Let There Be Peace

For years Joseph lived with the hurt of being rejected by his family. It took a long time to get over it, and though he named his son “forgotten” (Manasseh), because he had come to forget the hurt of his father’s house, the fact that he brings it up in naming his son indicates he never really forgot. He’d just gotten on with his life.

But deep in his heart, he was tired of the grudge-bearing, and when he learned that his brothers regretted their treatment of him, forgiveness poured out. You see how effusive it was in his statements to the family that come quickly and randomly:
* Don’t be stressed or angry with yourselves for selling me here
* This was God’s plan to save your lives
* Bring the family and live near me
* I will give you the best land in Egypt
* Leave your belongings behind – I’ll replace all your stuff with better stuff

All is forgiven. What Joseph wants is restoration and normalcy – the way things “ought” to be.

But while Joseph has been able to forgive, his suggestions will bring trouble and he knows it. How will his brothers explain that he is alive? Will they confess their conspiracy, or will they lie to Jacob? Might it not be easier just to “not return”? Might they entertain options along their way home? Might they blame one another for their predicament (they’d already done that)?

So as he bids them goodby, he says: “Don’t quarrel along the way.”

Yes, there are some confessions to be made, probably some “licks” to be taken, but “let it go,” everything is going to be ok.

Interestingly, the word for “quarrel” only occurs here in Genesis, but 41 more times in the Old Testament. It carries with it the notion of unrest, shaking (as in an earthquake), fear (again, as in an earthquake). What Joseph is calling for is peace.

Perhaps it is inevitable that discord disrupt peace occasionally, but God intends that in His family, there will be peace. When family members decide that will be their goal, the details become small matters to be overlooked, forgiven and forgotten. But that only works if peace is the goal. Far better to side with Joseph and let hurt and anger go rather than nourish it. Someone has to be the bigger person. Is that not, after all, the example of God?

[Note: essays on every chapter of the Bible may be accessed at www.amazinggraceinternational.com/blog.]

Friday, January 27. Genesis 45 – 47

The total reconciliation between Joseph and his brothers will not be complete in chapter 45, but it is now well on its way.  This very crucial stage begins with the offended.  Joseph realizes his family is in desperate straits.  Were it not for his position and the blessing of the Lord, all of his father’s house would be destroyed.  It is his conclusion that God has worked through the mean-spiritedness of his brothers to save them all.  Five more horrible years of famine were to come that would impoverish even the Egyptians.  Joseph’s family in Canaan didn’t have a chance – except for Joseph.  Joseph begins to see through God’s eyes.

The second stage is the forgiveness itself, which Joseph offers his brothers.

The third stage comes with assurance that the relationship is restored.  We will not see this stage until chapter 50 when the brothers, fearful that Joseph’s goodwill would last only as long as Jacob lived, make up a ruse and tell Joseph their father’s dying wish was for the boys’ reconciliation.  Joseph recognizes this for what it is and weeps that his brethren would think his forgiveness so shallow and he assures them it is deep and real.

Why would the boys be so insecure?  They never learned to get along with one another.  They are not peace loving, why would they expect Joseph to be? That’s why Joseph, as he sends them back to get their father tells them: “Don’t quarrel on the way!”

Which brings me to the last point today: Had Joseph stayed in Canaan and never been sold, his environment would have never changed and he might have become every bit as divisive as his brethren.  It took a drastic change to enable Joseph to grow differently.  When Jesus calls us to follow him, he doesn’t call us to drag all that baggage of our previous identity with us.  He calls us to leave it behind, and sometimes, it means we, in the words of the old hymn, “let goods and kindred go.”