Genesis 42 – Reconciling Broken Relationships

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I’m going to invite you to Genesis. Chapter 42 is where we’re going to be together today. Uh, Genesis chapter 42, in a a messy passage of the Bible. Um, and the reason this passage is, is messy is not to say, really, all of Genesis has been messy up to this point, any time that human beings have been involved. Right. When the Lord’s involved, it’s beautiful. Get people involved. It gets messy. And Genesis 42 is definitely, uh, does not sell us short in that that as you read this chapter, you come to discover here we are at a place where Joseph, his life is intersecting again with his brothers. If you remember chapter 37, when he was 17 years old, his brothers hated him to the point they sold him in slavery to Ishmaelites. Over 20 years have passed. Joseph has found himself at one point as a slave, another point in prison. He’s now risen to the second in command in Egypt, and his brothers have no idea this has happened to him. But 20 plus years later, now he has found his life, uh, crossing paths with his brothers. And the question is, what does he do with that? And in chapter 42, today, we’re going to be talking about reconciling broken relationships. How does one reconcile broken relationships? As we look at the the example of Joseph? And, you know, when I when I come to a passage like this, I realize as people we’re going to glean some information from his story.

Um, but but as we look at his story, we I come to realize that in our lives we have a, a, a gamut of experiences in our relationship and oftentimes a lot of pain in our past from how certain relationships have gone and learning how to navigate that well as God’s people is important for us. And it’s it’s messy. And the reason that it’s messy is because, um, no situation is exactly the same, right? And it involves relationship and emotion, and it just hits us at places in life where, where in order to learn how to model the Christ in the struggle of relationships, there needs to be a a good orientation to who we are in light of who God is and what that means to appropriately live that out in a healthy way. And the reason we are called to do this as believers is, is because of what Christ has done for us, right? We find in Scripture very clearly we are a forgiven people in the Lord. So those who know Christ you are forgiven people. And in and being forgiven by Christ, you’ve been reconciled to him. And because we’ve been a forgiven people, the Bible calls us to be a forgiving people and open leave, open the door of reconciliation to relationships in this world. Now, not all relationships are always reconciled, because it takes two people in agreement to to experience that reconciliation.

But because we are a forgiven people, God calls us to be a forgiving people. In fact, you find that theme throughout the Bible, uh, multiple verses in your notes today. I’ve listed some of those, uh, if you if you grabbed a page of notes at the very bottom, some of those passages that are paramount to the Christian life, like Colossians 313, Ephesians 432, James chapter five, verse 16, Hebrews chapter ten, verses 25 to 26, and how we live the Christian life. God’s God’s got a certain call for us. And being a forgiven people to be a forgiving people. But but with that, there also is this understanding that it does come at a sacrifice. Right? We and being a forgiving people and understanding the grace of God as God has sacrificed himself, that we could be free in him. So he calls us to model that in this world. And so we as God’s people should model that better than than anyone, because we know what it is to be forgiven, and therefore because he paid a price for our lives and we have the opportunity to to emulate that and how we walk in this world. But it comes at a cost. There is certainly a cost to that. And there there are important ways, I think, that are crucial for us to discuss and how we do it in a healthy means. But but when I think about what it looks like for us today to be a forgiving people and to leave the door open for reconciliation, probably one of the best modern day examples I can think of is a lady by the name of Corrie ten boom.

If you’re familiar with Corrie ten Boom story she was in, she was a young lady from the Netherlands. Her family was a part of rescuing Jews out of out of Germany, trying to get them to to safety. Eventually their family was discovered and Corrie Ten boom and her sister Betsie were thrown into a concentration camp known as Ravensbrück. It’s on the the east side of Germany, close to to Poland, and when she was thrown into that concentration camp, that is actually where her sister died. Corrie ten boom obviously survived the concentration camp and she went on to lead an incredible ministry. Um, she not only cared for people that came out of the concentration camp to to discover their identity in the Lord or and to find their worth and value having been treated so. Inhumanely and who they were in light of who God was. And she she definitely preached a message of reconciliation, of healing for a world that had been split in two by World War Two. But what was most surprising about Corrie ten boom is she had a particular ministry, uh, to the to the Nazi soldiers that were even a part of those concentration camps. And two years after the war had ended, Corrie Ten boom had traveled to Germany to preach a message, to share a message with, with the people.

And and she talked about God’s forgiveness and knowing that people had had done many things that they had regretted. She talked about God’s forgiveness, and she compared it to the idea of the ocean. She said, God’s forgiveness is like this. He takes your sin and he throws it into the deepest ocean, and he hangs a sign up that says, no fishing. And, you know, I think it’s a beautiful image that she creates for us. And in sharing that, and I think it’s important not only for God’s people to know that about the Lord, that he casts our sin as far as the East, from the West, but we also experientially walk in it. It’s one thing to know it, but it’s another thing to embrace it and to let that be a marker of your life. I find so often in the life of Christians that we we get into the business of bringing up the past, when Jesus has already paid for it in full. And so Corrie ten boom, she would go around sharing that message of grace that that message of forgiveness. But but two years after the war, uh, she wrote about a particular story in her book, The Tramp for the Lord. She, she talks about how she traveled the world in this book and, and the messages she had opportunity to share and the healing she sees in the lives of people.

But she shares one particular story in this book where as she’s sharing this message two years after the war in Germany, after when she’s done, she sees a man get up from the back and start to make his way forward, and she instantly recognized him. She knew who he was. He was. He was a soldier from the very concentration camp where she was held. The camp where her sister died. In fact, she remembered him as not a very kind soldier, and she remembers, as they were treated inhumanely. There were times where she, she and her sister had to pass by him in the nude, just completely exposed and and being ill treated. And this man, at the end of her message, he is making his way up to her. And she, she says in the book that it was as if time froze. And she went back to those moments in that concentration camp. And as she saw that man walking to him, she she pictured him coming to him in that same Nazi attire. And the man got up before her and he said to her, I after the war, I want you to know, I became a Christian. And I know God forgives me. But I want to know that you forgive me. And Corey said in those moments she froze. And for that man, it must have felt like seconds. But for her it felt like a lifetime.

And and stirring within her was the thought of do I surrender to what God says? Or do I act in my emotions? And she remarks in that moment that she recognized forgiveness always begins as a decision of the will. And she said, and turning to to the Lord, trusting in him, she extended her hand, and at the top of her lungs she just said, I forgive you. And she embraced that man. And she said, in those moments the flood of God’s love overcame her. When we think about what it is to model forgiveness in this world, it is it is messy and it comes at a sacrifice. And here in the book of Genesis, chapter 42, we’re reading about Joseph interacting with his brothers after 20 years. And those 20 years have not been necessarily kind to him. If you remember, at 17 years old, he was sold into slavery. He was taken as a young man into a foreign land, in a place he probably didn’t know the language, and he was he was bought on the slave market, and then he was falsely accused of doing something wrong that he did not do and thrown into prison. And there he sat for over 13 years. It wasn’t until God’s miraculous hand got him out of prison that he rose to the position that he is today, but time had had not been kind to him in that sense.

But God was always faithful. So when it comes to reconciling broken relationships, uh, point number one is we look at as we look at Joseph’s story, I want us to recognize this. We can deal with our past in unhealthy ways. We obviously don’t want to do that, but I think this is important for us to to just be honest with us, people that we can deal with our, our past in, in unhealthy ways. And, and there’s a couple of angles that we can talk about. This is one from Joseph’s, from Joseph’s standpoint or from his brother’s standpoint, but even personally with us, when we talk, when we talk about the idea of forgiveness and discovering forgiveness, um, I think it’s important to know when we have done things wrong in our lives, um, that, that to not bring it to the light, it becomes difficult for the soul. In fact, in Psalm chapter 32, verse three, it says this. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long, that we know that we’ve we’ve done something wrong. We’ve wronged another person. We’ve we’ve created some sort of harm. Learning how to deal with, with forgiveness becomes important to us. And learning what God’s heart is towards those who sin like that. God doesn’t give up on you, that God pursues you even while you were sinners. In Romans five eight, God demonstrates his love towards you, that you don’t do something to make God love you.

That God, in and of himself is a loving being, and that’s why he gives himself away for your benefit. He knows apart from him you have no hope, which is what makes the idea of him being a savior so incredible because he is the only way, the only truth, the only life. And in John 14 verse six, and so coming to him for that rescue becomes important, understanding that when we bring it to the light, what we discover in Christ, that forgiveness and grace, because we can often deal with our past in in unhealthy ways. But on the other side of that, if we’ve been offended in Romans chapter 12 verse 17, it says, do not repay anyone evil for evil, but be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you. Live at peace with everyone and this passage encourages us. It goes on and says, vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord, meaning that God doesn’t want to take you, to put it on your shoulders. Your responsibility to make make sure vengeance is paid out. Brother. Understand and trust in who he is and what he desires to accomplish. And in this verse he’s saying to you, look, you can’t determine the way other people respond and react when it comes to the idea of reconciliation. It takes two people, which is why it’s important for you to leave the door of opportunity, of reconciliation open.

Much like the the the prodigal son in Luke 15. If you remember the story, the prodigal father, really he he loved his son. He cared for his son, but his son was wayward and the prodigal son wanted the prodigal father wanted his prodigal son to experience restoration, to find forgiveness. And so the father always left the door of reconciliation open to the possibility of what God could do. But you know, when it comes to, to to finding that in the Lord, it requires this, this repentant heart that the father all day long could be forgiving. But it wasn’t until the son stepped into it that he found forgiveness. And when you read Romans chapter 12, it’s reminding this us of this that we can’t control what other people do. But you can choose to control how you respond. There’s a decision of the will and learning that what God wants to accomplish can is far greater than what we can do in and of ourselves. And so when it when it comes to, um, understanding the reconciliation of relationships, we can easily deal with our past and unhealthy ways we can justify our behavior. Romans 12 is encouraging us against this because, well, they did that. Therefore, I can act this way. But when you read through. Through passages of the Bible. You understand that throughout Scripture reminded again and again the value of God’s people being a forgiven people because it models what Christ has done for you, but because it’s repeated over and over again in Scripture, it also declares to you how difficult it can be.

The idea of sacrifice, rendering yourselves for what God wants to accomplish in your life. But when God’s people understand who they are in light of him, we become powerful vessels and tools in his hands. That’s why we say as a church very easily we. We exist for the purpose, to give ourselves away for the glory of God to the benefit of others. That that kind of idea involves a true identity discovered in the Lord, and therefore sacrifice to achieving that purpose and him for which he has created us and recreated us in himself. Uh, the Bible. Uh, giving you just some, some powerful examples like, uh, Matthew chapter six. Uh, Jesus gives us the the Lord’s Prayer. Uh, pray this way. Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. You know, as Jesus concludes that prayer in Matthew chapter six, right after that verse 14, Jesus tells us that we are to forgive one another, or your father in heaven will not forgive you. That that to not be that kind of people is hypocrisy to the very identity that we claim in Christ or or in Matthew chapter 18 and verse 15, it starts talking to you about if a brother in the Lord sins against you, how you approach that with them.

And then right after Jesus shares that story, Peter comes to Jesus and asks in verse 22, well, how many times should we forgive someone? And Jesus says, 70 times seven, meaning really, no one’s going to count that long that you should just the the state of your being as a follower of Christ should be forgiving. Now, in saying all that, I realize it’s not always easy. And it’s important for us to learn. How do we do that? Wisely? And here in this passage and in Genesis chapter 42, verse one, we see how Joseph’s brothers engaged their their past in and their conflict and in unhealthy ways. Look at this. When Jacob learned that there was grain for sale in Egypt, he said to his sons, why do you look at one another? And he said, behold, I have heard that there is grain for sale in Egypt. Go down and buy grain for us there, that we may live and not die. So ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt. But but Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with with his brothers, for he feared that harm might happen to them. Um, here’s what’s interesting. Because of of the lack of forgiveness that they have discovered, their lack of bringing to the light the brokenness of which they’ve done.

Um, Joseph’s sons or. Excuse me, Joseph’s brothers, Jacob’s sons have have become, uh, really stuck with where they are in life. You see it really playing out in verse one where Joseph’s saying to his sons, why are you guys just sitting here? I know there’s food in Egypt. You know there’s food in Egypt. Why in the world are you not going to Egypt? Do I need to tell you? You need to go to Egypt. I mean, that’s what he’s saying in this passage. He’s looking at his son, saying, you’re just twiddling your thumbs while we’re all dwindling away here and dying. You should be doing something about this. You need to go to Egypt. And and so we can look at this verse and ask the question, why in the world are they not going to Egypt? And as you read the story, you start to discover when you get down to verse 21, verse 22, you find out really why the brothers are reluctant to go to Egypt. And the reason is, is because they know years ago they sold their brother to Ishmaelite slaves. And the Ishmael or excuse me, Ishmaelites into sold his brother into slavery. And the Ishmaelites were traveling to Egypt, and they know if they were to go on that same journey to Egypt, that their past could catch up to them. And so because of their because of their sin, they have become prisoner to their past. And not only that, they’re unable to move forward in the Lord.

They’re prisoner to, to to what’s happened in their past. They could not let go of it. They wrestled it with their lives. And because of that, they’re they they’re now unable to step into the promises of what God might want to do moving forward. And the same is true for us that when we, as Corrie Ten Boom said, we don’t believe what God says, that he he throws our sins to the deepest of oceans. We tend to go fishing and Satan loves it. When we go fishing, we churn up our past as if that’s our identity rather than the identity that we have in Christ, knowing that God has taken care of our past. And therefore we deal with our past and unhealthy ways. But point number two is this God has a greater plan for our lives. And I know these two points are simplistic, but they are. They are paramount for us. God. God has a greater plan for our lives. And God doesn’t want us sitting in guilt and brokenness and disunity. That is not the heart of God. And in Psalm 103, verse eight, it says this. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. Verse ten, he says, he does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our minutes or excuse me. I don’t know why I said minutes according to our iniquities.

For as high as the the heavens are above the earth, so, so great is his steadfast love towards those who fear him. As far as the east is from the West so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. So you’re saying God has a a greater plan for our life, and we’re reminded of of his gracious heart in the story? In fact, if you move on in Genesis thinking about God’s greater plan, it. Well, maybe if I can give a quick I don’t have power. There we go. Verse five. Thus the sons of Israel came to buy among the others who came, for the famine was in the land of Canaan. Now Joseph was governor over the land. He was the one who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground. Joseph saw his brothers and recognized them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke roughly to them. Where did you come from? He said, and they said, from the land of Canaan to buy food. And Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him. And Joseph remembered the dreams that he had. He had dreamed of them. Um, what’s taking place in this verse is highly important to understand, and it’s really a reflection of God’s hand in Joseph’s life.

Throughout his story starting, we started reading about his story in chapter 37. Um, but one thing that we’ve seen over and over in Joseph’s life, despite the adversity that he went through, is that God was always faithful to be with him. God was always with him. It reminded us of that in Scripture when he was when he was in slavery. It reminded us of that when he was in prison. And now here in this story again, it’s reminding us of God’s presence and the way it’s reminding us of that is through seeing his brothers bow down to him. If you remember in Genesis 37, verse 5 to 11, uh, Joseph had a dream when he was 17 years old. His brothers already hated him. And then God gives him this dream where he sees his father and his brothers bowing down to him. And Joseph shares that dream with his, his, his brothers. And that was kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back. That’s when his brothers decided we’re, you know, we’re getting rid of this guy. And but he shares this dream that he has that that one day his brothers and his father will bow down to him. And now, here we are, 20 years later, and the faithfulness of God’s hand has been made known in Joseph’s life. You know, anytime we face adversity, anytime as as believers, we we read the idea of Scripture and we experience the challenge of it.

God, what does it look like for me to truly forgive? And why in the world do you want me to forgive this person? Don’t you know what they did? Or don’t you know how I feel? I don’t want grace, I want justice, right? Um. And when we wrestle through through those challenges, the important opportunity it gives us is to, is to determine by our actions what we’re truly going to put our faith in. It’s going to be us, our vengeance, or is it going to be the Lord and what he says? Do you trust that God will be sufficient for what he has called you to in this world? Will he meet you in that brokenness and sustain you through it? And for Joseph, this becomes an opportunity of, as he’s seen, God’s faithful hand, will he be faithful in return? And so you look at a passage like this in the life of the believer, it’s important for us to consider, you know what? What does it mean for us to live in light of what God’s Word says? And there’s there’s this quote by David Platt in his book radical, where he says this. We are settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves. My biggest fear, even now, is that I will hear Jesus’s words and walk away content to settle for less than radical obedience to him.

You know, when it comes to the Christian life, God calls us to one thing and that is surrendering ourselves to who he is. Not there’s nothing. Nothing less, nothing more. That’s that’s what God desires of you. That that when you think about what this Christian life is, is as God gave himself to, to me. So I take all of I am and I surrender all of me to him and what he desires to accomplish through my life. And forgiveness becomes this, this beautiful opportunity of demonstrating that to to other people. When we think about the idea of forgiveness, it’s important to, to consider what does that mean? Um, when when the idea of forgiveness, I think, can be used to manipulate and abuse us in ways that can be unhealthy. And so when when it comes to terms of forgiveness and what does it look like in the life of a Christian to forgive someone else? Um, I think it’s important, number one, to know that forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting. Now, it does mean you won’t hold that that against them. Right? But it can be terrible idea to to try to just forget what happened and what I mean. Let me give you an example. Um, as a as a young man, I remember a particular point of my life where, where one of my cousins struggled with an addiction and they had burned some bridges with other members of our family.

And so my family decided to take in my cousin to try to help them in the state that they were in a very kind thing. My family wanted to do because they cared about them. But one thing my family did not do while they were forgiving is they did not forget. And one of the ways they did not forget is when when my cousin came to live with us, we took some of the possessions that we had and we put it in a safe. And the reason we put it in the safe is because we didn’t want them to have the temptation of taking those possessions and doing something poor with those things, because they did not belong. It did not belong to them. And so sometimes forgetting can be an unhealthy thing that we can forgive, but also we can set people up in order to succeed. And so forgiveness doesn’t mean necessarily for forgetting. And Joseph, you’re going to see in these moments doesn’t forget what his brother brothers do has done to him. But but he does, uh, he does forgive them. And then he sets them up for an opportunity to learn where they are in their own state and relationship to him. Um, forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to be best friends. Just because you forgive someone doesn’t mean you bring them back to a similar status and relationship. And trust when it’s broken takes time to rebuild, and you need to know the heart of that person, especially in the intimacy of what that relationship could be.

Before you reinstate them to a particular position that you can also trust them. You can forgive them, but it doesn’t mean you have to fully entrust them. Trust has to be rebuilt, and that’s only modeled by their consistent character over time. And so forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to become best friends. Um, in fact, that becomes an impossibility that while you as a forgiver, if you’re forgiving an offender, you can’t truly have that relationship until they repent, until they’re willing to turn from that and accept the forgiveness and walk in reconciliation. And so while we can be a forgiving people, forgiveness isn’t experience until another heart is repentant. Nor does it mean you can’t call authorities like we have laws in this land to protect you. If someone breaks laws against you, you are completely justified in calling authorities and and you can still forgive that person. And both of those things can be okay. Um, it doesn’t mean, excuse me, it does mean you will not carry the past as it’s your responsibility. I mean, you can call authorities. You can understand. God says he’ll work all things together for good. Vengeance belongs to the Lord. It’s not your job. It’s God’s job. And whatever God wants to do is far greater than what you’re going to do anyway. Forgiveness for us really becomes a decision of the will.

To understand what God’s Word says and to follow it, and then to let the emotions follow after. That’s exactly what Corrie ten Boom did with the soldier that she met. She knew she was going around sharing a message of reconciliation, modeling forgiveness to the Lord, and to forgive that individual soldier. It was first a decision of the will and then the emotions follow after. And in that obedience, we see Joseph doing a similar thing in this story. He’s revealing the intent of his heart in verse seven as he interacts with his brothers. It says, Joseph saw his brothers and recognized them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke roughly to them. Now, reading a verse like that, you might think, well, how is speaking roughly to them forgiving? That’s that sounds like a very angry soul. He wants to bring vengeance and justice, that is. But but when you understand the uniqueness of Joseph’s situation, he’s in a predicament that most of us don’t find ourselves in. His brothers don’t know who he is, and he is using that to his advantage to understand what reconciliation could look like with his brothers. And so when he’s speaking harshly, we can still see from this text that his heart is towards his brothers favorably by how he responds, because if he really decided ill intent towards his brothers, the story would have unfolded like this. His brothers come in the room, he recognizes his brothers and he’s thinking, oh great, now I’m in power.

Now they’re going to see what that’s like. And the minute he saw them, he said, he could have said, you know what? I went in as a slave and was thrown into prison. Make them a slave. Let’s toss them in prison. But but rather than, than do that, he he engages them in the circumstances. And I love how he he walks through this because he could also take an unhealthy route and just try to ignore the pain of the past. He could have just revealed himself instantly to his brothers and be like, I’ve missed you guys so much, let’s just pretend like nothing happened. And they could have been like, yeah, we really love you, right? And he would have never really known, you know, where where their relationship was because in that situation it wouldn’t have worked out, but rather rather Joseph in this story, he he uses this opportunity to discover the depth of where his brothers hearts are towards him. And here’s what’s important to know is that we’ve already discovered that Joseph’s heart is forgiving towards his brothers. And the reason we know that is because of the way chapter 41 ended. Chapter 41, verse 51 and 52. If you remember when Joseph had his had children, he had Manasseh and Ephraim, and he used the name of his children as if to share the testimony of his life, and in sharing the name of his children.

Remember, the first child is Manasseh, the second child is Ephraim. It’s communicating what God has done in his life despite what he’s gone through. Manasseh, roughly translated, means put the past in the past, and Ephraim is stepping into the blessing of God. Because of God’s faithful hand in his life, he has found healing to his soul. And through that Joseph didn’t have to to be defined by the things that happened to him, but rather through the God who walked with him. Because can I tell you, when we go through struggles in life, how many times is a pastor? I find people grabbing onto their past to shape an unhealthy situation as their identity in the present. It’s almost as if to say, we’ve come to the place of a of a defeatist mentality that I can’t live the kind of life God calls me to because I was raised in this type of home, or I didn’t have modeled for me this kind of person. I don’t know what it is to be a godly husband, because I was never around a godly man who led his family well. I don’t know what it is to be a godly father. I don’t know what it is to be a godly man or even women. I don’t know what it is to be a godly woman, a godly wife, a godly mother because I never had those examples. Can I tell you, regardless of what has happened to you in your past? You have a glorious and beautiful example today.

His name is Jesus, that he desires to walk with you. And no matter what has happened to you, to reshape your heart in the goodness of who he is. And when you discover that as your identity in Christ and what he has done for you, that you’re able then to give all of yourself to discover what it means to follow after the Lord and walk in that newness of life. And this is exactly what Joseph is saying. I’m not letting what happened to me to define me, but rather what the Lord is doing in me that defines me. What Jesus, what the Lord has done for me, that that is what defines me. And this is where I’m discovering how I am to lead my life. Even if you don’t have the the godly models behind you, you have a godly model before you and you can live that out and walk in light of it. And this is what Joseph is saying. He’s he’s been a forgiving person because he’s been shaped in the goodness of who God is. And because of that, he has become a forgiving person. And and Scripture calls us to the same thing. You know, when, when, when you think about the idea of experiencing God’s forgiveness and we become a forgiving people and therefore we open the door of reconciliation.

In fact, in in second Corinthians chapter five verse 18, it says this. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, that this really becomes our identity as God’s people. Then we find the grace of God and the forgiveness of God, and what it means to be reconciled to him. Then we we get to live that out in our lives as our life has been surrendered to to him completely, we now have the opportunity and privilege to model it. In fact, in chapter five, verse 20, it calls you ambassadors, calling people to reconciliation in Christ. I can tell you in finding reconciliation in Christ, it also extends to reconciliation in our earthly relationships. Um, as well, you know, as people, when it comes to understanding what reconciling means, it’s important that in being a forgiven person, I be a forgiving person. And to know I can’t force reconciliation. But I can leave the door open to the opportunities of what God might desire to do. When we understand what reconciliation is, we can’t force other people through that door. But reconciliation is defined this way. It is the restoration of a relationship to a harmonious state after a dispute. A restoration of a relationship to a harmonious state after a dispute. And this is what God desires to do in our relationships. And if you have two people repentant and surrendered to one another in that purpose, as it can be accomplished.

Reconciliation may not always happen, though, because we can’t always control how other people respond. But Joseph, in the story, he uses his anonymity for possible reconciliation with his brothers. And what’s incredible is when you read the story, you realize Joseph is a he is a busy man, but yet he takes the time in this story to to minister to his brothers. He’s he’s taking time, though. He’s running all of Egypt and all that’s taking place. He’s taking this time to to meet his brothers where they are. It’s been more than 20 years since he’s he’s seen them. And now he’s wondering, asking the question, how in the world can can I entrust myself to them, or can I entrust myself to them? And he really puts them to two tests, and I don’t have time to read the two tests. But it starts in verse nine. He he sees ten of his brothers come to visit him, which means one of his brothers is missing. And for Joseph, this would have been very concerning, because his the ten brothers that are there are his half brothers. He’s got one full blood brother named Benjamin, and Benjamin’s not there. And his concern would have been heightened. He would have thought to himself, uh, my mother had two children, me from Rachel, me, Joseph and Benjamin, and they got rid of me. So what happened to my other brother? Because he’s not here and he would have been very concerned.

So in verse nine, he starts talking to his brothers, wanting to find out, where is your heart? Are you still evil? Has God worked in your life and changed your life? Where are you? And he says he starts to accuse them of being spies. Ten people coming into this land. You guys are spies coming to attack us and the brothers defend themselves. No we’re not, we’re not spies. And Joseph knows they’re not. But he he wants to. He wants to hear. He’s trying to learn about the condition of their heart towards them. Is it in a place of true reconciliation or not? And so he accuses them of this, and the brothers finally confess. They say, we have one brother that passed, and then we have another brother that’s at home. But our father sent the ten of us, and it would make sense that ten of them would travel. It would have been unsafe for just a few of them to go. So traveling in large numbers kept them safe. And in addition, coming to to Egypt to get land, they probably distribute the food according to per capita, meaning the more family members that are represented, the more food you can get to to represent that family. And so they bring the larger portion of their family to get food in order that they can get more of it. And so it makes sense.

And and Joseph’s testing them just to see how have you treated my other brother. What kind of brothers are you or have you become. And then he gives them the second test. He says, okay, since my one brother is still alive, Benjamin, he doesn’t tell him who he is yet, since Benjamin is alive. If you want me to believe you, I need one of you to go back and get them. And he throws them all in prison to figure out what one brother is going to go back to get him. But before they make that decision, Joseph lets them out and he says, I’m actually just going to keep one of you and I’m going to send the rest of you to go get my brother or go get Benjamin, who they don’t know is his brother yet, but he wants to send them all. And I think the second test that Joseph gives them is he puts the brothers under pressure to just see how they’re going to treat each other, because Joseph knows and that sort of a tense situation, how they may in turn treat him. And so Joseph uses this moment to understand how he might be able to entrust them. And in verse 24, when when Joseph finally takes one of the brothers and he sends the rest off, it tells you, verse 21 to 24, in verse 24, it tells you he keeps Simeon. And the question we could ask is, out of all the brothers, why did he pick Simeon? And I think, according to tradition, what would have made the most sense would have been for Joseph to take Reuben because he was the oldest.

But rather than take Reuben, he takes the second oldest. Simeon questions why? I think the answer is obvious based on on Joseph’s life and especially in chapter 37. It’s because when his brothers turn their backs on Joseph and they wanted to sell him into slavery, it was Reuben who tried to step up and tell the brothers not to do it. And when Reuben stepped away for a minute, the rest of the brothers seized Joseph and ended up selling him into slavery. Joseph, knowing that, chose not to keep Reuben into slavery, but rather chose the second second brother in line. And so, Joseph, uh, he’s demonstrating for us this this idea of, uh, where a healthy heart should be and its willingness as a forgiven person to be forgiving and open the door for reconciliation. And here as he. Is interacting with his brothers. He’s finding where where their heart might be. And finally, Joseph discovers point number four in your notes, which I’ll give you. I’ll give you in just a minute. But he discovers where his brothers are as they start to talk. It tells us in Ephesians chapter 42, verse 21 it says, then they said to one another, in truth we are guilty concerning our brothers, and that we saw the distress of his soul when he begged us.

And we did not, uh, we did not listen. That is why this distress has come upon us. And Reuben answered them, did I not tell you not to sin against the boy? But you did not listen? So now there comes a reckoning for his blood. Verse 23 goes on to tell you, Joseph, they did not know that Joseph could actually understand them. Joseph, as he interacted with his brothers, he spoke through a translator as if he only understood Egyptian. Um, but but rather, in this passage, Joseph is understanding everything his brother says, and he just kept that hidden from them. But here in this story, when Joseph realizes what his brothers are communicating, verse 24, you see, it breaks his heart. It tells you in the story that then he turned away from them and wept. And he returned to them and spoke to them. And he took Simeon from them and bound him before their eyes. Joseph realized that with his relationships with his brothers, he had the one marker, the one thing that he knew he needed in order to pursue healthy reconciliation. Point number four in your notes is this humility is crucial. Humility is crucial. Joseph had already forgiven them. Ephraim and Manasseh. Those names teach us that he had already forgiven them. But what he also wanted to know is, can we truly reconcile? Will they step into that forgiveness? Humbly repent.

And for us to be able to be reconciled. When Joseph hears how his brothers are still wrestling with what they did to him. Joseph knows there is an opportunity for healing between them, and this leads Joseph to this place of really brokenness before them. He’s weeping. That seems true for us when it comes to the idea of forgiveness and reconciliation. Even though we may not, we may extend forgiveness. Not all those relationships are going to be healthy for reconciliation to its fullest. And a lot of that depends on the willingness of the other heart to humbly respond to the extent of your forgiveness, and determining how important that relationship is, should, should help us understand to what degree we need to go in order to experience that that reconciliation. Meaning, for example, between two brothers. Understanding the importance of family. And being able to forgive and reconcile. You know, I often say to us as a church, humble people don’t find. Proud people do. When you got two proud people in a room, there’s going to be fighting all day long. But when you have two humble people in a room, they can surrender themselves to the benefit of each other. And it comes to the marital relationship. The Bible doesn’t call us to fight against each other, but rather fight for one another. And a tremendous marker in the life of a marital relationship is the willingness to humble yourself for the benefit of another.

That when you’re in a fight, in a relationship, that crazy cycle of a fight does not end until one person in that relationship is willing to surrender themselves, to humble themselves for the benefit of the other person, and in so doing, that other person can then reciprocate in response. Forgiving. Forgiving people are forgiving people, and they leave the door open for reconciliation. This is what Joseph wants to discover. Is that opportunity there. One of those other powerful places that can happen is among God’s community. Ephesians chapter four reminds us of the beauty of covenant relationship that in Christ we are a covenant people. God has made the new covenant with us, and the identity that we carry becomes important in our our willingness to surrender all that we are to that as his people. God does a powerful work in that, but in so doing, it can get messy because we’re we’re broken. We’re people. Right? And so that’s why Scripture reminds us over and over again of the demeanor that we’re to carry for each other, that we can see the beauty of what God desires to do, that when when we might offend one another, we can find forgiveness and reconciliation with each other for the purpose of how God could work through us. And Ephesians four it says this therefore talking about because of your identity in Christ, that word. Therefore I, a prisoner of the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness and patience, bearing with one another in love, being diligent to keep the unity of the spirit and the bond of peace.

So this idea of bearing with one another is, look, there’s going to be a sacrifice in what you do for the Lord. And it’s only natural because you’re modeling the one who sacrificed everything for you. And if you want to see the goodness of what God desires to do in you, it’s this. This trusting in him that that God has a a greater work to, to do in us. And rather than just simply trusting in myself. Now, to be honest, I realize as a believer to live that kind of life. It takes a supernatural kind of strength and a supernatural kind of love, which means the only way I’ll truly walk in this is to find my life completely surrendered over to the Lord God. Fill me up with your grace. Let your grace would be made known to me. Being diligent to keep the unity of the spirit and the bond of peace. Because of this, there is one body and one spirit. You’re called to one. One hope in the Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God, a father overall and who is through all he’s saying, look, there is there is no greater sacred place. The forgiveness of God can be made known than among God’s people and the purposes for which he desires to accomplish in us.

How important it is to leave the door of of reconciliation open. And because of that, then because of the the repentant heart of his brothers, which they haven’t come to full repentance yet, it will unfold in this story. It tells us, as the story goes on, verse 25, that Joseph wants to bless his brothers. I mean, that’s what happens in reconciliation, the blessing of relationship. Joseph wants to bless his brothers. And in verse 26, when they leave Egypt, they they saddle their donkeys and leave, and they get down the road and they open up their saddles, and they realize all the money they came to Egypt with has returned, and they have the food. And for them, in verse 28, it tells you they are overwhelmed by this. It even says the last phrase here, what is this that God has done to us? And they’re blown away by the grace that’s been extended to them and to the point that it just makes them nervous. Um, guys, the same is true for us. When you understand the grace of God that’s been extended to you, that God would love you while you’re a sinner, that he would not give up on you. That he continues to pursue you faithfully even when you’re not faithful to him. That he gave everything his own life. That you might know him, that that grace, that love can lead the soul to tremble before his presence, knowing we are not worthy of that.

But when you have the opportunity to still embrace it, how life giving and and transforming it comes for us that then we can live in light of that, not every story ends the way Joseph does, and every story gets to end the beauty. See the beauty of reconciliation, because not all people are going to respond the way that we might often hope. But at the end of the day, we get to rest our heads knowing we’ve been faithful to follow after the Lord. Corey Tenboom said it like this and I’ll close with this. She says forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred. It is a power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness. She went on later to say it like this when I forgave others from, uh, from prison, she she worded it this way. I discovered that I was the only one truly captured in that prison, and we hold on to unforgiveness. It becomes toxic to the soul. But when we trust in the greatness of what God desires to do, having grabbed a hold of his forgiveness, walking as a forgiving people, the opportunity of reconciliation, God can do a far greater work in his own strength rather than in our own.