Today's Manna

February 2, 2017
A Dreamer and a Schemer
by Julie Sturm
Scripture Reading: Genesis 44

We know that Joseph was a dreamer. His dreams and his father’s favoritism caused his brothers to envy him and hate him to the point that they wanted to kill him, but settled on selling him into slavery for twenty pieces of silver.

In this chapter the dreamer became a schemer, too. At first, we are unsure of Joseph’s motive for placing the silver cup in Benjamin’s bag. Given what his brothers had done to him, revenge would have been an understandable motive for Joseph’s scheme.

As the chapter unfolds, we begin to see what Joseph’s motive had been all along. Jospeh wasn’t motivated by a desire for revenge, but by a desire to bring his brothers to repentance. Through Joseph’s scheme his brothers were coming to an awareness of their guilt and were now ready to acknowledge it.

Joseph had managed to force his brothers into having to make a similar decision with Benjamin as they had with him years before. Would they think only of themselves, leave Benjamin for dead, and grieve their father once again? Or, would they be willing to put their father’s welfare and Benjamin’s safety before their freedom?

Without hesitation the brothers returned to the city with Benjamin and prepared to share whatever fate was in store for him. Their return culminates in Judah’s surety, intercession, and his self-sacrifice, as well as his expression of his love for his father. This reveals Judah’s change in character and prepares the reader for Judah’s selection later as the one through whom the Lion of the tribe of Judah would come.

Jospeh’s scheme revealed the work of grace God had done in his heart. Joseph used his power and position to bring about repentance, not revenge. At some point he released his anger, absolved himself of any feelings of bitterness he may have had, and granted forgiveness, recognizing God’s sovereign and providential hand in his brothers’ sin (cf. Gen 50:20 and Rom 8:31). Joseph lived 2Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

Joseph could have been a villain many times, but he was faithful, always “blooming where he was planted,” and, as a result, others prospered and were blessed because of him. He became a savior to his family, the Egyptians, and Pharaoh. He could have been vengeful, but he chose forgiveness instead. He could have played the victim, but he chose to be a victor, overcoming his circumstances and and desire for revenge by faith in his Sovereign God.

How about us? Can we leave the vengeance up to God and live as victors by trusting His plan for our lives, recognizing that we are not our own (1Cor 6:20)? Can we be instruments of repentance, not revenge by forgiving others even as God in Christ has forgiven us?

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