God's Creative Call

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Family Reconciliation: Repentance & Responsibility

Genesis 43:1 - 45:15

What makes reconciliation possible? What elements are necessary on each side of a hurt or wrong in order to heal a damaged relationship? This study suggests answers for these crucial questions.

GROUP DISCUSSION. In our world where do you see the greatest need for reconciliation?

PERSONAL REFLECTION. In your life where do you feel need for reconciliation?

Joseph's brothers have now returned home from Egypt with a repost of their traumatic experience. As the grain purchased on the first visit to Egypt runs out, Jacob and his sons face increasingly difficult decisions. Although our experience may be less traumatic, we can learn principles of reconciliation from this complex family situation. Read Genesis 43.

1. As the famine intensifies, what pressures does it put on Jacob and his sons (43:1-10)?

They all realized that if they didn't go back to get more food, then their entire family would starve. The boys said that they could have gone and returned twice by now. Jacob would need to compromise and allow Benjamin to go with them.

2. What impresses you about Jacob as he sends his sons off (43:11-14)?

He was a man of integrity and told them to bring double the money so that they could also pay for the original load of grain. Perhaps the money placed back in the sack was a mistake. Reputation and honesty were important in his life. He also instructed them to bring gifts (balm, honey, spices and myrrh, pistachio nuts, almonds). He asked for God's mercy so that the two brothers would return. It appears that he relented on Judah's need to sacrifice his sons if something happened to Benjamin.

3. Think of a difficult situation you are currently facing. How can you trust it to God Almighty, the one for whom nothing is impossible?

The current cultural wars going on between those of us who want to establish and/or keep Judeo-Christian ethics and values in our land vs. those who seek a more pagan, secular humanistic society that disregards God and His Word. Three examples are the immigration problem, the comparison of Muslim extremism with Christianity, and the homosexual agenda that not only wants to change traditional institutions originally established by God himself (marriage = 1 man + 1 woman), but want to spread their propaganda onto unsuspecting children in order to change their minds and indoctrinate them into a liberal-progressive mindset. I have found resistance from some Christians to speak out on this issue. They call born-again evangelical Christians "bigots" and "homophobes" just like the secular humanistic groups who promote gay-behavior as a positive, normal and desirable thing. Then, there are Christians who insist on keeping their heads in the sand and don't want to open their mouths. I confess. In the past, I was one of them! But my research on this part of our cultural war has led me to realize that we need to take action. If we don't, we may very well lose our rights of religious freedom of speech and freedom of association in this country! This is what I say about that:

As a pro-moralist, I declare that the word “homophobe” should officially have it’s meaning permanently changed to the following: 1. People who believe that steering kids away from homosexuality is compassionate; promoting it under the guise of “fighting hate” is tragic and cruel. 2. People who object to the schools forcibly exposing their children to harmful sex instruction that conflicts with their values. 3. People (especially parents) who recognize that their rights are being eroded, trivialized and targeted for destruction by homosexual militants. 4. People who believe that schools can teach civility toward all without teaching that homosexual behavior must be accepted as normal and healthy. 5. People who recognized and are alarmed by the fact that the “hate crimes” curriculum is a tool by homosexual activists to advance their agenda of recruiting children. GLSEN’s “sexual orientation” theory presented to children is a blatant attempt to persuade those who are sexually confused to try the homosexual lifestyle. 6. People who recognize that leftist education elitists have no right to indoctrinate children with their immoral political or social beliefs. We need to ensure that school is about academics – not about immoral beliefs. Gay activists know that by undermining the values taught by parents, the hearts and minds of children can be changed. Therefore subversion, not tolerance, is their goal. 7. People who know that, “ there are powerful and convincing scientific and social grounds supporting our position that homosexuality is a harmful lifestyle that gays and lesbians can leave if they choose,” as stated by Jeffrey Satinover M.D. in his book “Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth.” 8. Parents who discovered that some homosexual groups are leading the effort to lower or abolish “age of consent” laws which currently prohibit adults from having sex with children (pedophilia). This is what has developed over the years as a result of the now exposed fraudulent scientific basis of the 1953 Kinsey report. Did you know that in order for Kinsey to obtain his “data” nine pedophiles molested and raped children aged anywhere from infancy to age 10 for Kinsey, who, interpreted the tears, groans and violent cries from the children to be “sexual climaxes”? Yet, despite all of this disturbing information, taking a stand against the gay agenda in public schools can lead to public vilification. “If you protest,” says Brian Camenker of the Parents Rights Coalition of Massachusetts, “be prepared to be stone-walled and sneered by public officials, smeared in the press, and denounced as a hate-monger and a bigot by gay activists.” Yet what choice is left to parents but to fight? “We’re facing an incredible evil here. It chills you to the bone.” Says Camenker, an Orthodox Jew brought closer to his faith by this struggle. “The only way we’re not going to get run over is if people wake up to what’s happening to our children.” “These people are bullies,” he continues, “People are afraid of them, afraid of being called homophobes. I don’t enjoy this, but this is America, and I’m not going to run away.” I’m not going to run away either, Brian.

The fact that the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian-based legal organization (www.telladf.org) is representing legislators, ministries, family organizations, and individual citizens against the demand of the homosexual legal agenda and has 19 victories in the defense of preserving marriage in America exclusively as the union of one man and one woman, shows that God's grace is bestowed upon our nation when we take action! The ACLU and its allies seek to override the will of the people and the constitutional process by using activist courts to force same-sex "marriage" on the country. In many states, ADF attorney and their allies have made the crucial difference. This organization needs our continuing prayers and support!

4. In 43:15-25 how do the brothers interpret Joseph's intentions?

They were worried that Joseph may be setting a trap to attack and overpower them, seize them as slaves and take their donkeys. They spoke to the steward and explained when they found the silver placed back in their sacks. The steward acknowledged their God (not Egyptian ones) .

5. What insights into Joseph's character do you see in 43:26-34?

Even though Joseph outranked the Egyptians there in the room, he still followed the laws of the Egyptian system that didn't allow Hebrews and Egyptians to eat together. Foreigners and shephers were lower in rank than any Egyptian citizen, so they needed to eat separately, too. Joseph was so overwhelmed to see his brother Benjamin that he had to leave the room to weep alone. I noticed that his brothers bowed to him (as predicted in the dream) twice.

6. Read Genesis 44. What final strategy does Joseph devise, and how does it test the brothers' character and loyalty (44:1-17)?

Joseph gave them all their silver back in their sacks. He also put his silver cup in Benjamin's sack. He then sent his steward after them to ask why they have repaid good with evil. They even challenged the steward's argument by saying that if anyone did steal, he would die and the others will become slaves. They tore their clothes in grief when the cup was found in Benjamin's sack. Joseph only wanted Benjamin to remain with him.

7. What does Judah's attitude in 44:18-34 show about the changes that have taken place in him and his brothers since their betrayal of Joseph 23 years earlier?

In the past, Judah showed no regard for Joseph or his father. This man who sold Joseph into slavery has now offered to become a slave himself for the sake of his young brother. He was also willing to die for them. This shows that God can change even the most selfish heart.

8. Restoring a relationship fractured by injustice and injury requires repentance, confession and acceptance of responsibility for the consequences. In what way have you, like Joseph's brothers, been involved in such a process?

(see # 3)

9. Read Genesis 45:1-15. How does Joseph explain to his brothers the reason for his being sold into Egypt and the purpose of his sufferings?

He demonstrated that God used even their evil plans against Joseph for a future, greater good. God used the brothers evil actions and turned it for good. He sent Joseph ahead to preserve their lives, save Egypt, and prepare the way for the beginning of the nation of Israel. God is sovereign and his plans are not dictated by human actions. Notes: When others intend evil toward you (me), remember that they are only God's tools. As Joseph said to his brothers, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives" (50:20).

10. How can this perspective toward your own suffering make it possible for you to forgive someone who has grievously hurt you?

Knowing that God can use other's evil intentions and actions to fulfill his ultimate plan allows me to trudge on ahead despite being called names and regarded as a right-wing fanatic!!

I count it all for joy!

James 1
1James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:
Greetings.

Trials and Temptations
2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
9The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. 10But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. 11For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.

12Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

13When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

16Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. 17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

Listening and Doing
19My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. 21Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

26If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

11. To what extent can Joseph's experience give us greater confidence in God's sovereignty over the events of our lives?

For me, the description of all that occurred in Joseph's life shows that God's sovereign Will supercedes any person, place or thing that might attempt to disrupt His eternal plans for our lives. There were times when Joseph kept quiet where he could have blurted out (to his brothers) the harm they did to him and then, with pride, held an "I reign over you" prideful attitude.

The change in Judah is significant, too. God uses both scenarios in both lives towards his ultimate Will.

Notes: Judah courageously defended himself and his brothers and pled for mercy. ANd he offered to put himself in Benjamin's place. There are times when we should be silent, but there are also times when we should speak up, even if there could be serious repercussions. (The Afghan man who converted from Islam to Christianity and faced death is a perfect example. He could have kept silent (or renounced his faith in Jesus) to save his life, instead, he boldly proclaimed his faith in Jesus Christ and was willing to suffer any of the consequences. Now that's bold faith!!

When faced with a situation that needs a strong voice and courageous action, remember Judah, and speak up.

Ask God to give you the will to forgive one person in your life who has hurt you.

Now or Later
What other attitudes and actions might Joseph have shown to his brothers? Reflect on his choice to forgive and see God's hand at work in the circumstances of his life.

3 Comments:

  • I love the story of Joseph! Great sample for family reconciliation!

    By Blogger goodnewseverybodycom, at 10:25 PM  

  • goodnewseverybodycom -

    Yes! It is a great example for family reconciliation. It also can help solve family problems. The appearance (and, in some cases, reality) of favoritism among siblings can often ruin the relationships between siblings - even through adulthood!

    It is truly sad that some people just can't get over it and continue to hate, ridicule, disparage, or argue because of a grievance from many years ago.

    I have found that when a sibling is not a Christian, but you are, it can be difficult to gain reconciliation. The hatred, jealousy, envy etc. can harbor in the heart and cause a person to lash out against a sister or brother - or, even in the case of what has happened in my life - lash out at one of my children! It is truly sad when that happens.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    By Blogger Christinewjc, at 7:24 AM  

  • I have found that when a sibling is not a Christian, but you are, it can be difficult to gain reconciliation. The hatred, jealousy, envy etc. can harbor in the heart and cause a person to lash out against a sister or brother - or, even in the case of what has happened in my life - lash out at one of my children! It is truly sad when that happens.

    Wait until you add Islam into the mix.

    By Blogger Amillennialist, at 1:12 AM  

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