Joseph series

Joseph: The Wrap Up

The Wrap Up Sermon Notes

The Wrap Up

Genesis 45

 

Key Goals: (Know) Understand the power of forgiveness and God’s providence. (Feel) Feel strengthened to endure hardship. (Do) Choose to challenge ourselves.

 

Introduction: This is the last message in our series on Joseph, a man whose roller coaster life has been a treasure chest of lessons and challenges. Last week we began our new year with the climax of the story—the big reveal—the moment when, after 22 years and a little scheming, Joseph revealed himself to his brothers. There was very little chance that the 11 brothers could have known that when they returned to Zaphnath-Paaneah (the name Pharaoh gave Joseph when he appointed him) that he was their long lost brother until, speaking perfect Hebrew he cried, “I am Joseph is my father still alive?” Imagine the shock. What kind of thoughts run through your mind when you realize that the most powerful man you have ever met turns out to be the little brother whose life you tried to destroy? What will Zaphnath, I mean Joseph, do?

 

Genesis 45:4–15[1]

4So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6 For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. 7 And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors.

 

8 So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. 9 Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; do not tarry. 10 You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, and your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. 11 There I will provide for you, for there are yet five years of famine to come, so that you and your household, and all that you have, do not come to poverty.’ 12 And now your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see, that it is my mouth that speaks to you. 13 You must tell my father of all my honor in Egypt, and of all that you have seen. Hurry and bring my father down here.”

 

14 Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, and Benjamin wept upon his neck. 15 And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them. After that his brothers talked with him.

 

In this speech Joseph makes, there are five statements that really caught my attention. They reveal key aspects about Joseph and his life that, if we grabbed onto them, would revolutionize our walk with God and our relationships with those around us.

 

1.  Come near to me, please.” (v. 4). Joseph had been living as an Egyptian for the last 22 years. If you remember the dinner they ate together, the Egyptians and Joseph ate separately from the Jews. Several times in Genesis we are told of the Egyptian aversion to shepherds and Canaanites who were viewed as filthy (Gen 46:34). Joseph breaks down the wall and calls them to come close. The Hebrew word communicates coming “close enough to touch.”[2]

 

Joseph refused to maintain the status quo. He could have kept the situation as it was. He could have kept his distance from his brothers. They caused it; they sold him and left him for dead. The relationship between Joseph and his brothers was not just broken, it was demolished. But Joseph refused to let it stay that way. He took the first step. He was the first mover: “Come near to me, please!” Just like Jesus, Joseph’s actions in this chapter are a perfect picture of God’s movement on our behalf. Think about it—we are the ones who destroyed our relationship with God, yet it is God who refused to maintain the status quo. He took the first step of reconciliation by sending his son (Rom 5:8). He died in our place so that we could “come near” to God (I Peter 3:18).

 

Application: One of the best challenge by choice testimonies cards I received was about this very issue. The challenge was: Release/forgive someone from your past who meant you evil. The moment the person read the card, they knew who they were supposed to forgive. They set up a meeting, and after years of separation they are now talking. Refuse to maintain the status quo!

 

2. I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.” (v. 4). I love the fact that Joseph never downplays what they did. He hasn’t forgotten and neither have they. The moment Joseph reveals himself, his brothers are terrified (dismayed). Genesis 45:3 But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence. By declaring himself their brother, Joseph shows his willingness to forgive. It is interesting that, even though there is ample opportunity, we are never told that the brothers asked for forgiveness. Joseph grants it none the less (Gen 50:18-21).

 

Forgiveness is a vital part of the Christian life. Jesus taught that our ability to relate to God is directly tied to our ability to forgive others. For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. (Matthew 6:14-15) Forgiveness is to be freely given to fellow believers as well as our enemies. Jesus also said, “You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you; in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:43-45) In fact, “tender-hearted forgiving” is a key mark of believers. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31-32)

 

3. Do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here.” (v. 5). In this sentence, we clearly see how others-centered and not self-centered Joseph was. This amazes me. Joseph is living this scenario out in real time yet he is not so caught up in his own emotions that he misses what his brothers are feeling. He is incredibly empathetic—the second youngest guy in the room, yet he is the one comforting everyone. You might say that “he is the adult in the room.” The unselfishness being exhibited here is astounding; it is no wonder God wanted it recorded in Scripture. This is a picture of the kind of love Jesus was talking about when he taught his disciples to turn the other cheek (Matt 5:39) or when he said, “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” (Matt 5:41).

Over and over when Jesus walked this earth, he taught his disciples that because of God’s great love for us, we must be great lovers of others. We are to forgive those who hurt us, give to those in need, help those who require it, encourage the downcast, teach the ignorant—with patience, mourn with those who mourn. It is also why we are to not judge, hate, slander, backbite, cause divisions or steal. Because Joseph loved well and unselfishly, we are still talking about him 3000 years later.

 

4. God sent me before you to preserve life.” (v. 5). God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors.” (v.7) It was not you who sent me here, but God.” (v.8) Joseph knew that it was not his brothers who were responsible for sending him to Egypt, but God, for the purpose of bringing about their salvation. The real hero of Joseph’s story is not Joseph, it’s God. Joseph’s life illustrates, perhaps better than any other story in the Bible, a profound truth: Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

 

These verses reveal that Joseph believed in “divine providence.” What is providence? It means that as God rules this universe:

  • He upholds everything (he is sustaining)
  • He governs every event (oversees, reigns)
  • He directs everything to its appointed end (guides, leads)
  • He does this all the time and in every circumstance
  • He does it always for his own glory (purposefully, purpose in everything)

 

God’s providence in Joseph’s life teaches us several important truths:

  1. God cares about even the tiniest details of our lives. Nothing in your life is escaping his notice! He is concerned with the small stuff as well as the big stuff. Jesus told us that the Father knows when a sparrow falls to the ground and he numbers the hairs on your head (Luke 12:7). And then he said, “Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
  2. God uses everything and wastes nothing. There are no accidents with God—this includes events that seem to us to be senseless tragedies. Random chance is an illusion. Joseph being sold into slavery was not a tragedy, it was a new trajectory. God was at work the whole time.[3]

 

5.  I will provide for you (v. 11). This reveals to us Joseph’s great capacity for love. But to see it most clearly, we need to go to Genesis 50 and fast forward 14 years. I think you know what happened next in the story. Joseph has all of his family (70 in total) brought to Egypt because there were still five years of famine left. He is reunited with his father and he gives his family the land of Goshen in which to pasture their flocks. The land of Egypt and Joseph’s family thrives for the next 14 years until Jacob dies. At that time, the entire family gathered to mourn together, embalm and bury Jacob at the field of Machpelah where his grandparents Abraham and Sarah were buried with his parents Isaac and Rebekah (Gen 49:30).

 

Let’s read together Genesis 50:15–21

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.” 16 So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: 17 ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.” ’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. 21 So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

 

The literal translation of that last phrase, spoke kindly to them, is he comforted them and spoke to their heart. What was he doing? He was loving on them. Forgiveness was granted, the past left behind, the hurt let go.

 

Challenge by Choice: As we close, we are offering you the opportunity for one last challenge. There are six cards with one of six different challenges on them—specific applications from this message. By choosing a card, you will be like Joseph: you won’t know what you will get—it may something difficult, it may be something easy.  Like Joseph you will not know until you get there, but each of the challenges will help you live differently.

 

 

Community Group Discussion

 

1.          As you begin your discussion, have one group member open their Bible to Genesis 45 and have the rest of the group try to tell the story from memory. Discuss what you missed and what stood out.

2.           Joseph’s story helps us see “divine providence” in action. Have there been events in your own life that have revealed God’s providence?

3.          Discuss the connection between Jesus’ words to “turn the other check” and Joseph’s life. What are some ways that Joseph “turned his cheek?”

4.          Discuss why you did or did not pick up a “challenge by choice” card.

5.          Discuss your “challenge by choice.” Will it be easy for you or hard? Why? Share with the group how they might pray for you to accomplish your challenge.

 

© Calvary Baptist Church of Holland

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to use and reproduce this material in any format for spiritual, non-commercial purposes. We only ask that you do not alter the content in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. Please include the following statement on any distributed material: by Paul L. Davis. © Calvary Baptist Church of Holland.

 

[1] All Scripture quotations are taken from the ESV.

[2] Leonard J. Coppes, “1297 נָגַשׁ,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 553.

[3] Some of my thoughts in this section come from this great message. http://www.keepbelieving.com/sermon/can-you-trust-god-with-the-details-of-your-life/

Joseph: The Reveal

Joseph: The Reveal Sermon Notes

The Reveal

Genesis 44-45

 

Key Goals: (Know) Understand and prepare for God’s surprises. (Feel) Feel prepared for 2017. (Do) Take steps to prepare ourselves for what God will bring our way.

 

Introduction: Even though we know surprises are coming in 2017, they can still sneak up on us. So how do we prepare? Please turn to Genesis 44. When last we left Joseph and his brothers, a great feast was underway at Joseph’s house in Egypt. For the first time in over 20 years, all 12 brothers were together. So much has happened since the day Joseph wore a colorful coat and was sold into slavery. Joseph is no longer the 17-year-old boy crying for mercy. He is a 40-year-old man, and as the leader of Egypt perhaps the most powerful man in the world at this time.

 

As we return to the scene, Joseph is still disguised but reunited with all 11 of his brothers, even his full brother Benjamin, the new favorite of his father Jacob. They are enjoying a meal together. Genesis 43:34 says, “They drank and were merry.” (Hebrew: intoxicated. Literally this says they were drunk.) Plenty of food, plenty to drink, much to celebrate. But what about Joseph? He is still disguised and the brothers all think he is dead. They are in for the surprise of their lives! They don’t have a clue what Joseph is up to, and beyond that, they do not realize that God has been orchestrating every detail of their lives to bring them to this moment. They are about to be set free from their guilty consciences, but first it’s going to hurt.

 

Before we go any further, Happy New Year! It’s 2017 and we have all been celebrating, many spending time with family. As we approach this New Year, let us remember that just like God orchestrated these twelve brothers’ lives, wherever you find yourself this first morning of 2017, God has orchestrated that too. God had a plan for Joseph and his brothers, and he has plan for you. It is going to be easy for us to spot God’s fingerprints in Joseph’s life because we have the whole story. It is tougher for us to see it in our own lives, because God’s plan with us is not done yet. But as we leave this morning, my prayer is that we will each trust that God is faithfully at work, drawing us to him, calling us to follow him, and orchestrating even our toughest times.

 

Chapter 44: As the banquet ended and it was time for the brothers to go back to Canaan, Joseph had his steward hide a silver cup in the bag belonging to Benjamin. It is a very special silver cup, one that would be easily recognized. The brothers depart, but they do not get far before Joseph sends his steward to stop them and accuse them of stealing the silver cup. Of course, the brothers are innocent and deny the accusation, with the promise that if any man is found with the silver cup, he will die. Unexplainably, the steward found the cup (right where he put it). Look at Genesis 44:11. Then each man quickly lowered his sack to the ground, and each man opened his sack. 12 And he searched, beginning with the eldest and ending with the youngest. And the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. 13 Then they tore their clothes, and every man loaded his donkey, and they returned to the city.

 

They “tore their clothes.” “Kriah” is a Hebrew word meaning, "tearing." It refers to the act of tearing one’s clothes and it is done to express grief and anger in death. The brothers would not do this unless they believed Benjamin was about to die. If you ever go to a Jewish funeral, the family will do a “Kriah” as a part of the service. As the tear or cut is made, the family recites the following blessing: Barukh atah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha’olam dayan ha’emet. Blessed are You, Adonai Our God, Ruler of the Universe, the True Judge. Will the brothers abandon Benjamin like they did Joseph? Were they the same men or had they changed?

You decide for yourself. Listen to what happens next and you decide if these men are the same jealous, callous schemers they were 20 years ago: 14 When Judah and his brothers came to Joseph’s house, he was still there. They fell before him to the ground. 15 Joseph said to them, “What deed is this that you have done? Do you not know that a man like me can indeed practice divination?” 16 And Judah said, “What shall we say to my lord? What shall we speak? Or how can we clear ourselves? God has found out the guilt of your servants.”


There it is. That sentence is what I believe Joseph has been working toward since he first saw his brothers. They know that they have been falsely accused here, but they also know that they have no defense and can only plead for mercythe one thing they did not give when it was asked of them. In Joseph’s wisdom he knew it was imperative that his brothers feel their need for God and his mercy.

 

Application: When American parents are asked the number one thing they want for their children, they overwhelmingly respond: happiness. In India, parents want success. In China parents respond: health.[1] While I understand what parents are saying, I doubt any one of us would ever conclude that God’s plan for us or our children is for us to be 100% happy, 100% successful, and 100% healthy. In fact, that might even be dangerous. Several years ago a teenage girl said this in my youth group: “I have a question for you. Why do I need God? I have everything.” This is one of the most honest questions I’ve ever been asked. She was a healthy, beautiful, smart athlete who came from a wealthy family. At 15, she honestly could not figure out why she needed God. Reality check for 2017: tough and painful circumstances may enter your life this year for you to feel your need for God and his mercy.

 

The brothers are distraught. 16“Behold, we are my lord’s servants, both we and he also in whose hand the cup has been found.” 17 But he said, “Far be it from me that I should do so! Only the man in whose hand the cup was found shall be my servant. But as for you, go up in peace to your father.” Joseph seemingly lets 10 of the brothers off the hook, only Benjamin must stay. 20 years ago the brothers would have seen that as a great deal.

 

 (NLT[2]) 18Then Judah stepped forward and said, “Please, my lord, let your servant say just one word to you. Please, do not be angry with me, even though you are as powerful as Pharaoh himself. 19 “My lord, previously you asked us, your servants, ‘Do you have a father or a brother?’ 20 And we responded, ‘Yes, my lord, we have a father who is an old man, and his youngest son is a child of his old age. His full brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother’s children, and his father loves him very much.’

 

 21 “And you said to us, ‘Bring him here so I can see him with my own eyes.’ 22 But we said to you, ‘My lord, the boy cannot leave his father, for his father would die.’ 23 But you told us, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes with you, you will never see my face again.’ 24 “So we returned to your servant, our father, and told him what you had said.

 

 25 Later, when he said, ‘Go back again and buy us more food,’ 26 we replied, ‘We can’t go unless you let our youngest brother goes with us. We’ll never get to see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’ 27 “Then my father said to us, ‘As you know, my wife had two sons, 28 and one of them went away and never returned. Doubtless he was torn to pieces by some wild animal. I have never seen him since. 29 Now if you take his brother away from me, and any harm comes to him, you will send this grieving, white-haired man to his grave.’

 

 30 “And now, my lord, I cannot go back to my father without the boy. Our father’s life is bound up in the boy’s life. 31 If he sees that the boy is not with us, our father will die. We, your servants, will indeed be responsible for sending that grieving, white-haired man to his grave.

 

 32 My lord, I guaranteed to my father that I would take care of the boy. I told him, ‘If I don’t bring him back to you, I will bear the blame forever.’ 33 “So please, my lord, let me stay here as a slave instead (tahat) of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. 34 For how can I return to my father if the boy is not with me? I couldn’t bear to see the anguish this would cause my father!”

 

Do you see what Judah is trying to do here? He is asking Joseph to allow him to be a “substitutionary atonement” for his brother. In fact, the Hebrew word used in this verse is the same word used in Genesis 22:13. Just as Abraham was going to sacrifice his son, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead (tahat) of his son. This “tahat,” this “instead of” is exactly what Jesus Christ offers to you and me. His death on the cross is in place of our death. We place our faith in Jesus as our “tahat!” His death pays our debt and we go free.  1 Peter 3:18 says For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.

 

This is love! The Bible tells us in John 15:13, Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. What a difference! Remember Jacob was showing the same favoritism to Benjamin that he had showed to Joseph. Jacob had not changed, but the brothers had! Where did the jealousy go? Where is the hatred for Benjamin? It is gone and it is replaced with sacrificial love. It is in this context that Joseph finally reveals who he is. It is so rich that I just have to read it. Genesis 45:1–3.

 

Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him. He cried, “Make everyone go out from me.” So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. 2 And he wept aloud, so that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it. 3 And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence.

 

“Dismayed” is one way to describe how they felt, shocked is anotherhow about dumbfounded and frightened? You could add confused, astonished and speechless. The Hebrew word is often translated as “terrified.” They immediately had a flashback to 22 years ago. (Next week we are going to explore Joseph’s five powerful statementsunderstood in context they are life changing.)

 

Let me end with some appeals for 2017:

1. Surprises are coming in 2017. Get ready! God is orchestrating them even now. You must prepare yourself. Are you ready mentally? Emotionally? Spiritually?  In 1 Cor. 9:27, Paul talked about training himself in godliness. “Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

 

2. Embrace the hard. It comes from a God who loves you. Some of your surprises will be difficult. Do not let them discourage you; use them to open up your eyes so you can see your need for a loving and merciful God. Turn to him; draw close to him. Listen to James as he addresses how we face hardship. (James 4:8-10) Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

 

3. Replace the hatred. Your change, your sacrifices of love can open up the possibility for reconciliation in ways you could ever expect. Judah had no idea when he replaced his hatred, jealousy, and betrayal with love and sacrifice that he would reconcile with his long lost brother, but it happened. Begin a new chapter in 2017. Let the hatred go, let the hurt go, turn the page. Our God is the kind of God who goes to great lengths to orchestrate surprise reconciliations.



© Calvary Baptist Church of Holland

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to use and reproduce this material in any format for spiritual, non-commercial purposes. We only ask that you do not alter the content in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. Please include the following statement on any distributed material: by Paul L. Davis. © Calvary Baptist Church of Holland.

 

[1] “What Indian Parents Want Most for Their Children” Aditi Malhortra The Wall Street Journal Aug. 13, 2015.

[2] All other passages are quoted in the ESV.

Joseph: Compassion

Joseph: Compassion Sermon Notes

Compassion

Genesis 43

Pastor Paul L. Davis 

 

Key Goals: (Know) Understand God’s compassion.

         (Feel) Desire to express compassion to others.

         (Do) Choose to challenge ourselves.

 

Introduction: Betrayal, seduction, intrigue, treachery, disguise, secrets, and spies. Is this a James Bond movie? No, it is the book of Genesis. When we left off last week, nine of Joseph’s brothers returned to Canaan, while one brother, Simeon, remained in Egypt as security—security that they will return with their youngest brother Benjamin and prove they are not spies. They have no clue that they met with Joseph. We pick up the story in Genesis 42:35, as they arrive home.

35 As they emptied their sacks, behold, every man’s bundle of money was in his sack. And when they and their father saw their bundles of money, they were afraid.

 

Joseph had instructed his servants to fill his brothers’ bags with food, but also to replace the money they brought to pay for the food. 36 And Jacob their father said to them, “You have bereaved me of my children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and now you would take Benjamin. All this has come against me.”

 

Jacob does not understand why or how this is happening, all he knows is that he is now down two sons and may lose his youngest, Benjamin.

37 Then Reuben said to his father, “Kill my two sons if I do not bring him back to you. Put him in my hands, and I will bring him back to you.” 38 But he said, “My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he is the only one left. If harm should happen to him on the journey that you are to make, you would bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to Sheol.”

 

Verse 37 is our first glimpse at why Joseph is using all the intrigue. Reuben has seen what losing a son does to a father, and he is willing to put his two sons up as security so that he would not allow Benjamin to get hurt. What a huge change of heart in Reuben. Benjamin is Jacob’s new favorite—that is very clear in verse 38. Jacob declares that Joseph is dead and Benjamin is the “only one left.” The only one left? There are ten brothers and poor Simeon is in jail! Jacob’s favoritism is showing again. There were only two sons of his beloved Rachel who died in childbirth. If Joseph is gone and Benjamin is gone, there is no one left. Reuben sees the favoritism, but instead of being envious and jealous like he was 20 years ago, he is generous and sacrificial. What a difference 20 years makes.

 

Chapter 43—We Must Go Back

1 Now the famine was severe in the land. 2 And when they had eaten the grain that they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go again, buy us a little food.” 3 But Judah said to him, “The man solemnly warned us, saying, ‘You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.’ 4 If you will send our brother with us, we will go down and buy you food. 5 But if you will not send him, we will not go down, for the man said to us, ‘You shall not see my face, unless your brother is with you.’ ” 6 Israel said, “Why did you treat me so badly as to tell the man that you had another brother?”

Judah is very clear with his father that no one is going back to Egypt without Benjamin; in his mind it would be suicide. Watch closely. What happens next has eternal repercussions. 8 And Judah said to Israel his father, “Send the boy with me, and we will arise and go, that we may live and not die, both we and you and also our little ones. 9 I will be a pledge of his safety. From my hand you shall require him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever.

Talk about a change of heart! Judah one-ups Reuben! He pledges his own life on behalf of his brother. Essentially Judah is offering his life for Benjamin’s life. At this point bells ought to be going off in your head. Is this a foreshadowing of what Jesus will do on the cross? Judah is offering his father the same thing Jesus offers us: his life. We often talk about how the goal of the Christian life is to be Christlike. Judah was particularly Christlike. The same guy who once thought about killing his brother now willingly offers his life. What does John 15:13 say? Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

 

This decision has eternal repercussions. For centuries Judah will be blessed:

1.          While all 12 brothers become tribes, Judah will be the largest most powerful tribe.

2.          Once the nation divides, the southern kingdom will be called Judah.

3.          People who believe in God in an OT way are called Jews. “Jew” comes from Judah. The religion that refuses to believe in a Jew that gave his life for the world is named after a man who gave his life for his brother.

4.          Judah receives the most lengthy of Jacob’s blessings. He likens Judah to a lion (Gen 49:9), states that all of Judah’s brothers will praise him and bow down to him (Gen 49:8), and reveals that kings will come from Judah (Gen 49:10).[1] Every king of the Jews except for the first one, Saul, will come from Judah’s lineage, including Jesus.

5. In Revelation 5:5, Jesus is called the “Lion of the tribe of Judah.”

 

This situation right here is why Joseph has put his brothers through their ordeal. Joseph was testing them. Have they changed? The answer is a resounding yes!

 

Hope. Judah[2] and Reuben[3] have gone from being the worst brothers in history to some of the most sacrificial—they matured, they changed, and that should give you hope. If these two rotten brothers can change, so can you and I. Judah talks Jacob into letting the sons go back to Egypt with Benjamin. They take all the money from last time, plus more, and they also bring other gifts. As they are leaving, Jacob prays this over them, 14“May God Almighty grant you mercy before the man, and may he send back your other brother and Benjamin. And as for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.”

Jacob asks for mercy (ra-ha-miim—mercy or compassion) from “God Almighty” (Hebrew—El Shaddai). This is the first time in the Bible mercy is asked of God. Jacob does not appeal to YHWH or ELOHIM, the two names we have seen over and over in this story. He uses the name God used for himself when he met with Jacob 40 years earlier at Beth-El. Listen to God’s promise that night. Genesis 35:11 And God said to him, “I am God Almighty (El Shaddai): be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body.” As Jacob sends his sons back to Egypt, he is trusting in the mercy of El Shaddai, God Almighty, who promised him nations.

 15 So the men took presents, and double the money with them, and Benjamin. They arose and went down to Egypt and stood before Joseph. 16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the steward of his house, “Bring the men into the house, and slaughter an animal and make ready, for the men are to dine with me at noon.”

 

Food In Egypt: This would have been quite a meal. Nobles ate well in ancient Egypt—vegetables, meat, and grains at every meal, plus wine and dairy products like butter and cheese. Tombs detail meals of honey-roasted wild gazelle, spit-roasted ducks with pomegranates, and a berry-like fruit called “jujubes” with wild honey cakes for dessert.[4] Joseph’s brothers are brought into the house…

18 …and the men were afraid because they were brought to Joseph’s house, and they said, “It is because of the money, which was replaced in our sacks the first time, that we are brought in, so that he may assault us and fall upon us to make us servants and seize our donkeys.” (Guilty conscience, perhaps?) 19 So they went up to the steward of Joseph’s house and spoke with him at the door of the house, 20 and said, “Oh, my lord, we came down the first time to buy food. 21 And when we came to the lodging place we opened our sacks, and there was each man’s money in the mouth of his sack, our money in full weight. So we have brought it again with us, 22 and we have brought other money down with us to buy food. We do not know who put our money in our sacks.” 23 He replied, “Peace to you, do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has put treasure in your sacks for you. I received your money.” Then he brought Simeon out to them.

 

That is not true. Joseph’s servant is lying to keep up the ruse. It is interesting to me that, while his servant will lie, Joseph never does. He hides himself for sure, but he never lies.

26 When Joseph came home, they brought into the house to him the present that they had with them and bowed down to him to the ground. 27 And he inquired about their welfare and said, “Is your father well, the old man of whom you spoke? Is he still alive?” 28 They said, “Your servant our father is well; he is still alive.” And they bowed their heads and prostrated themselves. 29 And he lifted up his eyes and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son, and said, “Is this your youngest brother, of whom you spoke to me? God be gracious to you, my son!” 30 Then Joseph hurried out, for his compassion grew warm for his brother, and he sought a place to weep. And he entered his chamber and wept there.

 

Joseph’s compassion overcomes him (Hebrew—ra-ha-miimkash-mem-resh). In English we have translated this Hebrew construction as his “compassion grew warm” (ESV). The NLT says he was “overcome with emotion.” The NKJV translates this as “his heart yearned for his brother.” It is surprisingly important that we find out exactly what this phrase means, because this very phrase God uses tells us how he feels about sinners who have walked away from him. The book of Hosea (11:8) uses the same wording when God tells his people that even though they have betrayed him and sinned, he will not destroy them because he is God and his compassion grows warm and tender. This literally could be translated as his “love, mercy and compassion burns within him.”

 

Key Application: When we, as believers, sin and our hearts grow cold towards God, often we put off coming back to him, thinking we have disappointed God and he probably does not want us back. But he does. The emotion Joseph feels in this story—being reunited with his little brother after 20 years of prison and slavery, overcome with emotion to the point that he has to run away to weep—this is how God describes his heart. It grows warm with compassion and mercy. Why would we not come back to a God who feels this way about us?

 

Does God cry? Have you ever asked yourself this? Does the sovereign powerful God of the universe cry? The Bible says he does. In John 11:35, Jesus wept, and we are told before he cried that he was deeply moved in his spirit. The reason we feel anything at all is because we are made in the image of a loving, feeling God. God feels everything we do and more because we are told in Psalm 34:15 that our tears catch his attention. Not only does he feel, but he feels when we feel. How does this scene end?

31 Then he washed his face and came out. And controlling himself he said, “Serve the food.” 32 They served him by himself, and them by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because the Egyptians could not eat with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination to the Egyptians. (Literally it was repulsive—the Hebrews were unshaven, unwashed, unclean—repulsive!) 33 And they sat before him, the firstborn according to his birthright and the youngest according to his youth. And the men looked at one another in amazement. 34 Portions were taken to them from Joseph’s table, but Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as any of theirs. And they drank and were merry with him.

 

Jacob prayed for mercy/compassion (ra-ha-miim) and once again we see how closely Joseph walked with God. He showered his brothers with compassion. No vindictiveness, no paybacks, no hatred, no revenge. Just amazement. And they do not even know with whom they are eating yet. Wait until next week!

 

Application: We are most like God when we show love, mercy, and compassion to those who have mistreated us. We need to let go of the bitterness.

 

Challenge by Choice: Right now, in your own soul, are you bitter? Are there people in your past that you would “go off on” if they were to show up at your door? Our challenge today is personal, internal, and may be the hardest challenge of this series: Let it go. Release the hatred and bitterness. If you have nothing to take care of, pray like Jacob did for someone else.

 

Community Group Discussion

1.          As you begin your discussion, have one group member open their Bible to Genesis 43 and have the rest of the group try to tell the story from memory. Discuss what you missed and what stood out.

2.          Discuss mercy/compassion. Have someone Google the definition on their phone. Did God show mercy/compassion to Joseph? His brothers?

3.          Have you been hurt by someone in your past? How are you working through it? Do you need to let it go? Why or why not?

4.          Look up 2 Sam 24:14. What does David know about God that would make him want to “fall into his hands” versus falling into the hands of a person?

 

 

© Calvary Baptist Church of Holland

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to use and reproduce this material in any format for spiritual, non-commercial purposes. We only ask that you do not alter the content in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. Please include the following statement on any distributed material: by Paul L. Davis. © Calvary Baptist Church of Holland.

 

[1] Jeremiah K. Garrett, “Judah, Son of Jacob,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).

[2] Judah had many faults and family sins. He even slept with his own daughter-in-law thinking she was a prostitute. See Gen 38.

[3] Reuben had horrible issues, not the least of which we find in Gen 35:22. Reuben slept with Dan and Naphtali’s mother Bilhah.

[4] http://www.history.com/news/hungry-history/eat-like-an-egyptian

Joseph: Making Things Right

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Making Things Right Sermon Notes

Making Things Right

Genesis 42

 

Key Goals: (Know) Understand the power of our conscience. (Feel) Desire to clear our conscience. (Do) Choose to challenge ourselves.

 

Introduction: 20 years is a long time; a lot can happen in 20 years. In 20 years you can finish your education, get married and start a family. In 20 years you can build a career or a business—you could even become wealthy and famous. In 20 years you can also go from being a teenage Hebrew sheepherder to one of the most powerful men in the world. That’s what Joseph did. Here’s one thing you can’t do in 20 years: you can’t erase a guilty conscience. Our conscience is an odd thing. It’s like a moral barometer of the soul that senses when we’ve done wrong. We all have one.[1] I like having a conscience; I know mine keeps me out of a lot of trouble. It helps me remember important things, it prompts me when I’m neglecting or hurting key relationships in my life, and it provokes me to make things right with people I have offended.

 

I wonder if Joseph’s brothers liked having a conscience. Maybe they were under the illusion that time would remove their guilt. After all, they hadn’t seen or heard from Joseph since the day they tossed him in the pit, pulled him out again, sold him to the Midianites, and then watched as that caravan dragged him away naked and in chains, a slave on his way to Egypt. 20 years later the brothers assumed he was dead. Slaves didn’t have a long lifespan. With Joseph dead, their secret was safe. Even if their conscience jabbed them from time to time, they were learning to deal with it, to push down the feelings of guilt. Who would ever find out? After all, when you are dead, you are dead. There is nothing you can do, right? But Joseph wasn’t dead—far from it. He was living 300 miles south of them in a lavish palace, as the second most powerful man on the planet. His brother hadn’t a clue, and because there was no such thing as a Bible yet, they did not know several Bible verses that could have helped them: Be sure your sin will find you out. (Numbers 32:23 NIV) or Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. (Galatians 6:7 NIV)

 

Nine years have passed since Joseph rose to power in Egypt. Joseph is 39 years old, and because of his wisdom, the entire world was coming to him for food. Everything has happened exactly as he said it would. Seven good years yielded grain abundantly—so much grain that it could not be measured (Gen 41:49). This morning we enter the story two years into the seven lean years, and times are very tough; the nations around Egypt are starving. In Canaan, where Joseph’s brothers and father Jacob live, the land is devastated. Jacob hears there is food in Egypt. Please turn to Genesis 42:1–5[2].

 

When Jacob learned that there was grain for sale in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you look at one another?” 2 And he said, “Behold, I have heard that there is grain for sale in Egypt. Go down and buy grain for us there, that we may live and not die.” Only two years into the famine, and Jacob is worried that the entire family is in danger of dying. 3 So ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt. 4 But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with his brothers, for he feared that harm might happen to him. 5 Thus the sons of Israel came to buy among the others who came, for the famine was in the land of Canaan. End of verse 6… Joseph’s brothers came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground.

 

Remember the dream? Joseph’s first one (Gen 37:6-8) where he is a sheaf of grain and all the other sheaves bow down to him? It’s happening; the brothers are there to buy grain, and they are bowing to him and they don’t even know it! It would have been a miracle if they had recognized Joseph. He was 17 when they sold him; he is now 40 and completely Egyptian. What would Joseph have looked like? We don’t know, but we can take a guess. We know that the richer an Egyptian was, the more makeup he wore. They shaved or plucked all their hair, and loved light skin with no wrinkles. Joseph would have been unrecognizable to his brothers, who would have had full beards, long hair, and dark skin. 7 Joseph saw his brothers and recognized them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke roughly to them. “Where do you come from?” he said. They said, “From the land of Canaan, to buy food.”

 

And then Joseph does something strange. He accuses them of being spies, a serious charge that would bring a death sentence. Of course the brothers immediately begin to defend themselves, declaring boldly that they are honest men (42:11). Joseph knows that they are not as honest as they claim to be, so he presses them more. As they continue their defense, verse 13 reveals something. They said, “We, your servants, are twelve brothers, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan, and behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is no more.”  It is interesting that even after 20 years they still think of themselves as “12 brothers.” It is also clear that they think Joseph is dead. So Joseph hatches a plan. (Remember, as we continue this story, Pharaoh believes that Joseph is the wisest man in the kingdom. I think it would be foolish for us to assume Joseph doesn’t have a plan.) He is going to test his brothers to find out what kind of men they have become. In verse 15 he says to them, “By this you shall be tested: by the life of Pharaoh, you shall not go from this place unless your youngest brother comes here. 16 Send one of you, and let him bring your brother, while you remain confined, that your words may be tested, whether there is truth in you.”

 

And then he throws them in jail for three days to think about it. It is on the third day, when Joseph comes to see them, that we observe a huge turning point in these men’s lives. Skim down to verse 21—the brothers are talking among themselves. Then they said to one another, “In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us and we did not listen. That is why this distress has come upon us.” 22 And Reuben answered them, “Did I not tell you not to sin against the boy? But you did not listen. So now there comes a reckoning for his blood.” After 20 years, as soon as a difficult situation arises, they immediately attribute their difficulties to their guilt for selling and killing Joseph. These are men with a guilty conscience. Reuben reveals why he didn’t want his brothers to kill Joseph in the first place. Since there was no Bible, and the Ten Commandments didn’t yet exist, where would Reuben have come up with the idea that there would be a “reckoning” (interesting word—an accounting word) for Joseph’s blood? He got it from Genesis 9. Turn there for a moment.

 

Because of incredible violence, God has flooded and destroyed the entire earth. Noah has just left the ark and is ready to repopulate the earth with his family. God gives Noah two commands. The first is to be fruitful and multiply (9:1) and the second is found in Genesis 9:5–6. And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning (same word Reuben uses): from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. 6 “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image. These are the only two laws of God at this time. Reuben and the brothers knew they had violated this law by killing Joseph, and their consciences immediately made the connection that it was “reckoning” time. You know how they were feeling—their consciences were pinging like crazy.

I wonder if this was new or if their consciences had been bothering them for a while. The Bible tells us that we can “sear our conscience.” I Timothy 4:2 talks about this. If we disobey our conscience repeatedly or if we refuse to develop deep-seated convictions around God’s moral law, then our sensitivity to moral issues becomes deadened. They just stop bothering us. This is a dangerous thing that Romans 1 tells us will lead to the darkening of our minds and a whole host of other issues.

 

The goal of the Christian believer is to develop a mature or healthy conscience, which will take two key elements:

1)         The Holy Spirit. Every believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit whose ministry to us includes the “conviction of sin.” (John 16:8)

2)         The Word of God: We need a deeply held love and understanding of the Word of God. The Bible gives us God’s will regarding moral issues; the Holy Spirit then enables us to “welcome, embrace” that truth (see 1 Corinthians 2:6-16), so that it transforms us from the inside out!

 

A warning: The New Testament talks about our conscience over 31 times. It is a gift from God and is meant to act like a dashboard warning light to keep us from sin and doing things that might injure ourselves, others, and our relationship with God. If we watch the dashboard and don’t ignore the warning lights, we will flourish spiritually. If we refuse to listen, refuse to study God’s Word, and if we decide to do our own thing our own way, the Bible tells us that God will abandon us and leave us to our own “foolish thinking.” Listen to how God responds to people who sear their conscience. Romans 1:28–32 (NLT) 

 

[God]…abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. 29 Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. 30 They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. 31 They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. 32 They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.

 

Are you listening to and growing a healthy conscience? Or is God abandoning you to your foolish thinking and evil actions? Perhaps you are feeling guilty for the first time in a while. Acts 3:19 (NIV) calls us to Repent, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.

 

Joseph treated his brothers harshly, but look closely at what happened. Perhaps for the first time in 20 years, his brothers are convicted of their sin. They realized, because they now needed mercy, that they refused to show mercy when Joseph cried for it in deep distress. Turn back to Genesis 42:23. They did not know that Joseph understood them, for there was an interpreter between them. 24 Then he turned away from them and wept… This whole conversation has happened right in front of Joseph because they didn’t think he could understand them! Can you imagine the emotions running through Joseph? The last time he saw his family, they viciously threw him into a pit and mercilessly sold him like a goat. As he listens to their discussions, he knows they think they killed him. Is it time for revenge? Forgiveness? Restitution? Punishment? Penance? Joseph has the power to do any or all of those, but instead he weeps. Look at the end of verse 24.

 

And he returned to them and spoke to them. And he took Simeon from them and bound him before their eyes. 25 And Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, (here is the tricky part) and to replace every man’s money in his sack, and to give them provisions for the journey. This was done for them. 26 Then they loaded their donkeys with their grain and departed. 27 And as one of them opened his sack to give his donkey fodder at the lodging place, he saw his money in the mouth of his sack. 28 He said to his brothers, “My money has been put back; here it is in the mouth of my sack!” At this their hearts failed them, and they turned trembling to one another, saying, “What is this that God has done to us?”

 

Why all of a sudden do the brothers think God is behind this? Joseph, through his actions, has made these men see their weakness, their need for mercy, and that God is up to something. Joseph’s actions have activated their consciences.

 

This morning we all come here in one of two places: either we have been activating and growing our conscience or we have been searing and deadening our conscience. Perk up your ears and listen, church. Imagine a man walking in one direction who suddenly realizes that he is going in the wrong direction. He stops. He turns around. Then he begins walking in the new direction. It is a quick and simple process. He realizes. He stops. He turns. That is a healthy conscience at work. If you are in this spot, thank God and use your conscience to flourish in your walk with Christ. Now imagine a man in a sailboat, the wind at his back, sailing quickly in the wrong direction. Turning around is a hard and difficult process—he must turn into the wind, readjust the sails, and make sure his rudder is deep and true. Some of us are in this boat. In order to change, we need to grow our conscience. It will require some big adjustments to our thinking, and the winds of our past decisions, addictions, and relationships blow against us. If that’s you this morning, you need to do three things:

1)         Pray for the ministry of the Holy Spirit. (John 16:8) Right now. Pray that the Holy Spirit would reveal your sin to you and help you deal with it properly.

2)         Actively study the Word of God for the purpose of learning right and wrong and wisdom.

3)         Surround yourself with godly people who will help you activate your conscience.

 

Challenge by Choice: Right now, do you have a clear conscience? Is the warning light going off on the dashboard of your soul? Is there a name, an offense that you have in your mind? That’s the Holy Spirit of God. Your challenge is to go today to get this made right. In order for us to flourish, we must have a clear conscience, with an attitude of instant obedience. Don’t allow the warning light to be ignored. 

 

Community Group Discussion

1.          As you begin your discussion, have one group member open their Bible to Genesis 42 and have the rest of the group try to tell the story from memory. Discuss what you missed and what stood out.

2.          Joseph’s actions functioned as God’s instrument to activate his brothers’ consciences. Are there any appropriate parenting tips here?

3.          Discuss the sailboat illustration. How have you felt “the winds of your past” make it difficult for you to change?

4.          Discuss why you did or did not pick up a “challenge by choice” card.

5.          Have fun with this discussion: if your conscience was a person, who would it be? (Whose voice is in your head?)

6.          Discuss your “challenge by choice.” Will it be easy for you or hard? Why? Share with the group how they might pray for you to accomplish your challenge.

 

© Calvary Baptist Church of Holland

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to use and reproduce this material in any format for spiritual, non-commercial purposes. We only ask that you do not alter the content in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. Please include the following statement on any distributed material: by Paul L. Davis. © Calvary Baptist Church of Holland.

 

[1] http://www.keepbelieving.com/sermon/are-you-willing-to-face-your-past/

[2] All Scripture quotations are taken from the ESV unless otherwise noted.