Genesis 50: Promises Kept!
January 25, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Genesis closes with death (50:1-3), a land that is still a land of promise (50:24), forgiveness (50:15-21), and a confidence in God’s sovereignty over all human affairs (50:20). Joseph fulfills the promise that his father had made him agree to before he died (Gen. 47:29-31; 49:29-32)—to bury him back in the land of Canaan (50:12). Joseph secures the favor of Pharaoh to leave to accomplish this filial duty (50:4-6), and goes with great fanfare and impressive entourage to bury Jacob as he had requested (50:7-11), in the burying place that Abraham had bought (50:12-14). The patriarchs, even in their death, were memorializing their faith in the promise of God that Canaan was to be for them and their children’s children.
Jacob having died, his sons now fear that Joseph might finally enact revenge against their betrayal of him when they sold him into slavery (50:15). Revenge, it is said, is a dish best served cold. They send a message to Joseph—they do not go personally, so scared are they—that Jacob had said before he died that Joseph was to protect them (50:16-17). Whether or not Jacob said that, and perhaps they are merely “reading between the lines,” they are appealing to their mutual respect for Jacob to try to protect themselves against Joseph who (let us remember) is the second most powerful man in all of Egypt. They fall before him and offer to be his servants (50:18).
However, Joseph has no plans of revenge. He calls them to him, speaks kindly to them, assures them that he will protect them and their children (50:19-21). Joseph has a reason for this. He is not merely soft-hearted. Joseph’s greatness is shown in his trust in God’s purposes working out through human deeds, even evil human deeds. In a great statement of God’s sovereignty, Joseph says that God had planned this all along (50:20). God was not looking the other way when Joseph was sold into slavery. It was all God’s plan.
This does not mean that the brothers were not responsible for their evil. What they did was wrong, and they are before God for that action. But as we know, God can forgive them, through Christ, and Joseph can see the hand of that salvation of God in rescuing his people through Joseph’s strange expulsion and then exaltation to the top of the tree in Egypt.
It reminds us of Peter’s great statement about Jesus’ death: “this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23, ESV). What they planned for evil, God planned for good (50:20). God’s sovereignty and human responsibility sovereignly knit together in the experience of Joseph—and each one of us.
Joseph, like Jacob before him, is now about to die, and he also wants to be buried in the Promised Land (50:22-26), so expressing likewise his confidence that God’s promise to Abraham will be fulfilled. May we also live life and face death with confidence that God Almighty will keep his promises!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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