Recommended Reading: Genesis 42-46
I never fail to be fascinated by the story of Jacob’s son, Joseph. He was the firstborn son of Jacob’s most favored, desired and beloved wife, Rachel. He apparently was the favorite among his brothers and they strongly resented him because of it. If you are familiar with this story, you will remember how his brothers thought of killing him, but instead sold him into slavery to some Egyptians they encountered. They then mislead their father to believe he had been killed by some wild animal.
Joseph endured a lot of hardships along the way but eventually became highly favored by the king of Egypt and had been promoted to second in command of the nation, wielding much power. This story reveals the ultimate example of how things may happen to someone that seems wrong and unfair at the time, but how God can ultimately use it for good.
Eventually because of a terrible famine, Jacob sends his 10 oldest sons to Egypt to get food for their family. There the brothers encounter Joseph, but do not recognize him. However, he does recognize them and there are some lessons to be learned in the way that Joseph dealt with his brothers.
In Genesis 42:6-20 you can read about how Joseph pushed them to do things they did not want to do, or, to do things they did not even believe they could do. (ie, bring Benjamin back with them because of the distress it would cause their aging father, because their father had told them they could not take Benjamin back to Egypt with them.)
You can see how Joseph tested their consciences, their honesty and their resolve. They determined themselves that they were being punished because of what they had done to Joseph (Genesis 42:21); they wanted to insure that Joseph would view them as honest (Genesis 43:11-15); and, they showed their resolve by doing all they could to prove their honesty and determining they would not break their father’s heart by not returning his son Benjamin to him as they had promised – attempting to protect him at all costs (Genesis 44:1-34)
It was within Joseph’s power to do anything to them that he saw fit. However, he showed them grace by expressing forgiveness for what they had done to him as a young man. He declared to them that what they had done had been ordained by God so that he would be in the position to save the lives of not only his father and brothers but all of their family members. They were shown great favor, not only by Joseph but also by the Pharaoh of Egypt. (Genesis 45:1 – 46:7)
Lastly, Joseph blessed them with the best of everything (Genesis 45:17-18 & 46:31-34) – the best land, the best crops produced and safety from those that would despise them.
I am sure that we have all experienced things in our lives where we felt that we were wronged by someone – we may have even experienced something really negative as a result of their treatment. When that happens, it can be easy to think about revenge – “If I ever have a chance to get back at him/her, I am going to do this or that!” But I would almost bet (if I were a betting person) that sometimes good things ended up resulting from that negative.
It would have been so easy for Joseph to have treated his brothers badly, imprisoned them – made them slaves for the rest of their lives, even have them killed. But instead he chose to show them grace, forgive them and bless them, knowing that God’s will for his life had been accomplished.
We should strive to do no less than that. It may not always be an easy route to take, but it will be the best one. When we take the high road, giving grace and blessings to others, we will find that God will in turn give us grace and blessings as a result.
Written by Karran Martin – September 3, 2022