Bible Background: The story of Jacob’s family (and then Joseph and his brothers) occupies half of Genesis! This gives us background on the ’12 tribes of Israel’. It’s a story of dysfunction, treachery, and redemption. At the end of the story, the brothers beg Joseph to forgive them-which he has already done-but they need reassurance, and Joseph provides it.
Digging Deeper: 1. Remember the family story: 12 brothers; Joseph is the ‘favorite’ son; older brothers hate him; they sell him into slavery; he ends up in Egypt; he becomes aide to Pharaoh; he guides the nation through 7 ‘good’ years, and 7 years of famine; he reconnects with his brothers as they come to Egypt in search of food; he is in a position where he could ‘pay them back’ for their deeds; but he treats them well; the family is reunified. For what are you thankful for in your family of origin? What would you change if you could?
2. In Genesis 45 Joseph graciously reconciles with his brothers. Yet at the end of the story, they still fear revenge. Forgiveness-and trusting in it-can take time. What’s the best story of forgiveness you recall? Do you remember the shooting at the Nickle Mines Amish School in 2006? Do you recall how they forgave? When have you experienced or shared a costly act of forgiveness?
3. “Am I in the place of God?” asks Joseph. He knows he is not. How important is it to remember God’s place in our lives and relationships, vs. our place?
4. …”God intended it for good!” Bad things had happened to Joseph. But that was not the main story of his life. The main thing was how God worked through the ups and downs of Joseph’s life. This is the perspective of faith. We trust that God is at work, not necessarily calling all the shots, but is at work, bringing good out of evil, and even life out of death!
5. The brothers plead “forgive us!” Sometimes we need to make that request, out loud! And often we need to speak the words “I forgive you” out loud too! These are powerful words!
6. The words “do not be afraid” appear 67x’s in the Bible. Joseph speaks them here! Who can we speak these words to as an act of faith? When do we need to hear and listen to these? Consider that “faith is the opposite of fear”!