October 15th 2010

How Many?

“Joseph said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.’”
Genesis 50:19-20 (NIV)

In the story of Joseph, we notice a great deal about Joseph’s natural cleverness, steadiness under misfortune, loyalty to God and outstanding accomplishments. There is one frayed thread in the story. It’s the part where Joseph, who was really not bad at maths, did the wrong sums in his head and came up with some understandable but erroneous answers.

It probably happened while he was in prison. When you are in ‘that place’, whatever yours might be, it’s hard to think in a reasonable, let alone a Godly, manner. I think Joseph figured out something about his family: He missed his younger brother, but his ten half-brothers, who had rejected and betrayed him, he didn’t want to know any more. They weren’t real brothers, maybe never had been. Only his full brother counted. Psychologically it seems likely that he had moved beyond the stage of “if I ever get the chance I’ll show them” to “I’ve let go of all that”. The narrative indicates that he felt emotion at suddenly meeting the ten, but no wish for attachment and certainly a strong reluctance to make himself known.

Some readers of this story have it that Joseph was simply putting his family through a cold, calculated test to see whether they had mended their ways, but there is plainly a lot more going on: Joseph’s determined schemes to capture Benjamin; the way he asked after his father and only revealed his own identity when it became plain he could not take Benjamin away; and the evident pride he takes in Benjamin’s recognising his face. It is not clear when Joseph first begins to realise where God’s will might be taking them all, but initially he does seem to decide that once he has manipulated the half-brothers into handing over his real brother, he will never need them again. You might work it out the same way, given similar circumstances. Joseph had been split from his family, and tried his best to take Benjamin with him. In the end, however, he had to realise that his whole family needed him. A full reconciliation was the only way forward.

In the end, if you let him, God does the sums for you, and he uses different formulae. You could find you have more than you thought—more brothers, or more blessings, or more to accomplish…You don’t end up with less.

Please, God, heal hurts that occur between us, and mend relationships that may have been damaged along the way.

Study by Fiona Jones 

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One Response to “October 15th 2010”

  1. Fiona J on October 15th, 2010 5:43 pm

    To Nancy Silcox–That article writer still looks awfully ugly. Have you still got the new photo that you took at SEP?

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