? As the old pastor would say, “You have just enough time in the day to do what God wants you to do.”
- Ecclesiastes 7:29 — See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.
- Psalm 127:1, 2 — “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.”
- Proverbs 23:4 — Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist.
- Proverbs 16:1-3, 9 — The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established…. The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
- Proverbs 19:21 — Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
“If it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them.” Are your plans of God? If you are a part of what God is doing, accomplishment is assured, not that it won’t still require great effort on your part. Key is obediently following God and trusting Him with the outcome – this requires faith. Doubt, fear, and pride cause us to deviate from God’s guidance and direction. “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) A good way to test whether you are on your plan or God’s plan is to give yourself the love/joy/peace/relationships test:
- “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
- “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” (James 1:2)
- “Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.” (2 Peter 3:14)
- “Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.” (2 John 1:3)
- “The blessing of the Lord makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.” (Proverbs 10:22)
- “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
- “Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends, each by name.” (3 John 1:15)
If what you are doing is robbing you of love, joy, peace, and relationships, you are not doing what God wants you to do. Pray for the Holy Spirit’s course correction.
“You might even be found opposing God!” Gamaliel makes a final important point, when we are not doing what God has called us to do, or if we find ourselves conflicting with those who are doing what God intends, we are actually opposing God Himself. This is a great sin. Many people, in the name of religion, are actually working against God, and this causes great division and conflict even within the church. The mark of a faithful church is unity with God and with each other, which always produces fruit. Where there is disunity, there is distance from God somewhere.
- Acts 26:14 — And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’
- Matthew 12:30 — Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
- Matthew 25:44-46 – “‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
- Proverbs 16:7 — When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
- Isaiah 14:24 — The Lord of hosts has sworn: “As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand….”
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) — 16 Feb 22: Give yourself the love/joy/peace/relationships test today. Pray that God will show you where you are deviating from His will and plan for your life and make a course correction today!