“Wilderness” The Life of Joseph Sermon Series
“The Big Turn;
The Brother’s Second Journey to Egypt” (Con’t)
In The Last Crusade, Indiana Jones must pass three tests to reach the Holy Grail (with the stakes raised as his father, played by Sean Connery dying from a bullet wound and in need of the healing waters from the grail to survive).
The first test, called “the Breath of God” is the one worthy of our focus today. Indiana hasn’t figured out the puzzle, but as he approaches with what could be his last steps, he whispers over and over again the one clue: “Only the Penitent Man Shall Pass.” As the wind (breath) begins to blow through the chamber, Indy has only a few moments to pass the test. At the very moment he needs to figure it out (cue high drama) he gets it. Here’s the actual words from the film:
The penitent man is humble before God. The penitent man… The penitent man is humble. Penitent man is humble… [kneels before God] KNEEL!!
The second he kneels, two massive circular saws emerge from the wall, just missing Indy’s head and his famous fedora. As I said earlier, the theology would not pass muster in any seminary, but it does get one thing right: the journey of faith, even for the hero, begins with repentance.
Being Loved and Known (Genesis 43:26-34)
26 When Joseph came home, they brought into the house to him the present that they had with them and bowed down to him to the ground. 27 And he inquired about their welfare and said, “Is your father well, the old man of whom you spoke? Is he still alive?” 28 They said, “Your servant our father is well; he is still alive.” And they bowed their heads and prostrated themselves. 29 And he lifted up his eyes and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son, and said, “Is this your youngest brother, of whom you spoke to me? God be gracious to you, my son!” 30 Then Joseph hurried out, for his compassion grew warm for his brother, and he sought a place to weep. And he entered his chamber and wept there. 31 Then he washed his face and came out. And controlling himself he said, “Serve the food.” 32 They served him by himself, and them by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because the Egyptians could not eat with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination to the Egyptians. 33 And they sat before him, the firstborn according to his birthright and the youngest according to his youth. And the men looked at one another in amazement. 34 Portions were taken to them from Joseph’s table, but Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as any of theirs. And they drank and were merry with him.
What does God do to draw the heart of men to Himself? For the brothers, “he had used a pinch of material want, the pain of harsh treatment, the press of an enforced solitude, the proof of his presence in small things, and last of all, the pattern of an ordained necessity.” At these things, the brothers admitted their sin, at least to one another. In this passage, we see that God adds another step, genuine affection.
Then he invites them to Joseph’s house for a special meal (prepared in the middle of the day). Then they are “given them water, and they had washed their feet, and when he had given their donkeys fodder.” They are invited into the home of the most important man in all of Egypt, for a specially prepared meal. They are shown kindness.
(v. 33) “And they sat before him, the firstborn according to his birthright and the youngest according to his youth. And the men looked at one another in amazement.” – The (Egyptian) man had the brothers seated by their birth order (oldest to youngest). But how did they know? “There are no less than 39,917,000 different orders in which eleven individuals could have been seated.” The odds are 40 million to one that the stewards would place the brothers in this orde They don’t know how, but they are known. God knows everything about us, sometimes He reveals that knowledge as a way to draw someone to Him.
Being known by God. Luke 12:6 says “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” God knows all about you; He knows your thoughts, your concerns, your desires, your temptations, your physical ability, everything – but in spite of our sinful and depraved hearts he wants a relationship with us. The story of Joseph and his brothers is a picture of restoration. It is a picture of men who are far from God being drawn to the Lord.
What God wants is a relationship with you – which involves our relating to Him in obedience. God as Creator determines the terms of the relationship. Matthew 7: 23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”
Then there was another test, “Portions were taken to them from Joseph’s table, but Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as any of theirs. And they drank and were merry with him.” Joseph sends portions from his table to the brothers, but Benjamin receives five times more than the rest of the brothers. He had the seat of honor at the table, and he received much more than the others. Joseph is trying to figure out if this special treatment would manifest resentment toward Benjamin. They hated Joseph because of his father’s favoritism and giving him the coat of many colors. It doesn’t seem to bother them, “And they drank and were merry with him.”
Genesis chapters 42 and 43 gives us an example of where God sets things into motion actions that draws the brothers toward him and shows us the love He has for His creation. Romans 5:6-8 “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God again and again shows us, displays to us the love He has for us. These signs of grace should draw us to Him.
Repentance is Required (Genesis 44:1-34)
The Trap is Set (vv. 1-12)
Then he commanded the steward of his house, “Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man’s money in the mouth of his sack, 2 and put my cup, the silver cup, in the mouth of the sack of the youngest, with his money for the grain.” And he did as Joseph told him. 3 As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away with their donkeys. 4 They had gone only a short distance from the city. Now Joseph said to his steward, “Up, follow after the men, and when you overtake them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid evil for good? 5 Is it not from this that my lord drinks, and by this that he practices divination? You have done evil in doing this.’” 6 When he overtook them, he spoke to them these words. 7 They said to him, “Why does my lord speak such words as these? Far be it from your servants to do such a thing! 8 Behold, the money that we found in the mouths of our sacks we brought back to you from the land of Canaan. How then could we steal silver or gold from your lord’s house? 9 Whichever of your servants is found with it shall die, and we also will be my lord’s servants.” 10 He said, “Let it be as you say: he who is found with it shall be my servant, and the rest of you shall be innocent.” 11 Then each man quickly lowered his sack to the ground, and each man opened his sack. 12 And he searched, beginning with the eldest and ending with the youngest. And the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack.”
Sorrow Over Guilt (vv. 13-17)
13 Then they tore their clothes, and every man loaded his donkey, and they returned to the city. 14 When Judah and his brothers came to Joseph’s house, he was still there. They fell before him to the ground. 15 Joseph said to them, “What deed is this that you have done? Do you not know that a man like me can indeed practice divination?” 16 And Judah said, “What shall we say to my lord? What shall we speak? Or how can we clear ourselves? God has found out the guilt of your servants; behold, we are my lord’s servants, both we and he also in whose hand the cup has been found.” 17 But he said, “Far be it from me that I should do so! Only the man in whose hand the cup was found shall be my servant. But as for you, go up in peace to your father.”
The brothers did not steal the cup, Joseph had put it there in Benjamin’s sack, but they still say, “God has found out the guilt of your servants.” Why would the brothers confess guilt to something they knew they did not do. They had a guilty conscience.
We see here with the brothers, men who were full of hatred, violence, and deception are capable of repentance. No one is too far gone, no one has done any actions for which God is not ready to forgive him, “and cleanse him from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)” But he has to repent of his sin.
Repentance is defined as, to be filled with remorse, as it leads to a change of mind, specifically dealing with sin. Joseph knows the brothers have sorrow over how they treated him, but is it a godly sorrow or a worldly sorrow. Let’s look at the difference.
Godly Sorrow v. Worldly Sorrow
On the night before the Cross, one of Jesus’ disciples betrayed Him, and one denied Him. All sins are acts of selfishness and are grievous offenses to a holy God. Both of these sins were against the person of Jesus Himself. The Bible records how Judas and Peter responded later. Judas “repented himself” (Matthew 27:3), and the very word that Matthew used (metamelomai) to describe Judas indicates that his regret and remorse were completely self-centered. He was sorrowful, but not even for the plight of Jesus.
He was only sorry for himself. Matthew did not choose the more common word for repentance (metanoeo) used throughout the New Testament that means to change one’s mind and behavior for the better because of hatred for one’s sins.
The Gospels tell us that Peter went out and wept bitterly. The word means to wail in great agony and grief. Was his sorrow godly or worldly? We can only tell from the results. Judas immediately went out and hanged himself (Matthew 27:5). When next we see Peter, he has returned to his brothers. When he heard word of the Resurrection, he ran in search of the Lord against whom he had sinned. Later that same day, Peter was completely restored.
One man’s sorrow led to death. The other’s led to salvation and life. That is the difference between worldly and godly sorrow. 2 Corinthians 7:10 “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”
Repentance is not just a feeling guilty for bad behavior – It involves three things:
- Intellect – “Repentance is that change of a sinner’s mind that leads him or her to turn from evil ways and live. Intellectually, human beings must apprehend sin as utterably heinous, the divine law as perfect and binding, and themselves as falling short of the requirements of a holy God.” If you are genuinely repentant of a sin, they cannot be emotionally indifferent to sin.
- Emotions – “It is possible to have a knowledge of sin without abhorring it as something that dishonors God and ruins humanity: the change of view may lead only to a dread of punishment and not to the hatred and abandonment of sin.” True repentance involves not only a conviction of personal sinfulness but an earnest appeal to God to forgive according to His mercy. (Ps. 51:1ff, 10-14).
- Will – The original language words for repentance “emphasize the will, the change of mind. Several places in Scripture shows that putting on sackcloth, putting ashes on your body – outward actions to show repentance do you no good if your heart, your will is not changed.
Matthew 5:3-6 helps us to see the process a person goes through from being lost to being saved. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 1) There is consciousness of spiritual poverty dethroning pride, 4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 2) A sense of personal unworthiness producing grief, 3) 5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 4) A willingness to surrender to God in genuine humility, 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 5) A strong desire developing into spiritual hunger and thirst, are all part of the experience of one who abandons sin and fully turns to God who then gives eternal life.
Throughout this study of Joseph’s brothers we are asking, are they any different than when they sold him into slavery and hated him twenty years before? So yes they have changed, they are genuinely bothered by their sin, and they understand that they are dealing with God as a consequence of that sin – but is the sorrow they are expressing a worldly sorrow or a godly sorry?
- In vv. 18-29 Judah gives an overview of everything for “the (Egyptian) man.”
Taking Steps To Stop the Pain (vv. 30-34)
30 “Now therefore, as soon as I come to your servant my father, and the boy is not with us, then, as his life is bound up in the boy’s life, 31 as soon as he sees that the boy is not with us, he will die, and your servants will bring down the gray hairs of your servant our father with sorrow to Sheol. 32 For your servant became a pledge of safety for the boy to my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, then I shall bear the blame before my father all my life.’ 33 Now therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the boy as a servant to my lord, and let the boy go back with his brothers. 34 For how can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? I fear to see the evil that would find my father.”
Judah said to the (Egyptian) man, “I told my father “‘If I do not bring him back to you, then I shall bear the blame before my father all my life.’ 33 Now therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the boy as a servant to my lord, and let the boy go back with his brothers.
Judah is appealing to “the (Egyptian) man” by stating how a father loves his son, and to be separated from his son would cause so much anguish and sorrow that it would crush him. Judah takes actions pleading to take the place of his brother, so that his father would not die. The same father who doesn’t love him, like he loves Benjamin – he’s ok with that, he doesn’t want to hurt his father any further. He is convicted of his sin.
Judah has seen what his previous sin had caused to his father, he will do anything to not cause that pain again – that is a godly sorrow, he has repented of his sin, his mind is changed, he does not want to do that again. “This is the point in the story at which the brothers are actually born again. Before, this they were unregenerate. From this point on they are transformed individuals.”
Joseph put the cup in Benjamin’s sack to see where the blame would fall. Would the brothers try to save their own worthless skins, or would they stand there and watch Benjamin go off into slavery? Would they tell dad that wild animals had devoured him too? There was not one of them that didn’t wish the cup was in their bag instead of Benjamin’s. They all returned to Egypt. Judah says, “I fear to see the evil that would find my father.” – He intellectually, emotionally, and in his will – doesn’t want to see any harm come to his youngest brother, or his father. This is a powerful change in his heart.
The call to repentance is not a call to just feel the remorse of your sins.
It’s a call to turn around so that God can do something about them. It is an action.
If you are trying to run from God and have pushed away his gracious intervention in your life, you need to know two things:
God will always uncover your iniquity. Usually, he discloses iniquity in this life. But even if He does not do so here, he will certainly do it in the life to come. The Bible says, “Your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). All things hidden will be brought into the light from darkness. There is no way for you to escape except in the scared arms of Jesus.
It is not what you achieve in this life that matters, but what God in righteousness chooses to do through you. Does God have your heart? Repent this morning from your sin, and give Him your life.
 Boice, 150.
 Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Record, A Scientific and Devotional Commentary on the Book of Beginnings (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Book House, 1977) 610.
 It is an onomatopoetic term that implies difficulty in breathing, hence “pant,” “sigh,” “groan.” Naturally it came to signify “lament” or grieve;” when the emotion was produced by the desire of good for others it merged into compassion and sympathy, and when incited by a consideration of one’s own character and deeds it came to mean “rue,” “repent.”
 Geoffrey W. Bromiley, General Editor, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Volume Four, Q-Z (Grand Rapids, Michigan; W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1988) 136.
 Bromiley, 136.
 James Montgomery Boice, Genesis, An Expositional Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan Publishing; 1987) 159.
With any strategy, a teacher must have some way of knowing when she is reaching or has achieved her objectives. The church must, therefore, have a simple way of acknowledging whether it is being successful or not. Barna suggests three such standards for defining success and the author will give another. The first is â€œwidespread parental involvement in the spiritual development of the children.â€ This is a simple way for determining whether the childrenâ€™s ministry is successful or not. One could simply take the parents of the participating children and determine how many of them are involved. The second is â€œstrategically equipping parents.â€ One could observe how many equipping opportunities are available for parents, and of those available opportunities, how many parents took part in the training. A third measure of success would be â€œthe transformed life of the child.â€ This measure is very subjective because it is hard to determine what is going on in the heart of a child by watching the behavior in the limited time a teacher has with the child during a class or other activity.
Proverbs 4:23 states, â€œAbove all else, guard your heart, for it is the well spring of life.â€ The way a person acts is an expression, a wellspring, or overflow of the heart. The heart determines behavior. Mark 7:21â€“23 says, â€œFor from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.â€™â€ Luke 6:45 says, â€œThe good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.â€ A strategy of the church must address the heart (what is going on inside) along with expressed outward behavior.
In addressing a similar issue Tripp says, â€œA biblical approach to educating children involves two elements that you weave together. One element is rich, full communication. The other is the rod or correction (See Proverbs 23:13-19, 22, 26.)â€ The didactical writings of the Bible, specifically the Law of the Old Testament were given to make the people of God see the impossibility of keeping it and to cry out to God for mercy. The law must be followed (telling the truth, honoring oneâ€™s parents, etc.), but it is only when oneâ€™s bend is toward God that they can keep the intention of the law which is a dependence upon God. If that bend is away from God, a person becomes like the Pharisees. Matthew 23:27â€“28 references this type of outwardly religious but inwardly rebellious person; â€œWoe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.â€ If a church focuses only on correcting outward behavior, but does not communicate enough with the children to determine what is transpiring in the heart, they have not successfully ministered to children. This is not a suggestion that the church should â€œbear the rodâ€ of correction but only that the church should emphasize relationship and communication in its educational endeavors with children.
The Pharisees looked religious and obedient to God on the outside, but their hearts were far from God. The measure of success should not be proper behavior alone (sitting quietly in their seat, saying â€œyes maâ€™am or no maâ€™am,â€ etc.) but a heart reliant upon and sold out for God. Discipline in the classroom and the home must be carried out to show specifically where the child has displeased God. It is this process of showing the child, according to the Bible, why what they have done is wrong that the child makes the decision to follow God and not the world. If the parent or church stops at only correcting behavior alone, and giving no explanation of why a standard of behavior is required, then they are raising Pharisees not true worshippers of Christ. Again, the earlier this process begins, the easier it is for the childâ€™s heart to be bent toward God and away from their natural heartâ€™s desire to sin. This is the heart of Deuteronomy 6 where it discusses a constant conversation with the child. This ideally is to be accomplished by the parents during their daily living, not one hour on Sunday morning by a teacher.
Romans 1:18â€“20 states, â€œThe wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness,Â since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.â€ In the language of Romans, a child will either respond to God by faith or they suppress the truth in unrighteousness. In his rebellion, he will actually hide the truth from himself. It is the parentâ€™s and the churchâ€™s responsibilities to guide the child toward faith in God (through teaching and correction) and to point out when the child is worshipping something other than God, thereby suppressing the truth in his life.
A fourth way of defining success is to have a diagnostic test of some kind that would effectively measure the knowledge of the child as he progresses through the years and stages of the ministry. One such test could be a life application challenge given in the classroom. For example, if the lesson is on â€œSpending Time with God,â€ the life application challenge could be for the child to have a daily devotional time. The teacher could then ask the child in a nonjudgmental fashion, â€œDid you have a devotional time this week?â€ When this information is received and reviewed, it can become the goal of the church to increase the total average over time by trying different strategies. Actual numbers and data give the leadership and parents something to work with as a basis to project realistic goals. Regarding this issue Barna has said,
In order to meaningfully operationalize these (or other) desired outcomes, we start by tying our search for clues (for spiritual growth) to the means of measurement. Here are some means through which we can evaluate outcomes:
- Formal evaluation tools â€“ written tests, oral tests, essays, competitions andÂ homework assignments.
- Self-report evaluation tools â€“ surveys, inventories and profiles.
- Conversation and dialogue â€“ language used, reasoning skills, foundationalÂ worldview expressed and interactive engagement.
- Observable behavior or perspectives â€“ attendance, volunteerism,Â invitations, donations, professed beliefs, memorized beliefs, physical condition and body language.
- Inferences from choices â€“ character of friends, media preferences,Â spending habits, social activity, attire and appearance.
Assessment can be formal or informal. At the more formal extreme are written tests of ability and knowledge. On the informal extreme would be casual observation.Â Both of these measurements can be used together to give an administrator a more complete picture.
 Barna, Transforming Children Into Spiritual Champions, 101.
 Tripp, Shepherding A Childâ€™s Heart, 74.
 Rom 3:20
 John 4:24
 Ps 51:5
 Barna, Transforming Children Into Spiritual Champions, 130.