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Bible Study - Joseph(6)


Joseph - A Life Of Integrity And Wisdom

Wednesday 2nd October

Session 6 - Facing Up To Sin

Passage for Study: Genesis 42:1-28

Outline of Talk:

* Chapter 41 v 54 refers to a huge crisis: all lands were in the grip of famine, including Egypt, but there was food available in Egypt because of Joseph’s management in preparation for famine. Hence, we can imagine a mass movement of people to Egypt and this included Joseph’s own family. In fact, the whole movement is about that family! The focus is on God’s provision for his covenant people and his following through with his promises. Note the phrase “sons of Israel” in verse 5.

* Obtaining food is the natural reason why Joseph’s brothers must go to Egypt. But there is a higher purpose. God’s reason for bringing this about is that they may face up to their sins, against Joseph in particular, and come to repentance. They stood around wastefully (v.1) and would not have been at all keen to go to Egypt. The last sight they had of Joseph was of him being carried away as a slave to Egypt, so the mention of Egypt must have roused their consciences.

* God’s purpose in making them face up to their sin is also behind the way Joseph dealt with them when they arrived. He recognised them but they did not know him. He spoke harshly to them and accused them of being spies! Note how Joseph remembered his dreams (v.9). He connected their arrival with what God had taught him years before. He saw God’s hand in it! So, he tested his brothers to see whether they have changed for the good in any way and if they can be trusted (v.16a). He would have known that they were still the same from their words “we are honest men” (v.11)!

* As God speaks to us through the gospel his purpose is to expose our sin to us so that we may come to him with confession of our sin and prayer for forgiveness. Note in v. 21-22 how what they did to Joseph now comes back to haunt them. They are conscience-stricken. Their sin now troubles them, having been put to the back of their minds over the past twenty years or so. They acknowledge that there must be a “reckoning” (v.22b). This is the beginning of their repentance. It leads to the statement in v.28, which, significantly, is their first mention of God!

Questions for Discussion Session:

1. “Note then the kindness and the severity of God” (Romans 11 v 22).

a. How are both these attributes of God (kindness and severity) shown in this passage in Genesis 42?
b. Why is it important to present both these attributes to people in our presentation and explanation of the gospel? Would you give emphasis to one before or above the other?

2. Compare verse 21 with 2 Corinthians 7 verses 8-11.
a. What is it that causes such “grief”?
b. Is it possible to repent without his “grief”?
c. Does this grief differ from feeling sorry for oneself? If so, how?

3. How would you respond to someone who asserts that Joseph’s treatment of his brothers illustrates the harmful effects of religion - condemning, judgmental and divisive?

4. Read Deuteronomy 8 v 1-3, Hebrews 12 v 5-11, James 1 v 12.

Why does God test those who trust in him? How many reasons can you find from these passages? There are at least six.

5. Summarise here what this passage has taught you:
(a) About God
(b) About yourself
(c) About the challenges of living in this world