Have you ever had someone wrong you? Is it easy to forgive? Sometimes people say hurtful things and sometimes it’s hard for us to forgive them, but God tells us we’re suppose to. In the sermon on the mount. the Lord teaches, (Matt. 6:12,14, 15) “And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
I don’t think any of us here has been wronged as much as Joseph was. Joseph’s life pictures for us some things about the Lord Jesus Christ. Joseph was the best loved son of his father Jacob. (Gen 37:3) “Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children…” God said of Jesus “Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:11) Jacob showed his special love for Joseph by giving him a coat of many colors. This hurt Joseph’s brothers. It also made them jealous and angry. As those feelings grew against Joseph, so did their hatred.
One day, they had their opportunity to get rid of Joseph. Jacob had sent Joseph to see how his brothers were doing. When they saw him coming, their bitterness flared up and plans got wild. By the time he reached them, they already plotted to kill Joseph and even planned the lie they would tell their father so no one would suspect them of murder. Of Jesus the Bible tells us “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” (Jn. 1:11).
One of the brothers, named Reuben talked the others out of murdering Joseph. He said “Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him;…” (37:22) It continues to tell us Reuben’s plans “…that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again..”
When Joseph got to his brothers he did not suspect anything. He certainly had not come to do any harm to them. His cruel brothers grabbed him and tore his coat from him and threw him into the pit they had seen. This reminds us of Jesus, who was innocent, but was grabbed by cruel soldiers. His coat was also taken from Him. He was eventually led to the place of His crucifixion.
While Joseph was down in the pit pleading with his brothers to let him out, they sat down and ate their lunch. Reuben was not with them to foil their next plans. The brothers saw a group of Ishmeelites on their way to Egypt. Their camels were loaded with spices and ointments, so they knew they were merchants looking to buy and sell merchandise.
The brothers minds had again turned to killing Joseph, but now Judah spoke, “What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites and let not our hand be upon him: for he is our brother and our flesh.” (Gen.37:27)
They lifted Joseph out of the pit and sold him for 20 pieces of silver. Again, we’re reminded of Jesus. One of His own disciples sold information leading to Jesus capture, for 30 pieces of silver.
Now Joseph’s brothers had to face their father. They were good liars (not a good thing to be). They killed a young goat, then smeared its blood on Joseph’s beautiful coat. They probably had a sad look on their face as they showed Jacob Joseph’s coat and let Jacob come to the conclusion that a beast, perhaps a lion or bear, had killed Joseph.
What really happened to Joseph? He was taken out of his country to another land. There he was sold as a slave. No longer was he treated as the beloved son. Now he had to do whatever his master told him.
Joseph, we would say, had every right to become bitter and hard against his brothers. Would God expect him to forgive those who had been so uncaring and even cruel toward him?
Think of times you have disobeyed God and denied Him. Think of times you wanted to please yourself instead of God. Yet, He is willing to forgive us.
Do you think Joseph forgave his brothers? Let’s jump ahead to Gen. 42 and see what happened. The ten brothers who mistreated and sold Joseph, then deceived their father stood right before him. There was a famine in the land of Canaan where they lived, and all the other lands around. Extra food could be found only in Egypt. Due to a series of events, Joseph was the one to be thanked for that and was responsible for the distributing of the food.
The brothers didn’t recognize Joseph, but he recognized them. They didn’t understand him because he had learned the Egyptian language and spoke to them through an enterpreter. They had no idea what all had happened to Joseph of that he was even alive. It had been many years since they sold him. After all those years though, the brothers still felt guilt for what they did to their younger brother.
Joseph mercifully sent food to their home,and then waited for their return. When they finally did return, Joseph let them know who he was and let them know that he forgave them. They did not deserve his forgiveness, but he forgave them anyway. Listen to this, “And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.” (gen. 45:5,6)
We have sinned against God. The Bible tells us “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Rom. 3:23). It also tells us “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Rom. 10:13) If we confess that we are sinners and trusting only Him, ask Him to forgive us , he promised that He would.
It takes character to forgive someone who wrongs us. Are you willing to let God build that character in you?