Bible Society of South Africa

Grace: Grace to Forgive from God – 4 November 2022

By Louise Gevers

Bible text(s)

4Then Joseph said to them, “Please come closer.” They did, and he said, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.

Genesis 45:4GNBOpen in Bible reader

Shakespeare didn’t call jealousy ‘the green-eyed monster’ for nothing; it has caused discord between people from the beginning of time. The first two siblings recorded in the Bible, Cain and Abel, were its victims, resulting in the first fratricide. God had been pleased with Abel’s offering, by faith, of the very best he had, but had rejected Cain’s; (Genesis 4:8) so Cain, filled with jealousy, killed Abel.

Jealousy was also problematic in Joseph’s relationship with his 10 brothers: “When his brothers saw that their father loved Joseph more than he loved them, they hated their brother so much that they would not speak to him in a friendly manner.” (Genesis 37:4, GNT)

Jacob had openly doted on Joseph, born in his later years, and he’d given him a splendid, “richly ornamented robe”. (Genesis 37:3) This became Joseph’s prized possession – something he flaunted – incensing his ten jealous brothers, because he was so clearly their father’s favourite; until they’d had enough of him and his coat – and his never-ending recounting of his dreams in which they and their parents had paid obeisance to him.

Joseph’s attitude and lack of self-awareness exacerbated the problem, causing his brothers to hate him enough to want to kill him; but, when the time presented itself, they agreed among themselves to sell him into slavery in Egypt.

This meant for Joseph cruel exile from family and country, and prison and hardship, before, by God’s grace, he was released and put into Egypt’s prime position – something he later recognised as God’s intention from the start. He recognised that God had been with him throughout his suffering, enabling him to say to his brothers, “And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.” (Genesis 45:5)

The grace Joseph showed after the pain and rejection he’d endured was remarkable, yet he’d grown in understanding as he’d suffered, having all the time he needed to make sense of his situation; he was able to come to terms with what his brothers had done to him and forgive them wholeheartedly. Grace like this only comes through honouring God.

The brothers also had ample time to come to their senses and regret their callous behaviour which had its place in fulfilling the prophecy of Joseph’s dreams and reconciliation was rich as God’s grace and favour to Jacob and his family became apparent. God, “gave (them) back what (they) lost in the years when swarms of locusts ate (their) crops”. (Joel 2:25)

How do we deal with feelings of jealousy we experience?

Prayer: Gracious Father, although I may be influenced by the actions of others, I confess that it’s my own perceptions of a situation that can be misguided when I exclude Your grace from my thinking. Whatever my experience, may I see the bigger picture and Your grace to us all that is unchanging. Amen

Bible Society of South Africav.4.18.11
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