We took the time to review our learning so far from the life of Joseph.
Now you might know Joseph as the guy who got the multi-colour coat from his father.
He also had a series of dreams from God. A dream about his brothers sheaves of wheat bowing to his sheaf of wheat.
He also dreamed of the sun, moon and eleven stars bowing down to him.
These dreams were from God. In our series we are seeing Joseph is faithfully fulfilling God’s dream.
God says to us: be a part of my dream, my plan, my intervention in this world in which you live. Live God’s Dream.
Josephs brothers were angry and jealous of him and so sold him into slavery. He ended up in Egypt, serving in Potiphar’s house.
Now Potiphar’s wife took an inappropriate interest in Joseph.
Joseph had to deal with the temptation that this offered.
Joseph dealt with temptation by recognising clear boundaries, refusing to sin, repetitively resisting, and running from sin.
Unfortunately, his faithfulness to God found him put in prison.
While there he found himself being used by God to pass on the interpretation of dreams that God had given a couple of prisoners.
The cup-bearer of the king dreamed of a grape vine that grew ripened grapes that he used to squeeze into a cup for Pharaoh. A dream that meant he would be restored into the position of Pharaohs cup-bearer.
Then there was the chief baker who had a dream of 3 baskets of bread on his head, but the birds were eating all the goodies. A dream that meant he would be killed by Pharaoh.
This showed how God was with Joseph and Joseph was faithful in partnership with God. It is God's will that in all circumstances (the good, bad and ugly) we should still happily do the will of God.
Joseph even was used by God to pass on the interpretation of dreams that God had given Pharaoh. A series of dreams that included cows and heads of grain. A dream that warned of 7 years of great abundance followed by 7 years of famine.
This saw Joseph appointed in charge of the whole land of Egypt. An amazing leadership role.
And we learned that the key to wise Christian leadership (and success in the Christian life) is a strong, deep, personal relationship with God.
The warning in the dreams God gave, came true - after 7 years of plenty there followed 7 years of famine.
As a consequence of that famine, Joseph’s brothers were sent to Egypt to seek out food for the family. This brought them to Joseph. Whereas Joseph recognised them, they didn’t recognise him.
Joseph made several requests of them in order to get them to consider what they had done in the past, but was generous in providing them food.
His brothers felt guilty for the past. Guilt is a gift from God. He pricks our conscience so that we seek forgiveness.
And our passage today picks up in Genesis 45:1-11 where Joseph reveals his true identity to his brothers.
So, what would you do if someone had wronged you? Caused you physical, emotional and mental harm that had resulted in years of struggle and difficulty which you had battled through and found success. Only to then turn up again in your life asking for your help. What would you do?
We all remember wrongs that have been done to us in the past. What would you do?
This is the situation Joseph finds himself in. He could…
Extract revenge. Imagine what resources and creative ways he could return the pain and anguish he had suffered now that he was in charge of the whole of Egypt.
Dwell in bitterness and bottle up all those emotions, reliving the wrongs done to him by his brothers. Over and over and over again.
He could let it change him and grown in anger and bitterness, taking it out on anyone and everything.
He could pretend it never happened and never come to terms or deal with the things that had happened in his life due to the actions of others.
Or he could forgive them, knowing that what had happened was meant to happen because God was in control. Seeing his life the way God saw it - as one part of God’s amazing, eternal plan.
So as we read today we see Joseph’s response to his brothers.
He didn’t exact revenge, rather he sought to provide for his family. He not only provided them with grain, but also with a future of security.
Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; donʼt delay. You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.’ Genesis 45:9-11
He didn’t dwell in bitterness and bottle up his emotions, rather he openly wept before his brothers. He let it out.
Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!” So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaohʼs household heard about it. Genesis 45:1-2
CHANGE IN CHARACTER
He didn’t let it change him, his nature and character, taking it out on anyone and everything. Rather, we have seen that he was consistent in his faithfulness to God and grew in the nature and character of God through these circumstances and events.
…discerning and wise man… Genesis 41:33
He didn’t pretend it never happened, but rather came to terms with what had happened in his life. He presented the truth.
Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! Genesis 45:4
What Joseph did do was forgive them. Knowing that what had happened was meant to happen because God was in control. Seeing his life the way God saw it - as one part of God’s amazing, eternal plan.
Joseph was able to forgive because he understood that God was sovereign. God was in control.
And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
“So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. Genesis 45:5-8
Through the ups and downs of his life, Joseph came to a deeper understanding of the sovereignty of God. That God was in control.
He reflects in this again in Genesis 50:19-20
But Joseph said to them, “Donʼt be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
Joseph was pleased to be used by God in His plan and he wanted his brothers to understand this.
He was living God’s dream. God had sovereignly appointed Joseph over his brothers. God gave Joseph the gifts and skills that found him favour with Potiphar and Pharaoh.
His forgiveness of his brothers was grounded in his understanding of the sovereignty of God.
God will always fulfil His purposes and His promises. He is not limited to our choices and decisions. He is able to use the sinful acts of believers and unbelievers to outwork His purposes.
Now this might make no sense to you. And it is important to understand that we can’t forgive if we have not experienced the forgiveness of God.
We cannot forgive until we have been forgiven.
We need to experience the forgiveness of God for our own sins and disobedience to God before we can see and understand his great plan and purpose in the world and how we are a part of it.
So if you have not experienced the forgiveness of God, it starts there. Accepting the free gift of forgiveness from God. Free in that there is nothing we can do to earn it, costly because it costs us our lives.
What would I do? What would you do?
Dwell in bitterness and bottle up our emotions. Dwelling on the wrongs done to us over and over and over again.
Let it change us and grown in anger and bitterness, taking it out on anyone and everything.
Pretend it never happened and never come to terms or deal with the things that have happened in our lives due to the actions of others.
Or forgive? Knowing that what had happened meant to happen because God was in control. Seeing our lives the way God sees it - as one part of God’s amazing, eternal plan.
For God to be sovereign means to be in full control. God is fully in control, in spite of the sin and rebellion that is rampant in His world. Despite the sin that is in me.
We need to forgive because God is sovereign and because we have been forgiven.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Follow Godʼs example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
We need to be able to say, as Joseph did…
God intended it for good!