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The Life of Joseph Week 5: Reconciling Relationships | Genesis 42-46

Mary Ellen Ermis November 19, 2023 sermons, cityrise, Crosspoint Church - Bellaire, Genesis, houston, Roger Patterson, The Life of Joseph,

The following is a manuscript of the sermon presented by Senior Pastor Dr. Roger Patterson on Sunday, November 19, 2023 at our Crosspoint Church-Bellaire campus.


“Hurt people, hurt people. Healed people, heal people.”

As you come to worship today, are you hurt, or healed?

Today’s message is going to strike an emotional nerve for many of you, as so much of the pain in our lives comes from broken relationships.

We are going to talk about healing from relational pain.

I want to ask you to open your heart this morning and receive Gods word… because I want for all of us to not live hurt, but healed.

Review- last week, lessons on leadership… Joseph carried people through crisis…

Genesis 42-46

Narrate story: (5 long chapters, nots of text, let me fly over it quickly)

  • Where we left off last week…Joseph ascends to power, he is working his plan to carry the people through the crisis of the famine.
  • This brings about the divine appointment he has to reconcile with his brothers.
  • Because there is no food in Israel, Jacob sends 10 sons (Benjamin at home) to Egypt to try and buy food.
  • They come to Joseph to buy food and they don’t recognize their brother, but he recognizes them, though he doesn’t let on for quite some time.
  • He puts them in jail for three days then he sends them on their way but with a twist. He puts them to the test, he says that they must leave one brother (Simeon) there in jail and go home and bring the youngest brother back with them. And he also put their money back in their sacks.
  • Jacob initially says, “No way are you taking Benjamin,”… but over the course of time the famine gets more severe, food runs out, and eventually Jacob agrees and lets them return to Egypt with Benjamin.
  • Joseph receives them, reunites them with Simeon, prepares a feast and they all sit down to dine together with Benjamin getting double the food.
  • The next day Joseph loads them up again with grain to send them home but with another twist. This time he puts his silver cup in Benjamin’s sack and sends a guard to chase after them. They find the cup, and bring them back to Joseph.
  • Joseph then says, “Whoever stole my cup will stay here and be my servant.”
  • At this point, Judah pleads with Joseph to let him take Benjamin’s place.
  • Now Joseph can’t take it anymore, his heart is ready to burst and he then makes himself known to his brothers and forgives them.
  • He tells them go home get your father and come back with all your family and all your livestock and live here in Egypt with me and have peace and prosperity.

Here’s the big idea today that Joseph’s story teaches us about broken relationships: “It is hard to forgive hard things. But, it is quite possible.”

So, let’s see what this story can teach us.

Slide: How to Reconcile a Relationship:

  1. Acknowledge the relational pain.

How to move on when people hurt you:

  • Acknowledge the relational pain.
  • We can never find a way to heal and move on until we uncover and acknowledge and deal with relational pain.
  • We must embrace the reality that when someone close to you hurts you, it hurts really really bad. And we have to be committed to doing our best to move on from it, as in life, there are just some things that are beyond our control.

Notice with me how Joseph tries to move on from it. First, in Genesis 41, we see the names of his sons. The names of his sons help us see Joseph’s mindset.

Genesis 41:50-52

50 Before the year of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph. Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, bore them to him. 51 Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh. “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” 52 The name of the second he called Ephraim, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”

So we have Manessah and Ephraim.

The name Manessah in Hebrew sounds like the word “forget.” And it says Joseph named him this because God has made him “forget” two things.

  • ) All my trouble
  • ) All my father’s household

This is Joseph’s attempt to do his best to forget. But the irony here is that Joseph can only forget his trouble and his father’s household so much, because every time he calls his son’s name, he is bringing up that which he is trying to forget.

That’s like saying, “Don’t think of Pink Elephants.”

But Joseph is trying to make the most of his situation. He is no longer in prison. He is now in a high position and the money is rolling in. He has his wife, his kids, and his house.  He is an overcomer and he credits God for helping him overcome.

How do we know?

Because his son’s name, Ephraim means twice fruitful. The Scripture here says, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”

So, to this point in Joseph’s testimony, he is doing all he knows to do, to make the most of the situation he has been placed in. And he has reconciled his past by ACKNOWLEDGING THE PAIN and giving it over to God.

This might be exactly where you are. You are no longer in proximity to the one or ones who have hurt you. And the harsh reality is that your pain from your past is awful. But, by God’s grace, you are giving it to him, and day by day, little by little, you are making progress.

Don’t underestimate the big impact that tiny changes can have. Add those up day by day, and that’s significant change. Do your best to “Forget…” from the stand point that the pain is not dominating you, and be thankful for the “Fruitfulness” that God has given you.

Now, notice what happens when Joseph sees his brothers for the first time. Let’s look at Genesis 42:6-11.

Genesis 42:6-11

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 do you come from?” he said. 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 dreamed of them. And he said to them, “You are spies; you have come to see the nakedness of the land.” 10 They said to him, “No, my lord, your servants have come to buy food. 11 We are all sons of one man. We are honest men. Your servants have never been spies.”

  • Joseph’s old emotions have been under the surface for more than 13 years now. And one glance at the brothers and they are right back to the surface.

Pastor Dustin Turner says…“It’s possible that Joseph is experiencing a kind of PTSD where mentally and emotionally he is being thrown into the pit and sold into slavery all over again.”

I want you to not miss the fact here that it was hard for Joseph to forgive his brothers in this story, it wasn’t automatic, it wasn’t easy, and it took time and he struggled with it.

And Joseph didn’t try to hide his emotions and frustration. That’s normal!

Now, we also see in this story, the conscience of the brothers getting pricked. The text shows us that the brother have been living with fear, guilt, shame, and regret for many years.

  • The brother’s pain: fear, guilt, shame
    • Relational pain touches everyone involved both the offender and victim alike.
    • Look at 42: 21-22

Genesis 42:21-22

Then they said to one another, “In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us and we did not listen. That is why this distress has come upon us.” 22 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.” 

  • Here’s where our journey to healing begins. We must acknowledge the relational pain that we have caused in someone’s life or that we have endured ourselves. Healed hearts own their part of the pain caused.
  • But you will never have healing of anything if you aren’t willing to take responsibility for your actions. If you continue to persist as a victim…”Well, Joseph deserved what he got…he was arrogant…parading that coat…he no longer had to work in the field with us…he’s really the one at fault, here…” you will never get anywhere.

Have you dealt with your story, with your past pain, with your relational brokenness?

How to Reconcile a Relationship:

  1. Acknowledge the relational pain.
  2. Attempt to rebuild trust.
  • Attempt to rebuild trust.
  • Something interesting to me in the story is that Joseph does not quickly or easily make himself known to his brothers and he does not automatically reconcile with them.
  • He does these tests…. Remember the twists right ….

Look at Genesis 42:15-16.

Genesis 42:15-16

15 By this you shall be tested: by the life of Pharaoh, you shall not go from this place unless your youngest brother comes here. 16 Send one of you, and let him bring your brother, while you remain confined, that your words may be tested, whether there is truth in you. Or else, by the life of Pharaoh, surely you are spies.”

This happens again in chapter 44.

What’s he doing here? I think he’s trying to determine, “Can I trust these guys? Have these guys changed at all, can I let them back into my life in tangible and practical ways?”

He wants to know if they are telling the truth about his dad and little brother. He’s not sure at this point.

John Walton said,

“The purpose of Joseph’s test is to determine whether his brothers have reformed?

Here’s a principle:  When it comes to relational pain, forgiveness can happen at any time, but trust takes time to rebuild.

Not only is that true, but keep this in mind as well. Forgiveness and reconciliation are biblical mandates, but practically restoring someone to the same place they had in our lives before is another matter.  Boundaries are necessary and appropriate in our lives.

There are times that we forgive people but can no longer trust them, or at least not yet.

Some people by their actions move themselves to a category of an unsafe person. If someone has been the victim of mistreatment, either emotionally or especially physically, then a boundary has been broken and there are consequences to that action that will take time to reverse.

Rebuilding trust takes time and isn’t’ always necessarily possible.

There are people in my own story that have wronged me that I truly and fully forgive in Jesus name, but I can’t trust them.

So, Joseph is checking to see if it is possible to rebuild trust.

How to Reconcile a Relationship:

  1. Acknowledge the relational pain.
  2. Attempt to rebuild trust.
  3. Always keep your heart tender.
  • Always keep your heart tender.
  • I love this aspect of the story, that we see all the way through, after everything Joseph has been through, his heart is not hard, it’s still soft!
  • Read 42:24; 43:30-31; 45:1-2; 45:14,15

Genesis 42:24

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.

Genesis 43:30-31

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.”

Genesis 45:1-2

Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him. He cried, “Make everyone go out from me.” So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept aloud, so that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it.

Tears do not show weakness, they show strength!

When you have experienced relational pain, the most dangerous place you can be is to develop and hold onto a cold, and calloused, and bitter, and angry, and hard heart.

I understand that trauma brings about a sort of numbness at times and part of the way we try to protect ourselves from getting hurt more is to sort of wall ourselves up on the inside like a fortress.

Let me plead with you, there’s nothing but more pain and dysfunction in that place.  Healing can’t reach you there!

We must soften our hearts!

How do we do this? How do we keep a tender heart when we’ve been hurt?  Here’s one of the primary ways I believe we can:

  • Believe that God just may be at work in the others person’s life too. Be open to the possibility that just as God has worked in your life to redeem and refine you, maybe he’s doing just that for the other person.
  • We see this in the story today with Judah, one of the brothers.Now remember that Judah was the one (ch 37) that came up with the idea of selling Joseph into slavery….

Genesis 43:8-9

 And Judah said to Israel his father, “Send the boy with me, and we will arise and go, that we may live and not die, both we and you and also our little ones. 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. 

Genesis 44:32-33

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. 

  • Judah has changed. Judah has gone from being an exploiter to a protector.

John Walton says, “He is selflessly willing to accept his own misery rather than put others in misery. This transformation of the brothers, represented in Judah, is every bit as miraculous as the transformation in the status of Joseph.”

  • And don’t miss that substitutionary language there!Jesus is the lion from the tribe of Judah.
  • This is how we keep our hearts tender.We confess that Jesus was their substitute too!
  • The way we keep our tender is to cling to the truth that the Gospel is for everyone, even them!

How to Reconcile a Relationship:

  1. Acknowledge the relational pain.
  2. Attempt to rebuild trust.
  3. Always keep your heart tender.
  4. Acquiesce versus seeking revenge.
  • Acquiesce versus seeking revenge.
  • A profound part of this story is something we see missing from it.We see Joseph struggle , we see Joseph hurt and angry, we see Joseph work to rebuild trust, but what we don’t see if Joseph getting revenge .

Genesis 42:18

On the third day Joseph said to them, “Do this and you will live, for I fear God… 

  • He doesn’t let himself repay evil for evil, he doesn’t let himself go down the dark road of revenge, he can’t , he belongs to God.

Listen, if you are struggling to heal from relational pain, and you are tempted to say eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth… you can’t go there.

Romans 12:17-18

17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

  • To seek revenge is to prolong or to miss out on your healing.

Tim Keller says this- “Forgiveness is giving up the right to revenge, the right to seek repayment from the one who harmed you.”

  • Forgiveness is the path to freedom, that brings us to our final step…

How to Reconcile a Relationship:

  1. Acknowledge the relational pain.
  2. Attempt to rebuild trust.
  3. Always keep your heart tender.
  4. Acquiesce versus seeking revenge.
  5. Accept forgiveness and forgive others.
  • Accept forgiveness and forgive others.
  • To heal and move on from relational pain, forgiveness must be offered and received.It runs both ways.
  • Here’s the best part of the story !
  • Text: 45:3-8

Genesis 45:3-8

And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence.

So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. 

Joseph forgives his brothers and is restored and reunited. Joseph actually forgives them before they even apologize…

It takes spiritual and emotional maturity to take the first step, make the first move in forgiveness.

  • This can happen because God is a gracious and merciful and powerful God, and he can heal and transform hearts!

How do I know this to be true, because of the Gospel!

Ephesians 4:32

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Lord’s Prayer- forgive us our trespasses as what ?!

Tim Keller says, “Human forgiveness must be based on an experience of divine forgiveness. There is no better way to get the humility necessary for forgiveness than to accept what the Gospel says about us!”

Also, we can forgive when we recognize there is purpose in the pain. Did you notice what Joseph said to his brothers in vs. 8.

“It was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you…”

When we can see the sovereignty of God’s hand in our story , even in the relational pain, then we can forgive.

  • Always remember that forgiveness is not a feeling, it’s an act of the will…
  • And Forgiveness brings freedom and restores intimacy.

No matter how bad you’ve been hurt, because of the Gospel there is hope!

  • There is hope that people can change.
  • There is hope that you can heal.
  • There is hope that you can be free and set free.
  • There is hope of reconciliation.

Practical application questions:

  • Have you wronged someone and you are afraid to ask them for forgiveness?
  • Is there someone you need to forgive?
  • Have you truly grasped what God has done for you in the Gospel?
  • What is your first step or your next step today on the journey to healing from relational pain?

Remember —  Hurt people, hurt people.  Healed people heal people.

Which do you want to be?