Joseph was hated by his brothers. No warm & fuzzy feelings there. Their feelings of hate were fueled by their jealousy over his relationship with his dad. He was dad’s professed favorite and dad had no qualms about lavishing special gifts and special treatment on Joseph before his brothers’ eyes.
The brothers worked together in the field…at times to the exclusion of Joseph. Their words towards Joseph were harsh and cutting, always. When they couldn’t stand the favoritism any longer they took action. Ripping off his “beloved” coat they threw him into a pit. They ignored reasoning other than deciding to make money off their own brother’s life, instead of killing him, by selling him into a life of slavery to strangers passing by. They were filled with so much hate that all they could think of was getting rid of him. They wanted him out of their face, out their presence. They didn’t want to have to interact with him or watch their father interact with him one second longer.
The “beloved” Joseph, at age 17, found himself a slave in Egypt (a strange and foreign land). No longer free. No longer surrounded by family and familiarity, no longer under the safe & secure protection of his dad. While working as a servant, his master’s wife approached him regularly, desiring to sleep with him. Joseph’s refusal landed him in prison, where he remained…until the year he turned 30.
Fact #4: (the “game changing” one)
Yet, through all of it, “God was with him.” (39:2, 21) And, “at just the right time”, a “fellow” prisoner remembered Joseph, mentioned him to the Pharaoh…and Joseph became 2d in charge, only Pharaoh himself was more powerful.
What did Joseph realize through it all? God intended all along to save many lives through the life of Joseph, therefore it ultimately was God himself who sent Joseph to Egypt (by way of all his previous interactions, situations and circumstances). Seeing his life through God’s eyes, Joseph didn’t hold his brothers’ cruel treatment against them. Instead, he forgave them.
THE BIGGER PICTURE:
Yes, this is a story about the life of Joseph. But this is also part of the beginning stories of God. From Genesis 3 on, God is working to bring rescue and saving to every tribe, tongue and nation (Rev. 5:9; 7:9). According to Ge. 50:19, Joseph became 2nd in charge in Egypt “for the saving of many lives” during the immediate famine facing the land, yes. But, 400 years later, God raised another leader, Moses “for the saving of many lives” as God brought His people out of slavery. And from THESE people, “at just the right time,” God sent Jesus (God in flesh). Through HIS life and the willingness to lay down his life, sacrificing himself in our place, came victory over sin and death. God, accomplished the greatest deliverance, the greatest rescue of all…for “the saving of many lives” from every tongue, tribe and nation!
Don’t miss this: “While we were yet sinners” (Ro. 5:8), acting just like Joseph’s brothers – bad talking Jesus, hating Him, turning our backs on Him, planning evil and shaking our fists at Him. Though we took God’s son, Jesus, and not realizing what we were doing, shouted with the rest of the crowd, “Crucify Him.” (“Do away with Him.” “Get rid of Him.” ‘Remove Him from our sight and our presence.”) Jesus cries out on our behalf, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Lk. 23:34). Then He gives up his life, in our place, and accomplishes God’s plan all along, offering us a rescued, redeemed, put-back-together life.
As we begin to know all He saved us from and forgave us for, we also come to know, firsthand, God’s great grace, His tender mercies and His unfailing love. And that is the God we can choose to trust. A God who is good, who promises His plans will not be thwarted.
…And that is also the reason we too can forgive the cruel and misguided sins of others. Though, like Joseph, we don’t necessarily understand the circumstances, nor can they be tritely explained away, we CAN forgive because we can trust in the One in control of all things, who is ultimately working through all of life’s circumstances and, who, on the cross, enduring OUR worst and forgiving OUR trespasses, conquered sin and death…for us!
Praying for a life that’s defined by forgiveness and forgiving…for you and for me :)