Pericope: Genesis 50
Recently I was speaking with some African American friends about the horrors of slavery in the early days of our nation as it was forming. The issue of forgiveness came up as well as the sovereignty of God. How can forgiveness be extended and where in the world was God in the midst of it all?
In the final chapter of Genesis, Joseph is approached by his brothers when their father dies. They beg Joseph for their lives. Joseph’s brothers feared him because he could have easily slain them to get revenge for selling him into slavery and staging his death. But that was not his response. He forgave his brothers and provided for them! Joseph was a man of strong faith and did what was right even when it was hard. What does it take to have strong faith in the midst of injustice?
Strong faith comes from a fundamental alignment of the heart trusting in the goodness and sovereignty of God. Joseph said to his brothers, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant to harm me, but God intended it for a good purpose, so he could preserve the lives of many people, as you can see this day.” As finite beings with such limited perspective, we do not have the capacity to understand much of the big picture of injustice. But if we are going to have strong faith we must know that God is working to deliver us from injustice, even though the injustices that are immediately affecting us.
In Genesis 49 we can see God’s ultimate plan. In his blessing on his son Judah, Jacob pronounced, “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs; the nations will obey him.” When Jacob mentions “the ruler’s staff from between his feet,” it is a euphemism referring to the genitals. In this case the phrase refers by metonymy to those who come forth from his genitals, i.e., his descendants. Immediately, this is a promise that Judah’s sons would be rulers and Kings. Ultimately, this is speaking of the reign of Christ.
Strong faith is built on the trust that God is working all things according to his purpose. We live in a world which offers hurts, habits and hangups. We all will experience injustice and harm. We have a choice in how to respond. The strongest will extend forgiveness because they trust that one day evil will be finally destroyed. Injustice will be recompensed. Christ is on the throne and he will be back to judge those who do evil!