Nov 20, 2022
The Power of Perspective
Genesis 50:15-21 – The Power of Perspective
We are finishing the book of Genesis today, specifically the life of Joseph – Genesis chapter 50 – As I was preparing this week, was taken by Joseph’s view of his life and its events – he chose to see things not from his limited view, but from God’s 30,000 ft view point.
Two years ago, in October 2020, 17 of us walked the Grand Canyon – the day before we hiked, we went to the South Rim to scout it out (GROUP PIC) – remember looking out over the canyon, trying to follow the trail with my eyes as far as I could, envisioning where we would walk the next day – It was beautiful, awe-inspiring to see that canyon carved into the earth – now, things were drastically different 10,15,20 miles in, when we were walking through the floor of the canyon, heat exceeding 100 degrees in parts, and the climb out, 7,000 ft of elevation over the last 4 miles – the perspective from the top was drastically different than the perspective from the floor.
You really have two options in life: View life from your perspective or, as much as you can, from God’s – Your view (PIC OF TRAIL) will be limited to what you can see in front of you, will often seem ominous, scary, uncertain, daunting, while seeing things from God’s perspective changes to a bird’s eye view, a bigger picture (PIC of Bird’s EYE VIEW of CANYON), much more manageable, a blip on the radar, a moment in time.
Overall, looking at life of Joseph, we have seen a guy that generally saw things from God’s perspective – Tim Keller drew out major themes of his life:
- Innocent Sufferer – Genesis 37-38 – sold into slavery by his brothers, he continued to persevere and trust God.
- Faithful Servant – Genesis 39-43 – Whether he was living in prestigious Potiphar’s House or prison, he was the same guy, faithfully serving those in front of him.
- Obedient Leader – Genesis 39-40 – he stayed faithful, even in temptation.
- Wise Prophet – Genesis 40-41 – He knew wisdom comes from God, and used that gift to interpret the purposes of God in other’s lives.
- Gracious Brother – Genesis 42-45 – when face-to-face with his brothers after 20 years of hardship, he chose to love and extend grace instead of vengeance.
- Loving Restorer – Genesis 46-49 – through his generosity, the blessing of God rested on his family once again, and they were preserved.
- Humble Savior – Genesis 50 – recognizes that God’s plan for him was bigger than his suffering, that, like the bird’s eye view of the GC, saw point A to Point B, and God’s plan to use him to save the lives of many.
Without God’s perspective, Joseph would never have accomplished what he accomplished, and God’s blessing would have died with Jacob. Genesis 50:15-21
To catch you up on narrative, Joseph revealed himself to his brothers in chapter 45, sent them home to grab Jacob and bring him to live in Egypt, and in chapter 49, Jacob blesses his sons before his death, passing on the generational blessing – parenthetically, he passes over Rueben, his firstborn, because he slept with Bilhah, his concubine 40 years earlier, and over Simeon and Levi, who brutally murdered the men of Shechem for sexually assaulting their sister Dinah – the blessing was passed onto Judah, as well as Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh – And, while Judah was far from perfect, Genesis 49:10 tells us that Judah was now the line from which rulers would come, which was ultimately fulfilled in David and Jesus.
Genesis 50, Jacob died and the family buried him in Canaan and returned to Egypt – this is where we will pick up the story.
V15-17 – Joseph’s brothers were afraid that Jacob was the only thing keeping Joseph from retaliating, and moved back into self-protective mode – remember, Joseph is now sitting as 2nd in command in Egypt, super powerful – so, they sent word to Joseph, making up a story about Jacob’s last words in hope that Joseph would have compassion on them.
What was their perspective? Guilt, shame and fear – his brothers couldn’t see past their own failure, their own motives, they could only see what was in front of them: a ruler whom they had wronged, and his position and ability to punish them – and after all that God orchestrated to get the family to this point, they still reverted to lies, manipulation and self-protection.
A couple of thoughts: first, who speaks the language of guilt, shame and fear? He is constantly reminding you of your past, your failure, your inability to right your wrongs – and, if you let him, he will keep you viewing the world through the lens of guilt, shame and fear, keep you assigning intent to others, and devising plans to live and fight another day – if you feel any of this today, know that the enemy’s goal is to keep you in bondage for the rest of your life.
Second, Joseph’s brothers had learned ABSOLUTELY NOTHING – God had used their bad decisions to protect their family, and yet, they continued to lie and manipulate – it is the nature of sin that keeps you looking out for your own interests and robs you of the FREEDOM of seeing things from God’s perspective.
And what was Joseph’s response? Joseph wept. At every turn, Joseph chose God’s perspective in suffering, and yet, his brothers still assumed the worst of him – James 1:2-4, Joseph was all-in for character development, while his brothers were living from a place of shame and fear, which was keeping them from the life God had rescued them for.
V18 – “We are your slaves” – They have been delivered to abundance, they were given the choice land of Egypt, they were living in the house of the 2nd in command, under his protection and provision, and their response? We are slaves.
This is a scarcity mindset, a belief that they can never be forgiven – abundance placed in front of them, but all they can see is their own brokenness – Lots of time talking with people that don’t believe there is life on the other side of their sin – maybe you have bought into that lie – maybe you believe that there is something you have done that will ultimately keep you from experiencing God’s best for you – If you’re not dead, God’s not done – he doesn’t waste a moment for your life – he’s always working to bring you freedom, , identity and purpose – Remember, Jesus said in Luke 4:18-19 that his purpose was to proclaim freedom for prisoners – imagine being in a 20 year prisoner and then being released – would you trade freedom for a prison cell?
V19 – Joseph had a choice to make – sit in the seat of judgment or the seat of humility – Joseph got it right: “I am not God” – he stayed out of the seat reserved for God – so difficult to do – did he have the right to judge his brothers? From a human perspective, they cost him 20 years of his life, most of it in captivity – he had plenty of reason to get his revenge – but God…His ability to see things from God’s perspective in a moment where he clearly had the upper hand and could set them straight seems unrealistic, but a fitting close to Genesis – THERE IS A GOD, and YOU ARE NOT HIM.
V20 – “You intended harm, but God intended it for YOUR GOOD” – Joseph not only has God’s perspective for his suffering, but also, sees it FOR THEIR GOOD – I love that Joseph’s perspective was not only about his current position, but also their provision and protection – “God allowed this to preserve the promise he made to our family” – What incredible grace and mercy communicated in that phrase – “Allow me to reframe the narrative for you: all of your struggle has been used for your good, and the good of others” – Romans 8:28 – God’s perspective is that he sees what you can’t, and he, as we said last week, goes before you and behind you –
V21 – “Don’t be afraid! I got you.” Joseph is setting the captives free – NO MORE FEAR, LIVE IN FREEDOM.
So, we see as we close book of Genesis, brothers who can’t see past their shame and, and Joseph, who seems to give us Jesus vibes – think about it: in their sin, in their guilt, shame and fear, Joseph chooses to forgive and release them from their brokenness.
As you look at these two perspectives, easy to say, “I should be more like Joseph” – true, but you are more like brothers – in fact, you don’t naturally have what it takes to gain eternal perspective – enter Jesus – Jesus is the better Joseph – Hebrews 12:1-2 – Jesus is the PIONEER and PERFECTOR of our faith – he is the innocent sufferer, the faithful servant, the obedient leader, the wise prophet, the gracious brother, the loving restorer, the humble savior – he pioneered the path to salvation by the cross, and while you can’t just be more like Joseph, you can become like Jesus, because when you receive him, HE IS IN YOU, and transforms your perspective from the valley to the bird’s eye view – Psalm 23:4 – EVEN IN THE VALLEY, NO FEAR.
Hebrews 2:10 – In QT two weeks ago, reading this passage, and was gripped with this imagery – Jesus in deep forest with machete, carving out trail, and me right behind him – I don’t need bird’s eye view when he is right in front of me.
Where is your perspective?