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Saturday, 3 September 2011

The Blessing of Forgiveness

We  are pilgrim strangers on this earth seeking “... a city which hath foundations  whose Builder and Maker is God.....” ( Hebrews 11 verse 10 ).
Cain hated his brother Abel. ( Genesis  Chapter 4 ).
“....By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts : and by it he being dead yet speaketh....”. ( Hebrews 11 verse 4 ).
Cain had no place in his heart for forgiveness. Cain didnot want to do what was right. Cain wanted his own selfish stubborn way, the way of death and destruction.
 Cain had no capacity to do the will of God. Cain had a root of bitterness in his heart and murdered his brother Abel.(Genesis Chapter 4 ).
Joseph’s brothers hated Joseph because Joseph was blessed with spiritual gifts of dreams and prophetic visions.
Their bitterness and hatred contaminated the little faith they had.
They plotted to get rid of Joseph. In Genesis Chapter 37 we read  from verse 18 :
“..... 18  And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him.
 19  And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh.
 20  Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.
 21  And Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him.
 22  And Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him; that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again.
 23   And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him;
 24  And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it.
 25   And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt.
 26  And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood?
 27   Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content.
 28  Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.
 29   And Reuben returned unto the pit; and, behold, Joseph was not in the pit; and he rent his clothes.
 30  And he returned unto his brethren, and said, The child is not; and I, whither shall I go?
 31   And they took Joseph's coat, and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood;
 32   And they sent the coat of many colours, and they brought it to their father; and said, This have we found: know now whether it be thy son's coat or no.
 33   And he knew it, and said, It is my son's coat; an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces.
 34  And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days.....”. ( Genesis 37 verse 18 to 34 ).
The brothers had bitterness, hatred ,wickedness  and unforgiveness in their hearts.
They told lies to Jacob that Joseph was dead killed by a wild beast. They manufactured evidence to make Jacob believe their lie that Joseph  had been killed by a wild beast. They made their father cry.
Bitterness and hatred drives people further away from compassion and love and deeper into the works of darkness.
Joseph was sold into slavery  to the Gentile Nation of Egypt.
We know the story how Potiphar’s wife lied about Joseph. She was attracted to Joseph. She tried to seduce Joseph. Joseph wanted none of that wickedness.
Joseph fled from that adulterous woman.
Joseph that innocent man of God was sent to prison for something he never done.
Judgement struck Egypt. God spoke to Pharaoh in a dream. Pharaoh’s  own people couldnot interpret  the dream. God by Sovereign grace had someone in pharaoh’s household testify that Joseph could interpret dreams.  God by His Sovereign Grace raised Joseph from  the dungeon place .
Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dream.  Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dream  about an oncoming famine judgement.
Pharaoh made  him the prime Minister of Egypt. There was a famine in the land. . ( see Genesis  41 ).
Years later, when Jacob and his sons went to Egypt because of the famine in Canaan  we read about Joseph providing food for his brethren and testing their hearts and then revealing himself to his brethren and  forgiving his brethren. ( Genesis 42 to 46 ).
Joseph forgave his brethren from his heart with true forgiveness. It was not a temporary show of forgiveness for the benefit of Jacob. Joseph’s forgiveness for his brethren was genuine and from the bottom of his heart.
When Jacob died  Joseph’s brethren were worried and concerned that Joseph’s forgiveness had been a temporary show and not true forgiveness.
Joseph put their hearts and minds at rest .
He  had to explain to them about God’s Providence. He had to explain to them that God can take a bad situation and make good come out of it.
God  “....works all things after the counsel of His Own will...”. ( Ephesians 1 verse 11 ).
He can change circumstances and situations to benefit His Children. For “...we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose....”. ( Romans 8 verse 28 ).

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