Genesis 50

Going Back In Order To Go Forward, 15 January 2012


“Emotional health and contemplative spirituality, when interwoven together, offer nothing short of a spiritual revolution, transforming the hidden places deep beneath the surface of our lives,” says author and pastor Pete Scazzero in his book
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. This series is based upon the biblical themes of Scazzero’s book in an effort to help us better understand ourselves in order to better love God and others.

The Big Idea

The second pathway to emotionally healthy spirituality is to embrace our past, breaking free from the destructive sinful patterns of our past to live the life of love that God intends.

Going Back In Order To Go Forward

Pete Scazzero notes two essential biblical truths:

1. The blessings and sins of our families going back two to three generations profoundly impact who we are today.

2. Discipleship requires putting off the sinful patterns of our family of origin and re-learning how to do life God’s way in God’s family.

The Background

We all come from broken families. Some are certainly more functional than others, but since the first child, Cain, killed his brother Abel, we have passed down dysfunction and sin from generation to generation.

Joseph’s story fills the last quarter of the book of Genesis. His family is about as dysfunctional as they come.

a. He comes from a blended family. His dad had children from two wives and two
concubines. Twelve sons all lived together.
b. Joseph was clearly the special son, making his brothers jealous.
c. Joseph’s brothers sell him off and tell their dad that he was killed by an animal.

He is sold into slavery, then rots in a prison for years on false rape charges.

How would you feel sitting in a prison cell for years for something you did not do? What would you think/feel about your family? About God?

Family Genogram

Joseph is the eleventh child, one of twelve brothers and one sister.

Take some time to sketch your family

Joseph has three major traumas

1. At age 17, he is thrown into a deep well by his brothers (Genesis 37).
2. He gets sold as a slave for $80,000 (two years wages) and his father is told he
is dead. He loses his language, culture, family, freedom, everything!
3. He was in prison unjustly for many years (Genesis 39-40).

Twenty-two years later, he encounters his brothers (Genesis 42).

He had every reason to be bitter and enslaved by his past. Instead, he clearly understands his heritage but allows God, not his family of origin, to determine his future.

Genesis 50:15-21

When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. (Genesis 50:15-17)

His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. (Genesis 50:18)

But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. (Genesis 50:19-21)

Joseph breaks from the “normal” family tradition by forgiving his brothers. What would you have done?

What has Joseph learned about himself, God, and his family (see 19-21)?

Genesis 50:20 is a summary of the Old Testament.

5 Basic Needs be Met for Healthy Development (Pesso)

-- need for “place” the world was waiting for your arrival; you were wanted
-- need for nurture words and touch
-- need for support loving, caring environments
-- need for protection physically, emotionally from harm
-- need for limits boundaries (see Townsend and )

Sin and rebellion destroy families from God’s original intention

Cain and Abel were just the beginning! All of our families are messed up! Jesus allows us to be born again, but we cannot ignore our past. We must put off the sinful elements of our past to become transformed and a blessing to the world.


We must know what went on deep beneath the surface of our family.

Ten Commandments of Your Family

Which of the following messages were sent to you by your family, spoken or unspoken?

1. Money. Money is the best source of security. The more money you have, the more important your are.

2. Conflict. Avoid conflict at all costs. Don’t get people mad at you. Loud, angry, constant fighting is normal.

3. Sex. Sex is not to be spoken about openly. Men can be promiscuous but women must be chaste. Sexuality in marriage will come easily.

4. Grief and Loss. Sadness is a sign of weakness. You are not allowed to be depressed. Get over losses quickly and move on.

5. Expressing Anger. Anger is dangerous and bad. Explode in anger to make a point. Sarcasm is an acceptable way to release anger.

6. Family. Duty to family & culture comes before everything. You owe your parents for all they’ve done for you. Don’t speak of your family’s “dirty laundry” in public.

7. Relationships. Don’t trust people. They will let you down. Nobody will ever hurt me again. Don’t show vulnerability.

8. Attitudes toward other cultures. Only be close friends with people who are like you. Do not marry a person of another race or culture. Certain cultures/races are not as good as mine.

9. Success. Is getting to into the ”best schools.” Is making lots of money. Is getting married and having children.

10. Feelings and Emotions. You are not allowed to have certain feelings. Your feelings are not important. Reacting with your feelings without thinking is okay.

3 Practical Applications

1. Recognize the iceberg in you from your family

We can easily ignore or underestimate it. The effect of our families is deeper than any of us realize. Your family is filled with patterns. We all have negative patterns. When we recognize them, we can choose to maintain or change them. When you are unaware of them, you are doomed to pass them on.

2. Discern the good God intends “in, through, and in spite of,” your family and past

God knew what He was doing. He has a great plan for you and your life. God is working in a hidden, mysterious way. He was doing it in Joseph’s life and He’s doing it in you. We are often unaware of what God is doing, but He can be trusted. Joseph trusts God. He knows that God is good and God is sovereign (in control). He knows God. He certainly spent many years in prayer and solitude.

3. Make the decision to do the hard work of discipleship

This includes silence, solitude, Scripture, and small groups. Discipleship is breaking the sinful patterns of our past and being recreated into the image of Jesus Christ.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Pete Scazzero writes

“Going back in order to go forward is something we must do in the context of community—with mature friends, a mentor, spiritual director, counselor, or therapist. We need trusted people in our lives of whom we can ask, ‘How do you experience me? Tell me the feelings and thoughts you have when you are with me. Please be honest with me.’ Prayerfully listening to their answers will go a long way toward healing and getting a perspective on areas of our lives that need to be addressed. Needless to say, this takes a lot of courage.”

God’s Plans

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (Genesis 50:20)

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21)

Four Lessons From Joseph’s Life

1. He understood God’s goodness and love, even during the storms
2. He expressed his emotions and loss, allowing him to truly forgive
3. He moved forward despite his past
4. He partnered with God to bless others

The Good News

God is in the business of transformation! His grace (unmerited favor) and love are endless. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you are a new creation. God is your father. Your sins are forgiven. You have been given a new name. You have been given a new inheritance. You have been given new brothers and sisters (Ephesians 1).

In the movie
“Good Will Hunting,” Sean (Robin Williams) repeatedly tells his patient Will Hunting, “It’s not your fault.” We are all products of the sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve. We have all been dealt an imperfect deck. But it can be restored. There is hope in Jesus Christ. His plans for you are fantastic!

Are you willing to go back in order to go forward? Ignoring it won’t make it go away. Fear of bringing secrets and sin into the light paralyzes so many followers of Jesus from truly experiencing the abundant life and transformation that Jesus wants us to experience.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)

Questions for Discussion

What words would describe the way your family related to one another when you were growing up?

What does this text tell us about God?

What does this text tell us about ourselves?

On a scale of 1 (very troubled) to 100 (very nurturing), how would you describe your family?

What messages did you receive from your parents or guardians as a child?

What “earthquake” events sent “aftershocks” into your family?

How do these messages compare to messages you have received about God’s family?

What one area needs the most change?

How does your family of origin impact you today? What areas do you need to address in order to move forward?


You can listen to the podcast here.


Series outline and ideas from
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero.