A summary of Genesis could be that God is gathering a people for himself. People are rubbish but God doesn’t reject people. God made promises of people, land and blessing. Abraham and Isaac tried to prostitute their own wives to save their skin. Jacob cons his own father. His sons sell their own brother into slavery and leave him for dead. God is keeping his promises despite our sin and wickedness. He takes rubbish people and makes them his own.
Joseph knows the evil intent in the hearts of his brothers but he knows that God can use it for good. For Jacob that means fixing his eyes on Canaan. He’s come to the end of his life and with his final words he’s modelling what it looks like. He wants to make sure his sons act in line with God’s promises. The mourning for Jacob is extravagant. It’s testimony to who he is and who Jacob is. For the Egyptians their saviour’s grief becomes their own grief. Joseph speaks to the court, even as the second in command. He’s showing respect and humility.
Only Joseph and his brothers cross into Canaan. They turn and go back to Egypt. Even here we see this is about more than just Canaan. If we’re Christians we are to fix our eyes on heaven if we are to live for Jesus now. For Joseph it means completely forgiving his brothers. It means cancelling debt and absorbing a cost. It means no longer bringing up the issue. It moves towards the other person and is only possible when we trust God. Joseph knows that behind the hurt God was still doing good things. It doesn’t take away the hurt but it means knowing that this isn’t all there is. If we won’t forgive others we have no right to expect God to forgive us.
God is gathering a people for himself.