Joseph Forgives

Good morning. Our memory verse this week is Mark 11:25. Remember to forgive in order to be forgiven. One of the great stories of forgiveness is found in the Old Testament and very worthy of our consideration. Some people believe that the New Testament is a law of love and the Old Testament was a law of works. God does not make that distinction. It was a mistaken idea that some of the Jews began to believe about the old law. But there are certain principles of God that have always been part of his will. Love was first an O.T. law. God’s law of love was always part of his laws (Lev. 19:18; Deut. 6:5). And we are given an outstanding example of forgiveness during the time of the patriarchs in the story of the relationship between Joseph and his brothers. As we touch on the facts of this story, please ask yourself how you would have reacted had you been treated this way by your family. Our text is Genesis 44 although I highly recommend that you read once again this entire event beginning with chapter 37. Joseph was hated by his brothers. They had no doubt shown that hatred in shunning him and being mean to him for years. On this occasion, at 17 years of age, Jacob sent Joseph to some far off fields to see how his brothers were doing in keeping the flocks. They attacked Joseph and plotted to kill him. Think how that would shock to learn you own brothers hated you enough to kill you. Reuben prevented the killing, but the brothers still sold Joseph into slavery. Joseph, in a godly way, endures slavery, false accusation and imprisonment. During the years of his slavery, imprisonment and estrangement from his father, Joseph had very much time to nurse a grudge against his older brothers, but he did not. What would you have done? With God’s help, he rises to great power in Egypt. Now, his brothers need something from him – food. He recognizes them immediately, but they do not know him. It becomes obvious in the text that Joseph has long since forgiven his brothers. He desired to be reunited with them, his father and younger brother. He loved them. A grudge against them or any of his oppressors in Egypt seemed to never be an issue. Joseph does all that he can to help his family and bring about a reunion with them.

I cannot answer for you. Nothing this drastic has ever happened to me. It has for some: consider the holocaust, Vietnam, other wars, divorces with lost parental rights, etc. When we look around us and see how many families are estranged from one another, we realize the great character of forgiveness Joseph had. None of us, I suspect, who are reading this have be so shamefully mistreated. We cannot imagine such hatred against us. Truly, love and forgiveness can help us through a lot of mistreatment. Let’s be like Joseph.