July 09, 2020 – Thursday
Genesis 50:15-17 NIV
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?”
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.
Every so often I go to quotes from Corrie ten Boom just as I go to the Bible for encouragement or strengthening of my faith. Today a quote from Corre led me to the verses chosen for today. The quote: “Even as the angry vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him….Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me your forgiveness….And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on his. When he tells us to love our enemies, he gives along with the command, the love itself.”
Joseph’s brothers, jealous of him, sold him into slavery. No wonder they were fearful of him wanting to pay them back for all the wrongs they had done to him. And I don’t know about you, but when I first read 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.” I thought it to be a lie, made up to protect themselves from Joseph’s wrath.
Reading Ellicott’s Commentary I discovered Many Jewish expositors consider that this was untrue, and that Jacob was never made aware of the fact that his brethren had sold Joseph into slavery. Was I correct in my thoughts? Maybe. However, the Pulpit Commentary says nothing is more inherently probable than that the good man on his death-bed did request his sons to beg their brother’s pardon. I have to concur having seen such in my own family where our Father wanted nothing more than divisions among us to end and end well. I see the same in other families as well where a Father seeks the same. Thus the brothers get the benefit of the doubt here.
Recall at the end of the opening verses for today upon receiving the message Joseph wept. This was indicative of what was to follow. 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.
What his brothers had intended for evil, to harm Joseph, God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives as Joseph became the second most powerful person in Egypt and saved many lives. Paul wrote something similar in Romans 8:28 where we read And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. God had certainly done that with Joseph when he saved many from a great famine as well as his own brothers and their families.
Joseph forgave his brother who sold him into slavery. He wept at their hope of forgiveness. Corrie wrote about how could she not forgive a man, a man who Jesus had died for. She asked for help to forgive him. There she discovered it is God’s forgiveness and love that comes through us making such forgiveness possible.
Therefore, whenever I am having a difficult time forgiving I will remember two things. First, Jesus died for this person’s sins just as He died for mine. Second, my forgiveness is made possible only through Jesus’ forgiveness working through me. Consequently, I can forgive and even love my enemies as He has commanded with the love He provides.