The book of Genesis ends with the theme of forgiveness and reconciliation in the story of Joseph and his brothers. It is the antithesis to the story of Cain killing his brother at the beginning of Genesis. Cain was jealous of God's blessings of Abel. It appeared to him that God favored his brother. Likewise, Joseph's brothers resented that their father favored Joseph. If we read Genesis as a story of conflict between brothers, we see spiritual progress from resentment and murder to forgiveness and reconciliation. This is a different picture than that presented in dispensational commentaries which stress the continued spiritual degeneration of humanity.
The Scofield Bible, which has greatly influenced conservative American Protestants, defines a dispensation in the subhead to Genesis 1:28: “A dispensation is a period of time during which man is tested in respect to obedience to some specific revelation of the will of God.” Scofield is not speaking here of the testing of individuals such as Cain, Noah, Abraham, Jacob and Joseph. He is speaking of the general failure of mankind to love and serve God. Each of his seven dispensations ends with God's punishing evildoers. This gives the false impression that God has made no progress with humanity, and misses the obvious contrast between the beginning and the end of Genesis.
On this Sunday of Forgiveness, let us turn all our desires to God who alone is able to purify us and turn our souls from resentment to forgiveness.
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