The Sovereignty of God and Forgiveness
In studying the life of Joseph this week one of the things that I was encouraged by, yet did not have time to dive into during my sermon was how the sovereignty of God served as the foundation of Joseph’s forgiveness towards his brothers. In both Genesis 45 and 50 we see two different instances where Joseph's brothers are ready for the hammer to come down on them. They are ready for Joseph to exact revenge and return the favor they had once shown him when trying to kill him and eventually selling him into slavery. They were fearful because they knew they deserved everything they had coming and were powerless to stop the hand of the ruler of Egypt, Joseph. Joseph responds to his brother’s pleas of mercy with surprising forgiveness. It is hard to imagine someone being able to forgive others who so aggressively hated him. They didn’t just tease and taunt, though that was there, they schemed, plotted, and executed a plan to kill him. When that proved to not profit them enough they sold him into slavery for some silver coins. Again, how could anyone overlook these acts of hate? Joseph shares how he was able to do just that…
 And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.  For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest.  And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors.  So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.
 His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.”  But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God?  As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.  So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
What is the answer? How is Joseph able to forgive being sinned against in a such horrific manner? The answer isn't because he has a big heart and just loves them so much. He isn’t just going to try to forget what they had done to him either by blocking it out. The answer he gives is the sovereignty of God. God had sent him through the gauntlet he faced for a special purpose. Joseph recognized that what his brothers intended for evil God intended for good. So rather than holding onto bitterness and anger towards his brothers he was able to let it all go because he knew God had a purpose in all the suffering that befell him. Joseph could forgive because God was sovereign over all his life, even these great evils that he faced. He knew God had good reasons to let it happen and if God willed it then in the end he should embrace what God was doing. Those horrific events made him who he was by God’s gracious design. With this much thankfulness and perspective in his heart holding on to bitterness and anger just wasn’t an option. With all of this true, here is how we see Joseph respond to those who tried to kill him and sold him like a possession…
 And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them…
Embracing God's Purpose and Letting Go of Bitterness
Is there someone in your life that you have struggled to forgive? Maybe they sinned against you in a great way and you're able to relate to Joseph. Many of us find ourselves in this exact situation, don’t we? What we can learn from Joseph's life is that while others intended evil against you God had good intentions for it in your life. Like Joseph, can you embrace the greater purpose for the suffering that God allowed in your life and let go of bitterness and anger? Are you able to fully forgive someone who wronged you or hurt you in the past, knowing that God was doing something purposeful in your life? While you would never choose that pain again in your life are you able to be grateful for the lessons that you learned through the hardship? Could you allow this gratitude to reframe the way that you saw the pain and the hurt so that you could let go of the bitterness that grips your heart and seek reconciliation in the midst of a broken relationship?
God’s sovereignty serves as a wonderful foundation to build forgiveness off of. Start here today!
To listen to the full sermon on Joseph and the Sovereign God Over All History CLICK HERE
A Word About the Series: "Cutting Room Floor"
One of the hardest parts of studying for Sundays is that we often have more content than we could ever fit into one sermon as truth about God leaps off the pages of Scripture. So just like a film editor who takes out scenes that he loves for the sake of time and the flow of the story he is telling we find ourselves in the same situation many weeks. Some of the truth that gets left behind on the cutting room floor impacts me greatly and I hate to hoard it all to myself so something I am going to start doing (as time allows) is updating our blog with truth that is left on the cutting room floor. I hope it encourages you as much as it does me.
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