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Am I in the place of God?

Genesis 50:15-21

Pastor David Ernst

Fourth Sunday after Trinity
Epiphany Lutheran Mission of La Caramuca  
Barinas, Venezuela

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Sun, Jul 5, 2020 

Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

In the activity for the youth, we are following the story of Joseph in Egypt, dramatized by puppets. Now I will ruin the story for you because our text for today is the epilogue to this story. Joseph was the youngest son of Jacob, son of Isaac, grandson of Abraham, and his father's darling. Out of jealousy, his brothers sold him to slave traders en route to Egypt and lied to his father, saying that a beast killed Joseph. We are at the stage of the story when Joseph entered the court of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. There is much more to say about Joseph's adventures in Egypt, but the end of the story is the reconciliation of Joseph with his brothers and his father. Joseph forgave his brothers and moved the whole family to Egypt to live with him.

However, our text relates the events of 17 years later. Jacób died in Egypt, which is a story in itself. “And when Joseph's brothers saw that his father was dead, they said, Perhaps Joseph will hate us, and will repay us for all the evil we did to him. And they sent messengers to Joseph to say, Your father commanded before his death, saying, Thus shall you say to Joseph, I pray you, now, forgive the wickedness of your brethren and their sin, for they have mistreated you; therefore now we ask you to forgive the wickedness of the servants of your father's God. ”

The brothers were scared because Joseph had all the power over them and perhaps he only forgave them for the love of his father. But, Joseph did not seek revenge and forgave them the second time. "And Joseph answered them, Fear not: am I in the place of God? You thought badly against me, but God directed it to good, to do what we see today, to keep many people alive. Now therefore do not be afraid; I will support you and your children. Thus he comforted them, and spoke to their hearts. "

We must learn from this history, first, on this day of independence for Venezuela, to give thanks to God for the gift of freedom. Slavery has been a reality for the greater part of history of the human race. Slavery is still found in various parts of the world today.

Second, we must learn that God uses evil to accomplish that which is good. Because of the betrayal of his brothers, and with the help of God, Joseph became a great man in Pharaoh's government and saved the lives of not only his family, but many people in Egypt as well. As Pharaoh's counselor, Joseph was responsible for storing food during the famine. Therefore, Joseph forgave his brothers again.

Third, today in our world there is a wave of vandalism against statues because many people do not want to forget the abuse and injustice of past centuries. They speak of justice, but they seek revenge, which belongs to God. Because of those who walk this path, there will always be wars and rumors of wars until the coming of the Lord in glory. For war, like slavery and poverty, arises from the heart of man, who is selfish and evil.

This is the way of Christ, according to our epistle (Romans 12: 14-21), “Bless those who persecute you; bless, and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice; and weep with those who weep. Be of one mind among you, not haughty; associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Pay no one evil for evil; Seek what is good before all men. If possible, as soon as it is in you, live in peace with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, before, give place to anger; for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. So if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by doing this you will pile up embers of fire upon his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. ”

Sometimes we have to defend our families, our houses, our country. But, we trust God for the final judgment, not for perfect justice in this world. Joseph did not keep hatred in his heart for the betrayal of his brothers. He said to them, "Am I in the place of God?" We recognize how God has not forgiven our sins, so we are willing to forgive others.

Now, why was Joseph's forgiveness not enough for his brothers the first time? At that time, Joseph revealed his identity as their brother and his love for them, but they did not clearly and openly confess their sins against Joseph. If we do not confess our sins with our lips and listen to the response of God and our neighbor, guilt and resentment remain in our hearts. Therefore, even though Jesus Christ died on the cross once for all our sins, we must confess our sins against God and against our neighbors in the general confession before receiving the blood and body of Jesus Christ at the sacrament. If a particular sin weighs on our hearts, we must confess it privately to the pastor or brother against whom we have sinned. The sharing of peace before the sacrament means that we have received forgiveness from our brothers in faith.

Thus ends the story of Joseph and the book of Genesis. But, the fight against evil never ends in this world. In the second book of the Bible, Exodus, we read that after the death of Joseph another Pharaoh arose and began 400 years of slavery for all the children of Abraham until the coming of Moses. All things in this world change, but the Word of God, the promises of God will never pass.

Therefore, on this day of independence, we give thanks for an independent country and all the blessings that God has given us among the problems. In God's blessings and his promise of eternal life we ​​have peace that passes all understanding. Amen.

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