Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Genesis 44 - Forget

Why did Joseph go through all the trouble of tricking his brothers in Egypt? Why place the silver cup in their sack and force them to leave Judah as hostage? Why all the games?

I admit, it adds to the drama. The tension is certainly higher with him making his brothers jump through hoops. We all collectively move to the edge of our seats when he unfolds his plan, but what was the point?

I think he wanted to see that his brothers were different. He didn't want to enable them and continue the cycle of generational sin he had broken only a few chapters earlier. He wanted to make sure his brothers had changed in action not just word.

Think again, about the family Joseph was from. What sort of consequences did Isaac place on Joseph's father Jacob when he stole Esau's birthright? What sort of consequences did Jacob in turn put on Judah when he tried to shirk the responsibility of the pregnant prostitute? What sort of consequences did Judah put on his own two sons for their evils that were so severe God killed them? None. You get the sense reading these chapters that this is a family that does not know the cause and effect of their actions.

But Joseph was different. He didn't scream "no" when Potiphar's wife tried to seduce him. He laid out his clear understanding of the entire situation to her, including the consequences. He spent years in jail as a product of false consequences. He interpreted the dreams of the cupbearer and the baker, with severely different consequences. And even more visible, he explained Pharoah's dream and did the opposite of what most men would have done. He stored food for seven years in preparation for the seven famine years. In chapter 47 we see that when people ran out of money to buy food, Joseph had them pay with their livestock and eventually their land. He didn't open the storehouses and just give the food to anyone that asked for free. He practiced cause and effect, action and consequence throughout his entire life.

To forgive his brothers instantly would have been the opposite of everything God had taught Joseph in his last twenty years. So when he saw the same brothers that had sold him into slavery, one has to wonder if he feared for Benjamin. Certainly he wanted to see the younger brother he had never met, but is it possible he feared they would do the same thing they did to Joseph to him someday? To sell the brothers grain without investigating would have been giving fuel to slave traders.

So he asked questions. He investigated, he made sure that his forgiveness would not harm the brothers. Which is a weird concept, but I think an important one to think about.


Dog snob said...

I'd never looked at it that way. As a parent, I try to teach my kids about the cause and effect of their actions. I think it's pretty neat the perspective of God teaching it to Joseph that way.

Anonymous said...

I really like the way Joseph decided on his plans for others, listening to God's signals as well as interpreting God's hints and turning them into his own actions of goodness and prosperity.
He was vigilant and I am encouraged by his ways of knowing the "cause and effect and actions and consequences" before he was able to finalize his actions.


Anonymous said...

"[Joseph] didn't open the storehouses and just give the food to anyone that asked for free. He practiced cause and effect, action and consequence throughout his entire life."
A concept we have to learn + and practice ^_^ even with God's grace+mercy

i can't think of a better way to test + know his brothers' intention and changes
...but why does Joseph has to lie and make his servants give false testmonies?

Dustin said...

I am currently trying to shirk the consequences of my actions... sometimes I get into stuff without realizing the true potential consequences of what I am doing. I am going to try and live my life more like Joseph and less like his family.