Genesis 50:15-21 New King James Version (NKJV)
15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “Perhaps Joseph will hate us, and may actually repay us for all the evil which we did to him.” 16 So they sent messengers to Joseph, saying, “Before your father died he commanded, saying, 17 ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph: “I beg you, please forgive the trespass of your brothers and their sin; for they did evil to you.”’ Now, please, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him.
18 Then his brothers also went and fell down before his face, and they said, “Behold, we are your servants.”
19 Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? 20 But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. 21 Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
After living to the amazing age of 147, Jacob has passed away in the land of Goshen, a part of Egypt. He prophesied over each of his sons on his deathbed, then passed. He made a request, that he be buried in Canaan, the land of his fathers, and not Goshen. Joseph came to Pharoah and asked to fulfill this request.
So Jacob and all the family take Jacob’s body (actually having been embalmed in the Egyptian manner) down to Canaan. There they mourned for a long time. It was a very large gathering.
God’s Good Purposes
But God meant it for good…
Naturally, although it had been 17 years since they had been reunited, the eldest 10 brothers were fearful that Joseph would hate them for what they had done. Joseph was a very powerful man. Their relationship with him probably brought them some standing and power, too, but only Joseph was the second in command of all Egypt.
So they tell Joseph, “Dad said to forgive us!” And I love his response: “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God?” He is saying he does not hold the ultimate judgment seat, but that is for God.
Joseph is a man blessed by the LORD. Through his trials, he trusted in the LORD, remembering the promises given to him through his dreams. Then, in clear hindsight, he was able to see how the LORD used their intended evil for His will, bringing good.
To save many people alive.
He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
Romans 4:25 (NIV)
Joseph then promises to take care of his brothers and their little ones. What forgiveness! This forgiveness is the same kind of forgiveness God offers to us, and also with a promise of provision and shelter. Romans 4:25 tells us that Jesus was crucified because of our sins. Our evil is why He died. Yet the second half of the verse tells us He was raised to life for our justification! Even though we all have done evil and He had to die because of our evil, He rose again for us. To forgive our sins, and justify us.
Justification doesn’t mean I didn’t do anything wrong. Because I did. When the Bible said someone is blameless or justified, it doesn’t mean sinless. It means that because of the sacrifice of innocent blood, their sin debt has been paid. It’s like saying that your library late fee has been paid and you don’t owe them anything anymore. You’re blameless now, but since you DID have a late fee, you’re not sinless. Only Jesus was both blameless AND sinless.
Look back in your life at when someone else’s evil has turned into a moment of God’s glory. Remember the promises He has given you, and how it’s clear in hindsight where He was taking you. Today, see where you are, and where you were. Remember that God’s plan seems fluid in our lives, because of our nature, but when we look back, it’s clear his plan was steady and solid. Have faith in that steady promise.
Long before Zaccheaus couldn’t see Jesus the tree was already planted to meet his need.