“So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. (Genesis 45:8 NIV)
Joseph shows great confidence in God's sovereign hand at work here in the survival of Israel. But that's another sermon.
He also shows a lot of grace. Dare I say too much? Yes, I think too much.
What amazes me is how Joseph so totally lets his brothers off there hook here. They were going to kill him!
It was only after one of them figured out they could make some money on Joseph that they sold him into slavery. How much do you have to hate your brother to kill him or sell him into slavery?
When Joseph reveals himself to his brothers 16 years later, he puts it all on God--letting them off the hook in the process much to my dismay.
He says, "Don't be angry with yourselves for selling me here..." (No doubt they were still guilt-ridden) "...because it was to save lives that God sent me."
Yes, Joseph, it was. Go God. But aren't they also accountable for their actions? Don't you want revenge? And you have all the power now. Aren't you tempted to get them back? They sure deserve it!
Here is where grace shines.
Yes, they are accountable before God. Yes, they owe Joseph more than an apology. Yes, they did behave like wicked men.
But Joseph had a choice in how he would respond to them. He flirted with revenge. He tested them repeatedly to see their heart and frame of mind. But in the end, he showed them mercy and grace. Scandalous grace. He totally let them off the hook. Totally.
And then he invited them to come live with him in Egypt for the next five years so they'd thrive in the midst of the seven year drought. It's just too much for me. It's just scandalous!
What do I mean by scandalous grace?
Every time I read this passage, I get angry at how Joseph doesn't exact punishment or take revenge on his brothers. I want justice! I want them to get what they deserve. I show my forgetfulness...
I am the brother.
I am the brother who has hated my own brother and wanted to kill him as a young man. Brothers fight and argue regularly. And my brother and I sure did growing up. And he knew how to push my buttons and provoke me. So sure there were times when I wanted to wring his neck. And given the opportunity while in a fit of rage I probably would have. That's how wicked I was.
But, by God's scandalous grace, I'm changing.
So while I'm being transformed into the likeness of Christ, I'm still a long way from there. I still want justice. And that's often appropriate--just not for me. I personally want grace and mercy. But I'm okay playing judge. That's a character flaw God is still working out in my life.
So who do you want to see get what's coming to them? What does that say about you? Do you want God's forgiveness? His mercy? Or do you think your good and don't need it?
What is God saying to you right now?
What are you going to do about it?