Friday, August 5, 2016

Remembering to Forgive

We left the Jacob and his family yesterday right after the birth of his twelfth son, Benjamin.  His twelve boys would become the twelve tribes of Israel.  We also showed why Joseph was the favorite.  He was REALLY the favorite.  His brothers did not like that at all.

One night Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers about it, they hated him more than ever. "Listen to this dream," he said. "We were out in the field, tying up bundles of grain. Suddenly my bundle stood up, and your bundles all gathered around and bowed low before mine!" His brothers responded, "So you think you will be our king, do you? Do you actually think you will reign over us?" And they hated him all the more because of his dreams and the way he talked about them. (Genesis 37:5-8 NLT)

The brothers didn’t just hate him.  They wanted to kill him!  Well, at least some of them wanted him dead.  Others just wanted him hurt.

So when Joseph arrived, his brothers ripped off the beautiful robe he was wearing. Then they grabbed him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it. Then, just as they were sitting down to eat, they looked up and saw a caravan of camels in the distance coming toward them. It was a group of Ishmaelite traders taking a load of gum, balm, and aromatic resin from Gilead down to Egypt. Judah said to his brothers, "What will we gain by killing our brother? We'd have to cover up the crime. Instead of hurting him, let's sell him to those Ishmaelite traders. After all, he is our brother--our own flesh and blood!" And his brothers agreed. (Genesis 37:23-27 NLT)

Joseph was sold into slavery.  Everywhere he went, he was faithful to God and did what was right in God’s eyes.  God blessed his life, even when he was hurt, falsely accused, and even just forgotten for a long time.  God gave Joseph the ability to interpret dreams, which brought him in front of Pharaoh (the king) who was having dreams that no one could interpret.  Joseph knew how to interpret them.

The next seven years will be a period of great prosperity throughout the land of Egypt. But afterward there will be seven years of famine so great that all the prosperity will be forgotten in Egypt. Famine will destroy the land. This famine will be so severe that even the memory of the good years will be erased. As for having two similar dreams, it means that these events have been decreed by God, and He will soon make them happen. (Genesis 41:29-32 NLT)

God used this interaction to bring Pharaoh to a place of trust with Joseph.  Joseph suggested putting someone in charge of the food program so that the people would not starve over the seven years of famine.  Pharaoh agreed.

So Pharaoh asked his officials, "Can we find anyone else like this man so obviously filled with the spirit of God?" Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Since God has revealed the meaning of the dreams to you, clearly no one else is as intelligent or wise as you are. You will be in charge of my court, and all my people will take orders from you. Only I, sitting on my throne, will have a rank higher than yours." Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I hereby put you in charge of the entire land of Egypt." Then Pharaoh removed his signet ring from his hand and placed it on Joseph's finger. He dressed him in fine linen clothing and hung a gold chain around his neck. Then he had Joseph ride in the chariot reserved for his second-in-command. And wherever Joseph went, the command was shouted, "Kneel down!" So Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of all Egypt. (Genesis 41:38-43 NLT)

When the famine hit, Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt to get food.  They didn’t recognize Joseph but he recognized them.  Now, Joseph wasn’t immediately kind about the meeting.  He certainly fought a roller-coaster of emotions and put his brothers through their paces for awhile.  But Joseph eventually told them who he was, brought the whole family to Egypt, and they settled into Hebron (a “suburb” of Egypt) where they flourished as a family.  When Jacob (Israel) died, the rest of Joseph’s brothers were terrified that Joseph would punish or kill them for what they did.  Joseph’s response is worthy of our attention:

But Joseph replied, "Don't be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. No, don't be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children." So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them. (Genesis 50:19-21 NLT)

Joseph forgave his brothers.  He reminds us that many times, especially inside our families, walking with God means forgiving one another when we do not.  All of us have our good times.  All of us have our failures.  When we blow it, forgiveness is the tool God provides that allows us to stay family, get rid of the hurt, and reconcile the relationship again.

So Joseph and his brothers and their families continued to live in Egypt. Joseph lived to the age of 110. (Genesis 50:22 NLT)

So, how about you?  Are you willing to forgive…family?  It is a part of remembering our heritage.