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Daily Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, February 14, 2022  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Genesis 45:3-11, 15

Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, so dismayed were they at his presence.

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me.” And they came closer. He said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years; and there are five more years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay. You shall settle in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, as well as your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. I will provide for you there—since there are five more years of famine to come—so that you and your household, and all that you have, will not come to poverty.’” (NRSV)

Reflection
You will remember that this passage of the Joseph story follows a violent series of events in which Joseph’s envious brothers sold him into slavery, he was taken to Egypt, framed for assault, and imprisoned—before being discovered as a dream-interpreting sage and rising to power as governor and Pharoah’s man-for-the-moment. That rise—and those dreams—have to do with a famine that is now two years on, but thanks to Joseph’s inspired planning there’s plenty of grain stored up in Egypt.

So now here come Joseph’s brothers to Egypt looking for food aid. He recognizes them, but they don’t recognize him. A complicated cat-and-mouse act follows before Joseph has had enough and can no longer hide his identity. We are primed for sweet revenge—a dramatic reveal, Joseph recounting the hell they put him through and personally meting out his revenge.

As it often does, though, the Bible subverts our expectations here. Rather than revenge, Joseph desires restoration, his family brought near to him and reconciled, protected from the hardship still to come. He prefers reconciliation to recompense because he owns the story of what has happened to him and his brothers don’t. Potiphar and his wife aren’t the authors of his story and neither, even, is Pharaoh. God is. And Joseph believes that his story is about God’s design to save lives before it is a story about his suffering.

I don’t think Joseph is martyring himself to his family here. He isn’t telling his brothers what they did was OK and that he’s over it so they can be one big happy family again. He’s pointing them to the good news that their failing has not limited God’s mercy, because God’s mercy is bigger than all of them.

The determination of God to seek out and to save is a more powerful force than humanity’s evil intentions, even if a far less visible force. Hence, we believe.

Prayer
Help us to believe where we have not seen, O God, that you are at work beneath and beyond the scheming of people and all our impulsive actions. Inspire us to mercy and understanding for ourselves and those who wrong us, that, like Joseph’s brothers, we might be amazed at your goodness—above all, in all, and through all. Amen.

Written by Rocky Supinger, Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry and Worship

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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