What we know as the story of Joseph begins in Genesis 37 with dreams. Chapter 45 provides a climax to this story (Genesis 37-50). The reality though is that these chapters narrate the story of God’s people…Israel.
Joseph is a dreamer. His brothers have hated him…they sold him into slavery giving him up for dead. In the climactic meeting of Joseph and his brothers, we see that Joseph does not scold or blame them. Joseph doesn’t try to make them feel guilty or shameful. Joseph asks for no confession of sin and offers no absolution.
Instead…Joseph says, “And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.” Joseph’s words to his brothers provide us the theological lens through which to view this whole story. The significance? God did not make the brothers do what they did but God was able to use their hateful actions – their sin – for God’s own purposes. Joseph was seen as arrogant early on…Jacob was seen as loving Joseph more than all the others…Joseph’s brothers hated Joseph. Through all this human family dysfunction, God was able to turn it to good – to preserve life. To preserve the life of Jacob’s family and the lives of many people including the Egyptians. What we know as the story of Joseph is, in reality, the continuation of God at work all along.
The descendants of Abraham…all of humanity, continue to be flawed. Through it all, God remains faithful to his promises and providing for his creation…preserving life in spite of and, yes, even by means of human sin. Something to be thankful for wouldn’t you say?