The Sins of Joseph’s Brothers

March 14-20

If you prefer to listen over reading an article, keep an eye on Autumn Dickson on YouTube or various podcast platforms. I post video and podcast versions of my blog posts on my Youtube channel and on the podcast platforms: Apple, Anchor, Breaker, Google Podcasts, and Spotify.

In this post, I’m hoping to talk about sin and its place in the Plan of Salvation; Joseph’s story can actually teach us a lot about this. 

Now it’s no surprise that Joseph is a type of Christ. There are a lot of little details that are fascinating that can teach us about Christ. There is one detail in particular that stuck out to me. This detail occurs when Joseph reveals who he is to his brothers. 

Genesis 45:5-7

5 Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.

6 For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest.

7 And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

Joseph recognizes the hand of the Lord in what happened to him. When Joseph’s brothers sold him as a slave, they were actually setting themselves up to be saved. Their terrible act set Joseph up to save them from the famine. This foreshadows another Savior. When the Jews turned on Christ and delivered Him up to be crucified, they were setting themselves up to be saved. In case you were wondering, this is called irony…

A definition of salvation

So how does this directly apply to us? We see how the Jews set themselves up to be saved, but what about us specifically?

I’ve heard the concept before that we sell out Christ when we sin. We betray Him. I think this can be a dangerous concept if it is emphasized improperly. However, it highlights what I’m trying to teach. 

The Jews delivered up Christ and set themselves up to be saved.

We “deliver up” Christ, but does it set us up to be saved? Our individual sins aren’t delivering Christ up to be crucified; the payment already occurred. The atonement already happened. And so…are we setting ourselves up to be saved when we sin?

This sounds like a very confusing concept, but stay with me. 

I want to broaden the definition of “saved.” There is the traditional idea of salvation where our sins are paid for and we can live with God. Then there is a step above that where we learn about exaltation, or the ability to become like our Heavenly Father. For this post, being “saved” is going to reflect both salvation and exaltation. 

I am here to argue that our sins ***can*** set up the conditions for us to be exalted.

Different tools for exaltation

Being saved includes exaltation; exaltation is becoming like Heavenly Father. I can think of three “tools” that help us reach exaltation.

The first tool is making righteous choices. Making lots of righteous choices helps us become more and more righteous and eventually we grow to be like Him. Everyone knows that route. We are taught that route plenty. Keep the commandments. We got that one down (at least in our heads). 

The second tool is through trials. They strengthen us. There is weight placed upon us. We have to lift heavier loads. I think Heavenly Father is pretty strong and resilient, so having to work through these trials to build up our own resilience will make us like Him.

The last tool is through sin. **Please stay with me through my entire process of teaching this because I don’t want anyone thinking I’m teaching people that they need to go sin in order to be exalted.** Sin is an interesting concept because its effects dramatically change when we fully take advantage of the atonement of Jesus Christ. The stumbling block becomes the step up. The atonement washes away the bad, it makes up for the pain caused, it heals. And what are we left with? If we do it right, we’re just left with the lesson. Lessons are a great tool to help us become like our Heavenly Father. 

Sin was always part of the Plan of Salvation. There was never a Plan A in which you were perfect. You didn’t have it in you; I didn’t have it in me. Plan A was always that we would come down here and make mistakes, sin, get messy, repent, and grow. 

When we sin (much like Joseph’s brothers and the Jews), we are potentially setting up conditions in which we can be “saved.” We are potentially setting up conditions on which we can be exalted (of course, this also requires repentance).

To put it in perspective

Sin is never the best option. It’s the hardest way to learn a lesson. Sometimes I think it’s necessary because sometimes we really do have to learn the hard way.

So if I’m not encouraging us to sin, why am I teaching it as a possible route for exaltation?

I teach it as a potential route for exaltation so that we can properly put sin into perspective. There are plenty of people out there who get too bogged down in guilt, who develop complexes of perfectionism, who feel as though they have to beat themselves up in order to teach themselves a lesson. 

We should take sin seriously, but we should not turn it into more than it needs to be. When we hold onto our past mistakes, we are cutting off the atonement. We do not reap the change towards exaltation. We are stifling the process of becoming like Christ. We may think we’re pushing ourselves to only follow the first route – that of keeping the commandments. We may think that punishing ourselves will force us to start living the commandments perfectly.

But it doesn’t.

All it does is prevent sin from becoming a lesson. Instead of a route, we turn it into a weight that makes it harder to become like our Savior.

When Joseph’s brothers realized who he was, they were a little afraid at first, but it ended in a sweet reunion. Practical tip for us: instead of only saying sorry, try saying thank you. It can feel odd at first to say thank you after saying sorry. It may feel like you’re being a little presumptuous assuming that you’ve been forgiven already. However, I leave you with this last image.

After Joseph reveals himself as their brother, this happens:

Genesis 45:14-15

14 And he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck, and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck.

15 Moreover he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them: and after that his brethren talked with him.

Often when we think of our reunion with the Savior, we picture ourselves weeping in gratitude. However, as I read about Joseph, I can’t help but wonder whether the Savior will also be weeping because He missed us too. He is our Older Brother. He freely forgives. If you sincerely want to be better, then let go of the weight of your mistakes and thank your Savior for paying for them. Ask Him to turn them into productive lessons. 

Sometimes we get so caught up in the idea of a Savior frowning down upon us for betraying Him when we sin. If you really want to upset the Savior, make sure to hold yourself down in depression instead of returning and rejoicing with Him.

I’m grateful for a Savior who gives beauty for ashes. I’m grateful that because of a price that has already been paid, I don’t need to be bogged down by anything. All the bad in the world could be turned to good if we turned towards our Savior.

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