Pharaoh’s dreams were fulfilled according to how Joseph had interpreted them. The seven years of plenteous harvest had come and gone and the famine was two years gone. The famine was all over the earth including the land of Canaan where Joseph’s family were, Genesis 41:56 – 57. They had no food and heard there was food in the land of Egypt so they came to buy, Genesis 42: 5 & 6. Since the coordination and sales of grains were in Joseph’s care, they came to him but did not recognize him as their brother Joseph; however, Joseph recognized them, Genesis 42: 7 – 8.
He received them, but in his wisdom subjected them to certain tests/trials to know their present characters whether they were still cruel or not (Genesis 42:7-20; 43: 44). After he had been certain that the brothers had changed from their evil ways, he then revealed himself to them as their brother Joseph, Genesis chapters 42- 45. His brothers were very terrified at his presence after he introduced himself to them. They were shocked and speechless because they never expected him to be the one in such a position he held as well as the guilt of their past cruelty and wickedness to him. Joseph then spoke to them saying, “…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… and God sent me to preserve you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and Lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt. Haste ye, and go up to my father,…come down to me and tarry not: and thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shall be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children’s children, and thy flocks and thy herds, and all that thou hast: and there will I nourish thee; for .. lest thou, and thy household, and all that thou, come to poverty” (Genesis 45: 4-11). Moreover, he kissed all his brothers, and wept upon them; and after that, his brethren talked with him (vs 15).
When one considers the wickedness and cruelty of his brothers, one would have expected Joseph to be angry with them and avenge all the evil they did to him in the past. As the prime minister, he was at liberty to refuse to sell grains to them and sending them back empty-handed; he could arrange that they should be punished severely or killed as they wanted to do to him. However, he did not do any of these. He spoke to them tenderly and treated them with kindness and love.
Joseph’s words to his brothers could be said to be the most wonderful, comforting, encouraging, loving, and kind words of pure love from the offended to the offender. This is a reflection of Jesus’ words on the cross to his Father concerning humanity who crucified Him saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
His actions of weeping upon them, kissing them, inviting them to come and stay near him, and the promise to nourish them and all they had were great and sincere actions of genuine forgiveness and reconciliation of the offended to the offender. He was the victim as well as the one who initiated peace and reconciliation with those who hurt him. Joseph totally and genuinely forgave his erring brothers without them first asking him for forgiveness or telling him they were sorry for their cruelty to him. He had forgiven them long before they came to him in Egypt. His actions were reflections of God’s forgiveness for the erring mankind; God made no account of the sin already committed ((Mark 2:5; John 8:11); He accepted us, (Luke 15: 20); He transferred us into Christ kingdom (Colossians 1:13); He promised us eternal life (Luke 23:43, John 14:19); Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners and reconciled us to God and invited us to become partakers of His kingdom (Romans 5:6, 8, 10).
But, come to think of it, how could Joseph who had suffered greatly because of his brothers’ cruelty and wickedness; one born before the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ who gave us the command on forgiveness; one no one or pastor preached to about forgiveness and one not in possession of the Holy Bible forgive so easily and deeply?
WHAT HELPED JOSEPH FORGIVE HIS ERRING BROTHERS?
The foremost thing that helped him was his great faith in God and his belief that God was in all and in control of everything that happened in his life as his statement reveals: “Now, therefore, be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. .. and God sent me to preserve you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and Lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.” This implies he understood the Sovereignty of God and he could see God working out His divine plans and purpose for his life despite the terrible wickedness of his brothers to hinder him. Therefore he did not take their offenses to heart.
Another thing that helped him was the fact that he had God’s love in his heart. Natural passion will not love as he did, but the love that comes from the fountain of God’s heart and which goes out to others including the undeserving and those who hate us, because God’s love is forgiving. It is only the genuine love of God in one’s heart that can make one forgive, forget, and also initiate reconciliation with the offender. It is only God’s type of love that enables one to forgive countless times as Jesus counseled.
Furthermore, one other thing that helped him was that he lived a spirit-controlled life; as a result of which the fruits of the Spirit which are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, and temperance manifested in his life. These are what make forgiving an offending person possible and easy. Joseph had been able to put to death the flesh and all its works and desires, therefore he was devoid of hatred, malice and grudge, revenge, bitterness, resentfulness, envy, anger, strife, animosity, and selfishness all of which are some of the works of the flesh that make forgiveness impossible.
One other thing that helped him was his humility. It takes humility for one has become successful to forgive those that ought to have helped one achieve success but failed to do so when their help was needed. This is because pride and ego will make one feel that such people are no longer needed in one’s life and thereby should be resented and ignored. Pride will also make one feel insulted and cheated to let go without revenging. It takes great humility to initiate forgiving and reconciling with those who hurt and offended us as Joseph did.
FORGIVING ONE ANOTHER
Among the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ to the believers is the importance and need of forgiving those who sinned against us, Luke 17:3-4. Jesus made us realize that the extent we forgive others determines how we also receive forgiveness from God in Matthew 6:14-15; 18:3 and Luke 11:4. He also made us know that forgiving and making peace with others is one of the prerequisites of receiving answers to our prayers, seeing and experiencing God, Mark 11:26. This implies we must forgive others. Forgiving one another is not just mere words of “I forgive you.” but words backed up with actions and deeds of restored relationship – communications and peace. Many times we claim to have forgiven those who offended us only to discover that we easily get upset, angry, irritated, and resentful at so many things about them. The truth, in this case, is that we had not really forgiven them but we are only pretending. Forgiving others involves genuinely pardoning their offenses and making peace and reconciling with the one that has offended us. Forgiveness like love is a thing of the heart and spiritual. It comes easy only when one’s life is in total control of the Holy Spirit of God. It is something that must be lived and practiced, that is a lifestyle.
The command to forgive others is one given for our good because unforgiveness hurts us personally and not the offender. Forgiving others frees one’s mind from all bitterness; grudge, malice, and animosity which are destroyers of joy and good health. Forgiving others enables one to enjoy inner peace and a good relationship with God and fellow men.
DARE TO BE LIKE JOSEPH
Unforgiveness which is the inability to forgive those who wronged us is one of the greatest challenges confronting many believers in the area of all our relationships and spirituality. Unfortunately, it is something we care less about. It is a snare that Satan has used to put many in darkness, attack us; afflict us with sicknesses and diseases and also rob us of many blessings and hinder our prayers. Unforgiving wastes our precious time because it occupies us with evil thoughts and imaginations against our supposed offender at all times. It eats one up like cancer as it makes one always angry, bitter, hot, full of rage, and suspicious all of which make the hormones in the body malfunction and make us sick. Unforgiving is a thief of inner peace, sound sleep, joy, and happiness and grieves the Holy Spirit.
To dare to be like Joseph is to forgive the way he forgave those who had hurt and wronged him willingly by having deep faith in God, seeing His Sovereignty in everything that happens to us, and dwelling in love. It is a fact that it is very painful when our family, friends and loved ones are those who hurt and offend us, but all the same, they deserve to be forgiven. No matter the terrible act anyone might have done to you, please forgive and let it go for your own sake, for God to forgive you and for you to have and enjoy your peace of mind, joy, and good health.
Most importantly, forgive yourself of any past misdeeds because God has forgiven you once you have confessed them to Him and sought His forgiveness. Free yourself from self-condemnation and move on with your life.
Forgive all who hurt and offended you and make peace with them by reconciling with them for Christ’s sake because His death earns you the forgiveness of your sins and reconciliation with God (Ephesians 4: 31-32; Colossians 3:13). Follow peace with all men, and holiness without which no man can see God, Hebrews 12:14.
If you are reading this and you are battling with unforgivingness; it is a battle you cannot win without the help of the Holy Spirit of God which is only given after one has embraced God’s gracious salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Please, come to Jesus now before unforgiveness sends you to hellfire by taking the steps written below;
- Admit you are a sinner (Romans 3:23; 6:23).
- Repent of all sins (Acts 3:19. 1 John 1:9).
- Believe that God loves you and that Jesus His only Son died for you (Romans 5:8 Acts 10:40 & 43).
- Invite Jesus into your heart (Revelations 3:20).
- Forsake sin (Isaiah 55:6 – 7)
GOD LOVES YOU, AND SO DO I.