I’m really glad to see that you’ve continued your reading with me through God’s word. Today we’ll finish the book of Genesis. I hope you’ve enjoyed the read and my comments.
In today’s reading, chapter 49, Jacob gives blessing appropriate to each of his sons, gives some final instructions as to his burial, and dies. Some of the “appropriate” blessings seemed to be explanations for his withholding the leadership of the family from some of the sons, some of them prophecies about their inheritance in Canaan, and one of them Messianic (in the case of Judah).
“Judah, your brothers shall praise you; Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; Your father’s sons shall bow down to you. “Judah is a lion’s whelp; From the prey, my son, you have gone up. He couches, he lies down as a lion, And as a lion, who dares rouse him up? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes, And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. He ties his foal to the vine, And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine; He washes his garments in wine, And his robes in the blood of grapes. His eyes are dull from wine, And his teeth white from milk.” Genesis 49:8-12, NAS95.
Already we’re finding out that the Messiah will (1) crush the serpent’s head (fatal blow) while receiving a bruised heel (a temporary wound), (2) come from the family of Abraham, and (3) come from the tribe of Judah.
But the final chapter of Genesis is also important as an example of forgiveness and looking at the events of life from an eternal perspective. Forgiveness is such an important principle to understand and practice. As long as human beings are here on this earth, there’s going to be a need for forgiveness, because we all somehow manage to sin, offend, mess up, or make mistakes. Without learning forgiveness we can come to a rather miserable end in life — lonely, depressed, and hypocritical — and that’s not even to speak of the spiritual imperative of it. How many families and the dearest connections of life have corroded over time through unforgiveness.
If anyone had a reason to refuse to forgive, it would have been Joseph. How deep had the betrayal been? How terrible had been the years of separation from his father and younger brother? How miserable had his years of slavery been, and after that the years of prison? But after seeing his brothers’ guilt, sorrow, and repentance, Joseph granted forgiveness, treating them well, as if all those years of suffering had never happened. Was Joseph able to really forget all those years of suffering that had happened? No, nor was God expecting it. Although our society has married “forgive and forget” together in a phrase, this is not a biblical notion. Despite remembering what others have done, when our offenders have repented, we are to treat them as if it had never happened. This was now the second time that we have it recorded that Joseph forgives them, they still feared retribution and an evening of the score — especially now that Jacob had died. They seemed to have feared that Joseph’s forgiveness was only temporary and really only based on not displeasing their father, Jacob. But Joseph demonstrates that his forgiveness wasn’t feigned, but genuine.
Do yourself a favor, for the “here and now” and also for your eternity; forgive your offenders. Treat them as if it never happened, and watch the flowers of relationship bloom again where before there was only desert. And feel secure in God’s forgiveness of you.
Tomorrow, Lord willing, we’ll start reading through the book of Exodus. See you then.