Certain passages in the Bible always touch my heart – no matter how many times I read them. Genesis 45 is one of those passages. It’s the account of when Joseph finally comes face-to-face with his brothers and confronts them with the sin they had committed against him years earlier.
A quick recap of the story. Joseph’s family was kind of a dysfunctional one. He was the second youngest of twelve brothers. Those ten older brothers didn’t care much for Joseph. He was somewhat of a brat – an annoying little brother who always got special treatment from their father.
“But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him.” Genesis 37:4
They didn’t like him. And gradually their dislike turned to anger. Anger to hatred. And hatred to murder.
“Now when they saw him [Joseph] afar off, even before he came near them, they conspired against him to kill him. Then they said to one another, “Look, this dreamer is coming! Come therefore, let us now kill him and cast him into some pit; and we shall say, ‘Some wild beast has devoured him.’” Genesis 37:18-19
Uhhh…that’s not good. Look, I got two brothers and we used to get into fights when we were younger; but there were limits! We never used weapons. We never tried to injure one another. And we never threw each other in pits and left one another for dead. Period. Those are the rules.
But not these guys. These “brothers” hated Joseph so much that they wanted to kill him right there on spot. You can only imagine how Joseph felt as he was attacked by his brothers… thrown down, beaten, kicked, mocked, spit upon and then left for dead in an empty well. I shudder just at the thought of how helpless he must have felt – ten burly men attacking and assaulting a weak young boy…AND THAT BOY IS THEIR OWN BROTHER!
But the story doesn’t end there. Eventually, the brothers decide that they want to capitalize on their brother’s death in some way. “Why just kill him?” they think to themselves. “Why not sell him as a slave and make a little cash out of all this mess?”
“Then Midianite traders passed by; so the brothers pulled Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.” Genesis 37:28
So now Joseph is being carted off to Egypt to live the rest of his life as a slave. I’m not sure if that’s an upgrade from being left in the pit or not. But either way that’s where he is. And who does he have to thank for his bright future? His wonderful brothers!
I think you’d all agree that he has every right to hate their guts. He has every right to be bitter and angry and vengeful towards his brothers. He has every right to blame them 100% for his miserable circumstance.
But he doesn’t. Somehow he doesn’t blame them at all. Not even 1%. How? Is that even possible? How can that be? How can Joseph not blame his brothers for this mess?
Simple. BECAUSE HE LEARNED TO BLAME GOD.
Most people jump back in shock when I tell them that the true sign of spiritual maturity is learning to blame God. It sounds like the opposite of everything we’ve ever been taught, doesn’t it?
Well, there are two ways to define “blame”. The first is “to accuse of wrongdoing.” In that context, yes, it is silly to blame God. That’s like a child throwing a temper tantrum when their dad doesn’t let them stay up late and watch a horror movie – saying “you are the worst father ever! You don’t love me at all!”
But that’s not how I’m using the word "blame.” I define it as “to hold ultimately responsible.”
In that sense, Joseph blamed God for his circumstances by saying “God I know that I wouldn’t be here unless You in Your Sovereignty allowed it for some reason. I may not know the reason now, but I am “blaming” You… I am holding you ultimately responsible. I am not here because my brothers put me here; I am here because You are allowing it for some reason.”
Listen to what Joseph says to his brothers when they are finally reunited several years later – after Joseph has become the second highest ranking official in Egypt.
“I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.” Genesis 45:4-8
Do you think you could say that about your circumstances? Can you see that your life is never in the hands of others or circumstances or chance? Can you see that your life is in the Hands of the Almighty God?
I hate to say this, but until we get to that point where we can blame God in a healthy way, we will struggle. We will struggle with questions and doubts and fears and anxieties. “Why did this happen? Why did that person hurt me? How come my life isn’t going the way it’s supposed to? Why isn’t God doing anything to help me?”
Learning to blame God sounds bad (and probably a little sacrilegious too). But believe me, it’s the best lesson you’ll ever learn.
For discussion: how has blaming God helped you through a tough time in life? Or how has NOT blaming God hurt you?