Genesis 45 & How Providence Relates to Forgiveness and Guilt

Finally Joseph reveals himself to his brothers, and in so doing reveals God to them.  The revelation they and we receive of God here casts light over the whole Joseph narrative.  The Reformation Study Bible comments on Genesis 45:5-8, “These verses, with Joseph’s repeated affirmation ‘God sent me’ form the theological heart of the Joseph narrative.”

Joseph tells his brothers not to be distressed or angry with themselves about their sin.  How can they possibly not be angry with themselves?  They are repentant, they have sinned horribly; they surely messed everything up by such hideous sin right?  Yes, they should repent of their horrible sin, but no, their sin isn’t as big as God’s sovereignty.  They didn’t ruin God’s plan by their sin, they accomplished it.  Ultimately it is not the brother’s hatred that sends Joseph into Egypt, but God’s love; God’s covenant love for Joseph and his brothers.  It is not the brother’s jealously of Joseph that determines the plot of Genesis but God’s jealousy for His glory.

Because they are secondary causes at best, Joseph can forgive; indeed he must forgive, for if he is ultimately to have a beef with anyone, it must be God.  Because they are secondary causes, the repentant brothers can rest in Joseph’s and God’s forgivingness. 

Learn to apply God’s providence from both angles here.  When sinned against know that no human being’s sin against you is bigger than God’s plan for you.  When you are the one who sins, the role we much more often play, don’t be so arrogant to think that your rebellion to squelch God’s plan will actually succeed and bring down the kingdom.

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