January 17 Today’s Reading: Genesis 48-50
“God meant it unto good.”
Joseph’s brothers were uneasy. Their former transgressions made them fearful. Their guilt caused them to be suspicious of Joseph’s goodness. In spite of all the kindness they had experienced at his hand, they were not assured of their acceptance with him. They feared that they might yet be made to suffer for what they had done to him. Therefore, they sued for mercy in the name of their father Jacob, whom they knew Joseph loved dearly.
They sent a messenger to Joseph with a message from Jacob (Genesis 50:15-17). When Joseph heard their request, his tender heart broke and he wept, because of his love for Jacob and because of his love for his brothers; but probably their suspicions of him, more than anything else, broke his heart. What an evil thing it is for sinners saved by the grace of God in Christ to be suspicious of his great goodness. Yet, it is an evil of which we are all, far too often, guilty.
Then Joseph’s brothers themselves came before him (Genesis 50:17-18). They confessed their sin. They sought forgiveness in Jacob’s name, upon his word. And they bowed before Joseph as his servants. This was the thing they had refused to do before. It was this very thing that had before been the cause of their hatred. When they heard that they must bow as servants to Joseph, they said, “Shalt thou indeed reign over us?” (Genesis 37:8). Then they sold him into bondage. But now they are humbled. Now, they bow and say, “We be thy servants.”
This is the issue that must be settled in the hearts of men. We must bow to Christ (Luke 14:25-33). He must be owned and acknowledged as our rightful Lord (Romans 10:9-10). There is no salvation without the voluntary surrender of our hearts and lives to Christ’s dominion as our Lord. When they bowed before Joseph as their rightful lord and master, he assured them of his good intentions toward them and comforted them (vv. 19-21). What a tender picture we have before us. It is a scene that needs no explanation. It is full of spiritual instruction for our souls. It clearly sets forth three lessons we should each lay to heart. As we close the Book of Genesis today, let us seek grace from God to learn and live in accordance with these three great, spiritual lessons.
1. God’s grace is abundant and free in Christ. We have great reason to give thanks to him. As Joseph freely forgave his brothers, so God freely forgives believing sinners for Christ’s sake.
2. God’s providence is always good for his people. We should always be content with what our heavenly Father brings to pass. Joseph endured great trials, heart-breaking betrayal, and long imprisonment at the hands of his brothers. Yet, he said, “God meant it unto good…I am in the place of God.” “We know that all things work together for good” to God’s elect.
3. The love of God in Christ, when experienced, teaches saved sinners to love and forgive one another. As Joseph loved his brothers because they were his brothers, so let us love our brethren for Christ’s sake (Ephesians 4:32-5:2).
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