Summary: Joseph teaches an important lesson on overcoming guilt. This message will examine the Source, the Symptoms and the Solution for guilt.
It was Ninth Grade English Literature class. We were reading American short stories, and our assignment was to read Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell Tale Heart.” Following are some highlights from the chilling tale...
“The officers were satisfied. My MANNER had convinced them. I was singularly at ease. They sat and while I answered cheerily, they chatted of familiar things. But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears...until, at length, I found that the noise was NOT within my ears.
I foamed -- I raved -- I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder -- louder -- louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly , and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? ...They heard! -- they suspected! -- they KNEW! ......
I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! -- and now -- again -- hark! louder! louder! louder! LOUDER! --
"Villains!" I shrieked, "dissemble no more! I admit the deed! -- tear up the planks! -- here, here! -- it is the beating of his hideous heart!"
(Edgar Allen Poe, “The Telltale Heart”)
The story was creepy then - it’s still creepy now!
Poe wrote about the paralyzing human experience that we know as GUILT.
The story of Joseph teaches an important lesson on overcoming guilt.
Joseph is not the main character in this particular lesson. The ten brothers are the ones who will teach us about guilt. This message will examine the Source, the Symptoms and the Solution for guilt.
The Sermon title, “Grappling with Guilt” is from a chapter in by Derek R. Brown and Matthew Whitehead in, Joseph: Understanding God’s Purpose. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2013.
I. The SOURCE of Guilt.
We know that GUILT comes from SIN. John 16:8 "When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:"
But more specifically, guilt is the result of UNCONFESSED SIN. We see this in the DIFFERENCE between JOSEPH and the TEN BROTHERS. The brothers are burdened by the sins of the past. Although Joseph suffered injustly, he is free from the bondage of holding onto his past.
Joseph has the blessing of a GOD AMNESIA.
He endured great injustice, but GOD HELPED HIM FORGET. Genesis 41:52 "The second son he named Ephraim and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”"
“God amnesia” is not the same as being incapable of recalling past events. When Joseph sees his brother, he knows them instantly and remembers what they did to him. But God had freed him from any obsession over the injustices committed against him.
Genesis 42:6–9 "Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the one who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. As soon as Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. “Where do you come from?” he asked. “From the land of Canaan,” they replied, “to buy food.” Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. Then he remembered his dreams about them ...”
He is not held captive by bitterness, anger or revenge!
GOD AMNESIA is not unaware of the injustices of the past, it is just unbound by them!
GOD AMNESIA allows the child of God to be joyful in whatever circumstances we are in!
By comparison, The TEN BROTHERS have the CURSE of REGRET.
They live in FEAR of JUDGMENT
They could not rest from the memories of what they had done to Joseph. When accused of being SPIES, they blabber their story about their family. Genesis 42:8–13 "Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. Then he remembered his dreams about them and said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see where our land is unprotected.” No, my lord,” they answered. “Your servants have come to buy food. We are all the sons of one man. Your servants are honest men, not spies.” “No!” he said to them. “You have come to see where our land is un-protected.” But they replied, “Your servants were twelve brothers, the sons of one man, who lives in the land of Canaan. The youngest is now with our father, and one is no more.”
They assumed that the harsh treatment they were receiving from this Egyptian official was God’s judgment against them for their actions. This theme is repeated in the following portions of the story.
Genesis 42:21 "They said to one another, “Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that’s why this distress has come upon us.”