Joseph didn’t have an easy life, at least not until he reached the near-pinnacle of power in Egypt, and maybe not even after that. Think of this… He was hated by his brothers who kidnapped him and sold him into servanthood. They made his father think that he was dead.
Then when he arrived in Egypt, he was sold to be a servant in the house of the captain of the guard. But there, despite striving to be innocent, he was falsely accused of attempting to rape the captain’s wife and was thrown into prison.
In prison, Joseph interprets the dreams of the cupbearer and the chief baker and makes a deal with the cupbearer that the cupbearer would speak well of Joseph to Pharaoh so that Joseph could get out of prison. Of course, the cupbearer completely forgets Joseph for two more years and Joseph remains in prison, the same prison where he had been placed after being falsely accused. In all, Joseph was enslaved or imprisoned for 13 years before being given the opportunity to interpret Pharaoh’s dream and is ultimately raised up to the second place of power over all of Egypt.
Forgiveness to Revelation
Joseph’s brothers, primarily out of fear that Joseph would seek retribution over them after their father died, made up a story that Israel had wanted Joseph to forgive them. They told Joseph that it was one of Israel’s dying wishes that he should forgive his brothers for the wrong that they had done to him.
Of course, Israel had asked no such thing. The brothers are really just seeking to save themselves, imagining that the only reason that Joseph hadn’t sought retribution over them up to now was that Joseph wouldn’t kill them for their father’s sake. But now with Israel gone, they feared for their lives.
So they send the message to Joseph and they tell Joseph that Israel had requested his forgiveness. But Joseph has an amazing reply. He says:
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.Genesis 50:20
There are at least three different important lessons wrapped up in this one statement. Let’s take a look at what all Joseph is saying:
First, we so actually see forgiveness from Joseph. He doesn’t continue to hold a grudge against his brothers despite having lost 13 years of his life as a result of what they did to him.
Second, Joseph recognizes that God intended to use the evil that the brothers had committed. The brothers have intended to kill Joseph, but God has a much bigger plan that is coming out of it.
And third, that bigger plan is that of salvation of others. God not only saves the lives of the Egyptians, but he preserves, and prospers, the nation of Israel through the Egyptians. We can see that the harm that the brothers intended to commit actually ends up being part of God’s plan. From the sin, the hurt, and the pain, God brings a great blessing to save many people.