What did Joseph mean when he said to his brothers, "Do not fear, for am I in the place of God?"


Genesis 50:15

ESV - 15 When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, "It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.

Clarify Share Report Asked November 20 2019 Mini ALBERTO DUNBAR

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Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
After Jacob (the father of Joseph and his brothers) had died, Joseph's brothers were afraid that Joseph would then finally take vengeance on them for having originally sold him into slavery in Egypt (Genesis 37), since Jacob would no longer be present to deter Joseph from doing so.

Joseph's brothers therefore told him that, before Jacob died, he had instructed them to tell Joseph to forgive them for what they had done, and, as proof of their contrition, they fell down before Joseph and told him that they were his servants.

Joseph magnanimously reassured and comforted his brothers that he did not intend to take vengeance on them because that was something for God alone to determine and bring about. As noted in the statement mentioned in the question, Joseph was saying that, if he himself were to take such vengeance, he would be acting in the place of God, which would not be appropriate or permissible for him to do. He also pointed out that, despite his brothers' evil intent, God had brought good out of it by enabling Joseph to subsequently save many people (including Joseph's brothers and their families) as a result.

In acting as he did, Joseph obeyed the commandment that God later gave through Moses in Deuteronomy 32:35 (and as also cited by Paul in Romans 12:19) that the prerogative to take vengeance against another person over a wrong that had been done belonged to God alone.

November 21 2019 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

My picture Jack Gutknecht ABC/DTS graduate, guitar music ministry Baptist church
ALBERTO DUNBAR's question is based on Genesis 50:19. Joseph was really saying, “Brothers, I am not God, and it is not my place to take vengeance. I forgive you.” God’s people trust Him, not themselves, to repay transgressors (Prov 20:22; Romans 12:19 -- [Rom. 12:17-19]

12:17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil; consider what is good before all people. 

12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people.

12:19 Do not avenge yourselves, dear friends, but give place to God’s wrath, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.).

November 29 2019 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Data Danny Hickman Supporter Believer in The Gospel Of Jesus Christ
I went out to station the garbage for pickup this morning and looked around my neighborhood. I began to thank God for a quiet, clean and nice, comfortable place to live. It occurred to me that it is really easy to be so thankful, and to bless God for all he has done and is continuing to do in my life and in this community. But what if I was in a much tougher situation in my life? Like Joseph was... would I wake up early and be in such a thankful and blessed mood?

It's really apparent to me that the Lord is with me. I'm comfortable. 

I began to pray about Joseph and his situation. He was sold into slavery by the people who are the focus of this question. But before they ever showed up these many years later, he had been assured by God that he was still with him. 

That's remarkable! Joseph knew that the Most High was with him in spite of the fact that he was sold into slavery by his brothers to a foreign country, in spite of the fact that he was then promptly accused falsely of attempted rape of his master's wife and put into prison. (Genesis 39:20)

But he knows that God is with him! That's incredible! 

That's where my mind went this morning. I began to admit to God in prayer, standing in my front yard, that I can't claim to have the kind of blessed assurance that Joseph had, but I want it.

Joseph was special; so was Daniel and his three friends who were captives in Babylon (Dan 1). For whatever reason, they trusted that in spite of their circumstances, God was still with them. They evidently believed that they were to represent their God wherever they found themselves. I think they correctly considered that their fate was entirely in his capable hands.

Let's look at another case study: conversely, when we read the story of Gideon, we see a different perspective. The Midianites were oppressing Israel; the Isralites felt defeated. So God sent a prophet to remind them that he had delivered them out of Egypt and had given them the land in which they were living. "But you have not obeyed my voice." (Jdg 6:10)

Then the Angel of the Lord was sent to speak to Judge Gideon: "The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor." (Gideon's response is my focus) "O my lord, (notice the lower case reference in the title) if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about...?" Jdg 6:13

Gideon wasn't in prison accused of rape. He hadn't been sold into slavery. He hadn't been dragged from his homeland to Babylon and thrown in with Nebuchadnezzar's eunuchs, the way Daniel and the three Hebrews boys were. He and all of Israel were being oppressed and threatened by a people whom they had failed to drive out of the land, but they weren't in anything like the shape Daniel and his friends found themselves. 

Which of these would I be like if I was under the kind of pressure they were under? 

Joseph had a couple of dreams before his ordeal began. I don't read where there was an angel sent to tell him in person that God would be with him 'come what may.' Only a couple of dreams... Neither do I read anything like that in the early stages of the story of Daniel and his friends. They were operating out of blind faith. 

Gideon and Israel had a prophet to come and preach to them the reason they were going through their ordeal. Yet, Gideon asked the follow-up representative from God, (the Angel of the LORD even) 'Why is this happening to us?' 

That should have been Joseph's question if anyone is going to ask that! 

That's my long-drawn-out-point! I stood there in my front yard and praised God for his goodness to me, my family and my community. 

Jesus told a parabolic illustration: he said "the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen" (Matt 20:16). Joseph and Gideon were chosen for their assignments; Daniel and the boys too. 

Joseph knew revenge would undo God's purpose for his life. I think he was saying, 'To God be the glory.'

March 28 2024 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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