Click for audio: Beautiful Tragedy_Genesis 37 thru 50_Sept 11 2011
– Unfortunately, there are several dates that stand out as tragedy for theU.S.
- April 14, 1865,Lincoln assassinated
- December 7, 1941 Attack onPearl Harbor, “a date which will live in infamy” by FDR
- November 22, 1963 JFK assassinated
- August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina hit theU.S.gulf area
- September 11, 2001 Terrorist attack on NY & DC
When events like these occur in such a public nature, the religious question that often gets asked is “Where was God when this happened?” Where was God when planes flew into theWorldTradeCenterTowers and the Pentagon, and in an open field inPennsylvania? Any response must be sensitive to the heart cry and raw emotions; but the biblical answer is that God is where He always is – reigning on His throne
Psalm 9:7 “But the Lord sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice.”
Psalm 113:4-6 “The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens! Who is like the Lord our God, who is seated on high, who looks far down on the heavens and the earth?”
As we approach the remaining chapters and lives in the book of Genesis we must remember that God is sovereign and God is good. These are themes woven into the storyline as a whole, from seeing God create everything good and beautiful, to seeing Him maneuver circumstances to bring about His good purposes for humanity in the midst of sin, rebellion and tragedy. With this understanding we broadly approach the life of Joseph.
EXAMINE Genesis 36 – 50 Beautiful Tragedy
Joseph sold by brothers (Genesis 37:26-28)
Joseph is one of two sons (other was Benjamin) who was born to Jacob and Rachel. The 10 other sons were born to Jacob’s other wives, of whom he did not love. Joseph has a dream that he reigns over his brothers and they bow down to him. Naturally, the brothers were not fond of Joseph and they threw him in a ditch and sold him away as a slave toEgypt, basically leaving him to die.
Joseph became overseer to Potiphar (Genesis 39:1-6)
Joseph is taken toEgyptbut “the Lord was with Joseph” (vv.2, 3, 5). God used the evil actions of his brothers and elevated Joseph to serve as overseer in Potiphar’s house. However, later Joseph would be wrongly accused of raping Potiphar’s wife. She was an evil seductress and once again Joseph would be the victim of evil circumstances and spend time in an Egyptian prison.
Psalm 105:18 “Joseph’s feet were hurt with fetters; his neck was put in a collar or iron”
ð 2 Corinthians 5:5-7 “He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.”
Joseph was a sufferer of evil circumstance (Genesis 40:15, 23)
“For I was indeed stolen out of the land of the Hebrews, and here also I have done nothing that they should put me into the pit… Joseph [was forgotten].”
Joseph was a subject of God’s good purposes (Genesis 42:1-6)
Joseph suffered violence by his brothers, loneliness from family and perhaps even God. Yet, Joseph’s time in prison was not without purpose. God intersected Joseph with the right people at the right time to elevate Joseph as Governor overEgypt. Through God’s wisdom, Joseph led Egypt to save food and money over the course of seven years in preparation for seven years of famine.
This led to Joseph’s brothers coming toEgyptseeking help and ironically presenting themselves before Joseph.
ð Trusting God to bring beauty from evil you can forgive (Genesis 45:1-8; 50:15-20).
Joseph reveals his identity to the brothers and points them to God’s good purposes. Even after their father, Israel/Jacob died, Joseph forgives his brothers. He trusted God’s purposes for his life.
In closing out these chapters, book and even in light of today’s 10th anniversary for 9-11-01, here are some final applications:
– Evil does exist.
In Genesis, we have seen evil in Adam & Eve rejecting God’s protection and promises, on to Cain killing Abel, the people of Noah’s generation being only continually evil and many others who show the disparity of humanity.
On that tragic day of 9-11-01,Americasaw evil up close and personal. There was not a logical person who gave the hijackers a pass because they were merely a byproduct of a faulty environment. No, there were evil men with evil actions from evil intentions and evil purposes.
Today’s world is a war zone, not only of rival nations and terrorism but from the god of this age being invaded and conquered by the Cross and the comingKingdomofGod. Christianity must not soften its mindset towards the world that there is only one way, truth and life. Indeed, following Jesus is to be counter-cultural and often means hardship.
– Heroes and help are provided.
In Genesis, the great hero is God himself. Indeed, God does use people to be leaders, provide help and offer hope. But, God does this in spite of those people.
On 9-11-01, we saw the American hands of help offered to those in need. Firefighters, police officers, medical professionals, co-workers, friends and neighbors pitched in to help each other and many became heroes. Our differences of age, gender, skin color, politics and preferences were on level ground – “Ground Zero” – so that we saw each other equally. Americabecame a united nation with the single character of honor. We wanted to honor each other, the victims and the ideals for which our nation stands: Life,Liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And we humbly learned what it truly means to be human in the face of inhumanity.
We must remember that every person from every tribe, tongue and nation were created in the image of God. As Christians, we must dare to be radical disciples and do heroic acts of faith so that many can be saved. Jesus’ love for people resulted in the most heroic act of all history – the giving up of His life. Jesus died for us so that we can live for Him.
– Life’s priorities matter.
In Genesis, God and His purposes are central. He is faithful and determined to accomplish His will for His glory. He often used evil and tragic circumstances and turned them around into pictures of hope and beauty.
After 9-11-01, Americans were reminded of what is important. The days and weeks following families made phone calls, gathered together just to embrace. Churches were filled with nights of prayer and a longing for God to speak words of comfort.
Life is full of 9-11 days – events that are too big for us: loss of job, loss of house, savings, or worse losing marriages or experiencing the death of a loved one. Yet, the way forward is returning to what matters most.
Christians have no need to flinch or fear the sight of tragedy or evil. To be certain we are moved and can be hurt like anyone else. Death is horrible and lonely. Hell is frightening. Yet, fortunately, the most tragic day in history was not a Tuesday in NY/DC/PA but a Friday inJerusalem. Jesus, the God and King of all creation, died. Tragedy was made beautiful when the horror of “Ground Zero” atCalvarywas overcome with the resurrection of Jesus. Death was defeated and triumphed over through an empty tomb. Tragedy has been made beautiful.
Colossians 3:13-15 “God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”