Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Joseph Blessed His Enemies

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. (Matthew 5:44)
Joseph was cruelly treated by his ten older brothers. They hated him because he was their father’s favorite, and because he dreamed of greatness. At first they conspired to kill him, but then decided to abandon him in a pit in the wilderness. While they were about that dirty work, an Ishmaelite caravan came along, so they figured it would be more profitable for them to sell their little brother into slavery.

So Joseph became a slave in Egypt. Before long, because of the treachery of Potiphar’s wife, he spent many years in prison. But God was good to Joseph, even in the midst of hard circumstances, and through wonderful providence, Joseph rose to power and became second in command over all the land of Egypt.

When famine came upon Egypt and the surrounding territories, Joseph’s father, Jacob, sent all his brothers down to buy grain. Joseph was presented with a delicious opportunity for revenge. At first he hid his identity from them, spoke roughly and tested them. Finally, he revealed himself to them: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt” (Genesis 45:4). Was he about to lower the boom on them? Quite the opposite; he reassured them.
But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life … And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 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 a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt … You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near to me, you and your children, your children’s children , your flocks and your herds, and all that you have. There I will provide for you, lest you and your household and all that you have come to poverty; for there are still five years of famine. (Genesis 45:5, 7-8, 10-11)
So Jacob and all his family came and settled in Goshen, and there they prospered, just as Joseph promised. But then Jacob died, and Joseph’s brothers began to wonder.
When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “Perhaps Joseph will hate us, and may actually repay us for all the evil which we did to him.” So they sent messengers to Joseph, saying, “Before your father died he commanded, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph: “I beg you, please forgive the trespass of your brothers and their sin; for they did evil to you.”’ Now, please, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him.

Then his brothers also went and fell down before his face, and they said, “Behold, we are your servants.” Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against met, but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. (Genesis 50:15-21)
Joseph discovered that God is far greater than our circumstances and any evil that can be perpetrated against us. So he was able to not only forgive, but to bless and love those who had betrayed him and treated him so shamefully.

God is greater than any evil or betrayal done against you, to deliver, heal and restore you in every way. If you will forgive, His love will enable you to love and bless even those who have hurt you the most.