Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Genesis 50:19-21 But 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 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.
It started with jealousy. “Why did dad love him so much more than he loves us,” they complained. So they hated him and treated him unkindly while dad treated him with kindness and gifts of love. Things got worse when this youngest brother began predicting that one day all the older brothers would bow down to him and serve him as their king. Now they hated him even more. How dare he speak in such a degrading way about them? Even his father was upset with this and rebuked him. The young man’s words were causing major family problems.
Then one day his older brothers took advantage of an opportunity to remove him from the family. In a remote place, with no witnesses, they had their little brother trapped. At first they were going to kill him and be done with it, but one of the brothers used his influence to persuaded the others of an alternate plan. Some travelers from another land were nearby, so they sold their brother to them as if he was a slave. Then they took that precious coat their father had made for their brother and they coated it with goat’s blood. The coat was delivered to their father and it was reported that he had been killed by a wild animal.
The brother was taken to Egypt by the travelers and sold there as a slave to a high-ranking government official. But the young man made the most of his situation. He didn’t let anger turn into bitterness, which would have destroyed his potential. Instead he trusted that God, in His sovereignty, would still bring good from all of it. He never got involved in payback. He spent no time devising a plan to be restored to his previous position. His new home and new position is where he would focus on being faithful to his LORD.
During the next few years his resolve to be faithful was severely tested. He was thrown in prison based on a false accusation of adultery with his master’s wife. He was neglected by two friends who had promised to help him after he had helped them. But through it all he remained patient and faithful to allow God to fulfill His plan. Finally his opportunity arrived, and he was restored to his position with his master. His faithfulness was eventually rewarded with a position of leadership, which eventually led to him being second in command of the whole country.
Meanwhile, his brothers and father were suffering from a severe famine in his former homeland. They traveled to their brother’s new land, not knowing that he is there or that he is in charge of what they need to survive. After a series of events that test them, their brother is revealed to them and they are filled with fear. They remember what they did to him, so he must also remember. They know how they would have born a grudge if what they did had been done to them. They realized that not only did their brother have the right to repay them for the wrong done, but he now had the authority and the power to repay them in kind. At best they saw that they would be slaves for the rest of their lives. At worst he would have them killed.
But that was not the heart of their brother. He had the heart of God, who did right even when wronged. Their brother saw the hand of God in control of all things and surrendered to God’s purpose and plan. He saw the bigger picture and realized that had it not been for what his brothers did to him years earlier he would not be in a position to rescue them now. He saw the fulfillment of his faith – that God is always in control, and what we see as evil is still a part of God’s plan to bring Himself glory and good. So rather than retaliate, he reassured them, and they were reconciled.
The story of Joseph found in the last 12 chapters of the book of Genesis is amazing. It is a story with false accusations, hardship, and hurt, all with the potential for great pain and revenge. But it is primarily a story of faith and forgiveness. It is a real story of reconciliation. I urge you to read the whole thing. I encourage you to listen as the Holy Spirit teaches you the lessons of faith in the sovereignty of God and the faithfulness of the follower of God. You will learn the power of perseverance. You will discover the fulfillment of forgiveness. You will revel at the reconciliation of relationships. But be careful as you read. You will see yourself in the story somewhere, and God will seek to change you. Let Him do it. You may see it as temporary hurt, but God intends it for good.