Summary: The story of Joseph gives us a model for forgiveness!
“When Life is the Pits”
A Study of the Life of Joseph
Sermon # 9
“Dealing With Forgiveness!”
“Simon Wiesenthal lost 89 relatives in Hitler’s death camps. He has devoted his life to finding Nazi criminals and bringing them to justice. He is often asked when he will give up. After all, he is hunting down men in their 70’s and 80’s for crimes committed half a century ago.
Wiesenthal answered by writing a book. The book begins with a true experience he had while he himself was a concentration camp prisoner. One day he was yanked out of a work detail and taken up a back stairway to a dark hospital room. A nurse led him into the room, then left him alone with a figure wrapped in white, lying on a bed. The figure was a badly wounded German soldier, whose entire face was covered with bandages. His name was Karl.
With a trembling voice, the German made a kind of confession to Wiesenthal. He told how he had been brought up in a Nazi family, the fighting he had experienced on the Russian front, and the brutal measures his S.S. unit had taken against Jews. And then he told of a terrible atrocity.
All the Jews in a town were herded into a wooden building
that was then set on fire. Karl had taken an active part in the crime. Several times Wiesenthal tried to leave the room, but each time the ghost-like figure would reach out and beg him to stay. Finally, after 2 hours, Karl told Wiesenthal why he had been summoned.
The soldier had asked a nurse if any Jews still existed. If so, he wanted one brought to his room so he could clear his conscience. He then said to Wiesenthal -"I am left here with my guilt. "I do not know who you are, I know only that you are a Jew and that is enough. "I know that what I am asking is almost too much for you. "But without your answer I cannot die in peace." Karl asked for forgiveness for all the Jews he had killed. He asked for forgiveness, from a man who might soon die. Wiesenthal sat in silence for some time. He stared at the man’s bandaged face. At last, without saying a word, he stood up and left the room. He left the soldier in torment, unforgiven. #986
Had Simon Wiesenthal done the best he could? He himself seemed dissatisfied with his action. He went over it with his companions. He visited the dead soldier’s mother.
In his book, he asks 32 rabbis, Christian theologians,
and secular philosophers to comment on it. "What would YOU have done?" is the question he posed.
Out of 32 people he asked the majority said he had done right in leaving the soldier unforgiven. Only 6 said he had done wrong. Yet Bible says we have the privilege of granting forgiveness to those who have wronged us.”
The story of Joseph gives us a model for forgiveness. The past had shattered Joseph’s ability to trust his brothers. In order to trust his brothers, Joseph needed to know and believe two things – that they were telling him the whole truth and that they were truly sorry for what they had done.
You will remember that in the previous chapter Benjamin had been accused of stealing Joseph’s silver cup and Judah was pleading for mercy. Judah and his brothers are anxiously awaiting a verdict from Joseph, one that will determine the course of the rest of their lives.
Dr. David Seaman’s in “Healing for Damaged Emotions” says, “The two primary causes of emotional stress are the failure to forgive and the failure to receive forgiveness.” [David Seaman. Healing for Damaged Emotions. (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1981) ]
FORGIVENESS IS EXTENDED 45:1-10
“Then Joseph could not restrain himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, “Make everyone go out from me!”
When Judah reached the final step in his repentant confession (44:33) actually pleading that he be allowed to take Benjamin’s place as a slave, Joseph “could no longer control himself” (45:1). He knew this was the time to tell them who he was. His questions were all answered. His brothers had told the truth. Most important of all, their hearts were changed.
When Joseph finally gained emotional control once again, he identified himself. “….So no one stood with him while Joseph made himself known to his brothers. (2) And he wept aloud, and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard it.”
Without knowing what the prime minister intended to do they saw that he was visibly upset and saw him send everyone out of the room. The brothers already were filled fear as they awaited the decision of the prime minister concerning their fates. But then this man made a statement that drove a wedge of terror into their hearts. He spoke in Hebrew to them and said, (AAA-NEE-YO-SAPHE) -“I am Joseph.” The response is silence. We are told “….But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence. When Joseph’s brothers heard these words they were so stunned and overwhelmed with fear that they could not speak. We read “they were dismayed (literally terrified) at his presence.” They have nothing more to say, no more appeals left, no hope for mercy. (This is how it will be for the wicked when they stand before God.)