Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling
Given that we are in the season of Lent, this month we are examining the key characteristics of the dreamer turned redeemer: Joseph, the son of Jacob. Joseph had every advantage in terms of appearance, intelligence, and favor (in his father’s eyes). The one key aspect of his personality that was lacking in his youth was a sense of awareness of how he impacted others. Failing to understand how sharing his dreams of the sheaves and of the sun, moon, and the eleven stars would impact his brothers (who were already jealous of him), Joseph’s cosseted life would soon dissolve to a sinewave of hardship and restoration.
At one point of incarceration, Pharoah’s cupbearer and baker approach Joseph and share their dreams with him. Joseph’s interpretations would prove to be accurate. The baker would be executed, and the cupbearer would be restored to his position by Pharaoh’s side. Sometime later, when Pharaoh, had two distressing dreams, the cupbearer would remember Joseph and suggest that Pharaoh seek Joseph’s aid. The rest is history. Joseph reveals the meanings of the dreams that are one-in-the-same and lays out a plan to stockpile grain during seven years of plenty and then distribute food during seven years of famine.
The last segment of this epic narrative presents a detailed account of Joseph hiding his identity and testing his brothers when they arrive in Egypt looking for food. They would prove to be genuinely sorry for their past offenses against Joesph and concerned about the wellbeing of their youngest brother, Benjamin. After the happy reunion, all the family would move to Egypt under Joseph’s care. Jacob would pass away in peace, but not before offering blessings to his sons. After the death of Jacob, Joseph’s older brothers would succumb to fear that Joseph would seek revenge. Then comes the climactic ending:
But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Genesis 50:19-21 ESV
Joseph does not excuse their past behavior. In fact, he explicitly calls their actions “evil.” But God… “but God meant it for good,” to save many lives. Sound familiar? It is a beautiful ending to a rollercoaster story that foreshadows the heart of our Gospel: the God-man came to serve and to give his life as a ransom, that others might be saved. (Mark 10:45) And from his cross, Jesus cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) From dreamer to the redeemer, Joseph would be directed by God to restore a family that would become God’s chosen nation; and it all began with forgiveness. Let the redeemed say, “Amen.”