The first forgiveness

Out of curiosity I ran a Bible word search for the word forgiveness. Although it is inferred in many places, it is translated by KJV first in Genesis.

There were ten brothers that really had malice against a younger eleventh brother. They hated him so much they actually sold him into slavery and faked his death to their father.

He was just seventeen years old when his entire life turned upside down. He was taken from Canaan to Egypt, where he was sold to a man named Potiphar.

Joseph may have been young but he was smart. More importantly, the hand of God was on him. It didn’t take long before he excelled as a servant and was placed over Potiphar’s entire household.

But if you know the rest of the story, then you know Joseph was falsely accused of some things and ended up in prison for several years.
You will also know that he came out of prison and was elevated to the number two position in all of Egypt. Only Pharaoh was greater.

The day came when those ten brothers stood before him. Joseph had the perfect opportunity to get even for what was done so many years before.

But if you know the rest of the story, then you know he didn’t take revenge. He protected his family and brought them all to Egypt, including his dad, Jacob.

When Jacob died the brothers worried that Joseph’s nice days would be over. This brings us to the first use of the word forgive in the Bible.

So they sent messengers to Joseph, saying, “Before your father died he commanded, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph: “I beg you, please forgive the trespass of your brothers and their sin; for they did evil to you.”‘ Now, please, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him. Gen 50:16-17

You will not find another reference to forgiveness until the book of Exodus – where it is listed only three times.
When you take the Bible as a whole, which you should, then you see forgiveness is a necessary and essential part of the Godly person.

You cannot deny the attitude of Joseph in light of the words of Jesus.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Matt 6:12

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matt 6:14-15

And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.” Luke 17:4

I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. Matt 18:22

For Joseph to give forgiveness to those that had sinned against him was as important to back then as it is for you today.
Forgiveness may indeed take time. I don’t think Joseph would have been so quick had his brothers showed up on the first day of being a servant for Potiphar.

In my own struggles I have found it necessary to use time to my advantage to both give forgiveness and seek it.


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