Summary: In Genesis 42-45 Joseph reveals his desire to test his brothers to see if they are changed men or still like they were the day they sold him into Egypt.
Genesis Series # 8 CHCC: March 18, 2007
The Road to Reconciliation
Last week we ended the sermon with Joseph in Prison. Perhaps you have noticed that the story of Joseph is a story of transitions: From home to pit to prison and finally to a palace. Joseph’s story could make a good TV mini-series.
There’s so much to be learned from this section of Joseph’s life story. Pueblo group emphasis in our study book is on Joseph whose dreams were finally fulfilled. I’m going to focus on the brothers and their long painful road to Reconciliation with Joseph. From the accounts found in Genesis 42 through 45 we learn a lesson about what it often takes to rebuild a broken relationship, and we find this to be true whether it is with God or with each other.
It would have been easy for Joseph to simply send a note to Jacob and the older brothers telling them where he was and instructing them to come to Egypt for food. But Joseph was patient. He knew that sooner or later someone from the family would show up at the Egyptian granaries looking for famine relief. He was hoping not only to see them, but to find out that they had changed from the angry, jealous brothers they had been some 20 years before. He knew that these brothers of his needed to come face to face with what they had done to him when he was just a teen age boy.
1. Reconciliation requires Recognition of Guilt Genesis 42:21
Finally Jacob learned about available grain for sale in Egypt and said to his sons, “ Why do you just keep looking at each other? I have heard there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, so that we may live and not die.”
Their father seems to see something strange in the way that they are behaving, for he says “Why do you look at one another?” Jacob seems to see some significance in the way that they kept looking at one another. The fact that they kept looking at each other with guilt instead of taking decisive steps when they heard that their was grain available in Egypt shows that they still were struggling with a sin that is over two decades old. Joseph’s brothers are forced to consider traveling down to Egypt for food. With the famine God gets their attention. God provokes a crisis in their lives.
Sometimes God has to bring the pinch of material want into our lives to cause us to reevaluate our condition and cause us to confess our un-confessed sin. Jesus told a story of a young man who had to be put through just such a circumstance in the story of the Prodigal Son. It was only after the son found himself in very deprived circumstances that he came to his senses and returned home.
Now, to the 10 older brothers, the very word “Egypt” was a grim reminder of they evil they had done to their younger brother years before. They were not anxious for any reminder of that terrible day, or for the possibility of going there and having their sin come back to haunt them in some way.
Upon arrival in Egypt they didn’t recognize Joseph because he looked like an Egyptian, but he immediately recognized them, and remembering his dreams about them, he caused trouble for them by calling them spies. He had them arrested and imprisoned for 3 days telling them to send one brother back to pick up the younger brother, Benjamin, and return with him, Later, however, he changed his plan and bound Simeon telling the others they were free to go home and get their brother and return with him and thus free the brother left behind as a hostage.
(Vs. 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."
These words the brothers said to each other reveal what was going on in their hearts. It is likely that this trip to Egypt had opened up old wounds festering in the brothers minds forcing them to face the very thing they may have refused to even talk about with each other prior to this terrifying event.
This is what happens when we have un-confessed guilt, and this account reveals how God often sends a crisis of time or pressure to bring us to admit and face our guilt.
As the brothers are talking this over among themselves, Joseph, speaking to them through an interpreter, hears them admit their guilt and nearly breaks down in front of them. This lets us know that Joseph is not doing any of this out of hatred or desire for revenge, but to test his brothers to see what is in their hearts after so many years of wondering.