In my seminary class, we are currently talking about missions. We have been doing a small but helpful exercise; read the Bible through the lens of what God is doing regarding missions.
After our reading assignment, we have to write a missional analysis of the scripture we read.
This little exercise has been helpful to say the least. It has opened my eyes to be able to see beyond what we would just glean from a natural and linear reading of scripture, and instead, it has allowed me to see scripture from behind the scenes and try to understand how God could be seeing things from his end.
I thought I’d share this missional analysis I did of Genesis chapters 37-45. This is basically the story of Joseph. I hope this helps and blesses you as much as it helped me.
In the story of Joseph, we see the sovereignty and provision of God in our missionary work. As ambassadors of God to a mostly hostile world, we set foot into unknown territories of spiritual dimensions, the likes of which are difficult to describe.
For we are obeying and following the commands of a God we cannot physically see, going to a place we cannot totally discern—just as the little boy who was loved by his father was sent to deliver food to his brothers, so are we, sent by our Father to feed people with living bread—the unknown here is not so much the destination, but rather what happens during the journey and what will happen when you reach the destination itself. It’s like stepping into a dark room where you do not know what you are stepping on.
We hope for the reconciliation of people to a holy God, using a message we did not create, delivering it to a people we do not attract, instructing them to do something they do not want to do. Needless to say, many times discouragement and disillusionment can come to the missionary that is received with unmet expectations, broken promises, and many types of persecutions.
Joseph was thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, mistreated and accused, and put behind bars. With this type of persecution, we could easily excuse ourselves to retract our missionary work, but a true Christian will at least understand two things using Joseph The Missionary as an exemplar; first, that God is sovereign in his dealings of situations, and secondly, that God is providential in his process of dealing with situations.
This is how I believe Joseph was able to say to his brothers after revealing that he was the second most powerful person in Egypt and possibly the world at that time; “God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.”
Joseph was a deliverer to his brothers and family, but we have someone better and greater, a missionary from heaven; Jesus who came from the linage of one of the brothers that was saved by Joseph; Judah.
And now Jesus sends us all to continue the mission of reconciling people to himself, understanding that though many troubles will come and many issues will arise, we can safely and boldly say:
“So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God.”