Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Genesis 45: Joseph Comes Clean

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Doh, I realized when I was almost done that I should
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Joseph Provides for His Brothers and Family (v. 1-28)

Recall at the end of last chapter Judah requested to sacrifice his own freedom that that of his brother Benjamin. After this, Joseph was unable to maintain his composure and he told his brothers who he really was. He told them not to be distressed or angry with themselves because it was not them, but God who put him where he is. It was so he could provide for his family and save many people from starvation.

This is interesting, and I think really the crux of this whole story. God apparently manipulated his brothers to do something bad for a much better good down the line. He was not only able to provide for his family, but he saved the lives of countless others. It seems that God has done a good thing here, even though the players wouldn't have recognized it as good while it was happening, the old "God works in mysterious ways" thing. The thing is, this only makes sense if God isn't all powerful. Some less powerful god sees a famine coming, can't do anything to stop it, but has a plan to put a particular person in power who will save a bunch of lives. For an all powerful God, these actions seem pretty lame to me.

From Guzik
Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote a remarkably wide-selling book titled When Bad Things Happen to Good People. It sold more than a half a million copies before going to paperback and was on the New York Times best-seller list for a whole year. The whole point of his book is to say God is all loving but not all powerful, that God is good, but not sovereign. So, when bad things happen to good people, it is because events are out of God’s control. Kushner advises his readers to “learn to love [God] and forgive him despite his limitations.” This certainly is not the God of the Bible!
A God who isn't all powerful certainly does seem to fit a lot better with the old testament God I would say. Although I would argue that the old testament God is also not all loving.

Joseph tells his brothers to go get their father and bring him back, along with all of their flocks and whatnot and they will be provided for during the remaining 5 years of famine. When the Pharaoh heard all of this he was happy to help Joseph's family.

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