If you are following the Bible reading plan, you will be finishing the gospel of Mark. Several years ago, I was traveling from Fort Myers, Fl. to Statesville to visit my mother. Twice on the 12-hour trip, I listened to the gospel of Mark from beginning to end. It was fascinating, reminding me how the early church would have received much of the New Testament. They gathered and listened together someone read the entirety of the book.
Today, our reading plan shifts from the most succinct biography of Jesus to the larger narrative of the OT Scriptures. We begin the larger narrative with the story of Joseph (Genesis 37). If you read the plan through the year, you will follow the storyline of God’s great redemption story that becomes true to life in Jesus Christ.
Most of us love a good hero or redemption story. Stories filled interesting characters, conflict, adversity, uncertainty and finally resolve. In the stories many love the most, there is redemption and restoration. Something greater and more beautiful rises out the ashes of conflict and pain. I suggest we love such stories because this is the story for which we created; God’s great story revealed in the Bible.
Immediately following human sin, rebellion and estrangement, God’s great redemption story commences and climaxes in the gospel story of Jesus Christ. By faith in Christ, we become part of the story, redeemed to participate in God’s unrelenting and glorious redemption story which one day will culminate when our Redeemer and King comes again.
To fully appreciate and understand the beauty of the story, we need to see it in its larger context. In Genesis 12, God blessed a man named Abraham and gave a promise, “one day, all peoples on earth will be blessed through you”. Much of God’s redemption story flows out of this gracious promise. Abraham had a son named Isaac, who had a son named Jacob. God renamed Jacob, Israel, and he had 12 sons. The 12 sons became the 12 tribes of Israel. The favorite son of Jacob was named Joseph.Our reading plan begins the larger narrative of God’s redemption story in Genesis 37 with the story of Joseph.
The story of Joseph is quite a story on its own. Joseph was a favored child of his father (poor parenting!) and was hated by his brothers who brutally sold him into slavery. Joseph eventually arrives in Egypt and in time and God’s providence becomes a powerful man with a high position in the ruling class of Egypt.
During this time there was a famine in all the land. The Joseph story tells us how in God’s providence Jacob and his sons, the descendants of Abraham came to live and prosper in Egypt. The last quarter of Genesis not only tells the Joseph story but reveals one of the great themes of the Bible. God has His purposes and the power to work His good purposes even out of things humanly purposed for evil and harm.