The extent of forgiveness

By 21/10/2020From Nigel

Joseph was now satisfied that the time had come to tell his brothers who this ‘Prince of Egypt’ really was. We are in Genesis 45. The story of what his brothers had done was likely to become widely known if Joseph revealed himself in front of an Egyptian court, so he dismissed the court (vs 1). The emotions of all the years spilled out (vs 2). It’s so helpful to learn that Joseph did not want others to know how much he had been hurt, he protected his brothers and he would not dishonour them. It’s so easy to drag others into our disputes and lower the view of those who have hurt us to those around us.

The brothers were terrified when they realised that this Prince of Egypt was in fact their brother Joseph. Their fear was genuine and real believing that their sin would be punished and that they were at his mercy (vs 3). Is this not us as we stand before God, guilty and at God’s mercy? Oh the mercy!

Has life pressed in on you and subdued the wonder of God’s mercy? Has the pressure of just making it one day at a time caused you to lose sight of the unimaginable depths and indescribable heights of divine mercy to a sinner such as you are? Have the banal, mundane, and often perverted images and sounds of TV, the Internet, Twitter, e-mail, films, and Facebook dulled your heart to the majesty of God’s mercy in Jesus Christ? Would you pray this prayer with me?

I pray that the Spirit of God will intensify and deepen in my heart an increasing wonder for the glory of the cross, the centrality of Christ, and the ever-expanding joy of heaven in the ages to come. May my fascination and excitement and awe for the wonder of God’s mercy never end! Amen.

Joseph would not leave his brothers in either guilt or limbo. He didn’t just want them to know forgiveness, he wanted them to feel forgiven.

So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. Genesis 45:4-5

It’s not a text card in a Bible Book shop it is a reality in life that all things work together for good. Joseph wanted to make it easy for his brothers to receive their forgiveness, not hard so it helped them to see the bigger picture.

“God sent me” “it was not you who sent me here” (vs 5-8).

Not only did he want them to feel forgiven, he wanted them to feel reconciled to him. He was now a very important person. They must take news back to their father and bring him to Egypt. He wanted them to feel his concern for them and their family. Many forgive and others say I forgive you, but secretly, underneath some may hope that the person being forgiven will still feel the burden of what they have done. Joseph was not like that and neither should we be. In our forgiving we release the person. Joseph wept over them, he kissed them and spoke with them not from a throne but as equals, brothers, friends.  What kind of forgivers are we to be?

The Egyptians get to hear about this incredible family reunion (vs 16). They are kept from knowing about the betrayal, the hurt and the hatred of the previous years. All that has been covered, hidden. Love has covered a multitude of sins. Let’s keep loving one another “since love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8). Love ought to lead us to overlook the sins and offenses of others (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). See especially Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses” (also James 5:19-20)

The brothers attracted the favour of Pharaoh who then acted generously towards them and their father (vs17-20). Joseph himself sent gifts (vs 21-24).

People are looking for love and looking for something very different from the attitudes of the world that encourage revenge and pay pack. If there is genuine love between us, then our ‘Egyptians’ will see it and recognise it.

We believe that loving relationships should permeate every aspect of church life. As God has first loved us, we are called to love one another (1 John 4:19). So love is grounded, not in our self-righteousness, but in the grace of God. As such we consider others more important than ourselves (Philippians 2:3). Celebrating God’s love, we should pursue restoration within a Christian community of acceptance and forgiveness of one another which is centred in the person and works of Jesus Christ.

You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbour as yourself; I am the LORD.” Leviticus 19:18


Join the discussion One Comment

  • Mobayode+Akinsolu says:

    Thanks a lot for sharing.

    The words of the song, “Mercy Came Running” by Phillips, Craig and Dean comes to my mind as I try to picture Joseph’s brothers in the court. Indeed, it is a glaring similitude of our states in the presence of God.

    God bless.

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