Genesis 45 Forgiveness

The famine had come about just as Joseph had predicted with the help of the Lord. Joseph was now busy handling the distribution of the  food and making Pharoah very wealthy as he negotiated a price with people that came looking for food. People did not care about material possesions because they were starving so Joseph traded with them as a payment.

Josephs brothers were sent to Egypt for food from their Father and that is how they eventually reunited (Genesis 42) If you read the story in Genesis 42 you will see Jacob (Josephs Father) would not send Benjemin the youngest child with them out of fear for what might happen to him. It makes you wonder if he thought they killed Joseph.

Joseph put his brothers through a series of test that many believe was to see if they had changed since their treatment of him. He gave them food but then gave them their money back secretly which they did not discover until they  arrived home. This made them scared to return  to Egypt for more food.

Because the famine was so bad they eventually had to go to Egypt or starve. One of the conditions of returning was to bring the youngest brother with them. When they brought the youngest brother back he hid a cup in his bag as if he stole it and then pursued them as if they were criminals. When Joseph saw that they were trying to protect Benjamin he knew that they had changed . He knew they changed because Judah, the brother who conspired to kill Joseph, was the one pleading for his other brothers life.

Read Genesis 45: 1-8

1)   Forgiveness happens when you trust in Gods Sovereignty

If there is one area of my life I wish I was better at trusting in it would be that God is in control. We mentioned this before but this is really the main point of this story that when you trust God you realize that He does have a plan no matter how evil people are to you. Joseph says that God sent him there and then he repeats it to his brothers later when their father passes away.

Genesis 50:19-21  But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God?20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people[b] should be kept alive, as they are today.21 So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

Joseph showed them grace instead of guilt. Many times we try to get people to suffer for their sins simply by reminding them of the things they did instead of celebrating the changes they have made in their lives. Many relationships are ruined because although the guilty party wants to change the victim will not see them any other way then how they were treated.

You cannot fully embrace a person you have not fully forgiven. Joseph had all the power in the world (literally) to make his brothers suffer and no one would have questioned him. Twenty five years had passed since Joseph saw his brothers and that could have been twenty five years of holding a grudge.

Trusting in Gods sovereignty changes everything about you because it changes your attitude about your whole life. You will not see being fired the same way because you will not see it as betrayal or unfairness but rather God re-directing your life. You will not see the betrayal from a friend the same anymore because some people that leave you will be seen as God’s protection of you.

You will see how Gods hand is in everything even though it is the most evil thing that is happening. To have Faith is not some magical word you say to make all things better. To Believe is not some fairy tale you hold onto hoping things will change. Our Faith and our Belief is in the person and work of Jesus Christ and that He really is God who loves us.

I don’t have Faith in myself I have it in Christ. I don’t have Faith that my situation will Change I have it in Christ that He will somehow use everything for His glory. Many people who trusted in Christ never saw their situation change but their attitude sure did. (See Hebrews 11)

2)   Forgiveness happens when you believe people can change.

“They always act that way”,  “They never do what they should”, are phrases we sometimes utter when we are frustrated with people.

How do you pray for people? Do you pray that God does such a work in their heart that they are never the same? Is this not what Christianity is all about?

Forgiveness happened in Joseph’s heart long before his brothers arrived on the scene. Forgiveness is not based on if the other person ever changes but on you releasing them to God.

Joseph tested his brothers hoping they  changed and they did, but his forgiveness would have still been there if they did not. Joseph saw that his brothers were now willing to give up their own lives for each other. Joseph knew you do not have to allow someone back into your life just because you forgive them but only  if they are taking steps to change. Forgiveness and trust are two different things and just because you forgive someone does not mean you put yourself in harms way again.

When Josephs brothers came before him an bowed down to him it was the fulfillment of the dream that he had when he was a teenager. He did not say “I told you so” to his brothers because he knew that he was there by God choosing for him to be there.

Read Genesis 45: 16-24

3)   Forgiveness reunites the family

“Do not quarrel on the way”  Joseph told them. Quarrel in Hebrew means to be  agitated or perturbed.  Nothing describes family relationships like the word agitated because being agitated is what leads to fighting with one another. That small thing they do starts to get on your nerve and then it drives you crazy and then  a yelling match  happens.

Joseph knew that they would be blaming one another for what happened to him and they were going to have to explain this to their father as well.

Can you imagine Jacobs reaction to his sons when they told him Joseph was alive? Can you imagine losing out of 25 years plus on a relationship with your son because of lying and deceit? Many families miss out on the relationships simply because they have not forgiven one another and they lose out on years that they could of been spending time together.

Luke 23:34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Many family members are blind to what they are doing and how they are hurting others. We can be angry with them or feel sorry for them choosing to forgive them even when they show no signs of changing is the key. 1 peter 4:8 says love covers a multiple of sins Sometimes we just have to overlook some of the dumb things people do. We need to see people as more valuable to us than the hurt they have done to us. Joseph did not only forgive them he met their needs and reunited the whole family.


  • Are you moving closer or farther away from certain people in your life?
  • Are you praying for your family members the way Christ would?
  • Who do you need to forgive even if they never change?
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