Forgotten and Fruitful

“And unto Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him. And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house. And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.” —Genesis 41:50-52

Over the years, we have gotten so many questions concerning the forgiveness and forgetting of past offences. The brain, of course, is the most powerful computer ever conceived, and forgetting is basically impossible. However, while we may not be able to forget past wrongs, with the help of the Lord, the sting and trauma of past hurts can be removed. We learn this from the Word of God concerning the life of Joseph. In his remarkable story, we see the grace of God at work, and what the Lord did for Joseph, He will also do for you.

The Coat Of Colors
Genesis 37 is the beginning of our story. Scripture tells us in 37:3, “Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colors.”
The love Jacob had for Joseph had to do with the will of God. There was fellowship with Joseph that was not possible with the other sons because they had no time for the things of God. Because Joseph had a heart for God, the Lord told Jacob that Joseph was to be granted the birthright that Reuben, as first born, was due. The coat represented the birthright and the fact that the wearer was to be the high priest of the family.

When Joseph received the coat, the Bible plainly says, “they hated him” (Gen. 37:4).
Family hatred is the worst hatred that one can experience. To have your own flesh and blood hate you is a rejection that is hard to fathom. It’s one thing to be hated by those around you, but to be hated by one’s own siblings is a bitter pill to swallow. Actually, hatred that is from within a family circle can be heartbreaking. This hatred was also spiritual rejection as well as family rejection. His brothers had no time or place for God, which inflamed their passions even more.

The Conspiracy
Their hatred reaches the place where now they want to kill Joseph. Once again, this is his family. Not outsiders but flesh and blood. Scripture tells us that they stripped him of his coat and, if not for Reuben, they would have killed him right then and there. Judah then stepped up with the idea to sell Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver. Though his life was spared, Joseph, just a teenager, would now to be separated from his home and his father and taken into a far country—Egypt —to be a slave.

Potiphar’s House
Now Joseph finds himself alone in a strange land and a slave all because of the hatred of his brothers. However, never overlook the fact that Scripture states “and the Lord was with Joseph.” This tells us that no matter the state we find ourselves in, the Lord can and will still bless us. For the Lord to bless in such trying times tells us that Joseph never blamed God and never stopped believing and loving the Lord. This must be our attitude as well. Joseph eventually became the steward over all in Potiphar’s house.

The False Accusation
Scripture tells us that Satan devises another plan to destroy Joseph. Gen. 39:7 says that Potiphar’s wife saw Joseph, and his beauty was such that her heart became inflamed by lust, and she said, “lie with me.” Joseph, of course, refused her advances and Joseph told her, “My master has committed all that he has to my hand.” What a testimony to be able to stand true and righteous in a strange land and in a strange home.
But Satan doesn’t give up. Later the Scripture says, “She caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment … and fled.”
Feeling spurned, in anger Potiphar’s wife falsely accuses Joseph of trying to rape her, and Joseph finds himself in prison. Let’s look at the progression once again: Joseph is hated by his brothers, cast into a pit, sold into slavery, falsely accused of a crime, and thrown into prison.

In spite of his precarious situation, we see the godliness of Joseph, for he never wavered in his faith or his witness for God.
In Genesis 39: 21, we read that “The LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.” And in verse 23, it says, “The LORD was with him, and that which he did, the LORD made it to prosper.”
In all of this, we see Joseph’s inner strength shining through. He never once blamed God or his brothers for his circumstances. All of this tells us that Joseph took the attitude that, as a child of God, everything must be placed in the hands of God: “I don’t know why this is happening; I don’t know how long this will go on, but no matter what, I am going to let my light shine. I am going to be a witness to others that I am a follower of Jehovah.” What a lesson for us to learn.

The Butler And The Baker
Once again, we see Joseph being tested. In Genesis 39, Satan uses Potiphar’s wife; and in Genesis 40, he uses Pharaoh’s chief butler. The former he used to put Joseph in prison, and the latter he used to keep Joseph there through the butler’s negligence.
Joseph revealed the dreams of the butler and the baker with the butler being released from prison and restored to his previous position in the king’s palace. When the baker was released, Joseph had asked that he remember him, but to add insult to injury, the butler forgot, which prolonged Joseph’s imprisonment.
In all of this, the Holy Spirit was working on Joseph, perfecting his faith and developing his character.

Forgotten And Fruitful
To jump ahead, God uses Joseph to interpret the dreams of the Pharaoh, resulting in Joseph being placed in the second highest position of power.
Pharaoh gives Joseph a wife who will bear him two sons, and in their names we are given a great truth. The first son was named Manasseh, which means, “God has made me forget all my toil and all my father’s house.” The second was named Ephraim meaning, “God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.” So, we have “forgotten” and “fruitful.”
Here is the idea: forgotten means that the sting of what Joseph’s brothers had done to him was no longer there. While he could never forget the evil done to him, the hurt and pain was gone. The Lord could bring this about because Joseph forgave his brothers. No matter what people may do to us, we must forgive them (Matt. 6:12-15). We must never forget that as the Lord has forgiven us, we are not to withhold forgiveness from others no matter what they have done to us. When we refuse to forgive, we are, in effect, withholding grace from them, and to withhold grace from others is to stop the flow of grace in our own lives. I know that some who have had great injustices done to them may find it hard to forgive. But don’t forget, forgiveness does not mean fellowship or relationship. If the one who has hurt you has no remorse, then you are not required to develop a relationship with that person. Also, when we don’t forgive, then the person who has hurt us owns us as we are consumed by them. When we forgive, we are literally turning that person over to the Lord. So, for Joseph, he could once again face his brothers because he had already forgiven them and turned them over to the Lord.
Not only did Joseph forget the sting, but the Lord also caused him to be fruitful in the midst of a land that caused him great affliction.
Only the Lord could do this for Joseph, and He can do the same for you. Just place your hurt into the hands of the Lord and watch Him cause you to forget and be fruitful.

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