In this last episode of the series, “When You’ve Been Wronged,” we are considering “the why” behind Joseph’s seemingly astonishing decision to forgive. Why would he forgive his brothers after they had caused him so much turmoil? The answer is this: Joseph was able to step back and see the bigger picture. He knew that God had been there all along and that He was able to make every wrong right and orchestrate everything to His divine purposes. In this way, Joseph foreshadowed another to come, one who faced the greatest injustice imaginable and yet “entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.”
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Transcript: Welcome to “5 Minutes with Pastor Lutzer.” I’m so glad that you joined us today as we discuss the topic, “When You’ve Been Wronged.” Today is the last time we’ll be talking about this subject. I trust that it has been a blessing but we’re going to end with a note of optimism and faith in God. It’s the story of Joseph. Do you remember how he was eventually exalted in Egypt? And I’m assuming here you know his story.
His brothers come for food — he sends them back; they come a second time and then Joseph reveals himself to them and they are thinking that he is really going to retaliate against the sin that they committed so many years ago — perhaps 20 or 25 years earlier when they sold him into Egypt. But what I want you to grasp today is Joseph’s theology, his view of God. Because as they don’t know what to say during this time of great reconciliation Joseph says this, “And now, do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here but God sent me here.” We have to take this slowly. Joseph isn’t just saying, “Now, you know, you guys did evil, you sold me, but God turned it into good. What he is saying is that the selling of him was also a part of God’s plan — to keep people alive. I want to talk to you from my heart today. If all that you see in your hurt is the Devil, you’re going to be led to such great discouragement. Now, he may be involved, absolutely, he’s always involved where there is strife and hurt, but in it, I want you to also see God. God has a part in it and God is able to use it.
Now, that’s not all but Joseph, here, gives us one of the greatest lessons of reconciliation. What happens is this, finally, Jacob dies. The brothers, they are fearful now and they say to Joseph, “Now, you know, before your father died, he told us that you’d better forgive us, and so forth.” I don’t think that’s true. I think they made that up. I don’t think that Jacob actually said that. He knew that, of course, Joseph was going to forgive them. But here are the words of Joseph and I trust that by God’s grace, you shall never forget them, Joseph is assuring them that he is setting them free and is not going to retaliate against them and then he says this word, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? You meant evil against me but God meant it for good.” Think about what Joseph is saying. He’s saying this, “If I retaliate, I’m doing God’s work. Am I in the place of God?”
Let me speak to you very clearly that that’s why the Bible says in the book of Romans, “‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” You and I are not responsible for giving people vengeance. We’re not responsible for retaliating. That’s God’s job. And may we never be found to do God’s job for Him. I emphasized this in previous episodes and I want to say it again because it is so important — when sinned against, do not sin in return. There comes a point when you have to commit yourself to God and your relationship with God, and trust God to do the vengeance. Perhaps, I mentioned this in a different episode a long time ago, about a woman who said to me, “my husband has gone to Florida, he has left me, he has remarried, he’s left me with the children. Why should I be able to give up my bitterness?” And I pointed her to the words in 1 Peter regarding Jesus, “who when he was reviled, reviled not again, he uttered no threats but kept entrusting Himself onto Him who judges righteously. Even Jesus said, “Vengeance isn’t my work, it’s the work of my father in the day of judgment.” So, my friend, today, as we conclude this series, let us remember, let God be God. We do what we can but vengeance does not belong to us but to Him. Thank you so much for joining us today. So glad that you’re with us and as for today, you just go with God.