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19 And Joseph said to them, Fear not; for am I in the place of God? [Vengeance is His, not mine.] 20 As for you, you thought evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring about that many people should be kept alive, as they are this day. 21 Now therefore, do not be afraid. I will provide for and support you and your little ones. And he comforted them [imparting cheer, hope, strength] and spoke to their hearts [kindly]. Genesis 50 : 19 – 21 AMPC
5 But now, do not be distressed and disheartened or vexed and angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me ahead of you to preserve life. 7 God sent me before you to preserve for you a posterity and to continue a remnant on the earth, to save your lives by a great escape and save for you many survivors. 8 So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Genesis 45 : 5, 7, 8 AMPC
So many of us have suffered betrayal and hurt at the hands of others. Some of us, from people we worked with or barely knew. Others of us have suffered at the hands of loved ones, family members. People we should be able to trust. Those who should have our best interest at heart. This was Joseph’s story. Joseph’s brothers were jealous of how their father favored him. So they faked his death and sold him into slavery.
Joseph endured many hardships as a slave and ended up in Egypt. Through the hand of God, Joseph found favor with Pharaoh and was put in charge over all of Egypt. He was Pharaoh’s second-in-command. His right-hand guy. Other than Pharaoh, Joseph was the most respected and powerful man in Egypt at the time. Years later Joseph’s family was suffering from famine in the region where they lived. They went to Egypt begging for help, not knowing that the brother they had so terribly wronged was now in charge of Egypt.
Joseph’s brothers who had done the unthinkable to him, were now at his mercy. The ones who betrayed him. Who robbed him of years with his father, who was by that time old and ailing. The ones who sold him into the hands of strangers to mistreat and abuse him for years. Those brothers, now needed his mercy.
This would have been the perfect opportunity to right the wrongs done to him. To balance the scales. To finally exact revenge on his brothers. To make them feel some of the pain he’d felt all those years. The sting of betrayal, the heartache of rejection. Surely now he could use his power to make them suffer – like he did. And he’d be totally justified in that right? Wrong. Joseph was a man who understood authority. That’s one of the reasons Pharaoh trusted him with his entire kingdom. Joseph knew that it wasn’t his place to exact revenge on his brothers. He understood that God is the only Righteous Judge. The only One without fault. He knew vengeance, therefore, belonged to God. Not to Him. Joseph understood that if he decided to take revenge on his brothers, he would be out of order. He would be trying to take the place that only God deserves.
Joseph could also see God’s hand at work in the midst of all his pain and suffering. He understood that God had a plan, not only to rescue him, but to use him to save his people one day. Joseph understood what many of us forget. That no weapon formed against us can prosper in its intent. No matter what the enemy tries against you, God has a plan of redemption. Joseph understood that even in the darkest moments of his life, God was at work. Behind the scenes. Working all things for his good and the good of His people. Joseph saw the big picture. That his position and power was given to him by God. Not to be used for his own selfish gain. But to show kindness and mercy to the same ones who had wronged him. If Joseph had exacted revenge on his brothers, how would that have pointed back to God? How would God have been glorified? Joseph’s response left his brothers weeping and dumbfounded. In awe of the unmerited mercy and grace that they were shown. This amazing act of kindness, which could only have been God at work in Joseph, points us to how we should respond to those who hurt us in light of all Jesus has done.
When we have been wronged, mistreated, abused, rejected, wounded by others, the natural inclination is to want to get even. To one day find a way to make them pay for what they did to us. But the beauty of the gospel is that Jesus paid a debt that we could never repay. He bore the weight of our sins by dying for us on the Cross so that we could be free to live in right-standing with God. To have relationship with the Father. Jesus died for the people who spat at him. The ones who lashed him with whips. The ones who chanted and called for his death. The ones who wickedly fed him vinegar in his thirst. The ones who mocked his majesty with a crown of thorns. The ones who pierced his side with swords. The ones who drove nails through his hands and feet. The thieves who hung beside him. He died for the one he knew would betray him into the hands of those who would crucify him. His very own disciple who walked with him. Broke bread with him. Did life with him. Yes, He even died for Judas.
Jesus did all that for you and me. May we all choose to walk in forgiveness today in light of the amazing grace we have been shown. If we ever get the chance, I pray we would leave our enemies bewildered by the grace we show them. May we, just like Joseph, understand that revenge belongs only to God. Because only He stands blameless and perfect. May we be able, by God’s grace to see His hand at work, even in our darkest times. Trusting Him to heal the broken places in our hearts. To redeem the years that were stolen. And may we seek to show others the scandalous, amazing, can-never-be-repaid, doesn’t-make-sense grace that we were shown by Jesus. And in so doing, glorify our Father in heaven.
Love & Blessings,