Genesis 50:18-20; Romans 8:38
There are many times in Scripture that God shows the power of forgiveness and what He can accomplish through us as we release past hurts. One of my favorite examples is the Old Testament character of Joseph. In today’s time together, we will set the scene, and then we will see the end of the story next time.
Joseph was a much-beloved son of the Hebrew patriarch, Jacob. Jacob actually had twelve sons; but out of all of them, Joseph was his favorite. I’m sure that played out in many ways as the family lived and worked together; but Scripture seems to focus the proof of that favoritism on a particular gift Jacob gave to Joseph: a coat of many colors. It caused a lot of jealousy among the brothers.
Apparently, Joseph had special favor with God, too; because God gave him two different dreams in which his brothers and his whole family bowed down to him. Of course, when he told his brothers about the dreams, they hated him even more. So, one day when the older brothers were working in the fields, they decided to get rid of Joseph once and for all. When Joseph showed up with greetings from their father, they grabbed him, pulled off his coat of many colors, bound him, threw him into a dry well, and then sat down to enjoy lunch, all the while ignoring his cries for help from the pit. And while he was down there, lying helpless because of what had been done to him by his siblings, there was nothing he could do but look up through the opening above him to the heavens beyond. Joseph could not help himself, but even there he could look to God.
Deciding finally not to kill him, the brothers sold him to some passing slave traders who were on their way to Egypt. To deceive their father, they put blood on the coat of many colors and told him that his favorite child had been killed by wild animals in the field.
The traders dragged Joseph down to Egypt where he was sold as a slave. He arrived there with nothing. No money, no friends, no coat of many colors to remind him of who he was and where he belonged. Just another drifter brought in from the desert with nothing to offer. He had lost everything, except for one thing – his destiny! For God had chosen him. God had called him to fulfill a special purpose; and there was a day coming when those dreams he had received from God would come true. His own brothers would bow down to him.
Getting to that day wasn’t easy though. Joseph was sold to Potiphar, a man of great standing in Pharoah’s court. Joseph was a man of ability and integrity, who served well and brought success to Potiphar’s household. However, Potiphar’s evil wife falsely accused him of trying to seduce her (when in reality he had resisted her immoral requests). Joseph’s version of the story didn’t matter to her husband, though; and Joseph was thrown into prison on the false accusation. Joseph waited there for many years while others who had promised to help repeatedly forgot all about him. But God had not forgotten him!
God has not forgotten you either! He has chosen you and called you by name. He has given each of us a future and a hope; and He will put even our times of most pain to good use if we remain faithful to Him.
Joseph’s life was not defined by the suffering he endured at the hands of others. His life didn’t end in the well or that prison cell. In every situation, he remained faithful to his God and lived with purpose and integrity. But forgiveness will have a big part to play in the story of his life and that of his family. Join us next time when we will explore how God was working out His purposes through it all.
May God bless you!