Joseph: Forgiveness and Service

bigstock-Forgive-This week during our Connect Groups at Southern Calvert Baptist Church, we are going to continue covering the life of Joseph. This is part of our overall, three year plan of walking through the Bible. We began the journey in August. It is now December. God has really blessed the study of His Word. We have learned so much over the past four months. We have covered such topics as:

All through these lessons, we have seen God’s major theme of extending His mercy and grace to people through the Promise of the Coming Savior (Rescuer). God is working in the life of Joseph to bring about the Messiah. Joseph gets to take part in God’s eternal plan. Joseph has had many ups and downs in his life to this point in the story. This week, we are going to conclude the story by looking at verses from Genesis 42, 45, and 50. God has worked in Joseph’s life to get him to the place where he is for such a time as this. At this point in the story, Joseph has gone from being in prison for being wrongfully accused of rape to now, being placed as number two under Pharaoh in the land of Egypt. God’s mighty hand was at work. Joseph remained faithful to God, faithful in the little things, and faithful to being a servant of all. In his position of authority, Joseph continues to serve the people around him. He has not let power go to his head.

I. Joseph experiences God’s Promise

In Genesis 42, the story picks up with Israel (Jacob) sending some of his sons to Egypt to buy grain. There is a severe famine in the land and they are out of food. Neither Jacob, nor his sons know anything about Joseph at this point. Jacob believes that Joseph is dead. The brothers do not know where Joseph ended up. They have no idea that he is number two in the land of Egypt. They go down to buy grain and they end up bowing down to their brother, Joseph, and begging him for help.

5 So the sons of Israel came to buy grain among those who were coming, for the famine was in the land of Canaan also.
6 Now Joseph was the ruler over the land; he was the one who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. (Genesis 42)

This is a fulfillment of the dream that Joseph had shared with his brothers all those years ago when he was living at home.

5 Then Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more.
6 He said to them, “Please listen to this dream which I have had;
7 for behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and lo, my sheaf rose up and also stood erect; and behold, your sheaves gathered around and bowed down to my sheaf.”
8 Then his brothers said to him, “Are you actually going to reign over us? Or are you really going to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words. (Genesis 37)

God was working in Joseph’s life all this time. There is a two part plan unfolding here. God is accomplishing His overall, eternal plan of bringing the Messiah as well as working in Joseph’s life. The Apostle Paul teaches us in Romans 8:28-29 the following:

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;

God works in our lives to conform us to the image of Jesus Christ in our attitudes, actions, and words. God is conforming Joseph’s life to the life of the Savior. Joseph is becoming more Christlike in these trials and circumstances. God is also using Joseph to bring about His overall, eternal plan of salvation through the Messiah.

We can experience God’s promises today. We can take part in God’s overall plan of salvation as He works in our lives individually to conform us to the image of Jesus Christ. What an amazing Truth for all of us to know, understand, and apply to our daily lives!!!

How is this image of Christ manifested in and through us? Let’s find out via Joseph’s example.

II. Joseph extends forgiveness

The image of Christ is manifested in us in a very practical way. It is seen in the way that we forgive those who do us wrong. The word forgiveness means “to release”. When I forgive someone, I release myself from the bitterness that comes from being done wrong. In Genesis 45, when Joseph comes face to face with his brothers, we discover that Joseph had already forgiven his brothers, without them ever asking for it. People do not have to ask for forgiveness for me to extend it. I can extend forgiveness whether they ask for it or not. As we mentioned earlier, Joseph is in a position of power. He is using his power to serve others. He could use his power for evil and pay his brothers back for their actions. Joseph has already chosen the path of forgiveness.

4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come closer to me.” And they came closer. And he said, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.
5 “Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.
6 “For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting.
7 “God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance.
8 “Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt. (Genesis 45)

Joseph recognized that God not only worked in his life but, He was using Joseph to save life, and specifically, the lineage of the Promised Messiah. God had been sharing this overall, eternal plan from generation to generation and Joseph recognizes it and steps in line with the generations of faithful believers before him.

Did you know that we have the same opportunity today? We see God’s overall, eternal plan and He invites us to join in. As we join in, He begins to work in our lives to conform us to the image of Christ. As we are being conformed to the image of Christ, we desire to extend forgiveness to those around us. Is there someone in your life whom you cannot forgive? It seems impossible for Joseph to be able to forgive his brothers yet, that is exactly what he did. God was shining the image of Christ through Joseph. He can and will shine that same image of Christ through us as well. We have to believe the way that Joseph believed. Are you willing to believe?

There is another manifestation of the image of Christ in Joseph. Let’s discover what it is in Genesis 50.

III. Joseph serves his brothers

There is one characteristic of Joseph that we have seen manifest itself in almost every chapter of his life. It is his servant’s heart. When we love/serve the Lord with all of our hearts, we desire to love/serve our fellow human being as ourselves. Joseph served his family while he lived at home. Joseph served the other members of Potiphar’s family while he lived in Potiphar’s house. Joseph served his fellow inmates while he was wrongfully imprisoned. Joseph served the people of Egypt when he was made number two in the all the land. Now, Joseph chooses to serve his brothers and their families even though they had done him wrong.

19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place?
20 “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.
21 “So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. (Genesis 50)

Joseph’s brothers continued to think that he was like they were, that he would take revenge on them for the way that they had treated him. Joseph uses the opportunity as a teaching moment to show his brothers that God is the One who was working the entire time to accomplish His Word. The brothers did what they did for evil. God was overseeing everything and He turned the evil into good. He conformed Joseph to the image of Christ and He accomplished His overall, eternal plan of preserving the lineage of the Promised Messiah. Joseph did not want revenge. He had extended forgiveness to his brothers. He was willing to serve his brothers again. He was willing to serve his brothers’ families too.

Do you manifest the image of Christ by the way that you serve others? What about by the way you treat those who have done you wrong? Do you trust God enough to allow Him to use what was done for evil and turn it into good? That is easy to understand and very difficult to apply. May the Lord help us manifest the image of Christ to the world around us by the way that we forgive others and serve people!

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