Now hurry back to my father and say to him, “This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay. You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. I will provide for you there because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise, you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.” (Genesis 45:9–11)
The story of Joseph is difficult to read. It is filled with betrayal and self-interest. The hero spends many dark years with his prayers to God seemingly unheard and unanswered. Eventually, God reunites the family.
This is a beautiful scene filled with tears of joy. The brothers are reconciled. But don’t think Joseph forgiving his brothers was the end of the story. It wasn’t as if Joseph forgave them just so he could close the book on that difficult chapter of his life and move on. No, the goal was reconciliation. The goal was shalom.
The questions for the brothers now are: Would they come to live under Joseph’s rule? Would they bring their families from Canaan to Egypt? Would they fulfill his dream and serve him? They’ve experienced his power. They know his love. And Joseph warns them that five years of famine remained. If they go back to Canaan, they would be independent men but would live in destitution.
Each of us has the same decision to make in life. God has given us free will. We can remain independent and live on our own. But it is a life of spiritual destitution and brokenness. It’s a life of trying to provide for ourselves what God could so easily provide for us—what God wants to provide for us.
Or we could choose our other option. Once we accept God’s forgiveness, we can submit our lives to Him. We can move in and live under His rule. I guess the real question is, now that we’ve experienced His mercy, love, and power: Why would we not want to live in His kingdom? Why would we resist?
These questions aren’t just answered up-front the moment we’re saved. These are the questions we must address every day … every chance we have to show others mercy, like we, ourselves, have been shown.
Jim Mann, Ph.D. pastors New Life Church at Robson Ranch. This interdenominational church meets at the Robson clubhouse on Sunday mornings at 8:30 a.m., and online at 10 a.m. Visit www.newlifedenton.org for more information or www.drjimmann.com.