9/13/20 – Pentecost 15 – “Am I in the Place of God?” – Genesis 50:15-21

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

1. Our text for this morning is the Old Testament reading from Genesis 50. The Joseph we meet in this reading has come a long way from the Joseph we first encounter in Genesis 30 and whose story is told from Genesis 37 onwards. Let’s be honest, Joseph was a spoiled brat—in every sense of the term. He was the 11th of 12 sons, and his father, Jacob, loved him more than his brothers. And Joseph took every opportunity he had to rub that in his brothers’ faces. In Genesis 37, we see this play out as Joseph starts having these dreams—dreams where is brothers are bowing down to worship him. Now, let’s forget that we know how this story ends for a second and put ourselves in this moment in the story—You can almost imagine what’s going on in this arrogant 17-year-old’s head: “I’m going to get to call the shots, tell my brothers what to do, and do what I want, when I want!” But Joseph very quickly learns that his arrogant trust in himself is nothing more than a sham and a delusion.

2. Very quickly, Joseph’s brothers scheme to get rid of him. Before long, Joseph finds himself a slave in Egypt. Even as he works his way into a trustworthy position as a servant of Potiphar, he very quickly finds himself thrown in jail. But through these tragic events, Joseph learns to trust in God alone—he is the only one in control. But Joseph also learns that despite human failures (despite his own failures), God is determined to forgive and bless his people. And God forgives and blesses Joseph immensely! Through his God-given ability to interpret dreams (the very thing that god Joseph in trouble in the first place!), God blesses Joseph and raises him to be second in command in all of Egypt, submitting only to Pharaoh. And if that’s not enough, God was determined to forgive and bless not only his people, but he was also determined to bless all people through his people. So, God uses Joseph to prepare Egypt for a world-altering famine. Joseph ensures that Egypt has enough food stored up, not just for themselves, but enough to share with and bless others. But this time, Joseph has learned his lesson. He has learned that he cannot trust in himself—he must trust in God alone. So, when Joseph’s brothers show up in Egypt in search of food, he doesn’t send them away hungry like they deserved after how they treated him, but Joseph blesses them and sends them away with ample food. And, before long, Joseph invites his brothers and all of their family to move to Egypt where he will care for them.

3. But now, in our text for today, Joseph’s father, Jacob, has died. And his brothers are concerned that he’s going to give them what they deserve. So, they come and plead with Joseph to forgive them. And Joseph bursts into tears in response. He weeps, not because his brothers doubt his forgiveness, but Joseph weeps because his brothers don’t get it. They don’t see what’s been going on in the story of their lives this whole time. So, Joseph says to his brothers, Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones (Genesis 50:19-21). Despite human failures, God is determined to forgive and bless his people.

4. But then, just five verses later, we read that Joseph died. He wouldn’t be able to provide for his family any longer. God wouldn’t be able to use Joseph to bless his people and the whole world anymore. But God is still determined to forgive and bless his people, and he does so today through a new and greater Joseph—a man who came up from Egypt and allowed human evil to drive him to suffer and die on a cross so that many people should be kept alive—so that you and I might be kept alive. And so, my friends, I invite you to learn from Joseph’s story to place your trust in God alone. Trust that he is in control. Trust that God is still determined to forgive and bless you through the new and greater Joseph who died so that you might live.

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

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