Summary: Sometimes forgiveness and restoration can be a long, strenuous process. The damage from deep wrongs cannot be instantly repaired.
The Long Path Toward Reconciliation
1. We try to communicate to women who have had abortions is that “God heals & forgives.”
2. When it comes to restoring our relationship with God, repentance and confession are the direction in which we should head.
3. But how about our relationship with people, esp. family?
4. Let me say upfront: some problems have no solutions. Often times, reconciliation is impossible. But when possible, it is worth the effort.
Main Idea: Sometimes forgiveness and restoration can be a long, strenuous process. The damage from deep wrongs cannot be instantly repaired.
I. Jacob’s Brothers Experience TRAUMA During Their First Trip to Egypt (1-38).
A. The initial purpose of the trip, from their perspective, was to BUY grain (1-16).
1. God had other purposes in mind: reconciliation and refuge.
2. Jacob criticized his sons for lack of initiative (1)
3. He sends them to Egypt to buy grain, except for Benjamin, who is Joseph’s full brother, the son of Jacob’s favorite wife, Rachael, and the Joseph substitute.
4. They arrive in Egypt and have no idea they are dealing with Joseph ( 6-8)
• The fulfillment of the dream Joseph experienced 22 years earlier.
• Joseph had been in Egypt 20 years; he was 17, now 37, clean shaven/head too
• He used an interpreter to conceal his identity.
5. Joseph dealt harshly with them, accusing them of being spies and lying (9-16).
• This made them panic so they would offer all the information Joseph wanted.
• We don’t know all of Joseph’s motivations for the ordeal. Goals may have been:
1) To make sure they had not and would not abuse Benjamin as they had him.
2) To understand what was going on in their hearts and minds; did they regret?
3) To lead them to a restored relationship with him.
4) To give them a taste the of the misery Joseph had experienced because of them.
B. Joseph has them thrown into PRISON (16-17).
• Imprisoned 3 days, perhaps one day for every year Joseph had been in prison?
C. Joseph commands them to bring BENJAMIN if they want to be freed (18-20).
D. The brothers discuss their regret and GUILT for what they had done to Joseph (21-23).
1. Joseph was moved when he eavesdropped on their confession of wrong (21-24).
a) They were convinced of their guilt because of all that was taking place
b) Reuben reminded them that he had warned them about their wicked deeds.
c) They were unaware that Joseph could understand Hebrew.
d) This overheard confession brought tears to Joseph’s eyes & nearly revealed his identity.
e) Joseph may have been struggling with whether he should forgive his brothers? We do not know, but it is too easy to make Bible heroes something other than human.
E. Simeon remains as COLLATERAL to guarantee a visit from Benjamin (24).
1. Joseph had earlier demanded that they all stay in prison and one brother return with Benjamin, but he ended up softening and releasing all but Simeon (18-20).
2. Why Simeon? He and Levi had a track record of violence and uncontrolled anger,, and perhaps Simeon was the ring-leader in the scheme to get rid of Joseph (cf. Gen. 49: 5-7
• Simeon was taken and bound before their eyes as Joseph had said earlier.
F. The return trip added even more STRESS to the situation ( 25-28).
1. Joseph has provisions packed for them, and returns their money secretly.
2. Although he didn’t want to take family money, he knew this would bring fear into his brothers. It looked like they had been framed.
3. Joseph is shrewd, but is even he fully aware of his motives? I think not. This was a highly emotional situation. He is intentionally stressing out his family.
4. A fine predicament. If they returned to Egypt with Benjamin, could be accused of being thieves. If not, might appear they really were thieves – & lose Simeon.
G. Jacob STRUGGLES with all that has happened (29-38).
1. He blamed his sons for being blabber mouths.
2. He grieves that Joseph is gone and fears for Benjamin, who is now 24.
3. He doesn’t trust his sons, perhaps figured out they were responsible for loss of Joseph.
4. Reuben, who had not strongly deterred his brothers from their scheme 20 years earlier, now offers to guarantee safety for Benjamin at the cost of his sons’ lives.
5. Jacob is resolute: no more trips to Egypt!
6. But the intensifying of the famine would force a different decision one year later.
II. Reconciliation is Sometimes Simple, but Often a Complex PROCESS.
A. People are HUMAN BEINGS, not logic-driven robots.
B. In order to FULLY forgive others, CREDIBILITY is a big issue.
C. Being brought together PHYSICALLY is only a first step toward emotional reconciliation.