God Meant It For Good (Genesis 50)

God Meant It For Good (Genesis 50)

  • Jennifer Thompson & Ronald Cotton:
    • 1984 a man broke into Jennifer Thompson’s apartment, held a knife to her throat, and raped her.
    • Identified her assaulter through photos & lineup.
    • Ronald Cotton had elaborate alibi, much proved incorrect.
    • Thompson testified in court. Cotton sentenced to prison for life.
    • 2 years later: Cotton granted another trial. A new suspect—Bobby Poole—had emerged for the defense. Thompson testified that she had never seen him.
    • 9 years later: Thompson married w/ triplets. Assists the prosecution with DNA sample. She was confident, until the unthinkable happened.
    • DNA testing had proven that Ronald Cotton was not her assailant. DNA matched Bobby Poole.
    • Thompson devastated. “How do I give someone back eleven years?” Now, nightmare of assault + luggage of guilt.
    • 2 years after Cotton’s release, Thompson never stopped feeling ashamed. Did he hate her?
    • “I’m sorry,” she said. “If I spent every day for the rest of my life telling you how sorry I am, it wouldn’t come close to what I feel.”
    • Cotton, calm and quiet. Finally “I’m not mad at you. I’ve never been mad at you. I just want you to have a good life.”
    • Cotton forgave Thompson > freedom from overwhelming guilt and shame.
  • Parallels w/ your life?
    • Suffered injustice?
    • Carrying baggage of guilt and shame?
    • Confused by abuse/divorce/unfaithfulness/own mistakes.
  • End of series. Passage informed whole series, especially Joseph.

Genesis 50

  • Thoroughly considered brothers repentance. Could easily focus there again.
    • Still wrestle w/ doubt and fear regarding Joseph.
    • Yes repented, but lingering sense of guilt.
    • Absolved, but tormented.
  • Heart = Joseph’s discussion with his brothers (15–21).
    • Providence of God.
    • Picture of forgiveness.
  • Passage asks: Will vengeance or forgiveness win?
  • The giving and receiving of forgiveness requires inward humility, upward faith, and outward compassion.
    1. Forgiveness Requires Inward Humility
    2. Forgiveness Requires Upward Faith
    3. Forgiveness Requires Outward Compassion

I. Forgiveness Requires Inward Humility

  • Retrace the life of Joseph (Chs. 37–50).
    • Brothers wanted to kill him, but opted to sell into slavery.
    • ^ power Potiphar’s house > sent to prison by false accusation.
    • ^ power prison > hopeful for release (cupbearer restored) > forgotten.
    • Eventually released > 2nd only to Pharaoh.
    • Joseph never angry, resentful, and bitter.
  • Humble.
    • v.17 Why Joseph weep? Lack of trust after 17yrs. No reason to fear.
    • v.19 Joseph not in a position to withhold forgiveness.
  • Parallels w/ Thompson/Cotton:
    • An innocent man in prison for false accusations of rape.
    • Feelings of guilt and shame by the brothers.
    • Beautiful picture of forgiveness.
  • We often doubt the genuiness of forgiveness.
    • Aware God has forgiven us, struggle to believe received it.
    • Feel effects of sin continually.
    • May suffer condemnation repeatedly.
  • Need God’s reminder, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
  • First step: Recognize not in position to withhold forgiveness.

    The proud person wants to figure it all out. Why me? Why this? Why now? But humility leads to…

II. Forgiveness Requires Upward Faith

  • Faith in the providence of God.
  • Joseph knew God turned their evil intent to kill him, into his good intentions to save lives.
    • Notice: Joseph doesn’t sugarcoat their sin.
    • Doesn’t say, “I know you mean well.”
    • He says, “What you meant for EVIL, God meant for good.”
  • v.25 Another example of Joseph’s faith. Confident of Exodus.
  • Stephen argues that God’s presence with Joseph rescued him from all his afflictions and gave him favor with Pharaoh (Acts 7:9–16).
  • “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28).
  • Heidelberg Catechism Q.28 What advantage is it to us to know that God has created, and by His providence doth still uphold all things? That we may be patient in adversity; thankful in prosperity; and that in all things, which may hereafter befall us, we place our firm trust in our faithful God and Father, that nothing shall separate us from His love; since all creatures are so in His hand, that without His will they cannot so much as move.
  • Edward Corbet, “We cannot utter one word, think one thought, turn our eye, or move a finger, without the concurrence of his power who gives life and breath, and all things…Nothing is so high that it is above his command, nothing so low that it is beneath his providence.”
  • No person/circumstance outside providence of God.
    • Should comfort. But it can be confusing.
    • God is sovereign over the good and the bad (blessings & sufferings).

      Forgiveness requires humility, faith in God’s providence, and…

III. Forgiveness Requires Outward Compassion

  • Maybe most difficult aspect of forgiveness.
  • Goal of forgiveness > reconciliation.
  • We expect bitterness (towards God/Brothers), but instead…
    • He forgave them
    • Was reconciled to them (45:4–15)
    • Reiterates his forgiveness (50:15–21)
  • Compassion shown to the repentant offender.
    • Doesn’t eliminate the consequences of sin. Guilt, shame still present.
    • Assumes a genuine repentance.
      • Joseph tested brothers’ character before revealing himself.
      • Judah primary example of true repentance.
  • Every judgment in Scripture > conditional nature of forgiveness.
    • God only forgives those who are repentant.
    • Dennis Prager in “The Sin of Forgiveness” from The Wall Street Journal on December 15, 1997, “The bodies of three teen-age girls shot dead last December by a fellow student at Heath High School in West Paduch, Ky., were not yet cold before some of their schoolmates hung a sign announcing, ‘We forgive you, Mike!’ They were referring to Michael Carneal, 14, the killer. This immediate and automatic forgiveness is not surprising. Over the past generation, many Christians have adopted the idea that they should forgive everyone who commits evil against anyone, no matter how great and cruel and whether or not the evildoer repents…I am appalled and frightened by this feel-good doctrine of automatic forgiveness.”
    • If forgiveness were unconditional David should have offered Goliath an ice pack and whispered “Goliath, you have really gotten a lot of people upset on the other side of the valley, but we love and forgive you.”
  • Unpacking Forgiveness by Chris Brauns. Forgiveness = “A commitment by the offended to pardon graciously the repentant from moral liability and to be reconciled to that person, although not all consequences are necessarily eliminated.” How does Joseph’s forgiveness line up?
    • Joseph made a commitment to pardon his repentant brothers, and he stood by that commitment the rest of his life.
    • He forgave them graciously. There is no way that Joseph’s brothers could have purchased forgiveness, no way they could have paid him back. He offered forgiveness as a free gift.
    • Joseph was reconciled to his brothers. He did not issue a pardon and then tell them to get out of his sight. He committed to providing for his brothers and their families. He spoke tender words.
  • Complete forgiveness requires true repentance, but we should have a willingness to forgive all people (Matt. 6:14–15).
  • Forgiveness must be compatible with God’s justice. 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
  • Equally Offensive to God:
    • Granting forgiveness to the unrepentant
      • Diminishes the justice of God.
      • Makes the death of Christ unneccesary.
    • Withholding forgiveness from the truly repentant
      • Makes the death of Christ insufficient.
      • Assumes our offender needs to experience further suffering.

        Forgiveness > Inward Humility, Upward Faith, Outward Compassion


  • Jesus is the perfect example of forgiveness:
    • Humbled himself to the point of death (Phil. 2).
    • Exemplified faith in Gethsemane, “Let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
    • Showed ultimate compassion to all who repent and believe in him—even those who sought to kill him. To them he offered himself on the cross, “Father, forgive them…”
  • Have you experienced the forgiveness of God?
    • In not, don’t delay! Repent and believe even now!
    • If so, be quick to show that forgiveness to others.