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The Seventeenth Sunday After Pentecost

Joseph: A Glowing Example Of A Forgiving Heart
Genesis 50:15-21
Rev. Wayne Dobratz

Joseph: A Glowing Example Of A Forgiving Heart

1) It has experienced God’s forgiveness–Matt. 6:12-15; Lk 17:3-4; Eph 4:32; Col. 3:12-14

2) It refused to play God--Rom. 12:17-19

3) It recognizes that God often turns evil into good–Gen 45:5-7; Rom 12:19-21; Acts 2:23ff.

The Holman Bible Dictionary has this entry concerning the story of Joseph:

    His brothers sold him to Egypt to be rid of their brother the dreamer. God, however, used their act of hate as an opportunity to save Israel from both physical famine and spiritual extinction. The rise of Joseph to a position of authority in Egypt in fulfillment of his God-given dreams illustrates the Lord’s blessing upon His people. Joseph’s wisdom in administering the agricultural affairs of Egypt again fulfilled God’s promise that "I will bless him who blesses you." What appeared to be a series of blunders and injustices in Joseph’s early experiences proved to be God at work in unseen ways to demonstrate His sovereign, kingdom work among the nations. 

    No one was more aware of this than Joseph, at least in later years. After he had revealed himself to his brothers, he said, "God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance" (45:7). Years later after Jacob’s death, when Joseph’s brothers feared his revenge, he reminded them that they had intended to harm him, "but God intended it for good to accomplish . . . the saving of many lives" (50:20). Human tragedy had become the occasion of divine triumph. Joseph’s dying wish—to be buried in the land of promise—looks past the future tragedy of Israel’s experience of slavery and anticipates God’s triumph in the exodus (50:22-26).

John MacArthur writes:

    Although Joseph had been terribly wronged by his jealous brothers when they sold him into slavery, he held no grudge. Years later, when they were in the midst of a great famine and he was the only person who could help them, he was quick to offer his forgiveness, to embrace them in love, to provide the food they needed, and even to give them the lush region of Goshen to live in. When they had begged his forgiveness and fallen down before him, he "said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place?"...

Forgiveness reflects the highest human virtue, because it so clearly reflects the character of God. A person who forgives is a person who emulates godly character. Nothing so much demonstrates God’s love as His forgiveness. A person who does not forgive is therefore a person lacking in godly character and without Christlike love, no matter how orthodox his theology or how outwardly impeccable his morals appear to be. 

A Christian who will not relinquish a hateful, resentful attitude toward someone who has wronged him is a person who knows neither the true glory of his redeemed humanity nor the true glory of God’s gracious divinity. An unforgiving Christian is a living contradiction of His new nature in Christ. It is central to the heart of God to forgive, and only the Christian who radiates forgiveness radiates true godliness. Considering forgiveness from another direction, Christians need to forgive because they themselves need forgiveness. They are spiritual children and, like all children, are ignorant, weak, selfish, disobedient, and regularly in need of forgiveness, both from God and from each other. Forgiving is a give-and-take issue of life.

Rev. Wayne Dobratz

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