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God's Promise: Genesis Part Two |  the galaxy with stars and  purple, orange, and blue clouds. God's Promise: Genesis Part Two |  the galaxy with stars and  purple, orange, and blue clouds.

Daily Devotional | Forgiving the Unforgivable

Forgiveness and reconciliation are deeply countercultural. Instead of forgiveness, we tend to prefer revenge or bringing people to justice, to make them pay for what they did.

The final chapters of Genesis recount the death of Jacob. Joseph and his brothers grieved deeply for their father. They also honored his desire to be buried in the land of Canaan as Isaac and Abraham had been (50:5). Joseph arranged with Pharaoh to grant this request (50:4–6). By asking for this burial location, Jacob demonstrated his belief in and faithfulness to God’s promises to Abraham.

Joseph’s brothers had an additional worry. With the death of their father, they knew they were completely in Joseph’s power. They thought that perhaps Joseph had treated them kindly because of their father. They worried that Joseph might exact revenge. So, they concocted a plan to tell Joseph that their father’s dying wish was for Joseph to forgive them (v. 17). They had such a hard time believing that Joseph would actually forgive them that they used their father’s memory to manipulate him.

Joseph responded to their plea with weeping (50:17). Instead of gloating over them, he comforted his brothers with the most important message he had learned in his life. He once again reminded them: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (50:19). Joseph was able to forgive his brothers because of his rock-solid belief in God’s sovereignty. He knew they would ultimately stand before God (50:19). He also knew that God was able to redeem their evil and use it for His own purposes. Forgiveness was (and is) possible because of the character of the God we worship.

Go Deeper

Have you ever been called to forgive someone who did not deserve it? What does Joseph’s story teach us about forgiveness? About God’s sovereignty?

Pray with Us: Merciful God, we repent of our unforgiving spirit, of our divisions, our bias, our impatience with one another. Forgive us and bind us together as one family with Your great love.

BY Ryan Cook

Dr. Ryan Cook has taught at Moody Bible Institute since 2012. He earned his bachelor of arts in Bible and Theology from Moody and his master of arts in Old Testament from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. He has worked in Christian education and served as a pastor in Michigan for seven years. During his time as a professor at Moody, he earned his doctorate from Asbury Theological Seminary. He now lives with his wife, Ashley, and their three children in the Chicagoland area.

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