Genesis 50:15-21 - When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, "It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him." So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, "Your father gave this command before he died: 'Say to Joseph, "Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you."' And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father." Joseph wept when they spoke to him. His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, "Behold, we are your servants." But Joseph said to them, "Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones." Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
Old sins cast long shadows, as many people have said. Long ago, Joseph's brothers had been jealous of him. When they saw an opportunity, they sold him as a slave into another country, and told their father Joseph was dead. Over many years, God used this evil situation to make Joseph a leader in Egypt. Joseph then used his power to rescue his family from famine and provide for all their needs.
But although on the surface everything was fine, Joseph's brothers were still carrying a lot of fear and guilt. When their father Jacob died, it all came boiling to the surface. Did Joseph truly forgive them—or was he just faking it to keep their father happy? Would they finally suffer the consequences of what they did so long ago?
This sort of thing happens in our families too, doesn't it? A major change like a death in a family causes everyone to re-evaluate their relationships. Old sins and guilts may come back to the surface and destroy the peace of everyone involved.
What can we do about these things? The same thing we do when sin and guilt are fresh: run to Jesus. Seek His help to deal with the matter. Ask for His wisdom, His courage, and His mercy. Then, if possible, talk with other people involved. In many cases, it is wise to involve a pastor or counselor, especially if the sin is major, or if you fear that the people involved might react in painful or harmful ways. The Lord doesn't expect you to put yourself in danger by confronting an abuser.
What if it's impossible to talk with the others involved—because they're dead, absent, or suffer from dementia? Take it up with Jesus, who can and will help you heal in these situations as well. He who lay down His life for you is able to bring you out of the shadows of old grief and sin, into His own everlasting light and life.
WE PRAY: Dear Savior, You know the things in my past that trouble me. Help me and heal me. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. Do you think Jacob really gave that command to forgive before he died, or did the brothers make it up to tell Joseph later?
2. Why do you think so?
3. Where can you find help to forgive someone who has sinned against you? Name as many sources as you can.
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