Friday, October 28, 2011

Genesis 46:28-34

Finally, we get to witness the reunion of Joseph with his father after 20 years of separation.

Now Jacob sent Judah ahead of him to Joseph to get directions to Goshen. When they arrived in the region of Goshen, Joseph had his chariot made ready and went to Goshen to meet his father Israel. As soon as Joseph appeared before him, he threw his arms around his father and wept for a long time. (Genesis 46:28-29)

I love that Judah is sent ahead “to get directions to Goshen.” No GPS or even Thomas Bros. Guide then! Jon Courson reminds us that Judah means praise, so the family would be lead by praise to this reunion. Beth Moore asks us to imagine the necks craning to see Joseph riding on his chariot in the distance, kicking up dust on his way to his father. Remember that Joseph was a 17 year old boy when his brothers sold him into slavery. There were a lot of physical changes to the man Joseph, who at this point in the story was completely “Egyptianized.” He would have had a clean shaven face, unlike his bearded brothers, and Beth Moore speculates that he may even have been “bare-chested and bedecked in brass and jewels. No beast-inflicted scars in sight.” Think Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments BEFORE the beard.

Now, this I find interesting. We have no record of the brothers explaining to their father how Joseph actually ended up in Egypt instead of in the stomach of a beast. Did Jacob wonder why there were no scars? Why is no one asking the obvious questions? The reality is that the reasons were a moot point once Joseph had his son back. The family was back together again, and Jacob had his precious Joseph in his arms. Joseph was so overcome with emotions, having stuffed them down for so many years, he “wept for a long time.”

Not only had Joseph changed, but Jacob was twenty years older, surely more frail, and showing the marks of grief on his face. He exclaims, “Now I am ready to die, since I have seen for myself that you are still alive.” (vs. 30) Actually, Jacob lived another 17 years in Goshen, which Beth Moore points out gave him Joseph for 17 years before Joseph was sent to Egypt, and 17 years after the reunion, with 20 agonizing years in between. Anyway, Jacob declares he was ready to go home to God anytime now that he had his son back. I totally identify with Jacob here! After the weddings of my daughters, when I knew my girls had married men who loved the LORD and who would love and cherish them, I told God, “You can take me home any time now!” I had everything I’d ever dreamed of for my girls, and my job of raising them in Christ was competed! What joy! Everything else is the cherry on top!

I like that Jon Courson, in showing how Joseph was an example of Christ, asks us to visualize the reunion of the Father and the Son when Jesus returned to the right hand of His Father! Isn’t that a great image to ponder??? Then Courson points out that Joseph, like Jesus, became a mediator before Pharaoh for his family in the remaining verses of this chapter. He managed to get for his family the best land in all of Egypt! I like the idea of Jesus doing the same for me! As the ONLY mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5), He’s my advocate before the Father and His desire for me is always what’s best!

While Joseph and Jacob could never get back those twenty years, I am certain that they made the most of the seventeen they had left! Some of us have had “lost years” that we wish we could reclaim: possibly years wasted in a bad relationship; years spent chasing the things of this world; years we weren’t the parents we wish we’d been, etc. And God actually has a promise for us about this kind of loss:

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten . . .” (Joel 2:25)

The LORD gave this verse to my mother years ago when she was mourning over the fact that she had not raised her four daughters in the LORD. She came to the LORD very late in life, as a result of my father being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s during his early 60’s, when my mother was only 53! Once she became a Christian, she was so saddened by her neglect to raise us in the faith. However, when she read this verse, she rejoiced that God would somehow redeem those years - and He truly did! In the same way, God redeemed this family from its dysfunction. We’ll see some of this in the next chapter.

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