5/22/2010

A Pinnacle of Old Testament (and New Testament) Faith

In the last chapter of Genesis, Joseph was the Prime Minister of Egypt, second in command only to Pharaoh in all the land. Many years ago, Joseph's brothers had sold him into slavery. But Joseph became Prime Minister. The tables had turned. Joseph could have "legally" taken matters into his own hands to repay his brothers for the evil that they did to him. But he did not. He said, "Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good... I will provide for you and your children" (Genesis 50:19-21).

In the Tyndale Old Testament Commentary series on Genesis, Derek Kidner, Old Testament scholar, wrote that Joseph's 3-fold reply to his brothers is a pinnacle of Old Testament (and New Testament) faith. He writes on page 224:

  1. To leave all the righting of one's wrongs to God
  2. To see His providence in man's malice, and
  3. To repay evil not only with forgiveness but also with practical affection
are attributes which anticipate the adjective "Christian" and even "Christlike."

How easy it might have been for Joseph to make right himself the wrongs done to him by his brothers. But he left all the righting of wrongs to God.

How easy it might have been for Joseph to be bitter toward his brothers for what they did to him. But he saw God's goodness in man's malice.

How easy it might have been to repay evil with revenge. But he was genuinely forgiving and kind toward his brothers.

We live in a world where we wrong others, and others wrong us. We could subconsciously justify the motto, "An eye for an eye" (which would soon make the whole world blind). But Joseph who experienced an unjust unbearable wrong saw the transcendent and immanent God who was with him. Thus, he revealed the goodness of God in the very midst of the badness of men. Ultimately, Joseph's faith anticipates and mirrors precisely and exactly the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross.

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