Love and Forgiveness-Genesis 50:15-26

Genesis 50:15-26 “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?” 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 ‘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 the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. 18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. 19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. 22 Joseph stayed in Egypt, along with all his father’s family. He lived a hundred and ten years 23 and saw the third generation of Ephraim’s children. Also the children of Makir son of Manasseh were placed at birth on Joseph’s knees. 24 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” 25 And Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath and said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.” 26 So Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. And after they embalmed him, he was placed in a coffin in Egypt.” 

     The brothers of Joseph who were saved from potential starvation back in Canaan enjoyed a restored relationship with Joseph for many years in Egypt. But now that their father, Jacob, has died, the thoughts of revenge and punishment by Joseph loomed in the minds of his brothers. They were convinced that Joseph could not truly forgive them. They knew that if the situation was reversed, they would have little mercy so why should Joseph act any differently?
     Joseph, who truly sees the hand of God in all this, says twice to them “Don’t be afraid.” He further reassures them that what they intended for harm, God used it for good to save the family of Israel (Jacob). He also reminds them that he will provide for them and their families.
     Sometimes people put on a face of forgiveness but in reality they are waiting for their time of revenge. Waiting for the proper moment, they follow the principle of an eye for an eye. When this phrase is used in Exodus 21:24, it was designed in a court to settle injustices. Jesus quoted these words in response to people who used these words as a justification for retaliation. But Joseph was not bringing charges against his brothers and his forgiveness throws the case out of court. If someone like Joseph who faced such extreme abuse could forgive when he had the opportunity to exact judgment, how much more should we forgive others and trust God to bring good out of a harmful experience.
Pray with me: Lord, it is amazing how Joseph chose love and forgiveness when he had the power to retaliate. When I face hurt at the hands of others, help me to forgive and see how You can turn a situation around for good.

 



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