Monday, September 11, 2017

Genesis 50:15-21 God Uses Evil for Good

KEY TEXT: Genesis 50:19-21 But Joseph said to them, "Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones." Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

KEY THOT: Now that Jacob their father was dead, Joseph's brothers were afraid that he might take revenge on them for what they did to him as a boy. However, it turned out that Joseph was more noble than his brothers: he understood the power of forgiveness. In fact, he was able to forgive the brothers' sin against him because he put all the evil done to him in the context of God's sovereign purpose: "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive as they are today." Joseph was able to forgive them because he saw God's plan even in their evil scheme. His dreams of exaltation above father and his brothers (Gen. 37:5-11) could not have come to pass if the brothers had not sold him to Egypt as a slave. The brothers' evil plot had to happen so that God's purpose for him might be fulfilled. 

Indeed, Paul was also able to endure much suffering because he believed that "for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). God can even use evil to accomplish his good purpose. The ultimate example of this truth is Jesus' betrayal by Judas Iscariot and his mistrial and death sentence by the High Priest for his "crime" of blasphemy for declaring himself Son of God. Jesus suffered many things in the hands of the chief priests and scribes, but God's purpose could not have been accomplished had he not been put to death on the Cross. The death of Jesus was part of God's plan of salvation for sinful humanity.

When we suffer evil at the hand of someone, remember it has a purpose. Usually it is to mold our character so that God's purpose can be accomplished in us. But we need to adopt the attitude of Joseph and Christ by forgiving our enemies. Jesus at the cross cried out: "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).

As children of God, we have no choice but to forgive for if we do not forgive, our heavenly cannot forgive us too: "For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,  but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Matthew 6:14-15). As Corrie ten Boom said: "Can you forgive? No. I can't either. But He can" (Watch video: We have a choice--whether to release his forgiveness for our enemies or reject his love by withholding his forgiveness for the people who have hurt us and done evil to us. 

But if we do not forgive, God's power and blessings cannot flow through our heart, including the power of forgiveness. We will remain trapped in our bitterness and resentment that will slowly poison our heart and kill all love in our hearts.

Abba-Father, thank You that our lives are not without pain and suffering caused by evil people. But we want to forgive them because You are using them to accomplish Your purpose. Amen.

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