Monday, February 01, 2021

2021.02.01 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 45:1–15

Read Genesis 45:1–15

Questions from the Scripture text: What couldn’t Joseph do in Genesis 45:1? What did he cry out? Who was left? What did he do? What else did he do in Genesis 45:2? Who heard? What did Joseph say to whom (Genesis 45:3)? What did he ask? What couldn’t they do? Why? Then what does he ask them to do (Genesis 45:4)? Now how does he identify himself—what detail does he add? But what does he tell them not to do (Genesis 45:5)? Why? What was happening? What information does he reveal to them in Genesis 45:6? What has God done (Genesis 45:7)? For what two reasons? In comparing both actors, whose action was small enough as not to count (Genesis 45:8)? Whose action overruled? Where did God send Joseph? Into what three positions/statuses was He bringing Joseph? To whom does Joseph now send them (Genesis 45:9)? At what pace? Whose message are they to deliver? What are they to say in Joseph’s behalf? What does Joseph want his father to do? When? Where would Jacob dwell (Genesis 45:10)? Near to whom? With whom? And whom else? With what? And what else? What will Joseph do (Genesis 45:11)? To prevent what? Why is this necessary? Now what does Joseph point out to his brothers in Genesis 45:12? What does he tell them to tell Jacob in their own behalf (Genesis 45:13)? How does he summarize their mission? What does he reemphasize about its speed? Then what does Joseph do to whom (Genesis 45:14)? And what does he do? What two other things does Joseph do to whom in Genesis 45:15? Then what are they finally able to do with him?

God’s sovereignty is at the core of this passage. “God sent me before you to preserve life” (Genesis 45:5). “God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth and save your lives by a great deliverance” (Genesis 45:7). “So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt” (Genesis 45:8). “God has made me Lord of all Egypt” (Genesis 45:9). 

And throughout the passage, that sovereignty is presented as a comfort: in our grief, in our repentance, and in our planning.

God’s sovereignty is a comfort in our grief. Indubitably, part of what makes Joseph unable to restrain himself in Genesis 45:1 is hearing Judah refer grievingly to his lost brother twice (Genesis 44:20, Genesis 44:28). How long has Judah felt like this about him? What time and fellowship has he lost with him by being “stuck” in Egypt? 

But there is comfort in knowing that our separations, and whatever we might have missed by it, has come in the perfection of the wisdom and plan of God. Twice, Judah has just referred to the lost brother, and now the lost brother himself responds with that initial, astonishing cry, “I am Joseph!!” 

God’s sovereignty is a comfort in our repentance. “Do not be grieved or angry with yourselves” is conditioned upon the repentance that Joseph has seen (cf. Genesis 44:16). Once a believer has come clean with God, it is time for trusting action (“hurry […] do not tarry,” Genesis 45:9), not the paralysis of self-loathing (Genesis 45:5).

Let us be careful that we not abuse this to rob ourselves of the good that grief and shame do us to bring us to repentance and faith. And certainly, let us not use this as an excuse to feel free to sin (cf. Romans 3:8, Romans 6:1). BUT, let us remember that even in our sinfulness from our sinful selves, God is doing that good that His good Self has planned and unstoppably carries out. 

God’s sovereignty is a comfort in our planning. Planning is fraught with discomfort. What we plan to do might not be wisest or right. Even if we plan it well, we may not be able to carry it out. Even if we are able to carry it out, it may not have the desired effect. 

But we are not the only ones planning! The history of Abraham’s family going to foreign parts—and especially to Egypt—has not been a happy one. The proposition from his sons may have been alarming to Jacob. Could he (should he?) really pick up stakes and move to Egypt? But it came in the context of a stunning revelation of how God’s plans are what are determining the outcomes. And those plans can be gloriously (literally, Genesis 45:13) surprising!

God will reassure Jacob later that this is the right thing (Genesis 46:1–4). But we can take comfort in the fact that, while it is with fear and trembling that we work out our salvation (Philippians 2:12), it is God Himself who is working in us (Philippians 2:13), and working all things together to good for us (Romans 8:28), as He works all things according to the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11)!

Over what loss are you grieving? Over what sin are you repenting? Over what decision are you agonizing? How is God’s sovereignty a comfort to you in each of these situations?

Suggested songs: ARP98 “O Sing a New Song to the Lord” or TPH105C “O Praise the Lord, His Deeds Make known”

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