We come today to our final lesson on the life of Joseph. We have journeyed with him since he was a young teenager, full of zeal and lacking in wisdom, but truly called of God for a mighty purpose. We empathized with his suffering and were encouraged with God’s grace upon his life, granting him favor and spiritual gifts in keeping with the divine call on Joseph’s life.
As the book of Genesis comes to a close, Joseph buries his father in Hebron and then faces one last challenge with his brothers. With Jacob gone, the brothers fear that perhaps Joseph was good to them only because their father was present. They concoct a plan to persuade Joseph to continue his kindness toward them. Joseph’s response is a brilliant testimony to the lesson we learned last week: total forgiveness.
To their fears, Joseph replies: ‘Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? You intended to harm me but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.” Gen. 50: 19-21 His assurance that there was no play acting in order to impress Jacob, but rather his forgiveness of them was sincere and furthermore, he recognized the hand of God operating behind the circumstances that were painful.
It takes a certain maturity to recognize God at work when we are suffering or discouraged. To do so, presupposes a living relationship with the LORD and a consciousness of His presence in one’s life. It also reveals a heart that has learned to be sensitive to the voice of the Spirit of God accompanied by a readiness to obey.
Joseph has come a long way and I pray that we have, too. Joseph continued to live in Egypt along with his brothers and their families. At the age of 110, Joseph died after seeing three generations of his descendants. His final request mirrored that of his father. He asked his brothers to take his bones back to Israel when the LORD would restore them to their land. Years later, Moses did exactly that, carrying the bones of Joseph to the Promised Land.
So what have we learned during these weeks?
We’ve learned that God can speak to a young person, immature though they may be, and impart a dream, a vision, a direction for their life.
We’ve also learned that with God’s call comes a time of preparation. Joseph wasn’t ready at seventeen to see the fulfillment of his dream. It took years of refining and maturing. It still does.
We’ve learned that the journey towards the destiny of our life make take unusual twists and turns but at every step of the way, God is personally involved.
We’ve learned that it is foolish to waste our suffering and profoundly wise to profit from it. Each trial or challenge is an opportunity to grow spiritually and draw closer to God.
Finally we’ve learned that unconditional and total forgiveness is a powerful force for good – not just for the forgiven, but for the forgiver. Total forgiveness is what God grants to us when we repent and that same God commanded us ‘Be holy as I am holy.’ Lev. 11:44-45 Part of fulfilling that commandment is that we imitate Him by forgiving one another as He forgives us.
It is fitting that we conclude this series just three days before the Festival of Trumpets, Rosh Hashanah. Four days later we observe Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. It is a season dedicated to repentance as we prepare our hearts for the LORD’s appointed feast (Leviticus 23) and all that it prophetically signifies.
If there was ever a time to make sure that we hold no grudges and harbor no bitterness, it is now – right now.
If there was ever a time to make sure you have forgiven anyone at all who has hurt you or offended you, it is now – right now.
If there ever was a time to make sure you’ve forgiven yourself, it is now – right now.
May this holy season bring you peace and joy in the knowledge of God’s eternal and unconditional love for you. And may all we learned from Joseph’s life remain with us and enrich our spiritual walk.
God bless you and keep you, make His face to shine upon you and fill you with the awareness of His everlasting love.
Thank you for being part of this study. We will resume our studies after the Festival of Succot (Feast of Tabernacles) which ends on October 12th here in Israel.