In one scene, immediately after the paratroopers hit the ground in France, Lieutenant Winters and Private Hall wander through the countryside before meeting up with the rest of the Americans. The private radiates fear and insecurity because he lacks the exact knowledge of where he is. The lieutenant, however, speaks with a calm confidence coming from his careful study of the maps and from the maturity of his training. He sees the big picture, and following his leadership, they soon find their other comrades and make it to the rendezvous point with the rest of the Americans.
Here’s the conversation Winters and Hall have as they walk through a dark, sparse forest with the echo of gunfire in the distance:
The private asks, “Do you have any idea where we are, sir?” “Some,” says Lieutenant Winters. “I need your help to locate some landmarks to get our bearings. Keep your eyes peeled for buildings, farmhouses, bridges, and roads.” “I wonder if the rest of them are as lost as we are?” “We’re not lost, Private. We’re in Normandy!”
Every one of us has been like that private. And nothing reduces us to that status any more than brokenness. It may be physical brokenness. It may be relational and emotional. It may be any number of other deprivations. But what is common in the midst of our affliction is an inability to see the big picture.
This week we are going to re-examine one of the choice passages in all of Scripture in which the myopia of Joseph’s brothers runs headlong into his big picture perspective. Indeed, Derek Kidner, in his commentary on the last chapter of Genesis, notes that what we find in Joseph’s big picture perspective is the clearest, most unvarnished presentation of biblical faith in all of the Scriptures. For here in the wake of his father’s death, the brothers who had betrayed Joseph, the brothers who repeatedly seek after their own selfish desire are scared to death of what Joseph would now do to them. So they make up a lie and transmit it to Joseph through a messenger. They say, “Your father…” Now get that! He’s their father too, yet they say, “Your father gave strict orders before he died that you were to forgive us…”
And yet in the face of his brother’s dereliction and fear, Joseph exhibits in the essence of the true faith. Kidmer calls it the pinnacle of faith. Joseph makes three statements that reflect the power of the Holy Spirit on his life. Indeed, Kidner is right. There is no greater synthesis of godly trust than the three declaratives Joseph makes in the face of his troubled brothers.
These three declarations are not the product of radical spontaneity. They are, rather, the product of a life lived on the battlefield of torment, in justice, abuse, and loss. Like that lieutenant, Joseph knows exactly where he is. He knows exactly where his brothers are. And his declarations reveal it.
In preparation for Sunday’s message, “Seeing the Big Picture”, you may wish to consider the following:
1. Briefly review Joseph’s life from chapter 37 when he’s sold into slavery by his brothers.
2. How long is Joseph away from his brothers?
3. How does God use the sin of his brothers’ betrayal for His purposes?
4. How does God use the death of Jacob for his purposes?
5. How long does Jacob live in Egypt before he dies?
6. Why do the brothers doubt Joseph’s forgiveness in the face of their father’s death?
7. What three things does Joseph say in the face of his brothers’ lie and fear?
8. What is he saying in verse 19?
9. What is he saying in verse 20?
10. What is he saying in verse 21?
11. How do these three declarations demonstrate the pinnacle of biblical faith?
12. How able are you to say them and mean them?
See you Sunday!