Oct28SunOctober 28, 2018
So, last night I was at a fundraiser event and the person who was hosting my table looks at me and says, “I’ve been creeping you on Facebook”. I laughed and then he shared I noticed that you went to Prairie Bible College and so began a conversation that led us to discovering our mutual friends, old teachers etc… Now, think if someone you really knew from your HS years reentered your life but this time they weren’t revealing their identity, in fact they were in disguise to see if you are who you really say you are.
It might be a little unsettling maybe to know that you are being followed, watched closely. However this is the story we are going to be discovering today and that is when your character is being put to the test.
Have you ever heard the saying “past performance is the best indicator of future behavior”. Joseph was in the business to see if there was any noticeable difference in his brother’s behaviors. He wanted to see if they were the same old, same old guys or if their lives had changed since they betrayed him as a teenager out of their jealousy.
Approximately 20 years had passed since his brothers had sold him and now at this point the famine hit the land hard and Joseph’s brothers were forced to go to Egypt to buy grain. Now, remember, Joseph had put in charge of the land When he recognizes them coming, he completely creates and cleverly disguises himself by speaking through an interpreter, wearing his fine Egyptian clothes and even swear by the life of Pharaoh. Almost right away his dream as a young man is fulfilled as his brothers bow down to him.
He spoke to them harshly to set up the stage with them. He brought accusations against them to see how they would handle themselves. He places them in prison for 3 days because he again is seeking to test their character. Are they all for each other or are they ready to throw one of their brothers under the bus so to speak. Read Genesis 42:18 and the story unfolds here.
Joseph then sees the recognition of their guilt in the own awareness of what is taking place. This is happening to us because of how we treated our younger brother Joseph. They are feeling through all of this that they are reaping the effects of their sin.
You can see implied from their return back to their father, that Jacob does sense that the brothers were involved in the loss of Joseph. There is a huge level of distrust going on here. The joy of life was completely sapped from him when he lost Joseph. Read Genesis 42:35-38
Reuben makes a very rash call
Judah steps up to the plate
He tests his brothers by giving Benjamin 5x the portion to see if their jealousy was still at the root of their character. Read Genesis 43:29-34
He then sets them up once again to test their attitude and heart towards Benjamin. He places his own personal silver cup in the sack of Benjamin.
We live in a broken world and we live with our own brokenness.
How many of us walk around carrying our guilt? How often do we live believing that we ultimately have to pay for our sins?
Joseph’s brothers were wallowed in the misery of their past mistakes, they didn’t know about the cross.
When Joseph took the opportunity to even bless them on their way home from their first journey, guilt made them believe that they were being set up for punishment instead of receiving it as blessing. When we live with guilt and “covering up” sin, we always will be suspicious. A guilty conscience can’t see grace, the blessing and undeserved favor of God.
27 At the place where they stopped for the night one of them opened his sack to get feed for his donkey, and he saw his silver in the mouth of his sack. 28 “My silver has been returned,” he said to his brothers. “Here it is in my sack.”Their hearts sank and they turned to each other trembling and said, “What is this that God has done to us?”
Joseph was trying to ascertain if they had a humble and honesty inside their inner man. He wasn’t interested in how much could they pay for the grain. Joseph had reconciled himself with the reality of his situation and why God led him ultimately to Egypt.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
We serve a merciful God.
How often have you tried to bargain or make a deal with God?
In the midst of our own brokenness we try to barter and bargain with God. We may say God if you just get me out of the situation, I will (fill in the blank) – serve you , give to the church, never ever doubt you again… Thankfully our prayers get sifted through the interceding Spirit of God and Jesus Himself.
Reuben said if he didn’t bring Benjamin back said both his boys could die.
Judah when trying to convince his father that they should take Benjamin back to Egypt with him said Jacob, I will bear the blame all my life.
Romans 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
He is a merciful God, He doesn’t hold us up on our feeble promises, we stand only because of Jesus’ final and complete payment on the cross.
What is real repentance?
Read Genesis 44:27-34
Is it saying “I’m sorry”? Is it always living with regret? Is it living with a label? Once a thief or liar, always a thief or liar… what is it and what was Joseph looking for?
He is looking for real change, that they have given up on their old ways of doing life and trying to get ahead. He is looking for us to give up on trying to do it our own way and we are ready to trust God and His ways.
Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? Romans 2:4
Joseph is an incredible picture of the grace and forgiveness of God
He had every opportunity to use this opportunity for some real pay back. Now, while we may not agree with Joseph’s approach and methods, he brought about an incredible opportunity for his brothers to see the ultimate hand of God. He ultimately reveals himself to his brothers.
Joseph had to learn the hard lesson of forgiving his brothers.
Joseph had to learn what it meant to display the forgiveness of God. He had to forgive his brothers. Father forgive them for they know not what they do.
What wounds are you possibly still carrying? Joseph had been victimized, abused, abandoned.
Matthew 18:21 We need God’s Spirit to enable us to learn to forgive us. We also need to recognize how we have offended God and how He, being so rich in mercy, has lavished his love on us.
There is another level beyond forgiveness and that is reconciliation.
Romans 12:18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Search your heart to see if there are people that you still have outstanding issues with.
I met with a guy last week and as he opened up to me about faith and God, he shared how he was both physically abused and sexually abused as a child by someone in a leadership position. It was a hard conversation as he asked where was God when that happened to him. However he realized he couldn’t be bitter forever and he needed to discover that even in our darkest moments our Father is with us in that pain.
Learning to TRUST others who have hurt you is not an easy step, but here’s the really important part. Forgiveness on our part is always something we must act on. Reconciliation however requires humility and grace on both parts and is not entirely dependent on you, the one offended. Prayer is always required and the belief that God can change anyone.
2 Corinthians 5: 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.