The Goodness of God
“When the Ku Waru warriors of Papua New Guinea were about to launch any risky activity that required close cooperation—like going into battle—they first took time to set themselves right. Not only overt actions, but even hidden feelings had to be revealed.
The Ku Waru men would go to a secluded spot in the jungle, kill and roast pigs, and as they shared the meal, confess to each other the items they had stolen and the animals they had mistreated. But there was still more on the agenda. The Ku Waru believed that feelings such as anger or jealousy would sap their strength and cause them to be wounded or even killed. Only through confession could these pent-up negative emotions be neutralized.
[The Ku Waru understand an important truth.] Only by facing our faults, misdeeds, and hateful or jealous thoughts can we be made whole again. Only then can they, and we, be at full strength and ready to face a marauding tribe … or the kids at home.”
Source: Paul Wilkes, The Art of Confession (Workman Publishing Company, 2012), pp. 24-25.
On Tuesday evening at Revival on the Farm, Pastor Mark Ostby guided us in several prayers to the Lord confessing how we have grieved the Holy Spirit
After we spent that time alone with the Lord, he encouraged men to find another man, and women to find another woman and confess one of the sins we prayed about to that individual
After confessing, the other person would say, “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses you from all sin.” Then they would pray for a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit in the person’s life
This was an incredibly beautiful exercise
James 5:16, Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
Perhaps every one of us has experienced forgiveness when we have confessed our sins to those we have hurt, lied to, cheated, etc.
How many of us have also experienced God’s goodness after confessing and receiving forgiveness?
Last week we learned that Joseph finally revealed himself to his brothers. Pharaoh hears about Joseph’s brothers and offers them the best that Egypt has to offer, as well as provisions and resources to relocate them to Egypt. Joseph’s brothers experienced the goodness of God through Pharaoh and Joseph after they confessed their wrongdoing and received forgiveness. That is our Big Idea today, that . . .
BIG IDEA – We can experience the goodness of God when we confess and seek forgiveness.
GOD (Genesis 45:16-28)
In Egypt (vv. 16-24)
Reaction of Pharaoh and his officials (v. 16)
Obviously the attendants that Joseph asked to leave in verse 1 were aware of what had transpired and subsequently told Pharaoh
They figured out that the men Joseph had been courting were his brothers
Pharaoh and his officials were pleased to hear about Joseph’s family coming
“Were pleased” can be translated literally as “it was good in the eyes of Pharaoh and his officials”
“Pharaoh and his courtiers favor Joseph’s family because they look upon Joseph with favor (contra Ex. 1:8).” [Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 571]
Remember, Joseph was able to interpret Pharaoh’s dream and then recommended a course of action, which Pharaoh and his officials accepted (Gen. 41:1-40)
They put Joseph in charge of the plan and he executed the plan perfectly, saving not only all Egypt, but also the surrounding countries (Gen. 41:41-57)
It was not wonder that the news about Joseph’s brothers coming, was good in their eyes
All they know about Joseph’s family is what they had experienced with him and it had been very positive
They probably assumed that the rest of his brothers had the same kind of character as him
Hopefully, others view our family the same way, because of the kind of character we have exhibited
Pharaoh gave Joseph two directives for his brothers and through this we see Pharaoh’s generosity
Pharaoh’s generosity (vv. 17-20)
First directive with a promise
Load your animals
Obviously Joseph’s brothers had brought their own donkeys to carry back more grain for their households
They had loaded them down with the best products of the land of Canaan (balm, honey, spices, myrrh, pistachio nuts, and almonds) as gift
They were simply reloading what had been given to them before they were detained
Return to Canaan
Bring your father and your families back to me
I will give you the best of the land of Egypt
Joseph already had in mind where he wanted them to settle
As shepherds, they would need plenty of pasture land
Joseph had already chosen Goshen as the best place for his family to settle
We will see all of this unfold in the coming weeks
You can enjoy the fat of the land
The Hebrew word for enjoy, literally means “to eat”
“Fat of the land” is referring to the “finest products of harvest” [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 818]
They were going to be enjoying the finest food of the land
When I was growing up in Alabama, my parents had befriended a couple who had emigrated from Europe. He was a classically trained chef and was opening a restaurant in Birmingham. Our family was invited to the grand opening. That was probably the first time I had eaten high quality, fine food. The memory I have of the meal was that I ate asparagus and liked it. I had eaten asparagus before and did not like it.
What an incredible promise from Pharaoh
Pharaoh had a second directive with a promise
Second directive with a promise
Take some carts from Egypt for your children and wives
Get your father and come back to Egypt
Don’t worry about your belongings
The best of Egypt will be yours
Jacob and his sons were not only going to have the best pasture lands for their flocks and herds and the finest food to eat from the harvest, but also whatever belongings they needed would be provided by Pharaoh
Have you ever lived in a fully furnished house or apartment (Judy and I did right after Wade was born and before we moved back to Ohio from Florida)
They were going to experience the goodness of God through the generosity of Pharaoh
I’m certain that Joseph’s brothers were grateful they were related to him at this point
How many stories have we heard about long, lost family members who finally found their relative who recently won the lottery
We know of athletes who have provided houses and vehicles for their family members once they made it to the highest level of their sport
Celebrities and entertainers have also done the same thing
Those family members are probably grateful to be related to them
That’s probably how Joseph’s brothers felt at this point
They were experiencing the goodness of God, because of Joseph
We can experience the goodness of God when we confess and seek forgiveness.
The only reason Joseph revealed himself to his brothers is because he had tested them and saw that they had changed
They were repentant for what they had done to him
Judah had confessed that God had uncovered their guilt (Gen. 44:16)
PRINCIPLE #1 – God forgives us and extends His goodness to us even though we have sinned.
That is exactly what Joseph’s brothers were experiencing
Joseph had forgiven them
God had forgiven them
Now they were going to be taken care of, royally, until the severe famine ended
We can experience God’s goodness when we confess our sins and accept His forgiveness
The goodness of God looks different for each person
We may not be given the best pasture lands, the finest food, or have all of our belongings provided for us
Instead, we may experience God’s goodness through restored relationships, health, jobs, scholarships, opportunities, etc.
Sometimes we struggle with accepting God’s forgiveness or the forgiveness of others, but don’t let Satan have the victory
1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
#1 – My Next Step Today Is To: Accept God’s forgiveness, so I can experience His goodness.
Pharaoh was very generous, but Joseph was also
Joseph’s generosity (vv. 21-23)
Joseph did as Pharaoh had instructed him
He gave them carts
He gave them provisions for their journey
Joseph added to what Pharaoh had directed him to do
He gave each of his brothers a set of new clothing
The clothing described here was not every day wear
It was festival clothing, dress clothes to be worn on special occasions
“The brothers had taken Joseph’s robe from him when they sold him to the merchants (37:23), but he gave each of them new clothes to wear. In Scripture, a change of clothes is often the sign of a new beginning (35:1-7; 41:14), and this was certainly a new beginning for Jacob’s eleven sons.” [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Old Testament, Pentateuch, 160]
He gave Benjamin five sets of festival clothing and 300 shekels of silver
This is reminiscent of how Joseph treated Benjamin at the banquet, where he gave him five times the amount of food
Three hundred shekels of silver would be about 7.5 pounds of silver
For reference let me share several items that weigh around 7 pounds (Persian cat, 24-inch LED monitor, Big-sized melon, Cordless drills, 3 bags of sugar, 3 liters of vegetable oil, Telecaster guitar, Small sledge hammer, Pomeranian dog, Electric hand planer)
The narrator does not indicate that this favoritism of Benjamin caused his brothers to fall back into anger, jealousy, and rage
Perhaps they were just grateful for God’s goodness to them through Pharaoh and Joseph
They had changed and grown since they sold Joseph into slavery
“The brothers have learned the lesson of sovereign grace and are now above petty jealousy. Even after Joseph gave Benjamin five times as much food (43:34), they were still willing to be enslaved for him (44:13).” [Waltke, 572]
While Joseph gave some gifts to his brothers, he also prepared some items for his father
Joseph’s gifts to his father
Ten donkeys loaded with the best things of Egypt
We are not told what these items are
We can assume it is probably not food, since the ten female donkeys are carrying those items
Ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and other provisions for his journey
The food being carried by these donkeys was to be used for their journey back to Egypt
The grain that each of the brothers donkeys were carrying would have been for their trip to Canaan and for food while they prepared to move
So Jacob was receiving 20 donkeys, some of the best things of Egypt, and grain, bread, and other provisions
Joseph added one more thing above and beyond Pharaoh’s directives
He had a warning for them as they traveled back to Canaan
Joseph’s warning (v. 24)
He told his brothers not to quarrel on their trip home
The Hebrew term for “quarrel” does not mean that, anywhere else in Scripture
It literally means “Do not get excited,” [Waltke, 572] or “Do not get worked up or agitated” [Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 683]
It can refer to being angry, excited, fearful, anxious, joyful, or sad [Walton, 683]
Why did Joseph give them this warning?
What could they possibly get excited, worked up, or agitated about, since they have just experienced the goodness of God through Pharaoh and Joseph?
Joseph doesn’t want them to rehash their crime of selling him into slavery
He had forgiven them, so they should extend forgiveness to each other
Read Matthew 18:21-35
“The matter had been settled once and for all and there was no need to discuss it or to try to fix the blame or measure the guilt.” [Wiersbe, 160]
Psalm 133:1, How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!
Jacob’s sons were going to have some explaining to do when they told their father about Joseph being alive
PRINCIPLE #2 – Forgiveness eliminates the need for blame and guilt.
Joseph wanted his brothers to forgive each other and themselves
Read Genesis 45:5-8a
Since Joseph had forgiven them, they didn’t need to point the finger at each other or feel guilty themselves
Neither of these is easy to do
When we know we have to come clean about something we did wrong, it is natural, in our humanness, to place blame on someone or something else, so we can save face
Satan does an excellent job of reminding us of our past sins and/or our habitual sins
The old adage goes, “When Satan reminds you of your past, remind him of his future.”
As followers of Jesus Christ, Satan has no power over us
When we confess our sins, God removes them
Psalm 103:11-12, For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
When we confess and seek forgiveness, then we can experience the goodness of God
#2 – My Next Step Today Is To: Embrace the forgiveness extended to me, so I can forgive others and myself.
After receiving the directives from Pharaoh and the warning from Joseph, the brothers left Egypt and headed for Canaan
In Canaan (vv. 25-28)
Arrival (v. 25)
They traveled home and met their father
I’m sure that Jacob was probably counting heads at this point to make sure that Benjamin and Simeon were with the other brothers
It is likely that Jacob’s sons shared more details than what we are given in this text
Perhaps what led to their announcement and confession about Joseph was the extra donkeys and carts that Jacob saw when they arrived
Confession (v. 26)
They shared that Joseph was alive and was ruler of all Egypt
Jacob struggled to believe what he was hearing, because he had been mourning for Joseph twenty-two years
Jacob realized that his sons had lied to him
They had broken trust with him by keeping up false pretenses for so many years
“But whereas he believed his sons when they were lying (37:31-35), he can’t believe them when they are telling the truth. ‘Look at what happens to a liar. Even when he tells the truth, people do not believe him’ (Gen. Rab. 94.3).” [Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament, Pentateuch, Genesis, 653]
PRINCIPLE #3 – Lying breaks trust.
Not lying is one of the Ten Commandments
I would venture to guess that everyone of us has lied at some point in our lives
There are no levels of lying (big or small)
If you have ever been lied to, you know how hard it is to believe that person the next time they tell you something – the question in the back of your mind is whether or not what they just told you was truthful or not
It takes a long time to rebuild trust once it is broken
#3 – My Next Step Today Is To: Always speak the truth.
Jacob was stunned
It can also be translated “grew cold” or “grew numb”
How many of us have experienced that feeling when we have heard bad news or news that is hard to believe
I remember feeling that way after hearing about the attacks on 9/11
Some of us have experienced that when we hear the news of a loved one passing away – we are never ready to hear that news
Others have experienced that when hearing a diagnosis about an illness
All of us have probably experienced that
Jacob did not remain in that state for very long
Revival (vv. 27-28)
PRINCIPLE #4 – Confession promotes healing.
Jacob’s healing seemed to come pretty quickly
His spirit was revived after he heard everything Joseph was promising them and saw the carts he had sent to bring them to Egypt
The same is true for us
When we confess our sins, it promotes healing
Healing does not always take place, unfortunately, because the other person has to be willing to forgive and move forward
Our job is not to bring healing, but to confess
Healing may take years as we remain truthful and honest
#4 – My Next Step Today Is To: Help promote healing by confessing to those I have lied to or hurt, and ask for forgiveness.
Israel is convinced
The narrator uses Jacob’s new name, Israel, because that name represents strength and leadership
He is going to lead his family to Egypt to see Joseph before he dies
He is also leading his family in forgiveness
Israel experienced the goodness and mercy of God
“His life has been dominated by grief for years, but as he gets nearer the end of life, he finds relief, not because he grows out of grief but because God has mercy.” [Goldingay, 653]
We can experience the goodness of God when we confess and seek forgiveness.
Are you ready to accept God’s forgiveness, so you can experience His goodness?
Are you ready to embrace the forgiveness extended to you, so you can forgive others and yourself?
Are you ready to abandon lying and speak the truth at all times?
Are you ready to promote healing by confessing your sins and asking for forgiveness?
We can experience God’s goodness when accept His forgiveness corporately
We can forgive others and ourselves, because of what Jesus has done for us
We must always speak the truth
We need to promote healing
“Ever since my high school buddy and I drank ourselves sick with a case of quarts, I have liked beer …. Out of the keg, tap, bottle, or frosty mug—it doesn't matter to me. I like it.
[But I also know that] alcoholism haunts my family ancestry. I have early memories of following my father through the halls of a rehab center to see his sister. Similar scenes repeated themselves with other relatives for decades. Beer doesn't mix well with my family DNA. So at the age of twenty-one, I swore off it ….
Then a few years back something resurrected my cravings …. At some point I reached for a can of brew instead of a can of soda, and as quick as you can pop the top, I was a beer fan again. A once-in-a-while … then once-a-week … then once-a-day beer fan.
I kept my preference to myself. No beer at home, lest my daughters think less of me. No beer in public. Who knows who might see me? None at home, none in public leaves only one option: convenience-store parking lots. For about a week I was that guy in the car, drinking out of the brown paper bag.
No, I don't know what resurrected my cravings, but I remember what stunted them. En route to speak at a men's retreat, I stopped for my daily purchase. I walked out of the convenience store with a beer pressed against my side, scurried to my car for fear of being seen, opened the door, climbed in, and opened the can.
Then it dawned on me. I had become the very thing I hate: a hypocrite. A pretender. Two-faced. Acting one way. Living another. I had written sermons about people like me—Christians who care more about appearance than integrity. It wasn't the beer but the cover-up that nauseated me.
[So what] happened with my hypocrisy? First I threw the can of beer in the trash. Next I sat in the car for a long time, praying. Then I scheduled a visit with our church elders. I didn't embellish or downplay my actions; I just confessed them. And they, in turn, pronounced forgiveness over me. Jim Potts, a dear, silver-haired saint, reached across the table and put his hand on my shoulder and said something like this: "What you did was wrong. But what you are doing tonight is right. God's love is great enough to cover your sin. Trust his grace."
After talking to the elders, I spoke to the church. At our midweek gathering I once again told the story. I apologized for my duplicity and requested the prayers of the congregation. What followed was a refreshing hour of confession in which other people did the same. The church was strengthened, not weakened, by our honesty.”
Source: Max Lucado, Grace (Thomas Nelson, 2012), pp. 89-91.