25 November 2023

Genesis 50:15-25

'Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people…' (v. 20)

Psalm 29


Today’s reading picks up once again a theme which we have noted previously, namely that despite all that might seek to frustrate, God would fulfil the promise made to Abraham and repeated to Jacob. They would be the ancestors of a numerous people and in time they would inhabit the land promised to them. We might see this as the over-riding theme of the whole of the book of Genesis. 

There are also other points of note for us today. First, despite Joseph’s attempts to reassure them and provide for them, we see how his brothers are still anxious and not fully reconciled with him. This they fabricate a story about their father’s wishes. Joseph doesn’t challenge them on this but rather seeks to encourage them to view the whole situation through the lens of the providence of God.

He does, however, name the fact that His brothers intended to harm him. True forgiveness does not ignore the reality that a wrong has been done. Joseph doesn’t dwell on it but neither does he adopt a passive-aggressive position.

It is also worth noting that Joseph’s forgiving approach to his brothers involves both a positive attitude and definite actions on his part. He promises to provide for them and speaks in a kindly way to them. We have seen throughout this week that there was a lot of emotion in Joseph’s relationship with his family but the decision to forgive someone is an act of the will rather than a response to our emotions.


To Ponder:

  • Despite all that would seem to frustrate, God will fulfil his promises. Can you think of ways in which you have seen God’s promises fulfilled despite frustration?
  • What can we learn from Joseph about true forgiveness?


“Lord, cleanse the depths within our souls, and bid resentment cease; then, reconciled by God to all, our lives will spread your peace.” (Rosamond Eleanor Herklots, Singing the Faith 423)

Bible notes author

The Revd Donald Ker

Donald Ker is a supernumerary minister originally from the Methodist Church in Ireland. He now lives in Solihull, near Birmingham. He has served as a circuit minister, as a university chaplain, as Senior Tutor in Edgehill Theological College and as Superintendent Minister at Belfast Central Mission. Donald was also General Secretary of the Methodist Church in Ireland for some years and its President in 2009/2010.

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