Joseph’s Final Hope
"Soon I will die," Joseph told his brothers, "but God who will surely come to help you and lead you out of this land of Egypt. He will bring you back to the land he solemnly promised to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob."
The book of Genesis concludes with the death of Joseph. Ironically, and tellingly, the last word in Genesis is "Egypt" (mitzrayim in Hebrew). Thus Genesis points ahead to Exodus.
On his death bed, Joseph expressed his confidence in God to lead his family out of Egypt and back to the Promised Land. This happened, of course. But I doubt Joseph envisioned either centuries of slavery in Egypt or the astounding way in which God finally led his people home. Yet, given the tortuous life Joseph had led, with so many unexpected twists and turns, perhaps he knew that the future for his people might not be an easy one.
In our lives, we often find ourselves wondering why God doesn't fulfill his promises to us in a more timely and painless way. We want deliverance from Egypt now, not after years of suffering. The Psalms encourage us to tell God exactly how we feel, and not to hold back. Yet, at the same time, we must remember that God's ways are different from our own. This truth is proclaimed in one of the most important passages in all of Scripture:
"My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says the LORD.
"And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts."
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: When God's ways don't measure up to your expectations, what do you do? If God's ways are so far beyond our own, how can we know God at all?
PRAYER: Gracious Lord, as we come to the end of Genesis, we sense even more clearly the wonder of your ways, the majesty of your sovereignty, the mystery of your will. You have done wonderful things in this book, calling Abraham and Sarah to be the parents of your people, leading and blessing your growing people in the midst of their turmoil and frequent sin.
With Joseph, we know that you will indeed bring back your people from Egypt. But we also know that the road ahead for them will be difficult. Though you are always faithful to us, often your faithfulness comes packaged in pain and confusion.
Your ways are not our ways, Lord. Your ways are always better, wiser, and more gracious. In your mercy, you have chosen to work in and through us to fulfill your will. What a wonder!
Help us, dear Lord, to have confidence in you, to trust you in good times and hard times. Like Joseph, may we know that, in the end, you will lead us to our true home . . . with you. Amen.