Three things stand out to me as we come to the final chapter of Genesis:
First, there is the high regard for Jacob. The Egyptians mourn his passing for seventy days. Israel will mourn the passing of Joshua for only thirty days. All the officials of Pharaoh and all his dignitaries go to Canaan for the burial – along with all the members of Joseph’s house and the households of his brothers. An army is sent with them, chariots and horsemen. So great was the entourage that the Canaanites took notice of them. What began as one man, late in life, running for his life, has ended up with all the pomp and circumstance that could be mustered by the mightiest nation of the ancient world in his honor. Jacob and his sons were men of despised occupations by the Egyptians, living separately from them and yet, Jacob was held in high esteem. However difficult it may seem, God’s people, while not courting the world’s favor, should none-the-less live in a way that will be admired by the world and bring their respect.
Second, there is final and formal forgiveness. The brothers may indeed be deceitful to the end, making up the story of Jacob’s request to forgive. On the other hand, perhaps the story was true. In any case, it doesn’t matter. Joseph forgives, pointing out that whatever they had intended by their mistreatment of him, God had intended all along for their good. God’s people do not hold grudges. They forgive.
Finally, there is the matter of unity. Whatever honor and wealth Joseph achieved, despite the fact that he lived separately from his brothers (not in Goshen), he was one of them and determined that he remain with them – even in death. As children of God, we are brethren. May we work to make sure that our spiritual family knows that no matter what may happen, there is a kinship we intend to honor and preserve.