Sunday, January 15, 2012
On 1-22-12 Genesis 50:15-26 will be our International Sunday School Lesson/Adult Sunday School Lesson herein is my commentary. This lesson is known by some as Joseph Transmits Abraham's Promise aka Reconciliation in the Family
Joseph Transmits Abraham’s Promise
Reconciliation in the Family
International Sunday School Lesson
January 22, 2012
If a scale existed to take the weight of sin it would be astonishing to see what the measurement would be. Or similarly if there was a means to calculate the cost of sin the figure arrived upon would similarly be staggering and as I consider today’s lesson, it is clear to me that the sin the brothers of Joseph committed when they sold him into slavery came with a heavy weight and cost for all involved.
We know some of the trials of Joseph from that time when they perpetrated their acts against him and in what followed as he became a slave in Egypt. We also know the successes that occurred as God blessed him despite the lowly position he found himself in.
What we don’t know other than the obvious costs of being away from his father and his home and things he may have enjoyed and loved is how Joseph was fundamentally changed. Would he have become the same man at 40 that he did? Clearly not! The simple fact of leaving a home with a place of special favor and becoming a slave would have changed him. But I am thinking more of the visceral, the emotional, I believe the tears of Joseph reveal the emotional toll that resulted from the acts his brothers committed against him.
Good man of God that he was, he did not ever blame his brothers but found the silver lining, the plans of God. But from deep down inside we see the emotions that welled up when he saw his kin in Genesis 43:30, 45:2, 14, 15 and 46:29. The final example of this emotion we read of today when his brothers fearing him still are asking for forgiveness. Yes, the weight of Joseph’s tears and emotions were a heavy burden.
By the same token, we know that all the brothers went back and lied to their father Jacob about their actions against Joseph and then they went about living their lives. What we don’t know is what the sins and the lies did to them over the years. I would imagine there were many times when for a time the guilt wasn’t there at certain moments to bring Joseph to mind but I wager their father Jacob would speak of him and then their festering sore of guilt would be reopened.
This guilt was obviously a heavy burden for the brothers even after Joseph clearly showed his brothers his emotion and forgiveness once they were reunited (Genesis 45). The burden of their sin, as we see in today’s scripture was causing a barrier to be placed between the brothers and Joseph preventing full reconciliation. The incident we read of today was because the brothers knew the mutual love between their father and his son and with Jacob’s death their guilt made them fear that retribution had merely been stayed for a time. From Joseph’s reaction we see that they were wrong, forgiveness was truly theirs.
So there you have it, the cost, the weight, the changes and barriers that sin creates in lives as evidenced by Joseph and his brothers is clearly a lesson. We assume that now finally Joseph and his brothers were reconciled. Joseph I am confident was full of grace and had assumed they already achieved it but guilt of their sin had kept the brothers from reaching that point despite Joseph’s gift of grace to them. Do you see where I am going?
As Christians are you or someone you know letting your guilt of past sins keeping you from full reconciliation with God? Are you failing to fully enjoy the time you have now as one of his heirs?
Do you or someone you know demonstrate the things that the brothers did? The fears, the guilt, even the mistrust? These brothers of Joseph had been delivered, so have you been. Their father was reunited with his beloved son; you have been united with the Father. Their entire family had been delivered, your entire church family since Christ’s sacrifice has been as well. The brothers unhealthily could not get past their heavy burden of guilt and fear and enjoy the benefits of Joseph’s love and grace. Are you or someone you love failing to leave your burdens behind so that you are failing to enjoy the benefits of God’s love and grace? Believe me, you too have been forgiven, the love and gift of God’s grace is yours!
Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.
1. Accepting forgiveness for past sins is what is in sight for today’s lesson not continuing sin. David gives an example of current guilt for recent sin found in Psalm 38.
2. Clearly Joseph was a sensitive man but even he had not done enough to assuage the guilt of his brothers. Discuss how we need to remember how guilt can remain on those who sin, sometimes perhaps against you. Further discuss how we should be mindful of this in order to help them accept the offered forgiveness.
3. My thought is that Joseph wept in verse 17 because of empathy for his brothers however he may have wept for another reason, discuss opinions.
4. Discuss other examples of guilt from the Bible
5. Discuss other examples of reconciliation from the Bible.
6. Did the Apostle Paul still carry guilt? Discuss.
7. See if any in your group would share examples from their own experiences.
Upcoming Adult Sunday School Class Commentaries
1-29-12: Out of Egypt (A New Ordinance) Exodus 15:1-3, 19, 22-26 or 15:1-5, 19-26
2-5-12: Justified by Faith in Christ Galatians 2:15-21
2-12-12: Freed from Law through Christ (The Blessing for All) Galatians 3:1-14
2-19-12: Heirs to the Promise (Inheriting Abraham’s Promise) Galatians 3:15-18, 4:1-7
2-26-12: Fruits of Redemption Galatians 5:22-6:10
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved