The Process of Reconciliation

Genesis   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Krishna Pal was the first Indian Christian to be converted under William Carey’s ministry. For seven longs years and through the death of his son Peter and the extreme mental illness of his wife, God had finally brought fruit to the missionary endeavor, the first of many glorious examples of God’s great love for the Indian people who had never heard the Gospel before.
At the time, Krishna’s young daughter was engaged to an older Hindu man. When that man heard that Krishna intended to break off the engagement, this man literally kidnapped Krishna’s young daughter, who was only a young child at the time, and married her. What a discouraging and horrible thing to happen. However, some years later that man was in the baptismal waters under Carey’s hand just like Krishna had been years before. The man who had kidnapped Krishna's daughter was soon serving with him in ministry.
It is stories like this that truly show the powerful way that God works reconciliation. Even after such horrible things are done, God can and often does graciously create reconciliation in the most unlikely situations. The same could be said of the close relationship that Steve Saint, the son of one of the missionaries killed by the Waodani tribesmen in Ecuador, has with the man who killed his father. The Gospel unites us to people that we could in no other way be reconciled with. This kind of reconciliation is just a nice thing to have, it is actually necessary in order to properly show the Gospel in our life. After all, what is the Gospel if not the reconciliation between the one who was greatly wronged to those who wronged him? Did Christ not die to unite himself with those who were his enemies? Who wronged him?
Today, we see Joseph’s continued attempt to reconcile with the brothers who had wronged him. Although the time and energy this takes is great, the necessity of this reconciliation is worth any trouble or difficulty to get there.

Scene 1: Judah and Jacob

There are two scenes in today's text that continue that narrative begun last week when Joseph recognized his brothers who had come to buy grain, Joseph had put a test in motion that was meant to reconcile himself to them. We saw how Joseph’s test was not done out of a desire for revenge or because he was angery, rather he showed them harsh love in order to see whether reconciliation could happen. He needed to see if they had repented of their jealousy and hatred towards him all those years ago. He knows that if he reveals himself now, they will honour him just because of the title he has as second in command of all Egypt. This way, he can be united with them in the covenant of love once more. We saw that, while Joseph had already forgiven them, reconciliation could not happen until they repented and changed their ways.
The continuation of that story takes place in two scenes, one in Canaan and one again in Egypt. This chapter is much more than story filler, it begins to show us the ways in which the characters are changing so that reconciliation could be possible.
In the first scene, the two character that we see change are Jacob and Judah. It is important that it is them because Jacob is the head of the people of God and would become the namesake Israel. Judah, on the other hand, would take on the rights of the firstborn and be the ancestor of the true Israel, Jesus. This scene shows the development of the leaders of God’s people.

Jacob: Must Overcome his Idolatry and Favoritism

Last week we saw Jacob refusing to let his youngest son go to Egypt. This shows us that Jacob does not trust his other sons, but it also shows the idolatry that his favoritism has turned into. He is not only leaving his son Simeon needlessly in prison, he is putting the entire family at risk of starvation.
Reuben offering his children was not at all convincing for him. There was no sincerity in that offer.
Jacob’s protection of his son is really self preservation. Instead of trusting God to be his comfort and security, he relies on his youngest son. This is not the attitude the people of God should have towards God. Instead, they should be able to say with the Psalmist,
Psalm 28:7 ESV
The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.
It’s incredible how God is dealing with so many different problems at the same time. The brothers need to repent of their jealousy, Jacob needs to repent of his idolatry, and when those two things are dealt with there can finally be reconciliation. Ironically, Jacob could have his long lost son back and been safe in Egypt with more than enough to eat by now, but instead idolizing his son Benjamin has kept him from loving his other son Simeon, it’s kept him from seeing Joseph, it’s put all of them in danger of starvation, and it is what drove his other sons to jealousy in the first place. Now he must face his idolatry and God has graciously given him this ultimatum. Anything that God does to destroy our idolatry is a grace, as much as it may hurt. Because God loves his children, the more they pursue idols the more God will destroy them until his people turn to him and put their trust in him alone.

Judah: Must Overcome is selfishness and gain his father’s trust

The second character that develops in this first scene of this part of the story is Judah. Remember that Judah has already undergone some character development with the whole situation with his daughter-in-law Tamar. In that episode of the saga of the family, Judah had been forced to confront his own sin, his own immorality and his own idolatry. Now he is used to help is father overcome his. \
Judah’s response to Jacob’s attitude is very different from Reuben’s. Through the whole story, Reuben has been acting insincere in order to get others to see him as a selfless leader when really he is not. He does this by intending to secretly save Joseph, which he fails at, by blaming the other brothers when they run into trouble in Egypt, and by offering the life of his sons rather than himself as security for his father, an offer Jacob does not take.
Judah, on the other hand, is sincere and shows a true heart of self-sacrifice. Rather than deflecting the responsability to others, he takes Benjamin’s safety into his own hands, putting his stake in the family inheritance on the line.
Genesis 43:9 ESV
I will be a pledge of his safety. From my hand you shall require him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever.
Judah acts in a Christ-like way here, for Christ acts the same way towards God’s chosen people. He took our sins on himself and thus took on the responsibility to bring us to the Father. The Father entrusted the Son with his elected people and Christ made a promise with the Father that he will bring us to him, even at the cost of his own life. Judah is not only the biological ancestor of Christ, he is a spiritual foreshadowing of the kind of selfless care and responsibility that Christ took of God’s people.
At this sincere and mature offer, Jacob finally relents and puts his trust in God. While he tries to sweeten the deal for the Egyptians with special goods like honey, balm, and nuts, he gives the safety of Benjamin over, not to Judah, but to God.
Genesis 43:14 ESV
May God Almighty grant you mercy before the man, and may he send back your other brother and Benjamin. And as for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.”
While Jacob basically said at the end of chapter 42 that he would rather die than lose Benjamin, here he finally resigns his fate into the hands of God. “If I am bereaved, I am bereaved.” In other words, if God chooses to take the son I love, so be it.” As Job said,
Job 1:21 ESV
And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
God’s grace once again prevails, and the brothers head to Egypt once more. Jacob and Judah have both proven their changed attitudes and repentance, at least in part, from their previous sins. Now the question is, will the rest of the brothers do the same?

Scene 2: Benjamin and the Brothers

Verse 15 introduces the second scene in this chapter, and this scene focuses on a test for the sons of Leah as a whole.
Years before, the brother’s jealousy against Joseph had been the cause of their betrayal. This was due to their Father’s favoritism, Joseph’s more righteous lifestyle, and the tipping point being the prophetic dreams God had given him.
Joseph could accurately guess that Jacob treated Benjamin with the same favoritism since he had not let him come to Egypt the first time.
Joseph next test is essentially, are these boys still consumed by jealousy like they were all those years ago?
This shows one of the main things standing between them and the reconciliation that Joseph desires. He’s not expecting them to betray Benjamin or sell him into slavery, but he does want to see whether the heart of their sin against him, jealousy, is still there.

Brothers: Must Overcome their Jealousy for the Younger Brother

Jealousy is an emotional reaction we experience when we see someone else receiving what we think we deserve by right.
There is a righteous type of jealousy and an unrighteous type. Someone who is jealous over an unfaithful spouse or an unjust loss is not necessarily of sin. That being the case, jealousy becomes sinful very quickly because of our sinful nature.
Righteous jealousy is:
Correct (a response to an actual, objective violation of rights.)
Measured: a response that keeps self-control in the reaction.
Patient, since God exercises patience when he is jealous. If God lets his right to everyone’s worship go unclaimed for so long a time in order to show mercy to many, we are called to do the same.
Does not lead to sin.
The jealousy of these brothers towards Joseph was not righteous:
It was not correct. Joseph’s dreams indicated that God’s will was to bless Joseph, and God’s will is always correct over our own feelings or opinions.
It was not measured, but rather unjust.
It was not patient. Joseph was only 17 years old.
It lead them to sin.
The test is that Joseph treats Benjamin better than any of the other brothers. First, he lays their fears to rest by denying that he gave them their money back and he begins to play the good cop. He invites them into his house to eat. Again, we see the emotional reaction of Joseph in vs 30 as a sign of his motivation to be reunited with the family. He belongs with the people of God, and he is not indifferent to them, especially to his younger brother.
In verse 33 Joseph makes it clear that he knows who are the older brothers and thus would “deserve” the greater honour, but then gives the largest portion to Benjamin in verse 34, five times what the others got. This makes it clear to the other brothers that his favoritism isn’t a mistake. How will they react?
“And they drank and were merry with him.”
Not only is there no jealousy, there is celebration with him. They include him, the text suggesting that they even get a little drunk with him. He is clearly accepted by them as one of them and they’re jealousy has apparently genuinely been repented of.

The Slow Progress to Reconciliation

The process to reconciliation is underway. It is a difficult process, but one that is worth it.
Reconciliation is painful because it challenges our trust.
Reconciliation is painful because it challenges our deeply held idols and sins.
It is worth it because it gives us joy we seek in idols.
It is worth it because it draws us closer to God.


When we pursue reconciliation with those who have wronged us, we demonstrate an understanding of the Gospel that is more than just a cognative acceptance. We also demonstrate the effectiveness of Christ’s reconciliation with us.
Christians are bound to sin against one another, and in some cases the path to reconciliation may be long and painful. Only those who have truly experienced new life in Christ will push through to that end, because they know how much Christ did to reconcile us to God.
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