Obscure Scenes

“Peace to you, do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has put treasure in your sacks for you.” (Genesis 43:23)

Scattered across the Epistles the phrase “grace and mercy” appear as inseparable vines twisted around the solid trunk of Scripture.

These concepts did not first sprout from the blood-­soaked earth beneath the cross. The roots of these two words run deep, beginning with the grand story of Creation. We first learn about grace and mercy when God covered the shame of Adam and Eve with a slain animal’s coat in that intimate exchange in the garden.

Because our Father is consistent and unchanging, his passionate love for his people cannot be disguised. He reveals his uncompromising nature in obscure scenes and in recognizable passages, unveiling his endless, redeeming love.

In the familiar story of Joseph in Genesis 43, the brothers return to Egypt a second time to beg bread from the very one they sold into slavery years before.

Joseph is unfamiliar in his stately attire, his Egyptian tongue and appearance masking his Hebrew origin. Each time the sons of Israel prostrate themselves before Joseph they fulfill his dream, but they cannot erase the thirteen years they stole or the anguish their evil hearts forced him to endure.

Joseph has every right to hate his brothers, and he has the powerful Egyptian forces at his disposal to unleash the cruelest forms of revenge. When the ten treacherous brothers show up on his prestigious governmental doorstep, it would be a mere trifle to order them dragged away, and executed. Nobody would have ever known where those starving Hebrews ended. Who would fault him for measuring back punishment in equal measure?

Instead, a picture of God’s grace emerges when Joseph has the grain bags on each brother’s donkey filled the first time, and filled again, with their money returned in full. Rather than throwing them in well-­deserved iron chains and casting them into a dimly lit, rat-­infested dungeon, he speaks with them, invites them into his own home, and lays food before them from his own table.

In Joseph’s response, we get a taste of God’s brand of forgiveness. Mercy is God withholding the punishment we rightly deserve. Grace is God’s abundant provision, which we are totally incapable of securing for ourselves. Joseph, as a type of Christ, reflects both these gifts to his undeserving family.

On the cross our beloved Savior freely poured out grace and mercy abundantly from the storehouse of the Father’s love. Our sacred Brother endured the greatest humiliation and chained himself to our sins to be in the perfect position to free us and forgive us forever.

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