Forgiveness is a means by which we can keep a clean slate. Growing up in a large family, I had a first-hand chance to experience much of that. Our parents were good, hard workers, and very busy, and raising us kids in the hard times of the Great Depression. It was difficult for them. We kids had many reasons to hold grudges against them, through fears or misunderstanding or resentment when they corrected us or whatever it was. Many people are abused physically or mentally, and have reasons to hold grudges; even after the aggressor or the one who committed the abuse is dead. But the key to restoration and peace in our own hearts is keeping a clean slate by forgiving. My experience with unforgiveness is there is no fear in losing your salvation, but you are losing a lot of joy and peace in your everyday walk in life. Let me share a story from the scriptures, so we can see how a generation of people was able to continue to be the people or the tribe through which our redeemer Jesus Christ came as our Saviour.
Jacob was the leader of the Hebrews, and had many sons. They lived next door to Pharaoh, the leader of Egypt, who they were not best friends with at all. Joseph was the youngest of Jacob’s sons. Jacob loved him very much; I guess he was his pet or favourite.
One day Jacob sent his son Joseph out to the back pasture to check on his brothers who were looking after the herd. They saw the boy coming. They disliked him because their dad liked him more than them! So they said to themselves, “let’s kill this little guy. Let’s take his jacket and soak it in goat’s blood and one of us take it back to our father and tell him a lion killed him.” But instead of killing him, they threw him in a pit. But the father Jacob, seeing the jacket, was crying and in pain.
While Joseph was in the pit, a caravan of Ishmaelite bedouins came along. They pulled Joseph out of the pit, took him to town and sold him as a slave. Now this boy Joseph had many reasons to hold grudges against his dad and his brothers. But the Bible says God was with him! He was sold into the leader’s of Egypt’s household, Potiphar. Now while he was there, many strange things happened to him but at every turn, the Bible says God was with him. He was accused of raping his boss’s wife, which was a lie. Joseph was thrown in prison, and while in prison, it says still, that God was with him! One of the prisoners who was to be released recognized that Joseph could interpret dreams. In the meantime, the leader of the Egyptians, Pharaoh, had a dream: He dreamt 7 fat cows came out of the Nile River, and were eaten by 7 skinny cows on the bank, but Pharoah’s dream interpreters could not decipher that dream! So apparently it was off with their heads!! But the prisoner promised Joseph that he would tell Pharaoh about him, that he was a dream interpreter. Yet it took a while for Joseph to leave prison! Because the released prisoner forgot to tell about him!! Yet, it says God was with Joseph all along!
It appears that Joseph had much time to hold grudges against his dad, brothers and God, like we ourselves get caught in for many years.
Finally, Joseph got out of prison and was brought to Pharaoh and translated Pharaoh’s dream for him. He said the 7 fat cows meant it would be 7 years of gathering much food and storing it for 7 years of famine, which was represented by the 7 skinny cows. Pharaoh was very impressed with Joseph and gave him a chance, putting him in charge of gathering all the food, filling all the granaries, and then came the 7 years of famine. Pharaoh put him second in command from himself, in all of Egypt. I guess God knew it was Joseph’s time to rule!
In the meantime, Joseph’s father Jacob and the Hebrew tribe, the next door neighbours to Egypt, were beginning to starve! Now this tribe was the one that God had chosen for His Son Jesus Christ to appear down the line. Jacob said, “we are going to starve to death and that will be the end of us”. He gathered his sons and said to them in a meeting, “you guys go and plead and beg to the enemy in Egypt for food”. So they were a raggedy-looking crew, the brothers, who went to Egypt, with wagons, camels, donkeys, etc. They saw their brother Joseph who was in charge of the food and granaries, but they did not recognize him as Joseph their brother, who they had chucked in the pit! But Joseph recognized them. I guess his heart was touched seeing them. God was with him when Pharaoh put him in charge of all Egypt, and God was with him there. He could not help himself from crying; he had to go in the other room. These were his brothers!!!!! He made sure they got lots of food to bring back and save the Hebrew people. There was trips back and forth and many details to the rest of the story, but Joseph eventually revealed himself to them as his brother, and they were scared, but he hugged them and reassured them that the Hebrew tribe (of which he was one) would be saved.
Now this is a good story; there are many more details and I recommend everyone to read it (found in Genesis chapter 37 through 47 – you can “Google” it!). I myself am moved greatly every time I read it, seeing God move through forgiveness.
We see God in action as we keep our slate clean by forgiving. How He is able to restore us and through that He brings us peace, which Jesus called the Peace that Passes all Understanding! Forgiveness is a grace of God in our lives, which enables us to move on in life and in His presence, with peace, strength and joy and freedom, and many many more blessings.
I always think that this story of Joseph shows us that God is always present (omnipresent), always powerful (omnipotent) and always knowing (omniscient). And He is always at work in our lives, like Joseph’s! Because He loves us so so so much!!
Jesus came and shed his blood to forgive us our sins, past, present, and future! He knocks at the door of our hearts and as we let Him in, He is the Greatest Forgiver… he forgives us all our sins, and we have the guarantee of eternal life with Him!
Let Him in today, and enjoy Him.