TODAY’S READING: Genesis 42–45
Joseph legitimately took on the interests of his host nation (Gen. 42:6, 8). He learned the local language (v. 23) and observed their customs (43:32). When we take the time to learn the ways of other cultures (whether we visit them or they visit us), we reflect the heart of our God, a God who is above nationalism and who is interested in only one party’s greatness: His own, Himself. Celebrating other cultures respectfully is actually reveling in the God who made us harmoniously different.
As Joseph thrives in Egypt, Jacob languishes in Canaan and Reuben must explain to his anxious father that sometimes you need to risk precious lives to save others (42:37). Missionary families know that sons and daughters must be commissioned to difficult places at cost—costs ranging from loneliness to martyrdom. The very possibility of loss can be crippling, yet even our military, police force, coast guard, and firefighters know that life must be risked in order for life to be saved. Disjointed in our day is that it’s considered heroic for the military to serve in Afghanistan, Somalia, and other nations of dangerous instability, but foolish to send our missionaries to those very same places. It is currently honorable to die for flag and country, and almost dishonorable to die for souls and the King.
Risk, cost, loneliness, slavery, and prison are all intended by God for saving lives. For the God of nations, the God far above nationalism, the lives He longs to save are red, yellow, black, brown, and white. “Do not therefore be grieved,” Joseph says, “for God sent me before you to preserve life…. And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance” (45:5, 7). God ever thinks globally. God saves us that we might be His agent of saving others. God blesses Abraham so that through Abraham all nations might be blessed. God stewards Joseph through slavery and prison, allows him to learn and appreciate other cultures, and empowers him to help another nation be great, all so that lives will be saved—lives in Egypt, lives in Canaan, and lives from all the other grain-seeking nations of the world.
God intends for His glory in His people to be on display (v. 13), not that we brag but that we can further bless. God intends for His people to receive the best of the nations (vv. 18, 20)—not their money or lands, but their people—and we do not receive them as servants, but as sons, brothers, fathers, and friends (v. 8). Whatever our journey, from pit to prison, God wants His people to live interculturally for His glory and for the salvation of many lives.