Read: Genesis 50
Joseph lived to be 110 years old. We are not given many details of his death. It seems likely that Joseph blessed his sons, as the patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, had before him. This represents a shift in the story: from this point on the blessing is not followed from individual to individual, and generation to generation, but is now a covenant blessing to the whole people of God. Before we make this shift, let’s reflect a bit on the life of Joseph.
Few people in the Old Testament are as heroic as Joseph. His patience, his faith and trust in God, his wisdom, his tender heartedness, his grace and ability to forgive are all powerfully conveyed in scripture. Some people wonder if the Biblical record magnifies his virtues and minimizes his flaws. As a favored son, was Joseph a bit of a spoiled brat to his brothers? Is that how we should read the story of his showing up in the fancy robe that Jacob had given him to oversee his brothers? Is that the spirit in which we should read of Joseph telling his brothers of the dream he had, that he would rule over them? Did Joseph need adversity in order to grow up, like his father Jacob had? Maybe. It’s okay to read it that way, but I read it differently.
Joseph is that rare, exceptional person, who is young and wise beyond his years. Sold into slavery in Egypt he was able to quickly rise to the position of Head Servant. His dreams were prophetic and involved the unfolding of God’s will over time. This strengthened his faith, trust, and patience in his walk of faith. With that foundation Joseph was able to see things from a different perspective, trusting that there was a “big picture” and a providential purpose that God was accomplishing.
Perhaps the loving influence of his mother, Rachel, and doting father, Jacob, helped Joseph become a person who knew unconditional love and was then able to give unconditional love. His act of grace and forgiveness of his brothers is one of the most powerful expressions in the Bible. Joseph is perhaps the most graceful person in the Bible, other than Jesus. God raised to leadership a remarkable person for a critical time, and the world was saved by Joseph’s faithfulness to God’s vision and his leadership in Egypt. May we glean lessons of wisdom from this life well lived, and in our time and space may we aspire to develop true strength of character.
Pastor Rob Nystrom