Blogging the Bible 13 – Genesis 37:1-41:57 – Signet rings and faithfulness

Way, way back, many centuries ago…

I’ve seen (and enjoyed!) a lot of performances of ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’ over the years. I can’t read today’s chapters  without remembering my daughter Lizzie playing Pharoah in a Year 7 production at school… it was great!

The bits Lloyd Webber left out

Like so much of the book of Genesis, though, I’m being reminded by reading the whole text that there are lots of bits that don’t get musicals written about them – especially ones written to be performed by schools. The section about Judah and Tamar in chapter 38 is a case in point. It’s hard to see why this story, and the others that we find hard to take, get such a prominent place in the Bible – but perhaps it’s to help us to see that God works even despite and through the mess of tangled, sinful real lives.

Two signets, two different futures

Another side of reading larger chunks of the Bible than usual is seeing connections I’d missed before, sometimes in detail. Is it coincidence that Judah gives his signet to Tamar as a pledge of payment for sex, and Pharoah gives his signet to Joseph as a pledge of support for the work of famine relief in Egypt, and of his delegated authority as second in command of the kingdom?

Joseph, like Tamar, has been wronged by his brother (and the other brothers). But he finds a place and God’s purpose in a foreign land, saving countless Egyptians from starvation. He was only able to do so because of his brothers’ cruelty in the first place, but more importantly because his faithfulness to God kept him in the right place to be the right man at the right time. It took patience and determination, and along the way took the strength of character to avoid the sin which caught out his brother Judah – even though he ended up being falsely accused and imprisoned for it anyway.

God has entrusted us with his signet, the Holy Spirit, as a pledge of what is still to come. With what work has he entrusted us?

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