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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

January 18, 2017

Genesis 50:15-26

  1. In today’s lesson we will really focus on repentance and reconciliation. One of the crucial things in real reconciliation is repentance. Notice I said reconciliation. We can forgive and still not be reconciled. But in order to really be reconciled there must be some repentance. Reconciliation speaks about a relationship between two parties. Repentance is necessary for the relationship to move forward as opposed to being stuck in the offense. Forgiveness doesn’t need repentance, but real reconciliation does. Forgiveness is on the person who was offended, and repentance is on the one who did the offending.

  2. Verses 15-18. In these four verses, Joseph’s brothers exhibited some negative and positive responses. Initially, they respond negatively due to guilt, fear, and paranoia. They assumed Joseph would now seek revenge, even though it has been 20 years since they came to Egypt. They couldn’t comprehend Joseph’s forgiveness even after all this time. Beloved do you see how their offense was eating them up from the inside. They assumed that Joseph was simply biding his time out of respect for his father Jacob. But now that Jacob was gone, they were gripped with the terrifying expectation of punishment for their sins at the hand of Joseph. So they falsely claimed that Jacob had issued a charge for Joseph to forgive his brothers. However, Jacob never did this because he recognized that Joseph had completely forgiven his brothers. Fear often causes us to take matters into our own hands. When this happens, we can say and do things that are carried out with impure motives. In this case, the brothers are acting like old Jacob, when they should be trusting in the Lord. On the other hand, the brothers own their sin against Joseph. They did not call their sin a mistake or a lapse in judgment, as is common today. The brothers use words like “wrong” (50:15, 17), “transgression” (50:17), and “sin” (50:17). They then beg for forgiveness, bow down before Joseph, and offer themselves up as slaves (50:17-18). These men are repentant! This aspect of the reconciliation process is often times overlooked. We tend to focus on the person that needs to forgive, that we don’t highlight the essential element of repentance. The brothers might not be sure of Joseph’s forgiveness, but their repentant hearts are clear. If you have done someone wrong, it is necessary to show that your heart is sincerely sorry for your actions.

  3. Verses l9-21. Joseph’s response to the wickedness of his brothers is nothing short of divine. But it is also the proper response of every Christian man or woman who is confronted with true repentance. Let’s break down Joseph’s three-pronged response. 1. God is the ultimate judge of all things. “Do not be afraid, Am I in God’s place?” Joseph demonstrates that he has given this issue over to God a long time ago. If there is going to be any punishment at this point in time that is going to be up to God. People often read this text and think that Joseph just got over this offense, but it has been nearly 40 years. 2. God is the ultimate governor of the universe, the one who holds the strings of divine providence. One is reminded by Joseph’s words here of the words that he spoke in 45:5, a classic statement of the principle of providence, “And now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because YOU SOLD ME here; for GOD SENT ME before you to preserve life.” “You sold me” represents the human side of things, while “God sent me” represents the divine side (cf, John 18:11; Ps 76:10; Acts 2:22-24; 4:28; 13:27; Rom 8:28, 32, 38-39; Phil 1:12). Joseph had realized that God has used this series of unfortunate events for his good and the good of his family. God allowed the brothers actions to position Joseph for greater. It is hard sometimes in the midst of betrayal to see that God can use something evil for a greater good. Because Joseph had now seen things through God’s eyes, he behaved with tender compassion toward his brothers. He proved to be his brothers’ keeper (cf. 4:9). Undoubtedly, there were nights when Joseph cried out, “Why Lord?” “What have I done to deserve this?” And the same may also be true of you. You might be asking: Why did my spouse die? Why do I have cancer? Why did I have to bury my child? Why, why, why? We all have questions like that, but where you go next in your thinking is critical. You can either allow your doubts to cripple your relationship with God and cause you to spiral in fear and self-pity, or you can believe God by putting your confidence in His promise that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28. 3. The response of repentance is forgiveness. Joseph acknowledged the evil motives of his brothers: “You meant evil against me” (50:20a). He does not minimize their sin! However, Joseph promises these same brothers, “So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones,” Moses adding, “So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them” (50:21). The personal aid that Joseph promises and the manner in which he promises it anticipate the Christian teaching of the New Testament (cf. Luke 6:27-38). From a human perspective, Joseph had the “right” and the ability to punish his brothers. Yet, he not only refused to do so, he went far beyond what could be expected and returned grace and kindness for their wickedness (Rom 12:19).

  4. Verses 22-26. More than 50 years elapsed between 50:21 and 22. During this period, God abundantly blessed Joseph with three blessings. 1. God gave Joseph long life (50:22). He lived 110 years. It was considered an ideal age. Joseph’s first 17 years were spent as a young man in Canaan, the next 13 years as a slave in Egypt, and the last 80 years as a ruler of all Egypt. 2. God gave Joseph the privilege of seeing his great-great grandchildren (50:22-23). For more than 20 years Joseph had missed his family for the sake of what God was doing through him, but now what he had lost is made up to him. He lived to see God’s blessing on his children’s children (cf. 48:11). It was a part of God’s reward (Ps 128:6). 3. God gave Joseph remarkable faith (50:24-26). Joseph told his brothers four important things: First, God would come to Israel’s aid. Twice Joseph repeats the phrase, “God will surely take care of you” (50:24-25). Second, God would take them up out of Egypt. Third, God would bring them to the Promised Land. Fourth, God would fulfill his oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Heb 11:22). In light of his great faith, Joseph made his wishes known to be buried in the Promised Land (50:25). It was an expression of faith and confidence that God’s covenant promises would come to pass. He died and was placed in a coffin in Egypt (50:26). Genesis begins with creation and ends with a coffin. It begins in a garden and ends in a grave. It begins with the living God and ends with a dead man. Why? It is the Holy Spirit’s final commentary at the end of this foundational book of Genesis displaying the condition of man and outcome of sin. The message of the Bible is this: You and I are sinful and God seeks to restore sinners.

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