A Family Reunion
Forgiveness and reconciliation
Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him. Genesis 45:14-15 (NIV)
Have you ever been to a family reunion? A reunion is a wonderful time seeing aunts, uncles, and cousins that you haven't seen for a long time. If you haven't seen them in a long time, it may be hard to recognize some of them. There is something else you should know about family reunions. There is plenty to eat and lots of hugs and kisses at a family reunion.
Today's Bible lesson is somewhat like a family reunion. It is a continuation of the story of Joseph and his brothers. I'm sure you remember the story about how Joseph's brothers beat him up, threw him in a pit, and sold him to some merchants who were on their way to Egypt.
When Joseph arrived in Egypt, a lot of things happened to him -- some good -- and some not so good. You are going to help me tell the next part of this story. I will tell you some of the things that happened to Joseph and you will tell me if they were good or bad.
- Joseph worked in the house of Potiphar and was placed over all of Potiphar's wealth. (Good)
- Potiphar's wife told some terrible lies about Joseph to her husband. (Bad)
- Because of his wife's lies, Potiphar had Joseph thrown into jail. (Bad)
- The head jailer took a liking to Joseph and placed him in charge of all the other prisoners. (Good)
- Joseph used his God-given gift to interpret the dreams of the other prisoners. (Good)
- Joseph was stuck in jail for more than two years. (Bad)
- Pharaoh heard that Joseph had the ability to understand dreams. (Good)
- Pharaoh released Joseph from jail to explain his dreams. (Good)
- Pharaoh believed what Joseph told him and put him in charge of the entire land of Egypt. (Good)
Now, let's see what happens next.
Just as Joseph had told Pharaoh, the dream he was having meant that there would be seven years when the harvest would be great and there would be plenty of food. Then there would be seven years when there would be nothing. God was telling Pharaoh to set aside grain during the good years so that there would be plenty of food during the bad years. That is exactly what Pharaoh did. When the bad years came, there was plenty grain in Egypt, but all the countries around them were starving.
People came from all the surrounding countries to buy grain from Joseph, because the whole world was in need of food. Some of those people were Joseph's very own brothers. When his brothers came, Joseph recognized them, but they did not know who he was. After all, it had been many years since they had seen him, and they probably didn't expect to see him in such a position of power.
Joseph met with his brothers several times without telling them who he was. Finally, he could keep it to himself no longer. He told his brothers, "I am Joseph! Is my father alive?" But his brothers were speechless because they were afraid. But Joseph said, "Come closer. I am your brother, the one you sold! Don't worry, and don't be angry at yourselves for selling me into slavery. You see, it wasn't you who sent me here. God has put me here to save people from starving."
"Now, go and tell my father all about the high position I hold in Egypt, tell him everything you've seen here, but don't take all day--hurry up and get my father down here."
What a happy reunion! Guess what? There hugs and kisses all around that day!
Heavenly Father, there are so many lessons to be learned from the story of Joseph. It shows us how you love and care for us even when times are difficult. It shows us that we should be loving and forgiving even when we have been treated badly. Help us to apply those lessons to our daily life. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.