Genesis 50:15-21

Dr. Gary Baker is an independent columnist for The Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press; you can email him at pastor@gracebaptistpaso.org.

When Joseph’s father Jacob died and was taken back to Canaan to be buried, Joseph’s brothers did something that manifested their lack of trust in Joseph’s past forgiveness (Genesis 45:1-8). Previously when Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, he told them that he forgave them of selling him as a slave to Egypt. He said that everything that had happened to him was according to God’s plan for his life. God had sent Joseph into Egypt to preserve the lives of his family and many other people from perishing from a seven-year famine. Joseph promised his brothers that he would deliver them from starving and take care of them. Joseph kept his promises but when Jacob died, his brothers doubted whether Joseph would continue to be kind and loving toward them. They thought Joseph could change his mind and begin to punish them (Genesis 50:15). In response to their fear, I believe they sent Joseph a false message that they made up. They told Joseph that their faither Jacob had given them a message to give to him. The message was a request that Joseph would forgive his brothers of all the sins and transgressions they had committed against him. It seems obvious that the brothers didn’t believe that Joseph’s previous forgiveness was sincere. They thought that Joseph’s forgiveness was based on his love for his father and not a sincere love for them. When Joseph heard this message, he became very sad and wept. Joseph did this because it deeply hurt him to think that his brothers didn’t think his forgiveness was genuine (Genesis 50:16-18). Joseph reassured them of his love and forgiveness, and they were not to be afraid that he would do anything to hurt or harm them. He knew that God had divinely planned and allowed him to suffer, but it was for his good and the good of his family. A divine perspective of life enabled him to be a forgiving person. Joseph is one of the best examples in the Bible of a forgiving person. Forgiveness enabled Joseph not to seek revenge or become bitter and angry (Genesis 50:19-21). Forgiveness caused Joseph to become a loving and caring person. This was a special blessing from God.

Lessons Learned 

  1. Loving forgiveness will prevent a person from seeking revenge that will hurt people.
  2. Loving forgiveness will prevent a person from becoming a bitter and angry person.
  3. God can supernaturally enable a person to practice gracious forgiveness. This will produce a peaceful and kind heart.