Monday, 25 November 2013
Reading the Bible 35 Genesis 42: 1-25 – The Intricacies of Forgiveness
The events that had been foretold in Joseph’s dreams of stars and moons and sheaves of wheat are now coming to fruition. The prophecy is not yet complete as only his ten brothers are there to bow down to him. This fulfills the prophecy of the first dream in which the wheat sheaves of his brothers bow to his. However, the dream of the sun and moon and eleven stars bow down to him remains to be fulfilled.
In reading this account I wonder if Joseph might not have shown compassion to his brothers and immediately revealed himself to them. After all their actions in selling him into slavery lead to his ultimate triumph that was foretold in the dreams. He might have realized that their actions were part of God’s plan for not only Joseph but all of his chosen people. However, we can hardly blame him for wanting some payback and make his brothers suffer for their evil deeds. But were his actions just the acting out of his natural desire for revenge or did he have a greater purpose in his actions?
First, Joseph must have known the distress his action in demanding Benjamin be brought to Egypt would have caused his father. So why did he take this action? I believe that his actions were necessary for there to be true reconciliation between Joseph and his brothers and his father. If Joseph had immediately identified himself and welcomed them with open arms there would have always been a barrier between the brother and him and perhaps the brothers and their father. They would have always wondered if Joseph had truly forgiven them and human nature being what it is they might eventually have secretly or not so secretly resented his good fortune in Egypt just as they had resented the dreams that foretold these events.
True forgiveness and reconciliation for even minor offenses much less major injury done to a person’s body and spirit is a process which cannot be taken lightly or avoided. It is very easy to say that you forgive someone – even if you believe it in your head but to find forgiveness for others and for yourself in your heart does not come easily. It is not a questions of just saying I forgive which can come early in the process for the sake of wanting to move on. However, the resentment can and does remain on a deeper level and can come bubbling to the surface when we least expect it. If we are truly to forgive it requires a conversion of the heart which comes from God and not from our will. Through the grace of God true forgiveness is possible. Thanks be to God.