Summary: What old-wounds… What broken-relationships does God want to heal in you?
God in the Ebb & Flow of Life:
Healing Old Wounds
Scripture Text: Genesis 45.1-15
Last week we were left with loose-ends. The brothers sat at the table, …feasting and drinking with Joseph ~ …although they had no-idea who he really-was, …and they didn’t understand why this-stranger was treating them this-way.
They were afraid that he was gonna trick them: …that he was-going-to steal their donkeys, …and make them his slaves.
There’s other loose-ends… Is Joseph toying with his brothers? Why doesn’t he tell them who he is? Why the charade of accusing them of being spies?
Although I’m convinced that Joseph had-forgiven them for the hurt-and-pain that they had caused-him… I’m sure that he forgave-them, at-some-point, earlier-in-his-life: …whether it-was while he was being-transported in the slave-gang-caravan (just hours after he was betrayed and sold into slavery), …or whether it was while he sat in prison (when he lots-of-time to reflect on his life), …or certainly by-the-time he was released from-prison, … and when his first-born-son came-along; …at whatever-point, Joseph had-forgiven them, …Still, …we’re left wondering whether he’s taken-it-back because the-way that he treats his brothers (on their two-visits) …it’s perplexing!...
He hides his identity! He speaks harshly to them He accuses them of being spies. (On-the-first-visit) He put the whole-lot-of-them in prison for 3 days… …and-then, he kept one-brother (Simeon) and-sent the rest back-to-Canaan. Then, after-they-returned for a second-visit, (and Joseph hosted them for a feast in his-own-house) …then he pulled a big-bad swithcheroo: …putting all-their-money back in the food-sacks, …along with his own-personal silver-cup!
Of course, …the brothers didn’t know about this, …and they were just-glad to get-outta-Dodge with-their-lives and-the-food that they so-desperately needed. But-then, …Joseph sent a posse after-them to collect his mug. The brothers denied stealing anything… but-alas!
There it was! In Benjamin’s sack! The posse took the dejected-brothers back-to-face their doom, …back to face their terrible-master!
When they come before Joseph (for the third-time, now), …Joseph accuses them of deception and stealing and ingratitude. Chapter-44 is a heart-rending-exchange as Joseph accuses, …and Judah passionately-pleads for his youngest-brother’s-life!
As you read through the story, your heart-breaks, …and you have so-many questions because there are so-many loose-ends: “What is he waiting for? “Why doesn’t he tell them who he is? “How long will the charade go on? “Is he going to forgive them - (now-that they are face-to-face), “…or, will he unleash on-them a torrent-of-vengeance?”…
I went-back and re-read the story-again, in its entirety… And I think that I’ve realized what was not the reason for Joseph’s charade: First, he was waiting for the brothers to acknowledge their guilt (in-terms-of the way they had treated him and betrayed him and sold him into slavery) ~ …ya see, on-their-first-trip, …the brothers make the following statement:
“Surely we are being punished because of our brother…Now we must give an accounting for his blood!” (Gen 42.21-22).
So, Joseph didn’t go-through-the-charade of hiding his identity, …waiting for his brothers to acknowledge their own-guilt; …they had-already-done-that during their first-meeting!
And, he wasn’t-waiting for the dream to-be-fulfilled… You-remember, …the dream about his brothers bowing-down before-him? Because during their two-visits to Egypt, …his brothers had already-bowed down to Joseph four times! So, Joseph didn’t go-through-the-charade of hiding-his-identity, …waiting for his brothers to bow-down to him (thus, fulfilling the dream); …they had-already-done-that numerous-times ~ …and-still, he continued to hide who-he-was!
And, I don’t-think that he was waiting to see what-was in-their-hearts. In their various speeches and conversations, …it’s clear that they know-they’re-guilty for treating-him-badly, all-those-years-ago; …and it’s clear that they are deeply-concerned for the grief that their father lived-under; …and it’s clear that at-least Judah-and-Rueben are gravely-concerned about Benjamin’s safety; …and they believe-that God was punishing-them for their sins against-Joseph. So, Joseph wasn’t waiting to-reveal his-identity until they revealed-their-hearts…. …they had done this numerous-times, …in-different-ways.
We’re just-left with loose-ends: “What is he waiting for? “How long will this go on? “Will he forgive them, again - (now-that they are face-to-face), “…or, will he-instead unleash on-them a tidal-wave of vengeance?”… That’s where Joseph’s heart is at. Wrestling. Coming-to-terms with old-wounds …now-re-opened. Forgiveness, …once-offered in the absence of the offenders; …but-now, …staring-them-down, …face-to-face. What will Joseph choose to do!?!
Let’s read the next segment-of-Joseph’s-story. Genesis 45.
READ Genesis 45.1-15
I. Whose Actions Really Matter?
Whose actions really matter? ~ …Joseph’s? …his brothers? …or God’s?
In-some-way, …everyone’s actions-and-choices matter! But, (with-that-said) we’re-always-tempted to focus-on-ourselves. And-so, we have to-know that it’s-not-all-about-us!
Sure, …we have a part-to-play, …but in-and-through our actions and choices, …sometimes despite our decisions, …God is working to redeem and restore and heal. We see this played-out in the story of Joseph and his brothers…
II. Forgiveness Offered
Joseph forgives these-rascals. This isn’t the first-time ~ …but it is the first-time he’s forgiven them face-to-face!
Old-wounds, …old-grudges, …old-temptations to hold-onto old-feelings ~ …these-things have no-grip on Joseph’s heart. He will not bury them, …or suppress-them, …or vainly sweep-them under-the-rug. Once-more ~ now, in-the-presence of those-who-hurt-him so deeply ~ …once-more, …Joseph turns them-over, …let’s them go, …releases them into the sovereign hands of God.