- The Explore the Bible lesson for Feb. 24 focuses on Genesis 45:1-15.
Things are not always what they seem, especially when the object is camouflaged. Various camouflaged illustrations of the animal kingdom are displayed in classrooms to teach students about survival techniques. Predators and prey blend in the snow or among tall grass and flowers, tree trunks and tree limbs, or rocks and mountains to survive. Predators will use camouflage to sneak up on the prey, and prey will use camouflage for protection from the predator.
Not only does the animal kingdom use camouflage to survive, some believers are guilty of camouflaging their Christian walk. Other times, the believers hide their Christian identity because of fear or persecution. It may seem as though believers have no hope and no faith in these dark times, and they have gone into hiding. Whatever the circumstance, believers need to come out of hiding, stand up and be the people God has called them to be.
Revealed (Genesis 45:1-4)
Because of the severe famine, Jacob decided to send his sons to Egypt to buy grain. However, Benjamin remained because of fear that harm would come upon him (Genesis 42:1-5). Upon arriving in Egypt, Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him. When the brothers bowed down to the ground before him, he remembered his dream (Genesis 42:8,9) and the dream finally comes to reality (Genesis 37:5-11).
During the first encounter, Joseph accused his brothers of being spies, but the brothers argued they only came to buy food. For their freedom, Joseph requested Benjamin to be brought to Egypt. Joseph remained solid in his accusation and ordered them to prison (Genesis 42:10-17). After three days in prison, Joseph released his brothers and ordered them to return to Canaan, except for Simeon. In order to return, Benjamin would have to come back with them.
During the second encounter, the brothers brought Benjamin with them. Not realizing Joseph’s identity, they were invited to a meal in his house. As they bowed down before him, the second dream became a reality (Genesis 43:26). After the meal, Joseph released all of the brothers to return to their land. Deceptively and intentionally, he had the steward place his silver cup in Benjamin’s sack. Accusing them of stealing, Judah pleads the case of their innocence. Judah admits the betrayal and selling of Joseph into slavery (Genesis 44:25-32). Because of the agony of facing his father’s tears again, Judah begs Joseph to allow him to remain in the place of Benjamin. (Genesis 44:33,34). Finally, Joseph no longer could keep the secret from his brothers. With a loud cry, he revealed his identity (Genesis 45:1-4).
One may find it difficult to reconcile, especially when the other person is guilty of the offense. The Scripture tells us: “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13). Through difficulties and unfair circumstances, God is present to bring us to forgiveness and reconciliation.
Remnant (Genesis 45:5-8)
Joseph was shown a glimpse of God’s purpose for his life to save lives and preserve a remnant on the earth (Genesis 45:7). What a pure and humble attitude Joseph displayed when he forgave his brothers unconditionally. Because of his actions and attitude, the terrified brothers were assured of their safety and protection.
Believers must think critically and spiritually when others wrong them. When we understand the plan and purposes of God for his people, we are more able to bear the pain and become better representatives for Christ to a lost and dying world.
Reunion (Genesis 45:9-13)
This remarkable reunion sets in motion the upcoming journey of Jacob and all his family and possessions. Joseph directs his brothers to tell their father to come quickly to Egypt. Current circumstances of the famine, which will last about five more years, is reason enough for Jacob to leave the land of Canaan, as well as to fulfill the purpose of God.
It has been said that time erases all pain. People may wish they had the power to go back and erase the pain from the past or erase the pain they may have caused others. Instead, the reality is that we cannot go back and change what has occurred in the past; however, we can practice love and forgiveness.
How can we balance pain and love at the same time?
Restored (Genesis 45:14-15)
The reversal of the jealousy and cruel acts of the brothers against Joseph are established through the weeping, embracing, and conversations among them. Joseph could have chosen to place his brothers in prison because of the injustices brought upon him. However, he chose to listen to God and begin the process of restoration.
Forgiveness is not based on others’ actions, but on attitudes and openness. Our attitude will determine whether we will hold on to unforgiveness or allow God to lead us to forgive others. Believers should not repay evil for evil and must learn to live in peace with everyone (Romans 12:17-18). God has special ways to bring his people to lands of plenty, protection and peace.
Margie Clayton is minister of education at Berean Tabernacle Baptist Church in Liberty.