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Joseph Forgives His Brothers

(Genesis 44:18-20,33 - 45:7)

Lesson 13 -- third quarter 1999
August 29, 1999

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1999, Christian Light Publications

What an agony to be wronged, especially by those who should be on your side! Though I am very familiar with the account of Joseph, I guess I'm still rather stunned by the depth of hatred and callousness exhibited toward him by his brother. How hard-hearted can a person get, anyway, to inflict such misery and torture on someone so at your mercy? And how disrespectful to put their father through this! In a way, I just can't fathom it.

This brings us to a question pertinent even to us today: Who sent Joseph to Egypt? My answer is the obvious one: his vindictive brothers. And that uncovers one of the big differences between Joseph and me. I say that because Joseph asserted, "God did send me...God sent me." Of course his brothers were the instruments that accomplished this; of course God could have got him to Egypt by other means had his brothers been more noble. But that's not the point! The point is, Joseph could see God's hand at work in the most dire circumstances of his life. And Joseph could see God's hand because he was "a man in whom the Spirit of God" was.

Those with the Spirit in the them can see beyond the obvious to see God at work. Only those with the Spirit of God in them can forgive as God forgives. Now we are back to Ephesians 4:32--"And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Notice that our forgiveness of others should in no way be conditioned on their behavior or even their repentance! Colossians 3:13 agrees (no surprise there, of course!): "Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." Such is the way of those in whom the Spirit of God is.

Joseph not only saw that God had sent him to Egypt, he also saw God's purposes in doing so. I am certain he did not see those purposes from the beginning, but I don't think that changed his perspective. He didn't need to see God's purposes in order to see God's hand. And he didn't need to see God's purposes in order to believe that those purposes existed. But I wonder if Joseph didn't look for those purposes, especially as he lived through the darkest times.

Allow me to close this quarter on a very personal note. My wife and children and I left the Mexico field in the spring of 1991. I thought we would return as missionaries within one year. We still haven't. In all these years, it has been very natural and very easy for me to see (or at least imagine) the hand of man at work. Should I believe God sent us back to Oregon? Where and when have I seen God's hand in all this? And how readily have I seen (or even sought to see) God's purposes? And what shall I say about my attitudes through it all?

What about you in your circumstances and relationships?

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