In Part 1 of our study, we discovered the true desire of the "Man" behind the curtain and why He allows calamities on the yellow brick road of our lives. We learned that His sole desire is for us to create utter dependence on Him so as to produce the necessary trust and faith that will enable us to finally serve His people in the way that pleases Him the most. We learned that focusing on receiving for the sake of ourselves, in any capacity, will trigger another audit which will plunge us back into another situation designed to correct our soul and bring us to utter dependence on Him.
The outcome of our lives must be centered on others or we will never truly fulfill our final and most full destiny. We talked about how things are rarely black and white, and how we're rarely truly right or truly wrong. All situations are complex and the reasons for getting there are as multi-faceted as Joseph's coat was multi-colored. We discussed how a person like Joseph can be totally innocent of the actual charges against him from a human perspective but not-so-innocent when it comes to the keen eye of the Father. Where we only see "right and wrong, guilt or innocent," He sees only "able to hit potential for mission" or "not able to." We see God as a cosmic Judge that is ready to pounce, punish, and cast out when we break His commandments. But in fact, He does not see us as good or evil, obedient or not obedient, but rather as broken vessels in need of His divine assistance to bring us to a place where we can hold more of His Light. Our obedience only determines His method for elevating us into our destinies.
God is trying to get us to a place where our souls are repaired for the purpose of Him being able to bless us with everything He wants to so that we can fully accomplish our purpose on this earth. He does this primarily through trials and tribulations. When we look at a person in trial, we see someone that must have sinned. In so doing, we take the position of Job's friends. When Yahweh looks at a person, He only sees potential. So whether someone deserves the chastisement because of sin or not is of no consequence to Him because His motive is to elevate that person out of the miry clay and lift them to a higher place. Whether He is forced to use a trial that was brought upon by the individual's sin or whether He simply allows the enemy to attack an individual based on the inefficiencies that were brought upon them from previous generations and the general fall of man, His ultimate purpose is the same: to elevate His children to a higher place. Where man looks at a situation and judges for condemnation, God always judges for elevation while we are on this earth. This is why if we decide to take His role and judge someone else, we ourselves will be judged by that same measure. We will be served in the same way we chose to serve.
The fact that the Creator's main purpose is to elevate us will covertly be the main focus of the remainder of this article. We're going to focus on the main test that Joseph had to pass in order to qualify for his promotion in the kingdom. Remember, this promotion is never for receiving; it's for serving. The blessing comes from bestowing upon others the blessings He freely gives to all those that qualify for elevation.
By the time we come to Genesis chapter 45, we begin to see that all of Joseph's trials have transitioned his heart to a place where he could pass the final test. Could he forgive the very people that were used to initiate those trials that brought about so much pain? And not just forgive. Could he bless them as well? Could he be the Yeshua to come and absorb their sins and bless those who cursed him? Could he love where he was shown no love? Only someone who could do such things could truly qualify to be given such a high post in the kingdom.
“And Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Please come near to me.’ So they came near. Then he said: ‘I am Joseph your brother, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here. For God sent me before you to preserve life.’”
Finally, after all the years in prison, Joseph came to a place where he could see from God's perspective and understand His Will. He had finally become utterly dependent, full of trust and faith, and he understood his call was to serve the people. He began to see that his low position was actually a blessing. He was being covertly favored by the Most High, a position that would elevate him, that would, in turn, cause him to elevate others.
But before Joseph could ever get to this place where he'd be able to hit his full potential and be elevated himself, he had to forgive. So let's take a look at a few scriptures and break down the original language relating to this very important word.
“Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”
The very first time the word forgive is used in our English New Testament is right here in the Lord's Prayer. Yeshua points out to us a one-to-one correlation that we will not be forgiven of our debts if we do not forgive others. And just two verses later, He expounds on this point.
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Forgiving others seems to be the key to our own forgiveness. This is the story of Joseph to a tee. He was not going to be allowed to be elevated until he forgave his brothers and all those that were a part of his intense “training” experience.
In Mathew 18, there is a parable of the man who owed his master ten thousand talents, equal to about $6 million today. He begged his master for mercy and the master decided to forgive him his debt. Then that same man went out and found someone that owed him a hundred denari, equal to about 100 days of wages, and threw him into prison until he could pay back the debt. When the king found out what the man had done after he had been forgiven of his own debt, the king threw him into prison and had him tortured until he could pay back the debt he originally owed. Immediately after He gives this parable Yeshua says, "So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, do not forgive his brother his trespasses" (Mat. 18:35). Did you catch that? We have to forgive from the heart. There are many more scriptures we could look at. For now, let's look at the word "forgive" here in the Greek and see what we can find.
The main word for "forgive" here is Aphiemi (pronounced af-ee'-ay-mee) in the Greek New Testament and it has the primary meaning of "sending away." It can be used in the sense of to let go, to disregard, to omit, to give up, to keep no longer, to let alone, etc. The Greek tells us that to forgive someone is to "send" their debt "away" for good. This is what God does with us. He casts our sins as far away as the East is from the West. Because there is no such word to describe man being able to forgive sins due to the fact that only God can forgive sins, the only thing we can do is "put them away" from us. This is so we are not tempted to judge the situation, thus taking the chance of judging unrighteously and bringing the same judgment on ourselves. When we cast the debt of others away from us, we are separating the sin from the sinner and allowing the Most High to be the final Judge of the situation.
Now let's take a look at the Hebrew and we will truly understand the concept of forgiveness in light of our subject and how it fits into the Joseph Formula. Ironically, the very first time the word "forgive" is used in our bibles is at the end of this Joseph story.
When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, "Perhaps Joseph will hate us, and may actually repay us for all the evil which we did to him." So they sent messengers to Joseph, saying, "Before your father died he commanded, saying, "Thus you shall say to Joseph: "I beg you, please forgive the trespass of your brothers and their sin; for they did evil to you."' Now, please forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father." And Joseph wept when they spoke to him. Then his brothers also went and fell down before his face, and they said, "Behold, we are your servants." Joseph said to them, "Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones." And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
This time the brothers were asking for forgiveness, admitting their part and the great debt they owed their younger brother. What we want to focus on, though, is the Hebrew word for "forgive": "Nasa" (pronounced naw-saw). Ironically, the word nasa means "to lift up, carry," the very thing a shuttle does at NASA. In short, it means to "elevate."
We've been discussing how Joseph got elevated to his destiny this entire time and unpacking the formula for how to be promoted by the Creator. And all of it comes down to nasa, the Hebrew word for "forgive." To forgive in Hebrew is not just to cast away; it is to elevate the person at the same time. When you choose to let things go, to forgive, you are, in effect, elevating that person as an offering to God, letting Him do what He desires for His creation. We have no ability to know all the ins and outs of what brought someone to the point that they did what they did to hurt us. We only know what we see and feel, which is hardly ever the full story.
The final variable in the Joseph Formula is elevating the very people that hurt you. How do you do that? Simple. Through prayer. When we can't do anything about a situation or person, we are left to "utterly depend" on our Father, thus initiating the process of promotion which will liberate and elevate us. Mathew 5 says it this way:
But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.
What? Who does such a thing? Bless your enemies? Do good to those who hate you? My friends, this is the secret to success in the kingdom. In order for us to hit our full potential, we must "lift up" our enemies and not put them down. We must pray for them, no, intercede for them like we would for a loved one who is deathly ill. It is only when we can truly do this that the shackles of anger and bitterness will be broken away from us and we will be "lifted up" on eagles' wings. This is how you forgive someone. You follow the Joseph Formula, which, in fact, is the same formula Yeshua used.
I am convinced that what keeps us from truly being used to our full potential is the fact that we don't realize that we are not forgiving the debts of others. We are not "carrying" their sin like Yeshua did and are not "lifting" them up in prayer. Thus we never get to the resurrection part that is so gloriously filled with power and light. True success comes when we become utterly dependent on Him, which leads to trust, which leads to faith, which leads to the secret variable: the decision we must make as a result of the crisis which will, in turn, lead us to our final destiny. And when it comes to people, that secret variable is forgiveness. With it, we are placed in a shuttle bound for glory. Without it, we remain on the launching pad as our Father creates another crisis in our life to give us another chance to be promoted.
Christ died for sinners, the Just for the unjust, in order to bring us closer to God. If we are to truly share in the power of His resurrection, we must share in His suffering. We must take note of His final words on the matter and make them our own:
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).
In Part 3 of this series, we will discuss what causes us to fail our test and how to prevent us from falling into that trap, thus demoting ourselves.