"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

GENESIS – An Expositional Overview of the Beginning of God’s Revelation: Chapter FORTYFOUR

Contributing commentaries by pastors Sonny Islas, Albert Lopez and James Fire

GENESIS 44 – by Sonny Islas; for the Facebook video for the complete teaching go here.

INTRODUCTION: Joseph tested his brothers over and over again: Before we read Genesis 44, as we know, Joseph tested his brothers over and over again. The reason being was that Joseph really wanted to know if his heartless brothers had changed at all since, they sold him into slavery over a decade ago resulting in the unbearable pain of their father. Joseph strongly desired for their broken relationships to be restored – this is what he has been aiming for.
In the first test, Joseph keeps Simeon as ransom until the rest of the brothers bring back Benjamin.

Joseph wanted to see if they would abandon Simeon to slavery like they abandoned him. Joseph also wanted to know if they had genuine love for each other as the older brothers (GENESIS 42). But they passed this test by bringing back Benjamin (GENESIS 43). Joseph also had their money placed back into their bags to test their integrity – they passed.
In the second test, Joseph invited his brothers for a special dinner, and Joseph purposely served Benjamin five times more food than the others.

Joseph wanted to see if the older brothers would complain or show some type of contempt or jealousy towards Benjamin like they did to him when he was young. But they passed this test too. GENESIS 43:34b says “So they drank and were merry [happy] with him.”

There is an important principle here: When the others get five times more attention, more recognition, more blessing, than we do, how do we respond? Are we happy (like Joseph’s bros) to see others blessed more than us or do we get jealous and become secretly embittered? Just something for us to chew on.

In ROMANS 13:15, Paul says that we ought to
rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.”

In other words when it comes to the Body of Christ, the victories of others are our victories and the losses of others are our losses.
At this point in the story, Joseph has one more test up his sleeve. This will be the ultimate test. Joseph will trick his brothers into thinking that he is going to either kill or enslave Benjamin for supposedly stealing his special cup. Again, these tests served the purpose of getting his brothers' hearts ready for the restoration of their broken relationship.

They just finished having a wonderful dinner party but then comes the very painful final test:

GENESIS 44:1-13
And he commanded the steward of his house, saying, Fill the men's sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put every man's money in his sack's mouth. And put my cup, the silver cup, in the sack's mouth of the youngest, and his corn money. And he did according to the word that Joseph had spoken. As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away, they and their asses. And when they were gone out of the city, and not yet far off, Joseph said unto his steward, Up, follow after the men; and when thou dost overtake them, say unto them, Wherefore have ye rewarded evil for good? Is not this it in which my lord drinketh, and whereby indeed he divineth? ye have done evil in so doing. And he overtook them, and he spake unto them these same words
And they said unto him, Wherefore saith my lord these words? God forbid that thy servants should do according to this thing: Behold, the money, which we found in our sacks' mouths, we brought again unto thee out of the land of Canaan: how then should we steal out of thy lord's house silver or gold? With whomsoever of thy servants it be found, both let him die, and we also will be my lord's bondmen. 10 And he said, Now also let it be according unto your words: he with whom it is found shall be my servant; and ye shall be blameless. 11 Then they speedily took down every man his sack to the ground, and opened every man his sack. 12 And he searched, and began at the eldest, and left at the youngest: and the cup was found in Benjamin's sack. 13 Then they rent their clothes, and laded every man his ass, and returned to the city.

As we focus on Judah’s response to Joseph in his plea for Benjamin’s freedom, we find what it takes to restore relationships.

There are three R’s I want you to remember: Recognize. Repent. Restore (If we follow this pattern, restoration may or may not be the result) BUT restoration is impossible without recognition and repentance.

Let us begin with – Recognition.
This is the first part of the restoration process. One must take full responsibility for one’s own actions – one’s own wrongdoing. We have to be willing to humbly admit our fault and own it. Without shifting the blame or trying to justify our evil ways i.e. At first, Judah and his brother may have tried to justify their sin of selling their brother Joseph into slavery by saying (well he deserved it, he pushed us to do it, he was the favored son and he rubbed it in our faces). But Judah came to recognize that what they did was wrong:

1. Because it pained and dishonored God.
2. Because it nearly killed their Father.
3. Because Joseph was their little brother.

In GENESIS 42:21 we find that the guilt of their sin really begins to settle in. Guilt walks hand in hand with recognition. If we ignore our feelings of guilt for our wrongdoing we can never get to the next step of repentance because we will never see our need for it. In Genesis 42:21 the brothers say to one another, with Joseph listening in by the way: “We are truly guilty concerning our brother, for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear…”

One of the signs that proves that we’ve done wrong to someone is that the person we’ve offended has been hurt by us and we see it i.e. “we saw the anguish of his soul.” Their pain is proof of our offence.

And in GENESIS 44:16
Judah said, what shall we say to my lord? [there’s no denying our guilt] What shall we speak? [we are speechlessly caught red handed] or how shall we clear ourselves? [we can’t justify ourselves – there are no excuses and there are no good enough reasons for what we’ve done] God has found out (made know and brought to bear – time for the consequences) the iniquity (sin – not this one but of one much worse) of your servants…”
We see here that Judah and his brothers came to recognize what they’ve done to their Father and their brother Joseph. One thing that we must recognize and fully understand is that when we hurt others, especially one of God’s children, we hurt God Himself. In GENESIS 44:31 Judah explains just how much Jacob loves Benjamin, as much as he loved Joseph and to hurt His sons was to hurt him. Judah says, “it will happen, when he sees that the lad is not with us, that he will die. So your servants will bring down the gray hair of your servant our father with sorrow to the grave.”

When we really recognize this profound truth that when we hurt God’s children we hurt Him, we will make things right and we will do our best to avoid ever hurting one of God’s kids again.
So first, we recognize then we repent.

GENESIS 44:14-34
14 And Judah and his brethren came to Joseph's house; for he was yet there: and they fell before him on the ground. 15 And Joseph said unto them, What deed is this that ye have done? wot ye not that such a man as I can certainly divine? 
16 And Judah said, What shall we say unto my lord? what shall we speak? or how shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants: behold, we are my lord's servants, both we, and he also with whom the cup is found
17 And he said, God forbid that I should do so: but the man in whose hand the cup is found, he shall be my servant; and as for you, get you up in peace unto your father. 18 Then Judah came near unto him, and said, Oh my lord, let thy servant, I pray thee, speak a word in my lord's ears, and let not thine anger burn against thy servant: for thou art even as Pharaoh. 19 My lord asked his servants, saying, Have ye a father, or a brother? 20 And we said unto my lord, We have a father, an old man, and a child of his old age, a little one; and his brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother, and his father loveth him. 21 And thou saidst unto thy servants, Bring him down unto me, that I may set mine eyes upon him. 22 And we said unto my lord, The lad cannot leave his father: for if he should leave his father, his father would die. 23 And thou saidst unto thy servants, Except your youngest brother come down with you, ye shall see my face no more. 24 And it came to pass when we came up unto thy servant my father, we told him the words of my lord.
25 And our father said, Go again, and buy us a little food. 26 And we said, We cannot go down: if our youngest brother be with us, then will we go down: for we may not see the man's face, except our youngest brother be with us. 27 And thy servant my father said unto us, Ye know that my wife bare me two sons: 28 And the one went out from me, and I said, Surely he is torn in pieces; and I saw him not since: 29 And if ye take this also from me, and mischief befall him, ye shall bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave. 30 Now therefore when I come to thy servant my father, and the lad be not with us; seeing that his life is bound up in the lad's life; 31 It shall come to pass, when he seeth that the lad is not with us, that he will die: and thy servants shall bring down the gray hairs of thy servant our father with sorrow to the grave. 32 For thy servant became surety for the lad unto my father, saying, If I bring him not unto thee, then I shall bear the blame to my father for ever. 33 Now therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant abide instead of the lad a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren. 34 For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad be not with me? lest peradventure I see the evil that shall come on my father.

The next word and step to restoring a relationship is – Repentance.
Judah and his brothers got to the point where they deeply regretted what they did to Joseph. True repentance says “I wish I would have never done that and if only I could turn back the hands of time, I would not do it and if the opportunity arises again, I would refuse it!” And this is said with tears and from the depths of the heart. This is repentance.

Judah proved his repentance by offering himself and his brothers to be slaves of Egypt instead of Benjamin. And he even goes a step further and says please take me instead of Benjamin. I’ll take his place be it death or slavery.

This was a foreshadow of Jesus being our substitutionary atonement – where Jesus dies as us and, in our place, to save us! Jesus who is the Lion of Judah! The sin and death conqueror!
True repentance does not just recognize and feel bad, but it takes sacrificial action. It lays down one’s life for the betterment of the other – even the offended.

The result of truly recognizing our own fault and truly repenting of it can be - Restoration.
Now we cannot recognize and repent for others, but we can do our part. What was the key to restoring this relationship. . .between Joseph and his brothers? It was a change of heart; Joseph’s brother had a drastic change of heart. And who can make this possible? – The LORD – the Giver of new hearts and humble hearts.

Joseph brothers were not ready for Joseph to reveal himself to them until they were fully humbled. In the same way no one is ready for Jesus to reveal Himself to them until they fully humble themselves. Until they recognize their need for Him and truly repent of all sin.

Lastly, Joseph could have returned evil for evil. He could have put them all in prison for three years just so that they get a taste of their own medicine. He could have put them all to death. As we continue to read in the next chapters, we find that Joseph finally reveals Himself to them and He embraces them and shows abundant mercy and grace. He promises to take care of them all and their families in Egypt for as long as He lives – this is what Jesus has done for us!

We can clearly see here what brings healing to a broken relationship. Recognition. Repentance. Restoration (maybe – results).

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