February 27, 2014

XOXOXO's Part III: From Suffering to Glory, Disgrace to Embrace

In Genesis 45 we see Joseph kiss all his brothers and wept when they were reunited

Genesis 45:13-15 ~ “Tell my father about all the honor accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen. And bring my father down here quickly.” Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them.

In Genesis 48 we see Israel (Jacob) kissed, embraced, and blessed Ephraim and Manasseh, Joseph's sons.

Genesis 48:9-10 ~ “When Israel saw the sons of Joseph, he asked, “Who are these?” “They are the sons God has given me here,” Joseph said to his father. Then Israel said, “Bring them to me so I may bless them.” Now Israel’s eyes were failing because of old age, and he could hardly see. So Joseph brought his sons close to him, and his father kissed them and embraced them.

The first thing that jumps out like a sore thumb in both of these episodes is that they are reuniting’s of long lost family members and reconciliations. In being reconciliations they are obviously shadows in the Old Testament of Jesus reconciling believers to God by dying for our sins. But as I’ve learned to do with all types and shadows in the Old Testament…I look deeper than what surfaces at first glance. They are reunited after what seems impossible amounts of time have passed and insurmountable circumstances. Behind all of the comings-and-goings in these stories we see that they are actually part of a well-orchestrated plan with God at the helm of the ship steering the constant chains of cause and effect. What appeared to be impossibilities end up being probabilities and all the “nevers” become “forevers”.

We see in the story of Joseph and his brothers that there is little explanation. There is instead forgiveness, grace and love from Joseph to his brothers that is quickly reciprocated. The sin had been removed from the picture and this had allowed room for healing and therefore love. Grudges do no one any good and more often do the most damage to the one holding the grudge than the receiver(s) of said grudge.

It is a reconciliation that is only possible because pain and suffering was first allowed by God. We see the same in the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus. We see the same in our lives when we are allowed to suffer in our lives only to be taught valuable lessons that move us forward to our heavenly home. Glory comes after suffering and sanctification. God’s exaltation or lifting up for us comes after our struggles in not only life but also in death. Holiness comes after we submit ourselves under obedience to God.

We see the same with Jacob. A man that has essentially suffered the supposed death of his beloved son years ago.

The death of his son.

This might perhaps be the greatest suffering a parent could endure…the loss of a son. It makes one take a pause and reflect on the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. Do we not realize how badly it grieves God that it took the perfect obedience of His Son AND His death to overturn volitional acts by man so that they could again have life that was permanent…eternal.

In Joseph’s story we see a man’s family reject him almost to the last person except his father. In Jesus’ Gospel’s we see a God man’s family reject Him nearly to the last person…except His Father. When Joseph comes back into the picture after a sort of death, all recognize him eventually and it is Joseph who holds the power. When Jesus comes back into the picture He has conquered death and clearly holds the power over death. Many in His family still do not recognize Him but when He comes for the final time…all will recognize Him and every knee will bend before Him.

When Israel finally dies and is buried, Joseph’s brothers fear the worst in Genesis 50 and believe Joseph will eventually seek revenge. Instead we see a reassurance from the one in power. We see from Joseph a profound statement that will echo throughout eternity about the character of God.

Genesis 50:20-21 ~ “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.

Instead of revenge we see grace. Instead of punishment, we see grace. Echoes of eternity. Instead of weeping tears of sorrow and pain, we see tears of joy. Tears of long lost love rejoined. A righting of wrongs. Things made perfect once again. No more pain. The way it should’ve been before the Fall of man in sin.

Now we see why forgiveness and reconciliation are so closely related to holiness and Godliness. In the end we see the story of Joseph as not only a story of restoration and reconciliation but also godly grace and love between sinful but redeemed people.

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