The power of God’s goodness

Genesis 50:15-21 and Revelation 21:22-24

When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father [Jacob] was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.

His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.

But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 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. (Gen 50:15-21)

I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light (Rev 21:22-24)

 

In Luke 22 Judas betrays Jesus to his enemies while the disciples argue at the Passover table about which of them is the greatest! But Jesus says at that table, as he gives them the bread to eat and wine to drink, “This is my body given for you…my blood, which is poured out for you.” And, “I am among you as one who serves.”

When Joseph was young his brothers were jealous of him, because he was their father’s favourite. In a fit of jealous rage they sold him as a slave to traders heading down to Egypt. But God caused Joseph to rise in a remarkable series of events to power as Prime Minister of Egypt, just in time to save his father and brothers from the grip of a deadly famine. In Egypt the families of Jacob’s 12 sons would eventually become the 12 tribes of Israel – a great nation. Joseph expresses to his fearful brothers a key aspect of the goodness of God, “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.” This truth comes to its greatest expression at the cross. Jesus was betrayed and abandoned by his disciples. He was rejected and harmed by the leaders of Israel in the worst possible way. He was an innocent man condemned to die a criminal’s death. Yet that, in the plan of God, does great good for us, bringing forgiveness from God. As the Apostle Peter wrote, “For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.” (1 Peter 3:17-18) Joseph’s outlook enables us to understand how God overcomes evil with good, ultimately in Jesus, and so how that right attitude from God can shape and reshape our lives and our world. Indeed the Bible ends with the picture of our very good future, the new creation, which is possible because it’s centred on the One who went to the cross for us: the Lamb.

Head: What do you think of the power of God’s goodness, to take the evil acts of Joseph’s brothers and use the outcome to save them in Joseph?

Heart: Meditate on how Joseph’s words have become Jesus’ words to a world that abandoned and rejected him at the cross: “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.”

Hands: How can that right attitude from God shape and reshape the way you live your life?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I praise you for the amazing power of your goodness, to take the evil acts of Joseph’s brothers and use the outcome to save them through Joseph – to take the evil acts of the leaders of Israel and use the outcome to save us through Jesus. I give you thanks that Joseph’s words have become Jesus’ words to a world that rejected him at the cross: “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.” Please enable that right attitude of Joseph and Jesus to shape and reshape my daily life and relationships, as I live anticipating the new creation where everything will be centred on Jesus. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

A song to listen to: Be Thou My Vision

Phil Strong