Genesis 48-50

Genesis 48-50. How Do You View God?


“After they embalmed him (Joseph), he was placed in a coffin in Egypt.” Gen. 50:26.
So ends the story of Genesis, with a coffin.  But the Apostle John wrote: “ He who does the will of God abides forever.” ( I John 2: 17)   John Wesley said, “ God buries His workman, but His work goes on.”
Jacob/Israel would spend his last 17 years in Egypt with all of his family around him. He would die at the age of 147 years. In the end, Jacob acted as both parent and prophet.
Hebrews 9:27 tells us: “ And as it is appointed unto men, once to die but after this the judgment.”  Death is an appointment.  Isn’t it amazing how people will plan for a vacation or a business trip and neglect to prepare for the last and most important journey of all?
In chapters 48 & 49 Jacob deals with the inheritance he will leave to his children. First he deals with Joseph and Joseph’s two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. In Genesis 48:5, Jacob adopts these  two grandsons as his own sons.  We will see his actions are both those of a parent and a prophet.  Joseph is thereby receiving the double portion of the first born, replacing Reuben. And Joseph’s two sons would replace Simeon and Levi..
Jacob then calls all of his sons to his death bed to as he says: “ Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come.” Three of his sons will learn their past conduct had cost them their future inheritance. Reuben for his lust and adultery with his father’s handmaid lost his position as firstborn and the double portion which went to Joseph’s two sons.
Simeon and Levi lost their  inheritance because of their anger and violence in Shechem. Simeon would be absorbed into the tribe of Judah and the tribe of Levi- the priests, would be given 48 cities in which to live that were scattered through out Israel.
Judah, in spite of his sins with Tamar, had risen higher in Jacob’s opinion. Jacob learned it was Judah who saved Joseph from death by selling him as a slave and thus used by God for the purpose of bringing Joseph into Egypt. Further, Judah had risen to the occasion during the famine by offering himself as surety for Benjamin. Judah would found the royal family that gave Israel its kings, including David, that ultimately brought Jesus Christ into the world. Judah would become a conquering tribe and a ruling tribe and it stayed faithful to the Davidic line when the nation divided.
Other descendants of note from the 12 tribes included one of the most famous judges who came from the tribe of Dan- Samson. And from the tribe of Benjamin we have the Apostle Paul.
Jacob’s life was coming to an end. But he was prepared. He was ready for his last journey, given his last blessings, and shared his last request. His last request was to be buried in Canaan .
In Chapter 50, we see Joseph’s response to his father’s  death, he threw himself upon his father and wept over him and kissed him.
Grief is a normal part of life. But as believers we do not grieve as others who have no hope. ( I Thess. 4:13) When somebody we love dies, we shed tears. It was God who gave us the ability to shed tears and tears are a part of the healing process.
Jacob’s planning and preparation of both himself and his family helped the process and is a good example for us as believers to follow. He had given detailed instructions. No disagreements for everything had been settled in advance.
Now let us pick up the story as it nears its end with Joseph and the family returning to Egypt after the funeral of Jacob.
“ After burying his father, Joseph returned to Egypt with his brothers and all that had gone with him to bury his father.”
Joseph’s brothers begin to worry if now that their father was gone, if Joseph would at last get his revenge for what they had done to him. So they sent word to Joseph saying, “ Your father left these instructions ( probably a lie) before he died: ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers their sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly. Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.’
What was Joseph’s reaction? He wept. He was hurt, he was deeply hurt that his brothers did not believe his words- his promises to them. He was crushed they did not believe his deeds of kindness to them was an expression of his love and forgiveness .

Do you see what the problem of the brothers was?  They did not believe their brother, Joseph’s words and promises. He had told them he would provide for them. Just as Jesus told the disciples when they got into the boat- they were going to the other side. A sleeping Savior, a scary storm produced disciples who feared for their lives. Remember Jesus’ reaction: He rebuked the disciples – why are you so afraid oh ye of little faith. Little faith- great fear.  Similar situation here with Joseph’s brothers.
Let me ask you this:  have you ever been worried and anxious regarding God’s judgment?  Have you ever doubted God’s promises to you? Do you doubt God’s word? Do you question His love? Do you ever feel God has abandoned you? Does not care for you?
Can you imagine Joseph thinking- what more can I do than I have already done? His word and his actions toward them had been consistent, yet they still doubted him.
Joseph wept- he was saddened at the thought that after 17 years of kindness and outpouring of love- they doubted his trustworthiness.
If you have ever felt that way about God- imagine how that makes Him feel. You know the Lord can be grieved.  What would you have God do to assure you?  A miracle? You know the devil can perform miracles.
How about God speak to you personally?  Would that assure you?

Then open His word and see what He has said to you. He put it in writing in language we could understand. When you open the Bible,God’s Word; God opens His mouth and speaks to you.
However, when you doubt God’s word, as these brothers doubted Joseph’s words, you soon begin to question God’s love for you, as these men doubted Joseph’s love for them.

When that happens- you lose hope in your future.  Do you see that faith, hope and love go together? It begins with faith: “ For faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. ( Romans 10:17) Doubt is the enemy of faith.

Have you ever wondered as you looked back on your life, that you once more easily believed the false promises of sin than you believe the promises of God?
How do we know that God loves us and forgives us?  His unchanging word tells us so. “ these things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” ( I John 5:13)
How we feel and what God says – are two different things and we must never judge God’s Eternal Word based on our ever-changing emotions. Our faith is based on the facts of the Bible, the. inerrant, infallible, unchanging Word of God- not our feelings.
Only in His Word and His promises will I find blessed assurance that Jesus is mine- oh what a foretaste of glory divine!
Joseph’s brothers then came and threw themselves before him.. “ We are your slaves,” they said. Reminds me of the prodigal son who thinking his father would not forgive him but offered to be one of his servants and work his way back into his father’s good graces. The brothers wanted to be counted as slaves so they could ‘ work their way’ – earn Joseph’s forgiveness.  This is common human trait- to do something to earn our salvation. In John 6- the crowd asks Jesus what must we do to work the works of God? Jesus answered, “ The work of God is this: to believe the One He has sent.”
“But it is by faith we are saved through grace and that not of ourselves. It is a gift of God, not of works, lest any many should boast.”  ( Ephesians 2:8.9)
Do you know the only people God can forgive are those who confess they are sinners and can  do nothing to merit or earn God’s forgiveness? The Great Physician cannot heal those who do not come to Him for healing-who think they are healthy, wealthy and wise but are sick, blind and poor.
Listen carefully to Joseph’s response. “Fear not; for am I not in the place of God? But as for you, you intended evil against me; but God intended it for good, to accomplish what is now being accomplished- the saving of many lives. So do not be afraid, I will provide for you and your children.: And Joseph reassured them and spoke kindly to them. Do you know the Lord’s most often repeated commandment in the Bible is “ Fear Not” ?!
It’s all in how you perceive the situation. It is all in how you view God. Angry judge or loving father?  How you view God directly affects how you live your life more than anything else.
You see, it was improbable; almost impossible in the minds of these brothers that Joseph could forgive them and love them and not extract some revenge for their deeds. Even though Joseph assures them they are forgiven, loved, accepted and will be provided for.

The brothers are a picture of the natural man who cannot discern (see, perceive) spiritual truth. (I Cor. 2)  Their minds are blinded by a veil unlifted so they cannot read Joseph. (2 Cor 3) The veil has to be lifted by Jesus and in this story it had to be lifted by Joseph, a type of Christ.

If you have doubts about God- your loving Heavenly Father- it’s all in how you see Him.

Your perception is your reality.

You may perceive that God really does love you- but would you be surprised if I told you – God really likes you. He loves to spend time with you. He loves you beyond anything you and I can imagine.
You see- while you and  I were yet sinners- did not believe in or were indifferent to God, God sent His Son, His Only Son to die for our sins. He has made that clear from the 3rd chapter of the Genesis. He showed us how difficult this sacrifice would be when He instructed Abraham to offer his only son, Isaac on an altar for  a sacrifice. We get a inkling of the love for us that would sacrifice for us. And remember, since God the Father and God the Son are one- it means God gave Himself- He gave all.
But God not only sent His so to die for us; He sent His Son so we could see what He really is like. For Jesus told us- if you have seen me- you have seen the Father. Here God allows us to better understand these events through the story of Joseph and his brothers.In doing so- we can see a type of Jesus.
Have you seen the real Jesus? Seen Him the way He desires for you to see Him? He is called the “light of the world”.  Do you know that physical vision depends upon light?  Light is the basis and stimulation for vision. Your eyes do the following things with light:  they change the speed, the direction and the amount of light entering the eye. This small ping-pong size organ of sight has over 2 million working parts and the interior lining called the retina contains over 127 million nerve sensitive photosensors. These photosensitive cells ( rods and cones) convert the light into electrical-chemical impulses that are sent via the optic nerve to the brain that interprets what we see. They handle more  information and faster than any known computer. It is through this process called vision that we gain our perception of the world around us.
Imagine what that perception is when your eyes do not correctly control the light creating what is called a refractive error. Our vision of the world is not correct- it is distorted.

Jesus said, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If the eyes are good, our whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness..” ( Matthew 6:22)
Our spiritual vision depends on spiritual light.
“ In Him( Jesus) was life, and that life was the light of men.( John 1)

“Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what He has done has been done by God.” ( John3)

“ But to those who receive Him, to those who believed in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God.” ( John 1)
Paul prays this prayer “ The eyes of your understanding being enlightened that you may know the hope to which you are called and  the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” ( Ephesians 1)
From birth to age 12, science tells us we get up to 80% of our knowledge through our vision system. But we were born spiritually blind, unable to see spiritual truth. When we are born again- we are babes in Christ. But we can learn through the eyes of faith- the eyes of the heart for now we have light and a teacher to guide us in truth, the Holy Spirit.
How do we see God?  We see Him in creation, but we also see or understand Him through His Word which is a light upon our path and a lamp unto our feet.
He also has given us His Son who is an exact replica in everyway. He made himself visible on earth and we have the description of Jesus by those who walked with Him and talked with Him.  And we can “see” Him through their telling us about Him. So that through the word of God, John tells us – we have seen him with our very eyes, we have heard Him speak and we have placed our hands upon his flesh.
We believe- we receive- we become. That is the process. We had a change of mind- we changed our mind about Jesus, about God, about sin and with that change of mind came a change of behavior that caused a change of direction of our lives. . This is called repentance. The prodigal son came to his senses- he had a change of mind that led him back home to his father.
Here is what God wants you to see, and it is made clear in the life of Joseph and His brothers. The Lord Jesus told us His Father is always at work. Always!
God in His Wisdom and He has all wisdom will bring about the best results by the best means for the most people for the longest possible time. Sometimes while this is occurring- we are like Joseph’s brothers- we cannot see it – cannot understand what is happening. It can cause doubt- which brings fear just like these brothers.
What did Joseph say- you meant it for evil, but God intended it for good for the saving of many lives what is now being accomplished.
If there was a better way – God would have chosen it. This was the best method.

If there was a faster way that got the same results- rest assured, God would have done it.
Let’s count the years from when Joseph was sold into slavery at 17 to this time when his father dies 17 years after coming to Egypt. 13 years as Potiphars’s servant and in prison until age 30; 7 years of plenty,; 7 years of famine, with Joseph’s family arriving in year 2 of the famine. Now 17 years later his father, Jacob dies. Joseph is probably 56 years of age- a pilgrimage of almost 40 years to see God’s plan unfold.

It may take years to see the results of what God is doing in and through your life. It may be you will not see the results here on earth but in eternity.
In the meantime, and sometimes there can be mean times, we can expect to experience some ‘ Joseph years.” But do not lose hope- for if you see God as He wants you to see Him, it will change your life and your outlook on life more than anything else!!
So as we finish the story of Genesis- the beginning book of the Bible.

What do you think of God?  What thoughts come to your mind when you think of God?
Our first problem is we are finite beings trying to picture an infinite being.

God Himself has told us: “ To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal? Look to heavens – who created all the stars and planets? God brings out the starry host one by one and calls them each by name.

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the Everlasting God, the creator of the ends of earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom.” ( Isaiah 40)

So here is our first observation: God is not like us.

God is the source of everything.

He causes everything to exist and holds it together.

And it is all for His Glory.
So do not reduce God to something you can fully comprehend; do not shrink God- He is all-powerful, all-knowing, sovereign  Holy God.  I cannot find the words to describe Him, neither could the Apostle Paul who wrote:  Oh the depth of riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or has been His counselor? Who has ever given to God that God should repay him? For from Him and thru Him and to Him are all  things. To Him be glory forever. Amen! ( Romans 11)
Can you imagine the audacity of mankind who has seen the works of creation  and knowing it came from God, then refusing to glorify Him or give Him thanks. They have seen the light of His creation but gave Him no thanks and their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

The spirit of man is the candle or lamp of the Lord searching all the inward part. ( Prov. 20:27)  We were once in darkness- but light has come into our lives.
So if you want to see God as He really is and wants to be seen here are the ways He has revealed Himself

  1. Through Nature. ( Romans 1; Psalms 19)
  2. Through our consciences. Romans 2.
  3. Through His Word. Our souls were created by God to have His Word engrafted into them. We are born again, Peter tells us not of the corruptible but the incorruptible seed, the Word of God. Our souls are like those photosensitive nerve cells in the back of the eye. Sight takes place in front of the eye- vision, understanding what we have seen takes place behind the retina.Our spiritual vision works like our physical vision. Consider the soul to be like the back of the eye- our spiritual eyes.  Our soul absorbs the word which is light and the images it brings in and translates them into what we see. So it happens when we absorb the word of God which is Spiritual light and with the Holy Spirit we are able to ‘see’ – that is understand what we have taken in. A person who is not a believer – can see the words on the page, but cannot understand them. They are foolishness to him/her because they are spiritually blind.
  4. Through His Son. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1.)


Have you gotten a glimpse of His glory in Genesis?
These brothers to use a term we use when we cannot understand someone’s motives- we say, “ I can’t read this person..”. This is exactly what Paul is referring to in I Cor. 2- when he said the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
In 2 Cor. 3: Paul says about unbelievers: “ But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament ( Moses) because the veil is taken away in Christ.”
Or as believers our carnality, our sin will make us neglect the Word of God  make thus creating doubt and  the condition double- mindedness- so we are tossed about like a wave of the sea.
But when we turn to Him and to His word and we get into the Word and the Word gets into us- we are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Cor. 3: 18)

Copyright © 2010 Linda Benthal
Last modified: 08/12/14