- Sermon Notes
Genesis 44:30 to 45:8
As we study through Genesis we’ve shifted our focus from Joseph to Joseph’s brothers. Clearly there were serious issues of character in the hearts of these brothers. The problem really stems from souls that were selfish and immature to the point of wanting to kill their brother, but deciding to sell him into slavery instead. They needed to be transformed in heart.
God was working on these brothers and He was using troubles and difficulties to do it, in this case, an extreme famine.
God is committed to our spiritual condition. There is an old saying, “God loves you just the way you are, but loves you too much to let you stay that way.”
God will use even the storms of life, or the troubles and difficulties of life, to work out the character issues in your life. In other words, God is committed to transforming your heart.
But what does true change really look like? As we study the process of transformation in Joseph’s brothers, there is much we can apply to our lives as well.
I. The Apple Doesn’t Fall Very Far
- The old saying, “The apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree” tells us something about how we come to have some of the traits we have.
- Of course we have physical traits from our father. I have my father’s chin, for example. But we get often get character traits as well. This gives us great insights into what was happening in the hearts of Joseph’s brothers.
A. Like father like sons
- As you read through the story of Genesis, you see something interesting. The name Jacob means heal-snatcher. In other words, he got what he wanted by catching people by the heel, he tripped them up.
- He deceived and manipulated to get Esau’s birthright and blessing and then spent twenty years getting his uncle Laban’s goat; actually goats and sheep and most of the rest of the flocks. He and his uncle Laban, who was a manipulator extraordinaire himself, had quite a time taking advantage of each other.
- Is it any wonder Jacob’s boys had serious character flaws? What’s the common thread? Favoring one’s self at the expense of others. That’s the very definition of being self-focused and self-centered.
- When Joseph had the two dreams that he was going to rise above his brothers and that they would all bow down to him, that was too much, their pride couldn’t take it.
- When the opportunity came they took hold of Joseph and sold him to Midianites traders who then sold him as a slave in Egypt. That is a serious character flaw!
- You can see the character flaws from one generation to the next…
Illus – Abraham told a half-lie about his wife being his sister. Later, Isaac said the exact same thing, but it wasn’t a half-lie it was a full lie.
- You see the same principle in other places in scripture.
2 Kings 17:14, However, they did not listen, they stiffened their neck like their fathers, who did not believe in the Lord their God.
- God gives fathers to teach children about God and to be an example for them. It’s sad when this breaks down and becomes much less than what God desires.
Illus – We played a video this week of a Palestinian Arab Muslim who is a supporter of Israel. He gave us insight into the nature of the problem in the Middle East. The problem is what happens in the homes of Arabs all through the region. They teach their children to hate Jews, so they become like their fathers. It just keeps going from one generation to another.
Illus – When I was very young I admired my father and tried to please him. I helped him work on cars and dreamed of going fishing with him. But later I became angry and didn’t want to be like him at all. But then I was afraid that my anger might make me become like him even more. I knew I had to stop being angry. I knew also that I couldn’t drink alcohol because I was like him in that as well.
B. God is truly our Father now
- When you look at the failure of Joseph’s brothers to have character, you can trace the roots of it back to Jacob. But what is happening in their lives at this point is that God is now the one who is shaping their lives.
- It is like a good father who adopts a child who has had a terrible upbringing. He will be committed to changing what the boy once was like into a man of character.
Illus – Adopting two sons from Russia has given me an appreciation for what God is doing in my life.
Illus – God promised David that He would be a father to Solomon…
2 Samuel 7:14-15, “I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him… but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him,”
- It was written of John the Baptist…
Luke 1:16-17, He will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
C. We will bear the fruit of a new tree
- If the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, then perhaps it would be good to see that we are to bear the fruit of a new tree… and the fruit is good
Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
Galatians 5:22-23, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
- The question Joseph is seeking to understand is the same, is there any change in these brothers?
- When their sacks were filled with grain, Joseph had his silver cup put into Benjamin’s sack. At first light the men left the city. But a short distance later the men were stopped and accused of stealing Joseph’s silver cup. Their bags were searched and behold it was with Benjamin, so they all returned to Joseph in Egypt to face their troubles.
- Joseph pronounced that Benjamin was to stay as his slave and the others were free to go.
- If they had taken the opportunity to leave Jacob’s other favorite son in Egypt and return without him, I believe Joseph would have let them go. It would have meant that they had not changed at all.
Illus – The story of the prodigal son is also a story of a transformed heart that comes from adversity…and a famine… But it’s also a story of redemption. Just as Joseph didn’t hold their sin against them, but welcomed them back, so the prodigal son’s father welcomed his son.
Luke 15:16-19, “He would’ve gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him.But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger!I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’”
II. Strongly Desire Godly Change
- When Judah offered to become a slave in Benjamin’s place, Joseph was convinced.
- This was no longer the same Judah that sold Joseph as a slave. Joseph was so touched that he sent everyone out of the room and wept deeply.
- Judah was no longer seeking his own favor and hurting others, he was ready to sacrifice himself for the good of others – a true mark of godliness; favoring others at the expense of self.
A.Godly character is a great treasure
- Living to favor ones’ self might sound great at first, but everyone who does so learns that it brings hurt and pain to their lives and the lives of those around them.
- But God says that the opposite of that will bring healing and refreshment…
Proverbs 3:7-8, Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones.
- In that same chapter God speaks of the value of godly wisdom…
Proverbs 3:13, 17-18, How blessed is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding… Her ways are pleasant ways and all her paths are peace.She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who hold her fast.
- In 1 Peter, there is a similar verse about faith.
1 Peter 1:6-7, Even though now for a little while you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
- In other words…
B. Faith is most precious of all
- When Joseph saw that his brothers had truly changed their lives and character, he revealed who he was to them.
- At first, they were afraid of what this might mean; was this also against them? Would Joseph, now in a position of power and authority take his revenge?
- But Joseph explains God’s perspective.
- First, he tells them not be grieved or angry with themselves. When we get angry with ourselves, the focus is still on ourselves.
- But God’s perspective is the key…
Romans 8:28, And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
- It’s important to see the part in that verse that says…to those who love God.
- Faith comes from our relationship to God. In other words, loving God is essential to seeing that He is for you and working all things to together in your life for good.
Illus – Faith looks at life with a godly perspective.
A young gal had her car broken into and a thief stole all her Christian CDs and her Bible. Her response was touched by her faith, “What a shock he’s going to get when he realizes that God is after his soul! He’s going need that Bible!”
Isaiah 41:10, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
Genesis 45:24-25, So he sent his brothers away, and as they departed, he said to them, “Do not quarrel on the journey.”
Genesis 44:30-45:8 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
30 Now, therefore, when I come to your servant my father, and the lad is not with us, since [a]his life is bound up in the lad’s life, 31 when he sees that the lad is not with us, he will die. Thus your servants will bring the gray hair of your servant our father down to Sheol in sorrow. 32 For your servant became surety for the lad to my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, then [b]let me bear the blame before my father forever.’ 33 Now, therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the lad a slave to my lord, and let the lad go up with his brothers. 34 For how shall I go up to my father if the lad is not with me—for fear that I see the evil that would [c]overtake my father?”
Joseph Deals Kindly with His Brothers
45 Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried, “Have everyone go out from me.” So there [d]was no man with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. 2 He [e]wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard of it. 3 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence.
4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come [f]closer to me.” And they came [g]closer. And he said, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 Now do not be grieved or angry [h]with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6 For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. 7 God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great [i]deliverance. 8 Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt.