Day 4 - Genesis 45:1-15

Grace and Boundaries

After we’ve experienced painful detours because of someone else’s choices, we have to walk through a process of forgiveness and reconciliation. After Pharaoh’s dreams of seven years of plenty came to fruition, Joseph stored grain. When widespread famine hit the entire area, people came from distant lands to buy food in Egypt. Eventually, Joseph’s brothers arrived from Canaan, but Joseph didn’t reveal himself right away. He didn’t trust them. Forgiveness doesn’t automatically imply that reconciliation is possible. Some people are toxic and unsafe. Joseph’s brothers’ assault and kidnapping of him seventeen years earlier put them into that category. He first tested them to be sure they had changed before revealing himself.

45:1 Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!” So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. 2 And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it.

3 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence. 4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 5 And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. 7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

Joseph was able to invite his brothers to come close once his brother Judah offered himself in the place of Benjamin. By offering to take Benjamin’s consequences, Joseph saw change. Judah wanted to save rather than sell dad’s new favorite son. The walls came down and Joseph invited them all to come close. He was able to see God’s hand in fulfilling his dreams rather than nurse unforgiveness.

How can you see God’s hand at work even in the midst of painful circumstances?

We don’t have to deny the pain we experience, but we can choose how to frame it. We can look for ways to see God at work in our lives or live with a victim mentality.

“So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. 9 Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay. 10 You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me - you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. 11 I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.’

12 “You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it is really I who am speaking to you. 13 Tell my father about all the honor accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen. And bring my father down here quickly.”

14 Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. 15 And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him.

Joseph had grown close to the Lord through his detours. He was able to see God’s hand of blessing in the midst of slavery, prison sentences, and government work. Yet he also lost 17 years with his beloved father and his full blood brother Benjamin. He was now in a position for vengeance, but instead he chose blessing.

We are commanded to forgive, but that doesn’t mean we trust untrustworthy people. We learn from Joseph to seek God’s wisdom regarding reconciliation and make the first move when it’s safe to come back together.

How is the Lord calling you to forgive and bless others right now?

Don’t wait for someone else to make the first move.  Once we deem a relationship safe to resume, it’s always our turn to be the one to initiate blessing!

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