Living with Integrity – Message 5
February 20, 2022
I. Introduction: We continue our survey of Joseph’s life, Living with Integrity.
• Genesis 42:1-7; C/R: Psalm 105:16-22
A. Today’s message is entitled, Reconciliation.
- What does reconcile mean? “To make peace, to restore harmony, esp. in a relationship.”
- Theme: Romans 12:18 (NLT)—Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.
- Reconciliation differs from, but includes, forgiveness.
- Forgiveness can be exercised by one, but reconciliation requires effort, movement and change by two or more parties.
- After seven years of abundant harvests came seven years of famine in Egypt and surrounding countries, including Canaan, where Joseph’s family lived. (Genesis 41:53-57)
- Genesis 42:1-2 (NLT)— 1 When Jacob heard that grain was available in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why are you standing around looking at one another? 2I have heard there is grain in Egypt. Go down there, and buy enough grain to keep us alive. Otherwise we’ll die.” [The sons had certainly heard about grain in Egypt as well.]
- Why the delay? The trip was long (250-300 miles, 6 weeks travel) and dangerous; they might be arrested and enslaved, also, they sent their brother there. (Bad association)
- Guilty consciences can arouse painful emotions from the past; we avoid any reminders.
- Genesis 42:3-7 (NLT)—3So Joseph’s ten older brothers went down to Egypt to buy grain. [Why 10? Might have been a per capita food distribution rule.] 4But Jacob wouldn’t let Joseph’s younger brother, Benjamin, go with them, for fear some harm might come to him. [Remaining son of favorite wife, Rachel; Jacob still showing partiality, may have suspected his other sons.] 5So Jacob’s sons arrived in Egypt along with others to buy food, for the famine was in Canaan as well.
6Since Joseph was governor [Hebrew: shallîyṭ, generally means “ruler.”] of all Egypt and in charge of selling grain to all the people, it was to him that his brothers came. When they arrived, they bowed before him with their faces to the ground. [As in dream; 7Joseph [now age 39] recognized his brothers instantly, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. “Where are you from?” he demanded.
“From the land of Canaan,” they replied. “We have come to buy food.”
- Imagine what Joseph must have felt when he first recognized his brothers.
- Their appearance would have aroused a flood of painful memories and agonizing emotions of betrayal, abandonment, loneliness.
- He must have been tempted to punish these brothers with imprisonment or death!
- He decided, instead, to reconcile with these brothers who had hurt him, but he wanted to assess their character before he embraced them as brothers.
- God wants you to be gracious and forgiving but also wise and discerning.
- The encounter between Joseph and his brothers will reveal essentials of reconciliation.
II. Reconciliation requires… (Genesis 42:8-38)
A. #1 - Accusation of offense. (Genesis 42:8-13. C/R: Matthew 18:15; Galatians 6:1;
2 Thessalonians 3:14-15; James 5:19-20)
- Genesis 42:8-13 (NLT)—8Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they didn’t recognize him. [22 years later, language, appearance different (shaven)] 9And he remembered the dreams he’d had about them many years before. [Genesis 37:7,9] He said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see how vulnerable our land has become.”
10“No, my lord!” they exclaimed. “Your servants have simply come to buy food. 11We are all brothers—members of the same family. We are honest men, sir! We are not spies!” [v.12 – Accused them again of being spies to see their response.]
13“Sir,” they said, “there are actually twelve of us. We, your servants, are all brothers, sons of a man living in the land of Canaan. Our youngest brother is back there with our father right now, and one of our brothers is no longer with us.”
- Why didn’t Joseph identify himself? If he had, he would not have been able to see the true character of his brothers, so he decided to test them and observe their responses.
- Joseph accused his brothers of being spies, which certainly frightened them, though he knew they weren’t, because he wanted to assess their character when accused.
- We shouldn’t resume a relationship, especially one that has been deliberately hurtful, until we have assessed the character and integrity of the person who harmed us.
- When wounded by someone we are in relationship with, we must not ignore it, or absorb it, saying nothing; we must confront the situation!
- If we are afraid to confront (gently, respectfully, but firmly) because we fear rejection, we are being co-dependent; if we fear attack, we are in an unhealthy relationship!
- APP.: If you in a painful relationship, are you able to confront offenses?
B. #2 - Assessment of truthfulness. (Genesis 42:14-20. C/R: Proverbs 10:9; Ephesians 4:15,25; Colossians 3:9)
- Reconciliation is rebuilding a relationship; it requires honesty from both parties.
- Genesis 42:14-16 (NLT)—14But Joseph insisted, “As I said, you are spies! 15This is how I will test your story. I swear by the life of Pharaoh [incarnation of god Horus] that you will never leave Egypt unless your youngest brother comes here! 16One of you must go and get your brother. I’ll keep the rest of you here in prison. Then we’ll find out whether or not your story is true. By the life of Pharaoh, if it turns out that you don’t have a younger brother, then I’ll know you are spies.” [4th accusation]
- Joseph gave his brothers a test, not to prove they weren’t spies; rather to demonstrate their honesty, character, integrity.
- Genesis 42:17-18 (NLT)—17So Joseph put them all in prison [Hebrew, perhaps house arrest] for three days. 18On the third day Joseph said to them, “I am a God-fearing man. If you do as I say, you will live. [Referred to their God to certify his promise.]
- Did he want them to experience what imprisonment felt like?
- It appears Joseph changed his mind about how he would test his brothers.
- Genesis 42:19-20 (NLT)—19If you really are honest men, choose one of your brothers to remain in prison. The rest of you may go home with grain for your starving families. 20But you must bring your youngest brother back to me. This will prove that you are telling the truth, and you will not die.” To this they agreed.
- Joseph was concerned about his family so he sent all but one brother back with food.
- He would determine whether they would keep their word and bring back Benjamin.
- APP.: When restoring a relationship, do you expect honesty as basis for reconnection?
C. #3 - Acknowledgement of wrongs. (Genesis 42:21-24. C/R: Proverbs 14:9; 28:13; James 5:16)
- Joseph needed to know whether his brothers would acknowledge their sins against him, but if he had identified himself, their apologies could not be judged to be sincere because they were motivated by their need for food and their fear of punishment.
- Genesis 42:21-22 (NLT)—21Speaking among themselves, they said, “Clearly we are being punished because of what we did to Joseph long ago. We saw his anguish when he pleaded for his life, but we wouldn’t listen. That’s why we’re in this trouble.”
22“Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy?” Reuben asked. “But you wouldn’t listen. And now we have to answer for his blood!” [Assumed Joseph dead; all at fault.]
- The brothers felt convicted about their cruelty; they believed they were being judged by God through this Egyptian governor for their ruthless, cruel, treatment of their brother.
- Genesis 42:23-24 (NLT)—23Of course, they didn’t know that Joseph understood them, for he had been speaking to them through an interpreter. 24Now he turned away from them and began to weep. [Why? Saw their honest guilt and shame. Pent-up emotion came out.] When he regained his composure, he spoke to them again. Then he chose Simeon [2nd oldest] from among them and had him tied up right before their eyes.
- Joseph listened, He needed to know how they truly viewed their actions against him; when he heard their anguish and guilt, he wept. (Relief? Experiencing painful past?)
- Wise reconciliation requires sincere repentance and humble confession of sin, an admission of wrongs without minimizing, justifying or blaming someone else.
- APP.: When reconciling, do you expect an honest admit their wrongs?
D. #4 - Appraisal of change. (Genesis 42:25-38. C/R: Romans 12:18; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 4:8)
- Joseph’s assessment of his brothers’ character continued.
- Genesis 42:25-29,35-38 (NLT)—25Joseph then ordered his servants to fill the men’s sacks with grain, but he also gave secret instructions to return each brother’s payment at the top of his sack. [another test] He also gave them supplies for their journey home. 26So the brothers loaded their donkeys with the grain and headed for home.
27But when they stopped for the night and one of them opened his sack to get grain for his donkey, he found his money [precious metal] in the top of his sack. 28“Look!” he exclaimed to his brothers. “My money has been returned; it’s here in my sack!” Then their hearts sank. Trembling, they said to each other, “What has God done to us?”
- They didn’t suspect Joseph; they thought God was causing punishment by the Egyptians.
- Genesis 42:29,35-36 (NLT)—29When the brothers came to their father, Jacob, in the land of Canaan, they told him everything that had happened to them. …
35As they emptied out their sacks, there in each man’s sack was the bag of money he had paid for the grain! The brothers and their father were terrified when they saw the bags of money. [The fear was re-lived when seeing the money again!] 36Jacob exclaimed, “You are robbing me of my children! [Suspicion?] Joseph is gone! Simeon is gone! And now you want to take Benjamin, too. Everything is going against me!”
- Valid statement from a human point of view, but from God’s perspective, everything was working according to God’s plan! (Romans 8:28)
- Genesis 42:37-38 (NLT)—37Then Reuben [first-born] said to his father, “You may kill my two sons if I don’t bring Benjamin back to you. I’ll be responsible for him, and I promise to bring him back.” [Reuben believed the governor (Joseph) was truthful!]
38But Jacob replied, “My son will not go down with you. His brother Joseph is dead, and he is all I have left. If anything should happen to him on your journey, you would send this grieving, white-haired man to his grave [she’ol ].” [Reuben concerned about Simeon; Jacob about Benjamin.]
- Joseph wanted to see whether these men who had sold him into slavery would abandon another brother once they returned home, or return to Egypt and face imprisonment.
- Reconciliation requires changes in all parties; it takes time to observe whether transformation has truly occurred and will remain through stressful circumstances.
- When someone tries to hurry your forgiveness, pressures you to return to “the way things were,” that is control or manipulation, not true contrition and change.
- When we rescue people from the consequences of their decisions or actions too quickly, it prevent God’s correction in their lives; we call it love, it’s codependence.
- APP.: Are you willing to slow down the process of reconciliation to confirm change?
Memory verse: Matthew 5:23–24 (NLT)—23“So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, 24leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.”