Like many people I talk to, the story of Joseph is one of my favorite stories. He survives a dysfunctional environment and rises to the throne. His story gives us so much encouragement. For example, I love how Judah illustrates true repentance when he says,
And now, my lord, I cannot go back to my father without the boy. Our father’s life is bound up in the boy’s life. If he sees that the boy is not with us, our father will die. We, your servants, will indeed be responsible for sending that grieving, white-haired man to his grave. Genesis 44:30-31 NLT
Judah tells Joseph he would rather die a slave in Egypt rather than break his father’s heart. What a beautifully accurate picture of repentance.
I love it when Joseph tells his brothers,
But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. Genesis 45:5 NLT
Now here is some profound theology. Joseph is not blaming his dysfunctional family for all of his problems in life! He realizes how his dysfunctional family played right into God’s hands to get him exactly where he needed to be. Years ago someone 1200 miles away called me with a job offer. As it turned out one of my coworkers knew the person who called me. I told a pastor friend, “I wonder if my coworker gave my name to the person who called, just to get rid of me?” The pastor wisely replied, “If so it doesn’t matter what the motives of your coworker are. Joseph’s brothers had poor motives but they still got Joseph to the throne. God will work everything out for your good.”
I could go on and on but through the years I have also come up with some questions and I am wondering if you can help me? Some of these questions may seem more pertinent and some maybe just curious but I still would be interested in knowing what you think about them, so thank you for indulging me.
If I put myself in Joseph’s sandals I’m thinking as soon as I got free I would go find my father. Once Joseph got on the throne do you think he made any attempts to contact his father? He knew he was in Canaan somewhere. According to this story there were obviously such a thing as spies. If I was Joseph I would have commissioned someone to do a little detective work and find my dad. Do you think Joseph tried anything like that?
Before we feel too sorry for Joseph do you think he may have actually enjoyed being away from his brothers? As much as he loved his father, as far as his brothers go I think he may have enjoyed being free from all that dysfunction. Could Egypt have actually been a haven for Joseph long before he even came to the throne? Could Joseph have been just as happy to get away from them?
When the brothers started telling Jacob all the strange questions the ruler was asking about the family, and especially his interest in the father and the little brother, do you think Jacob may had some fatherly instinct that helped him read between the lines and get a clue as to what was actually going on? Especially since Joseph’s body was never found? Not even skeletal remains an animal may leave behind? I could be way off, but as I read the story lately I get a hunch Jacob may have been figuring things out before it was actually spelled out for him. I know it would also take a lot of intuition to connect the dots but intuition is a thing. What do you think?
Our imagination should never be placed above a plain “Thus saith the Lord” but I believe these stories are also written to leave room for a healthy imagination. I believe the stories come to life and are more real to us when we read with a healthy imagination that stays within the realms of the information Scripture provides. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.