In Joseph’s case, he did not simply experience a difficult situation, he experienced 2 decades of slavery and imprisonment. To suggest that our difficulties in life amount to anything close to what Joseph would have experienced is likely shortsighted and naive. His brothers had taken cover in the shadow of their father, but that shadow had dissipated. They sent word hoping to see forgiveness before retaliation. Would Joseph have been justified in his retaliation? From a world’s perspective, certainly! But Joseph didn’t live by worldly standards.
I have sat many times at the bedside of one who is dying. I have walked through the process of death with many families. In these seasons of life, it is interesting how conversations change. Though we may have talked hundreds of times before, about all kinds of issues, as a family or individual is facing death our conversations are reserved for only the most important realities of life. In those moments, we don’t talk about their financial portfolio or the results of the most recent ball game. We talk about God, eternity, love for family, life’s victories or regrets.
Joseph’s willingness to have his sons adopted by Jacob essentially paved the way for them to both be rejected in Egypt. Joseph was choosing to have his sons receive God’s blessing over man’s blessing. As the second in charge in Egypt, they would have all they ever wanted or needed. But, man’s blessing pales in comparison to God’s blessing; a reality that Joseph had experienced first-hand. What a tremendous act of faith on the part of Joseph.
Woven within the narrative of Joseph is the reality that Joseph was a leader. He always seemed to be one step ahead of the people he led. He always seemed to envision the future. He displayed wisdom in his dealings. This chapter, likely points to this reality better than most. He was able to take a situation that was less than ideal for his family and navigate the outcome with a king who represented a hostile nation. And the outcome resulted in Joseph winning, Pharaoh winning, Jacob winning, Jacob’s family winning, and Egypt winning.
While in Egypt, God’s hand of preservation is experienced in multiple ways. There are some who would like to draw a strong correlation between what Jacob and his family experience in Egypt and what Noah and his family experience on the ark. Though such a strong correlation may be a bit forced, there are some interesting parallels...
We tend to look at life from a two-dimensional perspective. We are pretty good at living in the past, even at times showing that we can’t get out of the past. We can be reasonably good at living in the present, embracing what is directly before us. However, it is awfully challenging to live in light of future realities. I suppose this is the case because we have experienced the past, can wrap our minds around the present, but living in the midst of the unknown seems overwhelming.
You can be sure of this one reality in life: your sin will always…always….always find you out. For 2 decades, 20 years, his brothers had lived with the lie that their brother had been killed in the wilderness. Now, they were having to confront the reality that the entire story was a cover-up. Soon the truth would be revealed to everyone; twenty years later!