People just harm each other and do the most atrocious things to one another.
1. Forgiveness and Trust (44:1-13)
Joseph comes face to face with his brothers, who sold him into slavery. He now looks Egyptian. He speaks Egyptian. And they are Hebrew. They do not know that it is him, but he knows that it is them. And so he uses this opportunity with his anonymity to test his brothers.
Christians should be quick to forgive and slow to trust. Bible says, "Jesus didn’t entrust himself to any man because he knew what was in the heart of every man." (Jn 2:24) Jesus was slow to trust too.
As Christians, we should forgive people quickly so we don’t get angry and mean and bitter, and we don’t get hard hearted, and we don’t wish evil on anyone. We should forgive quickly. But as far as trusting them, we should take time.
Trust is lost quickly; gained slowly. That’s the point of Joseph. He’s going to run his brothers through two years of tests – them not knowing that he is their brother, and he trying to get an examination of their heart.
Too many people rush into relationships without testing. Too many people employee others without testing. Too many people entrust themselves to others as friends without testing. Too many churches put leaders in place without proper testing. That’s why Paul says to test leaders – to test them, and to take your time (1 Tim 3:10).
2. God changes people (44:14-16)
Judah – good guy or bad guy? Bad guy. Judah’s a bad guy – bad, bad, bad man, bad man. He was the one who came up with the plot to sell Joseph into slavery in Egypt. He’s the one who devised the scheme to put animal blood all over the coat and then take the coat home and say, "The animals ate him alive. Your son’s dead."
He was the one who for 20 years just kept up the con with his brothers. He’s a liar. He married a godless woman. He moved out of town so he could go sin. He was such a bad father, he raised two sons that were so evil that God struck them dead and killed them. He then his wife dies and he picks her a kind of a prostitute; sleeps with her; gets her pregnant; later finds out it’s his daughter-in-law. Judah is a bad guy, bad husband, bad father, bad friend, bad brother, bad son, bad man.
Now Judah steps forward. What we’re seeing here is the transformation in the life of Judah. And this guy is a complete loser, godless, evildoer. But here his heart changes.
The moral of the story is this. This is what our God does. Our God changes people.
Judah’s just that classic story of that guy who’s been changed.
3. The art of reconciliation (44:16-34)
Judah is begging for the life of his brother. One of the most remarkable statements in all of Genesis, in my opinion. 44:33,
"’Now then,’" – Judah speaking to Joseph, his brother – "’please let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? No! Do not let me see the misery that would come upon my father.’"
Theologically, we call this substitution. Judah is a forefather to Jesus Christ. Jesus comes through his family. Judah now is starting to think like Jesus.
Jesus Christ comes from the line of Judah. He humbly becomes a man, and he does this same thing for us. He substitutes himself. He says, "I’ll live for you without sin. I’ll die for you. I’ll take your beating and your punishment. I’ll have the father turn his face away from me. I will endure wrath and scorn and misery and suffering, and I will shed my blood. And I will give up my spirit, and I will be laid in a tomb for you because I am here to honour the Father, who is in heaven. I don’t want to bring him misery. I want to bring you redemption."
Judah acts like Jesus.
The question now is how will Joseph respond? They’re face to face. Joseph has been testing for two years, concealing his identity. Now he needs to reveal himself. This is the apex of the story of Joseph. This is the climax.
“Then Joseph could no longer control himself" (45.1) – He has a great stack of rocks, doesn’t he, friends? So many of us, if someone should repent or apologise, we’re just waiting to harm them. That indicates that we haven’t forgiven them. That indicates that we’re bitter. That indicates that they’ve hurt us, and our whole goal is vengeance, not forgiveness.
You and I, we sin. John says, "He who says he’s without sin doesn’t know God." You and I, friends, we sin. We fail to do the good. That’s a sin of omission. We do do the bad. That’s commission. We sin in our words. We sin in our deeds. We sin in our motives. We sin in our heart. We sin in our imagination. We sin in our mind. We sin all the time. We need to repent.
Judah repents. And it breaks Joseph’s heart. Judah owns his sin, and Joseph forgives him. This is how Christians act when they’re acting Christ like.
If someone should come to you and apologises, don’t rub their face in it. Don’t rub their nose in it. Don’t jab it. Don’t keep it as a pile of rocks and five years later, "Oh, you remember that time you ripped me off?" Married couples are so good at this. "Oh, you remember when you said that? Remember when you did that?" And it’s just a pile of rocks.
For 22 years, Joseph has lived by faith, and now it’s sight.
4. Extreme Makeover Egyptian Version. (45:16-28)
Joseph’s planning the party cause you know what? Christians should party well for different reasons that non-Christians. Non-Christians eat and drink to forget their life. We eat and drink to celebrate God’s work in our life. That’s what we do.
Christians should be about feasting and celebrating and getting together and thanking God. Not drunkenness and gluttony and mayhem, but worship and celebration and gladness.
Jesus, this great God of ours,responds to our need like Judah responded to the need of Benjamin. That’s why Scripture says that Jesus is from Judah. (Hebrews 7:14 Revelation 5:5). There’s a direct corollary in Scripture between Judah and Jesus because Judah stood in and was willing to be a substitute. Jesus comes as our substitute. Jesus humbles himself, lives without sin in our place, and you and I should die, and we should be sentenced to an eternal prison of hell. And we should suffer for our wrongdoing. And Jesus comes and he literally stands alongside of us like a brother who loves us, like the best big brother ever.
Jesus goes to the cross. He’s betrayed by a friend, like Joseph was betrayed by his brothers. He was accused of things he didn’t do, just like Joseph was accused of things he didn’t do. Jesus suffered and died just like Judah was willing to suffer, and if need be, die as a substitute. Three days later, Jesus rises. What does he proclaim? Forgiveness, like Joseph.
Judah was a portrait of the substitute. Joseph is a portrait of the reconciliation.
What Jesus is doing now is the same thing that Joseph is doing at this point in the story. He’s preparing the party. Isaiah says it’ll be the best wine, the best meat. You and I will party and celebrate, and sin will be forgiven, and people will be reconciled. Sin and death will be no more. The world will be as it was supposed to be before we ruined it with sin. Jesus has gone before us, he says, to prepare a place. There’s a home being made for you right now.