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Monday: Joseph Confronts His Brothers — 16 Comments

  1. Just a little sidelight to the spiritual lesson from this morning's study. The author comments on the use of phrase repetition in the story of Joseph. It needs to be remembered that the stories were not constructed by writing them in a book but were composed to be committed to memory. Stories were composed so that they could be remembered and recited and passed on to future generations accurately. The use of repetition throughout scripture using either repeated phrases or restatements of ideas, is an indication that for many, their only access to scripture was through memory. A reminder of this heritage is the use of cantors in modern synagogue worship services.

    In this week's study, the fat hits the fan. That is a colloquial expression to describe the trouble that arises when you think that an old problem has been forgotten about. The brothers attributed the problems they were facing to the way they had treated their brother. The interesting thing is that the brothers had changed in the intervening years. The really important idea is that over that time they had changed. God had worked on their hearts and they had matured.

    I was involved in educating young people for a very long time. I taught the children and in some cases the grandchildren of the students that I taught in my early years. One thing that I learned was that I was not a prophet. A student's grade at the end of a course that I taught was an indicator of how well they did in my course, not a predictor as to how well they would do in the future.

    One particular student of mine really struggled. He was spending his time clubbing and doing no work whatsoever. His friends used to bring him to class and prop him up sometimes because he was drunk. I failed him, and he disappeared from my horizon. You can imagine my shock when I attended a Sabbath School in another state a few years later to see this student taking the lesson. It was one of my sweetest failures.

    People can change. God works, even on the hearts of ratbags (Aussie colloquialism) and changes them. Its not a repaint job; its a renewal!

  2. Question from study: Also, why is accepting God’s promises of forgiveness through Jesus so crucial for us (see Romans 5:7-11)?

    There is a big difference between people exchanging forgiveness from each other, and receiving God's forgivness through Christ Jesus.
    The later is reconciliation with God and the restoring of the indwelling Spirit of santification.

    James 4:1-10 (CSB)
    1 What is the source of wars and fights *among you*? Don’t they come from *your passions that wage war within you* ?
    2 You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and wage war. You do not have because you do not ask.
    3 You ask and don’t receive because you ask with *wrong motives*, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
    4 You adulterous people! Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the friend of the world becomes the enemy of God.
    5 Or do you think it’s without reason that the Scripture says: The *spirit he made to dwell in us envies intensely*?
    6 But he gives greater grace. Therefore he says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
    7 Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
    8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
    9 Be miserable and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.
    10 *Humble yourselves before the Lord*, and he will *exalt you.*

  3. Why didn't Joseph want to take revenge on his brothers? I believe that from his early years he had allowed the LORD to transform his character to be like the LORD.

    Isaiah reveals the difference between the way and thoughts of the wicked and that of the LORD.

    Isa 55:7-9 MKJV  Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.  (8)  For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor your ways My ways, says the LORD.  (9)  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.

    What are the LORD's thoughts and ways? He has revealed them in many ways in His Word either directly or through examples like Joseph. Heb 1:1 MKJV  God, who at many times and in many ways spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets.

    Isa 55:11 MKJV  so shall My Word be, which goes out of My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall certainly do what I sent it to do.

  4. It is noticeable that when Joseph revealed himself to his brothers (Gen. 45:4-9), he gave justification for his being sold by his brothers. There was no foreknowledge of this divine intervention to Joseph or his brothers. It is also pleasant to note that Joseph's brothers did not justify their evil by citing Joseph's rise to power. This helps us to understand that sin should not be justified by looking at its positive end results. Instead, the offended should do so as a means of reconciliation with the offender.

  5. I find this question from todays lesson interesting:

    How can we, to whatever degree possible, make up for what we have done?

    I react along the lines of Maurice’s comment. I’m not so sure that making up for the wrong that was done is the theme, sometimes when possible it should be done but often it is not. Therefore, learn from it, as his brothers did. They were changed and later humbled and prepared to do the right thing.

  6. Joseph was yet another figure that revealed the Spirit of Christ.

    1 Peter 1:8-12 (CSB)
    8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; though not seeing him now, you believe in him, and you rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy,
    9 because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
    10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who prophesied about the grace that would come to you, searched and carefully investigated.
    11 They inquired into what time or what circumstances the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when he testified in advance to the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.
    12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you. These things have now been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven -- angels long to catch a glimpse of these things.

  7. Today's lesson proposes that "the linguistic and thematic echoes between the two events underline the character of just retribution". But what is the specific nature and character of the retribution that is happening in the passage under study?

    Here are some questions for those who are interested in unpacking the nature of the "just retribution" that the lesson proposes is happening here:

    1) What specifically was the retribution that Joseph's brothers were experiencing?
    2) What was the source/s of that retribution? What did they identify the source/s as?
    3) Was Joseph motivated to undertake retribution in his dealings with his brothers? If not, what was Joseph's motivation in his dealings?

    What picture of retribution do you see when you put all of your above findings together?

    Is there a difference between human retribution - as we commonly know it - and biblical retribution when it comes to God's retribution? Or are they essentially the same thing?

    • What is the difference between retribution - pay back - and Justice?

      Was the flood from God retribution or justice?
      What about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah - retribution or justice?

      What is God's character?
      Exo 34:5-7 KJV  And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.  (6)  And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,  (7)  Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

      Can the LORD be both just and merciful?
      Rom 3:22-26 NLT We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. 23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, 26 for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.
      Rom 3:26 KJV  To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

      Sometimes God executes His judgement immediately like Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11) or He waits until His day of wrath (Rom 2:5-10)
      2Th 1:5-10 KJV  Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:  (6)  Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;  (7)  And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,  (8)  In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:  (9)  Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;  (10)  When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.

      Romans 12:19 – 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."

      Read the article "God will pay you back" recently posted by William.
      pay back

      • Hi Shirley

        How do you highlight (dark) for emphasis, like you have done ?

        Thanks in advance !

        • Hi Larry,

          Before the section you want to put in bold - type (b) and at the end put (/b) - only use "<" and ">" for brackets.
          Look below the block for comments where it says: HTML tags allowed in your comment for examples.

          Or check number 12 under Explanatory Notes of the Comment Guidelines. Comment Guidelines

      • This part in your comment ... Was changed by God later.

        Exo 34:5-7 KJV And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. (6) And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, (7) Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

        Was changed .... To personal responsibility ...as follows:

        Ezekiel 18:1-4 (CSB)
        1 The word of the LORD came to me:
        2 “What do you mean by using this proverb concerning the land of Israel: ‘The fathers eat sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’?
        3 “As I live” -- this is the declaration of the Lord GOD -- “you will no longer use this proverb in Israel.
        4 “Look, every life belongs to me. The life of the father is like the life of the son -- both belong to me.
        The *****person who sins is the one who will die.*****

        • Larry, good point, each one is responsible for their own sins, however I believe that the character of the father influences his descendants. Have we not been discussing how Jacob's sins affected his sons.

          • Yes, definitely an Influence from Parents and culture ...👍
            The change was made in the new covenant ...
            God dealt with Israel as *a nation* not individuals.
            God deals with spiritual Israel aka *Christians* as individuals ! Laws in individual heart and minds, very personal !

            Amen sister 🙏

        • The Lord said, "I am the Lord,. I change not." (Mal 3:6) God's character has not changed from the beginning. He is still the same as proclaimed in Ex. 34:5-7. He has never changed His way of dealing with humanity. (The difference between the corporate and personal dealings with humanity are another subject - too long to enter into here. The same corporate principle applies to the followers of Christ as applied to Israel.)

          Rightly understood, there is no conflict between Ex. 34:5-7 and Eze 18:1-4. The Exodus passage tells of the effects of sin on subsequent generations. We can still see this in families today. The Exodus passage also chronicles God's mercy in that He can and often does neutralize the results of parents' sins in the lives of those who turn their lives over to God.

          Humans have always been saved as individuals, never as a group. Otherwise, all who were part of the nation of Israel, "God's own people," would be saved. Salvation has always been by faith, never by works. (See the whole chapter of Hebrews.)

          I see the New Covenant as "new" because was ratified at Calvary, but it was in effect from the very beginning - that God would save and redeem humanity from sin. The Israelites made God's covenant "old" by their response of trying to keep His Law in their own strength. And this only got worse as time went on. In Hebrews Paul uses their understanding of God's covenant as the "old covenant," just as Jeremiah did. (Note that the "old covenant" is never described as God's way of salvation. It is only described in terms of human failure.)

          Notice that in Jeremiah 31:31-43, the "new covenant" has the very same basis as the "old covenant" - the Law of God. The difference is that in the "new covenant," God fulfills it by writing His Law in hearts. Yet, the rest of the Bible tells us that He does not do it without our faithful cooperation. By faith, we reach out to Him to save us and to change us.

          The question for us is, Are we allowing God to write His Law of love in our hearts?

    • I do not see retribution in Joseph’s actions toward his brothers. What I see is Joseph putting them in a situation to see what is in their hearts—a time of testing. This culminates in Genesis 44 where Judah—the one who suggested selling Joseph into slavery—pleads to be a slave for the rest of his life, so that Benjamin can be released back to his father.

      This is what it is like in our own lives. Our actions and words in situations that stress us deeply reveal our characters—what already exists in our hearts. These situations can also change us because they reveal to us what we are and that revelation can motivate us to let God change us into his image.

      God is not interested in retribution so much as he calls to our hearts so that he can make us into his image. There is no place for retribution in functional loving relationships. Moses makes this point clearly in Deuteronomy 30:15-20. However, if a person insists on choosing death, God in love must honour their choice. That is the ultimate “pay back” for insistently choosing death, “retribution,” if you will.

  8. God's nature in the kingdom/family of Sonship, is Love, mercy, long suffering and Justice.
    God does everything according and consistant with his divine nature.
    It's what rules God ! how about us ?

    2 Corinthians 5:16-21 (CSB)
    16 From now on, then, we do not know anyone from a *worldly perspective*. Even if we have known Christ from a worldly perspective, yet now we no longer know him in this way.
    17 Therefore, if *anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; * the old has passed away, and see, the *new has come!*

    18 Everything is from God, who has *reconciled us to himself* *through Christ* and has *given us the ministry of reconciliation.*
    19 That is, *in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself* not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us.

    20 Therefore, *we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: “Be reconciled to God.” *
    21 He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him *we might become the righteousness of God.*

    Colossians 1:19-23 (CSB)
    19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,
    20 and through him to *reconcile everything to himself*, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
    21 Once you were alienated and hostile in your minds expressed in your evil actions.
    22 But now he has *reconciled you by his physical body through his death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before him*
    23 if indeed you remain grounded and steadfast in the faith and are not shifted away from the hope of the gospel that you heard. This gospel has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven....

    Revelation 20:11-15 (CSB)
    11 Then I saw a great white throne and one seated on it. Earth and heaven fled from his presence, and no place was found for them.
    12 I also saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged according to their works by what was written in the books.
    13 Then the sea gave up the dead that were in it, and Death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them; each one was judged according to their works.
    14 Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.
    15 And anyone *whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.*

    Numbers 6:24-27 (CSB)
    24 “May the LORD bless you and protect you;
    25 “may the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; 26 “may the LORD look with favor on you and give you peace.”
    27 In this way they will pronounce my name over the Israelites, and I will bless them.”


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