July 1, 2019

The End and The Beginning 

By: Larry Shaffer

The End and The Beginning 

Genesis 50 

Final Lesson 39 

Folks, this is the last chapter of Genesis and the last lesson of Jacob, Joseph and Judah. In one sense, I have a little “Joseph fatigue” after nearly 40 lessons and 35,000 words written about Genesis 37-50. On the other hand, I have found new and encouraging insights every time I dig into a new section. 

There is a lot here in chapter 50 but I’m going to focus on the section that I believe has the most devotional impact on me and you.

The Sting of Death

The patriarch Jacob, requests his body be buried in the land of Canaan, the land promised by God, and then he breathes his last breath. Then Joseph fell on his father’s face, and wept over him and kissed him, vs 1.  

Ten years ago, I was with my father when he passed from this life to the next. After a brief but severe battle with cancer, my mom and I were at his bedside late one evening. His breathing was becoming very difficult. It was a very helpless feeling. Suddenly, he simply stopped breathing and at that moment, it seemed he passed peacefully into the arms of his heavenly Father. I remember in that moment, I felt multiple extreme emotions at the same time. I was extremely relieved that he was no longer suffering. I was extremely sad that his life on earth was over. The two extreme emotions raging within my brain at the exact same time was absolutely overwhelming. I hugged my mom and we both broke down in tears. 

Forgiveness

After the time of mourning for Jacob and the trip to the burial site, the reality of life without their father shook the hearts of the brothers to the core. 

When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, ‘What if Joseph bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong which we did to him!’ So, they sent a message to Joseph, saying, ‘Your father charged before he died, saying, “Thus you shall say to Joseph, ‘Please forgive, I beg you, the transgression of your brothers and their sin, for they did you wrong.’” And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God your father. 

And Joseph wept when they spoke to him. Then his brothers also came and fell down before him and said, ‘Behold, we are your servants.’ But Joseph said to them,  

‘Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.’ So, he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. Verses 15-21 

The most powerful phrase, I believe, is ‘you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…’ This is a staggering reality. It’s easy to say “God is in control”, which we all say from time to time. It’s easy to sing, “God is good” and “He is good all the time,” It’s easy when things feel ‘good’ in our lives. But to allow the depth of God’s Sovereignty to really grip our heart, at a time when we are feeling evil (in some form) unleashed upon us??? Well, that is almost impossible. Only with God, is it possible.  

Just consider that the Evil One is at work fostering evil toward us through people, circumstances and events. It surrounds us. Sometimes we go for long periods without really seeing it in our lives and others times, it is raining down on us like an avalanche. Pain, anguish, disease, disappointments, broken relationships, emotional distress. At those moments of our deepest hurt, to realize that God is actually in control and working out ‘good’ through it all…well, in the heat of the pain, that reality is difficult to grasp. How can good come from such evil and such pain?

Good, all the time?

For Joseph, it took twenty plus years for it to become clear to him. For some of us, the Romans 8.28 truth that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, may not be realized by us until our minds are made new in heaven. In our darkest moments, this requires faith on our part that is beyond us. God, grant us a greater measure of faith to believe that You are ‘good,’ when the storms are raging the most. 

Father, what an amazing story, this story of Joseph. May we reflect and write these principles on our hearts; to love, to persevere, to trust Your promises, to forgive and to hold tight onto Your Sovereignty of grace and good. We can do none of this apart from your grace to help. So now, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in the time of need. Amen!