Athlete, Cultivate Intimacy

*This series was written by the AIA staff team at the University of Virginia

Read Genesis 45

Up to this point, the guilty brothers have had their silver returned (42:35 - they cannot buy grace!), feasted with Joseph (43:34), and had their sacks stuffed with food (44:1).  Already we have seen the lavish grace of God toward them, but in this chapter they receive grace upon grace, as God reveals his sovereign ability to bring great good out of the worst of evils.  Most importantly, the brothers' relationship with Joseph is restored as Joseph can no longer resist revealing himself to them.  Do not skim past the beautiful picture of the restored intimacy with their brother and savior in 45:15!  They have no life apart from Joseph (45:11), but with him they receive the richest part of the land, new clothing (remember the connection from 35:2 between clothing and identity!), an abundance of food and gifts, and a preserved community of faith (45:7).  This is not the fulfillment of the covenant promises to Abraham in regard to a rich land, a great people, and blessing, but it is definitely a taste of what is to come!  

Joseph's command to his brothers as they go back home to retrieve their father and families is a humorous and interesting footnote (45:24).  "Don't quarrel on the way."  What a great word for the people of God, for today's church!  As those who have received the sovereign grace of God, it is unfitting to be marked by envy, the pointing of fingers for past sins, and quarreling.  

The only other command that Joseph gives his brothers is found in 45:5 and it, too, is of immense importance for godly living.  He says to them, "And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves . . ."  Joseph is not making light of what his brothers had done.  He's saying that because he has forgiven them and because God has forgiven them, they should no longer dwell on their past sins.  When we continue to dwell on and beat ourselves up for our past sins, Christians are not receiving and living in the reality of God's perfect forgiveness through Jesus.  We are not living in the freedom for which Christ has set us free!

Questions for Reflection and Prayer

1. The intimacy and desire of Joseph's reconciliation with his brothers is a compelling picture of God's love for us.  How are you cultivating intimacy with God in your life?  Even as you do this devotional, are you allowing time and space to connect with God at a heart level?

2. Are there any ways in which you are quarreling on the way to the kingdom?  Where do you see envy, pointing fingers, or quarreling in your life?  Are there people with whom you need to reconcile this week?  How can you pass on to others the grace you have received from God?

3. Are you beating yourself up for past sins today, even though you have confessed and received God's perfect forgiveness?  Ask God to help you heed Joseph's words:  "And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves . . ."  Perhaps you need to tell a trusted brother or sister in Christ who will remind you of and show you God's forgiveness.

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