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Genesis 43:15-34


Intro: This passage opens with ten of Joseph’s brothers leaving Canaan make a second trip down into Egypt to buy grain. The first time they went, they came face to face with the Prime Minister of the country, but they did not know that he was none other than Joseph, the brother they had sold into slavery twenty years earlier.

They may not have recognized Joseph, but he knew exactly who they were. He used their meeting to try and get them to understand the guilt of their past. Joseph had imprisoned his brother Simeon and had sent the remaining brothers home. He sent them away with orders not to return unless they brought their youngest brother Benjamin with them.

So, they headed back home. Along the way, they discovered that the money they had paid for their grain had been returned to them and was in the sacks of grain. This caused them to be even more afraid. To make a long story short, they used up all the grain and they are headed back to Egypt again.

Verse 15 tells us that they took Joseph a present; double the original money; and Benjamin. They are ushered into Joseph’s presence and when he sees that Benjamin is with them, he invites them to his house for lunch, v. 16-17.

These verses describe a scene that is filled with emotions. Fear, relief, gratitude and joy all mingle together in this poignant reunion between Joseph and his brothers.

I want to take this passage and preach on the subject Swimming In A Sea Of Emotions. Emotions are something we deal with every day of our lives. They are powerful and they can control our lives if we allow them to. Now, emotions, or feelings, are not bad in and of themselves. But, we must always remember that our emotions arise from our minds, or our souls. Since we are fallen creatures, our emotions have been affected too.

That means that not everything we feel is right or proper. We must learn to check our emotions against the Word of God to ensure that we are not led astray by our feelings. This happens far too often in people’s lives.

Young girls will give up their purity because they are lost in a sea of emotions. Men abandon their families because they get caught up in emotions. Families and churches are ripped apart because people allow emotions like anger, bitterness and resentment control them.

Of course, God works in our emotions too. He uses the natural responses we have to the events of life to teach us about Him, His will and what He is doing in our lives.

That is what this passage teaches us about today. In this reunion scene between these brothers, we see 12 men who are Swimming In A Sea Of Emotion. I want to point the emotions that are portrayed here and the lessons they have to teach us.

I want you to see The Brothers And Their Fear; Joseph and His Feelings, and The Family And Their Feast.




         When these men are brought into Joseph’s house, they become “afraid. This word means to be filled with dread. They are convinced that they have been lead into a trap. They are sure that Joseph is going to arrest them and put them into prison, v. 18.

         They express their fears to the steward of Joseph’s house, v. 19-22. He comforts them the best he can, even telling them that God was looking out for them in all their troubles, v. 23. Then he brings out Simeon to them, v. 23. Then, he gives them water to wash their feet, a sign of great respect. He also gives them food for their animals, a sign of hospitality, v. 24. So, with their hearts pounding in fear, they prepare themselves for the arrival of Joseph for the noon meal.

         There are two emotions at work in the lives of these men. They are afraid and they are being eaten alive with guilt. I want to examine both of these emotions today.

         First, let’s talk about fear. Fear is a terrible emotion! It is paralyzing in the effect it has on our lives. Fear renders us incapable of trusting the Lord and looking to Him for the help we need in life.

Look at this scene. Here are eleven men who have been brought up to know Jehovah, the only true and living God. Yet, they are so overcome by the emotion of fear that they are unable to see His hand at work in their lives. They have to be reminded of God’s grace, His sovereignty and His purposes by an Egyptian pagan.

         Haven’t we all been there at times? Life comes at us with all its problems and it tragedies. When it does, we become filled with fear and dread. Instead of faith in God, we are gripped by worry and dread.

Someone has calculated that there are over 365 statements in the Bible calling us to put aside our fears and to trust in the Lord. That’s one fear not for every day of the year and more than enough to cause us to trust in Him. Here is His command to His people, Phil. 4:6-7; Luke 12:32.

  He has promised to hear us when we pray – Jer. 33:3; Psa. 55:17.

  He has promised to sustain us – Psa. 55:22

  He has promised to meet our every need – Phil. 4:19; Matt. 6:25-34.

With promises like that, why would anyone want to fret or fear? Don’t allow fear to dominate your life. Learn to “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths, Pro. 3:5-6. If you live in fear, you will never have peace in your life. If you can learn to trust the Lord in all of life, you will never have anything to fear.

         The real reason these men are so overcome by fear is the fact that they are filled with guilt. These men know that they wronged their brother, they lied about and they are convinced that God is out to get them.

In a sense they are right. The Lord is using the events of their lives to bring them face to face with their past sins. He is awakening in them a sense of guilt and this guilt is about to eat them alive. They are convinced that they being punished for all the evil they have done, Gen. 42:21.

         Guilt can be a healthy emotion. The Lord uses it to awaken us to our sinful condition and to show us our need of Jesus. He causes us to feel guilty for our sins and that guilt before God is used by Him to draw us to Jesus and to His salvation, John 16:7-11. That is good guilt.

         The negative side of guilt is when we continue to feel bad over sins that God has already forgiven. In the Old Testament, the Jews had an offering called the “burnt offering, Lev. 1:1-6. A man would bring his sacrifice to the Tabernacle, place his hands on the animals head and kill the animal. The animal was taking the place of the sinner. The sinner’s guilt was transferred to the animal and the sinner was cleansed of his guilt.

This is what Jesus did for us when He went to the cross to die for us. He literally took our sins and our guilt upon Himself and became our sins, 2 Cor. 5:21. He was judged in our place and we are forgiven when we trust Him by faith.

When the Lord saves us, He takes our sins away, Psa. 103:12, John 1:29 and they are gone forever! We should never allow the flesh, the world or the devil beat us up over sins the Lord has forgiven. If you are saved, your past is not an issue any longer. Let you faith in Jesus spell the end of your guilt over your past.





         Now, Joseph enters this scene. His brothers bow down before him and give him the gifts they have brought from Canaan, v. 26. He immediately asks them about their father Jacob, v. 27. His brothers tell Joseph that their father is doing well, v. 28. Then, Joseph looks at Benjamin, the only full brother he has. He pronounces a blessing on his brother, v. 29, and Joseph is immediately overcome with emotion. He leaves his brother standing there while he makes a hasty retreat to his private chamber. There, he gives way to all the emotions that are raging within his heart and might and he breaks down and he weeps.

         I am not sure what to call this emotion, but there are times when a person becomes overwhelmed by the events of life. Sometimes, fear, anger, joy, and all the other emotions we humans feel can pile up in our hearts until we can them no more and there must be an outlet. There are times when folks just come to a place where they breakdown.

         Has that ever happened to you? If it has, you are in good company! Some of the most choice of God’s servants went through times of deep emotional distress.

         David When his beloved Absalom was killed 2 Sam. 18:33.

         Job When he had lost everything from his children, to his possessions to his health Job 3:3, 11.

         Elijah When revival did not fall after the experiences on Mt. Carmel 1 Kings 19.

         Moses When he was overwhelmed with all that he had to do Num. 11:11-15.

         Contrary to what you might have been taught, there is no shame in being overwhelmed by your circumstances. When a loved one is taken by death; when disease rears its ugly head; when your family is ripped apart; when you heart is broken and at a thousand other times, it is easy to be overwhelmed and overcome.

I praise the Lord that He understands our times of weeping and brokenness. He had such a time of His Own, Luke 22:44.

The people who know you might not understand, but the Lord does! People not understand or acknowledge your pain, but God will not rebuke you! He didn’t rebuke those other great men of God I mentioned! Others may tell you to snap out of it and get over it, but the Lord will stand by you and comfort you. He will help you get through it!

         The Lord can take it when we fall apart. He can handle it when all the pain and emotion in our hearts bursts for and we have a breakdown. Others might not be able to handle our breakdowns, but God can! He can handle anything you feel. He can handle anything you might need to say to Him. Be honest and open before Him and He can help you in those times of overwhelming emotions.

Take Moses for instance; when he had his little episode in Num. 11, he said some pretty hard things to God. Did God get angry with Moses? Did God zap him with a lightning bolt? No, God helped him by taking some of the pressure off Moses.

         Let me just remind you today, God cares about the things you and I face in this life.

  1 Peter 5:7, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

  Psalm 34:1, “The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.

  Psalm 142:4-5, “I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul. I cried unto thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.

  Matthew 6:26, “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

         I am certainly not suggesting that is ever OK to wallow in self-pity. But, I am saying that sometimes life hurts, and when it does, we have a God Who understands and One Who cares about His children!







         When Joseph comes back, he has gotten his emotions under control again, v. 31. He commands the servants to serve the meal, v. 31. He is seated by himself because he is the ruler. The Egyptians are seated at another table, because their religion forbad them from eating with shepherds, Gen. 46:34. When the brothers of Joseph were seated for their meal, they noticed that they were seated in their birth order, from the oldest to the youngest. This amazed them, v. 33.

This should have been a clue to Joseph’s identity. No one else would have known the order of their births. In fact, a mathematician has concluded that there are 39,917,000 different orders in which eleven individuals could have been seated.

So, there they sit with Joseph and the meal is served. Joseph even sent them food from his table and when he did, he sent five times as much to his full brother Benjamin. This should have been another clue, v. 34. So, this chapter ends with all the brothers, Jacob’s twelve sons eating a meal together and being “merry. They are all experiencing the emotion of Joy.

         I suppose that joy is the favorite emotion we humans share. We all like to be happy. We all love that feeling of contentment and joy we get when everything in life is just like it ought to be. That is a good feeling!

In fact, God teaches us that happiness and joy are actually very healthy emotions, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones,” Pro. 17:22. Laughter is good for the soul!

Laughter is good for the face as well, “A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken, Pro. 15:13.

In fact, the Bible tells us that people who have a merry heart live in a continual party atmosphere. Life to them is blessed time of joy and happiness. “All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast, Pro. 15:15.

Remember Paul and Silas in that prison? What did they do? They praised the Lord and they sang in that dungeon, Acts 16:25. Paul was just living out what he preached, Rom. 12:12.

         There’s nothing wrong with being a happy person! If you aren’t happy and enjoying the joy of the Lord as you walk through this life, you ought to get before the Lord and ask Him to help you have His joy.

You see, there is a school of thought in the church that says to be happy you have to be miserable. If you are smiling, laughing and having a good time, well you just aren’t serious about the things of God. There is Greek word for that attitude that I want to share with you today. It is the word “Hogwash!”

You do not have to act like you were baptized in vinegar to be spiritual. In fact, the truly spiritual person is a person who is happy and rejoicing in what he has in the Lord!

Now, let’s not miss this! Here these men are with Joseph and they are sitting at his table feasting. They paint a powerful picture of the great grace of God!

You see, these men were guilty. No one would have blamed Joseph if he had thrown them all into prison or even enslaved them. But, Joseph forgives them and welcomes them into his own home. He invites them to eat with him at his table and he shares with them the very best he had.

         That is a picture of what the Lord Jesus did for us! We were guilty and worthy of judgment. We deserved far worse than prison or slavery. We deserved death and Hell! But, He loved us in spite of our condition. He saved us from our sins. He brought us into His family. He feeds us with the best things from His table. He is even preparing a place for us in Heaven!

He has taken away our guilt and our past. He has healed our wrecked and ruined spiritual condition. He has replaced our guilt with His peace. He has given us His Spirit! He has filled us with the capacity for genuine joy in the Lord. Praise His name!

Am I happy? Do I have joy? If I don’t it’s my own fault! I have been given every ingredient needed to true happiness, true joy and true rejoicing. Praise the Lord!


Conc: We humans are emotional creatures. If we are not careful, our emotions will control our lives and our actions. We need to bring even our emotions under the control of the Lord God.

If He has spoken to your heart, you can come to Him and get help today.

         Do you need to deal with your guilt? If you are not saved, let Jesus take your guilt away. If you are saved, learn to rest in what He has done for your soul.

         Do you need to bring some fear to the Lord? He knows how to speak peace to your heart.

         Are you overwhelmed by the circumstances of life? Are you close to a breakdown moment? Come to the Lord and cast your burden onto Him. He cares!

         Do you lack joy? The Lord can give you the peace and happiness you seek.

         Do you need to praise Him for His grace in your life? You can come and do that right now.

         Just listen to His voice and do what He is telling you to do!

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