During the recent pandemic, many people have asked, ‘Where is God in this situation?’ – a question that has been asked throughout history when people face suffering. Dave spoke tonight about Jacob’s family, a godly family that suffered over 20 years of guilt and despair as they came to terms with the absence of their brother. The disappearance of this young man created a vacuum in the family from which they never really recovered.
Usually when we think of this family, our attention is focussed on Joseph, but tonight we looked at the eleven brothers – ‘trophies of God’s grace – examples of what God can do, even with those who have greatly sinned.’ These brothers were angered by Joseph and his dreams and therefore felt justified in selling him into slavery and pretending to their father that he had been killed, but they lived with the guilt of what they had done. Yet when famine came upon their land, they went to Egypt and found out that Joseph was still alive and ultimately agreed to return to live there. They didn’t rebel against Jacob even though they knew that Jacob still felt the same way about Joseph, his favourite son, as he had always done. Neither did they divide, with some staying and the others going. They all went to Egypt, the whole family, because they realised God’s hand was in this. (Gen 45:5)
Joseph freely forgave his brothers, but they had to learn to accept that they had been forgiven by the one that they had tried to harm and that meant they had to swallow their pride. They also showed that they had changed, that their lives and their attitudes were different. Instead of being resentful of Joseph’s success, they were willing to go and to live under his authority and protection.
In this whole episode we have a picture of how the Lord Jesus Christ feels about His brothers. “Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.” (Hebrews 2:11) Just as Joseph was not ashamed to let everyone know about his brothers and show his true feelings, so Jesus was not ashamed to weep over the death of his friend or over the city of Jerusalem. Just as Joseph was not afraid to present his brothers to Pharaoh, so Jesus is not ashamed to present us to the Father, faultless and without blame. We have been accepted into God’s family and are welcomed before God; Jesus lives to intercede for us (Heb 7:25) even as Joseph asked Pharaoh for good land for his family to live on. The privileges we have as God’s children are so great!