Genesis 45:4-15 (ESV)
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. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; do not tarry. You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children's children, and your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. There I will provide for you, for there are yet five years of famine to come, so that you and your household, and all that you have, do not come to poverty.’ And now your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see, that it is my mouth that speaks to you. You must tell my father of all my honor in Egypt, and of all that you have seen. Hurry and bring my father down here.” Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin's neck and wept, and Benjamin wept upon his neck. And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them. After that his brothers talked with him.
Joseph uses this joyous moment to deliver one of the bluntest lessons in the Bible.
So it was not you who sent me here, but God.
It was all God’s doing – even the nasty bits.
No one likes to admit this. Faith is just fine until something happens. Then we have trouble reconciling what we witnessed with what we believe about God. Something doesn’t fit.
But the cold truth is that God is in control, He knows what He’s doing, and He’s good. Grieving people often try to figure out which one of those 3 things isn’t true. But bad things have a purpose, which we may or may not get to see.
In this case, the sons of Israel do get to see. Joseph also gives them a big lesson in forgiveness. Now they have to go fetch their dad – but they have to tell him the truth about what they did to Joseph 20 years ago.
The lesson in forgiveness includes a tough homework assignment.
Forgiveness is the heart of the gospel. We should strive to teach forgiveness and live forgiveness.
Is there an area in your life where you haven’t been able to give forgiveness – or, more to the point, to receive it? Is there something you can’t forgive yourself for? Few Christians can honestly answer, “No,” to both questions. Sin leaves a lot of scars. Pretending there’s no hurt and no baggage doesn’t work.
Only God can heal these wounds. If you’re struggling with a big one, the challenge is to completely turn it over to the Holy Spirit. That’s a tough homework assignment.
The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here: