Monday, January 25, 2010

Gen 50 for Jan 25

How is it that so many people cannot remember a verse like Gen 50:20, but can remember most of the events of Genesis 3?

I don't think I would choose Gen 3 to memorize over Gen 50:15-21. Doesn't fixing take priority over etiology, if you had to have one or the other? Diagnosis only, or recovery, which do we want, given one of the two? But then again, people prefer sunsets. Go figure....

The two issues raised in this chapter are raised every day when we join in to work in the "fallen" world around us. The first issue might be called a theodicy. Can it really be true that God meant what his brothers did to Joseph in Gen 37 for his good and the good of others? Someone might say that 50:20 is espousing an end-justifies-the-means ethic, at least in God's case. Rev 21:4 talks about such an end, although it doesn't say that such things justify God. He has already justified Himself in Christ, Rm 3:4.

The second issue is the dealing with uncertainty regarding forgiveness. It's common nowadays to say that "we don't know" if God has saved (including forgiven) somebody, that only God knows. 50:19, is not, by the way, Joseph saying that. Otherwise it must have be written, 'you may need to be afraid, for am I in God's place?' But as it stands, it says "do not be afraid, for am I in God's place?" The reason they need not be afraid, is it's out of Joseph's hands to pronounce on the issue. Joseph however knows and expresses God's verdict, saying about his brothers, "God will surely take care of you" (50:25).

This deference to the decision of God regarding events goes way back through the book, even through Laban and sister's odd comment -- didn't you think it odd at the time? -- in Gen 24:50. (What if Eve had been the same way toward the serpent? What if Eve had said "This matter comes from the Lord. We cannot speak to you bad or good" !!) Let's learn this! Laban had his own opinions about the proposal, but when we see that the Lord meant something to happen a certain way, we need to properly get out of the business of ultimately judging that the result will be bad. Joseph is not interested in doing that. His tears (45:2) had taught him, and have taught us.

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