Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 41:46-49

46 And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt.

47 And in the seven plenteous years the earth brought forth by handfuls.

48 And he gathered up all the food of the seven years, which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities: the food of the field, which was round about every city, laid he up in the same.

49 And Joseph gathered corn as the sand of the sea, very much, until he left numbering; for it was without number.

We know that Joseph was seventeen years when he lived in his father’s house, before his brothers sold him into Egypt. From that introduction the only timed interval that we know is the two years after the chief butler was redeemed from prison and forgot to speak up for Joseph. That leaves eleven years divided between Joseph being resented by his brothers, being carried into Egypt, serving as a slave in Potiphar’s house, and being in jail before interpreting the dreams of the butler and baker.

In all, Joseph had spent nearly half of his life not being free. He had matured from a youth to a man while in some form of captivity or another. That is a very long period, and it covers the most critical, transformational years in the life of a man. It is remarkable that he did not lose himself in the trial.

As soon as Joseph was set free, though, he didn’t sit around idling. Notice the directness in verse 46: “Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land.” He has a great lifesaving work to do, and the entire country needs to be prepared with storehouses and workers and a plan of action. This is a massive undertaking, one that will require structures and overseers and bookkeeping. And so he travels through the whole country, instituting his food preservation program in every city (verse 48). Joseph gathers and gathers the increase of the entire country, until the yield exceeds their numbering system!

In short, no sooner was Joseph let loose than he did his work, and he did it well. His years in confinement might have broken a lesser man. But it had not rendered him useless. He was as sharp as he had ever been, if not more so.

The Family of God- Matthew 18:20-22

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

COMMENTARY

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them
Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?

Before today I was already quite familiar with both of these accounts: the one where Jesus promises to be in the midst of a group gathered in his name, and the other where Peter wonders how many times he is expected to forgive another. But until now I had never contemplated that these moments are placed one immediately after the another.
It makes for a fascinating contrast, one where Christ is calling for unity, and then we have Peter trying to find out when he is allowed to create a division. It is as if Peter is asking “at what point can I not be expected to gather with a particular other?”
And Jesus’s answer is, essentially, never. We must not forget that Christ made his own company among sinners. Not only repentant sinners either, remember that he did some of his most beautiful work shoulder-to-shoulder with the man that would ultimately betray him. The world around him was rotten at times, but he still stayed a part of it.
In the end, we are all we have. God isn’t giving you a backup planet with new brothers and sisters if you can’t work things out with the current set. As such, we should stop looking for opportunities to write off a particular brother or sister as a lost cause, and instead start gathering together.