Genesis 50:15 And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him.
16 And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying,
17 So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him.
18 And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants.
19 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?
20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.
21 Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.
Joseph had an interesting life. He learned as a young person to trust God and follow Him in all situations. He had a testimony of a true child of God. His circumstances did not make him bitter. He drew closer to God through the things that he faced. He finished his life as a true child of God should.
As we look at the closing verses of the book of Genesis, we see a continued contrast between Joseph and his brothers. Joseph is a type of Jesus Christ in the Bible. He was not Christ, but he was a type of Christ. He was willing to suffer unjustly and he was also willing to forgive those who abused him. This forgiveness included that of his own brethren. Joseph did not ask to be favoured by his father. He was an obedient son, which his brothers were not. He behaved himself wisely at home and in captivity. The difference was that Joseph chose to believe in the true God and he chose to follow Him. His brothers had the same opportunity, but they chose to reject that. Rather than seek to learn the truth, they tried to get rid of that which exemplified the truth. They tried to get rid of their brother.
God intervened in this situation and He continued to work through Joseph for His glory. Joseph had already shown his brothers that he had forgiven them. We do not read that they asked for forgiveness. They knew they had sinned against God and they knew they were being punished for their sin. However, they stubbornly insisted on remaining in their sin.
Joseph used his influence to move his family closer to him and he looked after them during the years of famine. The family stayed in Egypt after that and Jacob eventually died in Egypt. The brothers showed some respect for their father and they kept the peace with their brother Joseph. However, as we see in our text, they had that gnawing sense that Joseph was going to retaliate against them as soon as he had a chance. They wrongly assumed that Jacob was the reason that Joseph was not coming after them. From his youth, Joseph had shown his brothers that God was in charge of his life. He too had a couple of dreams from God as a young person. He did not know the details of how that was going to work out. His father rebuked him for suggesting that they as a family were going to bow before him one day.
Joseph did not present himself as an arrogant spoiled person. He served his father with care and honour. He tried to help his brothers, but they did not appreciate any help from him. As second in command to the Pharaoh, Joseph continued to treat his family with respect and dignity.
Yet we read in chapter 50:16 that his brothers sent a messenger to Joseph after the death of Jacob. They did not even come to him personally. He had done nothing to indicate they needed to be in fear of him. However, their guilt tainted reality for them.
In verse 17 we see Joseph’s response to his brothers’ statements. We see in verse 17 that the brothers were now sending a messenger to ask Joseph to forgive them. He had already done that. His actions demonstrated that. However, because they could not forgive, they could not accept forgiveness.
When God’s peace rules in the heart, then true reconciliation can be made. Without that, there will never be a true peace.
Jesus promised a peace that the world did not know:
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
Joseph had demonstrated his forgiving heart. His brothers could not see that because of the guilt they were living under. They assumed that all people must think like they did. God’s forgiveness in the heart of the lost sinner changes that person.
We read in verse 18 that after the messenger spoke with Joseph, his brethren came to see him. They were willing to commit to being his servants. They just did not understand what true forgiveness looks like.
In verse 19 Joseph tried to further help his brothers to see what was truth. Joseph was not God. He was not the judge. We need judges on this earth. Every judge has his limitations. We are seeing that in our court system over the past two years. The corruption in the courts is sad to see.
Joseph reminded His brothers that God was the Judge. His brothers needed to deal with their sin before God. If they would do that, they would understand forgiveness and they would understand Joseph’s attitude toward them. Joseph had no ulterior motive. He was not looking for a moment when they were down and he could pounce on them. Joseph loved his brothers and he wanted the best for them.
We see again how lost people are unable to appreciate the love of God. They struggle through their lives and never come to that place of rest that they so desperately need and that God offers them.
Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
The Christian life is not difficult. It is rewarding and it is liberating. If you are living with guilt in your heart today, why not turn to God in repentance and seek His forgiveness. Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour and learn to walk with Him through joining a true local church where you can be fed spiritually as you need to be. Don’t buy the lies of the devil as Joseph’s brothers did. Know God’s peace and enjoy His blessings as Joseph did.