International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday January 15, 2012
Purpose: To understand that God's blessings can be transmitted through our acts of love and forgiveness
Scripture Text: Genesis 43:3-15
Genesis 45:3-15 (NRSV)
(3)Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, so dismayed were they at his presence. (4)Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me.” And they came closer. He said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. (5)And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.(6)For the famine has been in the land these two years; and there are five more years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. (7)God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. (8)So it was not you who sent me here, but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. (9)Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay. (10)You shall settle in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, as well as your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. (11)I will provide for you there—since there are five more years of famine to come—so that you and your household, and all that you have, will not come to poverty.’ (12)And now your eyes and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see that it is my own mouth that speaks to you.(13)You must tell my father how greatly I am honored in Egypt, and all that you have seen. Hurry and bring my father down here.” (14)Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, while Benjamin wept upon his neck. (15)And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; and after that his brothers talked with him.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
I want to share a really good lecture with all of you, if you click on the Walter Edwards, article, The Grand Miracle, at the very top left portion of my home page you will find a very interesting read for those of you that would like a better historical and scriptural look at early Christianity and some of the problems with revisionist history that need to be addressed by more traditional believers.
This week's text is a lesson in relationships; relationships are difficult to maintain, because none of us are perfect. Hurtful words and hurtful deeds often cause a break in our relationships. This happens in families, in marriages, in friendships, and within the church. When there is no repentance and forgiveness, relationships will remain broken. When there is a broken relationship our ability to be an effective witness for Christ is seriously damaged or destroyed.
All of us are guilty of holding onto hurts and refusing to accept blame or admit guilt, we are reluctant to say “I am sorry.” The sad thing is most relationships can only be restored when there is mutual forgiveness and repentance. We must allow ourselves to let go, forget and forgive, then our relationships can be restored and our life begins anew.
This is where Joseph found himself in our text, he was an injured party, yet he is the one that reached out and restored a relationship with his brothers. As we read the story, Joseph had some very good reasons to despise and to punish his brothers for what they did to him. Our human nature would cause us to get even. Because Joseph took something bad and turned it into something good, he was able to offer forgiveness to his brothers. Joseph's brothers had sold him into slavery because they did not like the fact that their father treated him special and Joseph interpreted a dream where they were all bowing down to him. Jealousy and envy are often the beginning of a broken relationship.
Joseph had remained faithful to God and diligent in his service to whatever task was assigned. Joseph was able to see God's hand in his life, and realized what his brothers thought was evil, God used as good. Now Joseph was the second most powerful person in all of Egypt and he controlled all of the resources of Egypt. Egypt is nine years into the fourteen year prophesy; they had the seven years of abundance and now they were two years into the famine and drought years.
Joseph has built large grain storage facilities throughout all of Egypt, he has prepared for the lean years. The famine has spread to the entire region; Canaan is going through the same drought and famine. Joseph becomes the only hope for salvation and continuation of the promise made to Abraham. Supply and demand is all in favor of Joseph and Egypt; they have what the rest of the world wants. Joseph invites his father and all of his brothers to come and live in the land of Goshen and he offers to provide for all of their needs.
We too have what the rest of the world wants, we can offer hope and comfort to those that are without. Joseph offers us the ideal way to handle broken relationships, not just forgiveness, but restoration. That is what God offers us, through His Son Jesus, we are not just forgiven and restored but we become family again.