Thursday, August 26, 2010

Don't bury me in Egypt

Through the Bible in 90 Days: Day 4

Read: Genesis 40-50

Verse that stood out: "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accmplish what is now being done, the saving of many live" (Genesis 50:20).

This week I started a new book. Fratricide, revenge killings, adultery, drunkenness, false imprisonments, and endless lying has taken place – and that’s just from the supposed good guys in the story! Not what most people expect to find in the first few pages of the Bible, and yet, there it is. Our Holy Book tells the story of some of the most unholy of people (who, once you strip away the cultural differences, look a lot like people today).

It’s difficult to find a human protagonist. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, even Joseph are each deeply flawed in their own ways. Joseph is probably the most righteous of the bunch, but his righteousness is carried out in a foreign land. His success in Egypt seems to be taking the Hebrews further away from the promise not nearer. Even the scoundrel Jacob seems to recognize this. Shortly before his death he makes Joseph swear not to bury him in Egypt, “When I rest with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me where they are buried” (Gen 47:30).

Where were they buried? Canaan, the Promise Land. It dawns on me, that the real protagonist, the driving force of the story isn’t to be found in the human characters but in the promise of God. It’s God’s promise to Abraham and his descendents that moves this story along. Or better yet, it is the God of the promise who sticks with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob no matter how much their actions run counter to the promise. God keeps this story on the move as he keeps showing up, keeps casting the vision of future day, and keeps redeeming what we intended for evil, for our good and his glory.

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