Garry spoke from Gen 41:46-53 this morning, cnntinuing to look at the life of Joseph. Here, a full thirteen years after he was betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery, Joseph is the second-in-command in Egypt, in charge of navigating the country through seven years of plenty to prepare for seven years of famine. During this period, Joseph marries and has two sons, whom he names Manasseh and Ephraim, names which indicate much about his spiritual state.
Manasseh sounds like the Hebrew for ‘forget‘ and Joseph says that God has made him forget his suffering and his father’s household. He has let go of the hurt of betrayal and the bitterness from being unjustly imprisoned. His other son (Ephraim) means doubly fruitful; Joseph says that God has made him fruitful in the land of his suffering. Joseph shows us that there are things we must let go of and choose to forget, but there are also things we must never forget (see Deut 4:9-10, Deut 6:10-12, Deut 8:10-11). We must not mislay or let go of the things God has done. When peace and prosperity come our way, there can be a tendency to think we have achieved these through our own work and to forget God, but we need to actively work on remembering all God has done for us. So often we forget, not because we are deliberately trying to, but memories fade and are worn away by everyday life. We have to remember the stories of what God has done (which is why we retain the photos in the corridor of the work we first did in our church building, to remind us of the miraculous provision of this building to us in 2010). We are called to remember and not become lukewarm. Ps 103:1-5 reminds us that we need to ‘forget not all His benefits’; we must understand that remembering what God has done actually becomes a spur to the present and future because we are reminded of His power and provision and can look to Him to act again on our behalf.
God can make us fruitful wherever we are; He has not finished with us yet. (Phil 1:3-6, 1 Cor 2:9) There is more to explore in God, and each time we share in Communion, we look back to what Jesus has done for us and also anticipate the fulfilment of all God will do (1 Cor 11:23-26).God is able to sustain us even to our old age and grey hair (Is 46:3-4); we can be grateful that His love endures forever and can rely on His faithfulness. We say ‘Thanks for the memories’, but need to learn what to forget and what to remember, as Joseph did.