Holy Spirit, You work in unexpected ways and in unusual places. Forgive me for trying to domesticate and tame You.
Read GENESIS 47:1-12
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION
“Consecutive reading of biblical books … is not mere reverie, but holy, godly reality. … We are the reverent listeners and participants in God’s action in the sacred story” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer). And we have a part to play in God’s ongoing story!
A friend of mine volunteers with a ministry set up by the Swiss churches to support asylum seekers. I accompanied him once and met some of these uprooted people. What moved me most was the longing they expressed for stability and control over their lives. Their greatest fear was the order to move elsewhere. Joseph appears determined that his family, even as aliens (4), would experience stability in their host country.
Do reread 46:28-34 to grasp the full picture of Joseph’s skillful management of his family’s arrival in Egypt. He was a consummate strategist; when he revealed himself to his brothers he had already made plans for the family to settle in the cattle country of Goshen (45:10), in the eastern Nile delta, close to the border with Canaan and far from the urban centers of Egyptian power and prejudice against herdsmen (46:34). Did Joseph choose his five most impressive or least impressive brothers to represent the family to Pharaoh (2)? It wouldn’t have been a casual choice! How did he and they feel as they obeyed his instructions to the letter (3) and learned of Pharaoh’s generosity (6,11)?
Perhaps the most profoundly moving moment for Joseph came as he watched his old father twice bless the ruler of Egypt (7,10). The narrative details underline the theological significance of this encounter. Jacob answers Pharaoh’s polite question (8) by describing his life as a pilgrim, a temporary resident (9): “Pharaoh has land. He is settled, safe and prosperous. Jacob has none. But he believes the promise far beyond any Egyptian realities. … The promise is at work for this family, in Egypt as in Canaan” (W. Brueggemann).
Peter tells us that we are “… aliens and strangers in the world…” (1 Pet. 2:11), just as Jacob described his life to Pharaoh. How does this concept of temporary residence in this life affect your priorities?
Lord, I praise You that today You still work out Your mission, promises and purposes through the lives of people who are aliens and sojourners in the world.
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