It was surely great to create people good,
The first humans made as they should.
The Creator’s character seen in what he wrought.
It was truly grave to brave the lie.
The first would be gods in rebellious try,
Lost their Creator, through his status sought.
It was entirely good that God would bring death,
His righteousness first, over human breath.
The Creator of life to judge as he ought.
It was purely grace to embrace people bad,
The first and their children broken and sad.
Yet the Creator deemed to save those he bought.
It is surely, truly, entirely, purely, great, grave, good grace
_____to make bad people good again.
From the first, planning victory over sin.
The Creator it seems is greater than we thought.
I have been preaching through Genesis all year and seeking diligently to understand the redemptive flow of the book. In coming to the final main figure, Joseph, I am struck by his lofty character. He is a much greater man than we had come to expect from this fallen world. Up to chapter 36, God’s preservation of humanity has looked more like salvage work than glorious restoration. But starting in chapter 37, we encounter this man of incredible faith and integrity.
So I understand Joseph to be a testimony of the fact that God can, not only redeem people for himself out of this world of sin, but also by his grace, produce people of extremely high character even in this world of sin.
So I find myself marveling not at Joseph but, rather, God who even in this broken world is still able to produce such a man. It was one thing to produce Adam, a man of high character before the realities of sin and suffering. It is another thing, and greater thing, to produce Joseph, a man of high character even among the realities of sin and suffering.
Joseph is like a foreshadowing of the glories of the Spirit filled life. His life reveals a fresh answer to why God allowed the fall. He is doing something better because sin is in the picture than if sin had never been in the picture at all.
I believe that Joseph is a brilliant gift of God to the story of redemption. Before moving in Exodus to the nation of Israel and all the character problems they portray for the rest of the Pentateuch, God knew that his people would need the hope that Joseph’s life represents.
The five stanzas of the poem attempt to express the major themes in Genesis: creation, fall, judgment, preservation, and restoration. With regard to the last, I am seeing in Joseph a new kind of hope for the restoration–that God can fully make bad men good again.
You may wish to read the poem a second time in search of the more subtle rhyme schemes, key word repetition, and parallelism among the stanzas.