Marveling in the Absurdity of Redemption

by Rob Tims

As Genesis 45 comes to a close, we read of Jacob being reunited with Joseph, his beloved son, and the salvation of God’s people. It’s in this marvelous chapter that we see the big picture of how God used what was intended for harm to instead deliver and preserve His people.

If it sounds absurd to you, then you’re in good company. But redemption takes place in the most absurd circumstances.

Why should Pharaoh have the degree of respect for Joseph that he does?

Why should famine (and the inevitable death and anguish it causes for many) lead to reunion?

Why should Joseph’s earliest dreams about leading his family come true in this fashion?

These realities and more speak to the fact that God’s means of accomplishing His plans make human plans somewhat futile. We can’t plan redemption the way God would, and what better example than our ultimate redemption.

That Joseph would find favor in Pharaoh’s eyes is one thing, but that we would find favor in God’s is another. The circumstances leading to Joseph’s family reunion pale in comparison to what God has done to unite us to Him in Christ.

The absurdity of redemption is marvelous, but it can be unnerving to live out. Joseph experienced plenty of despair. But as John Piper writes, “God’s great desire for his people is that we feel secure in his love and in his power. Everything else in life may be unstable—our health, our family, our job, our education, our society, our world. At any of these levels you may feel as if you are out on a ledge forty stories up in an unpredictable wind. You feel yourself losing balance and falling, and every brick you grab pulls out of its mortar.”

And yet it’s in such absurd moments that God is powerfully at work. A young Semite named Joseph was left for dead but was redeemed through slavery, false accusations, prison, loneliness and famine. The death of the Pharaoh that redeemed him led to slavery and famine for Joseph’s descendants. The death of yet another Pharaoh would redeem the Jews from the very Egyptians that had redeemed them, and the death of a single Jew would later redeem all those who will believe!

Redemption is marvelously absurd, and we shouldn’t have it any other way.

Rob Tims is husband to Holly and father to Trey, Jono, Abby Jane and Luke. He’s the author of Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt, and manages the team behind at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He writes regularly at and blogs every Friday at Forward Progress.

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