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Genesis 47





As we near the end of the book of Genesis, we start to zoom way in on Joseph’s story. By the time we get to chapter 47, a lot of life has happened to him, and we are beginning to see how the Lord has consistently been with Joseph, even in his darkest moments. Now, years after being betrayed by his older brothers and forcefully separated from his family, they are finally reunited!

Have you ever had a little kid show you something they’re really excited about? When my son, who’s a year and a half old, wants me to look at something, he will hold it inches from my face, over and over and over. And if I don’t look where he wants me to look, sometimes he’ll put his little hand on my cheek and turn my face to look where he wants me to.

That’s how I picture this exchange between Joseph and Pharaoh in Genesis 47. Starting in verse 1, we see Joseph bringing his family to Pharaoh and introducing them: “Then Joseph went to see Pharaoh and told him, ‘My father and my brothers have arrived from the land of Canaan. They have come with all their flocks and herds and possessions, and they are now in the region of Goshen.’ Joseph took five of his brothers with him and presented them to Pharaoh.” And then skipping down to verse 7: “Then Joseph brought in his father, Jacob, and presented him to Pharaoh. And Jacob blessed Pharaoh.”

Now, if you’ve read much of the Bible before, you may know that Egypt is used metaphorically throughout Scripture to refer to being apart from God or being in sin. However, at this point in time, Egypt had been really good to Joseph. Was it God’s desire that Joseph be sold by his brothers into slavery? I would venture to guess no. But what we see from Joseph’s story—and from the biblical story at large—is that God is a God who redeems. Those things that look absolutely awful and like a lost cause are often the very things that God uses for his glory, provided that we fully trust him throughout the process.

I’ve heard it said before that God cares a lot about his reputation and his glory, and I think this part of Joseph’s story highlights that. Remember that when Joseph arrived in Egypt, it was by force, and it was into slavery. But before he got there, he knew God, and therefore was able to rely on him through the ups and downs of his situation. He started out as a slave, and through his faithfulness to God and his diligence to his work, he was elevated to the head servant in a prominent family’s house. Then he was accused of something he didn’t do, and was stripped of that position and sentenced to prison. In the prison, he was able to bring glory to God’s name and interpret the dreams of some other prisoners, one of whom mentioned him to Pharaoh. Pharaoh then was so impressed with Joseph’s discernment that he made him, essentially, the acting ruler of the entire nation of Egypt.

Everything Joseph did up until this point in chapter 47 was done for the glory of God, and Pharaoh could see that the God that Joseph served was real and active. He learned about who God is through Joseph’s behavior and integrity, and as we see in the second half of the chapter, Joseph ends up stewarding the entire country’s resources to make sure nobody starves during an extended famine.

Actions speak louder than words, and I would argue that our motivations speak louder than our actions. If Joseph had been vying for authority and power for his own gain, his story would likely have not turned out the way it did. But because everything he did was because he knew God and loved him and trusted him, that was reflected in how he did his work. So as you go about your day, I encourage you to check your own motivation. Why do you do the things you do, and who are you really doing them for?

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