One of the most amazing stories of forgiveness is found in the book of Genesis and concerns Joseph’s dealing with his brothers after they had treated him so harshly by selling him into slavery many years before. If you remember the story Joseph was the 11th son of Jacob but he was also the favorite son. This created much jealousy and hatred by his 10 older brothers. They end up selling Joseph into slavery down into Egypt and telling their father Jacob that Joseph had been eaten by a wild animal. Many years later after Joseph has provided for his brothers by serving as their deliverer down in Egypt and his father finally dies his brothers had a great level of fear. They were fearful and begin to imagine that Joseph was going to take revenge on them. We read the account in the 50th chapter of the book of Genesis beginning in verse 15 –“When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “your father left these instructions before he died: this is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly”. Now please forgive the sins of your servants of the God of your father”. When their message came to him, Joseph wept. His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him, “we are your slaves”, they said. Joseph said to them, “don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me but God intended it for the good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children’. And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them, (V.15-21 NIV). Many years before Joseph had forgiven his brothers. I believe it was when he realized the hand of God in his life. When he has saw how the providence of God had used his brothers selling him in the slavery, and had used the false accusations of Potiphar’s wife to bring about his advancement to become prime minister of Egypt, he realized it was all for God’s glory. But still it is shocking that Joseph had no animosity or bitterness towards his brothers. When we see the hand of God working and moving so clearly through even the most difficult things in our lives we can rejoice at His amazing grace and redeeming power.
I wonder if we are trusting God with our most difficult circumstances in the same way that Joseph did? All of his experiences had taught Joseph that God is the one who can bring good out of evil things that happened. We are living in days where there is great evil all around us. This week has been another horrible news week with the murder of several African-American males that has been led to the ambushing of 11 police officers, five of whom have died at this writing. How can we make sense out of these tragic events that are unfolding in our culture? First of all we have to come back to faith in God. We have to believe He is the one that can use even bad things to ultimately bring about good things. If the events that have unfolded are to be used somehow for God’s glory then you and I also must look at our own lives and see what God is doing to help us in our further service for Him. God’s providence and provisions are truly amazing. I hope that you have found that to be true and are seeking to follow the example of Joseph who let bygones be bygones and moved on believing in the awesomeness of our holy God who is able to take anything and use it to minister in our lives and in other people’s lives. Our God is the great God of providence, let us trust the Lord Jesus Christ to move and work in unusual and spectacular ways even in the darkest of times.
Pastor Rich Sivo