Let’s Read the Bible Together (February ) Week 1
This week we end the book of Genesis. I love the life of Joseph. His story is so fascinating to me, with so many amazing lessons to be learned. I’ve never read through Joseph’s story without picking up something new. This time through was no different. Joseph is far from home in a situation he never asked to be in, and he has had quite a few years to think of all the terrible things he might do to his brothers if he ever saw them again. Then after all that time they show up on his doorstep. There are so many scenarios that could play out before us here. There are so many ways Joseph could be cruel. He could have thrown all his brothers in prison. He could have refused to sell them grain and sent them home to hard times like he had suffered. He could have told them who he was and then rub his successes in their face. All things you and I might have done if this were our story. Yet Joseph does something different. A lot of time has passed. He has changed, and in his wisdom Joseph rightly wonders if his brothers have as well.
So he gives them a little test. He asks them to do something inconvenient to themselves for the good of someone else, their brother Simeon. Will they leave their brother hanging out to dry, or will they take a risk and return to help him? Maybe, to his surprise, they show up again with their younger brother looking to set Simeon free. They pass the first test. They are willing to sacrifice for each other, but Joseph remembers that these older brothers always got along. So he has one more test that will see if they display this same behavior for their youngest brother. Test number two puts them in a little different scenario. Joseph has his silver cup put in Benjamin’s bag. Joseph’s servants stop his brothers on their way home and accuse Benjamin of stealing it. To everyone on the outside it looks like a pretty cut and dry case. They would almost be justified to walk away and let their younger brother take the blame. But they prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are no longer those cruel men who sold their own brother into slavery. They offer up their own lives for Benjamin’s, and at the same time express their remorse for what they had done to Joseph.
I had two thoughts as I read this:
- We are human beings and people are going to hurt us in this life. We can respond to that in many different ways. We can be vengeful and bitter, or we can simply shut people out forever. But as Christian we need to recognize that over time people change and that change can be pretty radical when the Holy Spirit is doing the work. We need to be willing to forgive those that have changed just like Jesus has forgiven us. There’s and old saying that everyone deserves a second chance, and I certainly agree and have taken advantage of that. I think an even better way to think of it is everyone deserves to be judged by who they are now and not what they have been in the past. From Joseph’s own example it’s certainly ok to be cautious, but we have to be willing to see people for what they are now if they show they are different.
- Sometimes God puts you through a test to show you and others that you have changed. Joseph’s brothers were completely clueless that they were looking at the brother they had sold into slavery. As they tried to buy grain and were accused of being spies it all must have seemed like a completely unfair scenario. Several times they express that they felt it was God’s judgment on them. But the truth is God was using that difficult situation to put their new character on display. Remember that as you go through trials, all those people that you have told, “Jesus changed my life,” are watching you. These tests are sometimes designed by God to show outwardly what He has been doing inwardly. This is why Paul told us to count it all joy when we face these difficult situations. They are showing everyone the change that He has made in us.
There are definitely a number of other things to glean from this awesome section of scripture. So enjoy the your daily time in God’s word, and look for God to show some incredible things as we continue to read the Bible together throughout the month of February.