j0096297.wmf (19764 bytes)I Am Joseph
And I Forgive My Brothers

I put them through a difficult situation. In doing so, they had to face their guilt for what they had done to me. But I forgave them and brought the family together.

In Genesis 42-45 we find the story of Joseph reuniting with his brothers and the rest of Jacob's family. His brothers had sold him into slavery, some of them even wanting to kill him. He eventually wound up in prison, through no fault of his own. He certainly had reasons to feel bitter. But he didn't let bitterness rule his heart.

But Joseph did things to his brothers during their time of reunion that might seem to some like attempts at revenge. In Genesis 42:9 he accused them of being spies. He knew who they were and why they'd come. So he knew they weren't spies. Was he trying to afflict their minds for revenge sake? In Genesis 42:15-17 he told them they had to bring Benjamin and he put them in prison. Does that sound vengeful to you? Perhaps he wasn't being vengeful. Perhaps he was trying to help them come to terms with their guilt.

Notice Genesis 42:22. As a result of what Joseph said, Rueben was stirred to remind his brothers of their guilt in selling him as a slave. In verse 24 the matter brought Joseph to tears. Those tears make it seem less likely that he was being hateful and more likely he was trying to be helpful. Joseph's continual insistence on seeing Benjamin put the brothers in a bind, that is for sure. At the end of Genesis 42 their father reminded them that Joseph was gone (in his perception), now Simeon was gone and he feared to let Benjamin go. By creating this setting, Joseph was orchestrating circumstances to keep their guilt constantly before the brothers' eyes.

In Genesis 44:1-17 Joseph had the guys really worried. He had tricked them by having his cup put in Benjamin's sack, making it seem like the cup had been stolen. Then he made it seem like Benjamin would have to stay behind. That's what brought Judah to his breaking point. In verse 18 he began to plead his case. Being confronted with their guilt and the consequence of their deeds, Judah decided to take responsibility and save Benjamin. By the time he got through with his speech Joseph could hold back no more. The brothers who once hated the younger favored son (Joseph), now took responsibility to care for the younger son (Benjamin). In Genesis 45:1 Joseph revealed his identity. He'd put his brothers through a difficult situation that made them face their guilt. But he could carry on no more. So he stopped pretending, but are we certain he wasn't being vengeful?

Joseph indicated in Genesis 45:7-8 that he didn't hold a grudge. This fact tells us he wasn't being vengeful. Later in Genesis 50:16-21 he reminded his brothers he didn't hold a grudge. Joseph helped his brothers face their guilt and helped bring the family together. Sometimes putting people in difficult situations can be for their best. That was certainly the case here. And because Joseph didn't act out of revenge, he actually brought the family together.

When you deal with troubled relationships in life, always remember, vengeance belongs to God, not you. In Romans 12:17-20 the Bible says, "Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head."The Bible teaches us to be loving, kind and giving, not vengeful. Perhaps with our deeds of kindness we can help others face their difficulties. Perhaps, like Joseph, we can help those who were once our enemies, become better people.

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j0234752.gif (11394 bytes)Question
For This Study

I Must Stop These Erring Teachers!
I cannot stand to see what they are doing to God's people!! They teach their erring ideas. And God's people are listening. They are being corrupted. Something has to be done to stop this! Before God, I will take responsibility. I care deeply about God's people and I will do whatever I can to stem the tide of this false teaching.

Who am I and what should I do? What have I been doing? Am I helping God's cause? Is my attitude correct?